Who do the territories belong to?
In Hebrew, with English subtitles. Definitely worth your 6 minutes.
Are you tired of hearing nonsense like “settlements are illegal under international law,” something which seems to accompany every BBC story?
Do you think Barack Obama was talking through his hat when he demanded that Israel pay the Palestinian Arabs with land from pre-1967 Israel for every square centimeter of land it keeps beyond the armistice lines?
Do you wonder, in the light of the Arab plan to unilaterally declare a state, if the San Remo Resolution, UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, the Oslo Accords and even the Roadmap are chopped liver?
Are you bothered by the demands of the Palestinians, with the acquiescence of Barack Obama, to replay the 1948 ethnic cleansing of eastern Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria?
Well, if that’s what’s bothering you, you are in the competent company of numerous attorneys and experts in international law — the real international law, not the made-up one that’s quoted by the BBC and anti-Israel NGOs — who wrote the following letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon last week:
His Excellency Ban Ki-Moon,
Secretary-General of the United Nations,
1st Avenue & 44th St., New York, NY 10017
May 25, 2011
Re: The proposed General Assembly resolution to recognize a Palestinian State “within 1967 borders” — an illegal action
We, the undersigned, attorneys from across the world who are involved in general matters of international law, as well as being closely concerned with the Israeli- Palestinian dispute, appeal to you to use your influence and authority among the member states of the UN, with a view to preventing the adoption of the resolution that the Palestinian delegation intends to table at the forthcoming session of the General Assembly, to recognize a Palestinian state “within the 1967 borders”.
By all standards and criteria, such a resolution, if adopted, would be in stark violation of all the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as contravening UN Security Council resolutions 242(1967) and 338(1973) and those other resolutions based thereon. Our reasoning is as follows:
1. The legal basis for the establishment of the State of Israel was the resolution unanimously adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, affirming the establishment of a national home for the Jewish People in the historical area of the Land of Israel. This included the areas of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem, and close Jewish settlement throughout. This was subsequently affirmed by both houses of the US Congress.
2. Article 80 of the UN Charter determines the continued validity of the rights granted to all states or peoples, or already existing international instruments (including those adopted by the League of Nations). Accordingly the above-noted League resolution remains valid, and the 650,000 Jews presently resident in the areas of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem, reside there legitimately.
3. “The 1967 borders” do not exist, and have never existed. The 1949 Armistice Agreements entered into by Israel and its Arab neighbors, establishing the Armistice Demarcation Lines, clearly stated that these lines “are without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines or to claims of either Party relating thereto”. Accordingly they cannot be accepted or declared to be the international boundaries of a Palestinian state.
4. UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973) called upon the parties to achieve a just and lasting peace in the Middle East and specifically stressed the need to negotiate in order to achieve “secure and recognized boundaries”.
5. The Palestinian proposal, in attempting to unilaterally change the status of the territory and determine the “1967 borders” as its recognized borders, in addition to running squarely against resolutions 242 and 338, would be a fundamental breach of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in which the parties undertook to negotiate the issue of borders and not act to change the status of the territories pending outcome of the permanent status negotiations.
6. The Palestinians entered into the various agreements constituting what is known as the “Oslo Accords” in the full knowledge that Israel’s settlements existed in the areas, and that settlements would be one of the issues to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations. Furthermore, the Oslo Accords impose no limitation on Israel’s settlement activity in those areas that the Palestinians agreed would continue to be under Israel’s jurisdiction and control pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations.
7. While the Interim Agreement was signed by Israel and the PLO, it was witnessed by the UN together with the EU, the Russian Federation , the US, Egypt and Norway. It is thus inconceivable that such witnesses, including first and foremost the UN, would now give license to a measure in the UN aimed at violating this agreement and undermining major resolutions of the Security Council.
8. While the UN has maintained a persistent policy of non-recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem pending a negotiated solution, despite Israel’s historic rights to the city, it is inconceivable that the UN would now recognize a unilaterally declared Palestinian state, the borders of which would include eastern Jerusalem. This would represent the ultimate in hypocrisy, double standards and discrimination, as well as an
utter disregard of the rights of Israel and the Jewish People.
9. Such unilateral action by the Palestinians could give rise to reciprocal initiatives in the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) which could include proposed legislation to declare Israel’s sovereignty over extensive parts of Judea and Samaria, if and when the Palestinians carry out their unilateral action.
It appears to be patently clear to all that the Palestinian exercise, aimed at advancing their political claims, represents a cynical abuse of the UN Organization and of the members of the General Assembly. Its aim is to by-pass the negotiation process called-for by the Security Council.
Regrettably this abuse of the UN and its integrity, in addition to undermining international law, has the potential to derail the Middle-East peace process.
We trust that you will use your authority to protect the UN and its integrity from this abuse, and act to prevent any affirmation or recognition of this dangerous Palestinian initiative.
