August 11, 2012

EDITOR: Haaretz noticed it…

I have been writing on this topic for over two years, and now even Haaretz has noticed the facts – no one in the west cares if Iran is attacked! They have bought into the US arguments, whose script was written in Jerusalem many months ago. So, with no one caring, this mad and criminal war is coming – nothing seems to be there to stop it right now!

The world doesn’t seem worried by Netanyahu’s threats to strike Iran: Haaretz

Europe is keeping quiet, and Obama’s policy is vague. It looks like the international community has reconciled itself with the possibility of war – or does the world simply not believe that Netanyahu will act on his words?

By Aluf Benn | Aug.11, 2012 | 2:00 PM

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stand next to a burnt armoured vehicle near the Kerem Shalom border crossing. Photo by AFP

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are threatening to attack Iran, and the world does not seem concerned. Israel warns that its face is turned in the direction of a war that will bump up the price of oil and cause many deaths and much damage, and the world does nothing to prevent the tragedy. No emergency meetings of the UN Security Council, no dramatic diplomatic delegations, no live coverage on CNN and Al-Jazeera. There aren’t even any sharp fluctuations in the price of oil and natural gas. Or in Israel’s credit rating. The scene is quiet. Even Iranian counter-threats to hit Israel don’t seem to worry anybody.

What’s happening here? All the signs show that the “international community,” meaning the western powers and the U.S. in the lead, seem to have reconciled themselves with Israel’s talk of a military strike – and now they are pushing Netanyahu to stand by his rhetoric and send his bombers to their targets in Iran. In general terms, the market has already accounted for the Israeli strike in its assessment of the risk of the undertaking, and it is now waiting for the expectation to be realized.

The international community created the ideological grounds for an Israeli operation against Iran. It has ceased to bother Netanyahu about issues related to the occupation, the settlements and the Palestinian state, which has made it possible for Netanyahu to focus on preparing the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli public opinion for a war with Iran. The “nuclear talks” between the powers and Iran were the epitome of diplomatic impotence. Economic sanctions on Iran did not stop the nuclear project, and maybe even caused its acceleration, but they are likely to limit Iran in a long-term war against Israel.

U.S. President Barack Obama is considered a sharp opponent to the idea of an Israeli strike against Iran. But his actions say the opposite. Obama once again is leading from behind, as he did in Libya and Syria. This is his doctrine: Instead of complicating America with a new Mideast war, he is outsourcing the fighting to an external agent. In Libya, it was the French, the British and the anti-Gadhafi rebels. In Syria, it is the Free Syrian Army. In Iran, it is the IDF.

If Israel does strike, the planes and the arms will be made in the U.S.A. The Home Front Command will receive early warnings of missile landings from the American radar in the Negev in southern Israel. The financial aid and state support for the day after the strike will probably also come from Washington.

The public position of the U.S. regime is vague. Officials talk about the “unity of the international community,” “tough sanctions” and say things that they will use all available options to stop Iran developing nuclear weapons (as Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta did on his recent visit to Israel). There is no warning here against an Israeli strike. No one is saying, “If you strike, you will put Israel-U.S. relations at risk, and you will remain isolated.”

Obama was much more aggressive when he asked Netanyahu to freeze settlement construction – something that has no effect whatsoever on the well-being of Americans. And now, when regional stability and the fate of the world economy are at stake, the Obama administration makes do with a feeble request that Israel wait.

There is logic behind this apparent American weakness: Obama needs the support of America’s Jews in the upcoming presidential elections, hence his reluctance to enter into a diplomatic confrontation with the Israeli Prime Minister. According to this explanation, Obama must catch up with Republican rival Mitt Romney, who came to be photographed next to Netanyahu in Jerusalem. Obama despises Netanyahu, but he has put aside his feelings at least until the elections are over in November. This is one of the reasons that Netanyahu and Barak want to attack in the coming weeks, when Obama will be forced to support Israel, because of his political needs at home.

But even if Obama is held back by the campaign, his restraints do not put his European peers under any kind of obligation. Angel Merkel, David Cameron, and Francoise Hollande dislike Netanyahu as much as Obama does, but in Germany, Britain and France there is no strong lobby for Israel. And even so, the Europeans are silent. During Netanyahu’s first term as Prime Minister, European leaders visited Israel often in order to protest the stalemate in the peace process and settlement expansion. And now? The two most important guests that have visited Jerusalem in the last two weeks were the Australian foreign minister and the prime minister of Tonga. Friendly nations, but ones that lack influence in matters of war and peace. European leaders and foreign ministers are busy with the Economic crisis and vacance.

