Saturday, October 13, 2012

Iran seeks to destroy the Jewish people

Published in the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, September 24, 2012

Persons involved in Jewish life believe that all American Jews support and identify with the State of Israel. While that belief may be generally correct, there are undoubtedly exceptions.

Clearly,  some dichotomize between the State of Israel, on the one hand, and American Jews, including themselves, on the other. They blithely live their lives despite the very real, mortal threat to the State of Israel from Iran's imminent attainment of nuclear weapons capability.

The dichotomization can only go so far. I was struck by the observation offered by a rabbi on Rosh Hashanah that Iran does not seek merely to destroy the State of Israel. Rather, its goal is the destruction of the Jewish people.

As I thought about his comment, I realized that the rabbi was correct. No Jew, no matter how seemingly secure in Connecticut, will be safe from a nuclear Iran.  Iran showed its intentions toward the Jewish people by directing the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. The bombing was an attack on the Jewish people, qua Jewish people, and not merely on the State of Israel as a political entity. The bombing had no relationship to Israel until the IDF, as protectors of the Jewish people, arrived in the wake of the tragedy.

If Iran could wreak such destruction without nuclear weapons, consider the peril for all Jews when Iran next year has nuclear capability and, virtually automatically, nuclear weapons. We delude ourselves to believe that we can escape Iran's fanatical hatred of us as Jews by psychologically divorcing ourselves from Jews abroad. We share a common fate, as we did in the Holocaust, when Jews were killed without distinction. Oceans are no longer a barrier.

What should we do? It is incumbent on all Jews, Jewishly involved and non-involved, to use their best efforts to stop Iran before Iran reaches the so-called zone of immunity. This must be our priority. We must communicate with governmental leaders, write to the media, and support organizations and candidates who demonstrate urgency in dealing with Iran. Of transcendent importance, we must understand that all Jews are joined together as targets of Iran's irrational hatred.

Mark I. Fishman
President of PRIMER-CT (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Unpublished Letters

These letters have been submitted but have not yet been published.

New London Day
Submitted September 15, 2012

Reading David Ignatius's September 15 op-ed, "U.S. can't let Israel force it into Iran war," I couldn't help but think of how wonderful hindsight is.

The world was virtually unanimous in condemning Israel when it destroyed Iraq's Osirak reactor in 1981; today, every sane person is grateful for that prophylactic action.

History will probably condemn Israel for not doing the same to Iran's nuclear program fifteen years ago.

I certainly don't want either the United States or Israel to be forced to take military action against Iran. I own a winter home in Israel and will probably wind up spending time in bomb shelters if there's a military confrontation.

On the other hand, I want a nuclear Iran even less, especially since with Iran developing ICBMs we won't be safe here in America, either. When we seem to be putting more effort into pressuring Israel not to take military action against Iran's nukes than we put into pressuring those mad mullahs, we only increase the long-term probability not only of war, but of nuclear war.

I'm currently reading "Why England Slept," the published version of John F. Kennedy's senior thesis at Harvard. The similarities to today's world are frightening. We need to wake up.

Alan Stein

New York Times
Submitted September 28, 2012

Re The Times' September 27 editorial, "Talking at Cross Purposes," about the United Nations speeches by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the headline was right on but the rest of the editorial was way off base.

Netanyahu devoted most of his speech to the most serious immediate problem facing the world today, the drive by Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. Rather than, as The Times incorrectly reports, trying to get the world to take military action, Netanyahu is trying to get the world to wake up and take serious action that has a chance of making military action unnecessary.

Netanyahu paid little attention to the Palestinian Arabs for a very good reason: there is no chance for any progress as long as Mahmoud Abbas continues to refuse to negotiate while putting his effort into demonstrating that Mitt Romney's comment about the Palestinians "not wanting to see peace anyway" was correct.

Alan Stein

Boston Globe
Submitted October 1, 2012

Re the October 1 editorial, "Palestinian Authority's woes are a problem for US, Israel," the PA could make a significant dent in its financial problems if it stopped spending 6 percent of its budget paying jailed terrorists and the families of suicide bombers. As just one example, it pays Abbas al-Sayyeed $3,000 per month. Al-Sayyeed is in jail because he planned the 2002 Passover seder massacre at the Park Hotel in Netanya, blowing up 30 civilians.

The PA also puts 48 percent of its expenditures into Hamas-ruled Gaza and pays 60,000 former employees to sit home.

