Archive for May, 2010

Video: the boarding of the Mavi Marmara

Monday, May 31st, 2010

The IDF soldiers who landed on the deck of the Mavi Marmara opened fire in self-defense after forty minutes of this:

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Update [12 Jul 2010 1050 PDT]: Initial reports which said that the IDF commandos waited 40 minutes to open fire are incorrect. Apparently the second soldier to land on the deck was fired upon with a gun taken from the first one — or perhaps his own gun was taken. The Israelis fired back within a few minutes of landing. All in all there were at least four cases of live fire directed at IDF soldiers. In one case a soldier was wounded in the knee by a non-IDF bullet, and cartridge cases from non-IDF weapons were found on the deck.

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What really happened aboard the Gaza ship

Monday, May 31st, 2010

I have copied this directly from YNet, without comment and without permission. Everyone needs to understand what really happened.

A brutal ambush at sea

Ron Ben Yishai recounts bloody clash aboard Gaza-bound vessel: The lacking crowd-dispersal means, the brutal violence of ‘peace activists,’ and the attempt to bring down an IDF helicopter

Ron Ben-Yishai

Published:05.31.10, 15:44 / Israel News
Our Navy commandoes fell right into the hands of the Gaza mission members. A few minutes before the takeover attempt aboard the Marmara got underway, the operation commander was told that 20 people were waiting on the deck where a helicopter was to deploy the first team of the elite Flotilla 13 unit. The original plan was to disembark on the top deck, and from there rush to the vessel’s bridge and order the Marmara’s captain to stop.

Officials estimated that passengers will show slight resistance, and possibly minor violence; for that reason, the operation’s commander decided to bring the helicopter directly above the top deck. The first rope that soldiers used in order to descend down to the ship was wrested away by activists, most of them Turks, and tied to an antenna with the hopes of bringing the chopper down. However, Flotilla 13 fighters decided to carry on.

Navy commandoes slid down to the vessel one by one, yet then the unexpected occurred: The passengers that awaited them on the deck pulled out bats, clubs, and slingshots with glass marbles, assaulting each soldier as he disembarked. The fighters were nabbed one by one and were beaten up badly, yet they attempted to fight back.

However, to their misfortune, they were only equipped with paintball rifles used to disperse minor protests, such as the ones held in Bilin. The paintballs obviously made no impression on the activists, who kept on beating the troops up and even attempted to wrest away their weapons.

One soldier who came to the aid of a comrade was captured by the rioters and sustained severe blows. The commandoes were equipped with handguns but were told they should only use them in the face of life-threatening situations. When they came down from the chopper, they kept on shouting to each other “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” even though they sustained numerous blows.

‘I saw the tip of a rifle’

The Navy commandoes were prepared to mostly encounter political activists seeking to hold a protest, rather than trained street fighters. The soldiers were told they were to verbally convince activists who offer resistance to give up, and only then use paintballs. They were permitted to use their handguns only under extreme circumstances.

The planned rush towards the vessel’s bridge became impossible, even when a second chopper was brought in with another crew of soldiers. “Throw stun grenades,” shouted Flotilla 13’s commander who monitored the operation. The Navy chief was not too far, on board a speedboat belonging to Flotilla 13, along with forces who attempted to climb into the back of the ship.

The forces hurled stun grenades, yet the rioters on the top deck, whose number swelled up to 30 by that time, kept on beating up about 30 commandoes who kept gliding their way one by one from the helicopter. At one point, the attackers nabbed one commando, wrested away his handgun, and threw him down from the top deck to the lower deck, 30 feet below. The soldier sustained a serious head wound and lost his consciousness.

Only after this injury did Flotilla 13 troops ask for permission to use live fire. The commander approved it: You can go ahead and fire. The soldiers pulled out their handguns and started shooting at the rioters’ legs, a move that ultimately neutralized them. Meanwhile, the rioters started to fire back at the commandoes.

“I saw the tip of a rifle sticking out of the stairwell,” one commando said. “He fired at us and we fired back. We didn’t see if we hit him. We looked for him later but couldn’t find him.” Two soldiers sustained gunshot wounds to their knee and stomach after rioters apparently fired at them using guns wrested away from troops.

2 errors

During the commotion, another commando was stabbed with a knife. In a later search aboard the Marmara, soldiers found caches of bats, clubs, knives, and slingshots used by the rioters ahead of the IDF takeover. It appeared the activists were well prepared for a fight.