Ambassador (Ret) Attorney Baker Alan, Ambassador (Ret) Dr. Rosenne Meir, Dr. Arnon Harel, Adv., Prof. Einhorn Talia, Prof. Shochetman Eliav, Abu Lior, Adv., Asraf Shlomo, Adv. (LL.B, LL.M), Baba-Nahary Merav, Adv., Benjamin Aryeh N., Adv. LL.M, Ben-Shahar Meir, Adv. LL.B, LL.M, Bulshtein Ariel, Adv., Burstyn Yitzhak Adv. LL.M, Carmi Anat, Adv., Cohen Hila, Adv., Daniely Mirit, Adv., David Liat, Adv. (LL.B, LL.M), Dermer Yossi, Adv., Eagle Shira, Adv., Eisenberg M., Adv., Elad Cohen, Adv., Elkalay Shimrit, Adv., Friedman Shlomo, Adv., Fuchs Yossi ,Adv., Ganan Yuval, Adv., Goelman Avinoam, Adv., Goldman Ezra Adv., Guggenheim Chanania U. Adv., Hacohen Itay, Adv., Harshoshanim Ariel, Adv., Hershkovitz David, Adv. LL.M, Jarden Elon, Adv., Kavatz Gad, Adv., Koslowe Avital Adv. (LL.B, LL.M), Lapidot Harel, Adv., Lapidot Ohad Ziv, Adv., Levy Yechezkel, Adv. LL.M., Magen Alon, Adv. LL.B, Meiri Eddy, Esq., Morginstin Philip B., Adv. Nadel Gill, Adv., Naor Avi, Adv., Nimni Eliyahu, Adv., Nir-Tzvi Doron, Adv., Orbach Nir, Adv., Peretz Yitzhak, Adv. (LLB, Hons.), Rotenberg Zvi E., Adv., Shaya Dotan, Adv., Shimon Yehuda Arye, Adv., Shmuelyan Eli, Adv., Tamari Amir, Adv., Tamari Ilana, Adv., Teplow Michael I., J.D adv., Vaknin Emanuel, Adv., Weistuch Elad, Adv., Wiseman Gabriel, Adv., Yamin Uri, Adv., Zell Mark, Adv.
I can’t resist adding a few points about the moral case to the legal one above:
The Arabs’ stated goal in 1967 was to destroy Israel and massacre its inhabitants. They lost the war. If Israel in 1973 had not had the strategic depth provided by the territory it captured, that war would probably have ended with thousands of Israeli civilians dead. Why is it considered just to reverse the outcome of Israel’s successful self-defense?
Hamas is an unrepentantly antisemitic organization with genocidal goals. Fatah is the same, although it presents a more moderate face in English. Hamas and Fatah are now full partners. If Nazi Germany wanted to be a UN member, would it be allowed to join?
There is no ‘Palestine’ today because the Palestinian Arabs have never accepted any of the partition proposals since 1937, since they refuse to admit that Israel has a right to exist as a Jewish state. They’ve made it clear that they will continue to ‘resist the occupation’ of the rest of Israel even after they get a state. Why should the world validate their self-definition as a aggressor nation?
Shouldn’t there be some kind of downside for them as a result of their years of terrorism and murder? Hamas continues to fire rockets at Israeli cities as I write. Don’t they have to stop making war before they are granted statehood?
The Hamas/Fatah Palestinian Authority has been holding Gilad Shalit incommunicado for five years, in violation of the Geneva Convention. Both Hamas and Fatah seem to think they have a right to do so. Don’t they have to stop committing war crimes before they are granted statehood?
Rabbi Eric Yoffie (the outgoing president of the Union for Reform Judaism) writes about a discussion he’s had with his Israeli friend ‘Shmuel':
Shmuel, echoing Netanyahu, told me again that the Palestinians are responsible for the absence of peace. I responded, as I have before, that he is absolutely right. The leaders of Israel, at different times, have offered terms that any sane Palestinian leader should have enthusiastically embraced. This happened in 2000 and again in 2008. But the Palestinians have never had the courage to do what needs to be done. And, with Hamas in their coalition, it is hard to believe that this will change.
I then asked Shmuel, as I have a thousand times before: What happens now? Yes, I tell him, you are right. The Palestinians are at fault, but so what? A UN resolution will pass at the General Assembly in September, recognizing a Palestinian state. Israel’s international position is deteriorating. Economic sanctions might follow. And worse yet, elements of Palestinian leadership are already proposing a one-state solution—a single Jewish/Arab state in Palestine, with equal rights for all. If the proposal is accepted, Jews will become a minority in the new state; if it is rejected, Israel will be portrayed to the world as an apartheid state.
So, I ask, what is the plan? Even if we are completely right and the Palestinians are completely wrong, what do we do now to head off these very real dangers?
I disagree with some of Yoffie’s formulations — it isn’t “courage” the Palestinians have lacked, it’s desire — but I agree that Israel needs a plan. So what kind of plan will it be? Yoffie doesn’t say precisely:
These conversations always end the same way. Shmuel and I both love Israel and believe that the Palestinian rejection of the Jewish state is the heart of the problem. But he stubbornly refuses to see that current realities in the real world require Israel to make some tough choices, and even though he is not a very religious man, he prefers to leave things in the hands of God. As for me, I believe that the outlook at the moment is rather grim, that continuing on the current course will lead to disaster, and that what Israel needs right now is a plan.
Yoffie is on the left side of the ideological spectrum, so I can guess that the “tough choices” that would comprise his plan would involve further Israeli concessions to the Palestinians in order to preempt the diplomatic attack planned for September.
This is the position we invariably hear from the moderate Left — the situation is unsustainable, Israel has to ‘take risks’ — in other words, make concessions damaging to its security — to change it, otherwise bad things will happen.
Israel does have to make tough choices, but they are not in the direction that Rabbi Yoffie seems to think. Here are some undeniable facts:
The Arabs have a guaranteed majority in the UN General Assembly, so they will pass whatever resolutions they want to in September. Since the only concession that could satisfy them would be a massive airlift of Israel’s Jewish population to Poland, the idea of heading off the diplomatic assault by preemptively surrendering is a bad one.
So what is the plan? What are the “tough choices?”
My thought is that they should be changes in the direction of increasing security, not decreasing it. The Deputy Speaker of Israel’s Knesset, Danny Danon, suggests that the “tough choices” should include annexing parts of the post-1967 territories.
Certainly that would anger the Palestinians, the Obama Administration, and the EU. But they are already doing all they can to weaken Israel.
Keep in mind the virtual certainty of war with at least Hizballah and possibly Hamas as well within the next year. Strategic depth will be critical. The last thing Israel needs is an additional front a few miles from Tel Aviv.
