Archive for November, 2009

Ban Ki-Moon vs. George W. Bush

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Could he be more wrong?

Palestinian statehood is a “vital” component necessary for regional peace, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, in a message to mark Monday’s annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

I’ve only recently touched on the UN, so I won’t get off on that again. I do want to mention that the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” is held on November 29 for a reason. In the words of Our United Nations,

In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B). On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II)).

So I suppose this ‘solidarity’ is their way of making up for what they must view as the terrible mistake of 1947!

Just two years before, on November 10, 1975, the UN had passed the notorious resolution 3379, which asserted that Zionism was a form of racism. The sponsors of that resolution also must have had a keen sense of the significance of dates, since November 10 was also the day, 37 years before, of Kristallnacht, the day that marked the beginning of the Nazi Final Solution.

Back to Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks. It’s obvious that Palestinian statehood, far from being vital to peace, would be a cause for war.

A Palestinian state led by Fatah, Hamas or any combination thereof, would, in keeping with the words in the founding documents of these groups, be committed to violent ‘resistance’ against Israel, in order to replace it with an Arab state. Giving Fatah and Hamas and their terrorist militias the cover of a state — with the ability to make treaties, to import weapons, even to invite foreign troops onto their territory — would convert them from irritants into threats.

The history of the Oslo accords and their failure, the second intifada, the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the terrorism and (always) incitement that has characterized this period makes clear that a peaceful state alongside Israel is not the goal of the Palestinian leadership. And the climate of Palestinian politics — in which the most radical elements always get their way, by force if necessary — guarantees that in the foreseeable future there will be no Palestinian leadership that does truly want peace.

So what is actually vital to peace is not statehood, because the state that would be created would be a gangster state with gangster leaders.

Here is what Ban Ki-Moon should have said:

My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror. Yet, at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope. Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty…

Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And [we] will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.

Oops. Too late, Ban! George W. Bush said it on June 24, 2002.

Preident George W. Bush delivers his Rose Garden speech on the Mideast, June 24, 2002

Preident George W. Bush delivers his Rose Garden speech on the Mideast, June 24, 2002

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A classic Big Lie

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

How many times have you heard something like this:

Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are illegal and an obstacle to peace.

The statement is misleading or false in at least three ways:

First, there is no such thing as ‘Palestinian land’ unless you mean land owned by individual Palestinians, and most Israeli ‘settlements’ in Judea and Samaria are built on state land or land purchased by Jews.

The original Palestine Mandate (and the Anglo-American Convention of 1924) specified only that there would be a ‘Jewish National Home’ within its borders; it did not specify that all of it would constitute this home. But it also did not specify that any particular part of it would be a Palestinian Arab state. One might add that in 1922, Britain split off the better part of the Palestine Mandate and gave it to the Hashemites to create an Arab state of Transjordan, which could well be considered a partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab parts.

The 1947 General Assembly partition resolution did call for a division the land into Jewish and Arab states. But this was not accepted by the Arabs, and was not implemented as a result of the invasion by the Arab states in 1948. The Jordanian military aggression and annexation of this area was therefore illegal; in principle, it belonged to the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs.

The actual boundaries that define what the Jordanians decided to call “the West Bank”, which prior to 1950 was called “Judea and Samaria”, were entirely accidental, being the cease-fire lines of 1949. There is no treaty, Security Council resolution, or other basis in international law to say that the cease-fire lines define an Arab state. Indeed, the famous Security Council Resolution 242, as everyone knows, calls for

Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

It does not say anything about creating a Palestinian state, it deliberately does not say that Israel must withdraw from all territories it occupied in 1967, and it clearly implies that the cease-fire lines are not the permanent borders of the state of Israel, but that borders must be secure and recognized.

Second, Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, this area whose status is still undetermined, are not illegal. In fact, the settlements have the same status as Arab settlements there! They are both located in a now-disputed portion of the original Mandate. Indeed, after Jordan gave up its claims to this area in 1988, control of the region has been divided under the Oslo agreement, between Israeli and  Palestinian Authority (PA) areas, with most Palestinians living in PA-controlled areas and most Israelis living in Israeli-controlled areas.

Mainstream media often refer to “Israeli settlements in the areas that Palestinians want for a future state.” Well, yes, they want it, but absent some basis in law, they do not have a right to it. They want Tel Aviv, Haifa, etc., too. As one says in Hebrew, “sh’irtzu” — almost impossible to translate, but it means something like “so they should want” (with a rising inflection at the end).

Finally, they are not an ‘obstacle to peace’, unless any  unmet Palestinian demand is, no matter how unreasonable. Israel has withdrawn from occupied areas before, for example the Sinai and Gaza, in both cases uprooting Jews who had lived there for years, and would likely withdraw from much of Judea and Samaria in return for a real peace. But it is unrealistic to think — as President Bush agreed in 2004 — that the larger settlement blocs relatively near the Green Line, would or could be evacuated as part of a peace agreement.

The Arabs and their supporters are trying to create reality by repeating the same falsehoods over and over, in a classic big lie operation.