Some passengers on the ship stood at the back and pounded the soldiers’ hands as they attempted to climb on board. Only after a 30-minute shootout and brutal assaults using clubs and knifes did commandoes manage to reach the bridge and take over the Marmara.

It appears that the error in planning the operation was the estimate that passengers were indeed political activists and members of humanitarian groups who seek a political provocation, but would not resort to brutal violence. The soldiers thought they will encounter Bilin-style violence; instead, they got Bangkok. The forces that disembarked from the helicopters were few; just dozens of troops – not enough to contend with the large group awaiting them.

The second error was that commanders did not address seriously enough the fact that a group of men were expecting the soldiers on the top deck. Had they addressed this more seriously, they may have hurled tear-gas grenades and smoke grenades from the helicopter to create a screen that would have enabled them to carry out their mission, without the fighters falling right into the hands of the rioters, who severely assaulted them.

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Gaza flotilla was a Children’s Crusade

Monday, May 31st, 2010

All the details are not clear, but it seems that the Israeli navy boarded the ships, and they were met with violent resistance — iron bars, bats, long knives, perhaps firearms. At least in one case a weapon was taken from one of the IDF commandos and turned against them. The commandos defended themselves, and the result was about 10 dead ‘activists’ and a large number of injured — including at least seven of the commandos, some of whom were injured rather seriously. The ships are now being taken to port.

The friends of Hamas are saying that the commandos landed on the deck shooting. This is nonsense, but it is what everyone in the Muslim and left-wing world will believe.

Once the violence started, the commandos had no option but to fight back.  But although Israel was entirely justified under international law in boarding the ships — they were attempting to violate a blockade of a hostile entity, Hamas, they were warned and offered various options — what occurred will be painted as another ‘vicious massacre’ of ‘peace activists’. That is, there will be at least ten new Rachel Corries.

The UN, various governments, NGOs, the Obama Administration, and every imaginable unfriendly group will immediately jump in with both feet to bash Israel. There will be demonstrations, condemnations, revenge attacks, resolutions, boycotts, sanctions, divestments, punishments, etc. Overall a disaster.

It’s easy to say in hindsight that this should have been handled differently. But apparently the planners on the Israeli side misread the intentions of the ‘peace activists’.

Everyone thought they understood that the real goal of the operation was not to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, which wasn’t in need of it, but to ‘break the blockade’.

But that was not the point either.

The whole purpose of the ‘peaceful’, ‘humanitarian’ effort was to provoke a violent Israeli response in order to create the very reaction that we are beginning to see. This was clearly a planned and deliberate attempt to provoke as much violence as possible, and Israel fell squarely into the middle of the trap. Despite the supposed cynicism of Israel’s leaders, this possibility seems to have gone right by them.

One almost feels sorry for those passengers who considered themselves peace activists, who, like Rachel Corrie, were used. It was a Children’s Crusade.

Almost. But perhaps it should have prompted some concern yesterday when some of the ‘peaceniks’ on the ship were shown on al-Jazeera chanting “Khaybar Khaybar ya yahud, Jaish Muhammad saya’ud“,

“[Remember] Khaibar, Khaibar, oh Jews! The army of Muhammad will return!”

Khaibar is the name of last Jewish village defeated by Muhammad’s army and it [is said to mark] the end of Jewish presence in Arabia in 628. — Palestinian Media Watch

There was also evidence that some of the sponsors were less than committed to non-violence; and of course the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) has consistently employed the tactic of putting international dupes like Rachel Corrie in harm’s way.

Why were we surprised?

Update [1036 PDT]: Video is here showing how Israeli soldiers were viciously attacked as they landed on the ship.

This was a confrontation with terrorists, not humanitarians.

Update [1 June 0901 PDT]: Several minor changes were made to this post.

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Gaza flotilla a sign of mass derangement

Sunday, May 30th, 2010

Tomorrow the so-called “Gaza Freedom Flotilla” is expected to reach the waters off the Gaza Strip. I am interested in what is in the heads of the ‘progressive activists’ that are on board or that support the goals of this operation.

They claim that it’s  all about ‘humanitarian’ aid to break the ‘siege’ and end the suffering of Gaza residents. It’s remarkably easy to show that there actually is no ‘siege’ and no ‘humanitarian crisis’. A siege is not a siege when the besieger permits 15,000 tons of food, medicine and clothing a week into the besieged area.  And the Hamas rulers of Gaza have options to ameliorate the minimal pressure that is being applied to them. Want the crossings open? Release Gilad Shalit, who’s been held hostage now for almost four years.