For the Palestinian Authority, wasting donated money is a strategic ploy. Since its inception its leaders have successfully made alleged and self-induced weakness into a weapon against Israel, whose leaders have shown far more interest in the welfare of the Palestinian Arabs than either Yassir Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, the so-called "moderate" who in 2008 refused to even respond to an Israeli offer of a Palestinian Arab state in the equivalent of all the disputed territories and since then has generally refused to even sit down and negotiate.

Alan Stein


The statistics about payments to jailed terrorists and families of suicide bombers is available from many sources, including the Times of Israel article "PA spends 6% of its budget paying Palestinians in Israeli jails, families of suicide bombers," available at <>.

The statistics about Palestinian Authority spending in Gaza is also available from many sources, including the Commentary Magazine article "PA’s Fiscal Crisis Is Due to Gaza, Not Israel," <>.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Comment and Analysis: New York TImes, New London Day, Danbury News-Times

Short quotes from three recent items in Connecticut newspapers along with analyses of those quotes.

Item 1:

A letter, entitled "U.S. policies further isolate Israel," written by Ernie Cohen of Norwich and published in The Day on Saturday, September 29, 2012.

"Avraham Berg, former speaker of the Israeli parliament, laments that Israel is falling into theocracy where citizenship depends on belonging to the right synagogue and excluding everyone else."

While the conflicts between the ultra-orthodox and secular Jewish communities in Israel is one of their most serious problems, in quoting Berg the writer grossly exaggerates. In no way is Israel "falling into theocracy" and one's synagogue has absolutely no relationship to citizenship, either for current citizens or for Jews in the diaspora making aliyah.

Note that Avraham Berg has become a French citizen, "is in favor of abrogating the Law of Return and calls on everyone who can to obtain a foreign passport." (See the Ha'aretz article "Burg: Defining Israel as a Jewish state is the key to its end" An Algemeiner article refers to him as a self-hating Israel and an anti-Zionist. He seems to be suffering from a variant of the Stockhold Syndrome.

"Israel's rapidly increasing Jewish population contrasts with an Arab population living behind barbed wire on the West Bank while new Jewish immigrants settle on more Arab lands."

This is absolutely false.

The Arab population is no more "living behind barbed wire" than the Jewish population. A separation barrier, in some places ordinary chain link fence, concrete barriers in some places where fencing is impractical, was built to protect Israeli civilians from the brutal terrorist campaign launched by the Palestinian Arabs after Yassir Arafat rejected peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state in 2000.

Re population increases, the Arab population in Israel is growing at a much faster rate than the Jewish population.

In the last year, the Jewish population grew by 1.8% and the Arab population grew by 2.4%. In the disputed territories, there are no Jews at all in Gaza. In the West Bank, Jews are restricted from building anywhere but within the boundaries of some existing communities, while Arab building, legal and illegal, is rampant. (See

Since Jerusalem was reunited in 1967, the capital city's Jewish population has increased by 157 percent while the Arab population has increased an astounding 327 percent! (See

The Jewish communities in the disputed territories are generally built on land that was either owned by Jews or was state land; very little can be honestly characterized as "Arab land."

"The prolonged occupation and opposition by Israel to Palestinian efforts to become a state is having moral consequences within Israeli society."

The Israeli government is publicly in favor of the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state and has twice proposed the establishment of such a state in virtually all (in 2000) or the equivalent of all (in 2008) the disputed territories. It is the Palestinian Arab leadership, not Israel, which has prevented the establishment of another Palestinian state.

For most practical purposes, the so-called "occupation" ended near the start of the failed Oslo process nearly two decades ago and any remnants remain only because of Arab terrorism and rejectionism.

"Israel today hasn't a single supporter in the middle East."

    Israel has never had a supporter in the Middle East, with the exception of Iran during the rule of the Shah and Turkey until the Islamist government under Erdogan. In each case, it was Islamist hatred rather than any action by Israel which changed friend into enemy.

"Americans have contributed to Israel's isolation by abandoning the peace process and exploiting biblical sentiments for political and military gains."

    It was Mahmoud Abbas, not either America or Israel, who destroyed and abandoned the so-called peace process.

"Christians and Jews alike need to ask themselves: 'If God walked across the Holy Land today, what would he see? Who would he help.'"

    The answer is obvious, but it's not the one which the letter-writer wishes the reader to incorrectly infer.

Item 2:

A New York Times editorial, published in The Times September 28 and republished as a guest editorial in The Day on Saturday, September 29, 2012.