Indeed, the true obstacles to peace are the PA’s insistence that Israel cede “every centimeter” of the land, including East Jerusalem, for the proposed state; its refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People; its demand to resettle hostile Arabs within Israel; and its continued of incitement of hatred and terrorism against Israel and Jews.

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How to end terrorist kidnappings

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

News item:

Voice of Palestine radio quoted Egyptian sources on Saturday as saying that in an unusual move, security around the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been beefed up, speculating that the added security could signal the imminent transfer of captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit from Gaza into Egypt…

The sources also said that when Shalit is transferred from Gaza into Egypt he will be examined by Red Cross medical teams as well as Israeli and French teams, in addition to the German mediator. Israel will simultaneously free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, the sources said…

Senior Hamas officials said Thursday that the talks had hit a snag over some of the Palestinian prisoners the Islamic group wants freed, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat…

Hamas is demanding, among other the prisoners, the release of Ibrahim Hamad, head of the group’s military wing in the Ramallah area, Abdallah Barghouti, a bomb engineer, and Abbas a-Sayad, the Hamas head in Tul Karm who planned the 2002 massacre during Passover in Netanya’s Park Hotel. These three prisoners are considered responsible for the murder of hundreds of Israelis.

Other names mentioned in the Arab media are Hassan Salame, who was involved in planning the suicide bus bombings in the mid ’90s, and Jamal Abu al-Hijla, head of Hamas in Jenin, who was convicted of taking part in planning and funding several suicide attacks during the second intifada.

Unfortunately, Israel has close to zero leverage. Hamas has held Shalit for three years and can keep him for as long as it likes. The Netanyahu government is under tremendous pressure from the media and others to get Shalit out no matter how much it costs. Although I’m sure the families of the terrorists would like them released, Hamas can afford to be far less responsive to its public than Israel! And of course the conditions under which Palestinian prisoners are held in Israel are far better than those faced by Shalit.

So my guess is that if the exchange actually takes place, the price will be whatever Hamas is asking. Some of the freed terrorists will undoubtedly go on to kill Israelis.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, recently said that there should be no negotiations with kidnappers, but that the policy couldn’t be changed while Shalit was in captivity. This is nonsense, since tomorrow they will capture another Israeli soldier or civilian.

Here’s my program to end this:

  1. Institute the death penalty for convicted terrorist murderers. Then at least these will not be eligible for ‘exchange’.
  2. Do not negotiate with kidnappers.
  3. Institute reprisals against the leadership when Israelis are harmed. See if the big shots “love death more than we love life”.

To rescue Shalit, immediately cut off all supplies, water and electricity to Gaza until he is released. This isn’t ‘collective punishment’ because all Hamas has to do to end it is to free Shalit, whom they are holding in contravention of (real) international law. If they hurt him, see no. 3 above.

Just do it — anyone who objects will have to argue that Hamas is justified in holding Shalit. Even the Norwegians can’t say that.

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Bad ideas and where they come from

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared a 10-month settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria Wednesday, in order to “encourage resumption of peace talks with our Palestinian neighbors.”

Predictably, the Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected it, because it allows Israel to finish buildings under construction and does not include Jerusalem, which PM Netanyahu correctly said “is not a settlement”.

Right-wing parties then attacked Netanyahu for “spitting in the face of those who were promised only a year ago that he would lead a change from the expulsion policies of [former Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon.” (MK Yakov Katz of the National Union party).

Certainly Netanyahu could have predicted both of these outcomes. So why did he do it? And why did his cabinet approve it?

Here’s another item:

In an effort to bolster Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the face of a potential mass prisoner swap with Hamas, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) “pardoned” over 90 wanted Fatah militiamen on Thursday on condition they refrain from engaging in terrorist activity.

Under the deal, the 92 fugitives – all members of Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s military wing – will be allowed to move freely throughout Palestinian cities within Area A of the West Bank. One of the fugitives included in the deal is Ala Sankara, who was the Al-Aksa commander in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus…

Israel is concerned that a massive prisoner deal with Hamas would undermine Abbas and boost Hamas’s popularity on the Palestinian street ahead of general elections.

In other words, if Hamas gets more terrorists on the street than Fatah, then it will be more popular. And the government wants to support Fatah. It’s hard to see how this will help, considering that Hamas will probably get hundreds, possibly more than a thousand freed, including convicted murderers, in the coming exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. And they can claim that they did by means of ‘resistance’, not collaboration, always a plus in Palestinian circles.

(One those who may possibly be released in the trade for Shalit is Marwan Barghouti, one of the most dangerous of those in Israeli prisons. Convicted of masterminding five murders, Barghouti is also a master politician, having the potential to unite anti-Israel forces. In any Arab country (and plenty of non-Arab ones) someone like Barghouti would long since have received a bullet in the back of his neck. But in Israel he is allowed access to the media from his cell).

Back to the 92 Fatah terrorists. You can bet they aren’t wanted for jaywalking. Really, the only way that the Hamas prisoner “exchange” can be made worse is by keeping Fatah’s guerrillas on the street as well. And considering that the aims of Fatah and Hamas with regard to Israel are the same, helping either one is a poor idea.