Only the very dumb ones believe their own propaganda. The smarter ones would probably admit the above. But they  would say that they are fighting a war against colonialism and racism. They would say that they are fighting on the side of freedom against oppression.

In other words, they are helping Hamas because Hamas represents freedom and opposes racism. Really?

The Western idea of freedom includes such things as freedom of speech, press, and religion. It includes the idea of equality between men and women, fairness to ethnic and religious minorities, gays, etc.

Hamas is violently (and I mean violently) opposed to those freedoms. It also believes that the land of Israel belongs only to Muslims, and that the proper behavior of a Muslim toward a Jew is to kill him (I call that racism, don’t you?)

None of this is hidden; it’s spelled out in the Hamas covenant, which also repeats traditional antisemitic themes.

It’s likely that some of our progressive friends would agree that Hamas is a little primitive, but it’s necessary to work with them in order to stand up for international law, which Israel supposedly violates in multiple ways.

In fact, Hamas  — and the massive anti-Zionist apparatus of delegitimization that’s been constructed over the past few years (financed by Arab money and built by Western ‘progressive’ intellectuals) — are doing their best to abet the violent destruction of a UN member state whose existence is more firmly grounded in international law than many Arab states.

Hamas itself controls Gaza after a violent coup against the Palestinian Authority in which many of its opponents were murdered. Hamas launched murderous suicide bombings to kill Israelis, and fired thousands of rockets into Israel. Insofar as anyone is violating international law, it’s Hamas.

Well, they say, now running out of arguments, “the Jews took the Arabs’ land.” This is a longer story, because you need to talk about the history of the land, the provenance of the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs in it, the various wars and who started them, the opportunities for coexistence and who rejected them, the behavior of the Palestinian and other Arab leadership, and — importantly — the way the Palestinian Arabs express their ‘frustration’ at the presence of Jews in ‘their’ land. But at the end of the day, the simple fact is that a Jewish state in the land of Israel is completely legitimate — and it has a right to defend itself.

What’s left for these ‘progressives’? Just that they really, really hate the Jewish state. They hate the idea that Jews, who are not even proper human beings, would have the audacity to insist on a state, as if they were France or something!

In their confusion they like to make analogies between the Jews of Israel and Nazi Germany, although it was the Palestinian Arabs that collaborated with Hitler. They compare ships that support Hamas to the ships that brought Jewish Holocaust survivors to this same coast before 1948. They like to use the words ‘apartheid’ and  ‘genocide’ to describe Jewish self-defense against murderous terrorism, when it is Hamas that actually advocates apartheid and even genocide. The more absurd the inversion, the more effective it seems to be as a propaganda device.

This mass derangement is caused by hatred. It is an old, old story and the Jews are familiar with it. Our response has finally been to create a Jewish state, like other states. Some may have expected that the simple fact of Israel’s existence would put an end to the hatred, but that was apparently a vain hope. But the state does provide us with a means to defend ourselves against the hate, as it waxes and wanes like a fever from generation to generation.

Today anti-Jewish hate is in a growth phase, and the ‘freedom’ flotilla is another expression of this. But it’s no more an expression of the love of freedom than the Nazi rallies at Nuremberg.

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Iran, Syria and NPT nations invert reality

Saturday, May 29th, 2010

News item:

The Prime Minister’s office on Saturday called the resolution adopted by the NPT Review Conference on a nuclear free Middle East in 2012 “deeply flawed and hypocritical,” saying it “ignores the realities of the Middle East and the real threats facing the region and the entire world.”

The resolution singles out Israel, calling on it to accede to the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and to allow inspection of its nuclear sites…

“As a non-signatory state of the NPT, Israel is not obligated by the decisions of this Conference, which has no authority over Israel. Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation,” the statement concluded.

The double standard is truly breathtaking. India and Pakistan, also non-signatories to the treaty, are not mentioned, despite having come close to nuclear war on at least one occasion. And Iran — which has signed the treaty and is presently violating it with impunity — was not named either. Yet Iran (and Syria, which recently had to have its non-nuclear status enforced by Israeli F-15’s) both signed the resolution!

I wrote about the relationship of Israel to the NPT a few weeks ago (“Israeli nukes are legal and pro-peace“). One commenter on that article suggested that Israel should sign the NPT — but as a legitimate nuclear power like the US, Russia, Great Britain, France and China. Fat chance.

