US Presidential candidates to atone for Hebrew New Year

The US Presidential candidates set an example of seeking atonement for the Hebrew New Year. (Cartoon by JewishRobot.com for Birthright Israel).
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"A threat bigger than Wall Street"- priorities on the Hebrew New Year, Rosh haShana, 5769

Iran is a problem from hell. by Greg Sheridan, Foreign Editor, The Australian

The next US president, be it Barack Obama or John McCain, is going to have plenty to worry about: the Wall Street financial crisis, the war in Afghanistan, Pakistan's internal crisis, the relentless military build-up of China and the temptation it will soon have of trying to retake Taiwan militarily.

But you can be sure of this: At some stage during the next presidency, Iran will blow up into a full-scale crisis that will dominate global politics and that may indeed be more important even than the other problems listed above.

The new president will have one modestly useful extra resource, a bipartisan report commissioned by two former US senators and written primarily by Middle East expert Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute. The Weekend Australian has obtained a copy of the report, to be released later this week. Before I got the report, I had a long discussion with Rubin.

Rubin is a Republican, but the report he wrote was the consensus work of a bipartisan taskforce that includes Dennis Ross, Obama's key Middle East adviser.

The report is sobering and in some ways shocking reading. It begins baldly: "A nuclear weapons capable Islamic Republic of Iran is strategically untenable."

It points to the disastrous consequences of an Iran with nuclear weapons: "Iran's nuclear development may pose the most significant strategic threat to the US during the next administration.

"A nuclear ready or nuclear-armed Islamic Republic ruled by the clerical regime could threaten the Persian Gulf region and its vast energy resources, spark nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East, inject additional volatility into global energy markets, embolden extremists in the region and destabilise states such as Saudi Arabia and others in the region, provide nuclear technology to other radical regimes and terrorists (although Iran might hesitate to share traceable nuclear technology), and seek to make good on its threats to eradicate Israel.

"The threat posed by the Islamic Republic is not only direct Iranian action but also aggression committed by proxy. Iran remains the world's most active state sponsor of terrorism, proving its reach from Buenos Aires to Baghdad."

In one sense the report is ostensibly optimistic. It argues: "We believe that a realistic, robust and comprehensive approach - incorporating new diplomatic, economic and military tools in an integrated fashion - can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability."

However, it is unclear whether the report's authors really believe this is possible. It would have been inconceivable to write a report saying without qualification that the game is up, nothing can be done short of direct military action. It would also have gone against the problem-solving, optimistic grain of American public life.

But the report provides overwhelming evidence for pessimism.

For a start, it states quite plainly that no approach can work on Iran that is not much, much tougher on the economic sanctions front, so that the cost to Iran of continuing to pursue nuclear weapons becomes too great, while the incentives of normalisation would become correspondingly more attractive to Tehran. But the report makes it clear that tougher sanctions cannot possibly work without the full co-operation and enthusiastic implementation by not only the US but the European Union, Russia, China and the other Persian Gulf states.

In what is a spectacular understatement, the report drily notes that recent events in Georgia may make Russian co-operation more difficult to achieve.

In our discussion, Rubin told me he thought the Russians might feel themselves to be in a win-win situation.

If they continue to sell the Iranians nuclear technology, they make a lot of money and frustrate the Americans. If the US or Israel ultimately strikes at Iran's nuclear facilities, it will do two things that will please Russia. It will cause great international discomfort for the US, thus lessening any US pressure on Russia over human rights, its treatment of Georgia or other such issues. And it will drive up energy prices when Russia is a huge exporter of energy, thus making Russia evenricher.

Long-term, enlightened self-interest would see the Russians recognise the dangers they too would ultimately face from a nuclear-armed Iran, but so far that long-term, enlightened self-interest has been notably lacking in the Russian governing class.

The report is an impressive document and deeply realistic. It recognises the real possibility that the strategy it proposes will not work. It is very difficult to imagine achieving the degree of international unity that would be required even to put the strategy into effect.

And even if that international unity is achieved and the strategy implemented, Iran's rulers may decide to go ahead with their nuclear weapons ambitions anyway.

One of the strongest pessimistic indicators in the report is that there is universal intelligence and diplomatic agreement that Iran was working hard on a nuclear weapons program during the period of its maximum apparent moderation under the reform president, Mohammed Khatami, when it also had the maximum international engagement since the revolution of 1979.

