Hamas Violates Cease-Fire; 70% of Israelis Oppose It

Hamas has already violated the cease-fire negotiated by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government. According to sources within Israel, air raid sirens sounded in the city of Beer Sheva as the cease-fire went into effect at 9 p.m. local time, and rocket attacks were reported elsewhere across the south.

In addition, as reported by Israeli blogger Jameel at “The Muqata,” a new poll released by Israel’s Channel 2 indicates that 70% of Israelis oppose a cease-fire, and only 24% support one. (The poll was conducted before today’s announcement of a cease-fire agreement.) 64% of Israelis believe a cease-fire will not last. A smaller majority, 58%, believes that Operation Pillar of Defense strengthened Israel’s deterrent; 15% say it is weaker.

The cease-fire agreement came as Israel scored hit after hit on Hamas terror infrastructure, including Iranian-made long-range rockets–but also shortly after a terror attack on a bus in Tel Aviv for which Hamas claimed responsibility. The timing may allow Hamas to claim a political and strategic victory, especially as its rockets reached the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem for the first time during the week-long conflict.

Pressure from the United States undoubtedly played a role, as the Obama administration was reluctant to see Israel launch a ground war in Gaza, and Clinton may have threatened to close the purse strings of aid to Egypt.

Read more here.

Hamas Warns Israel: ‘We Love Death More Than You Love Life’

IT SEEMS THE DEAD BOY USED AS SYMBOL OF ISRAELI ‘AGGRESSION’ WAS KILLED BY…HAMAS (WARNING — GRAPHIC PHOTO)

Egypt’s Prime Minister Hisham Kandil cried on Friday and kissed the dead child’s forehead, calling him a “martyr.” CNN called him “another victim of an [Israeli] airstrike.” Newspapers showed his photo as an example of the Palestinian civilians killed by Israel’s ongoing military campaign against militants in Gaza.

The only problem with that narrative is that 4-year-old Mahmoud Sadallah was killed by a Hamas rocket that fell short in Gaza instead of its intended target: Israel. According to an Israeli military statement Sunday, “Ninety-nine rockets fired from Gaza have crashed back into Gaza in the last four days. Hamas fires from civilian areas…and hits its own people.”

Pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon reviewed media reports on the incident and wrote: “The IDF did not launch any airstrikes in Gaza while Egyptian PM Kandil was in Gaza.” Israel had agreed to a temporary ceasefire while Kandil was visiting Gaza on Friday, as a gesture to Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Even so, terror groups continued firing on Israel during the diplomatic visit.

Elder of Ziyon pointed out that the Associated Press reported from Gaza that not only where there no eyewitnesses to the strike, no evidence remained onsite for examination. The blog said: “Israel vehemently denied involvement, saying it had not carried out any attacks in the area at the time” and that “…neighbors said local security officials quickly took what remained of the projectile, making it impossible to verify who fired it.”

Read more here.

International Socialists Sponsor Rally to Support Hamas in London

Iron Dome intercepts 2 Fajr-5 missiles aimed at Tel Aviv

Third attack on central city in three days intercepted by fifth Iron Dome battery, deployed in Gush Dan earlier in the day; Palestinian terrorists fire 740 rockets into Israel since start of operation.

The Iron Dome intercepted two Iranian-made Fajr-5 missiles aimed at Tel Aviv on Saturday. The missiles marked the third attack on the heavily populated central city in as many days, after Palestinian terrorists from Gaza fired two missiles toward the financial capital Friday, prompting red alert air raid sirens to sound in the city.

While police said that one of the missiles landed in an open area, a military source told The Jerusalem Post that the Iron Dome intercepted both missiles.

The Defense Ministry deployed an upgraded Iron Dome battery in the Gush Dan area in the center of Israel on Saturday morning, after rushing its production in light of escalation. The battery is the fifth Iron Dome system operational in Israel.

