Israel now neutral on ousting Syria’s Bashar al-Assad

The Forward reports: Israel is no longer taking a public position on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s prospects of staying in power, its defense minister said on Tuesday, citing the opposing goals of the United States and Russia as they intervene in the civil war.

Seeing enemies on all sides of the insurgency that erupted in the neighboring Arab state in 2011, Israel has been formally neutral but initially called for Assad to be toppled, arguing this would deny its arch-foe Iran a key ally in the Levant.

That view hewed to the strategy of the United States and its Arab partners, which back some Syrian rebels and say Assad has lost legitimacy to lead. But with Assad holding on and now helped by a Russian military intervention, Israel has gone mum.

“What is our policy in Syria? We say: We do not intervene. We have an opinion as to what we would like to be there. But we are not in a position nor do we have the status, for sensitive reasons, to say we are in favor of Assad or against Assad,” Yaalon said in a speech to a farm collective near Jerusalem. [Continue reading…]


Jerusalem: Why should things not get worse?

David Shulman writes: These days Jerusalem is a sad and scary place. The city center has largely emptied out. Whether you are Jewish Israeli or Palestinian, there is a sense of lurking danger, random, episodic, entirely unpredictable. Although the number of stabbing incidents has decreased over the last few days, in the street you still sometimes look over your shoulder. People, even in extreme situations, manage to create a veneer of normalcy, easily torn away by the next explosion. But the police report a 2,000 percent increase in the public’s demand for handguns, and the government is easing the process of obtaining one. Once people have guns, they tend to use them.

Fear, also hate, makes for a light finger on the trigger, especially in an atmosphere of rabid nationalism that is deliberately fanned by government spokesmen and the prime minister himself. Army intelligence predicts the current violence will get worse; already, Hamas is said to have directed its forces on the West Bank to carry out suicide bombings. And why should things not get worse? As many of us have been saying for years, this situation is the natural and inevitable result of the Netanyahu world.

When it began some four weeks ago, much of the violence was initially focused on Jerusalem and clearly related to events on the Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary, containing the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque), which the Jews call the Temple Mount—the most sensitive spot in the Middle East and always a flashpoint for potential conflict. For the last several months, before the current wave of violence, there has been a small-scale Intifada in Palestinian neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city; young Palestinians have been battling police and soldiers there night after night. These confrontations escalated out of control in September and October largely because of the perceived threat to the Haram, especially the possibility that groups of religious Jews will be allowed to pray there or even to build some synagogue-like structure. There was also the matter of police raids on the Al-Aqsa mosque, allegedly to search for weapons and explosives.

Palestinian fears that the Zionists intend to harm, perhaps destroy, the Haram go back to the very earliest years of the struggle in Palestine, long before the creation of the state. This anxiety is not entirely baseless. Official Israel, under pressure from abroad, has reaffirmed (via mediation by Jordan) its commitment to the existing arrangements on the Haram, still largely run by the Waqf, the Muslim Endowment Board, with only collective Muslim prayer allowed there. But we have a Jewish extremist fringe, led by crazed and vicious men such as Moshe Feiglin—a convicted criminal, a settler, and also, to our shame, a current member of the Knesset—who are continuously trying to establish some form of permanent Jewish presence on the Temple Mount, including a building and ready access to the Haram by these hyper-nationalist fanatics. [Continue reading…]


Reports: Israel launches airstrikes on Hezbollah in Syria

The Times of Israel reports: The Lebanese and Syrian media said Saturday that Israel Air Force warplanes have attacked targets in Syria linked to the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah. Reports varied, however, on the exact targets and location of the strikes.

According to a report on the Lebanese Debate website, six IAF jets carried out the strike over the Qalamoun Mountains region of western Syria, and targeted weapons that were headed for Hezbollah, Channel 10 said.

Syrian opposition groups, for their part, claimed Israeli planes had attacked targets in the Damascus area, in two strikes in areas where Hezbollah and pro-Assad forces were centered.

Syrian media, however, said that Israeli warplanes hit several Hezbollah targets in southern Syria.

Israel’s defense establishment declined to comment on the reports of the strikes, which would be the first since Russia boosted its involvement in the Syrian civil war. [Continue reading…]


Why is the Center for American Progress hosting Benjamin Netanyahu?