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Playing Chess with the Persians

Friday, May 28th, 2010

The consensus of opinion is that the sanctions to be applied against Iran’s nuclear project will not stop it. Even if they were truly ‘biting’ (to use one of our President’s favorite expressions), one has only to consider the importance of nuclear weapons to Iran’s overall goal to realize that they would have to bite really, really hard to outweigh this.

And these sanctions barely nip. Now the talk is about the best way to ‘contain’ the nuclear Iran.

Israel’s position seems to be that the costs for it to strike Iran will be so high and the benefits so temporary that it will not do so unless there is a clear and present danger of a weapon being used against it. This may well be correct.

To be honest, although the outcome is vital for Israel, Israel is only a minor player in the game, which is about the expulsion of Western influence from the Middle East, representing the defeat of the United States of America by the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It seems to me that we are at one of those watershed moments. Future historians will point to it and say “this is when the Pax Americana ended and the Second Islamic Conquest began.”

I am not exaggerating. Despite the fact that the armed forces of the US could smash Iran like an eggshell today, the struggle is taking place in an era of post-conventional war in which military power does not guarantee victory, because for various political and psychological reasons it is not employed.

At some point, the formerly superior party wakes up to the fact that the power it restrained — supposedly out of strength — is actually gone. Something like this may have already happened on Israel’s northern border, where the failure to crush Hizballah in 2006 and the inability to prevent its rearmament has created an enemy with the capability of deterring — or at least making much more expensive — future action against it.

The Iranian plan is clear: with a nuclear umbrella to ward off effective responses, the Islamic ‘Republic’ will will install Hizballah as the government of Lebanon (it is already more than halfway there), subvert conservative Arab regimes in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Jordan, Egypt, etc., and cement its control over more than a third of the world’s known oil reserves. It will greatly increase its influence in other parts of the world, including South America (where there is more oil)  and Europe.

In addition to deploying its terrorist ‘foreign legion’, Hizballah, Iran has also shown a pragmatic ability to work with ideologically disparate groups such as Hamas and al-Qaeda. Thanks to the open society of the US and its remaining Western allies, terrorism provides a huge force multiplier for the anti-Western side.

The West is also weakened by the moral decay and lack of ideological strength that characterize its elites — for example, consider the academic preoccupation with ‘postmodern’ modes of thinking that place ethnic politics above reason. Such ideas are finding their way into government and even the military.

At the same time, national ideologies like Zionism in Israel and American patriotism in the US, ideologies that made it possible for the Jewish state to come into being and for the US to play its role in winning WWII, respectively — these ideologies are considered passé and even pernicious by many academics and media people.

Of course, the radical Islamists are prepared to die for their ideology.  They prove this almost every day.

Although the course of history is often changed by unpredictable events — epidemics, inventions, natural disasters or changes, even exceptional people — it seems clear to me that other things being equal, the balance of power will shift massively to the east in the next decade or two unless the US takes action to prevent it.

That action must start with the destruction of Iran’s nuclear capability. Israel’s role, most likely, will be to neutralize Hizballah and Hamas.

The Persians and Arabs were among the earliest enthusiasts of the game of chess. As anyone who has played knows, it’s possible to quickly squander even a great advantage by making pointless or ineffective moves. And suddenly you see that your opponent hasn’t been idle.

But by then, there’s no way out.

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‘Free Gaza’ exposed

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

This says it all:

The Schalit family on Thursday asked for assistance from international left-wing activists due to arrive in the Gaza Strip later in the day.

If the left-wing activists pressure Hamas to allow international organizations to bring letters and food packages to Gilad Schalit, the kidnapped soldier’s family has agreed to support the international expedition’s attempt to dock, Army Radio reported Thursday.

Lawyer Nick Kaufman presented the offer to the organization “Free Gaza,” one of the organizers of the flotilla headed for Gaza, which promptly refused the offer.

“We are disappointed that the organizers of the flotilla have refused to also provide basic humanitarian assistance to our son, who has been held in Gaza four years in contradiction of international law,” said the Schalit family.

Like the leadership of the Palestinians and Arab nations, the international Left has shown that it is far more important to them to hurt Jews than to help Arabs.

They have shown that their pious concern for international law goes no further than the extent to which they can use it against Israel.

They have shown that they are entirely aligned with Hamas, an openly terrorist organization that explicitly espouses genocide against Jews.

