Tag Archives: Baghdad

BABY HAYDEN UPDATE and WORLD NEWS

Saggital craniosynostenosis, first column normal.
Saggital craniosynostenosis, column a normal.

It’s been a tough week.

Our 8-month-old grandson Hayden had major cranial surgery on Wednesday of last week. The technical name for the condition was saggital craniosynostenosis (see diagram above – Hayden wasn’t quite as pronounced as that).   He was in the operating theater for seven hours and remained in the hospital for seven days.   The surgery was to reshape his head.   Without it, seizures could likely start as his brain could not grow sideways, only forwards and backwards, resulting in a football shaped head.   We were informed that one in every 2,000 babies needs the surgery.   I’d never heard of it until a few weeks after he was born.   The surgery was performed at the University of Michigan’s Mott Children’s Hospital, the best in our state.   It’s about 75 miles from our home.

As is often the case with surgery, things did not go entirely as planned.   He lost so much blood he needed a blood transfusion.   In the days following surgery, he could not keep food down.   Additionally, although the surgeon said that he would not feel much pain as there are no nerve sensors in the skull bones, the pediatrician said on the third day that he was clearly in pain.   His face remains swollen and he spends most of the day and night crying.   My wife gave our daughter a break last night and held him in her recliner while he slept.   He cannot lie down in a cot yet.

It’s good to have him home, but it’s going to take a while for him to fully recover.  The swelling must go down.   So must the pain.

We’re very thankful that the surgery is available.   A generation or two ago he may not have survived very long.  It’s marvelous what medical science can do nowadays.

I would like to also thank you all for your prayers and concern during this difficult time.

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Hopefully, medical science will soon find a way to stop “old” people falling.  I fell on the ice this morning while taking Hayden’s two older brothers to school.   As they are both aged four, they naturally wanted to look at the “owie” on my knee.   I refuse to give them the morbid satisfaction of seeing me fall again!

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CNN’S DETERIORATION

After dropping them at school I came home to write this column.   Yesterday, after taking them to school (which I do most days), I went to McDonald’s to wait for Leeson, who is only in school for three hours.  I ordered a hot tea (I’ve got them trained!) and sat down with my laptop to read and write.  CNN was showing on the television, thankfully muted.   Whenever I looked up at the screen, they were “bashing Trump.”

Today, at home, I thought I would try CNN International, which is broadcast from London.  It’s always been a better channel than CNN.  They have an “International Report” at 10am,   that was also devoted to “Trump bashing,” though they did include a brief “Breaking News” item about a serious bomb blast in Baghdad, which killed at least 48 people.

CNN’s audience has been shrinking, with viewers lost to Fox and Fox Business Network.

Critical analysis is needed of this (and every) president, but non-stop, one-sided, often personal attacks on President Trump take away from the network’s credibility, which has been seriously eroded in recent months.   No wonder people are switching to Fox.   No wonder, also, that millions of households have “cut the cord” and no longer have cable, saving an average of $100 a month.

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CHANGING DYNAMICS   (NEWS YOU WILL HAVE MISSED IF YOU WATCH CNN)

From Der Spiegel:

Germany must stand up in opposition to the 45th president of the United States and his government.   That’s difficult enough already for two reasons:   Because it is from the Americans that we obtained our liberal democracy in the first place; and because it is unclear how the brute and choleric man on the other side will react to diplomatic pressure.   The fact that opposition to the American government can only succeed when mounted together with Asian and African partners — and no doubt with our partners in Europe, with the EU — doesn’t make the situation any easier.

So far, Germany has viewed its leadership role — at least the leadership understanding of Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble — as one that is by all means in opposition to the interests of other European countries.   Whether Schäuble’s austerity policies or Merkel’s migration policies, it all happened without much co-coordination and with considerable force.   It is thus somewhat ironical that it is Germany, the country that is politically and economically dominant in Europe, that will now have to fill in many of the gaps created by America’s withdrawal from the old world order, the one referred to by former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer as “Pax Americana.”   At the same time, Germany must build an alliance against Donald Trump, because it otherwise won’t take shape.   It is, however, absolutely necessary.

