Category : Israel

(Washington Post) Hamas envisioned deeper attacks, aiming to provoke an Israeli war

The first clues came from the bodies of slain militants: maps, drawings, notes, and the weapons and gear they carried.

In Beeri, a kibbutz town overrun by Hamas on Oct. 7, one dead fighter had a notebook with hand-scrawled Quranic verses and orders that read, simply, “Kill as many people and take as many hostages as possible.” Others were equipped with gas canisters, handcuffs and thermobaric grenades designed to instantly turn houses into infernos.

Each was like a piece from a grisly puzzle, a snippet of fine detail from an operation that called for hundreds of discrete crimes in specific locations. Five weeks later, the reassembled fragments are beginning to reveal the contours of Hamas’s broader plan, one that analysts say was intended not just to kill and capture Israelis, but to spark a conflagration that would sweep the region and lead to a wider conflict.

The evidence, described by more than a dozen current and former intelligence and security officials from four Western and Middle Eastern countries, reveals an intention by Hamas planners to strike a blow of historic proportions, in the expectation that the group’s actions would compel an overwhelming Israeli response.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(Economist) Why Israel must fight on

Around the world the cry is going up for a ceasefire or for Israel to abandon its ground invasion. Hearing some Israeli politicians call for vengeance, including the discredited prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, many people conclude that Israel’s actions are disproportionate and immoral. Many of those arguing this believe in the need for a Jewish state, but fear for a Jewish state that seems to value Palestinian lives so cheaply. They worry that the slender hopes for peace in this age-old conflict will be buried under Gaza’s rubble.

Those are powerful arguments, but they lead to the wrong conclusion. Israel is inflicting terrible civilian casualties. It must minimise them and be seen to do so. Palestinians are lacking essential humanitarian supplies. Israel must let a lot more aid pass into Gaza. However, even if Israel chooses to honour these responsibilities, the only path to peace lies in dramatically reducing Hamas’s capacity to use Gaza as a source of supplies and a base for its army. Tragically, that requires war.

To grasp why, you have to understand what happened on October 7th. When Israelis talk about Hamas’s attack as an existential threat they mean it literally, not as a figure of speech. Because of pogroms and the Holocaust, Israel has a unique social contract: to create a land where Jews know they will not be killed or persecuted for being Jews. The state has long honoured that promise with a strategic doctrine that calls for deterrence, early warnings of an attack, protection on the home front and decisive Israeli victories.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Israel, Military / Armed Forces, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(FP) Bari Weiss Talks to Walter Russell Mead–Are We Tipping into a New World War?

Now, with antisemitism in America, historically, we’ve had several peaks. There was one in the 1890s and another in the 1930s and 1940s, but these were some of the worst times in American history. During the Great Depression, unemployment reached 25 percent. People lost faith in the American way and as they did, they lost faith in this idea that people of different ethnic and religious backgrounds could work constructively together to make it better for everyone. When we lose that, two things happen. America doesn’t work as well, and antisemitism rises. You can look at those tiki torch boys in Charlottesville back in 2017, or the people marching on campuses today and talking about death to the Jews. They share three beliefs in common: one, they make an idol of ethnic identity. For the white nationalists, if you’re not in the white pure group, you’re only a destructive influence in America, and as for the far left, if you’re white, you’re not right. Two, neither the far left or the far right believe in the promise of the American Dream—that if we follow the American Dream, it gets better for everybody. Thirdly, the far right and the far left both hate Jews. For the white nationalists, the Jews are part of the Great Replacement. For the far left, the Jews are white. They’re uber-white, even. These two groups share these three things in common, and they’re all destructive to what has historically made America work. Our enemies overseas are glad to see the far right and/or the far left rise up. It warms their cold hearts to see us ripping and tearing at each other and denying the truths that over the centuries have made us the most successful large human society in history.

BW: So what you’re saying is that when you see the swastika daubed on a school or when you hear about death threats to Jewish students at Cornell, don’t think about those things as a Jewish issue? Think about those attacks as an American issue, because societies where antisemitism is unleashed are societies that are dead?