All of these poor ideas come from the same source, the US, which alone among the participants in this farce seems to think that a peaceful Palestinian state under Fatah rule can be created which will somehow regain control of Hamas-dominated Gaza and henceforth live in peace alongside Israel. In pursuit of this mirage, we train and support Fatah’s “security forces” at the same time as we increase pressure on Israel to make more and more concessions, always “to bolster Abbas.”

Unfortunately the concessions are never enough for the PA, since it knows that if it just refuses to budge, the US will squeeze yet another one out of Israel. So why do anything?

I’ve speculated about the reason for the apparent blindness of US policymakers — whether it has something to do with Saudi-corrupted functionaries, academic ideologues in the administration, the traditional pro-Arab  State Department, the influence of Barack Obama’s left-wing friends, or just plain incompetence.

Why doesn’t Israel stand up for itself? After all, the US has consistently backed down in response to pressure from North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and even the powerless PA!

The reason is that Israel needs, or believes that it needs, American help to prevent Iran from achieving its goal to get nuclear weapons. But if there is one lesson that Jews should have learned from WWII, and that Israelis should have learned from the 1967 war, it is that it is not possible to depend on third parties in critical situations.

Certainly today, when the US is weaker — both objectively and in the character of its leadership — than at any time since Israel was created, today is not the time to think that America will save Israel from her enemies.

The only option, difficult as it may seem, is for Israel to plan on the assumption that US support will not materialize, and indeed that Israel may need to act against the wishes of the US. Maybe a good place to start is by ending the charade of a ‘peace process’ that only strengthens her worst enemies.

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The world is tired of hearing Jews complain

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

News item:

A British diplomat has criticized the appointment of two leading Jewish academics to the UK’s Iraq Inquiry panel, stating it may upset the balance of the inquiry.

Sir Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, told The Independent newspaper this week that the appointment of Sir Martin Gilbert, the renowned Holocaust historian and Winston Churchill biographer, and Sir Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies and vice-principal of King’s College London, would be seen as “ammunition” that could be used to call the inquiry a “whitewash.”

Miles said the two academics were Jewish and that Gilbert was an active Zionist. He also said they were both strong supporters of former prime minister Tony Blair and the Iraq war…

“It is a pity that, if and when the inquiry is accused of a whitewash, such handy ammunition will be available,” he added. “Membership should not only be balanced; it should be seen to be balanced.”

There you go. In regard to any issue which even tangentially touches on Israel, Jews are suspect. I recall someone saying, “when I read a letter to the editor about the Middle East, I immediately look to see if the writer has a Jewish name.” Then I presume she discounts whatever was in the letter. As I wrote yesterday in a different context,

Eloquence, logic, and appeal to facts are irrelevant today. Only the point of view [and apparently the religion/ethnicity of the speaker] matters.

The world is tired of hearing the Jews complain, just as they were tired of them before, during and immediately after WWII. I suppose Miles would prefer the panel to be made up entirely of former ambassadors to Arab countries. Then nobody could call it a ‘whitewash’.

I’ve noticed this myself recently. People who can’t respond to my arguments say that we should ‘agree to disagree’, meaning “just be quiet, of course you think the way you do, you’re Jewish.”

For some reason the fact that there are plenty of anti-Zionist Jews around — including famous ones like Noam Chomsky, Tony Judt, et al — doesn’t seem to make a difference. Jewishness only seems to affect the soundness of one’s arguments when one is pro-Israel.

Indeed, when a Jew or Jewish organization attacks Israel, the same people cheer. After all, if even Jews like Philip Weiss,  Norman Finkelstein or Ilan Pappé think that Israel is an apartheid state committing genocide against the Palestinians, then it must be true.

But poor Sir Martin Gilbert just can’t help being biased!

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Outflank the UN

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Recently a friend sent me this video (the audio is in English with Hebrew subtitles). Many of you may have  seen it; the YouTube copy got over 426,000 hits since it was posted in 2007.

It shows Hillel Neuer, director of the UN Watch organization, eloquently denouncing the one year old UN Human Rights Council — which had been created because the previous version, the UN Human Rights Commission had been deemed ineffective, primarily because it was packed with nations notable for their disregard for human rights. The new Council is hardly better — unlike the Commission, Sudan and Zimbabwe are not members, but it still includes Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Nigeria, and other states that are not exactly exemplars of regard for human rights.

The Council, like its predecessor, specialized in accusations against Israel while ignoring serious violations by others.

Neuer is a good speaker who reminded me of Abba Eban. The tone of the response by the then-President of the Council, Luis Alfonso de Alba of Mexico, is contemptuous as he tells Neuer that any similar comments in the future will be removed from the record.

So why do I bring this up?

Because it is increasingly true that eloquence, logic, and appeal to facts are irrelevant today. Only the point of view matters. Look at the Goldstone Report and the trashy NGO reports from which much of it was copied: patchworks of unsubstantiated accusations, used to support outrageous conclusions — primarily that Israel deliberately targeted civilians. But there is no real evidence for most of the accusations, and no logical connection to the conclusions. The report earns an F even if considered as investigative journalism, not to mention as a legal brief that might have consequences for Israel or IDF officers.

