Alberto Nisman and the West’s Inability to Confront Islamist Terror

The death under mysterious circumstances of Alberto Nisman, on the day before he was scheduled to testify to the Argentinian congress about Iran’s role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, says much about how the West has responded to the threat of global jihad. Seth Lipsky writes (free registration required):

[W]hile the bombers were plotting their attack, top American intelligence officials . . . were meeting with a delegation of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. It was . . . a wide-ranging session, touching on all parts of the world. The one area on which “a crackle of disagreement erupted” was on Islamic terrorism.

The disagreement was between “analysts on the intelligence side,” who discounted the notion that we were facing a “unified Islamic threat,” to use the jargon of the time, and several skeptics in the Jewish delegation, including Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League and Malcolm Hoenlein of the Presidents Conference. One of the intelligence types . . . summed up his view by saying “We do not want to replace the struggle against the red tide of Communism with a struggle against the green tide of Islam.”

Many terrorist attacks later, has the U.S. learned its lesson? Not to judge by recent behavior:

Where was U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry when the long fight to bring Iran to book on AMIA was coming to a head? Where was the Obama administration? Where are they now? They are pursuing their effort to make America a contract partner with the regime that Nisman accused of being the culprit in the AMIA bombing. What a sorry end to this story that would be.

Read more at Haaretz

More about: AMIA bombing, Argentina, Hizballah, Iran, Politics & Current Affairs, War on Terror

Recognizing a Palestinian State Won’t Help Palestinians, or Even Make Palestinian Statehood More Likely

While Shira Efron and Michael Koplow are more sanguine about the possibility of a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and more critical of Israel’s policies in the West Bank, than I am, I found much worth considering in their recent article on the condition of the Palestinian Authority (PA). Particularly perceptive are their comments on the drive to grant diplomatic recognition to a fictive Palestinian state, a step taken by nine countries in the past few months, and almost as many in total as recognize Israel.

Efron and Koplow argue that this move isn’t a mere empty gesture, but one that would actually make things worse, while providing “no tangible benefits for Palestinians.”

In areas under its direct control—Areas A and B of the West Bank, comprising 40 percent of the territory—the PA struggles severely to provide services, livelihoods, and dignity to inhabitants. This is only partly due to its budgetary woes; it has also never established a properly functioning West Bank economy. President Mahmoud Abbas, who will turn ninety next year, administers the PA almost exclusively by executive decrees, with little transparency or oversight. Security is a particular problem, as militants from different factions now openly defy the underfunded and undermotivated PA security forces in cities such as Jenin, Nablus, and Tulkarm.

Turning the Palestinian Authority (PA) from a transitional authority into a permanent state with the stroke of a pen will not make [its] litany of problems go away. The risk that the state of Palestine would become a failed state is very real given the PA’s dysfunctional, insolvent status and its dearth of public legitimacy. Further declines in its ability to provide social services and maintain law and order could yield a situation in which warlords and gangs become de-facto rulers in some areas of the West Bank.

Otherwise, any steps toward realizing two states will be fanciful, built atop a crumbling foundation—and likely to help turn the West Bank into a third front in the current war.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian statehood