It is literally painful to write this sentence, but the president of the United States is a pathological liar.  The president of the U.S. is a racist (it also hurts to write this).  He is attempting a coup from the top; he wants to establish an illiberal democracy, or worse; he wants to undermine the balance of power.   He fired an acting attorney general who held a differing opinion from his own and accused her of “betrayal.”   This is the vocabulary used by Nero, the emperor and destroyer of Rome.   It is the way tyrants think.

(Klaus Brinkbaumer)

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New German President anti-Trump

German parliamentary assembly has elected Frank-Walter Steinmeier to become the country’s next president by an overwhelming majority.   Mr. Steinmeier, Germany’s former foreign minister, strongly criticised Donald Trump during the US election campaign.
 
(The President of Germany is a figurehead with similar powers to the British monarch.  He is elected by parliament.  His role is largely ceremonial but he has a great deal of influence.)
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German army to be anchor for small Nato partners

By EUOBSERVER

German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen meets Friday in Washington for the first time with her new American counterpart James Mattis ahead of Nato defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels next week.   The longer-term strategy would turn the Bundeswehr into the leading Nato army in Europe, with small countries integrating their military forces into the German command structures, reports German daily FAZ

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CHANGES AHEAD IN EUROPE

  • A growing number of Europeans are rebelling against decades of government-imposed multiculturalism, politically correct speech codes and mass migration from the Muslim world.
  • Europe’s establishment parties, far from addressing the concerns of ordinary voters, have tried to silence dissent by branding naysayers as xenophobes, Islamophobes and neo-Nazis.
  • “This disruption is fruitful.   The taboos of the last few years are now fully on the agenda: illegal immigration, Islam, the nonsense of open borders, the dysfunctional EU, the free movement of people, jobs, law and order.   Trump’s predecessors did not want to talk about it, but the majority of voters did.   This is democracy.” — Roger Köppel, editor-in-chief of Die Weltwoche, Switzerland.

(Gatestone Institute 1/22)

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US DIVISIONS

As with the EU, the cracks in the USA seem far beyond hairline fractures.   Many sense the country could come apart.   It did once before.   And could Southerners and Northerners have detested each other much more than Americans do today?   (“Is the Left playing with fire again?”  Pat Buchanan 2/14)

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BORROWING FOR US GOVT TO BECOME MORE DIFFICULT

In the age of Trump, America’s biggest foreign creditors are suddenly having second thoughts about financing the U.S. government.

In Japan, the largest holder of Treasuries, investors culled their stakes in December by the most in almost four years, the Ministry of Finance’s most recent figures show.   What’s striking is the selling has persisted at a time when going abroad has rarely been so attractive.   And it’s not just the Japanese.   Across the world, foreigners are pulling back from U.S. debt like never before.

From Tokyo to Beijing and London, the consensus is clear:  few overseas investors want to step into the $13.9 trillion U.S. Treasury market right now.  Whether it’s the prospect of bigger deficits and more inflation under President Donald Trump or higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, the world’s safest debt market seems less of a sure thing — particularly after the upswing in yields since November.   And then there is Trump’s penchant for saber rattling, which has made staying home that much easier.

(Newsmax  2/13/17)