Israel has said that it intends to intercept the flotilla, board the ships and bring them to an Israeli port where the ‘aid’ will be inspected and ultimately transferred to Gaza (in addition to the 14,000 tons of aid that Israel sent to Gaza last week). The ‘activists’ on board will be held until they can be deported.

I have a suggestion, and it’s completely serious.

When the ‘activists’ and the cargo have been removed from their vessels, the latter should be taken to the open sea and sunk, in order to deter similar operations in the future. Then the ‘activists’ should be conducted to underground cells, one cell for each ‘activist’, where they will be held incommunicado until Gilad Shalit is freed.

I thought about suggesting also that Israel should follow Hamas’ lead in making videos and putting on plays in order to dramatize the plight of the internees for their families and friends, but this is probably unnecessary.

Update [0904 PDT]: IDF Spokesperson reports: “Top level Islamic extremists linked to Gaza flotilla“.

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Obsequiousness and brutality

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

The Jerusalem Post reports today that a young Israeli man was seriously beaten up yesterday outside a club in Jerusalem, by assailants who turned out to be employees of the American Consulate there. The perpetrators were arrested, but released because of diplomatic immunity. It remains to be seen what action, if any, will be taken.

In January 2008 there was an incident in which the US Consul, Jacob Walles, refused to open the doors of his vehicle at a checkpoint near Ramallah. In November 2009, diplomats from the Jerusalem Consulate refused to show their passports when trying to enter Israel from the Palestinian Authority; they held up traffic for several hours until American officials arrived from Tel Aviv and convinced them that they really did need to show their IDs:

“There are always provocations at the roadblocks with people from the consulate in Jerusalem,” said yesterday [2009]  a security official who was involved in the incident. “Their cars are driven by drivers from East Jerusalem who insist not to be inspected, despite the fact that they don’t have diplomatic immunity. We need to make sure that the people in question are diplomats, but that can’t be done through opaque black windows.”

Apparently there have been other such incidents.

The consulate in East Jerusalem provides services for American citizens who reside in Jerusalem, the ‘West Bank’ and Gaza (other Americans must go to the embassy in Tel Aviv). Here’s a description of the scene from 2005, quoted by Daniel Pipes:

The two U.S. consulates in Jerusalem could not be more different. The one in a Jewish neighborhood has ample parking facilities but does not provide consular services and so does not deal with the public. The one in an Arab neighborhood provides those services but has no parking available nearby. Ironically, of the tens of thousands of U.S. citizens who live in Jerusalem and surrounding communities, nearly all are Jews. This means that any citizens needing to renew a passport, report a birth, deal with Social Security, etc. must go there, at least part of the way on foot. Also, despite the fact that most American citizens in the Jerusalem area are Orthodox Jews with large families, no strollers are allowed. Babies and toddlers must be carried.

As far as one can see, nearly the entire staff at the consulate dealing with the public are Arabs, including the security guards, clerks, ushers, cashiers, et al. The only reading material available in the waiting area is the State Dept’s, Hi International magazine – in Arabic, of course. The whole set-up feels like a slap in the face to the American citizens it is meant to serve.

The East Jerusalem consulate has always been the de facto American embassy in ‘Palestine’. Last year the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) called on the consulate to

…revamp its Web site so that it contains information about Israelis and Israel, which is where the Consulate General is located.  Presently, the Consulate General’s Web site contains information exclusively about the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Palestinians – even though the PA has no authority in Jerusalem under any signed agreement – suggesting that the Consulate General itself is biased against Israel.

Naturally, the protest was ignored, since the US does not accept Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem (even West Jerusalem). One would think that even given this position there would some mention of Jews or Israel on the website, since the great majority of Americans in the consulate’s area of responsibility are Jews, and often dual citizens of the US and Israel.

Like the recent self-conscious use of the name “al-Quds” for Jerusalem by the president’s clueless ‘counter-terrorism advisor’ John Brennan, the attitude of the consulate is a slap against Israel and a genuflection to the Arabs. Since the consulate is under the authority of the hostile State Department, it has been this way even under more or less friendly administrations such as those of Clinton and Bush. But the Obama administration seems to be on the same page as the State Department, and sees itself as the new Mandate power in the region.

I suppose the beating in Jerusalem will be put down as just another case of drunken Americans behaving badly. But it is not too different than the bullying approach of the administration, which — like most bullies — seems to combine obsequiousness to its ‘betters’ with brutality to those in its power.

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Peter Beinart does Obama’s dirty work

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

On Monday I mentioned an especially tendentious article by Peter Beinart. It demands a more complete response.