WRM: That’s right. Antisemitism is both a sort of mental impairment and a barrier to learning. If you think that “the Jews” control the banks, you don’t understand finance, and will never understand it because you have this happy conspiracy theory and you think you already know everything. If you think “the Jews” control the weather with their space lasers, you’re not going to bother to study meteorological science. A society in which this kind of antisemitism is prevalent is not going to be a sign of a society on the cutting edge of science or business or economics or anything else. In our society, these beliefs are toxic. They’re terrible for Jews, but they are actually poison to what makes America, America.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Israel, Judaism, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

Statement from the C of E House of Bishops on the war in Gaza

As Bishops of the Church of England we condemn the terrorist actions of Hamas on 7th October. Hamas has killed civilians without mercy, defiled their bodies, treated the most vulnerable brutally and taken hostages. Its continued indiscriminate rocket attacks against Israeli targets puts civilian structures and individuals at risk. All this is built on its denial of the right of Israel to exist. Hamas has oppressed the people it was originally elected to serve and has put them in harm’s way by using them as human shields. Its actions are a violation of international law.

We must also reflect on the actions that Israel has taken in response. We affirm absolutely Israel’s right to self-defence. We wholly support the duty of the Government of Israel to protect its citizens. We echo the concerns raised by President Biden about understandable anger and deep trauma not determining strategy and actions. Israel’s right to self-defence needs to be exercised in adherence to the key principles of international humanitarian law.

The huge number of civilians killed in three weeks of bombardment, principally in Gaza City, and the immense suffering of a people herded south with no escape, are a humanitarian catastrophe. Even defined evacuation routes have been hit. Places of sanctuary and gathering have been bombed. Aid workers have been killed and wounded in large numbers. Critical services like healthcare, water, and electricity have been cut, while the military siege of Gaza has meant that no adequate humanitarian response has been possible.

Also gravely concerning are the reports of rising numbers of Palestinians killed in the West Bank by inhabitants of settlements which are illegal under international law. In mixed communities in Israel, where people have generally lived peacefully side by side, Israeli Arabs now find themselves subject to abuse, harassment and discrimination.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Globalization, Israel, Middle East, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, War in Gaza December 2008--

(FA) A World at War–What Is Behind the Global Explosion of Violent Conflict?

Violent conflict is increasing in multiple parts of the world. In addition to Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, and the Israeli offensive on Gaza, raising the specter of a wider war in the Middle East, there has been a surge in violence across Syria, including a wave of armed drone attacks that threatened U.S. troops stationed there. In the Caucasus in late September, Azerbaijan seized the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh—forcing an estimated 150,000 ethnic Armenians to flee their historical home in the territory and setting the stage for renewed fighting with Armenia. Meanwhile, in Africa, the civil war in Sudan rages on, conflict has returned to Ethiopia, and a military takeover of Niger in July was the sixth coup across the Sahel and West Africa since 2020.

In fact, according to an analysis of data gathered by the Uppsala Conflict Data Program, conducted by the Peace Research Institute Oslo, the number, intensity, and length of conflicts worldwide is at its highest level since before the end of the Cold War. The study found that there were 55 active conflicts in 2022, with the average one lasting about eight to 11 years, a substantial increase from the 33 active conflicts lasting an average of seven years a decade earlier.

Notwithstanding the increase in conflicts, it has been more than a decade since an internationally mediated comprehensive peace deal has been brokered to end a war. UN-led or UN-assisted political processes in Libya, Sudan, and Yemen have stalled or collapsed. Seemingly frozen conflicts—in countries including Ethiopia, Israel, and Myanmar—are thawing at an alarming pace. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, high-intensity conflict has even returned to Europe, which had previously enjoyed several decades of relative peace and stability. Alongside the proliferation of war has come record levels of human upheaval. In 2022, a quarter of the world’s population—two billion people—lived in conflict-affected areas. The number of people forcibly displaced worldwide reached a record 108 million by the start of 2023.

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Posted in Africa, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Terrorism, Ukraine

(First Things) Mary Eberstadt–Roman Catholics Against Anti-semitism

Story number three. It is February 2023. The setting for this final act of witness is my first-ever trip to Israel under the auspices of The Philos Project.