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YEMEN – NEXT US WAR

Yemen shapes up for US-Iran military clash

Eight armies are fighting for dominance in Yemen, a country of 25 million inhabitants:  The Iranian-backed Houthi insurgents, together with a breakaway force, are battling the army loyal to President Abdulrabbuh Mansur Hadi, which is supported by Saudi, Egyptian and UAE military forces and their hired legion of Colombian mercenaries.   Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) elements, most acting as advisers to the Houthi rebels, intervene actively from time to time.   Last October, they conducted missile attacks on US vessels on the Red Sea from shore batteries.   In response, the US Navy on October 9 and 12 knocked out those batteries and the radar stations that were manned by IRGC teams.   Tehran countered by deploying to Yemen long-range Shahed 129 drones carrying Sadid-1 rockets and sowing sea mines around the international Bab Al-Mandeb Straits.   US President Donald Trump’s sharp warning on Friday, Feb. 3, after just two weeks in office, that Iran was “playing with fire” and the fresh round of sanctions he clamped down were galvanized by Iranian aggression in Yemen and the Red Sea as much as by its ballistic missile test.   And indeed, the deployment of the USS Cole destroyer to the strategic Red Sea Straits of Bab Al-Mandeb on the same day turned the compass needle toward the potential arena, should the escalating tension between the US and Yemen explode into a military encounter, such as a US special operations force going into Yemen to strike IRGC targets. (Debka file)

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IRAQ WAR INQUIRY

iran-map-region

Further evidence that our leaders are out of touch with reality is not needed.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that the world is a better place because of the Iraq War.

Perhaps he has stopped watching the news.  That would be understandable, considering that the ripple effect of the US-British invasion of Iraq in 2003 continues to this day.   On Sunday, 281 people were killed in a bomb blast at a shopping mall in Baghdad, the capital.

When I heard the news I thought of the period between the two world wars, after the Treaty of Paris created Iraq and Syria out of the rubble of the Ottoman Empire.   I remember reading a couple of novels by Agatha Christie titled “Murder in Mesopotamia” and “They came to Baghdad.”   The novels were set in Iraq, which Dame Agatha knew well – she had lived there for a few years with her husband, Max Mallowan, the famed archaeologist.  They first met in the ancient city of Ur in 1928 and lived in Mosul on and off when they were married.   Their association with the country continued until 1963.   They discovered many artifacts from ancient Nimrud, most of which were looted by the Assyrians when they invaded Lebanon and Syria. Agatha Christie used her face cream to clean these treasures. During this period of time, Iraq was at peace and the people lived under a fairly liberal constitutional monarchy.   It all changed after a revolution in 1958.   58 years later, it continues to get worse. Thankfully, Dame Agatha died in 1976, three years before Saddam came to power.   She did not live to see the disaster the country has become.

Mr. Blair’s press conference followed the publication of the Iraq War Inquiry, a six-year project chaired by Sir John Chilcot.   The Chilcot Report was scathing in its criticism of Mr. Blair and his role in the war.   Amongst other things, he was criticized for so readily going to war alongside the Americans, when peaceful options had not been exhausted.   In a memo to President Bush, Mr. Blair wrote he was with him “whatever.”   179 British men and women were killed and hundreds injured.   The invasion, which began in March, 2003, brought to the surface the 1,400 year struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites – a conflict seemingly without end.

Sir John Chilcot finally published the report of the Iraq War Inquiry on Wednesday.   I’m surprised it got so little attention in the US as there are implications for former President George W. Bush.   There are calls in the United Kingdom, following the publication of the report, for former Prime Minister Tony Blair to be prosecuted as a war criminal.   Demonstrators yesterday carried signs with Blair’s name spelt “Bliar!”

To be fair, both Bush and Blair were presented with faulty intelligence that showed Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.”  This turned out not to be the case.   Mr. Blair said yesterday that if he was presented with the same evidence today, he would make the same decision.

What is utterly amazing is Mr. Blair’s claim that the world is a better place following the removal of Saddam.

One Iraqi in Baghdad, asked to comment on BBC World News following the report, said that if he had the opportunity he would tell Mr. Blair, to his face, that “he is a criminal – and I would spit in his face!”  No doubt, feelings about George W. Bush are the same.   The invasion of Iraq will negatively affect relations with the West for decades to come.   It has already led directly to the creation of ISIS and the growth of Al-Qaeda (which did not exist in Iraq prior to the war).   These two terrorist movements seriously imperil the West.