Beinart’s vicious attack is presented as criticism of the failure of the organized Jewish community in the US to relate to Jewish youth, but its real purpose is to bash the Netanyahu government. J Street has been pushing it on its websites and email lists. This isn’t surprising — Beinart encapsulates the J Street / Obama Administration (they are joined at the hip) position nicely.

In a nutshell — as it were — here’s Beinart’s thesis:

American Jewish students (at least the non-Orthodox majority), according to Beinart,

…were liberals, broadly defined. They had imbibed some of the defining values of American Jewish political culture: a belief in open debate, a skepticism about military force, a commitment to human rights. And in their innocence, they did not realize that they were supposed to shed those values when it came to Israel. The only kind of Zionism they found attractive was a Zionism that recognized Palestinians as deserving of dignity and capable of peace, and they were quite willing to condemn an Israeli government that did not share those beliefs.

The Jewish establishment — AIPAC, ADL, etc. — on the other hand, “defend… virtually anything any Israeli government does.” And Beinart devotes the major part of his essay to tying to show that the current Israeli government is dominated by fascist, racist, anti-democratic religious fundamentalist settler-lovers.

Israel, he says, used to be the liberal democratic state that the Jewish establishment presents it to be. But recently, thanks to

…an ultra-Orthodox population that is increasing dramatically, a settler movement that is growing more radical and more entrenched in the Israeli bureaucracy and army, and a Russian immigrant community that is particularly prone to anti-Arab racism…

it has become something else. And to prove it he quotes Shulamit Aloni, Avram Burg, Yaron Ezrachi and Ze’ev Sternhell. I’ll come back to them.

He also misrepresents the position of that punching bag for the left wing, Avigdor Lieberman, as well as that of PM Benyamin Netanyahu, whom he accuses of arguing that Israel should not make more concessions to the Palestinians because Israel has given up its right to Jordan!

Yes, it is true that over the years Israel has changed. Let’s look at how and why.

Israel’s government was a monopoly of the Labor party until 1977, when Menachem Begin of the Likud was elected. This happened in part because many Mizrachi Jews felt that Labor represented the Ashkenazi establishment that had treated them badly, because of scandals and official corruption, and because of the traumatic failure to anticipate the Yom Kippur war. Begin was followed by another right-wing PM, Yitzhak Shamir, and then several unity governments. In 1992, however, Itzhak Rabin took the reins and led the country into the era of the Oslo ‘peace process’.

Begin’s ‘revolution’ had shocked the left-wing establishment, but by 1992 its policy to negotiate a two-state settlement with the Palestinian Arabs was firmly ensconced. But another political earthquake occurred in 2000, when the Barak-Clinton proposals were summarily rejected by Yasser Arafat and the peace process morphed into violent war. In 2001 this resulted in the election of Ariel Sharon, anathema to the Left. Another blow to what remained of the ‘peace process’ occurred in 2007 when Hamas took control of Gaza and lobbed thousands of rockets into Israel.

These events crushed the Labor party and other left-wing parties because moderate and centrist Israeli voters drew the conclusion that it was not possible to negotiate a viable two-state solution with the PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority (not to mention the explicitly genocidal Hamas). They moved in droves to the Likud, electing Binyamin Netanyahu. At the same time Netanyahu moved closer to the center, agreeing in principle to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Meanwhile, what remained of the Left became more extreme. Many have become anti-Zionist (like the four quoted by Beinart), opposing the Jewish state and calling for a single secular ‘democratic’ state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, something which in practice would set off a bloody civil war. Israeli academics like Ezrachi and Sternhell have been in the forefront of this anti-Zionist movement, which in many cases has crossed the line from dissent to treason.

It is this extreme anti-Zionist — you could even say anti-Israeli — element with whom Beinart identifies. He paints a picture of an Israel dominated by a fascist cabal of right-wing extremists, but actually the majority of Israelis support Netanyahu’s policy. Polls have shown that a majority of Israelis would happily approve of a negotiated two-state solution, but they see that today there is no partner that can or will deliver this.

Beinart writes,

Saving liberal Zionism in the United States—so that American Jews can help save liberal Zionism in Israel—is the great American Jewish challenge of our age.

But “Liberal Zionism” is already dead, killed by the suicide bombers of the Intifada and the Qassams of Hamas. Israeli voters, who have experienced these first-hand, know this and have elected a government which above all is politically pragmatic and understands the security challenges the state faces. Certainly there are right-wing extremists in Israel, but they are not setting the tone of the Netanyahu government as Beinart and the left-wing extremists he quotes want us to think.