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus asks, rhetorically, “What did you go out into the desert to see?” It’s a question that travelers to the Holy Land of any faith can only answer for themselves. But one sight that did not exist until the second half of the twentieth century should not be missed by anyone. That is Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial museum.

Obviously, Israel is about much more than the Holocaust. To focus on Yad Vashem is not to detract from any of the country’s enormous historical, social, spiritual, cultural, or other riches. But for anyone who has been to Israel, and even more, for those who have not, to scant Yad Vashem in discussing anti-Semitism would be inexplicable. Let me cite the observation of the late British novelist Martin Amis. Amis, who was not Jewish, was once asked why his mind and work returned so often to the Holocaust. He replied by citing a German novelist, who said, because “no serious person ever thinks about anything else.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Germany, History, Inter-Faith Relations, Israel, Judaism, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Terrorism, Theology

(NYT) How Posters of Kidnapped Israelis Ignited a Firestorm on American Sidewalks

“KIDNAPPED,” the posters say, in big block letters above pictures of people taken hostage by Hamas terrorists during the Oct. 7 attack in Israel, urgent reminders of the men, women and children still being held hostage in Gaza.

But on college campuses and in cities around the world in recent weeks, people have been caught tearing them down.

“You should be ashamed of yourselves,” a man says in a video posted on social media as he watches two young people at the University of Southern California shove wadded-up posters into the trash.

“They’re making the conflict worse,” one of the young people replies, adding, “I’m not a fan of Hamas.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Israel, Judaism, Law & Legal Issues, Religion & Culture, Terrorism

(Bloomberg) Netanyahu’s ‘Mr. Security’ Persona Fades as Rivals Want Him Out

As the young couple prepare for a night out, the doorbell rings. Outside stands Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, universally known as Bibi. “You ordered a babysitter?” asks the smiling premier. “You’re getting a Bibi-sitter.”

The 2015 campaign ad concludes with Netanyahu addressing the camera: “This election, you decide who can best take care of our children.”

Eight years on, the spot that helped propel Netanyahu to another term in office is being revived on social media, interspersed with chilling footage of the killing of Israeli children by Hamas operatives on Oct. 7.

It’s become part of an intensifying campaign to hold him accountable and force him from office — an effort that now includes not only the political opposition but many former associates as well as some former heads of Israel’s security agencies and military intelligence

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Israel, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(NYT print ed. front page) Hubris and Missed Signals As Hamas Readied Attack–Israel’s Sense of Invincibility Is Shattered by Years of Intelligence Mistakes

Until nearly the start of the attack, nobody believed the situation was serious enough to wake up Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to three Israeli defense officials.

Within hours, the Tequila troops were embroiled in a battle with thousands of Hamas gunmen who penetrated Israel’s vaunted border fence, sped in trucks and on motorbikes into southern Israel and attacked villages and military bases.

The most powerful military force in the Middle East had not only completely underestimated the magnitude of the attack, it had totally failed in its intelligence-gathering efforts, mostly due to hubris and the mistaken assumption that Hamas was a threat contained.

Despite Israel’s sophisticated technological prowess in espionage, Hamas gunmen had undergone extensive training for the assault, virtually undetected for at least a year. The fighters, who were divided into different units with specific goals, had meticulous information on Israel’s military bases and the layout of kibbutzim.

The country’s once invincible sense of security was shattered.

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Posted in History, Israel, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(Economist) The three steps on America’s ladder of military escalation–Could America be dragged back into another Middle East war?

To paraphrase an observation attributed to Leon Trotsky, you may not be interested in the Middle East but the Middle East is interested in you. After a decade of tapering down its military presence in the region, America is back with a huge display of force. In the past few days two fighter squadrons have flown in. They follow the deployment of two aircraft-carrier strike groups, multiple air-defence systems and much aid to Israel. More units have been told to prepare to deploy.