For Americans and Europeans who are leading a hard line against Iran, it is difficult to present a position that will be interpreted as a defense of the Iranian nuclear program in the face of an Israeli strike. But they can demonstrate diplomatic activity, flood Israel and Iran with visits, brief the press, and maybe even posit creative solutions to calm the crisis. Their reluctance and their silence imply their support for an attack by Netanyahu. If a war breaks out, they will do everything to minimize any ensuing damage, to reach a cease-fire, and to calm the oil market.

And maybe they just think that Netanyahu is bluffing. Maybe, much as they did not believe his pronouncements over a future Palestinian state, they think that his talk of a strike is nothing more than empty words.

Rights groups: IDF catching African migrants inside Egyptian territory: Haaretz

According to a report released by Israeli human-rights organizations, IDF soldiers have been intercepting migrants before they reach the border, then turning them over to Egyptian forces.
By The Associated Press     and Gili Cohen, Aug.10, 2012

Egyptian border guards patrol near the border with Israel in Rafah, Egypt, Augusts 2012. Photo by AP

Israel has been sending soldiers into Egypt’s Sinai desert to stop African migrants before they reach the border, handing them over to Egyptian forces, human rights groups charged in a report released Friday.

The report, published by Amnesty International and several Israeli groups, including Hotline for Migrant Workers and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, said that Israeli soldiers have entered several hundred meters into Egyptian territory to catch migrants and hand them over to Egyptian police.

The report cited an Israeli soldier and several migrants whose relatives were seized by Israeli soldiers inside Egyptian territory.

In an affidavit included in the report, the Israeli reserve soldier said his unit was posted in June several hundred meters inside Egypt to stop African migrants. The soldier described three incidents in which his unit dealt with African migrants on the Egyptian side. On two occasions Israeli soldiers marched the groups several kilometers along the border on the Egyptian side and handed them over to Egyptian police.

In the other, he wrote that soldiers guarded a group of about 40 migrants, including women and a baby, for two days before the migrants “dispersed,” and most of them crossed into Israel.

The soldier’s name is blacked out. A Tel Aviv attorney countersigned the statement.

The report also cites migrants who succeeded in making it to Israel but say their relatives were in groups that were intercepted and handed over by force to Egyptian authorities.

The three rights group called on Israel to stop the practice, saying it was aimed at preventing migrants from entering Israel, where the government would then have to consider their claims of asylum. The groups said repatriating asylum seekers who might be in danger in their home countries is a violation of international law.

“Israel is responsible for the action or omissions of its soldiers, whether they are located in Israeli or Egyptian territory,” the report said. It added that they fear that “victims of physical and sexual abuse by traffickers in the Sinai desert may be among those returned.”

Asked about the report, the IDF Spokesman’s Office confirmed that it was detaining Africans attempting to enter the country, but did not specify on which side of the border its activities took place.

“The IDF operates in the area of the border in a place where the fence’s construction has not been completed, in order to prevent penetration of hostile terrorist activity, as well as criminal smuggling and illegal border infiltration,” the IDF Spokesman’s Office said.

“In recent weeks IDF forces have been forced, a number of times, to prevent entrance of infiltrators, during attempts to illegally enter the State of Israel’s territory, until the arrival of Egyptian forces which took the infiltrators. IDF forces’ activities are conducted according to the law,” it added.

A senior Egyptian military official in Sinai denied that any Israeli soldiers had entered Egypt to chase migrants. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

The use of Israeli soldiers just inside Egyptian territory, with apparent Egyptian consent, would be a startling move, given widespread anti-Israeli sentiment among Egyptians and the strong sensitivities over Sinai, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and returned after the 1979 peace deal between the two countries.

The report came as tension rose over the security situation in the lawless desert, where Islamic militants recently killed 16 Egyptian soldiers, stole armored vehicles and drove into Israel, apparently to carry out a further attack until they were struck by Israeli forces. Egypt has deployed additional troops in the peninsula near the borders with Israel and Gaza in an operation to stamp out militant groups.

Israel believes that most of the migrants are seeking work, not asylum, and has recently begun deporting migrants from South Sudan, giving financial incentives to those who agree to leave voluntarily. South Sudan, which gained independence a year ago, has friendly relations with Israel.

The rights groups’ report coincides with a sharp drop in the number of migrants crossing the border. In July, Israel said 248 migrants entered, less than half the average. The report quotes Egyptian newspapers saying that 514 migrants were caught in July, several hundred more than usual.

Most African migrants reaching Israel come from Sudan, South Sudan and Eritrea. About 60,000 migrants are already in Israel, and some Israelis have expressed concern that the influx could harm the Jewish character of the state.

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