One contributory factor to the war was the naivety of the two western leaders, believing that the overthrow of Saddam and the “introduction” of democracy, would bring regional stability as democracy would spread and, as we all know, democracies do not go to war, a fallacy in itself!

Perhaps all this had to happen.   The Middle East is the epicenter of the final apocalyptic events found in both the Christian Bible and in Islam. Thanks to the invasion of Iraq, we now have a Shia arc that embraces Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  Over 2,300 years ago, following the death of Alexander the Great, this was the territory of his general Seleucus, the “King of the North” we read about in Daniel 11.   Some of the area was taken over by Rome in the first century BC.

A revived King of the North plays a major role in end-time events.

The decision to invade Iraq triggered off so many inter-factional conflicts, it’s impossible for western leaders to begin to comprehend it all.   That alone is a very good reason why we should never have got involved in the first place.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done and we will all have to live with the consequences.

THE NEW HEART OF DARKNESS

Pope in CAR

Bangui is the capital of the Central African Republic, one of the worst failed states on a continent of failed states!   Most world leaders are not likely to even think about going there. But Pope Francis has just been there for two days.

It’s one of those African countries that is on the fault-line between Christianity and Islam, a fault-line that runs west to east across the continent, dividing the Islamic world to the north and the Christian world to the south.

After spending Sunday in the Christian half, today the pope ventured into the volatile Muslim half of the capital.  He delivered a message of reconciliation to the city’s main mosque and observed that Christians and Muslims have long lived peacefully together.  He described Christians and Muslims as “brothers.”

Unfortunately, it’s not really true, not in the CAR or anywhere else for that matter.

In point of fact, the opposite is the case.   For 1400 years, since the birth of the Islamic religion, the two dominant religions in the world have been in conflict.   Occasionally, those conflicts have exploded into major warfare between the two.   It looks like we are heading in that direction again!

Marco Rubio, one of the people running for President of the United States at this time, referred a couple of weeks ago to “the clash of civilizations” that has developed between radical Islam and the Christian West.   His comment has been much maligned.   One newspaper dismissed the whole concept of a clash of civilizations by pointing out that ISIS is not civilized, so it doesn’t qualify.

But that’s just the point.   ISIS has a view of the world, which is totally at variance with the view in the West.  We may consider them barbaric, but that does not make it any easier to defeat them, thereby heralding a new kumbaya world order!

Besides, ISIS isn’t the problem so much as Islam.   ISIS is relatively new.   It simply exploits a hatred that’s already there, the hatred of Muslims toward all other religions.   The intellectual elite are fond of saying that all religions are religions of peace, but where is the evidence of this, particularly when it comes to Islam?

Islam means “submission” – the very word is antithetical to what the West stands for.   Salman Rushdie warned more than a decade ago that when a Muslim moves to the West (he said “Detroit”), he is not looking to take advantage of our way of life to better himself; rather, he sees himself as part of the advance guard to spread Islam to his new country.   This is why migrants want “sharia” law, rather than to live under the legal system of their new country.

The Hungarian prime minister made a profound comment last week, when he observed, that “not all migrants are terrorists, but all terrorists are migrants.”   That comment was immediately condemned, with people pointing out that many of the terrorists in Europe are home grown.   Yes, but the home-grown terrorists are Muslims.   Some are first generation, some were raised in Europe by migrant parents. The prime minister is right – the Paris attacks and the threat of further attacks stem from a seismic shift in demographics across the continent – whereas six decades ago there were very few Muslims, now there are tens of millions.   This simple equation changes everything.

So long as Europeans and westerners in general see Islam as a peaceful religion comparable to Christianity, it will not be possible to deal with the problem we now face.

Donald Trump is another presidential candidate who has come in for a lot of criticism, especially for claiming that, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, he saw Muslims celebrating in New Jersey.   I have to say that I do not remember that.   What I do remember is a brief video of people on the West Bank (Palestinians) celebrating.   I also know that we were not shown that a second time.   In an interview a few weeks later, the chief of the CNN News Bureau that day, was asked why it was only shown briefly.   Her response was that she knew the celebrants were only a few people, that the majority couldn’t possibly feel that way, so she wouldn’t show it again.