Nevertheless, this hit-piece, mandated  by the above-mentioned Human Rights Council to investigate Israel’s crimes alone is actually taken seriously!

The UN is worse than worthless — they just proved it again by throwing Anne Bayefsky out. Pro-Israel speech is either ignored — when it comes from Israel’s Ambassador — or stifled, when it comes from a representative of a non-governmental organization (NGO) like Neuer or Bayefsky. On the other hand, the UN has an entire apparatus devoted to advocacy for the Palestinians (read: defamation of Israel). Here’s what I wrote about it a while back:

Did you know that our UN contains a “Division for Palestinian rights“? Here are a few of the things it does:

  • Organizing the annual commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People;
  • Preparing studies and publications relating to the question of Palestine and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and promoting their widest possible dissemination, including in cooperation with the Department of Public Information;
  • Maintaining liaison with NGOs which are active on the issue;
  • Maintaining and developing the Web-based United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL).

UNISPAL is impressive, by the way, containing audio, multimedia, photographs, etc. There are no pictures of Qassam rockets, but here’s a nice one of a postage stamp.

Postage stamp from UNISPAL

Postage stamp from UNISPAL

You are now probably expecting me to say something like “Israel should quit the UN and the US should stop supporting it and kick it out of New York!”  But despite the UN’s defects, there needs to be a framework of some kind for international cooperation. And if  the US left the UN, there would be no restraints on its behavior at all. I have another idea.

Don’t attack it frontally; outflank it.

Establish a new international organization, called something like the “United Democratic Nations”. Invite only countries that have free and fair elections and more than one political party. No kingdoms, dictatorships or republics-in-name-only need apply. Do all the things that a UN does: pass resolutions, create organizations to fight hunger and disease, to promote literacy, etc.

Little by little, its members would shift their financial support from the old UN to the new UDN. Naturally, being made up of politically advanced nations, the UDN would actually solve problems instead of creating them.

One day the UN would simply be irrelevant. The NYPD would tow all of its diplomats’  illegally parked cars and what was left of it would vanish.

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But this is just the tip of the iceberg. Did you know that our UN contains a “Division for Palestinian rights“? Here are a few of the things it does:

* Organizing the annual commemoration of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People;

* Preparing studies and publications relating to the question of Palestine and the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and promoting their widest possible dissemination, including in cooperation with the Department of Public Information;

* Maintaining liaison with NGOs which are active on the issue;

* Maintaining and developing the Web-based United Nations Information System on the Question of Palestine (UNISPAL).

UN postage stamp from UNISPALUNISPAL is impressive, by the way, containing audio, multimedia, photographs, etc. There are no pictures of Qassam rockets, but here’s a nice one of a postage stamp.

Absurd US position on Jerusalem isn’t constructive

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

Here’s a perfect example of the misleading use of the settlement issue, from a Palestinian source. Ma’an News tells us that,

According to the [Israel channel 10] report, the US administration suggested, and Israel was preparing to allow, the following in exchange for a guarantee from Abbas that the PLO would re-enter talks.

• Weapons for Palestinian Authority security forces
• Release of 400 Fatah prisoners from Israeli jails before the Muslim holiday of Eid
• Extending the PA’s West Bank jurisdiction in Area B to full control and Area C to partial control

Channel 10 reported that Abbas rejected all of these offers, sticking instead to his insistence that there be no negotiations while Israel’s borders continue to expand.

One doesn’t need to be a Ph.D like Mahmoud Abbas (Patrice Lumumba U., Moscow) to know the difference between building some apartments — more correctly, talking about building some apartments — in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, and ‘expanding borders’. But this is the Palestinian excuse for refusing to return to negotiations with Israel.

The real reason, which is a quite good one and one with which I agree, is that they don’t want to negotiate since they know that their bottom line and Israel’s are so far apart. The PLO won’t — can’t — recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and will not accept a demilitarized Palestine. And they’ve also sold the idea that a ‘two-state solution’ includes the right of return. It really doesn’t matter if Abbas is ready to compromise on these issues or not, since he wouldn’t survive politically or physically if he did. So he prefers to blame it on Israel.

What I find particularly upsetting is our president and Secretary of State taking the same line. And they do, every time they use the highly misleading phrase ‘settlement construction’ to refer to any building activity — or even planning activity — in the area that was occupied by Jordan in 1948, especially Jerusalem.

There is a consensus in Israel that Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem are not settlements, regardless of where the cease-fire line happened to fall in 1949.

Recently there’s been some excitement over the fact that a US passport issued to a citizen born in Jerusalem — any part of it — will not say ‘Jerusalem, Israel’ but rather only ‘Jerusalem’ for the place of birth. This is consistent with the American point of view.

The UN and the US in point of fact, do not recognize that Israel has any rights in Jerusalem, East or West. But in this view, neither do the Palestinians! The original UN partition resolution of 1947 and UN General Assembly Resolution 303 of 1949 call for all of Jerusalem to be internationalized, and the US State Department still holds this position.