Rabbi Yoffie is a Zionist, but he appears to be locked into the the ancient mode of Diaspora thinking: the Jews can get the antisemites to stop trying to kill them if they, the Jews, will just give them what they want. But what they want is no more Jews, so it really isn’t possible to solve the problem this way.
By the way, even the liberal Rabbi Yoffie is apparently too pro-Israel for the leadership of the Reform movement. They propose to replace him with someone from the other side.
On May 14, 1948, the day the state of Israel was declared, President Harry S. Truman extended de facto recognition to the Jewish government, making the US the first country to recognize Israel.
Over the years the relationship has waxed and waned, but it’s safe to say that since 1967 the US has been Israel’s closest ally, the address that Israel has turned to in times of trouble. And Israel has done plenty for the US as well, much of it not generally known.
Despite what the antisemites say, US policy has not always been aligned with Israel’s. But until recently it was true that US policy honestly favored Israel’s survival as a Jewish state. Now I’m not sure it’s still possible to say that.
President Obama has supported the Palestinian Arabs in their drive for unilateral statehood. Yes, I know he says he opposes it, but he torpedoed negotiations with Israel twice — once by introducing construction freezes in Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem as preconditions, and now by doing the same for the pre-1967 lines. He’s blamed Israel for the lack of negotiations, thus clearing the unilateral path for the Fatah-Hamas Palestinian authority.
His administration has indicated that it does not plan to keep the promises made by the previous administration in regard to settlement blocs and Arab refugees. These promises were made in order to encourage Ariel Sharon to withdraw from Gaza. Israel withdrew in 2005, and in 2009 war followed. The incoming Obama Administration ordered Israel to exit Gaza before the inauguration.
Obama helped push out the Mubarak regime, which while not exactly pro-Israel was certainly an enemy of Israel’s enemies. At the same time he is reticent about applying pressure against Syrian dictator Assad, an ally of Iran and deadly enemy of Israel. The US also stood aside as the Iranian proxy Hizballah took almost complete control of Lebanon, and went easy on the vicious Iranian regime itself.
Obama makes no effort to hide his dislike for Israel’s Prime Minister, once deliberately humiliating him by making him wait while he went to dinner. His recent policy initiative was only disclosed to Netanyahu hours before he was about to get on a plane to come to the US. This is not the way to treat a close ally.
Obama visited Saudi Arabia and Egypt in 2009 — he made his notorious ‘Cairo speech’ then, in which he compared the Holocaust to Palestinian suffering “in pursuit of a homeland” — but has not visited Israel as President.
Many of Obama’s closest advisers, like Samantha Power, hold anti-Israel positions, and are allowed to float disturbingly hostile trial balloons in friendly places like the New York Times.
In his relations with the Jewish community, he’s elevated the phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby J Street, which almost invariably takes positions against the Jewish state while — like Obama — proclaiming its pro-Israelness. One of his first actions as President was to hold a meeting at the White House for “Jewish leaders” — naturally he invited Jeremy Ben Ami of J Street while snubbing the oldest pro-Israel group of all, the Zionist Organization of America, as well as the Orthodox and Zionist National Council of Young Israel.
Time and again it’s been demonstrated that the American people and the Congress that represents them support Israel far more than the President and his advisers. The 29 standing ovations PM Netanyahu received during his recent speech (more than Obama got in his State of the Union) are evidence of this.
Obama often sugar-coats his poison pills for Israel by saying that the US commitment to Israel’s security in ‘unshakeable’. But we know that in 2008 he spoke at a dinner for his friend, Palestinian academic Rashid Khalidi, and — although a videotape of that talk is locked up in the vaults of the LA Times — his actual position may not be as pro-Israel as he says:
The extraordinary thing about [the LA Times story about the event] “Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama” is that in it, Obama’s supporters say that in claiming to be pro-Israel, he is hiding his true views from the public. Having observed his personal associations, his open political alliances, his public statements, and his private remarks, Obama’s Palestinian allies steadfastly maintain that Obama’s private views are far more pro-Palestinian than he lets on.
I’ll bet that the editors of the LA Times could talk all day about ‘the public’s right to know’. And if, as Obama says, he’s a true friend of Israel, he has nothing to hide.
This is far more important than a birth certificate — come on, LA Times, let’s see that tape.
So you think Israel’s “peace movement” should be allowed out to play unsupervised?
In an op-ed piece for Ma’ariv, Peace Now Director-General Yariv Oppenheimer called Netanyahu’s behavior “unprecedented.”
It was no coincidence, he explained, that the Prime Minister’s “Israeli arrogance broke records,” and that “sentences that are supposed to be said behind closed doors and in internal discussions were exhibited for all to see in a condescending and ugly manner.”
Netanyahu’s “supercilious and patronizing attitude” in “scolding” Obama stems from the fact that Obama, the first black American president, is not part of the same social milieu as former presidents like Bush, Reagan and Clinton “and the like,” he went on. Netanyahu did everything he could to “humiliate and hurt” Obama, Oppenheimer told his Israeli readers.
Right-wing American Jews are also guilty of the same attitude, he went on.
Obama’s speech would not have earned the same amount of public condemnations and insults had Obama been “a rich white American president,” concluded Oppenheimer. Netanyahu, he said, should judge Obama by his deeds, which are supportive of Israel, “rather than his ethnicity, his past and the background he grew up in.” — Israel National News
This is beyond crazy. I quoted Netanyahu’s comments and linked to the complete transcript here. I challenge anyone to find a single word that is “supercilious or patronizing.” There is of course the small matter that the PM disagreed with the President.
In fact I, a supposedly “right-wing American Jew” who as a matter of fact is registered as a Democrat, am the one who is insulted at being called a racist for doing the same thing — criticizing Obama for taking a sharp anti-Israel turn in policy.
