Maybe Condi has a plan

I respect Condi Rice for the most part, but have thought her naive for believing (or, at least, appearing to believe) that the Palestinians want peace with Israel, as opposed to Israel in pieces.  David Brooks, however, thinks that there is a method to her madness, and that Iran’s follies may result in a back door route to some stability in the Middle East:

It’s not really about Israel and the Palestinians; it’s about Iran. Rice is constructing a coalition of the losing. There is a feeling among Arab and Israeli leaders that an Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance is on the march. The nations that resist that alliance are in retreat. The peace process is an occasion to gather the “moderate” states and to construct what Martin Indyk of the Brookings Institution’s Saban Center calls an anti-Iran counter-alliance.

It’s slightly unfortunate that the peace process itself is hollow. It’s like having a wedding without a couple because you want to get the guests together for some other purpose. But that void can be filled in later. The main point is to organize the anti-Iranians around some vehicle and then reshape the strategic correlation of forces in the region.

Iran has done what decades of peace proposals have not done — brought Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinians and the U.S. together. You can go to Jerusalem or to some Arab capitals and the diagnosis of the situation is the same: Iran is gaining hegemonic strength over the region and is spreading tentacles of instability all around.

Though this article originated in the NY Times, I take its conclusions with a grain of salt, simply because I’ve come to distrust the Times.  Nevertheless, this is certainly not a wacky idea, and it does reflect an impulse to bring some central stability to a region that will become entirely unbalanced if the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas axis does in fact ascend to real power, rather than stopping at the noises of power, along with the violence of terrorism.

The Israeli hostages

While most of the world seems to have forgotten, the ostensible reason Israel went to war last year was to recover three hostages, Gilad Shalit, Udi Goldwasser and Eldad Regev. They’re still hostages. StandWithUs, a pro-Israel PAC has started an online petition seeking their freedom. To be honest, I have absolutely no belief that the petition will do any good. However, it can’t do any harm and, if nothing more, is a reminder to the world that these three young men are still out there, held captive by the dregs of the Middle East. So, if you’d like to sign, please do so here.

UPDATEIsrael is exploring a deal with the Devil to see whether there can be any movement on getting Gilad Shalit released.

Must See Internet

The David Horowitz Freedom Center has put together a stunning 10-minute slide show interjecting actual facts in the propaganda war that the Arabs and the Left are waging against Israel.  The only fault I could find with the show was the fact that, in the very last second, it ends with a plea:  “The Civilized World Must Say : Never Again.”  Reading that, and juxtaposing it with news coverage from all over the world about the Israeli/Arab conflict, I realized that there is no longer a “civilized war.”  The West has allied itself with the barbarians.

This time it’s so not Israel’s fault

Let’s see if I’ve got my chronology right here:

On January 29, Hamas and Fatah announced a ceasefire prompted, I think by a reminder from their compatriots that their real job is to kill Jews.

On February 1, Hamas gunman ambushed Fatah trucks, killing 6 people, injuring 70, and kidnapping 15 people. A Fatah spokesman seemed concerned that this little fracas might be seen as “plunging a 3-day-old ceasefire into grave danger.”

On February 2 (that would be today), Hamas and Fatah engaged in “some of the worst fighting between Palestinian factions so far” in Gaza. The numbers involved are impressive and, as always, children get caught in the crossfire, such being the nature of war, especially Civil War:

At least 15 people were killed, including a 7-year-old boy, bringing the total for the past two days to 21. Nearly 200 more Palestinians, many of them civilians, have been hurt over the same period, as fierce shootouts erupted in Gaza City and the northern parts of the Gaza Strip, according to Palestinian hospitals.

Give themselves time to regroup and rearm, the combatants announced yet another ceasefire:

Hamas and Fatah leaders met at the Egyptian diplomatic mission in Gaza City this afternoon and agreed in principle to halt the violence. “We, the leaders of the two groups, agreed, with God’s help, on a cease-fire,” Nizar Rayan, a senior Hamas leader, said as he emerged from the discussions.

Strangely, savvy observers are not sanguine that this ceasefire will have any sticking power:

But it was not clear whether the agreement would take hold. Previous cease-fires have been short-lived: A truce announced early Tuesday brought relative calm for two days, but the fighting erupted again on Thursday.

When Israel withdrew from Gaza, I said that would be a good thing because the Palestinians would now have to meet Israel as a nation among nations, with all the consequences that go with that nation status. At the time, I envisioned a traditional war between Israel and Palestine. It never occurred to me that the Palestinians would keep themselves occupied in the first instance by fighting each other. I’m sure we’ll be hearing soon from Al-Jazeera that the Civil War is actually an Israeli conspiracy to deflect the beleaguered Palestinians’ attention from the true enemy.

UPDATE:  I’m in good company because Charles Johnson also calls what’s happening in Gaza a Civil War and notes the MSM’s refusal to identify it as such.  As I’ve noticed in previously posts, I’m sure this silence is because neither Israel nor the United States can be blamed for the Civil War, making the phrase lack resonance for the MSM types.

