Israeli Aggression on Gaza and U.S. Acquiescence
Kidnappings, torture and murder, missile strikes, and bombings by American made Israeli aircraft are ripping Gaza apart, but the White House seems unwilling or unable to act. When most presidents would cancel events and spend more time in Washington in order to influence events and monitor hostilities in the Middle East, Obama has taken off on a trip that will raise money for fellow Democrats who running for reelection. What’s going on?
Actually, the fact that Obama is raising money for the elections in four months rather than dealing with the Gaza crisis makes his strategy clear – his inaction is political and geared towards helping the Democratic Party in November. With dismal polls, a weak economy, and a Democratic Senate at risk of going Republican, Obama is focused on politics, not foreign policy – especially Middle Eastern foreign policy.
Obama knows he has lost the American swing vote, which usually votes based on the state of the economy. That means limiting the damage on Election Day in November depends on getting his Democratic voters to be energized enough to vote.
Since young people, who helped Obama win in 2008 and 2012, are less likely to vote in mid term elections, Obama is trying to craft a coalition of likely voters that will come to the polls and help incumbent Democratic senators at risk of losing. This is reflected in current White House policy.
In the last week, Obama has criticized the recent Supreme Court Hobby Lobby case that allowed closely held corporations to restrict coverage of abortifacients, in order to boost the turnout of women voters, who tend to vote Democratic. He has also allowed illegal immigrants to flood the Border States in order to solidify his hold on the Hispanic and progressive pro-immigration voter base.
However, these voting blocs are not as likely to turn out in midterm elections. That means Obama has to rely more on the one Democratic group that votes regularly in midterm elections – likes the Jewish vote.
American Jews are more politically aware and have the highest percentage of voter turnout of any ethnic group in America. And, although 2-2.5% of the United States population is Jewish, 94% live in 13 states, which give them more power to help vulnerable Democratic politicians.
Despite attempts by Republicans to crack the Jewish vote, they remain solidly Democratic. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, 70% of Jews self-identify as leaning towards or are members of the Democratic Party. That compares with just 49% of the American public overall who at least lean Democratic. This makes the Jewish vote a critical one for Obama and the Democrats. In fact, they are critical in battleground states like Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania.
But, why should Obama worry about the Jewish vote since they are traditionally Democratic voters and many Jewish voters don’t have a strong interest in American policy towards Israel. In fact, polls regularly show that American Jewish voters aren’t concerned about Israel because most American Jews are becoming more American and less Jewish. A Pew survey showed that 71 percent of non-Orthodox Jews intermarries and two-thirds of Jews do not belong to a synagogue. These are the ones more likely to vote Democratic regularly and who don’t have a strong affinity for Israel. In fact, 54% of American Jews say American support of the Jewish state is “about right.”
What about the other 46% of American Jews? These are the Jewish voters that Obama needs in November and there are concerns that not only are they drifting towards the Republican Party, their higher birthrate mean that they are becoming a larger percentage of the American Jewish voting bloc. And, they are the Jewish voters who are concerned about Obama’s lack of support for Israel.
One of the fastest growing Jewish American groups is Orthodox Jews. Orthodox Jews, represent 12% of the United States’ Jewish population, but about 75% of Jewish children under 18. It is this group that tends to make up the majority of Republican Jews. And, like the rest of Jewish voters, they tend to congregate together in key states. For instance, in New York City, a major Orthodox Jewish Community, a Jewish voter is 33% more likely to be Republican than Democrat.
A recent survey of Jews in New York City showed that 40% of Jews in the New York area identify as Orthodox, up from 33% a decade ago, and today three in four Jewish children there are Orthodox. That means that in a generation, the Jewish vote could be more reliably Republican than Democratic
Orthodox Jews are more likely to vote Republican than other Jews because they identify with the party’s more conservative positions on same sex marriage, abortion, church-state separation and other social issues. In 2012, Orthodox Jews voted 86% Republican compared to 28% among the non-Orthodox. By comparison, 72% of non-Orthodox and 14% of Orthodox Jews voted for Obama.
Orthodox Jews are far more likely to put Israel as a top priority in making choices at the polls. That’s one of the reasons reason for Obama’s neglect of the Gaza crisis – if he is to continue to rely upon the Jewish vote, he must make concessions to Israel in order to win the growing pro-Israel Jewish vote.
