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What They Are Saying
Tehran Believes They're Winning a Rocket War on Two Different Fronts
Columnist Jackson Diehl writes in The Washington Post (www.washingtonpost.com) on May 5 about the war of the rockets in Gaza and Iraq:
"For months now, Israel has been mired in an unwinnable war against Hamas and allied militias in Gaza, who fire missiles at civilians in Israel and then hide among their own women and children, ensuring that retaliatory fire will produce innocent victims for the Middle East's innumerable satellite television networks. A growing number of the militiamen have been to Iran for training, and some of the missiles they launch are Iranian-made. Their objective is obvious: to exhaust Israelis with an endless war of attrition while making it impossible for Israel's government to reach a political settlement with the more moderate Palestinian administration in the West Bank.
"Now, U.S. forces have been drawn into a similar morass in Sadr City, the Shi'ite neighborhood of 2 million ruled by Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army.
"It's not hard to grasp the common strategy at work here or to intuit what interest it serves. The rockets fired from Gaza and from Sadr City are two prongs of an offensive aimed at forcing the United States out of Iraq, putting Israel on the defensive -- and leaving Iran as the region's pre-eminent power. The third front, in Lebanon, is also the model. There, the Hezbollah militia has armed itself with thousands of rockets and long-range missiles in preparation for a repeat of its 2006 war with Israel, while making Tehran a power in domestic Lebanese politics. The fourth front is in Afghanistan, where Taliban militiamen near the Iranian border now come armed with Iranian-made weapons.
"Countering the strategic Iranian challenge -- which also includes its unimpeded nuclear program -- is likely to preoccupy U.S. policy in the Middle East for years. But the more immediate problem for both the United States and Israel is how to end the wars of the rockets. As Israel has demonstrated over the past 18 months, selective strikes against rocket crews by aircraft or special forces can inflict a lot of casualties -- but don't stop the launchings. As U.S. forces have shown in Baghdad, sending substantial ground forces into Sadr City (or Gaza), building walls and fighting for control of the streets doesn't bring quick relief, either. Israel has so far avoided a similar offensive in Gaza in part because of another problem, the lack of an exit strategy. Even if the streets can be cleared of militants, who will ensure that no rockets are fired after the invading forces depart? Neither Iraqi nor Palestinian government forces seem up to the job.
"Both Israelis and Americans are tantalized by the prospect of a political solution. With U.S. encouragement, the Iraqi government is negotiating with both Sadr and Iran; Israel is talking to Hamas through Egypt. Both militias say they would be happy to observe a cease-fire in exchange for political concessions. But neither will agree to disarm. This is again the model of Hezbollah, which participates in the Lebanese parliament but refuses to give up its weapons, giving it the ability to wage war at any time of its -- or Tehran's -- choosing. Hamas will not surrender its option to bleed Israel, nor will the Mahdi Army its means to harry the American enemy.
"Let's hope Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain also are thinking about a grimmer possibility: that Iran believes that its offensive is succeeding and that its goals are within reach, and that it has no intention of stopping. As long as neither Israeli nor U.S. commanders can find a way to win the war of the rockets, that's likely to be the case."
King Would Be Saddened to Know That Blacks Still Lambaste Jews
Attorney and adviser to Martin Luther King Jr., Clarence Jones, writes in The Wall Street Journal (www.opinionjournal.com) on April 30 about black anti-Semitism:
"Earlier this month, at a Los Angeles event for the national African-American fraternity Kappa Alpha Psi, the keynote speaker launched into an anti-Semitic tirade -- directed at the fraternity's guest of honor. The shocking episode shows just how far we've strayed from the original vision of the civil-rights movement -- and how far we have yet to travel to realize that vision.
"The guest of honor, Daphna Ziman, an Israeli-American woman, had just received the Tom Bradley Award for generous philanthropy and public service. But instead of praise, the Rev. Eric Lee berated her. 'The Jews,' he claimed, 'have made money on us in the music business and we are the entertainers, and they are economically enslaving us.' (Mr. Lee would later apologize to Ms. Ziman.)
"It was bad enough that the event took place on April 4, the 40th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. Even more galling, Mr. Lee is the president-CEO of the L.A. branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Foundation -- the very civil-rights organization co-founded by the slain civil-rights leader.
"Martin would have been repelled by Mr. Lee's remarks. I was his lawyer and one of his closest advisers, and I can say with absolute certainty that Martin abhorred anti-Semitism in all its forms, including anti-Zionism. 'There isn't anyone in this country more likely to understand our struggle than Jews,' Martin told me. 'Whatever progress we've made so far as a people, their support has been essential.'
"Martin was disheartened that so many blacks could be swayed by Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam and other black separatists, rejecting his message of nonviolence, and grumbling about 'Jew landlords' and 'Jew interlopers' -- even 'Jew slave traders.' The resentment and anger displayed toward people who offered so much support for civil rights was then nascent. But it has only festered and grown over four decades. Today, black-Jewish relations have arguably grown worse, not better.
"For that, Martin would place fault principally on the shoulders of black leaders such as Louis Farrakhan, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson -- either for making anti-Semitic statements, inciting anti-Semitism (including violence), or failing to condemn overt anti-Semitism within the black community.
"As Martin wrote in 1967, 'Negroes nurture a persistent myth that the Jews of America attained social mobility and status solely because they had money. It is unwise to ignore the error for many reasons. In a negative sense, it encourages anti-Semitism and overestimates money as a value. In a positive sense, the full truth reveals a useful lesson.
" 'Jews progressed because they possessed a tradition of education combined with social and political action. The Jewish family enthroned education and sacrificed to get it. The result was far more than abstract learning. Uniting social action with educational competence, Jews became enormously effective in political life.'
"To Martin, who believed the pursuit of excellence would trump adversity, Jewish success should, and could, be used as a blueprint and inspiration for blacks' own success, rather than as an incitement to bitterness.
"Any blacks who subscribe to the views represented in Mr. Lee's speech would do well to heed the words and deeds of the man whose name and legacy they claim to represent."