Beinart — like J Street — is doing the dirty work of the Obama Administration, which would like to see Netanyahu’s coalition replaced by a more pliant one which would acquiesce more easily to the artificial two-state solution that the administration wishes to impose. Such a ‘solution’ is not a solution and will not bring peace. Americans who actually care about Israel should follow the lead of the majority of Israelis and realize this.

The American Jewish establishment does have a problem relating to young Jewish people, but it’s not because they are anti-Zionist. See Ami Isseroff’s take on this here.

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A good book, and a bad essay

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I’ve just started reading the new book by Efraim Karsh, Palestine Betrayed. I’ll write a review at some point, but there is a good one by Daniel Pipes here.

Karsh refutes the revisionist view of the history of the state of Israel that has become the standard version taught at American (and other) universities, according to which early Zionists advocated expulsion of Palestinian Arabs and then the Hagana, Etzel and Lehi carried it out. In fact — and Karsh carefully documents this — Ben Gurion, Jabotinsky and others did not call for or desire ethnic cleansing in Palestine, and most of the exodus of Arabs in 1947-49 was  not directly caused by the actions of the Jews. The nakba (catastrophe), presented in Arab mythology as an unprovoked mass expulsion on racial grounds, Karsh argues, is exactly that — a myth.

Further, he argues that the disaster that overtook the Palestinian Arabs was entirely caused by the stubborn insistence of their leadership, particularly the antisemitic, Nazi-admiring Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, to oppose any accommodation with the Jews in Palestine. The violence that characterized the pre-state period, he shows, was almost entirely provoked by these leaders, who cynically fostered hatred and suspicion of the Jews and disseminated antisemitic propaganda while profiting massively from the sale of land to those same Jews whose death or expulsion they called for daily.

In the years since 1948, the view of the ‘new historians’ has almost entirely replaced that found in contemporary accounts, and has done enormous damage to Zionism and Israel. Today most American university students accept as given that the state was founded in a racist, colonialist act of oppression in which most of the indigenous population was expelled and the remainder exploited. Their opinions on today’s events — and their decisions about whom to believe — are built on the foundation of this myth. An ironic thanks is due to Benny Morris, Avi Shlaim, Ilan Pappé, etc., the dishonest historians who, in part because they are Jews — Israeli Jews — did so much to arm Israel’s academic and media enemies.

The fact is that if you already believe that Israel’s founders were scoundrels, then it is easy for you to believe that today’s leaders are also. If you believe that  Jewish forces made a habit of massacring Arabs in 1948, it’s easy to believe that the IDF did the same in Jenin in 2002 and Gaza in 2009. And if you don’t believe that the Palestinian Arabs perpetrated systematic terrorism against Jews in 1947 and before because they accepted a genocidal, antisemitic ideology, then perhaps you can believe that today’s conflict is about borders, and that today’s terrorism is best described as a ‘cycle of violence’.

In a particularly offensive article in the New York Review of Books, Peter Beinart claims that there are two kinds of Zionism; one that is fascist, racist, uncaring about human (Palestinian) suffering, overwhelmingly Orthodox, concerned only with parochial Jewish issues and obsessed with Jewish victimhood. The other is secular, liberal, open, pro-peace, committed to human rights and Palestinian self-determination.

Guess which one Beinart thinks characterizes Israel’s government, encouraged by the American Jewish establishment? And guess who opened his eyes?

You can see this spirit in “new historians” like Tom Segev who have fearlessly excavated the darker corners of the Zionist past and in jurists like former Supreme Court President Aharon Barak who have overturned Knesset laws that violate the human rights guarantees in Israel’s “Basic Laws.” You can also see it in former Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s apparent willingness to relinquish much of the West Bank in 2000 and early 2001.

The “darker corners of the Zionist past.” Possibly if his education had shone some light into the dark corners of Arab Jew-hatred, if he knew more about Husseini’s extended love affair with Nazism, or if he understood better about why Ehud Barak’s “apparent willingness” was not good enough for Husseini’s heir, Yasser Arafat, he might understand why some Zionists are less optimistic than he that Jewish territorial compromise can be an answer to atavistic Arab hate.

I recommend Karsh’s book for a start.

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The American Palestine Mandate

Saturday, May 15th, 2010

Not satisfied with ordering Israel not to build new homes for Jews in East Jerusalem, the Obama Administration has now issued a diktat that Israel may not demolish illegally built Palestinian structures.