Under the banner “Netanyahu said ‘no.’ Israelis say, ‘yes,’” leftwing groups plan to rally for a Palestinian state on Saturday night, June 4, in Kikar Rabin in Tel Aviv.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke in Washington Tuesday about recognizing a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations, but he put forward so many pre-conditions that he made such talks impossible, said Peace Now Executive Director Yariv Oppenheimer.
To be accurate, Netanyahu did not lay down ‘preconditions’ for negotiations. He’s said numerous times that he would begin negotiations immediately if the Palestinians would. Yes, he has insisted upon some conditions for a final settlement, but that refers to the outcome of the negotiations.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, refuse to even sit down until their demands are met. And Obama, who first demanded construction freezes and now talks about “1967 lines” gives them ammunition to hold out. As someone recently said “Abbas can’t be less Palestinian than the President.” Indeed.
I think Oppenheimer’s ill-advised and even stupid comments are revealing. They reveal that he does not believe that the Jew Among Nations has a rightful place alongside the nations that make up the ‘real’ world. On Oppenheimer’s planet, the voice of a Jew can’t be raised against that of a gentile, even if that Jew is a Prime Minister of a sovereign state.
Like so many others, Oppenheimer is a “sha, shtil!” Jew:
Throughout the history of the Diaspora, Jews have become almost genetically programmed to embrace the philosophy that they must meekly submit to the will of their rulers, that the worst thing to do was to call attention to themselves. Back-room politics was the preferred way to get things done, in places that Jews could exercise that prerogative. This was a very good survival tactic for a small nation that was spread out in the world.
Zionism brought with it an alternative method: defending your people from a position of pride and a knowledge that you are right.
These two methods have clashed in the past. During the Holocaust, there were many (mostly religious) Jews who tirelessly fought behind the scenes to save as many Jews as possible; there were others who fearlessly went public with their battles – much to the dismay of Jews who were raised with the idea of the Yiddish “Sha, shtil!” – “Shut up!” …
Israel finds itself still under attack by the “Sha, shtil” Jews, Jews who are fundamentally uncomfortable with the idea of fellow Jews acting truly independently. These Jews cannot wrap their heads around the idea of Israel proudly acting for its own best interests, or at best, acting against what they arrogantly believe are Israel’s best interests from the Diaspora.
Gilad Shalit’s fifth anniversary as a captive held incommunicado by Hamas will arrive next month. It is generally thought that he is in an underground bunker somewhere in Gaza. Hamas has not allowed him visits from the Red Cross, or to communicate with his family, in contravention of the Geneva Convention.
Former Israeli Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said that it was almost impossible to use military force to free him:
Ashkenazi explained during an address at a business forum at Bar Ilan University, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate, that Hamas is hiding the young soldier in a way “that makes it almost impossible” for the IDF to find him.
“We do not know where he is,” Ashkenazi said.
“It must be admitted that we cannot use military force to release Shalit… It is my dream to see a helicopter landing at the Erez Crossing with [him] and I phone his parents to inform him that we have freed him,” Ashkenazi confided.
I can understand that he might be in a booby-trapped location such that even if the IDF knew where he was they would be unable to rescue him. But someone knows where he is. The IDF has sources in Gaza, and they have the ability to bring Hamas operatives out and question them. How can it be “almost impossible” to find him?
The former IDF chief said that if a military option could not be found to free the captive soldier, then Israel would have to admit that “a reasonable price” would have to be paid.
The ‘price’ won’t be ‘reasonable’. That’s the whole idea. The price will be that Israel meets one of the main demands of the Palestinian Arabs: it will ultimately release all Arab prisoners, no matter what they’ve done. Once an exchange like the one Hamas has proposed is made, the whole enterprise of arresting terrorists and confining them will fall apart.
[An aside: Ashkenazi's dilemma is not exhaustive. I wonder if the option of pressuring Hamas by threatening its leaders (and carrying out the threats if he is not released) has been tried. They are quite prepared to send compromised women, mentally handicapped teenagers and others on suicide missions, but are they really prepared to become martyrs themselves?]
Today, since Hamas has become a full partner in the Palestinian Authority, the PA has assumed responsibility for Shalit. Not only the leaders of Hamas, but those of the PA are responsible for the ongoing war crime that is Shalit’s cruel captivity. In fact Gilad’s parents sent a letter to the US Congress asking that PA funding be cut off until he is freed.
The official PA position, according to negotiator Nabil Shaath, seems to be that there is nothing wrong with continuing to hold Shalit hostage! It’s remarkable the way the world pretends that the PA is better than a bunch of gangsters, and keeps on paying them, training their army and providing them with weapons.
In September, these liars, terrorists and murderers will be asking the UN to help them take a chunk of the Jewish National Home and create a pretend state that will be a base for more terrorism and murder.
Why not remind UN delegates — not that it will change what these corrupt parasites do, but it might embarrass them a little — that they are legitimizing gangsters?
Here is a billboard that a young Israeli-American named Gal Sitty wants to put up facing UN headquarters in Manhattan:
Sitty has set up a site at which people can contribute to the campaign to set up the billboard. As of today (May 26) there are pledges for $4,696 out of the $10,000 needed.
Yaakov Kirschen, the Dry Bones cartoonist, was here recently, and I would put what he said this way: 95% of the debate about the Middle East conflict focuses on 5% of the problem:
We are obsessed with the Palestinian Arabs.
Israel is threatened far more by Iran, Syria and Hizballah than by Hamas and Fatah. The radicalization of Egypt — it will soon be Islamist or radical nationalist — is a source of concern. The entire Arab world, 22 nations of 350 million people, plus Iran, plus Turkey, do not agree that there should be a Jewish state in the Middle East, and some of them are doing their best to put an end to it.
The root of the conflict is not the borders between Israel and ‘Palestine’, nor even whether or not there is a ‘Palestine’. It is the fact that the Arab world — actually, most of the Muslim world — does not accept a Jewish state in the Middle East, never has, and it seems never will.