The report states: "The 2007 (US) National Intelligence Estimate's finding thatthe Islamic Republic maintained a nuclear weapons program until 2003 coincides with the European Union's period of critical engagement and former Iranian president Khatami's call for a Dialogue of Civilisations." The report further notes a recent statement by Khatami's former spokesman, Abdollah Ramezanzadeh, that a strategy of insincere dialogue on Iran's part allowed it to import technology for its covert nuclear program.

Rubin says there is significant criticism within Iranian leadership circles of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his confrontationist rhetoric and frequent threats against Israel, not because of ideological opposition to them but because they attract Western pressure. Rubin believes that Ahmadinejad, though significant, is not the real power in Iran. This is shared between the military Revolutionary Guard and the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameini.

Rubin believes that the Revolutionary Guard has become so powerful, and has infiltrated itself into so many positions of power, that it is fair to describe Iran as having undergone a kind of creeping military coup.

He is impatient with the unreality of much of the Western commentariat's analysis of Iran. When people say it would be better to have a strategy of deterrence against Iran than to try to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons, he wonders if they really know what deterrence means. The strategy of deterrence means the credible threat to deliberately inflict certain death on hundreds of thousands of people if Iran commits a nuclear transgression.

Similarly, the strategy of containment means that Iran's neighbours must be militarily equipped to fight Iran successfully should it attack until US military intervention can arrive.

Kuwait was not able to do this against Iraq when it invaded nearly two decades ago. Kuwait collapsed within hours and this required eventually a much bigger US military intervention.

Rubin does not think a military strike is a good option. It may require 1400 sorties to be successful and unless the US, or Israel, was willing to repeat the strike over the years, it might delay rather than eliminate Iran's nuclear program. And it could have all kinds of other consequences.

For example, Iran could attack Iraq's oil facilities, which produce two million barrels of oil a day.

However, the military option has to be there to give diplomacy any chance at all.

Finally, Rubin notes the divergence between European, US and Israeli views of the Iranian threat. The Europeans see Iran's nuclear program as a grave threat to the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

The US sees Iran's nuclear ambitions as strategically unacceptable but not ultimately a threat to the US's existence. Israel sees a nuclear armed Iran as representing the threat of annihilation to the Israeli people.

If that is really Israel's view, and if international diplomacy cannot stop Iran going nuclear, an Israeli military strike must eventually be more likely than not.

The problem from hell.


The legacy of appeasement: the West's lessons from Chamberlain's appeasement of Hitler in Munich remembered by Czech and Australian leaders

American Freedom Alliance hosts a series of in-person events through Sunday which will address the legacy of appeasing evil regimes.

Tonight's speakers (at UCLA's Ackerman Union at 7:30 pm) include Clifford May, President, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, Robert Spencer, publisher of JihadWatch, and David Zucker, director of movies Airplane and the new, An American Carol - from which a preview will be shown.

Friday, Saturday and Sunday events feature former prime ministers John Howard (Australia) and Petr Pithart (Czech Republic), and Czech survivors of World War II. AFA's website has all the details.

Christian, Catholic, Jewish, and minority rights groups unite against Ahmadinejad "One God" dinner meeting with Christian groups

On Thursday, Sept 25, at 6pm in New York City at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, The American Friends Service Committee, Mennonite Central Committee, Quaker UN Office, Religions for Peace, and the World Council of Churches-UN Liaison Office will be honoring Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at an Iftar (dinner to break the day’s Ramadan fast). Other organizations, political leaders and media have also been invited. Read the Text of the Invitation.

At the same time, Women United, the Jewish Action Alliance, Stand With Us, Center for Security Policy, the Catholic League, the The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Alliance of Iranian Women and over 30 organizations of all faiths and political affiliations will hold an interfaith rally to counter this betrayal of principles, to protest Ahmadinejad’s presence at the United Nations, and to oppose Iran’s nuclear weapons program and outrageous threats against the USA and America’s ally, Israel. See the full list of participating organizations HERE. Rally outside Grand Hyatt Hotel at Grand Central Station, today, Thursday Sept. 25 from 5:30 p.m. on East 42nd Street between Park and Lexington Avenue.

