JNS.org – “Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” — Euripides
“Two things are infinite: The universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the universe.” — attributed to Albert Einstein
As the fighting in the Gaza Strip drags on into its third month, it appears that the Israeli leadership is determined to jettison common sense, past experience and logical reasoning. Indeed, Israel’s leaders seem to have set their sights on adopting the failed, fatally flawed formulae of the past for “the day after” the fighting finally subsides.
A collection of collaborators and traitors
For example, one of the most prominently cited “plans”—for want of a better word—involves transferring the post-war civilian administration of Gaza to various heads of clans not affiliated with Hamas, who would be responsible for different parts of the Strip.
Those with a longer historical perspective will be struck by the remarkable resemblance between this proposal and the past attempt by Israeli authorities in the late 1970s and early ‘80s to install an Israel-sanctioned Palestinian administration, known as the Village Leagues, as an alternative to the PLO. The initiative, which initially had support from both the Israeli and Jordanian governments, eventually petered out in 1983.
Although the details might differ, the underlying principles of the Village League and clan leadership plans are very similar. Accordingly, there is little reason to believe that the overall outcome of the current plan will be any different. Just as the leaders of the Village Leagues were treated with suspicion and hostility by much of the Palestinian population, it is more than likely that this will be the case with any future Israeli-approved clan-based civil administration. According to one analyst: The Village Leagues consisted of “a coalition of rural thugs … who had no standing in the community.” The Palestinians saw the Leagues as a collection of collaborators and traitors.”
It is thus hardly surprising that some of the village leaders were assassinated by disgruntled kinfolk; a fate that could well await any compliant clan leader who chooses to collaborate with the “Zionist invader.”
90% of Hamas committed no war crime?
The likelihood of such hostility is greatly enhanced by the pervasive approval of Hamas—and the carnage it committed—among massive sectors of the Palestinian population. In a survey conducted on Dec. 13, 2023, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) found that 72% of the Palestinian public believes that Hamas’s decision to launch the Oct. 7 massacre was correct. In addition, while a staggering 95% of Palestinians think Israel committed war crimes during the current hostilities, only 10% think Hamas was guilty of such crimes. Conversely, only 4% think Israel has not committed such crimes, while 89% think Hamas did not commit any post-Oct. 7 war crimes.
Clearly, under such conditions, any artificially appointed administration, formed specifically to stymie a return to power by Hamas, is likely to face widespread enmity and distrust from the very population over which it rules.
But beyond the a priori implausibility of the clan-based proposal, there are grave questions as to its long-term sustainability. How long will the population in each clan-controlled section be confined to that section? What will regulate movement between sections? Clearly, an arrangement whereby a local population is subject to an externally imposed civilian administration and a foreign security regime is not a sustainable political arrangement and is hardly likely to foster any amicable sentiments towards Israel in the future.
No initiative approved by Israel will be acceptable
Significantly, the failure of the Village League experiment was not the only instance in which a move by Israel to appoint/anoint a pliant Arab ruler failed to attain its intended outcome.
After Israel’s 1982 invasion of southern Lebanon following the assassination of its ambassador Shlomo Argov in London by Palestinian radicals, Israel essentially endorsed the candidacy of Bachir Gemayel for president of Lebanon. It did so under the assumption that he would be a more cordial ruler towards Israel than any other. Significantly, one Lebanese deputy accused Gemayel of reaching the presidency “on the back of an Israeli tank,” while a pro-Palestinian academic compared him with Phillipe Petain, the French marshal who, as head of the Vichy government, collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.
Shortly before Gemayal took office, he was assassinated in a bombing committed by a member of a pro-Syrian organization. Any notion of a Pax Israeliana (an Israeli-induced peace) was buried under the rubble.
As if anything further is required to consign the foolhardy clan-based scheme to well-deserved oblivion, the final nail in its coffin was hammered home by the prospective administrators themselves. The scheme was recently rebuffed with a caustic amalgam of utter rejection and universal ridicule.