Ali Gharib writes:  When Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comes to town next month, he’ll meet with President Obama at the White House for the first time since the right-wing Israeli led a failed campaign to block the liberal Democrat’s nuclear deal with Iran. During the course of his long, no-holds-barred fight against diplomacy with Iran, Netanyahu took a stand with congressional Republicans against the White House, attracting minimal Democratic support for his position against Obama’s signal foreign policy achievement. Three years ago, Netanyahu all but endorsed Obama’s opponent in the presidential race, Mitt Romney. And Netanyahu’s own behavior at home — most notably the modus operandi of his successful reelection bid this year, which included anti-Arab bigotry and a vow to block a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — strained relations further.

So it was altogether fitting that Netanyahu, during his swing through Washington, would be given an award by the American Enterprise Institute, a neoconservative think tank close to the Republican Party that never strays too far from Netanyahu’s ideological home turf. Though Israel — and its most influential DC lobby group, AIPAC — has traditionally garnered bipartisan support, neoconservatives don’t give a whit about it; they have long thought Democrats, and especially today’s Democrats, were insufficiently hawkish to give Israel the kind of support it needed in the Middle East. And Netanyahu has more than made clear where his allegiances lay on the American political spectrum: with the Republicans, and especially the neoconservatives among them.

It was jarring, then, to see the news yesterday that Netanyahu would be invited to address the liberal Washington think tank Center for American Progress, a group that serves the purpose of fueling the Democratic Party with progressive policies and ideas. The Israeli embassy approached CAP, the Huffington Post reported (in an article in which I was quoted), and asked for an opportunity to speak. “He’s looking for that progressive validation,” a former CAP staffer told the news website, “and they’re basically validating a guy who race-baited during his election and has disavowed the two-state solution.” [Continue reading…]


UK academics boycott universities in Israel to fight for Palestinians’ rights

The Guardian reports: More than 300 academics from dozens of British universities have pledged to boycott Israeli academic institutions in protest at what they call intolerable human rights violations against the Palestinian people.

The declaration, by 343 professors and lecturers, is printed in a full-page advertisement carried in Tuesday’s Guardian, with the title: “A commitment by UK scholars to the rights of Palestinians.”

The pledge says the signatories, from a variety of universities in England and Wales, will not accept invitations to visit Israeli academic institutions, act as referees for them, or take part in events organised or funded by them. They will, however, still work with individual Israeli academics, it adds.

The advert says the signatories are “deeply disturbed by Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land, the intolerable human rights violations that it inflicts on all sections of the Palestinian people, and its apparent determination to resist any feasible settlement”.

In a statement on behalf of the organisers of the boycott, Prof Jonathan Rosenhead, of the London School of Economics, said Israel’s universities were “at the heart of Israel’s violations of international law and oppression of the Palestinian people”. [Continue reading…]


In Golan, a battle looms between Iran and Israel

Jean-Loup Samaan writes: More than four years into the Syrian conflict, the Golan Heights have become the centre of gravity for an indirect war between Iran and Israel. This was not an inevitable turn of events, as the area had been home to one of the quietest borders in the Middle East for decades. Although Israel seized the plateau in 1967 and unilaterally annexed it in 1981, the Golan had not witnessed clashes like South Lebanon or the Sinai Peninsula. This dramatically changed with the worsening of the war in Syria.

By the end of 2012, Iran and Hizbollah had sent hundreds of fighters to support the Bashar Al Assad regime. Fights with Syrian rebels, in particular Jabhat Al Nusra, increased on the Syrian side of the Golan and its vicinity. In April 2013, the Qusayr battle saw Hizbollah deploying a contingent of more than 1,200 men. In the following months, a war of attrition emerged in Quneitra and the Qalamoun mountains, with a new major battle flaring in Yabroud in February 2014.

But progressively it appeared that Hizbollah and the Iranians were not solely fighting Syrian rebels, but turning the Golan into a new forward base to target Israel. Various reports claim that tunnels and bunkers are being built to prepare for the next conflict with the Israeli military.