It’s easy to forget that in 1967 Israel did not capture Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem from the Palestinians. These were part of the Palestine Mandate, which included the Balfour Declaration — the charter for a Jewish national home. The Jordanian occupation of this area was illegal, the product of a war of aggression. Israel annexed Jerusalem in 1980, when it declared that “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”

In his book  Power, Faith, and Fantasy, Michael Oren discusses the anti-Zionism of the professional diplomats of the State Department of the 1920’s – 1950’s, many of them descendants of Protestant missionaries whose restorationism had been rebuffed by stiff-necked Jews [p. 423]. There is still a strong Arabist influence, although Daniel Pipes suggests that it has been replaced by that of the ‘peace processors’ (an improvement in attitude that nevertheless hasn’t produced better policy). But the unfair and unrealistic attitude about Jerusalem may be the Arabists’ legacy.

If the US wishes to see itself as truly a friend of Israel it can drop this unique and insulting policy, not adopted toward any other nation in the world that I can think of, in which it denies a nation sovereignty over its own capital. This would not be inconsistent with the idea that some neighborhoods could change hands in a peace agreement, just as Israel’s annexation — which does not specify the boundaries of Jerusalem in detail — is not.

We could begin by having the President and the Secretary of State stop speaking in ways which they may think show sophisticated studied ambiguity, but really prevent clear thinking about important issues.

It wouldn’t hurt to put the US embassy in Jerusalem, either.

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Short takes: Assad, Iran, Nidal Hasan, Barack Obama

Friday, November 20th, 2009

How Assad negotiates

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris last week that he wanted to launch talks with Damascus without preconditions, according to Syrian President Bashar Assad’s top aide Bouthaina Shaaban…

However, she said that Assad had responded by saying that before talks could start, he wanted guarantees that Israel would return “Syria’s land” and restore the country’s “rights.”

According to Shaaban, Sarkozy replied, “That will be the result of negotiations,” to which Assad retorted, “No, that will result in negotiations, and the result of negotiations will be peace.” — Jerusalem Post

Brilliant, isn’t he? Here’s the plan:

  1. You give me everything I want
  2. Then we talk about me giving you something


The West is “disappointed” over Iran’s failure to respond positively to a UN-brokered nuclear deal, diplomats said in a statement Friday following a meeting of the UN Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany. However, no new sanctions were discussed during the meeting, according to an EU source.

“We urge Iran to reconsider the opportunity offered by this agreement … and to engage seriously with us in dialogue and negotiations,” the statement said, noting that Teheran had not responded positively to the proposal of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

An EU official said there was no mention of imposing further sanctions against Iran at the meeting. “These things are a matter of timing, and this was not the right time for it,” said the official who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

The Western officials said they would hold a follow-up meeting around Christmas. — Jerusalem Post

The impossible-to-understand deal in which Iran would send its uranium somewhere for some reason has fallen apart. Big surprise. How much time was wasted on that one? But this isn’t the “right time” for sanctions!

Nope, that will have to wait for Christmas. It’s pretty much a certainty now that Iran will become a nuclear power unless somebody bombs them.

The Ft. Hood Jihadist

The Army, Secretary of Defense Gates and the President have all refused to say that Maj. Hasan was motivated to murder by his radical Islamic belief. Daniel Pipes presents the argument for ideological motivation here, and Barry Rubin shows how Hasan more or less told us what he was going to do far in advance.

Asking “is he crazy or was it ideological” misses the point. Anyone who takes an action like Hasan’s for ideological reasons is abnormal by our standards. Possibly his difficulty in dealing with what was going on in his life or even a chemical imbalance in his brain weakened the inhibitions which usually prevent someone raised in a Western culture from behaving as he did (although in a different setting, like a battle zone, we think it’s normal to shoot people). But nothing is more clear, as Pipes and Rubin have shown, that he had a clear reason for what he was doing, and that reason was to engage in Islamic jihad.


Yesterday’s post brought me a lot of mail, much of it saying that I was too hard on Obama, that an enemy is someone like Nasrallah. Here is part of something I wrote in response to one of my correspondents:

I thought long and hard about this post and its title. As I wrote I’ve criticized particular actions and statements made by Obama before, but I never joined the chorus of the right wing here that called him an enemy, until now.

What pushed me over the edge was not so much his statement that continued building in E. Jerusalem was ‘dangerous’, although it’s disheartening to see him taking the Palestinian line and repeating their threats. It was that he used the phrase ‘settlement construction’ in connection with this, inflaming the issue by suggesting that 900 apartments in Gilo are no different from occupying a hilltop in Samaria and expropriating land that is being cultivated by Palestinians to do this!

Indeed, someone who doesn’t understand the issue (like most Americans) hears ‘settlement construction’ and thinks “they are building new settlements.” So he is actually doing Arab propaganda.

This line — that Israel is responsible for the failure of negotiations because “it keeps building settlements” — is entirely false and damaging. Here in the USA it leads people to withdraw support from Israel because they believe that Israel is expanding its occupation of “Palestinian land”. This is not something a friend would say.