I know that the Arabs and their supporters will say that laws are applied unequally, they can’t get building permits,  etc. But as the Sheikh Jarrah controversy showed, even when Israelis carefully follow the law it doesn’t matter.  In that case, a long legal process — which culminated in a decision by the relatively left-wing Israeli Supreme Court — determined that Arabs were in fact squatters; but nevertheless the US has condemned Israel for evicting them.

The fact is that the Obama Administration has set itself up as regent over Israel, and intends to intervene in the administration of its laws whenever that suits the political goals of the US. Today those goals include the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state which will include East Jerusalem.

The US is now playing the role of the British during the mandate period, except that while the British were supposed to be working to create a “national home” for the Jews in the historic land of Israel (which goal, of course, they subverted in practice), the Americans are acting on behalf of a state for the ‘Palestinian people’. And I might add that while the British role was sanctioned by international treaties, the US has simply arrogated it.

As I’ve said before, the arguments for the need for such intervention (the “linkage theory“) do not hold water. I believe the administration is disingenuous about its motives. And I am convinced that a combination of interests and influence, from the powerful Saudi Arabian lobby — which is far more effective than the notorious “Israel Lobby” in the US — to the preponderance of left-wing academic backgrounds among administration officials, is driving it.

This policy is not in the interests of the US, which is in conflict with Iran for control of Middle Eastern oil resources and which, as a Western democracy and Enlightenment standard-bearer, should be struggling to push back the tide of Islamic radicalism which threatens to overwhelm Europe, and ultimately the world.

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From the folks that gave us the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact

Friday, May 14th, 2010

For many years the Mideast conflict was a proxy for the cold war. The USSR supported the Arab rejectionists and the Western bloc provided Israel with weapons and aid to defend itself. In 1972, Anwar Sadat expelled Russian military advisors and and began to move away from the Soviet sphere; in 1979, of course, he signed a peace treaty with Israel under the auspices of the US.

Now the Russians seem to be injecting themselves back into the region, and again they don’t intend to be helpful (at least, not from my point of view). Barry Rubin notes,

The recent visit of Russia’s President Medvedev with a huge entourage was a major step toward reestablishing the old Soviet-Syria relationship. There were broad economic talks, including the possibility of Russia building a nuclear reactor for the Syrian dictatorship…

Then there’s Medvedev’s visit to the newest member of the anti-American Islamist alliance: Turkey. In a joint statement the two countries’ leaders said that Hamas should be part of any regional negotiations. Turkish President Abdullah Gul, a hardline Islamist who was so feared that he had to promise before the last parliamentary election not to be a candidate for president. His AKP party won and within a few hours Gul was stepping into that office.

Gul explained in his joint press conference with Medvedev, who said the same exact thing: “Unfortunately Palestinians have been split into two… In order to reunite them, you have to speak to both sides. Hamas won elections in Gaza and cannot be ignored.”

A call for Hamas to be included in negotiations amounts to an endorsement of the genocidal Hamas program. Do I exaggerate? Read the Hamas covenant and consider what Hamas has done since Israel withdrew from Gaza. It really doesn’t matter if Hamas won an election, because even if the majority of Palestinian Arabs believe that Israel should be destroyed and all the Jews murdered, this is not a civilized position and it does not deserve a civilized response (to be precise, Hamas won an election, joined a coalition government, and then violently overthrew it  and set up a rump regime).

The Russians have a spotted history of civilized and not-so-civilized behavior, but this is particularly cynical considering that they are facing violent Islamic insurgencies themselves. Rubin suggests that they have made a deal with Iran that they will support the anti-American Iran-Syria-Turkey alliance in return for Iran’s withholding support for the Chechen and other Muslim separatists. Not terribly surprising, from the folks that gave us the Molotov-Ribbentrop nonaggression pact of 1939.

Anyway, this is not aimed specifically at Israel, although I doubt that the traditionally antisemitic Russians would be bothered by the negative side effects of their policy for Israel. The idea is to keep Iran off their backs and also to get on the winning side in the conflict between Iran and the US for influence in the Mideast.

It’s ironic — anti-Zionists in the US often argue falsely that we wouldn’t be a target of Islamic terrorism were it not for our support of Israel. Since the conflict in the Mideast today is at least in part driven by the Iranian desire to push out US influence from the region, one could say that Israel’s problems stem from its support of the US!

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