Soon the Israelis reacted by playing a rather ambiguous game with Syrian rebels on the other side of the border. Although it was common knowledge that medical care had been provided to Syrian civilians in Israeli hospitals, the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force based in the Golan were, by 2014, describing something bigger. [Continue reading…]


A new generation of Palestinian resistance

Yassmine Saleh writes: Over the past several days, Palestinian youth in the West Bank have been exerting their political power — destroying parts of the Separation Wall surrounding the city of Abu Dis with a large hammer, rallying against the attacks on Jerusalemite Palestinians in the Old City, and clashing with Israeli soldiers at checkpoints.

The current wave of youth protest is not an anomaly in the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation and colonization. Palestinian society is a young society. Youths make up a third of the population, with fully 30 percent of people between the ages of fifteen and twenty-nine. In Jerusalem, 35.2 percent of the population is below the age of fifteen. And young people have been the driving force behind recent uprisings, such as the First Intifada in 1987–93 and the Second Intifada in 2000–05.

The First Intifada was a watershed in the history of resistance to Israeli occupation and featured mass forms of popular resistance. People of all ages and social groups united in that struggle against the occupation.

Neighborhood committees started to watch over the security of every neighborhood. When schools and universities were closed under military orders, teachers in every neighborhood gathered students to continue their classes. Agricultural relief committees, founded in the late 1970s and early 1980s, started writing how-to booklets on home-based agriculture to counter the months and weeklong curfews that the Israeli army sometimes imposed on parts of the West Bank.

“Intifada” would come to English as a synonym for “uprising” in its wake.

The uprising today is taking new forms. [Continue reading…]


Netanyahu pledges that Israel will ‘forever live by the sword’

Haaretz reports (via Mondoweiss): Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that although he doesn’t want a binational state, “at this time we need to control all of the territory for the foreseeable future.”

MKs who took part in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting — where the prime minister spoke — told Haaretz that Netanyahu turned to the politicians and said, hinting at the anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination: “These days, there is talk about what would happen if this or that person would have remained. It’s irrelevant; there are movements here of religion and Islam that have nothing to do with us.” Netanyahu then turned to opposition MKs and said: “You think there is a magic wand here, but I disagree. I’m asked if we will forever live by the sword — yes.” [Continue reading…]


Netanyahu considers move that might divide ‘united’ Jerusalem

The Times of Israel reports: ime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is considering revoking the permanent residency status of East Jerusalemite Arabs in a measure aimed at halting an ongoing spate of terror attacks, many of which have emanated from Arab neighborhoods of the city.

Netanyahu raised the idea in a security cabinet meeting two weeks ago, according to a Sunday report from Channel 2 news.

The proposal came as the security cabinet passed a slew of measures designed to prevent further Palestinian attacks in the current wave of unrest.

“We need to examine the possibility of canceling their residency. There needs to be a discussion about it,” Netanyahu reportedly said.

The proposal would affect some 80,000 people, according to the report.

The idea was met with surprise by some in the cabinet who saw the move as a step toward dividing Jerusalem through ceding control over Arab neighborhoods. [Continue reading…]


The occupation is destroying Israel, too

Assaf Gavron writes: We seem to be in a fast and alarming downward swirl into a savage, unrepairable society. There is only one way to respond to what’s happening in Israel today: We must stop the occupation. Not for peace with the Palestinians or for their sake (though they have surely suffered at our hands for too long). Not for some vision of an idyllic Middle East — those arguments will never end, because neither side will ever budge, or ever be proved wrong by anything. No, we must stop the occupation for ourselves. So that we can look ourselves in the eyes. So that we can legitimately ask for, and receive, support from the world. So that we can return to being human.

Whatever the consequences are, they can’t be worse than what we are now grappling with. No matter how many soldiers we put in the West Bank, or how many houses of terrorists we blow up, or how many stone-throwers we arrest, we don’t have any sense of security; meanwhile, we have become diplomatically isolated, perceived around the world (sometimes correctly) as executioners, liars, racists. As long as the occupation lasts, we are the more powerful side, so we call the shots, and we cannot go on blaming others. For our own sake, for our sanity — we must stop now. [Continue reading…]


Israel sent aircraft into Iranian airspace in 2012, raising fears of regional war

The Wall Street Journal reports: The U.S. closely monitored Israel’s military bases and eavesdropped on secret communications in 2012, fearing its longtime ally might try to carry out a strike on Fordow, Iran’s most heavily fortified nuclear facility.