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Fresh ideas at the UN

I’ve long thought the UN irredeemably corrupt, with the miserable Kofi Annan merely a symptom, not a cause of the problem there. I’m wondering, though, if I might have to revise that thinking just a little bit, in light of something new at UNIFIL. Thanks to Laer, at Cheat-Seeking Missiles, I’ve learned that UNIFIL has gotten rid of the French commander brought in after the Israel-Hezbollah war — the one who thought his mandate was to prevent Israel at all costs from defending herself — and has replaced him with an Italian commander who has a strong reputation in anti-terrorism work:

The IDF on Sunday praised the United Nations’ decision to appoint Italian Gen. Claudio Graziano as the new head of the UNIFIL peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon.

Graziano, whose appointment has yet to be officially announced, is scheduled to take up his new post by mid-February, when French Maj.-Gen. Alain Pellegrini steps down after three years in the post.

“He is a serious officer,” IDF sources said of Graziano. “He takes his job seriously and we expect to see a continued crackdown on Hizbullah under his command.”

Graziano rose through the ranks in Italy’s Artillery Corps and commanded NATO’s Kabul Multinational Brigade in the past. He has extensive experience in combating insurgency and terrorism, according to the IDF.

Laer adds the right grace note to the above information:

When you think of it, the appointment of a terror-fighter to head the UN in Lebanon should not leave an odd, confused feeling. But it does, doesn’t it? If the UN’s mission is to promote world peace, why hasn’t it stood shoulder to shoulder with us to fight the greatest threat to world peace the world has faced since the Axis Powers?

I opened this post by saying there might be some fresh air blowing at the UN. However, I recognize that one appointment does not a trend make. Let’s see what other stories come out of the UN in the upcoming months when it comes to backing democratic stability and attacking tyrannical terrorism.

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Israel fights back

Israel has usually, although not always, been adept in the battlefield. She’s been a total failure in the media. However, for the first time, I’m seeing signs that she’s fighting back:

Israel’s military, which has been accused of abuses in its war against Hezbollah this summer, has declassified photographs, video images and prisoner interrogations to buttress its accusation that Hezbollah systematically fired from civilian neighborhoods in southern Lebanon and took cover in those areas to shield itself from attack.

Lebanon and international human rights groups have accused Israel of war crimes in the 34 days of fighting in July and August, saying that Israel fired into populated areas and that civilians accounted for a vast majority of the more than 1,000 Lebanese killed.

Israel says that it tried to avoid civilians, but that Hezbollah fired from civilian areas, itself a war crime, which made those areas legitimate targets.

In a new report, an Israeli research group says Hezbollah stored weapons in mosques, battled Israelis from inside empty schools, flew white flags while transporting missiles and launched rockets near United Nations monitoring posts.

The detailed report on the war was produced by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Center for Special Studies, a private research group headed by Reuven Erlich, a retired colonel in military intelligence, who worked closely with the Israeli military.

Read all about it here.

Of course, this being a NY Times story, with input from a Beirut-based stringer, it (a) refers to the Qana bombing without question, although bloggers pointed out that there were lots of problems with the claim that it was an Israeli attack against innocent Lebanese civilians; and (b) quotes liberally from the anti-Israel Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. Nevertheless, even these other sources — all opinion, all animus, all the time — can’t steer the Times away from hard facts such as real-time videos and photos of Hezbollah action, and from videotaped Hezbollah confessions, all pointing to a concerted plan to use civilian neighborhoods as staging areas for military action.

By the way, most bloggers were showing this footage throughout the war, since it was available on YouTube. How typical that, after maligning Israel and advancing Hezbollah propaganda all through the war and for months after, the old media finally gets around to some actual facts.

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Another reason not to like the French right now

From American Thinker:

The French will flex military their “military muscle” to shoot down Israeli observation jets. After years of ignoring Hezbollah preparations to terrorize Israel, after hiding a video that could have helped Israel find out what happened to soldiers murdered by Hezbollah in 2001 (the kidnappers used trucks with UNIFIL identification, trucks that UNIFIL found with the blood of the Israeli victims and that were promptly returned to Hezbollah), after providing Hezbollah with information about Israeli troop movements during the recent Hezbollah-Israel war, after stating that it will not disarm Hezbollah terrorists or prevent their return to southern Lebanon, UNIFIL finally finds some backbone: they intend to shoot at Israeli aircraft monitoring Hezbollah terrorists.

Here’s the story from Haaretz:

Commanders of the French contingent of the United Nations force in Lebanon have warned that they might have to open fire if Israel Air Force warplanes continue their overflights in Lebanon, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday.

Peretz said that nevertheless, Israel would continue to patrol the skies over Lebanon as long as United Nations resolution 1701 remained unfilfilled, adding that such operations were critical for the country’s security, especially as the abducted IDF soldiers remain in Hezbollah custody and the transfer of arms continue.

Over the past few days, Peretz said, Israel had gathered clear evidence that Syria was transfering arms and ammunition to Lebanon, meaning that the embargo imposed by UN Resolution 1701 was not being completely enforced.

I do not like the French. They are unprincipled.