Iranian-Jewish activists enlist Wiesenthal watchdogs to warn of parallels between Nazi-ism and Islamism

Museum of Tolerance / Simon Wiesenthal Center's Rabbi Marvin Hier warns the world to recognize Islamism as the heir-to-Hitler's crusade for global domination, under the banner of anti-Zionism. "30 Years After," a new Iranian-Jewish social-activist group held its first Civic Action Conference in Beverly Hills in September. Foundational advisor, George Haroonian, makes introduction, with reference to Persian Jewish familiarity with both resistance against the Nazis and Iran's Islamist crusade.


What drives Ahmadinejad's combative rhetoric

The hard-line views expressed by the Iranian president at the UN General Assembly on Tuesday are informed by a Messianic religious belief.

Mohebat Ahdiyyih, writing in The Middle East Forum's Middle East Quarterly, explains the ideological influences of Iranian President Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad seeks an Islamic government in Iran that is free from democratic pretenses and devoid of modern concepts of human rights and the equality of the sexes; that seeks the acquisition of nuclear weapons, the elimination of Israel, the destruction of liberal democratic states and Western capitalism, and an end to the United States as a superpower, which is perceived as the greatest threat to the Islamic Republic's survival and the main obstacle to the accomplishment of its objectives. The achievement of these preconditions, Ahmadinejad believes, will enable Shi‘i domination and the establishment of a world government.[31]
It is an attractive idea for the masses, nurtured on more than two decades of state-sponsored incitement. Khomeini, after all, called for the Islamic world to "rise up and destroy Israel,"[33] and said of the United States, "We will fight them with all our might until the last drop of our blood."[34]
Further coloring Ahmadinejad's world-view, even if not his Mahdism, has been German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Iranian intellectuals react favorably to Heidegger's real or perceived anti-American sentiments, anti-Semitism, and his criticism of traditional Western thought. His grand theory of existence and his objection to attaching great significance to logical reasoning and intelligibility, as well as his theories of the value of nothingness, are concepts that have made him the darling of many Iranian intellectuals.
This article in the Christian Science Monitor attempts to downplay the threat.
Critics in Iran – many of them clerics – charge that Ahmadinejad's conviction that the "end of times" is near has brought Iran dangerously close to war with the US and Israel.

"Nothing connects with the audience like the vocabulary of imminence," says Kurt Anders Richardson, an expert on Shiite theology at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

"It's great to live with imminence if you believe. It changes everything: it supercharges politics, it supercharges ethics and collective feeling.

"Also it's a great antidote to worldly distractions. Instead of fear instigated by morality police, you have euphoria, a profound enticement," says Dr. Richardson, speaking in Tehran during a recent conference on Mahdism doctrine. "Clearly these people are motivated by the belief they will be privileged to see the return of the Mahdi in their lifetime." ...

Critics found voice in a July article about "deviant" claims of the president's proximity to the divine. "Do you believe that these speeches can excuse the government of its mismanagement, inflation, increasing prices, dissatisfaction, and the protest of people?" wrote Rasoul Montajabnia, a cleric and opposition politician.

Few believers in Iran doubt that the "ultimate savior" will come one day. Ahmadinejad says the Mahdi will destroy unjust rulers who "are not connected to the heavens [and are separated] from the almighty prophets" – meaning those of the United States, Israel, and the West.


Iran visits the NYC-based U.N. "in the name of peace"

Where might we have seen this before?

Jihad in Jerusalem: Arab Muslim rams crowd with BMW- 3rd vehicular attack in J'lem since July

A Palestinian Arab resident of Jerusalem rammed his car into a group of Artillery Brigade soldiers at a central Jerusalem thoroughfare late Monday night, wounding 20 of the troops, before being shot dead, police and rescue officials said. Two of the casualties were in moderate condition, while the rest were lightly hurt. It was the third such attack in the city in recent months.

The 11:00 p.m. attack at the city's Kikar Tzahal near Jaffa Gate ended quickly after the Arab assailant was shot and killed by a policeman and one of the soldiers, an IDF officer, police said. The soldiers were on a penitential (Slichot) tour of the Old City.

The area in question is adjacent to east Jerusalem and the Old City of Jerusalem.

The lone assailant, who was driving a BMW, crashed into pedestrians on the sidewalk, where his car came to a grinding halt.