Nerves frayed at the White House after senior officials learned Israeli aircraft had flown in and out of Iran in what some believed was a dry run for a commando raid on the site. Worried that Israel might ignite a regional war, the White House sent a second aircraft carrier to the region and readied attack aircraft, a senior U.S. official said, “in case all hell broke loose.”

The two countries, nursing a mutual distrust, each had something to hide. U.S. officials hoped to restrain Israel long enough to advance negotiations on a nuclear deal with Iran that the U.S. had launched in secret. U.S. officials saw Israel’s strike preparations as an attempt to usurp American foreign policy.

Instead of talking to each other, the allies kept their intentions secret. To figure out what they weren’t being told, they turned to their spy agencies to fill gaps. They employed deception, not only against Iran, but against each other. After working in concert for nearly a decade to keep Iran from an atomic bomb, the U.S. and Israel split over the best means: diplomacy, covert action or military strikes.

Personal strains between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu erupted at their first Oval Office meeting in 2009, and an accumulation of grievances in the years since plunged relations between the two countries into crisis.

This Wall Street Journal account of the souring of U.S.-Israel relations over Iran is based on interviews with nearly two dozen current and former senior U.S. and Israeli officials.

U.S. and Israeli officials say they want to rebuild trust but acknowledge it won’t be easy. Mr. Netanyahu reserves the right to continue covert action against Iran’s nuclear program, said current and former Israeli officials, which could put the spy services of the U.S. and Israel on a collision course.

In early 2012, U.S. spy agencies told the White House about a flurry of meetings that Mr. Netanyahu convened with top security advisers. The meetings covered everything from mission logistics to the political implications of a military strike, Israeli officials said.

U.S. spy agencies stepped up satellite surveillance of Israeli aircraft movements. They detected when Israeli pilots were put on alert and identified moonless nights, which would give the Israelis better cover for an attack. They watched the Israelis practice strike missions and learned they were probing Iran’s air defenses, looking for ways to fly in undetected, U.S. officials said.

New intelligence poured in every day, much of it fragmentary or so highly classified that few U.S. officials had a complete picture. Officials now say many jumped to the mistaken conclusion that the Israelis had made a dry run.

The U.S. Air Force analyzed the arms and aircraft needed to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities and concluded Israel didn’t have the right equipment. The U.S. shared the findings, in part, to steer the Israelis from a military strike.

The Israelis weren’t persuaded and briefed the U.S. on an attack plan: Cargo planes would land in Iran with Israeli commandos on board who would “blow the doors, and go in through the porch entrance” of Fordow, a senior U.S. official said. The Israelis planned to sabotage the nuclear facility from inside.

Pentagon officials thought it was a suicide mission. They pressed the Israelis to give the U.S. advance warning. The Israelis were noncommittal.

Israeli officials approached their U.S. counterparts over the summer about obtaining military hardware useful for a strike, U.S. officials said.

At the top of the list were V-22 Ospreys, aircraft that take off and land like helicopters but fly like fixed-wing planes. Ospreys don’t need runways, making them ideal for dropping commandos behind enemy lines.

The Israelis also sounded out officials about obtaining the Massive Ordnance Penetrator, the U.S. military’s 30,000-pound bunker-busting bomb, which was designed to destroy Fordow.

White House officials decided not to provide the equipment.

Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu spoke in September 2012, and Mr. Obama emerged convinced Israel wouldn’t strike on the eve of the U.S. presidential election.

By the following spring, senior U.S. officials concluded the Israelis weren’t serious about a commando raid on Fordow and may have been bluffing. When the U.S. offered to sell the Ospreys, Israel said it didn’t have the money.

Former Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who championed a strike, said Mr. Netanyahu had come close to approving a military operation against Iran. But Israel’s military chiefs and cabinet members were reluctant, according to Israeli officials. [Continue reading…]


Netanyahu, the Grand Mufti and the Holocaust: why it is important to get the historical facts right

By Rainer Schulze, University of Essex

In a speech to the World Zionist Congress in Jerusalem on October 20, the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused Haj Amin al-Husseini, former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, of “inspiring the Holocaust” and urging Hitler to exterminate the Jewish people.

Netanyahu then explained that he wanted “to show that the father of the Palestinian nation wanted to destroy Jews even without occupation.” These comments led to widespread condemnation and outrage. But who was al-Husseini, and what was his role and involvement in the Holocaust? Rainer Schulze sets the record straight.

