Tuesday, 9 February 2010

The 10th Herzlia Conference - Day 4 (Part2)

As you can gathered from my reports The Herzlia Conference is all embracing and has no equivalent anywhere. Papers and opinions are given by some of the worlds best experts on all the major world issues.

I am concentrating fascinating sessions into pointed soundbites. I hope they give you a feel and sense of what was delivered to a packed audience of important policy and opinion makers.

Each day was long but not tiring at all. They were completely stimulating. After you receive all the daily reports I will be giving you my personal summary and perspective on the issues covering Israel's survival and image.

BARONESS NEVILLE-JONES is the Shadow Security Minister in the British House of Lords.

Her remarks were relevant to British readers and also contained a linkage to the later speech by Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

She was forthright in her opinions about Britain today.

"We have more radicalisation taking place in some of our local communities. Universities cannot relieve themselves of responsibility for the radicalisation taking place on their campus. Prison authorities do not know what is going on under their noses within the prisons where radicalisation is taking place. Gateway and charity organisations have some legitimate activities but also some suspect activities. We will close extremist websites. We will monitor what is being taught in faith schools".

"In Britain there is a great deal of ignorance surrounding the issue and what the Government needs to do in order to solve the problem.

One form of extremism leads to another and, at the end, it is a battle of values. How do you defend your values?"

She suggested four tactics that need to be implemented. There needs to be a prevention strategy to prevent extremism brewing at the core. Second, the government needs to address the population as individuals no groups.

"Why are we telling radical and dangerous groups 'We will give you money if you stop being violent'?"

Third is the promotion of patriotism. She said, "What values are you asking people to adopt if here is no strong sense from within (there was a echo if this in Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the Conference). We can learn from the States as to how we identify ourselves".

She said that Britain needs to know and believe in their values before it can expect others to adopt them.

The fourth tactic is consistency.
"The Government cannot accept extremism and radicalism at home yet do the opposite abroad. We must be consistent. There are some in the present Government who want to talk to what they call the political wing of Hizbollah. There is no such thing as a political wing of Hizbollah. Hizbollah is a violent movement. You cannot condemn violent movements in the UK but abroad it's OK".

"Extremism breeds extremism. We see in Britain the rise of right wing extremism." This is due to the activities of one form of radicalism.

"It's a battle of values. How do you defend your values? The UK needs to promote what it is to be British. We need to identify ourselves. We need a national identity for people to adopt. We must teach our history, our achievements. We must insist that immigrants not be accepted into the country if they cannot speak our languauge and accept our values".

"You talk to your citizens directly and not through the Muslim Council of Great Britain. The voice of the moderate UK Muslims is drowned out by the more noisy radical voices and by the Government talking to the radical MCGB and not to them".

MATTHEW SINCLAIR is the Research Director of an interesting NGO named THE TAXPAYERS ALLIANCE.

I admit I had not heard of this organisation but it has a prominent campaign against British taxpayers money going to fund incitement and terrorism. It wants to ensure that taxpayers money goes promoting education and projects that lead to peace.

"Huge amounts of Western taxpayers money finds its way to terror organisations. We need to accept Israel's existence and the peace procress. Peace lies in the hearts and minds of the people.
The message that the Palestinian people are getting is radicalism and violence. The Palestinian Authority is supposedly negotiating peace and are promoting hatred and violence in their official media, in their schoolbooks, and in their mosques. "

"Massive amounts of aid is being pumped in to the Palestinian territories. In 2007 te EU donated 420 million Euros to the Palestinian Authority but its member states also provided extensive additional bilateral funding independent of the EU".
He listed:
Germany 55 million Euro.
France 67 million Euro.
Italy 26.8 million Euro.
Sweden 617 million Krona.
UK 63.8 million Sterling.
The USA is also a major donor.
Since 2007, donations have increased.

A slice of this massive funding goes to the official Palestinian education system and to their media.
Matthew Sinclair quoted several examples of racial hatred, Anti-Semitism, incitement to violence against Israel that were sponsored by this funding.

The Taxpayers Alliance has produced two reports entitles "PALESTINIAN HATE EDUCATION SINCE ANNAPOLIS" and ' FUNDING HATE EDUCATION".
If you would like copies of these reports please let me know and I will refer your request to Matthew Sinclair.

MARTIN KRAMER is a Senior Fellow of the National Security Studies Program at Harvard University.

"Whenever you get a country where the medial age is under 20 you find radicalisation. The medial age in countries such as Afghanistan, Yemen, and Gaza is 17.
If the scannot control its youth someone else will. In a lot of regimes its crime or radicalisation that they turn to".

Kramer is pessimistic for the future.

"Look at these countries today. Imagine what they will be like in 2030 when there will be 80 million people in Pakistan, 60 million in Afghanistan, and Gaza whose population will double by 2030.

This runaway population growth poses the real challenge to countering Islamic radicalisation"

A special keynote speaker at this session was JOSE MARIA AZNAR, the former Prime Minister of Spain.

"If we are facing a more assertive Islam it is because our Western societies are less assertive.
If we are facing a more aggressive Islam it is because we being less aggressive. Fighting terrorism may protect our citizens but this is not enough. It is not enough to take only defensive actions. We must regain our own confidence. The West is in disarray economically and politically".

"I believe we must recognise Israel as a western nation in the Middle East, and not as a Middle Eastern country. It is part of the West as is Australia, New Zealand, and even Japan. This is included in the drafting of the new NATO doctrine".

"Shariah law is incompatible with our legal system.".

"Israel is a legitimate state of the Jewish people".

We can defend Israel as a normal country, a democratic country. Undermining Israel equates to undermining the West".