"In dueling speeches, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel focused on drawing a red line for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities while the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, cataloged his community's many grievances against Israel and tried to revive the fading dream of a two-state solution."

    The editorial writer(s) infer too much; crossing a red line might lead to an attack, but one might conceive of other possibilities. They also falsely imply Netanyahu wants to attack; he's made it quite clear he would like to see Iran's nuclear program ended without military action, but believes that is far more likely to be achieved if there is a credible threat of military action.

    Most of the so-called grievances charged by Abbas were figments of his imagination and consequences of his refusal to make peace, or even negotiate, with Israel. He did nothing to revive the "fading dream of a two-state solution;" indeed, since the death of Yassir Arafat, he's been the chief roadblock.

"Both issues - Iran's dangerous nuclear ambitions and the Palestinian right to a secure state - need to be dealt with seriously, but neither man acknowledged the other side's priority nor articulated a common path forward. Mostly, the speeches showed how far peace efforts have gone off track."

    Netanyahu gave Abbas' anti-Israel rhetoric precisely the amount of consideration it deserved, 67 words. He pointed out: "We won’t solve our conflict with libelous speeches at the UN. That’s not the way to solve it. We won’t solve our conflict with unilateral declarations of statehood. We have to sit together, negotiate together, and reach a mutual compromise, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the one and only Jewish State."

    Abbas's rejectionism and refusal to negotiate has made the so-called "peace process" irrelevant, at least until he or a successor exhibits a willingness to negotiate.

    The Iranian nuclear program is arguably the most serious problem facing the world today and it was quite appropriate that the Israeli prime minister devote most of his speech to that problem. (That is not to say, if the world succeeds in keeping nuclear weapons out of the hands of the mad mullahs in charge of Iran, that the consequences of the mislabeled "Arab spring" will not in the future present a more serious problem.)

"Netanyahu told the U.N. that he believes Iran's ability to make a nuclear weapon will be irreversible by next spring or summer, and he argued that a 'clear red line' must be drawn to warn Iran to halt its nuclear fuel enrichment or face military action. While that was a far more specific time frame than he had previously noted, his reference to next year seems to back away from earlier statements that seemed to suggest an Israeli strike much sooner."
    Indeed, Netanyahu made no mention of any attacks on Iran; his emphasis was on preventing military action. In his own words, "Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war." He gave illustrations of red lines drawn in the past which helped keep the peace: "Look at NATO’s charter: it made clear that an attack on one member country would be considered an attack on all.  NATO’s red line helped keep the peace in Europe for nearly half a century. President Kennedy set a red line during the Cuban Missile Crisis. That red line also prevented war and helped preserve the peace for decades."

    And he pointed out "In fact, it’s the failure to place red lines that has often invited aggression."

"Still, Netanyahu's speech continued to push a campaign that promotes military action when there is time for sanctions and diplomatic negotiations to produce a peaceful outcome. An Israeli Foreign Ministry report, disclosed by Haaretz, an Israeli newspaper, on Thursday, acknowledged as much, saying that sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe are having a huge impact on Iran's economy and may be affecting the government's stability. The report urged that the sanctions be tightened further."

    The writers completely misread Netanyahu's intent, which is to prevent the need for military action. While the sanctions have had a significant impact on Iran's economy, they have yet to impact Iran's nuclear weapons program, which has actually been sped up. The point is that the sanctions and diplomatic efforts are unlikely to work unless they are backed up by a credible military threat.

"Abbas' complaints are no less important for both Israel, the Palestinians and the region. Using exceptionally sharp rhetoric, he accused Israeli settlers of undertaking 535 attacks against Palestinians in recent months, and he charged Israel with using settlement expansion and efforts to weaken the Palestinian Authority to destroy the prospect of a two-state solution. Netanyahu made a brief reference to wanting peace with the Palestinians, but there is no hope of meaningful negotiations anytime soon."

    The reason there is no hope for meaningful negotiations anytime soon is that there is no hope that Abbas will end his boycott of negotiations anytime soon.

    Just because Abbas makes outlandish accusations doesn't make those accusations true. Contrast, for example, his absurd accusations of Israel "judaizing Jerusalem" with the enormous Arab population increases in Jerusalem cited above.

    While there have been a relative handful of "price tag" attacks by radical Israelis against both Israeli government facilities and Palestinian Arabs, their quantity and seriousness are dwarfed by the continued Arab terrorism against innocent Israeli civilians. So far this year, well over 400 rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza at Israeli cities and towns.