New Technology in war between Palestine and Israel
The events in Gaza are taking a new high tech profile. From anti missile systems to long range missiles, this war has taken on a different appearance than clashes in the past.
While Hamas and other resistant forces have always had a large arsenal of rockets, they were short range. However, that has changed. Today, they have a small quantity of M-302 Chinese designed and Syrian\Iranian produced rockets that can reach deep inside Israel with their 100 mile range.
Although still inaccurate, they carry a 20 kg warhead or more and are designed to strike large targets like cities, military bases, and industrial complexes. It was the missile that hit Hadera this week. It was the use of these missiles, which have operational characteristics that lay outside the Iron Dome operational envelope, which forced the IDF to make a prototype David’s Sling/Magic Wand system operational.
Of a larger concern to Israel is the more accurate M-75 rocket. These have been used to target Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The fact that it weighs nearly a ton and is 31 feet long indicates that is probably produced locally and hasn’t been smuggled in. It has a range of 75 kilometers and a warhead of 100 kilograms. Palestinian resistant forces have claimed that three were fired at the Israeli nuclear facility at Dimona.
Despite the improved quality of the Palestinian rockets, they haven’t been able to exact any toll on Israel partially due to their inaccuracy and partially due to Israeli’s Iron Dome anti missile system. All seven batteries are deployed near Gaza and although they haven’t been able to handle the salvos fired from Gaza, the radar’s ability to calculate the individual rocket’s trajectory and impact point allow the system to only target and intercept those rockets headed towards populated and sensitive areas.
According to Israeli newspapers, Iron Dome only targeted 27% of the 180 missiles fired this week. Of those interceptors launched, 90% were effective, if it is true, a much better hit ratio than the 84% rate, when they were used in Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012.
Although the interceptor missiles of the Iron Dome are expensive, their ability to counter some of the Palestinian rocket salvo has allowed Israel to strike more aggressively in Gaza, knowing that the Palestinians are unable to defend themselves or strike back with effective rocket attacks.
Another interesting facet to the current fighting was the amphibious commando assault against Israel by Palestinian forces. It shows that Palestinians has developed an amphibious capability that will force the IDF to more carefully watch its coastline.
All of this indicates that fighting will continue. Israel has called up 40,000 reservists and Netanyahu has said that Operation Protective Edge will take time. Israeli Air Force aircraft have already hit over 550 targets including populated areas, command and control targets and missile launch facilities. And, the number of reservists called up indicates that extensive ground action inside Gaza can be expected.
This was confirmed, when Netanyahu said, “We have decided to further increase the assault on Hamas and the terrorist organizations in Gaza. The IDF is prepared for all possibilities. Hamas will pay a heavy price for firing at Israel’s citizens…The operation will be expanded and will continue until the firing at our communities stops and quiet is restored.”
President Shimon Peres, whose role is largely ceremonial and is not involved in setting policy, said that he believed a ground offensive “may happen quite soon.”
Meanwhile, don’t expect Obama to take any tangible action that will risk his or the Democrats’ political future.
The U.S. Needs an Integrated Approach to Counter China’s Anti-Access/Area Denial Strategy
By Dean Cheng
July 9, 2014
As the Chinese military has been comprehensively modernizing its air, naval, and ground forces, it has been incorporating a variety of anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) systems and capabilities. These include not only weapons, such as anti-ship ballistic and cruise missiles, but also political warfare methods, including legal, public opinion, and psychological warfare techniques. To counter these A2/AD capabilities, the United States needs to adopt a comparably holistic approach, incorporating political measures, operational military deployments, as well as technical counters to Chinese military capabilities. Washington has one major advantage over Beijing—almost all of the countries on China’s littoral are U.S. friends and allies. Leveraging these relationships, and in the process underscoring American credibility and commitment, is key.