According to sources in Gaza, “No initiative that Israel is behind will be acceptable.” In a gruff public statement, representatives of the Gaza clans rejected the Israeli plan, describing it as “ludicrous.” The statement went on to declare: “Talk by some of the leaders of the occupation that heads of clans will administer the civilian life in Gaza is utterly contemptible and totally unacceptable.”
Merely sound political science
Clearly, it is time for Israel to bite the bullet.
Israel must forego its illusions that somehow the Arabs will deign to pull its chestnuts out of the fire. Its leaders must finally realize that the political solution to the Gaza conflict is to be found by the inexorable logic of an almost mathematical algorithm hitherto studiously and tragically ignored by Israeli policy-makers: The only way Israel can ensure who governs Gaza is for Israel to govern Gaza.
Significantly, the only obstacle preventing this outcome and frustrating the overt desire of many Gazans is the hard-hearted callousness of Egypt. Cairo seems bent on compelling the hapless masses, huddled against its sealed border gates, to suffer the travails of war and hunger, pestilence and pollution, rather than let them seek their salvation elsewhere, outside the confines of the hapless enclave.
This is not radical right-wing extremism. It is merely sound political science.
Exclusive: Iran Sends Russia Hundreds of Ballistic Missiles, Sources Say
Iran has provided Russia with a large number of powerful surface-to-surface ballistic missiles, six sources told Reuters, deepening the military cooperation between the two US-sanctioned countries.
Iran‘s provision of around 400 missiles includes many from the Fateh-110 family of short-range ballistic weapons, such as the Zolfaghar, three Iranian sources said. This road-mobile missile is capable of striking targets at a distance of between 300 and 700 km (186 and 435 miles), experts say.
Iran‘s defense ministry and the Revolutionary Guards – an elite force that oversees Iran‘s ballistic missile program – declined to comment. Russia‘s defense ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The shipments began in early January after a deal was finalized in meetings late last year between Iranian and Russian military and security officials that took place in Tehran and Moscow, one of the Iranian sources said.
An Iranian military official – who, like the other sources, asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the information – said there had been at least four shipments of missiles and there would be more in the coming weeks. He declined to provide further details.
Another senior Iranian official said some of the missiles were sent to Russia by ship via the Caspian Sea, while others were transported by plane.
“There will be more shipments,” the second Iranian official said. “There is no reason to hide it. We are allowed to export weapons to any country that we wish to.”
U.N. Security Council restrictions on Iran‘s export of some missiles, drones and other technologies expired in October. However, the United States and European Union retained sanctions on Iran‘s ballistic missile programme amid concerns over exports of weapons to its proxies in the Middle East and to Russia.
A fourth source, familiar with the matter, confirmed that Russia had received a large number of missiles from Iran recently, without providing further details.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby said in early January the United States was concerned that Russia was close to acquiring short-range ballistic weapons from Iran, in addition to missiles already sourced from North Korea.
A US official told Reuters that Washington had seen evidence of talks actively advancing but no indication yet of deliveries having taken place.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the missile deliveries.
Ukraine’s top prosecutor said on Friday the ballistic missiles supplied by North Korea to Russia had proven unreliable on the battlefield, with only two of 24 hitting their targets. Moscow and Pyongyang have both denied that North Korea has provided Russia with munitions used in Ukraine.
By contrast, Jeffrey Lewis, an expert with the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, said the Fateh-110 family of missiles and the Zolfaghar were precision weapons.
“They are used to point at things that are high value and need precise damage,” said Lewis, adding that 400 munitions could inflict considerable harm if used in Ukraine. He noted, however, that Russian bombardments were already “pretty brutal”.
US AID DELAY WEAKENS UKRAINE’S DEFENCES
A Ukrainian military source told Reuters that Kyiv had not registered any use of Iranian ballistic missiles by Russian forces in the conflict. The Ukrainian defence ministry did not immediately reply to Reuters’ request for comment.