No, Obama isn’t Nasrallah, but I do think that he is turning out to be the least friendly American President since 1948. And he’s not moving in the right direction: I had hoped that he would learn something from the behavior of the Palestinians and the other Arab nations, but instead of learning that he needed to get tough with them, he ‘learned’ that he had to push harder on Israel!

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Barack Obama is an enemy of Israel

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Until now, I’ve refrained from being sharply critical of President Obama. I’ve wanted to give him time to develop his policies, to learn from his experience that the real obstacle to peace in the Mideast is not Israel. I’ve assumed that his native intelligence would allow him — once he became involved in the process — to get past the unexamined left-wing worldview that came from his educational background and his associations, and to put aside the bad advice that he’s received. I’ve hoped that he would turn out to be a Truman or JFK, someone capable of thinking for himself as soon as he realized that the buck does in fact stop at his desk.

I’ve criticized some of his actions, true. I was upset by his early choice of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samantha Power, Rob Malley, and some others as advisers. I objected to his nomination of Chas Freeman as Chairman of the National Intelligence Council. I found his Cairo speech offensive. I was unhappy with his embrace of the phony ‘pro-Israel’ group J Street. I strongly objected to his original call for a settlement freeze. I was dismayed by his treatment of PM Netanyahu when he visited the US recently.

But I kept hoping that he would someday ‘get it’. Not any more:

Nov. 18 (Bloomberg) — Israeli plans to build 900 new homes in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, constructed beyond the city’s 1967 borders, could have “dangerous” consequences, President Barack Obama said today.

Obama said “additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel’s security,” according to a transcript of an interview he gave Fox News. “I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbors, I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous.”

Obama’s remark was echoed by the European Union, Ban Ki-Moon, and others.

Some background: Gilo is within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, on the southwest side of the city, next to the Arab town of Beit Jala and not far from Bethlehem. Some Jews lived there pre-1948. In 1967, the area was captured from the Jordanians along with the rest of East Jerusalem, and in 1980 it was formally annexed to Israel as part of Jerusalem. Today, about 40,000 Jews live in Gilo.

Gilo is highly strategic, providing a buffer between Jerusalem and Arab towns. In 2000-2002, Fatah Tanzim (Fatah — our ‘peace partner’) snipers occupied homes and churches in the Christian Arab town of Beit Jala, firing at Gilo daily. IDF response was limited in order to avoid harming the non-hostile population. Here’s a photo of a playground in Gilo — note the concrete barrier to protect the children from sniper fire:

Playground in Gilo. Note concrete barrier to protect children from sniper fire.

Playground in Gilo. Note concrete barrier to protect children from sniper fire.

The use of the word ‘settlement’ in connection with Gilo is a litmus test of attitude toward Israel’s rights in East Jerusalem. Although the Netanyahu government has indicated that it is prepared to consider evacuating settlements in Judea and Samaria as well as ceding some Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem as part of a peace settlement, it considers neighborhoods such as Gilo an integral part of Israel, no less so than West Jerusalem or Tel Aviv. This is not a ‘right-wing’ point of view. Even Tzipi Livni, leader of the opposition in Israel, has said that “there is an Israeli consensus” on this.

Obama’s remark thus takes the Arab position that the status of East Jerusalem is no different than that of Judea and Samaria. It implies that a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem could well become part of ‘Palestine’ in some imagined agreement. His use of the phrase ‘settlement building’ is a deliberate attempt to blur the distinction between building a new settlement where none existed, and building some homes in a neighborhood of Israel’s capital.

A deliberate attempt, that is, to mislead. A lie.

Right now the Palestinians are focusing on Jerusalem, attacking Israel’s claim to sovereignty. This takes the form of incitement of Arabs to violently riot over nonexistent Israeli attempts to ‘storm’ the Temple Mount, at the same time that they demand — and the Obama administration supports this unprecedented demand — that Israel may not build anything in the eastern part of its capital. The Obama administration denies Israel sovereign rights in East Jerusalem.

Obama’s statement is not only deliberately misleading, it is deliberately threatening: “It embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous” Obama says, repeating and reinforcing the threats of the Palestinians, who always promise terrorism if they do not get their way.

Although Obama said this building activity “makes it harder to make peace”, he must know that this is not so; practically speaking no peace agreement could call for the evacuation of Gilo — even French FM Kouchner admits this! Therefore it only ‘makes it harder’ because it opposes maximalist Palestinian aspirations. Is his position always going to be that surrender in the face of threats is the best policy?

It’s time now to ‘call the child by his name’ (to translate a Hebrew expression) and admit: Our President is no friend of Israel. Barack Obama is perhaps the most anti-Israel President since Bush I or Eisenhower, and he may turn out to be the worst ever in this regard.

Just like J Street, the only thing pro-Israel about him is his insistence that he is. His primary policy goal in the Mideast is to create a Palestinian state in order to ingratiate himself with the Muslim nations — something, incidentally, that he has so far entirely failed to do — and Israel’s security is very low priority.