The Palestinian Arabs with their nakba myth, their absurd escalating demands, their culture of cruelty, violence and death, their alternation between whining that they are victims and perpetrating murder, their position as an object of worship by the antisemitic Left — all of this is a sideshow, albeit an ugly one.
But when Barack Obama makes a speech or Tom Friedman writes an article about the Middle East, their remarks about Israel are all about its conflict with the Palestinian Arabs.
Because of this misplaced focus, it’s possible for Obama to say that an agreement between Israel and the PA — in which Israel gives up land and security, of course — is urgent. Actually, as Barry Rubin says, this is the worst time for Israel to make concessions:
But remember that this is all part of Obama’s wider theme: It is in Israel’s interests to make a lot of concessions as fast as possible so that the Israel-Palestinian conflict will end and then Israel (with reduced territory and a new hostile, much bigger, neighbor!) will be more popular in the world and more secure in the Middle East.
The moment when Israel is about to have three radical Islamist neighbors is not the time to make concessions to a fourth, half-Islamist, half-radical nationalist one.
This seems so obvious, but it’s a point that’s always missed. And the reason is that people think that it’s all about big, bad Israel and the poor Palestinian Arabs. In reality, the Palestinian Arabs are mostly an excuse, a club to hit Israel with.
The conflict is much broader than that. And if you look at the big picture you see that Israel is not the bully it’s made out to be. And you see that if you want to calm things down, you need to go to the source of it, which is in places like Iran and Syria — not Jerusalem, Ramallah and Gaza.
If I could, I would make Obama, Friedman, et al, all go up to the blackboard and write this 10,000 times:
The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism. The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism.The root of the conflict is Arab/Muslim rejectionism…
Technorati Tags: Israeli-Arab conflict
I’ll admit it, this picture, which is all over the net, is a cheap shot. Maybe there’s a picture of Bibi clowning around at a party somewhere, or one of a young Obama hitting the books. But nevertheless, it tells us something about the worlds that these two men grew up in.
Barack Obama would have been 20 in 1981. The US was more or less at peace, and anyway there hadn’t been a military draft since 1972. The Iranian hostages were finally released in January, John Hinckley shot President Reagan in March, and Israel destroyed Iraq’s Osirak atomic reactor in June. AIDS, the IBM PC and Metallica all made their first appearances in 1981.
Bibi’s 20th birthday came in October 1969. By this time he had already been serving in a special forces unit for two years, fighting the War of Attrition — a war that most Americans never heard of — that was Nasser’s way of emphasizing the Arab world’s rejection of any compromise with the Jewish state. In 1972 he was wounded in an operation to rescue passengers of a hijacked Sabena flight (his brother, Yonatan, was killed in a similar rescue mission in Entebbe in 1976). Bibi also fought in the Yom Kippur war in 1973. In the fashion of many Israelis, he deferred his university education until after military service.
The young Netanyahu learned first hand about the hatred that the Arab world bore for Israel. And quite likely his military experience was also responsible for his oft-articulated belief that the only way to ensure the security of the Jewish people is for them to have the ability — both the weapons and the strategic position — to defend themselves.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, went to Columbia University where he studied International Relations. Maybe he slept through the class on Arab intentions toward Israel, or, more likely, there wasn’t one. Little is known about his activities and associations, although he did take a literature course from Palestinian advocate and world-class fraud Edward Said, who — along with another activist, Rashid Khalidi, then running a Palestinian news agency in Beirut — would later become his friend.
After graduation, Obama worked at several jobs, primarily as a ‘community organizer’, and later continued to Harvard Law School, where he “found his political voice.” Although he was very articulate, some credited his political success to his ability to hide his personal opinions, to be whatever his listeners wanted him to be.
Netanyahu is also a good speaker, but unlike Obama, has always been outspoken about where he stands on a particular issue. So, after Obama’s recent speech in which he both protested his support of the Jewish state of Israel and presented a plan to help the Arabs destroy it, Netanyahu directly confronted the President:
So we can’t go back to those indefensible lines, and we’re going to have to have a long-term military presence along the Jordan. I discussed this with the President and I think that we understand that Israel has certain security requirements that will have to come into place in any deal that we make.
The second is — echoes something the President just said, and that is that Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas. Hamas, as the President said, is a terrorist organization committed to Israel’s destruction. It’s fired thousands of rockets on our cities, on our children. It’s recently fired an anti-tank rocket at a yellow school bus, killing a 16-year-old boy. And Hamas has just attacked you, Mr. President, and the United States for ridding the world of bin Laden…
The third reality is that the Palestinian refugee problem will have to be resolved in the context of a Palestinian state, but certainly not in the borders of Israel.
The Arab attack in 1948 on Israel resulted in two refugee problems — Palestinian refugee problem and Jewish refugees, roughly the same number, who were expelled from Arab lands. Now, tiny Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees, but the vast Arab world refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees. Now, 63 years later, the Palestinians come to us and they say to Israel, accept the grandchildren, really, and the great grandchildren of these refugees, thereby wiping out Israel’s future as a Jewish state.
So it’s not going to happen. Everybody knows it’s not going to happen. And I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly it’s not going to happen. The Palestinian refugee problem has to be resolved. It can be resolved, and it will be resolved if the Palestinians choose to do so in a Palestinian state. So that’s a real possibility. But it’s not going to be resolved within the Jewish state.
It was suggested that Bibi had gone too far, even to the point of calling his polite but firm disagreement a ‘tantrum’.
Something tells me that this time, the pressure will mount more on Bibi than Barack. His behavior these last 48 hours has verged on, if not been, petulant. A foreign leader (no less one of a state whose existence depends on the United States) isn’t supposed to talk like that to a president. — Michael Tomasky, “Bibi’s White House Tantrum”
OK, now look at the picture.