Now the video has been recovered from the archives to expose Mr. Trump as a “liar.”   How convenient!   How typical of the liberal media.

Yesterday, one of the Sunday morning news programs interviewed Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, who were in Baghdad. Both were advocating 20,000 US troops be sent to Syria to fight ISIS.   The same morning, a one-hour documentary produced by Fareed Zakaria, interviewed the German journalist who is the only known westerner to have spent time in ISIS territory.   He said that ISIS wants US troops in Syria, that’s what they have been hoping for. Once they have western troops in Syria, their home turf, they will have a fulfillment of their long held dream, the apocalyptic battle between Islam and the West, the clash of civilizations liberals deny.

Amongst other things, western forces will boost the number of ISIS volunteers.   Before the US invasion of Iraq, there was no ISIS or al-Qaeda in either Iraq or Syria.   It’s impossible to predict the outcome in the region of western coalition “boots on the ground.”

It’s not just US politicians who do not know how to deal with ISIS.   In Paris today leaders from around the world are gathered to discuss climate change.   Rather than agree a plan to defeat the immediate threat of terrorism, they are talking about the long-term threat from climate change.   They have even tried to link the two, when there is no link.

A century ago, Africa was often referred to as the “Heart of Darkness,” after a novel of that name published in 1899.   Although the story was set in Africa, it wasn’t just Africa that had a heart of darkness; the white hero Kurtz, representing imperialism at its height, was also guilty.   Today, Islam is the heart of darkness, with ISIS, a fundamentalist resurgence of primitive Islam, threatening the peace and prosperity of the world.

But Islam does not have the exclusive patent on violence.

The other major religion in the news with the pope’s visit, is Roman Catholicism. Pope Francis is currently reaching out to Muslims, claiming that Christians and Muslims are brothers.   But that approach could suddenly change.

In 1095, faced with violent attacks on Christians by Muslims, Pope Urban II called on the nations of western Europe to launch a “crusade” to free the holy places from Islamic rule.   The crusades that followed lasted two hundred years.

Far from being ancient history, the Islamic world sees today’s western nations as “crusader states” and Israel as a revival of the twelfth century Kingdom of Jerusalem.   Their medieval mindset has not moved on from that struggle.

It was the Catholic Church that galvanized the nations of western Europe to fight militant Islam.   Jesus Christ warned His followers that “false Christs” would appear before His second coming:

“Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be?  And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”  And Jesus answered and said to them:   “Take heed that no one deceives you.  For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.” (Matt 24:3-5).

In Revelation 6 we see false religion as the first of the four horsemen that bring destruction upon the earth.

The medieval Christian church could be just as barbaric as ISIS.   Beheadings and burnings were common punishments for dissent.

It’s well to remember these lessons of history in the hope that we can avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.

NETANYAHU’S ADDRESS HIGHLIGHTS DIVISIONS OVER ISLAMIC MILITANTS

Netanyahu

Prior to 9/11, most Americans were barely aware of the religion of Islam.

In the short time since that tragic day, Islam has established its presence in the country with mosques and schools in every sizeable community.   The president of the United States has even said that the country was founded on Judeo-Christian-Islamic principles.

One thing the religion has done is divide the country and other nations where there has been widespread immigration from Muslim lands, mostly in the Middle East.

At no time has that division been greater than now.

In France, it was the Charlie Hebdo killings that caused the division, between those on the right of the political spectrum who want an end to Islamization and the immigrants themselves, supported by those on the left who side with them.

In Germany, there is PEGIDA staging weekly demonstrations against the Islamization of Europe.   Critical of PEGIDA are the established political parties who bend over backwards to assure Muslims that there is a place for them in their societies.