    Whereas the Palestinian Authority continues to incite against Israel, glorify terrorists and terrorism,  financially supports murderers of Israeli civilians and insists that Israel release all imprisoned Arab terrorists, the Israeli government acts vigorously against the fringe elements that attack Palestinian Arabs.

"After failing to get a process for talks going early in his term, Obama seems to have given up. Mitt Romney has suggested that he would do even less if he's elected. On the notorious videotaped when he was speaking at a private fundraising event in May, he disparaged Palestinians as "not wanting to see peace anyway" and said his approach was to "recognize this is going to remain an unsolved problem." He seems poised to encourage Netanyahu's intemperate posture toward Iran, no matter the consequences."

    Netanyahu is trying to get the world to prevent letting the mad mullahs in charge of Iran get there hands on nuclear weapons. In other words, he is trying to prevent a nuclear catastrophe and is trying to do that without military action. That's hardly intemperate.

    Regardless of his reasons, Romney's remarks regarding the Palestinian Arabs' disinterest in peace were accurate and, obviously, the Arab-Israeli conflict will remain an "unsolved problem" until both the Palestinian Arabs and the rest of the Arabs start having an interest in making peace.

Item 3:

An op-ed, entitled "Where I Stand; Bibi, bluster and Bain," written by Stephan Lesher of Southbury and published in the Danbury News-Times on Sunday, September 30, 2012.

"It may have gone unnoticed by many, but when Mitt Romney, the bagman from Bain, dismissed nearly half the American people as people who refuse to take personal responsibility for their lives, he also threw the Palestinian people and any hope for a Palestinian-Israeli two-state solution under the bus."

    PRIMER, of course, takes no position regarding any candidate's words or actions relating to anything other than the Middle East. Re Romney's words re the Palestinian Arab unwillingness to make peace, as noted above, they were accurate. In no way did they throw "any hope for a Palestinian-Israeli two-state solution under the bus;" indeed, since he isn't even a government official, he couldn't; on the other hand, at least in the near term, Mahmoud Abbas has already done it.

"Of course, when Romney told 150 donors at a Boca Raton, Fla. fundraising dinner last May (at $50,000 a plate) that 'I look at the Palestinians not wanting to see peace anyway, for political purposes, committed to the destruction and elimination of Israel,' he was simply mouthing the party line from the blustering, bombastic, and eminently dangerous Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Romney's all-but-open political supporter in the 2012 American presidential race."

    Again, the comments re the Palestinian Arabs were accurate. His comments re Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would have been accurate if made regarding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, from whose "blustering, bombastic, and eminently dangerous" policies Netanyahu is trying to save the world.

"Indeed, the opposition leader in Israel, Shaul Mofaz, asked of Netanyahu in the Knesset recently, 'Who are you trying to replace? The administration in Washington or that in Tehran.'"

    Israeli politics are sometimes rather impolitic.

"As Netanyahu presses closer and closer to launching a unilateral attack on Iran, and continues relentlessly painting President Barack Obama as naïve in the extreme, it is, as journalist David Remnick wrote recently In the New Yorker, 'hard to overestimate the risks (he) poses to the future of his own country.'"

    It's interesting to note the conflict between Lesher's assertion and The Times' grudging acknowledgment that Netanyahu seemed "to back away from earlier statements that seemed to suggest an Israeli strike much sooner." Of course, consistency in unfair criticism of Israel has rarely been a consideration.

    It's hard to overestimate the risks not preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons would pose not just to Israel and not just to the United States, but to the entire world.

"It might be added that the risk extends to the United States as well because of the overwhelming pressure that would be brought on the administration to take military actions to support Israel in any counterattack."

    The risk extends to the United States because Iran considers us the "Great Satan" while Israel is merely considered the "Little Satan." Israel is the first target right now only because Iran has not yet developed missiles that could strike us. It's reasonable to expect that it will not be long before Iran's efforts to develop longer range missiles bring us into range, at which point they very well might ignore Israel in order to strike directly at us.

"As New York Times columnist Gail Collins suggested recently, the U.S. Congress will take almost any action 'designed to demonstrate total support for whatever Israel thinks a good idea.'"

    Whatever one thinks of Congress, it boggles the mind to take seriously an accusation that all of Congress is unpatriotic.

"What makes Netanyahu's determination to strike out at Iran so monumentally wrongheaded is that he has been ignoring the advice of almost every current and recently retired leader of the Israeli military and the country's major intelligence organizations as well as a clear majority of the Israeli population."