America’s goal is to deter attacks on American interests, on Israel and to a degree on its Arab allies. But what if deterrence fails? The daunting possibilities range from attacks against American soldiers to strikes on shipping in the Persian Gulf and rocket attacks that overwhelm Israel’s air defences. Under what circumstances would America’s forces then be used? And could it be dragged into a deeper Middle East war of the kind its leaders hoped would never happen again after the hell of the forever wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Those questions are both uncomfortable and all too real. Attacks on American interests have been proliferating even as Israel’s invasion of Gaza has been delayed. Between October 17th and 24th there were 13 strikes on American and coalition forces in Iraq and Syria by drones and rockets, the Pentagon says. They came from “Iranian proxy forces and ultimately from Iran”. Such activity has been fairly common in recent years. But these strikes are significant because they break an informal truce that had held in recent months.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Israel, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(Tablet) Archbishop warns of mental health consequences of conflict

In his address to the conference, the Archbishop of Canterbury spoke about his own personal struggle with depression. He noted that the all-island Mind Matters research in Ireland had shown that 46 per cent of the 290 clergy surveyed felt not enough was being done to support their mental health.

He highlighted how the poverty, war and instability faced by people in the Global South contributes significantly to poor mental health while in the Global North “there is powerlessness, there is helplessness” in the face of the constant news about conflict in places like Ukraine and the Middle East and this contributed to poor mental health.

“We are better off than we have ever been in the past, yet there is a much higher level of mental illness in the economically prosperous world than elsewhere particularly among young people.”

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Health & Medicine, Israel, Middle East, Psychology, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(EC) German Jews: ‘Berlin Synagogues Are Burning Again’

Since the outbreak of the war between Israel and Hamas, Germany has seen a large uptick in the number of recorded antisemitism incidents, including the attempted firebombing of a Berlin synagogue and an anti-Israel riot in the German capital that led to 20 police being injured.

The Federal Association of Research and Information Centres on Anti-Semitism (Rias), has recorded 202 antisemitic incidents since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began on October 7th. The newspaper Die Welt reported that the figure is a 240% increase compared to the same period last year.

The vast majority of the incidents are anti-Israel in nature—nine in ten of those reported. Rias claimed that Israel is largely being blamed for the massacres carried out by Hamas.

In fifteen cases, residences of Jews were marked with a Star of David, evoking scenes from the 1930s when the German Nazi party’s Stormtroopers, the Sturmabteilung, painted Stars of David on businesses that were later targeted for attacks and boycotts.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Europe, Germany, History, Israel, Judaism, Other Faiths, Psychology

(Politco Europe) Hamas says it’s closely coordinating war’s next moves with Hezbollah in Lebanon

Iran-backed militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah are closely coordinating their next steps in fighting against Israel, a senior Hamas representative in Lebanon told POLITICO on Tuesday, just hours after Tehran warned of “preemptive action” against Israel.

Ahmed Abdul-Hadi, the head of Hamas’ political bureau in Beirut, insisted Gaza-based Hamas had not given its ally Hezbollah any advance notice of its attacks against Israel on October 7, which killed more than 1,400 people. Despite this, however, he described a continual cooperation between the two groups, stressing Hezbollah was now “geared for a major war” against Israel in the north, while Hamas would burst Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “dream” of driving it out of Gaza.

The remarks will heighten fears the conflict in the Middle East could be about to spill onto two fronts and engulf Lebanon, particularly if Israel launches a ground invasion of Gaza, where its bombardments have already killed more than 2,700 people, and Tehran commits its fellow-Shiite Hezbollah proxies into all-out war.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Terrorism

(Times of Israel) Haviv Rettig Gur–Hamas does not yet understand the depth of Israeli resolve

It is hard in the wake of the October 7 massacre to calmly contemplate Palestinian strategy and thinking. There is no Israeli unaffected, no one without family and friends reeling from the Hamas onslaught, no one, including this writer, not overcome with anxiety for relatives or neighbors now called up to the war.

And yet it is necessary. It is necessary to understand the enemy, the chain of rationalization and habits of mind that produced it and shaped its strategy of brutality.

That enemy is not the Palestinian people, of course, even though support for terror attacks is widespread among Palestinians. The enemy is not exactly Hamas either, though Hamas is part of it. The enemy is the Palestinian theory of Israelis that makes the violence seen on October 7 seem to many of them a rational step on the road to liberation rather than, as Israelis judge it, yet another in a long string of self-inflicted disasters for the Palestinian cause.