Obama has had his chance and he’s shown us that rather than learning from his experience, he’s flying in the face of it. Hopefully, he’ll only be doing it until 2012.

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Palestinians may declare state. So?

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

The latest Palestinian threat is that they will unilaterally declare a state:

Bethlehem – Ma’an/Agencies – The Palestinian Authority is mobilizing international support for declaring statehood, chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat said on Saturday.

“The idea is clear and understandable,” Erekat told the Palestinian daily newspaper Al-Ayyam. “Now we mobilize.”

Palestinians will bring the issue to a vote before the United Nations Security Council, which would declare a Palestinian state on the 4 June 1967 border with Israel, he explained.

This is supposed to strike fear into the heart of PM Netanyahu and his (not really so) right-wing government. But imagine the conversation:

Saeb Erekat: We are unilaterally declaring a state.

Binyamin Netanyahu: A state? But you could have had one in 2000. Why didn’t you accept it? Or what about the offer that Olmert made last year, supposedly even worse — I mean, more generous — then the Camp David and Taba ideas? He offered you 98.1% of  Judea of Samaria plus  a connecting passage through Israel from Gaza, most of East Jerusalem, and to allow 5,000 ‘refugees’ to enter Israel. Why didn’t you say ‘yes’ to that?

SE: Because we want all of East Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria. And we want all 5 million Arab refugees to have the right to return to their homes in Israel even if they never lived in them. And we aren’t going to say that Israel belongs to the Jewish people because it belongs to the Arabs that live there now and the ones who will return.

BN: That’s absurd. We’d never agree to that — it would mean the end of the Jewish state.

SE: Bingo.

BN: Well, declare whatever you want. But then you won’t get any land swaps, we won’t evacuate any settlements, and you won’t get ‘contiguity’ to Gaza. You will be in violation of all the agreements that you signed, and you’ll freeze the map as it is today, with no more territory in your hands. You’ll be Foreign Minister of Ramallah.

SE: But the Security Council will protect our new state. The UN will come and kick all 500,000 Jewish settlers [he’s including the Jewish population of E. Jerusalem — ed.] out of our land!

BN: So you are telling me that even the Obama administration wouldn’t veto a resolution to send UN troops to fight the IDF? Because that’s what it would take.

SE: We’ll have our capital in Holy Jerusalem!

BN: But if you won’t negotiate, you’ll get none of East Jerusalem. Even my administration, which is not as right-wing as some say, would agree to negotiate Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. Declare a state unilaterally and you’ll just make the present status quo permanent. Is that really what you want?

SE: (losing it) What we really want is to end the occupation, from the river to the sea!

BN: Bingo. But you aren’t going to get that. So you can either keep things as they are today — either by unilaterally declaring a state or by just continuing to refuse to talk — or you can finally accept that “two-state solution” means that one of those two states will belong to the Jewish people, and make a deal.

Of course, they don’t accept that, and no member of the PLO — we are not even talking about Hamas — will ever accept it. The fundamental truth of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is this:

No Palestinian leadership can come to power or stay there today which is not committed to replacing Israel with an Arab state. There may be differences in approach — in particular, whether a state in the territories is a useful step on the way to eliminating Israel — but there is no divergence in goals. They don’t so much want a state as they want our state.

PM Netanyahu’s conditions for a peace agreement — that ‘Palestine’ be demilitarized, that Israel must be recognized as the state of the Jewish people, and that refugees may ‘return’ only to ‘Palestine’ — and the idea that boundaries should be drawn to put the Arabs on one side and the Jews on the other,  are intended to make coexistence possible. But coexistence is exactly what the Arabs don’t want, and that is why they insist on impossible preconditions even to return to discussions.

The PLO strategy until now seems to have been to take advantage of the Israeli propensity for wishful thinking, along with the desire of the US to push Israel back to 1967 borders, in order to get a state that could be used as a platform to conquer the rest, possibly with help from other Arabs — the so-called ‘phased plan‘ developed in 1974.

But several things happened to derail this. One was Hamas, which enormously complicated the process of creating the temporary state. Another was the fact that the PLO, following the lead of its spiritual father, Yasser Arafat, simply could not restrain its propensity to kill Jews and incite hatred. The Arafat intifada that began in 2000 and killed about 1,400 Israelis taught the ones who survived a strong lesson, which I expressed above. The wishful thinking that gave birth to Oslo was blown away by the bomb blasts of the intifada.

So now Israel elected a Prime Minister who thinks realistically. The PLO leaders are furious as they see their strategy dissolve, so they’ve come up with a new one. What is remarkable to me is how the media and foreign offices around the world continue to insist that the Palestinians want a state (of their own, as opposed to someone else’s) and that Israel is the obstacle to talks.

Israel can’t stop the PLO from declaring a state. But even if it receives UN recognition, the UN will not enforce its claimed borders any more than it succeeded in internationalizing Jerusalem in 1949. And the Palestinian Arabs will be farther from, not closer to, their goal.