Now division has come to the United States with the visit of the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

Some would say the division is over Israel.   But the divide is also over how best to handle militant Islam.

The gulf between the two became clearer today when the Prime Minister addressed the US Congress in Washington.

The invitation to speak came from the Speaker of the House, John Boehner. The White House made it clear that it was opposed to Netanyahu speaking, claiming it was a breach of protocol so close to the Israel election.

Although most Democrats did listen to the speech, Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the House, was very critical almost immediately afterwards, claiming she was “near tears” throughout the speech and “saddened by the insult to the intelligence of the United States.” She was reportedly visibly agitated while Mr. Netanyahu was speaking.

The subject of the speech was Iran and the imminent deal between western allies with the Iranian regime over its nuclear program.   The deadline for this agreement is March 31st.   Mr. Netanyahu believes that the impending agreement will make it more likely that Iran will develop nuclear weapons – and soon.

The division is clear – and not just over Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

The division is between those who see a serious threat from militant Islam and those who are in denial.   Iran is not the only threat but it was the focus of the prime minister’s address.   Iran with a nuclear weapon could annihilate Israel, a small country and near neighbor.   Indeed, Iran has threatened to annihilate “the world’s only Jewish state.”

The prime minister reminded his audience of the story of Esther, the Jewish queen married to a Persian king in the fifth century BC.   The Persian king at the time wanted to annihilate the Jews, just as today’s Iranian leadership does.   Tomorrow (Wednesday, March 4th) is the Feast of Purim, which commemorates the delivery of the Jews from total disaster.

More recently, the leader of Hezbollah, Iran’s chief terrorist proxy said:  “If all the Jews gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of chasing them down all over the world.”

Although Iran is not an Arab country and has traditionally been isolated as the only major Shi’ite Islamic nation, today it dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sana’a.   Mr. Netanyahu referenced Iran’s support against Sunni Islamic ISIS, claiming that their support against ISIS does not make them a friend of America.   It’s a case of “the enemy of your enemy is your enemy!”

“Both ISIS and Iran want to impose a militant Islamic empire,” he warned.

“The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam and nuclear weapons.”   This clearly would change everything in the Middle East and the wider world beyond.

Mr. Netanyahu’s address was impassioned.   We have not heard such a powerful speech from a politician in many years.   It is particularly impressive when we consider that English is not his first language.   Mr. Netanyahu and former British statesman Sir Winston Churchill are the only two world leaders who have addressed Congress on three occasions.   Following the speech, Netanyahu was compared on at least two news channels to Churchill, who spent the 1930’s warning of the impending threat from the Nazis, as Netanyahu warns of the increasing threat from militant Islam.   If the world had heeded Churchill, the Holocaust would not have happened. If the world listens to Netanyahu, a future holocaust may be averted.

Students of the Bible know that Jerusalem, Israel’s “eternal capital” will be the focus of major conflict in the near future.

The Old Testament prophet Zechariah, writing about events leading up to the Second Coming of the Messiah, prophesied that Jerusalem and Judah (Israel) will be at the center of the final conflict to confront mankind.

“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem.   And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it.”  (Zech 12:2-3.)

Zechariah 14:2 adds:   “For I will gather all the nations to battle against Jerusalem.”

Centuries later, Jesus Christ, answering a question about the “signs of His Coming,” said:   “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near.”

Mr. Netanyahu was right when he pointed out that “we share a common destiny.”   What happens over there will affect us over here – and all countries in between.

The day before he addressed the US Congress, Mr. Netanyahu spoke to AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee), one of the most powerful lobby groups in the United States.   He said then that, whereas the President of the United States spends every day thinking about America’s security, as Israel’s prime minister, he spends every day thinking of Israel’s survival.

In that one sentence, he encapsulated the difference between the leaders of the two nations.   At the present time, militant Islam is a matter of national security to the United States.  If Mr. Netanyahu’s warning is not taken seriously, it could soon become a matter of national survival, as it is in Israel.