The attack followed volley after volley of rockets aimed at southern towns on Saturday, as red alert sirens wailed repeatedly, warning residents to flee for cover. Two rockets also landed outside the capital Jerusalem on Friday, causing no injury or damage.

Rockets in Ashdod lightly injured five people Friday, and caused damage to a house. Houses were also damaged in Eshkol and Be’er Tuviya. Four IDF soldiers were lightly injured by shrapnel from a rocket in the Eshkol area.

According to Israel Radio, over 60 rockets have fallen on the South on the fourth day of Operation Pillar of Defense. The Iron Dome rocket defense system intercepted 15 of the rockets.

Read more here.

WaPo grants Hamas immunity from terrorism

Last week, Israel’s National Insurance Institute reported that 981 civilians have been murdered by Palestinian terrorist groups since 2000. The vast majority were killed by Hamas and Fatah’s terrorist wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. Another 17,200 Israelis were wounded in premeditated terrorist attacks on civilian targets.

On a population basis, Israel’s civilian death toll from Palestinian terrorism is the equivalent of 40,000 civilian deaths in the U.S — more than 10 times the 3,000 U.S. fatalities on 9/11 when Al-Qaeda struck the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Even as of today, when it’s joining with Fatah in a Palestinian “unity” government, Hamas has not renounced its dedication and reliance on violence to meet its declared objective of wiping Israel off the map. A couple of weeks ago, it fired an anti-tank missile from Gaza at a yellow Israeli school bus, killing a child and wounding the driver.

Yet, the Washington Post, in its May 8 edition, tells readers in the lead paragraph of its main article on the front page that Osama Bin Laden, Al-Qaeda’s leader, “remained highly active in directing the terrorist group” after 9/11, while on Page A10, the paper refers to Hamas merely as “Gaza’s ruling Islamist movement.”

Why the accurate designation of Al-Qaeda as a “terrorist group,” but use of a much softer, euphemistic labeli for Hamas as merely an “Islamist movement” — a description that completely overllooks its violent, bloody, terrorist agenda — past, present and future ?

Hamas has not hesited to liken itself to Al-Qaeda. I In recent days, its Gaza chief, Ismail Haniyeh, called Bin Laden an “Arab holy warrior” and Hamas’s supreme leader, Khaled Meshaal, denounced the U.S. killing of Bin Laden as an “atrocity.”

Yet, the Post keeps on properly designating Al-Qaeda as a “terrorist” group while using all sorts of Orwellian euphemisms — “militants,” “Islamist movement,” “fighters,” “activists” — to sanitize and thus make more acceptable Hamas’s real record and real agenda.

What’s the difference between these two terrorist organizations?

Go figure.

Teaching their children to hate

Israel’s former premiere, Golda Meir of blessed memory, was once asked when peace would end the Israeli-Arab conflict. She quickly replied

“Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us.” (Statement to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., 1957)

More than 50 years later, peace is not about to break out; the Arabs are still glorifying hate and war among themselves while passing on these toxic attitudes to their children.

In Gaza, official talk of resistance and rejection is standard. “I would rather die a martyr like my son than shake the hand of my enemy,” Yusef Mansi, the Hamas minister of public works and housing, said in an interview, responding to a question about reconciliation with Israel.

These are people who are not ready to make peace; they are people who are preparing for war to totally destroy their enemy as they publicly proclaim. And thus any sensible person such as Secretary of State Hilary Clinton would end “peace talks.” Apparently she is not sensible; with nothing to talk about, the hot air “peace talks” continue; the true cause of global warming.

The Return of the Ottomans

BY Lee Smith

Beirut

A few months back, I was dining with a friend at an Armenian restaurant in Beirut, and at the end of the meal he gracefully sidestepped the Turkish question by ordering a “Byzantine” coffee. The waiter laughed grimly. “Aside from coffee and waterpipes,” asked my friend, “what did the Turks leave us? They were here for 500 years, and they didn’t even leave us their language. We speak Arabic, French, and English. No one speaks Turkish. Their most important political institutions were baksheesh and the khazouk.”