"We should recover our sense of faith. All it takes for radical Islam to triumph is for good men to do nothing. We deeply need strong leaders - not lightweight leaders."

We returned to the subject of a nuclear Iran with the panel discussion on IRAN AS A NUCEAR THRESHOLD COUNTRY in a packed auditorium.

TIM GULDIMAN is a former Swiss Ambassador to Iran. He assessed Iranian intentions under two assumptions.

Assumption A is that Iran has the capability to produce a bomb but not the bomb itself. They would do this out of national pride and achievement and scientific progress, as a bargaining chip with the West, and not to lose internal credibility.
Assumption B is that Iran has clear intentions of getting a bomb and using it.

"I adhere to Assumption A. Those that support Assumption B say that if sanctions don't work we apply military options. This would be disasterous. If Iran were adhering to Assumption A they would then go for the bomb.
Today we have a rift between the people and the regime, and also a rift within the regime itself.
An attack on Iran would unite all sides in Iran.
If there is no proof of Assumption B let's go with Assumption A to persuade Iran to desist. There are risks involved but I prefer A to B".

FRANCOIS HEISBOURG, Chairman of the International Institute for Startegic Studies, questioned what is the nuclear threshold.

"A threshold may be something you are crossing or sitting on. Sitting is Israel's posture. It is called nuclear opacity. The question is if Iran is to adopt a nuclear opacity posture. In other words, sitting on the threshold".

"Arabs may look at Israel and Iran as enemy regimes but they also see Iran, not Israel, as a rival in the region. If Iran is seen as carrying on unimpeded it encourages others to follow in its path.
We may see a multipolar nuclear Middle East and, in a few year, a nuclear war".

PATRICK CRONIN is the Senior Advisor of the Asia-Pacific Security Program.

"I doubt that Iran can be stopped from crossing the threshold. There is need to employ a missile defense system to the region.
If there is doubt of the Iranian threshold we should keep Iran on the threshold of isolation!"

SHMUEL BAR is Director of Research at the Institute for Policy and Strategy at the Interdisciplinary Center questioned the time it takes from threshold to a fully fledged nuclear capability.

He said that Iran wants to project power. Iran's prestige demands power. Nuclear portrays power. Iran's agenda is to cross the nuclear threshold. One bomb is not a threshold. When you have it you don't have a threshold any more.

Shmuel Bar looked at the region.

"Iran wants to go nuclear. Saudi Arabia will not accept an Iranian Shiite nuclear bomb. Nuclear Pakistan could be in meltdown to Islamic extremism. North Korea cannot be deterred from being nuclear. China and Russia are eager to supply these nations. That ends my optimistic assessment!", he said to nervous laughter from the distinguished audience.

"When President Obama warned of consequences in his State of the Union address Ahmadinajad responded with a statement that he was ready to make gestures. We get the attention of the Iranians when we act".

"An oil embargo on Iran will bring the regime to its kness in two to three months" was Bar's assessment.

Francios Heisbourg disagreed with the success of an oil embargo.
"An embargo would result in a 50% reduction. This leaves enough for Iran to maintain its military".

The question was raised if a regime change would change their nuclear policy?
Most of the panel felt that , in consolidated power, a new regime would need international support. A number of Iranian clerics have already spoken against the Iranian nuclear program.

Shmuel Bar warned against the danger of illusion.

"You never know what will replace the current regime".

The keynote speaker on this subject was GENERAL MOSHE YA'ALON, Vice Prime Minister and Minister of Strategic Affairs in the Israeli Government.

He said that a nuclear Iran is a threat to the existence to the State of Israel. Iran had threatened to wipe Israel off the map.
A nuclear Iran will cause the balance of power to shift. Other countries will race to obtain nuclear capability.
The Revolutionary Guard will be strengthened further. Iran will relentlessly try to upset the peace process.
The goals of the Iranian regime is to change the world order. Replacing the West with Islam is the ultimate goal for them.

Referring to the subject of the debate Ya'alon said that reaching the nuclear threshold would expose the inability, especially of the US, to prevent Iran who wants to be the leading regional power.
The jihadis will be more aggressive even during the threshold span as confidence grows regarding Iran's intentions.

The attitude of Turkey to Iran and against the West is connected to Iran's ambitions.

Iran has ignored warnings and sees the world as unable to extract any limitations from Iran.

"Given their messianic views we cannot expect them to be pragmatic. We are close to the testing moment as Iran is enthusiastically reaching the threshold.
Who should act to prevent them? The free world must recognise the situation. They must tell Iran that ignoring demands will end in a very bad way for them.
They must be given a choice - the bomb or survival."

Nuclear Iran was at the forefront of the Herzlia Conference. A session entitles MANAGING THE RISK OF A NUCLEAR BREAK-OUT.
In brief

THOMAS SCHELLING of University of Maryland said "It is less issue how many nations have nuclear weapons but who would want to use them. If the revulsion of Hiroshima and Nagasaki once detered its use, this revulsion may not be as strong due to the passing of time".

PAUL BRACKEN of Yale University: "We are sleep walking into the 2nd Nuclear Age".

BRUNO TERTRAIS, Senior Research Fellow at France's Strategic Research Foundation.
"If you liked a nuclear Asia you will love a nuclear Middle East. Accomodating Iran means that both prevention and deterrent have failed".

I raised a question at this session.

How the theory of managing a nuclear break-out plays out with a messianic regime, led by a fanatical leader, with a nuclear weapon and a holy mission?

The question was deflected by the moderator, Adam Ward, the Director of Studies at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington DC.

Part 3 will cover the final session on lawfare and the address by Benjamin Netanyahu.

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