The casualties were rushed to Jerusalem's Hadassah-University Hospital at Ein Kerem, and the city's Sha'are Tzedek Hospital.

The attack comes after two back-to-back bulldozer attacks in Jerusalem in July which left three Israelis dead and dozens wounded.

Police said armed civilians killed the driver. He was not immediately identified, but the wording of the police statement indicated it was believed he was a Palestinian.

The intersection is situated near Jerusalem's Old City at the junction of Jewish and Moslem areas.

In recent months, Palestinians who lived in Jerusalem carried out two attacks within three weeks of each other using heavy construction machinery, killing three people and wounding many others. (Jerusalem Post)


'Educating about global jihadism is our central obligation in the war on terror' - "Future Jihad" author, Walid Phares

Author Walid Phares explains, in an excerpt adapted from Future Jihad: Terrorist Strategies against America, the events of 9/11 in the context of the Jihadists' war to restore the Caliphate that ruled the Islamic world (and significantly, parts of what we now call the West) for over a thousand years.
Beheadings, mass graves, and the statements made by the vast networks of jihadists and other radicals have brought home the weighty question of future holy wars against the United States and the West. Americans are now preoccu­pied by two wars: the jihad that has been launched against them and the war on terrorism that has been directed at the jihadists.

I show that the jihadist strategies include a deep infiltration of America's government, defenses, and its youth. Jihadi doctrines do not rule out the ac­quisition and the possible use of weapons of mass destruction.

The war is expected to last more than a decade. I argue that the United States is mobilized domestically for this war but is not yet fully secured. It will take mass cultural adaptation to fight jihad. America must win the war of ideas - it must capture the minds of the women, youth, and elite that form the foundation of the future. Americans must learn a higher, more difficult truth about the terrorists - and also about what and who allowed the jihadists to be successful until September 11 and beyond - so that they can begin the actual resistance. Washington's perception and planning for the global war on terror­ism is only beginning. Many aspects of our response to and understanding of the jihadists need to be changed or developed: our national education, our jus­tice system, our intelligence agencies, our political alliances around the world, and our spending policies. Some myths will have to be broken, and many realities must be unearthed.
Six extraordinary films each offering unique perspectives on the tragic events of September 11, 2001 and their aftermath, are presented without commercial interruption during this week of remembrance (courtesy SnagFilms). These documentaries remind us how powerfully the medium of film can capture our darkest days, while also exalting the perseverance of the human spirit and our collective ability to endure and to heal.

The critically acclaimed 7 Days in September is presented to an online audience for the first time. With material from almost 30 filmmakers, director Steven Rosenbaum turns the tragic events of September 11, 2001—the memories of which are forever jarred in our psyches—into a moving portrait of emotion, loss and even kindness. Although the film uses footage of the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and the resulting catastrophic loss, it also hones in on New York City’s tremendous ability to rebuild, through will and compassion.


Britain blames the CIA for 'airplane-liquids' terrorism dismissals

British officials blame the CIA for blowing an investigation they say would have convicted a terror team plotting to take down planes headed to the U.S. Charlie D'Agata reports.

Watch CBS Videos Online


The Republican Convention's withheld biography of American Vice Presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin

At the Republican National Convention, Mayor Rudy Giulliani's introduction of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin ran over-time. The RNC prepared a biography video, which to keep ahead of TV schedule, they pre-empted showing. This enabled her to complete her speech- which was viewed by 37.2 million American households. Here (courtesy of Stop the ACLU) is 'The Sarah Palin video biography'.

How viewers watched Gov. Palin's subsequent speech: MSNBC.com reports: "Fox News Channel led the way Wednesday, with 9.2 million people watching Palin’s speech on the cable channel. It was the third-largest audience in its history, behind only President Bush’s speech on Iraq in March 2003 and a Bush-Kerry presidential debate in 2004.

For each night of the GOP convention so far, Fox’s audience has been bigger than any of the other cable or broadcast networks. That duplicates a feat accomplished at the 2004 Republican convention for Fox, the first time a cable network had outdrawn broadcasters for a major news event.

NBC had 7.7 million viewers for Palin’s speech, followed in order by CNN, ABC, CBS and MSNBC, Nielsen said.