The New “Great Game” in the Middle East: Looking Beyond the “Islamic State” and Iraq
By Anthony H. Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
July 9, 2014
The U.S. has good reason to try to prevent the creation of a violent, extremist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, to reverse the gains of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria)/ ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham), and to help move Iraq back towards a more stable and unified form of government. This may still be possible in spite of a steady drift towards civil war that has now lasted at least three years, and in spite of IS’s gains and Maliki’s failures and intransigence. Such an effort does mean, however, that the U.S. must find some way to limit and roll back ISIS/ISIL without taking sides in Iraq’s broader civil war. It means creating a bridge across Iraq’s increasingly polarized and divided factions while also meeting the challenges to create a more effective and unified national government in Iraq, and try to support and to rebuild Iraqi forces.
Afghanistan and the Growing Risks in Transition
By Anthony H. Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
July 8, 2014
As the Vietnam War and recent events in the Iraq War have shown all too clearly, every serious counterinsurgency campaign involves at least three major threats: the enemy, dealing with partners and allies, and dealing with ourselves. A review of the trends in all three areas raises growing questions as together the U.S. and its allies can carry out a successful Transition in Afghanistan. The Burke Chair has prepared three related reports that illustrate the current security threats in stabilizing the Afghan security forces; the post-election challenges to Afghan reconstruction; and the challenges facing Afghan governance and the Afghan economy.
Iraq Through the Eyes of Iran’s IRGC
By Mehrdad Moarefian
American Enterprise Institute
July 7, 2014
The rapid advances in Iraq of the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham; formerly known as al Qaeda in Iraq) have forced the U.S. to confront a complex reality. Iraqi Security Forces have been unable to stop the advances on their own, but President Obama is extremely reluctant to provide U.S. support. Some analysts argue that the U.S. should align with Iran against the common al Qaeda enemy, even suggesting that we should combine military efforts. Iran’s efforts in Iraq are controlled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei through the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), especially Qods Force Commander Major General Qassem Soleimani. The feasibility of cooperation with Iran in Iraq depends in part on how the IRGC sees the problem. This post is the first in a series that will look at the Iraq crisis from the perspective of the IRGC.
Choosing Security and Freedom in Egypt
By Maha Yahya
July 1, 2014
Egyptians, it seems, are being asked once again to exchange their political freedoms for stability and security. However, the expanding clampdown on fundamental rights overlooks the fact that security and stability cannot be attained in the absence of freedom. Recent Egyptian court rulings have signaled the expansion of authoritarianism in the name of protecting national security and combating terrorism. International and Egyptian rights organizations have condemned the long-term imprisonment of well-known political activists and journalists and the doling out of death penalties en masse. They argue that the judicial proceedings leading up to the sentences were politicized and flawed and that the crackdown is a gross violation of basic freedoms, including the rights to freedom of expression, assembly, and due process.
Fighting enemies from within and without
By Caroline Glick
Center for Security Policy
July 10, 2014
Sixteen-year-old Muhammad Abu Khdeir was doing his own thing last Tuesday when he was abducted by Jewish terrorists, who slaughtered him. They killed him because he was an Arab, and they are racist murderers. The police made solving Abu Khdeir’s murder a top priority. In less than a week, they had six suspects in custody. Three confessed to the murder. There are dark forces at work in Israeli society. They need to be dealt with. And they will be dealt with harshly. They will be dealt with harshly because there is no significant sector in Israeli society that supports terrorism. There is no Jewish tradition that condones or calls for the murder of innocents. In Jewish tradition, the line between protecting society from its enemies and committing murder is long, wide, unmistakable and unmoving.
Red Lines: Inside the Battle for Freedom in Syria
By Mouaz Moustafa, Andrew J. Tabler, and Andrea Kalin
July 9, 2014
Syria’s declared chemical weapons material has left the country, but Bashar al-Assad’s onslaught continues, and the beleaguered non-Islamist forces are now caught in a multifront fight against both the regime and a new generation of brutal jihadist groups. Red Lines, a gripping documentary from Washington-based Spark Media, follows young activists Razan Shalab al-Sham and Mouaz Moustafa across battlefields, smuggling routes, and foreign capitals, putting a human face on the struggle for Syria’s future that is often lost in debates about “redlines” and acceptable levels of international response. Red Lines was an official selection at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto, where it was among the audience’s top-rated films.
Mounzer A. Sleiman Ph.D.
Center for American and Arab Studies
Think Tanks Monitor
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