Archive for June, 2007

Can the PA be more than an empty shell?

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

Senior officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said Jerusalem wanted to hear a formal announcement from the new Palestinian Authority government saying it accepted the Quartet’s three benchmarks before transferring frozen tax revenues to the PA.

The cabinet is expected to take up the issue of releasing the funds, believed to be more than a half billion dollars, at its upcoming meeting on Sunday. The Quartet’s three conditions are the recognition of Israel, the renouncement [sic] of terrorism, and the acceptance of previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements. — Jerusalem Post

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone would insist that the PA actually do something about corruption, about the criminal gangs that prey on the Palestinian population under its protection, and about the fact that so many of its ‘security’ officers are also members of terrorist groups?

If the idea is that ultimately the new Fayyad government will develop into more than just a shell to be used to fight Hamas and an excuse for the Quartet to force Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, and that ultimately it will be a vehicle for coexistence between Israel and at least the West Bank Palestinians — then it will need to be a real government that provides actual benefits, and not just a parasitic class that rules by force.

In order for this to happen, it will have to change drastically. It will have to provide openings for younger people (which means it will have to find younger Palestinians that still accept the idea of coexistence, possibly difficult today).

It will have to stop defining itself in terms of the struggle with Israel (as Fatah does by charter) and start defining itself in terms of service to its citizens. If it can’t do this, then it will never be able to get popular support, and in the long run even American arms and money will not save it — and West Bank Palestinians — from Hamas.

As I’ve said before, in order to survive, it will have to put helping Arabs above killing Jews.

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Boycotts and campus harassment

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

The UK Jewish community has expressed concern about the physical safety of Jewish students on campuses in light of recent agitation relating to the UCU boycott resolution:

Henry Grunwald QC, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said, “Our community has been able to rely on the support of the Prime Minister throughout his tenure and he has repeatedly proved to be a true friend of Israel as well. However our community is now facing a different type of threat – a recent attempted boycott of Israel by members of the University and College Union will result in Jewish students being harassed and bullied on campus. There is need for direct action – not just on the floor of union debates but also on university campuses themselves. We are grateful for the Prime Minister’s robust criticism of such boycotts and we call on him to do whatever he can to secure the safety of Jewish students’ on campus.” — Jerusalem Post

The anti-Israel climate in the UK is getting worse, with a recent call by UNISON, the UK’s largest trade union, representing over 1.3 million members working in the public sector, private contractors and the utilities. Their boycott motion calls on Israel to

1) withdraw to its 1949-67 borders;
2) allow the refugees of 1948 to return home;
3) remove all its settlements from the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Occupied Syrian Al-Joulan [Golan Heights];
4) take down the Apartheid Wall; and
5) respect the Palestinian people’s right to national self-determination and to establish a state in the West bank and the Gaza Strip with its capital in Jerusalem.

Conference believes that ending the occupation demands concerted and sustained pressure upon Israel including an economic, cultural, academic and sporting boycott. — UNISON Web site

There’s more, but you get the idea.

Here in North America, the situation on campuses has not reached the point that it has in Britain, but there have been some incidents of harassment of pro-Israel speakers in the US and Canada; for example, take Daniel Pipes’ recent experience at the University of California Irvine, and also the demonstrations that prevented Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Concordia University in Montreal in 2002. There are numerous other examples.

One of the few bright spots in the American academic scene has been the declaration by several university presidents that they reject the concept of academic boycotts on the grounds that they stifle academic freedom.

I’ve asked Dr. John Welty, the president of our own California State University at Fresno to issue a similar declaration, and will publish it here if he does so.

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How not to make peace with enemies

Wednesday, June 20th, 2007

From the Jerusalem Post:

Labor MK Eitan Cabel called on Wednesday for the release of jailed Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti.

“Although I have said this many times before, behind closed doors and during private conversations, it’s time for Israel to do this act,” Cabel said during a speech in the Knesset Plenum.

“I am not trying to clear this man of everything he’s done,” Cabel continued. “But let me use the well-known cliché: ‘Peace is made with enemies.’ [Barghouti], it seems, has, more than the others, the ability, power, and courage to push this long-awaited change.”

Marwan BarghoutiReleasing Barghouti would be wrong for at least two reasons.

First, he is a convicted murderer. As a leader of the Tanzim militia, he gave orders for numerous violent attacks on Israelis. He was charged with 21 murders in a civilian court, and convicted of 5 (four Israelis and one Greek monk) plus one count of attempted murder for ordering a suicide car bomb attack that failed. Although his supporters claim that he is a political prisoner, people murdered for political motives are still dead.