Following the publication of this story, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Air Force told national television that it had no official information on Russia obtaining such missiles. He said that ballistic missiles would pose a serious threat to Ukraine.
Former Ukrainian defense minister Andriy Zagorodnyuk said that Russia wanted to supplement its missile arsenal at a time when delays in approving a major package of US military aid in Congress has left Ukraine short of ammunition and other material.
“The lack of US support means shortages of ground-based air defense in Ukraine. So they want to accumulate a mass of rockets and break through Ukrainian air defense,” said Zagorodnyuk, who chairs the Kyiv-based Centre for Defense Strategies, a security think tank, and advises the government.
Kyiv has repeatedly asked Tehran to stop supplying Shahed drones to Russia, which have become a staple of Moscow’s long-range assaults on Ukrainian cities and infrastructure, alongside an array of missiles.
Ukraine’s air force said in December that Russia had launched 3,700 Shahed drones during the war, which can fly hundreds of kilometres and explode on impact. Ukrainians call them “mopeds” because of the distinctive sound of their engines; air defenses down dozens of them each week.
Iran initially denied supplying drones to Russia but months later said it had provided a small number before Moscow launched the war on Ukraine in 2022.
“Those who accuse Iran of providing weapons to one of the sides in the Ukraine war are doing so for political purposes,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said on Monday, when asked about Tehran’s delivery of drones to Russia. “We have not given any drones to take part in that war.”
Rob Lee, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, a Philadelphia-based think tank, said a supply of Fateh-100 and Zolfaghar missiles from Iran would hand Russia an even greater advantage on the battlefield.
“They could be used to strike military targets at operational depths, and ballistic missiles are more difficult for Ukrainian air defences to intercept,” Lee said.
DEEPENING TIES WITH MOSCOW
Iran‘s hardline clerical rulers have steadily sought to deepen ties with Russia and China, betting that would help Tehran to resist US sanctions and to end its political isolation.
Defence cooperation between Iran and Russia has intensified since Moscow sent tens of thousands of troops into Ukraine in February 2022.
Russia‘s Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu met the head of Iran‘s Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force, Amirali Hajizadeh, in Tehran in September, when Iran‘s drones, missiles and air defence systems were displayed for him, Iranian state media reported.
And last month, Russia‘s foreign ministry said it expected President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi to sign a broad new cooperation treaty soon, following talks in Moscow in December.
“This military partnership with Russia has shown the world Iran‘s defense capabilities,” said the military official. “It does not mean we are taking sides with Russia in the Ukraine conflict.”
The stakes are high for Iran‘s clerical rulers amid the war between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas that erupted after Oct. 7. They also face growing dissent at home over economic woes and social restrictions.
While Tehran tries to avoid a direct confrontation with Israel that could draw in the United States, its Axis of Resistance allies – including Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen – have attacked Israeli and US targets.
A Western diplomat briefed on the matter confirmed the delivery of Iranian ballistic missiles to Russia in the recent weeks, without providing more details.
He said Western nations were concerned that Russia‘s reciprocal transfer of weapons to Iran could strengthen its position in any possible conflict with the United States and Israel.
Iran said in November it had finalized arrangements for Russia to provide it with Su-35 fighter jets, Mi-28 attack helicopters and Yak-130 pilot training aircraft.
Analyst Gregory Brew at Eurasia Group, a political risk consultancy, said Russia is an ally of convenience for Iran.
“The relationship is transactional: in exchange for drones, Iran expects more security cooperation and advanced weaponry, particularly modern aircraft,” he said.
The post Exclusive: Iran Sends Russia Hundreds of Ballistic Missiles, Sources Say first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Middlebury College Response to Antisemitism Allegations Slammed by Watchdog Group
Middlebury College on Tuesday issued, as well as deleted, statements which indirectly responded to allegations of institutional antisemitism that a civil rights group lodged against its administration last week.