The October 7 massacre wasn’t an outlier in Hamas’s long history of brutality; it was its apotheosis. It was what Hamas would do if it could. On that dark Saturday it suddenly found that it could, and so it did. (emphasis mine)

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Psychology, Terrorism, Violence

(Telegraph) Ambrose-Evans-Pritchard–We are one miscalculation short of a Middle East firestorm and the next world oil crisis

The grand bargain between the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia is already a dead letter. This has large implications for oil at a time when the crude market is already in deficit and prices are at the upper band of their historical range – pushed higher by Saudi and OPEC production cuts of two million barrels a day (b/d), otherwise known as cartel price manipulation.

The unspoken terms of the deal were that Saudi Aramco would feed back one million b/d as a unilateral gesture. But this depended on Israel beefing up the Palestinian Authority on the West Bank, one reason why Hamas was so determined to thwart it. The accord is now almost unthinkable.

One can only assume that Hamas intended to provoke total conflagration by decapitating women and children in the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. Events must now follow their Sophoclean script with a haunting inevitability.

There must be a high risk that the unstoppable chain of events will trigger an assault by the Lebanese Hezbollah, backed by Iran and armed with 150,000 missiles on the northern Blue Line, in turn spreading to Syria. Israel bombed Damascus and Aleppo airports in a preemptive strike on Thursday. “The longer the war, the greater the probability that Hezbollah joins in,” said Dr Walid Abdel Hay, a Jordanian political analyst.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Defense, National Security, Military, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Politics in General, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

([London] Times) Niall Ferguson–Will there be a World War Three? Israel-Hamas war risks escalation

To discern the second and third- order effects of this crisis, half a century later, is not easy. One way to grasp their potential magnitude is to ask whether the former US defence secretary, Robert Gates, writing in Foreign Affairs before the onslaught on Israel, is right that: “The United States now confronts graver threats to its security than it has in decades, perhaps ever. Never before has it faced four allied antagonists at the same time — Russia, China, North Korea and Iran — whose collective nuclear arsenal could within a few years be nearly double the size of its own.”

The problem, Gates argued, is that at the very moment events demand a strong and coherent response from America, “the country cannot provide one”.

I have argued for five years that the United States and its allies already find themselves in a new cold war, this time with the People’s Republic of China. I have argued for a year and a half that the war in Ukraine is roughly equivalent to the Korean War during the first Cold War, revealing an ideological as well as geopolitical division between the countries of the “Rimland” (the Anglosphere, western Europe and Japan) and those of the Eurasian “Heartland” (China, Russia and Iran plus North Korea).

And I have warned since January that a war in the Middle East might be the next crisis in a cascade of conflict that has the potential to escalate to a Third World War, especially if China seizes the moment — perhaps as early as next year — to impose a blockade on Taiwan. Now that the Middle Eastern war has indeed broken out, what course will history take?

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Posted in China, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Russia, Terrorism, Ukraine

(NBC) ‘Top secret’ Hamas documents show that terrorists intentionally targeted elementary schools and a youth center

Documents exclusively obtained by NBC News show that Hamas created detailed plans to target elementary schools and a youth center in the Israeli kibbutz of Kfar Sa’ad, to “kill as many people as possible,” seize hostages and quickly move them into the Gaza Strip.

The attack plans, which are labeled “top secret” in Arabic, appear to be orders for two highly trained Hamas units to surround and infiltrate villages and target places where civilians, including children, gather. Israeli authorities are still determining the death toll in Kfar Sa’ad.

The documents were found on the bodies of Hamas terrorists by Israeli first responders and shared with NBC News. They include detailed maps and show that Hamas intended to kill or take hostage civilians and school children.

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Posted in Children, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(NYT) As Israel Prepares for War in Gaza, Debate Is Over How and How Long

“There is not one member of the cabinet who does not agree that Hamas must be smashed to ashes,” Mr. [Yaakov] Amidror said. “How long it takes, the methods, how to minimize the number of civilian casualties, this is the dialogue.”

“If we have to take the whole Gaza Strip, we will do it slowly but surely, even if it takes six months,” he added, echoing what senior officers have said.

