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Chodoff Provides Insights on Middle East at AIPAC Event

[by Shiela Steinman Wallace]

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and the Jewish Community of Louisville’s Jewish Community Relations Council brought Military Analyst Israeli Defense Forces Major (Res.) Elliot Chodoff to Louisville on February 9, and he presented a briefing, “On the Frontlines: Stories from an Israeli Soldier,” at the Jewish Community Center.

With the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt and continuing unrest in many Middle Eastern countries, Maj. Chodoff focused his remarks there. AIPAC events are off the record, however, Maj. Chodoff granted Community an interview, during which he shared some of his insights and concerns.

News media coverage of Egypt, he pointed out, often report on the Muslim Brotherhood as “moderate and not radical, and we don’t have anything to worry about.” Maj. Chodoff believes, “They’re missing some really important connections.”

He pointed out that the Muslim Brotherhood is not only in Egypt and that it is connected to many other things that are happening in the Middle East. It’s important “to remember that al Qaida is an outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood,” he said, “and that Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran was greatly influenced by Muslim Brotherhood ideology.” In fact, Khomeini translated the movement’s main text to Farsi.

“Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Maj. Chodoff continued. “I think the pattern is very obvious. … My concern, personally, is that revolutions have a tendency to be hijacked. The people who initiate revolutions are usually very high-minded revolutionaries who are overthrowing regimes that deserve to be overthrown.

“The problem is,” he continued, “after that happens, revolutions are often taken over by those who are very different than the initiating revolutionaries.” He pointed to the French, Russian and Iranian revolutions as examples.

While not prepared to write off the current revolution in Egypt, Maj. Chodoff said, “we need to be aware and beware the pattern and realities.”

With everything else happening in the Middle East, Maj. Chodoff also said the world community cannot lose sight of Iran. There is an immediate threat posed by Iran, and concerns remain high as it pursues nuclear capability.

But he also pointed out that the Iran we have today is directly descended from the Khomeini revolution 32 years ago. Students and shopkeepers revolted against the Western-backed regime and their struggle was seen as a great Islamic victory. This victory eventually developed into “hardcore organizations like Hezbollah, which carried us through to current times,” he said.

Israel is facing the rebuilt terror organizations Hezbollah and Hamas. “Israel is in an extremely precarious situation,” he posited. “Both in the north and in the south it has violent borders and events that could trigger a war that could happen any day. Add to that the political unrest in Lebanon and Gaza” with an understanding that much of the turmoil is being driven by countries like Iran, and you begin to understand the daily threat Israel faces from its neighbors.

Major Chodoff is a political and military analyst specializing in the Middle East conflict and the global war on terrorists.

AIPAC – The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a grassroots pro-Israel lobby that works with its 100,000+ members in all 50 states to connect pro-Israel activists to their members of Congress to strengthen the U.S./Israel relationship.

For more information about AIPAC or the JCL’s JCRC, contact JCRC Director Matt Goldberg, mgoldberg@jewishlouisville.org or 618-5321.

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