Who was the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini?

Born in the mid-1890s, and appointed Mufti of Jerusalem in 1921 (Grand Mufti in 1922), Haj Amin al-Husseini was one of the most prominent nationalist Arab figures in Palestine during the time of the British Mandate. He opposed both British rule in Palestine, and the Jewish-Zionist dream of a Jewish homeland in the region, aiming instead to establish a pan-Arab federation or state with himself as the spiritual leader.

His political activism led him to organise and support protests against Jewish immigration and Jewish settlements, which peaked in the 1936-39 Arab revolt in Palestine. In 1937, in order to evade arrest, he fled Palestine and took up residence first in the French Mandate of Lebanon and then in Iraq. In October 1941, he escaped to Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany.

[Read more…]


Video: Voices of the Palestinian youth rebellion


The convenient lie that helps many Israelis and their friends avoid facing the truth

There’s a common deceit that individuals and groups of people have employed throughout history as a way of avoiding accepting responsibility for their own actions. Here’s how it works and it’s amazingly simple:

If you do things that offend others, you can ignore their complaints by insisting that their grievance is based, not on what you have done, but on who you are.

By claiming that you are a victim of animosity based on your identity, you instantly become blameless.

Following Benjamin Netanyahu’s absurd claim that a Palestinian inspired the Holocaust, Jay Michaelson writes: comments like Netanyahu’s are made all the time on the Israeli Right. They’re meant for domestic consumption, to inspire the nationalist base. The Arabs hate us, anti-Zionism is just anti-Semitism, and most importantly, the Intifada is about Jew-hatred, not resistance to the occupation.

Such claims may seem controversial to outsiders. But they are all catnip to the American and Israeli Right, and to most of Netanyahu’s audience at the World Zionist Congress. (The congress was established by the founder of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl, in 1897. Nowadays it is mostly ceremonial, but millions of philanthropic dollars are at stake.)

These claims are central to the ultra-nationalist narrative. Palestinian violence isn’t resistance—it’s bigotry. Thus, peace is not the answer, because it won’t eradicate the Jew-hatred. Only Jewish strength is the answer. (Of course, blaming Palestinian violence on anti-Semitism also stokes deep Jewish fears, and collective trauma about the Holocaust.)

This was the ideology of Ze’ev Jabotinsky, the founder of revisionist Zionism (and the fan of Jewish fascism) as well as Netanyahu’s own father. Force is all the Arabs understand, because they hate Jews and will keep hating Jews no matter what. [Continue reading…]


After Netanyahu claims Hitler didn’t want to kill the Jews, Germany insists it holds full responsibility for the Holocaust

Reuters reports: The German government said on Wednesday that responsibility for the Holocaust lay with the Germans, after Israel’s prime minister sparked controversy before a visit to Berlin by saying a Muslim elder had convinced Adolf Hitler to exterminate Jews.

“All Germans know the history of the murderous race mania of the Nazis that led to the break with civilisation that was the Holocaust,” Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said when asked about Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks.

“This is taught in German schools for good reason, it must never be forgotten. And I see no reason to change our view of history in any way. We know that responsibility for this crime against humanity is German and very much our own.” [Continue reading…]


‘Netanyahu joins a long line of people that we would call Holocaust deniers’

The New York Times reports: Israeli historians and opposition politicians on Wednesday joined Palestinians in denouncing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel for saying it was a Palestinian, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, who gave Hitler the idea of annihilating European Jews during World War II.

Mr. Netanyahu said in a speech to the Zionist Congress on Tuesday night that “Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews.” The prime minister said that the mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, had protested to Hitler that “they’ll all come here,” referring to Palestine.

“ ‘So what should I do with them?’ ” Mr. Netanyahu quoted Hitler as asking Mr. Husseini. “He said, ‘Burn them.’ ”

Prof. Meir Litvak, a historian at Tel Aviv University, called the speech “a lie” and “a disgrace.” Prof. Moshe Zimmermann, a specialist of German history at Hebrew University, said, “With this, Netanyahu joins a long line of people that we would call Holocaust deniers.”

Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition in the Israeli Parliament, said the accusation was “a dangerous historical distortion,” and he demanded that Mr. Netanyahu “correct it immediately.” [Continue reading…]


Netanyahu provokes uproar in Israel by linking Palestinians to Holocaust

The Associated Press reports: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sparked an uproar in Israel on Wednesday for suggesting that a World War II-era Palestinian leader convinced the Nazis to adopt their Final Solution to exterminate 6 million Jews.

Holocaust experts and survivors slammed Netanyahu’s comments as historically inaccurate and serving the interests of Holocaust deniers by lessening the responsibility of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. Critics also said the statement amounts to incitement against modern-day Palestinians in the midst of a wave of violent unrest and high tensions.

Speaking to a group of Jewish leaders Tuesday, Netanyahu tried to use a historical anecdote to illustrate his claim that Palestinian incitement surrounding Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site goes back decades. He has repeatedly claimed that a wave of Palestinian attacks in recent weeks is the result of decades of hatred, and not connected to Israel’s 48-year occupation of lands claimed by the Palestinians, as the Palestinians have claimed.

Netanyahu said the World War II-era grand mufti of Jerusalem, Nazi sympathizer Haj Amin al-Husseini, also instigated Palestinian attacks on Jews over lies that they planned to destroy the Temple Mount, known to Muslims at the Noble Sanctuary.

Netanyahu said al-Husseini played a “central role in fomenting the final solution” by trying to convince Hitler to destroy the Jews during a November 1941 meeting in Berlin.

“Hitler didn’t want to exterminate the Jews at the time, he wanted to expel the Jews,” Netanyahu told the group. “And Haj Amin al-Husseini went to Hitler and said, ‘If you expel them, they’ll all come here.’ ‘So what should I do with them?’ he asked. He said, ‘Burn them.’”

Details of the meeting between al-Husseini and Hitler are sketchy. The Nazis released a grainy propaganda video showing the mufti making a Nazi salute before a warm handshake. The official record from the meeting says Hitler pledged “the annihilation of Jewry living in Arab space.”

While the Nazis’ official endorsement of the Final Solution came months after the meeting, historians note that the Nazis’ mass killing of Jews was already well underway.

Several concentration camps were up and running, and Hitler had previously repeatedly declared his lethal intentions for the Jews. If anything, they said it was the Nazis who were trying to use al-Husseini for their own propaganda interests and that Hitler didn’t need any outside inspiration. When Hitler did consider deporting Jews, it was in the context of sending them to countries like Ukraine and Lithuania where they would face persecution or death. [Continue reading…]


Hamas calls for Russian intervention to protect Palestinians from Israeli aggression

Haaretz reports: Hamas called on Russia on Saturday to intervene in what it describes as Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people.

Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal spoke with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov on Saturday evening, according to a statement released by the group.

Referring to the recent spate of attacks perpetrated by Palestinians against Israelis, Meshal told Bogdanov that the “uprising” is a result of the Israeli “policies of oppression” toward the Palestinian people, as well as attempts to “damage the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” Meshal asked that Russia press Israel to stop the “aggression” against Palestinians, primarily in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

According to the Hamas statement, Bogdanov expressed discontent over Israeli conduct, and promised to take action against it, including measures in the international arena. [Continue reading…]

The only way in which Russia currently has an interest in influencing Israel is by blocking its access to Syrian air space.

The New York Times reported last week:

Russia’s Defense Ministry announced on Thursday that it had established a hotline with the Israeli military to avoid clashes in the sky during these operations. On Wednesday, representatives of both sides used the hotline to inform each other about their plans, the ministry said in a statement.

The next day, it became obvious how this hotline is meant to function: the Russians can use it to warn “the Israelis that entering Syrian airspace would be a pretext for opening fire.”

As far as Hamas’s petitions are concerned, they should already understand that Putin has made his philosophy clear: sovereignty means that a government can do whatever it wants within the territory it controls.

Beyond that, let’s not forget that there are a million Israelis who were born in Russia. How many Palestinians are there of Russian descent?

Putin’s intervention in Syria is far from unwelcome in the eyes of many Israelis.

In Haaretz, Moshe Arens asks whether Israel would be better off if Putin succeeds in Syria. “The one advantage of a dictatorship is that there is someone there — someone you can threaten, someone with whom you can negotiate and even make peace.”

It’s not without reason that the canny sign writers in Kafranbel see Russia, Israel, Iran and Hezbollah all siding with Assad against the Syrian people.