    Once again, Netanyahu is not determined "to strike out at Iran;" he clearly very much wants to avoid having to do so.

"Many of these current and former officials have said in public interviews that they are afraid that such an attack might spark a regional war as well as unify the Iranian people behind the country's none-too-popular regime.
"It is becoming clear that Netanyahu is not only playing to his right-wing supporters in Israel, but to the neo-cons in the US as well."

    Is it not possible that Netanyahu is simply trying to save both his country and the world from the gravest threat both face at the present time?

"The problem is that Romney is picking up on Netanyahu's rejection of Palestinians and of the two-state solution."

    Netanyahu has rejected neither. He has put the Israeli government firmly on record as supporting the so-called two-state solution.

"In its place, the Netanyahu policy of making life as difficult as possible for Palestinians will continue and presumably be adopted by a Romney administration should he somehow succeed in unseating President Obama."

    Au contraire, Netanyahu has worked assiduously to improve the lives of the Palestinian Arabs in the disputed territories, often over objections of Israelis who, justifiably, fear that he has put their lives in danger by removing most of the roadblocks and greatly increasing the numbers of Palestinian Arabs given permission to work in Israel. He has also lobbied foreign governments to increase their assistance to the Palestinian Authority and has even advanced tax money, effectively loaning the Palestinian Authority money, to help with its self-inflicted financial problems.

"The result would be continued and perhaps unending turmoil in the Middle East."

    There will be continued turmoil in the small Arab-Israeli portion of the Middle East until the Arabs, including the Palestinian Arabs, give up on their dream of destroying Israel. And, even in the event of an Arab-Israeli peace - not just a peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs - there will obviously be great turmoil in the Middle East for many years to come.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The time to have Israel's back is right now

By Joseph Marx

Over the last year or so, Ron Estes has written articles titled “Israel supporters attack critics not the criticism,” “Romney is still weak on foreign affairs,” “Israel attack on Iran could spark Middle East conflict,” “US cannot afford to lose its Arab allies,” “US vote on Palestine could effect 2012 elections,” “Rejects pro-Israel comments as propaganda” and his latest “Israel attack in Iran would hurt US interests.”

Call me crazy, but I seem to detect a common thread in all of these letters and articles. Israel is the pariah state in this conflict and the US interests would be better served siding with the Arabs, contrary to Obama’s disingenuous declaration to Israel “we have your back.”

I would like to remind the readers of The Record that Israel is the one democracy and the one true and steadfast friend of the U.S. in this conflict. Their values regarding life, liberty, justice and freedom are our values.

I would also like to remind everyone that Israel is a 1 bomb country the size of New Jersey surrounded by half a billion hostiles. In his most recent letter, Mr. Estes makes the statement that “… the U.S. and the western world lived over four decades facing a hostile, belligerent nuclear armed Soviet Union … and the west avoided a nuclear confrontation …

That is all well and good when you are negotiating with an adversary of enormous land mass populated with people who hold life precious. The Soviet Union knew they could never launch enough nukes to remove our retaliation capabilities on a first strike. This scenario does not hold true in the case of Iran vs Israel where just a few warheads could destroy the entire country of Israel on a first strike. It wouldn’t do Israel much good at that point knowing the U.S. had its back because there would be nothing left to defend.

In addition, Israel has become a center of technology innovation for the entire world. Drive thru the cities of Herziliya and Netanya and the large office buildings have names like Motorola, Google, Apple and Microsoft. The product R & D coming out of this area is a vital U.S. interest not to be underestimated and certainly worth safeguarding.

The US has been negotiating with the Middle East in general and Iran in particular since the 1970s with very little effect. We have frittered away over 30 years dealing with this problem ineffectually. If we give Iran any more time, they will possess enough enriched uranium to build multiple bombs and even if they don’t launch a strike against Israel, I have zero confidence that Iran wouldn’t sell some of this material to radical groups to attack “The Great Satan.”

The sand in this hourglass has run out. It is time for the US to draw some well defined lines in the sand and be willing to back them up militarily. Europe and the U.S. tried appeasement and playing for time in the 1930s and when we were forced to fight, it was much bloodier than if we put our collective foot down in the beginning. If we have learned anything from history, we should have learned that you can’t negotiate with leaders who stall and won’t negotiate in good faith.

The time to have Israel’s back is right now. It is in the long term interest of the U.S. to do so.

This column, written by one of my friends from college, was published in the St. Augustine Record, where it may also be read at It's posted here with the permission of the author.