Baksheesh is bribery, and the khazouk is a spike driven through its victim’s rectum, which the Ottomans used to terrify locals and deter potential insurgents. The Ottomans were hated here and throughout the Arabic-speaking Middle East, not only by the regional minorities (Christians, Jews, Shia, etc.) but also by their Sunni Arab coreligionists. All felt the heavy yoke of the Sublime Porte.

In the last few weeks, however, half a millennium’s worth of history has been conveniently forgotten, perhaps even forgiven, as Turkey has emerged as a regional power and the guarantor of Arab interests—against Israel, to be sure, but more importantly against Iran.

In truth, the wheels were in motion long before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government sponsored the Mavi Marmara’s cruise to Gaza, which left nine activists dead after they challenged an Israeli boarding party. Erdogan’s winter 2009 performance at Davos, when he confronted Israeli president Shimon Peres in the wake of the Gaza offensive, made the Turkish Islamist a regional celebrity. And while the Arab masses were thrilled to hear Israel denounced by a Muslim leader—and an ally of the Jewish state no less—the more important work was taking place behind the scenes. After Davos, high-level political sources in Beirut let on that there’d been a meeting in Cairo with President Hosni Mubarak. “The Egyptians are very happy with Erdogan,” said one. “The Turks are trying to take the Palestinian file out of the hands of the Iranians and give it back to the Arabs.”

It’s not yet clear whether Ankara really means to restore the Arabs to their pride of place by handing over a Hamas scrubbed of Iranian influence, or, as is more likely, the Turks simply want to use the Palestinian cause to enhance its own regional credentials, as Tehran has been doing for the last three decades. But the Turkish gambit has induced a lot of willful self-delusion in the Arab states—and amnesia.

Long before Arab nationalism identified Israel and the United States (and before that the European powers) as the enemy, it was the Ottomans who were called to account for everything that was wrong in the Arabic-speaking regions. The Ottomans certainly encouraged Middle East sectarianism: playing up confessional differences, empowering some sects while weakening others, and balancing minorities against each other. Arab nationalism was inspired by Turkish nationalism, but it was a doctrine that asserted Arab independence from the Ottomans. There were no longer Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawi, etc., only Arabs, unified as one against the outsiders, the colonizers.

The Arab states that had been most directly oppressed by the Sublime Porte—and so those most divided along sectarian lines—were determined to illuminate the evils of Ottoman occupation. No Arab state was more anti-Turkish than Baathist Syria. The Syrian television serials that commonly promote the blood libel and feature other anti-Semitic caricatures at one time also cast Ottomans as villains. Indeed, Damascus went where even Washington fears to tread, producing serials that mention the Armenian genocide. And Syrian anti-Turkish sentiment wasn’t only about past affronts. Just as Damascus demands that Israel return the Golan Heights, there is a significant land dispute at the center of Syrian-Turkish relations. In 1939, the Turks conquered what is today known as Hatay province, but the Syrians call Iskenderun or Alexandretta, and which Damascus long claimed was occupied land. In 2005, the Syrians quietly relinquished their claims and thus opened a new chapter in the history of their two countries—which included a 1998 conflict in which Turkey was poised to invade its Arab neighbor until Hafez al-Assad handed over Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Today, Hafez’s son Bashar likes to speak of Turkey and Syria’s shared history, explaining that “Arab and Turkish blood is one blood across history”—a phrase that unintentionally resonates with historical pathos. Syrians after all are often disparagingly called Tamerlane’s bastards, a reference to the trail of destruction and sexual violence that the Turkic conqueror left in his wake. Presumably, today’s Turks are of a much kinder disposition, and Damascus has both an Iranian ally and a government in Ankara that is wooing it—or at least this is how the Syrians are playing it publicly.