'Are Bush, Rice, Olmert, & Abbas dismantling Israel for Palestine as a quid-pro-quo for their own future employers?'- Judean pioneer, Elyakim HaEtzni

Attorney Elyakim HaEtzni, advocate for the preservation of Judea and Samaria (and ex-Israeli Parliamentarian), explains the existential threat that establishing a Palestinian sovereignty would create.

He calls on the world to actively oppose Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice's Olmert/Abbas formal document with the resolution of all "core issues," to be signed by Israeli and Palestinian leaders before January (a final deadline when both President Bush and Prime Minister Olmert leave office). Video-recorded August 29, 2008 at the Days of Elijah Conference in Fort Worth. Video courtesy: Battalion of Deborah via Unity Coalition for Israel.

Mr. HaEtzni's published articles are archived at Israel National News.


"Undercover Mosque- the Return" exposes top Anglo mosque inculcating violence, racism, deceiving non-Muslims - despite public pledge to reform

A year-and-a-half after the critically-acclaimed film Undercover Mosque was first screened, Dispatches goes undercover again to see whether extremist beliefs continue to be promoted in certain key British Muslim institutions in Dispatches: Undercover Mosque- The Return.
A female reporter attends prayer meetings at an important British mosque which claims to be dedicated to moderation and dialogue with other faiths. She secretly films shocking sermons given to the women-only congregation in which female preachers recite extremist and intolerant beliefs. As hundreds of women and some children come to pray, a preacher calls for adulterers, homosexuals, women who act like men and Muslim converts to other faiths to be killed, saying: "Kill him, kill him. You have to kill him, you understand. This is Islam."
David Thompson comments:
I’ve remarked before on how the enthusiasm for sacralised murder never quite fails to jar. And despite repeated exposure to such impressive piety, I still can’t help noting that the quoted sermons feature the word “kill” no fewer than nine times. However, the news isn’t all bad.
These punishments, the preacher says, are to be implemented in a future Islamic state. “This is not to tell you to start killing people,” she continues. “There must be a Muslim leader, when the Muslim army becomes stronger, when Islam has grown enough.”
Naturally, as with most things Islamic, inconsistencies abound.
Regent’s Park Mosque has a major interfaith department, which arranges visits from the Government, the civil service, representatives of other religions and thousands of British school children a year. I watched as an interfaith group was brought in to meet the mosque’s women’s circle for a civilised exchange. But when the interfaith group wasn’t there, the preacher attacked other faiths, and the very concept of interfaith dialogue. One preacher said of Christians praying in a church: “What are these people doing in there, these things are so vile, what they say with their tongues is so vile and disgusting, it’s an abomination.” As for the concept of interfaith live-and-let-live: “This is false. It does not work. This concept is a lie, it is fake, and it is a farce.”
Doubtless these inconsistencies will be resolved “when the Muslim army becomes stronger.” Allah willing, of course. The Telegraph published an article by Sarah Hassan, the pen-name of the undercover reporter on Dispatches.
Regent's Park Mosque has a major interfaith department, which arranges visits from the Government, the civil service, representatives of other religions and thousands of British school children a year.

I watched as an interfaith group was brought in to meet the mosque's women's circle for a civilised exchange. But when the interfaith group wasn't there, the preacher attacked other faiths, and the very concept of interfaith dialogue.

One preacher said of Christians praying in a church: "What are these people doing in there, these things are so vile, what they say with their tongues is so vile and disgusting, it's an abomination." As for the concept of interfaith live-and-let-live: "This is false. It does not work. This concept is a lie, it is fake, and it is a farce."
Interviewees for the film explained that an ideology like this has spread throughout Britain's mosques from the Saudi Arabian religious establishment. One leading Muslim figure told me: "Petrodollar money coming from Saudi Arabia has basically distorted the growth and development of the Muslim community in Britain"; while a British imam accuses them of distorting Islam - "the abuse and misuse of this great faith of mine".

The imam went on to say: "The underlying motive here is to find a way of continuously implanting this permanent wedge between the wider British society and the younger Muslims living in Britain."

As Professor Anthony Glees, who runs the Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies at Brunel University, explains: "To think, as I believe our government thinks, that it makes ideological sense to play patsy with the Saudi government is folly of the first order of magnitude. We will be paying for it for years to come."