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Posted in Ethics / Moral Theology, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle

(FA) Suzanne Maloney–The End of America’s Exit Strategy in the Middle East

As oil markets react to the return of a Middle East risk premium, Tehran may be tempted to resume its attacks and harassment of shipping vessels in the Persian Gulf. U.S. General C. Q. Brown, the newly confirmed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was right to warn Tehran to stay on the sidelines and “not to get involved.” But his choice of words unfortunately suggests a failure to appreciate that the Iranians are already deeply, inextricably involved.

For the Biden administration, it is long past time to shed the mindset that shaped prior diplomacy toward Iran: a conviction that the Islamic Republic could be persuaded to accept pragmatic compromises that served its country’s interests. Once upon a time, that may have been credible. But the Iranian regime has reverted to its foundational premise: a determination to upend the regional order by any means necessary. Washington should dispense with the illusions of a truce with Iran’s theocratic oligarchs.

On every other geopolitical challenge, Biden’s position has evolved considerably from the Obama-era approach. Only U.S. policy toward Iran remains mired in the outdated assumptions of a decade ago. In the current environment, American diplomatic engagement with Iranian officials in Gulf capitals will not produce durable restraint on Tehran’s part. Washington needs to deploy the same tough-minded realism toward Iran that has informed recent U.S. policy on Russia and China: building coalitions of the willing to ratchet up pressure and cripple Iran’s transnational terror network; reinstating meaningful enforcement of U.S. sanctions on the Iranian economy; and conveying clearly—through diplomacy, force posture, and actions to preempt or respond to Iranian provocations—that the United States is prepared to deter Iran’s regional aggression and nuclear advances. The Middle East has a way of forcing itself to the top of every president’s agenda; in the aftermath of this devastating attack, the White House must rise to the challenge.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Politics in General, Terrorism

(New Atlanticist) Nicholas Blanford–What will Hezbollah do next? Here’s how the Hamas-Israel conflict could engulf the region

As Israel prosecutes its offensive against Hamas in Gaza, eyes are nervously turning toward Lebanon, where a series of clashes along the border has raised fears of a second front breaking out, an outcome that could trigger a full regional war. Neither side appears to want an escalation, but the risks are high for a disastrous miscalculation.

So far, the pattern of violence along the Blue Line, the United Nations­–delineated boundary that corresponds to Lebanon’s southern border, has been relatively predictable, consisting of shelling and minor incursions. There has been some talk in recent months about the “unification of the fronts,” meaning the closer coordination between anti-Israel groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), along with myriad other Iran-backed groups in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. Therefore, it would have been difficult for Hezbollah to simply stand back and do nothing as Israel wages its massive offensive against Hamas in Gaza. …

At this initial stage, it appears that Hezbollah wants to keep its actions (whether claimed or unclaimed) below a certain threshold so as not to force Israel into a more powerful retaliation. If Hezbollah were to overshoot, it could trigger an unintended escalatory cycle. It is, however, Iran that has the final say in whether Hezbollah goes to war with Israel. Iran recognizes Hezbollah as its most potent external asset and a key component of its deterrence architecture against a potential attack by Israel or the United States. It is unlikely that Tehran will want to waste Hezbollah in a futile full-scale war with Israel for the sake of supporting Hamas in Gaza.

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Violence

(WSJ) Threat to Israel From Hezbollah and Iran Raises Risk of Wider Conflict

As Israel combats the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip, it faces the strategic question of whether Iran will direct its other protégé, the Lebanese Hezbollah, to open a second front in the north. Hezbollah and Israel have already engaged in limited artillery exchanges that, according to the militant group, Monday killed three of its fighters. Hezbollah said it struck two Israeli military bases near the border using guided missiles and mortars, while the Pentagon warned the group to “think twice” before opening a second front and said the U.S. was prepared to come to Israel’s defense. Iran and Hezbollah have strongly supported Saturday’s invasion of southern Israel by Hamas, which briefly overran Israeli military bases and several villages and towns, killing at least 900 Israelis and taking many others hostage to Gaza.