As The Algemeiner previously reported, StandWithUs (SWU), a nonprofit that promotes education about Israel, filed a complaint with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) alleging that high level officials at the school fostered a “pervasively hostile climate” for Jewish students by refusing, in violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, to enforce anti-discrimination policies equally.
A timeline of events laid out in documents provided by SWU begins after Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel on Oct. 7, when the school issued a statement that did not acknowledge the deaths of Israelis, but instead only alluded to “violence happening now in Israel in Palestine.” The following week, the administration allegedly obstructed Jewish students’ efforts to publicly mourn Jews murdered on Oct. 7., denying them police protection for a vigil, forcing them to hold it outside, and demanding that the event avoid specifically mentioning Jewish suffering.
Middlebury responded to the charges on Tuesday, explaining the college’s “Educational Approach to the War in Gaza and Israel,” in two statements, the first of which was later deleted and replaced with a revision containing numerous “stealth” edits.
The first defended chanting “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a slogan widely considered as a call for a genocide of Jews in Israel, as utterance protected by its free speech policy.
“We are fully aware that, while this phrase is divisive, it is experienced and interpreted differently by different groups,” the school said. “Middlebury has extensive structures in place for mitigating ham that controversial speech can cause, and our open expression policy safeguards a learning environment ‘where all voices can be heard and have the opportunity to contribute to the conversation.’”
According to the StandWithUs Center for Legal Justice, Middlebury’s response did not directly address its handling of a vigil that Jewish students organized on Oct. 9 to mourn the victims of Hamas’ massacre across southern Israel, which happened two days prior. In its complaint, SWU alleged that Middlebury roadblocked the event, denying Jewish students police protection and demanding that they omit direct references to Jewish suffering in their remarks and promotional materials. In an email to the Jewish group that planned the vigil, Vice President and Dean of Students Derek Doucet said, “I wonder if such a public gather in such a charged moment might be more inclusive.”
Additionally, no high level administrators agreed to speak at the vigil and condemn antisemitic violence, as well as terrorism. However, a month later, the administration accommodated Students for Justice in Palestine’s “Vigil for Palestine,” providing campus police, space on campus, and a speech from a high ranking official diversity-equity-and-inclusion (DEI) official, a request, StandWithUs insists, which organizers of the Jewish vigil had been denied.
In Tuesday’s deleted statement, Middlebury claimed that president Laurie Patton provided the Jewish students “remarks that were read at the vigil, condemning Hamas and pledging support and care for students.” Not true, StandWithUs, explained. Patton’s statements, like Middlebury’s previous statements about Oct. 7, mentioned only “violence we have seen in Israel and Gaza,” a description of the conflict at which SWU takes umbrage for its equating Hamas’ atrocities with Israel’s self-defense.
StandWithUs said in a press release on Wednesday that Middlebury’s statement is “mendacious,” noting that members of the Coalition for Dismantling Antisemitism at Middlebury are all hired faculty and staff, some of whom are accused of antisemitism in its complaint. SWU also charged that Middlebury’s claim to collaborate with a local Chabad organization is misleading as well, noting that “for over six years” the school has denied the group’s entreaties for formal recognition, a designation that would qualify it for funding and the privilege to reserve space on campus for events and other activities.
“It is no wonder that by the morning of February 20, 2024, Middlebury took its statement down from its website entirely and replaced it with an even more misleading post,” StandWithUs CEO Roz Rothstein said. “Middlebury can no longer hide from its legal and moral duty to provide a campus environment for its Jewish students free from discrimination and harassment.”
Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.
The post Middlebury College Response to Antisemitism Allegations Slammed by Watchdog Group first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Courage to disagree, with respect: York University student initiative Bridging the Gap promotes civil dialogue on Israel
How a campus initiative was revived following Oct. 7.