Second, and unsurprisingly, considering his activities, he is not a peace partner. He is the author of the “prisoners’ document” which is considered a charter for a re-invigorated Palestinian movement. Here is what I wrote in January about the prisoners’ document:

This so-called “prisoners’ document” like everything else is not what the press would suggest. It calls for a Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem (this has now become standard); the joining together of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad into a unified PLO which will lead the Palestinians — the latter two don’t even pretend to accept a Jewish Israel of any size in the Mideast; the return of refugees and release of prisoners “on the land of the fathers and grandfathers” — Israel proper; and “the right of the Palestinian people in resistance and clinging to the option of resistance with the various means”. There is a suggestion of limitations on violence — but just between Palestinian factions!

It makes no mention of recognition of Israel. Indeed, the word ‘Israel’ does not appear in any of its 18 points.

From time to time the idea of allowing the ineffectual Mahmoud Abbas to be replaced by Barghouti is floated, probably by the US State Department, which is frantically trying to find a Palestinian strongman with whom they can deal. But a Palestinian Authority led by Barghouti would be worse for Israel than Hamas or Fatah, because he combines the violent hostility of Hamas with the veneer of international respectability possessed by Abbas.

Let me add that it’s time to put the oft-quoted remark about making peace with enemies in perspective. There are two ways to make peace with an enemy: he can become a friend, or at least a neutral; or you can defeat him.

The Oslo process was an attempt to do the former, and it failed. Unilateral withdrawal was an attempt to do the former, and it failed. There is no available Palestinian partner today, especially Marwan Barghouti, to make friends with. Peace will have to wait for the appearance of such a partner, or for another war in which the Palestinians will be defeated.

Which it will be is really up to the Palestinians.

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Jimmy Carter: support Hamas

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Jimmy Carter…what can he be thinking?

DUBLIN, Ireland: The United States, Israel and the European Union must end their policy of favoring Fatah over Hamas, or they will doom the Palestinian people to deepening conflict between the rival movements, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday…

Carter said Hamas, besides winning a fair and democratic mandate that should have entitled it to lead the Palestinian government, had proven itself to be far more organized in its political and military showdowns with the Fatah movement of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas…

Carter said the American-Israeli-European consensus to reopen direct aid to the new government in the West Bank, but to deny the same to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, represented an “effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples.” — IHT (AP)

Without exaggeration, Hamas is the most explicitly antisemitic organization that has any actual power since the NSDAP (the German Nazi party), both by word and by deed. It is also anti-Christian.

Hamas has chosen terrorism against civilian targets as its preferred tactic to achieve its goals, one of which is the destruction of a legitimate nation and the murder or dispersal of its people.

Hamas took over the Gaza strip in a violent coup in which hundreds died. This was not a democratic action.

Hamas intends to create an Islamic state, that is, one that is governed by Sha’aria, where women and non-Muslims have few rights, where images are prohibited (an unknown soldier statue in Gaza was destroyed for this reason), and where homosexuals will be stoned to death. This is not the kind of state that Jimmy Carter would want to live in, and I bet he wouldn’t want his daughter to live there either.

The Palestinians are cursed with horrible leadership, by Hamas and Fatah and also by all of the gang leaders and clan bosses that make their lives miserable. But Hamas is so much worse (despite its ability, lauded by Carter, to make the terroristic trains run on time).

Somebody (not me) might make the argument that because Hamas has been legitimately elected to control the Palestinian Authority, we should leave them alone.

But only a fool or a knave could suggest that we ought to support Hamas.

You decide which Carter is.

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Call to universities to reject UCU boycott

Tuesday, June 19th, 2007

Numerous universities, even those usually associated with radically anti-Israel opinions of students and faculty such as Columbia University and the University of California at Berkeley, have denounced the British University and College Union (UCU) boycott of Israeli academics.

In the words of Berkeley Chancellor John Birgeneau,

Their threat to cut off all funding, visits, and joint publishing with Israeli institutions violates the fundamental principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech that are the hallmarks of great universities nationally and internationally. We hold these values most deeply at Berkeley, the birthplace of the Free Speech Movement.

I have asked the president of California State University at Fresno, Dr. John Welty, to issue a similar statement, and I urge all of my readers to write to their own local colleges and universities and their alma maters to request that they make their commitment to freedom of speech and inquiry manifest.

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