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon recently tweeted (I know, it sounds so ridiculous) this:
הסכסוך אינו סכסוך טריטוריאלי ועל כן המו”מ לא יכול להתבסס על סוגיית שטח
The conflict is not a territorial conflict, so negotiations cannot be based on the issue of territory.
This is the whole story in one line.
Today I attended a talk by Yaakov Kirschen, the Dry Bones cartoonist. He said the same thing in slightly different words:
Everyone is upset about Obama’s mention of 1967 lines. This is irrelevant. The only issue, and one that he did not mention, is that the Arab world does not recognize the Jewish state of Israel as a native part of the Middle East.
This is what ‘recognition’ means.
It is what Arafat never changed the PLO charter to include, despite the fact that he agreed to do so in the Oslo agreements and despite pleas from President Clinton that he do it.
It is what the Arab Initiative does not offer — it refers only to “normal relations” even after Israel has withdrawn to aforesaid insecure borders.
It is what Mahmoud Abbas meant when he refused to say that Israel was the state of the Jewish people.
And despite the fact that President Obama claims to accept this principle himself, he proposes that the Palestinian Arabs be granted sovereignty without agreeing to accept the idea — in particular without saying that millions of descendants of 1948 refugees do not have a ‘right’ to the place now called ‘Israel’.
I think most people in the US and Israel understood this from 1948 to 1993. It was clear to everyone that the Arabs wanted Israel replaced by an Arab state, and they were ready to fight to make this happen. But when Arafat lied about his aims, Israelis sick of war and wanting to finally be ‘normal’, jumped at the chance to believe him.
Now, after Arab terrorism has claimed more than a thousand Israeli victims, most realize that it was all a trick. Unfortunately, in America and Europe and among Israel’s extreme Left, it’s easy for those who (for various reasons) want to see Israel out of the territories to insist that the principle is fine, it’s just that Israel hasn’t made enough concessions. They will continue to say this until there isn’t anything left to concede.
Recognition is everything. But if we are realistic we know that neither Hamas, Fatah nor any other Arab nation is prepared to grant it today — even the ones that are allegedly at ‘peace’ with Israel. The Arab world hasn’t changed its position since 1948.
As Danny Danon argues, the Arabs will abrogate the Oslo agreements by unilaterally seeking recognition of statehood at the UN. It can also be argued that the countenancing of terrorism by the PA, the Hamas-Fatah agreement and the refusal to provide recognition of Israel also constitute a rejection of Oslo.
It’s not possible to continue pretending that there is a path to peace through negotiation with the Fatah-Hamas Palestinian Authority. Obama’s plan only makes things worse by moving the US closer to the Arab position. Time for Plan B:
Let’s accept that the root of the problem (Kirschen said this, too) is the Arab refusal to accept a Jewish state in the Mideast and work on that.
Yesterday I wrote about President Obama’s Israel-Palestine proposal. I tried to be fair, indicating what I thought were the good and bad points. I thought I was finished with it, but apparently not.
Overall, it represents a change in American policy that is a change for the worse. If implemented as described, it would be a disaster for Israel.
I should have known that the usual suspects would spin it as in fact pro-Israel. I am really, really sick of hearing those words.
Let me take a random example. David A. Harris of the National Jewish Democratic Council, in an article titled “Condemning the President” that was also sent by email to its members, said this:
It’s laughable to suggest that President Obama insisted Israel return to 1967 lines, or that he said anything different from the policies of Presidents Bush and Clinton before him.
– President George W. Bush similarly said that prior armistice lines should be used as a basis for talks almost six years ago today—while standing next to PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
Diplomatic statements are carefully calibrated, and what may seem to be small differences in wording can represent big changes in policy. Let’s look at exactly what Obama said,
The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
And here is what it means:
1. Israel will not have a border with Jordan. Thus the idea that Israel will maintain control of the Jordan Valley, considered essential for strategic reasons, is ruled out.
2. The borders will be based on 1967 lines. The position of every American government until now has followed UNSC resolution 242, that borders will be negotiated between the parties (at Oslo, Israel agreed to negotiate with the Palestinians in place of Jordan). The “1967 lines” are the 1949 armistice lines, which neither Israel nor the Arabs have ever treated as anything other than accidental.
But by saying that negotiations will be based on the lines and the Palestinians will be compensated by ‘swaps’ — land from pre-1967 Israel — the President implies that Judea and Samaria belong to the Palestinians today, and that Israel must pay for any of it that they keep.
This is a far cry from resolution 242, which recognized that the 1949-1967 lines were not “secure and recognized boundaries” and that such boundaries need to be negotiated.
3. The state of Palestine is understood to include Judea, Samaria and Gaza (the issue of Jerusalem is left for later in Obama’s proposal). Demanding that it be “contiguous” is a demand that Israel be cut in half.
Previous proposals — which were never accepted — called for some form of ‘free passage’ between Gaza and Judea/Samaria. This is a much less stringent requirement than a demand for territorial contiguity (it could theoretically be met by a bus or railway line).
Now let’s look at what President Bush said, which Harris claims was ‘similar':
Any final status agreement must be reached between the two parties, and changes to the 1949 Armistice Lines must be mutually agreed to. A viable two-state solution must ensure contiguity on the West Bank, and a state of scattered territories will not work. There must also be meaningful linkages between the West Bank and Gaza.
1. The final borders, which are understood to be different from the 1949 lines, must be mutually agreed upon. That’s exactly what resolution 242 said. There is no presumption that the territories to the east are Palestinian, as there is in Mr. Obama’s formulation.
2. The “West Bank” part of Palestine must be contiguous. There is no requirement that all of Palestine, including Gaza, has to be — only “meaningful linkages” are required. Israel need not be cut in two.
Yes, you can say the statements are ‘similar’. But there are very significant differences. Harris also listed a number of Obama’s feel-good remarks, which did not represent concrete commitments.