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Bill Clinton pushes false State Department line

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

One sometimes forgets what a fool Bill Clinton was capable of being. And then he reminds us:

“In the last 14 years, not a single week has gone by that I did not think of Yitzhak Rabin and miss him terribly,” Clinton told a VIP gathering at the Yitzhak Rabin Center in Tel Aviv.

“Nor has a single week gone by in which I have not reaffirmed my conviction that had he not lost his life on that terrible November night, within three years we would have had a comprehensive agreement for peace in the Middle East.”  — Ha’aretz

Oh really? What does Clinton think Rabin would have added to the already over-the-top offers made to the Palestinians at Camp David and Taba that would have caused Arafat to accept them?

Does he think Arafat would have refrained from sponsoring terrorism and educating a generation to be suicide bombers if Rabin had been alive? Does he think that any of the clear messages sent by the Palestinians to this day, that the only ‘peace’ deal that they would accept is unconditional surrender, would have not been sent if Rabin were around?

Either he really is a fool and actually believes this, or he is helping push the current State Department line (after all, his wife is the Secretary) that the reason that there isn’t ‘peace’ is that Israel isn’t giving up enough. Just like the helpful media, Clinton is reinforcing the message that the problem is Israel’s intransigence rather than Palestinian anti-Zionism.

“If you want it, it is no legend,” Herzl said. Unfortunately, this inspiring proposition is only sometimes true. Some people want a peaceful two-state solution next week, but this is one of those times that reality intervenes, and it doesn’t matter how much one wants it, it remains a dream.

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Straining those unbreakable bonds

Friday, November 13th, 2009

On November 1,

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said … at a press conference in Jerusalem that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement on limiting construction in the settlements was “unprecedented.”

A senior government source in Jerusalem said Clinton told the prime minister, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak that she had demanded that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas remove his preconditions and renew talks immediately. — Ha’aretz

But 9 days later,

The United States does not accept continued Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank, a senior U.S. state department official has said, adding that Jerusalem’s commitment to restrain settlement activity is not enough.

In an address to the Middle East Institute, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs William J. Burns on Tuesday said that the Obama administration does not “accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.”

“We consider the Israeli offer to restrain settlement activity to be a potentially important step, but it obviously falls short of the continuing Roadmap obligation for a full settlement freeze,” he said. — Ha’aretz

What a difference a bit more than a week makes! During those 9 days, two main things happened. Mahmoud Abbas threw a tantrum and threatened to quit or even to dissolve the Palestinian Authority (PA), and the State Department fell in love with the Fayaad plan to declare a Palestinian state in two years.

Let’s face it, the State Department doesn’t give a rat’s tuchas about security for Israel. Their goal is always stated in terms of “two peaceful states, side by side”, but what they care about  is the Palestinian state. Burns gave the usual meaningless nod toward America’s connection with Israel, but you can see that it’s the Arab state that he’s salivating for:

A Jewish state of Israel, with which America retains unbreakable bonds, and with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, that ends the daily humiliations of Palestinians under occupation, and that realizes the full and remarkable potential of the Palestinian people…

The good news is that he said “A Jewish state” and that he mentioned 1967 — after all, if he had just said “the occupation”, Palestinians would assume that he meant the ‘occupation’ that dates from 1948.

The rest is bad: ‘contiguous’ means that Israel, which has itself been contiguous since 1948, would be cut in half. Ending the “daily humiliations” means stopping the security measures that keep Israelis alive. And what would be the realization of the “full and remarkable potential of the Palestinian people?” I’ve written about that on several occasions, for example here and here and here.

It’s interesting and typical that Israel gets abstract promises about ‘unbreakable bonds’ — what does this mean when the US consistently breaks commitments and modifies its demands in response to Arab tantrums? — and Palestinians get the most concrete thing of all, land.

His mention of the Roadmap is also worth notice, since he conveniently ignores the fact that the PA, too, has obligations under the Roadmap,  like ending anti-Israel incitement. This is a good way to test the PA’s intentions, because it’s easy for them to do — the PA media are tightly controlled by the leadership. But even this they haven’t done.

The way the meeting between President Obama and PM Netanyahu was carried out this Monday night was more evidence that Israel’s “unprecedented” concession was not enough. Caroline Glick described it thus:

It isn’t every day that you can see an American president leaving the prime minister of an allied government twisting in the wind for weeks before deciding to grant him an audience at the White House.

It isn’t every day that a visiting leader from a strategically vital US ally is brought into the White House in an unmarked van in the middle of the night rather than greeted like a friend at the front door; is forbidden to have his picture taken with the president; is forced to leave the White House alone, through a side exit; and is ordered to keep the contents of his meeting with the president secret.

In response to raised eyebrows, statements were issued by both parties that the discussions were “positive”, and the State Department released one photo. But this is not how the Prime Minister of, say, France would be treated.

Although Burns also said the US would put pressure on both sides, it seems that all the Arabs have to do is say ‘no’, and Israel gets the punishment again.

Maybe relations between the US and Israel are not quite at a historic low point as some have suggested, but the “unbreakable bonds” certainly seem to be fraying.

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