With its arsenal of precision missiles that could target Israeli air bases and infantry forces hardened by the Syrian war, Hezbollah is a much more powerful enemy than Hamas. Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that Iran, which has long supplied Hezbollah with weapons, helped plan Hamas’s attack on Israel. Hezbollah’s entry into the war, however, could unleash direct Israeli strikes not just against Lebanon but also against Iran. Such an escalation could drag the U.S. into a much wider conflict—not something that Tehran is likely to be interested in at this stage

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Lebanon, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Violence

(NYT Op-ed) Thomas Friedman on the Vicious Surprise Attack by Hamas on Israel–Israel’s Worst Day at War

Why did Hamas launch this war now, without any immediate provocation? One has to wonder if it was not on behalf of the Palestinian people but rather at the behest of Iran, an important supplier of money and arms to Hamas, to help prevent the budding normalization of relations between Saudi Arabia, Iran’s rival, and Israel. Such a deal, as it was being drawn up, would also benefit the more moderate West Bank Palestinian Authority — by delivering to it a huge infusion of cash from Saudi Arabia, as well as curbs on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and other advances to preserve a two-state solution. As a result, West Bank leaders might have earned a desperately needed boost of legitimacy from the Palestinian masses, threatening the legitimacy of Hamas.

That U.S.-Saudi-Israel deal also would have been a diplomatic earthquake that would have most likely required Netanyahu to jettison the most extreme members of his cabinet in return for forging an alliance between the Jewish state and the Sunni-led states of the Persian Gulf against Iran. Altogether, it would have been one of the biggest shifts in the tectonic plates of the region in 75 years. In the wake of this Hamas attack, that deal is now in the deep freeze, as the Saudis have had to link themselves more closely than ever with Palestinian interests, not just their own.

Indeed, within hours of the Hamas invasion, Saudi Arabia issued a statement saying, according to Al Arabiya network: “The kingdom is closely following up on the unprecedented developments between a number of Palestinian factions and the Israeli occupying forces,” adding that it has “repeatedly warned of the consequences of [the deterioration] of the situation as a result of the occupation as well as of depriving the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights and of [not halting] systematic provocations against their holy [sites].”

I am watching how the Hamas-Israel earthquake will shake up another earthquake..:Ukraine…

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Politics in General, Saudi Arabia, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Violence

Israel-Gaza Conflict–‘We Are at War,’ Netanyahu Says After Hamas Attacks

‘In an assault without recent precedent in its complexity and scale, the militants crossed into Israel by land, sea and air, according to the Israeli military, leading to some of the first pitched battles between large groups of Israeli and Arab forces on Israeli soil in decades…

All told, the Israeli military said that the militants had entered at least 22 Israeli towns, abducting soldiers and civilians, including an older grandmother.’

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Posted in Death / Burial / Funerals, Israel, Military / Armed Forces, Terrorism, The Palestinian/Israeli Struggle, Violence

(Bloomberg) As Iran Emerges From Isolation, Israel Is Feeling Cornered

Early this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a mock wartime meeting of his security cabinet in a bunker. Communities in northern Israel are preparing shelters for a long-term conflict. And the military is working overtime on a new laser system to intercept rockets.

Their focus is Iran and its nuclear ambitions.

For years, Israel has considered a nuclear-armed Iran to be an existential threat, and directed its energies to confronting it and its regional proxies in Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian areas.

But much is new in the past few months. Iran has emerged from diplomatic isolation, forging a key military alliance with Russia from which it’s seeking air defenses, restoring diplomatic ties with Saudi Arabia and pushing its allies to fire missiles at Israel. It is also enriching more and more uranium, including a small amount almost to weapons grade — while denying any plans for making a bomb.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General

(NYT) Amitai Etzioni, 94, Dies; Envisioned a Society Built on the Common Good

Amitai Etzioni, the Israeli-American sociologist who drew wide attention and storms of derision by fathering the Communitarian movement, a vision of society in which people are asked to care less about their own rights than about one another and the common good, died on Wednesday at his home in Washington. He was 94.

The death was confirmed by his son David.

Born to German-Jewish parents who fled from Hitler to Palestine, Mr. Etzioni fought for Israeli independence, moved to the United States in 1957 and became an influential academic and political figure. He wrote prodigiously, taught at George Washington University, testified before Congress and advised presidents, prime ministers and other Western leaders on foreign and national policies.