And that’s not all. Harris did not mention the most dangerous part of the proposal, which represents a huge shift in US policy.
Until now, it’s been understood that nothing is permanent until the main final-status issues are resolved. So while more than 95% of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria today is under Palestinian Authority control, it is not a sovereign state and will not be, under Oslo, until the status of Jerusalem, refugees, etc. are settled to the satisfaction of both parties. But here is the Obama proposal:
As for security, every state has the right to self-defense, and Israel must be able to defend itself -– by itself -– against any threat. Provisions must also be robust enough to prevent a resurgence of terrorism, to stop the infiltration of weapons, and to provide effective border security. The full and phased withdrawal of Israeli military forces should be coordinated with the assumption of Palestinian security responsibility in a sovereign, non-militarized state. And the duration of this transition period must be agreed, and the effectiveness of security arrangements must be demonstrated.
These principles provide a foundation for negotiations. Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I’m aware that these steps alone will not resolve the conflict, because two wrenching and emotional issues will remain: the future of Jerusalem, and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians.
This means that Israel will give up territory permanently to a sovereign Palestine before the issues of Jerusalem and refugees are agreed upon! This means that Israel will have zero leverage in subsequent negotiations over these issues, in which Palestine will of course push its maximal demands — demands which, if met, include the loss of the Jewish people’s holiest sites, and the resettlement of millions of ‘refugees’ in Israel and its conversion to an Arab-majority state.
And these claims against Israel will be pressed by a sovereign Palestine in international fora such as the UN, the International Court of Justice, etc. — exactly as Mahmoud Abbas has said would happen if he is successful in getting a unilateral declaration of Palestine via the UN in September!
There’s even more wrong with this proposal, if we look at what Obama did not say. He did not say that the US would live up to its promises in President Bush’s 2004 letter, in particular that the US would oppose resettlement of refugees in Israel. And here is what he said about the incorporation of the racist, genocidal Hamas in the future Palestinian government:
Recognizing that negotiations need to begin with the issues of territory and security does not mean that it will be easy to come back to the table. In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel: How can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? And in the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.
Nice sentiments, but where is the statement that the US demands that Hamas agrees to recognize Israel, renounce violent ‘resistance’, etc. before it can take part in the Palestinian government?
In fact, the reference to “com[ing] back to the table” seems to imply that Palestine will receive sovereignty before the Palestinians will be required to provide an unspecified “answer” to the question of Hamas! This, too, represents a major change of US policy.
I’ve said that the Obama Administration is the worst one for Israel since its founding in 1948. Now I think I’ve proved that.
President Obama made his much-awaited speech on the Middle East this morning (the full transcript is here). I’ll comment a bit on the part relating to Israel.
1. Although Obama told us what he wanted to see happen — a negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, he did not say what, if anything the US would do to bring that about.
2. He implied (but did not say directly) that the US would not support a unilateral declaration of ‘Palestine’ in September.
A UN General Assembly resolution can still be passed and other nations can still recognize the state, but I assume the US would veto a Security Council resolution.
3. He referred to Israel as a “Jewish state” and the “homeland of the Jewish people.”
The Palestinians have loudly and often said that this is unacceptable to them. Will agreement be a requirement for negotiations to proceed to the border-drawing stage? The President mentioned the Fatah/Hamas agreement as a problem to which the Palestinians will have to “provide an answer”. Will this issue, too, need to be settled to Israel’s satisfaction before implementing changes on the ground?
4. He called for borders based on the “1967 lines” with agreed-on swaps.
I see this as a retreat from the principle of UNSC resolution 242, which calls simply for “secure and recognized boundaries,” even though Obama used this phrase. The “1967 lines” are in fact the 1949 armistice lines, which nobody — not Israel and not the Arab states — accepted as ‘borders’. They are where the armies happened to be at the end of the war of independence.
You could even call them the ‘lines of ethnic cleansing’, because Jews living beyond them, in eastern Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria, were expelled at gunpoint by the Jordanians in 1948. There is no reason to grant them special status, and no reason that the Palestinian Arabs should be ‘compensated’ with swaps for territory beyond them that becomes part of Israel.
5. He called for a “contiguous” state of Palestine.
What this means is that Israel will be cut in half, rendered non-contiguous. Why is this demand considered legitimate?
6. He proposed a ‘borders/security first’ model.
The first step will be “withdrawal of Israeli forces” from the area that will become ‘Palestine’, which will then become a “sovereign non-militarized state” but which will nevertheless take “security responsibility” for its territory. It has historically proven extremely difficult to enforce demilitarization, even of non-state entities — consider the rearmament of Hizballah in Lebanon under the noses of UN forces. Will the US-trained Palestinian ‘security forces’ become an army? What will keep the sovereign state of Palestine from augmenting them? Will Hamas keep its rockets?
At this point, “Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met,” said Mr. Obama. The difficult issues of Jerusalem and refugees will be left for later.
To put not too fine a point on it, Israel is being asked, or told, to surrender an area equal to the area occupied by Jordan in 1949 in return for some kind of security guarantee, without agreement on Jerusalem and refugees. If agreement cannot be reached on these issues, then Israel is left hanging.
But then why couldn’t the Palestinians press their claims for right of return, all of Eastern Jerusalem, etc. against Israel as a sovereign state, exactly as Mahmoud Abbas suggested that they would if a state were unilaterally declared in September? Indeed, it’s absolutely certain that they would.
7. The President left a great deal unsaid, particularly in regard to refugees.
In 2004, the US made a commitment to Israel that to the extent to which ‘refugees’ would be able to ‘return’, it would be to ‘Palestine’, not Israel. Since then there have been indications that the US does not intend to keep the promises it made in the 2004 letter, which was intended as an incentive for Israel to withdraw from Gaza. The fact that Obama did not rule out the resettlement of 4.5 million hostile Arabs in Israel is problematic, since the Arabs will certainly demand it.