Erdogan’s invitation to Hezbollah’s secretary general to visit Ankara certainly reinforces the fear that what we’re watching is the formation of a united resistance front, with Turkey signing on to the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. But this may well turn out, eventually anyway, to be a revival of the historic rivalry between the Turks and the Persians. The problem is not just that their competition is likely to further radicalize the political culture of an already volatile region, but that subsidiary actors will be forced to prove their bona fides as well. It will drag in the Jordanians. And what about the Egyptians, who are on the verge of a very delicate succession issue as the 83-year-old Mubarak’s days are numbered and no one knows if his son Gamal will indeed be able to replace him?

Syria is about the only player whose actions can be gamed with any accuracy. The country right now considers itself Hamas’s interlocutor, which is precisely the role that Erdogan auditioned for with the cruise of the Mavi Marmara. Should Europe, or at some point the United States, accept Turkish mediation, it will knock Syria down a peg, which will then feel obligated to assert itself. Perhaps the best way to understand Syria’s recent shipment of Scuds to Hezbollah is as a reminder to everyone that attention must be paid to Damascus as well as Tehran, that when it comes to Hezbollah, Assad also has a vote in war or peace with Israel. Turkish-Iranian competition will entail accelerated Syrian activity on two of Israel’s borders.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Iran’s neighbors across the water, see the recent events in starker terms. Ankara’s shot across Tehran’s bow is a good thing, period. As Abdul Rahman al-Rashid, Saudi columnist for the London-based pan-Arab news-paper Asharq al-Awsat writes:

Erdogan, who wanted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, broke the Iranian blockade on the Arabs instead. .  .  . [T]he most that Ankara could benefit from by raising the Palestinian flag would be by advancing its political status, [which] does not contract or marginalize Arab interests, unlike the Iranian goal which directly undermines the Arab position.

If some Saudi officials are concerned that Erdogan’s play is a bit radical and wish, according to Asharq al-Awsat editor in chief Tariq Homayed, “Hamas would follow Turkey, and not vice versa,” in the end it all comes down to sectarianism. Turkey is Sunni, Iran is Shia, and despite the Ottoman Empire’s long history of oppressing their imperial subjects, the Arabs prefer anything to the prospect of Persian hegemony. If it means casting their lot with the progeny of those who enslaved them for centuries—well there is great comfort in custom.

If in a sense the Middle East is returning to its historical divisions—an Ottoman (Turkish) and Safavid (Iranian) rivalry where Israel stands in for the Western powers—especially with Washington’s diminishing profile in the region—it is worth lamenting how the Arabs wasted their moment of independence. What started with the birth of the Arab state system moved quickly to wars between those states and within them, and then the empty rhetoric of Nasser, despotism, mass murder, and a unifying hatred of Israel, all culminating in the suicidal obscurantism of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, whom the Arab masses, characteristically, regard as heroes. The “Arab century,” that period during which the Arabs had their own destiny in their hands, was brief, lasting roughly a decade from 1956-67. A harsher, and perhaps more accurate, assessment suggests that it was even shorter than that: After all, Israel’s victory in the Six Day War shows that Nasser’s success at Suez was due not to anything he did, but to an American president’s ordering the French, British, and Israelis to stand down.

In reality, the Arab century was ours. For more than 65 years, the United States was the power underwriting the Arabs, and if not always the most sincere benefactor, we nonetheless protected them from more dangerous forces and their even more dangerous fantasies. What we won from the region is what the Turks now want as well: the wealth, influence, and power that is consequent on hegemony in the energy-rich Middle East. Ankara will serve as an inter-mediary between their Arab charges and a stingy Europe that up till now has turned its back on Turkey. But what do the Turks have to offer the Arabs that they hadn’t already impressed upon the region when they left it to its own devices almost a century ago? The Americans brought schools and hospitals to the Middle East, and, after 9/11, democracy, too, at last—or perhaps, too late. It’s not the Arab vacuum that Ankara is rushing to fill, but our own.

Lee Smith is the author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations (Doubleday).