Barely a decade after landing in America, Mr. Etzioni was famous, writing books and articles far afield from the turgid corners of sociology — provocative commentaries on the nuclear arms race, European security, the Vietnam War, America’s racial and educational problems, energy and inflation policies and popular worries over pornography, student unrest and topics ranging from sex therapy to Hollywood hoopla.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, America/U.S.A., Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Israel, Sociology

(NYT front page top left) The USA Blacklisted an Israeli Spyware Firm. But Secretly the Two Had a Deal

 The secret contract was finalized on Nov. 8, 2021, a deal between a company that has acted as a front for the United States government and the American affiliate of a notorious Israeli hacking firm.

Under the arrangement, the Israeli firm, NSO Group, gave the U.S. government access to one of its most powerful weapons — a geolocation tool that can covertly track mobile phones around the world without the phone user’s knowledge or consent.

If the veiled nature of the deal was unusual — it was signed for the front company by a businessman using a fake name — the timing was extraordinary.

Only five days earlier, the Biden administration had announced it was taking action against NSO, whose hacking tools for years had been abused by governments around the world to spy on political dissidents, human rights activists and journalists. The White House placed NSO on a Commerce Department blacklist, declaring the company a national security threat and sending the message that American companies should stop doing business with it.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Blogging & the Internet, Corporations/Corporate Life, Ethics / Moral Theology, Foreign Relations, Israel, Politics in General, Science & Technology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Cyril of Jerusalem

Strengthen, O Lord, we beseech thee, the bishops of thy Church in their special calling to be teachers and ministers of the Sacraments, that they, like thy servant Cyril of Jerusalem, may effectively instruct thy people in Christian faith and practice; and that we, taught by them, may enter more fully into celebration of the Paschal mystery; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Posted in Church History, Israel, Middle East, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) U.S. Held Secret Meeting With Israeli, Arab Military Chiefs to Counter Iran Air Threat

The U.S. convened a secret meeting of top military officials from Israel and Arab countries in March to explore how they could coordinate against Iran’s growing missile and drone capabilities, according to officials from the U.S. and the region.

The previously undisclosed talks, which were held at Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, marked the first time that such a range of ranking Israeli and Arab officers have met under U.S. military auspices to discuss how to defend against a common threat.

The meeting brought together the top military officers from Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan and came as Israel and its neighbors are in the early stage of discussing potential military cooperation, the officials said.

The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain also sent officers to the meeting. The U.S. was represented by Gen. Frank McKenzie, then the head of the U.S. Central Command.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Science & Technology

(Reuters) Church of the Holy Sepulchre’s ancient altar rediscovered, researchers say

Pressed against a wall in a back corridor of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a stone slab bore testimony only to the graffiti etched on it by multitudes of pilgrims through the ages.

But the 2.5 x 1.5 metre stone turned out to be far more precious when its other side was exposed during recent renovations at the church, the traditional site of Jesus’s crucifixion and burial.

Researchers believe the elaborate looping ornaments they found on the long-hidden part of the slab indicate it was once the decorated front of a medieval high altar that took pride of place centuries ago in one of Christianity’s holiest sites.

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Posted in Church History, Israel, Middle East, Religion & Culture

(WSJ) Israel’s ‘War Between the Wars’ With Iran Expands Across Middle East

The Israeli military says it has carried out more than 400 airstrikes in Syria and other parts of the Middle East since 2017 as part of a wide-ranging campaign targeting Iran and its allies, offering its fullest picture yet of its undeclared war with Tehran.

Israeli leaders refer to the campaign as the “war between the wars,” which they say is aimed at deterring Iran and weakening Tehran’s ability to hit Israel in the event of an open war between the two regional adversaries.

Israel’s airstrike campaign in Syria has hampered Iran’s military ambitions, military analysts say, but it has also pushed the conflict into other arenas, with both countries now battling at sea, in Iran, and above Israel’s skies.

“It’s not 100% success,” said Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, who retired last week as head of Israel’s air force, where he served as architect of the campaign. “But without our activity, the situation here might be much more negative.”

Among the targets hit by Israel: Russian-supplied air-defense systems, drone bases operated by Iranian military advisers, and precision-guided missile systems bound for Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon.

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Posted in Foreign Relations, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Military / Armed Forces, Politics in General, Syria