The proposal that borders and security will be implemented before the rest of the issues means that this is is a non-starter, because it requires that Israel must relinquish control over land without agreements on Jerusalem and refugees, which implies that the conflict will continue forever.
It’s nice to know that President Obama believes that Israel is a Jewish state and the homeland of the Jewish people, but this has to be made a precondition of any agreement.
It is distressing that Obama did not explicitly agree to keep the commitments made in the 2004 letter. Israel will never agree to resettle millions of Arabs in Israel and become an Arab-majority state.
He does seem to understand that Israel is within its rights to refuse to negotiate with a PA that contains an unrepentant Hamas. Of course, we know that there cannot be any other kind of Hamas, so I presume that he expects to somehow redefine it as acceptable.
This proposal will clearly never be implemented and I think was included just in order to have something to say about the matter.
The New York Times was in touch with European Jews’ suffering, which accounts for its 1,000-plus stories on the Final Solution’s steady progress. Yet, it deliberately de-emphasized the Holocaust news, reporting it in isolated, inside stories. The few hundred words about the Nazi genocide the Times published every couple days were hard to find amidst a million other words in the newspaper. Times readers could legitimately have claimed not to have known, or at least not to have understood, what was happening to the Jews.
The Times’s judgment that the murder of millions of Jews was a relatively unimportant story also reverberated among other journalists trying to assess the news, among Jewish groups trying to arouse public opinion, and among government leaders trying to decide on an American response. It partly explains the general apathy and inaction that greeted the news of the Holocaust.
— Laurel Leff, associate professor in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University and author of Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper published by Cambridge University Press
Leff’s is a relatively charitable description of what can only be called one of the greatest moral failures in the history of American journalism.
Since then, the Times has often downplayed or ignored antisemitism in the news, according to a 2005 piece by Ed Lasky (here and here), particularly when it is expressed by Muslims or in the context of the Israeli-Arab conflict.
These days the Times is a potent force in the information war being waged against the state of Israel. There’s no other way to describe the newspaper of Thomas Friedman, Roger Cohen, Nicholas Kristof and others, the newspaper which has run op-eds by Mahmoud Abbas, Ali Abunimah (on behalf of Hamas), Hamas leader Ahmed Yousef, and even Yasser Arafat.
Today, for example, there is a Friedman piece in which he says,
With a more democratic and populist Arab world in Israel’s future, and with Israel facing the prospect of having a minority of Jews permanently ruling over a majority of Arabs — between Israel and the West Bank, which could lead to Israel being equated with apartheid South Africa all over the world — Israel needs to use every ounce of its creativity to explore ways to securely cede the West Bank to a Palestinian state.
Every single sentence in the above is nonsense. It’s highly doubtful that there is a more democratic Arab world in Israel’s future, and ‘populist’ probably means more antisemitic and anti-Israel. Today there is a good chance of an Islamist regime coming to power in Egypt, and the runner-up is a Nasserist Arab nationalist one. Relations are not going to improve, and they will probably get much worse.
Friedman’s inclusion of Israeli Arabs in the equation is interesting. It implies that they are somehow ‘ruled over’ in a way different than Israeli Jews, subject to apartheid. But they have the same rights.
More than 95% of the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria today live in ‘Area A’ and ‘Area B': civil administration is in the hands of the Palestinian Authority, not Israel (the IDF does not even enter Area A, which is under full PA security control as well). The comparison of Israel to South Africa is in every way incorrect and propaganda-driven.
It’s hard to see how Israeli creativity could help when negotiations have failed because the PLO won’t recognize Israel, won’t give up its demand for ‘right of return’ and won’t agree to end the conflict with Israel — and have joined with the even less helpful Hamas, which made it clear again that it does not plan to permit any kind of peaceful accommodation with Israel:
Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar said Tuesday that the united Hamas-Fatah Palestinian Authority government has no intention of negotiating with Israel. A-Zahar spoke to the PA daily Al-Quds.
He clarified earlier statements made by Hamas head in exile Khaled Mashaal, who had appeared to indicate that Hamas would allow PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to negotiate with Israel despite rejecting negotiations itself. “We will not give him a chance to negotiate, we will not agree to negotiations or encourage them, the opposite,” he said.
Friedman continues to insist that there is a solution to the conflict in the realm of appeasement. There isn’t — a real end to the conflict can only come by a change in the Arab attitude to a willingness to accept a Jewish state in the Mideast. All the creativity in the world won’t change that.
Along with Friedman there is an editorial today which is equally obtuse:
There is blame all around: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, who is scheduled to meet with Mr. Obama at the White House on Friday, has shown little interest in negotiations and has used the regional turmoil as one more excuse to hunker down. Arab leaders haven’t given him much incentive to compromise. President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority wants a deal but seemed to give up after Mr. Obama couldn’t deliver a promised settlement freeze.
Although they say there is ‘blame all around’, it’s clear that they primarily blame Netanyahu for being uninterested in negotiations, for using the newly unstable environment as an ‘excuse’, and for not extending the 10-month settlement freeze that failed to produce results. They say that Abbas “wants a deal,” but as I wrote yesterday the deal he wants includes the end of Israel.
Both Friedman and whoever wrote the Times’ editorial ought to be able to realize that the creation of a Palestinian state will not end the conflict — clearly the Arabs’ own words tell us that that is not the case. So why do they keep repeating it?
I do not think that they are stupid enough to be convinced by their own arguments. There is a method to their apparent stupidity and it is that they, like the Obama Administration, treat ‘Palestine’ as a desirable end in itself, not a means to end the conflict (which it could not be).
Perhaps they do this in return for favors from the administration. Or maybe, in the case of the Times, the same dark impulse that made it suppress news about the Holocaust still operates when the Jewish people are involved.
With respect to Israel, the Times has always been on the wrong side.