Archive for May, 2011

The President’s solution for an Israel-Palestinian agreement is a non-starter

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

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.

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The NY Times: on the wrong side

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011

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.

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Abbas demands everything for nothing

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

As we get closer to September and a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood,  Mahmoud Abbas has taken the opportunity to explain why he thinks justice requires yet another slice to be taken from the only Jewish state and given to his amalgamation of two vicious terrorist organizations. After Hamas has told us that even total Israeli withdrawal to 1949 lines won’t bring peace, Abbas explains here that this is his position as well.

The Abbas piece is remarkable for its distortions of the historical record, including the heart-wrenching account of how a little boy who would grow up to be Palestinian President was ‘expelled’ from Tzfat (see also here for a version of the article with lies replaced by truth).

One of the biggest lies Abbas tells is that the Palestinian Arabs should have had a state in 1947, but implementation of the UN partition agreement was derailed by the Zionists. He writes,

In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued…

Minutes after the State of Israel was established on May 14, 1948, the United States granted it recognition. Our Palestinian state, however, remains a promise unfulfilled.

Abbas does not tell us that both the Palestinian Arab leadership and the rest of the Arab world rejected partition on the grounds that all of Palestine should be under Arab sovereignty. He does not tell us that the Palestinian Arabs have rejected offers of a state no less than six times between 1937 and 2008 (and once in 1919).

So why, if they did not want a state until now, will this time be different? Because this time they think they will be able to gain control over a large, strategic territory without having to commit to recognition of Israel, and without having to give up their claim on the rest of the land, in particular, the right to settle millions of Arab ‘refugees’ in Israel.

Israel would never agree to cede territory in return for a promise of belligerency, and — at least so far — the US has not tried to force it to do so. As a result, negotiations between Israel and the PLO have always failed. Abbas may say that “negotiations remain our first option,” but the PLO has only been prepared to negotiate surrender, not compromise.  And no matter what concessions Israel has offered, they have not included giving up its right to exist.

Abbas believes that after the world makes Israel leave the territories, it can make Israel sit still and accept the return of the so-called ‘refugees’ (95% of whom are not refugees in any normal sense), and — probably after a bloody war — become another Arab state:

Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice …

… Once admitted to the United Nations, our state stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel. A key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948.

The Arab interpretation of resolution 194 is that every descendant of the 600,000 Arabs that fled Israel in 1948 (about 4.5 million claim this status) is entitled to ‘return’ to Israel and take possession of his property, or be compensated. This wasn’t the intent of the resolution, which referred only to actual refugees and required that they be prepared to ‘live in peace’ with Jewish Israelis. And it would also cover the approximately 850,000 Jewish refugees from Arab countries, who most likely wouldn’t want to return but would be happy for compensation!

Since 1967 the presumption of the West has been that land will be exchanged for peace, recognition and an end of all claims against Israel. The Abbas plan finally makes explicit what some of us have been saying all along, that the PLO never intended to give up its dream of replacing Israel with an Arab state of ‘Palestine’.

It’s time for the White House to recognize this and firmly oppose the attempt to give the PLO something for nothing.

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The real nakba

Monday, May 16th, 2011
Palestinian refugees from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein (2007 photo)

Palestinian refugees from Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein (2007 photo)

I don’t have to tell you that every day we are bombarded with stories about ill-treatment, racism and apartheid perpetrated against Palestinian Arabs by Israel. Fifty, a hundred NGOs painstakingly document every tiny humiliation suffered by the noble Palestinian Arabs at the hands of the Jews. Half the world directly supports the Palestinian Cause, which is always described in terms of human rights and justice, although we know that as a matter of fact it is the opposite.

But I’ll bet there is some recent history of the Palestinian Arabs that you don’t know. It’s not surprising — the West doesn’t really care about Arabs; they are just barely above black Africans on the ladder of importance in our media and to our politicians (quick: how many died in the Second Congo War between 1998-2008? Did you even hear about the Second Congo war? Try 5.4 million human beings).

Of course since 1967 everyone’s heard the Arab version of the Palestinian story ad nauseum. But here are some questions to think about (and then I’ll tell you where to find the surprising, even shocking answers):

  • Who has practiced apartheid, de jure as well as de facto, against Palestinian Arabs?
  • What countries do not allow Palestinian Arabs to work in various professions, to go to regular schools, to be appointed to civil service jobs, to vote, etc.?
  • Who really made the Gaza Strip an “open-air prison?”
  • What country expelled 450,000 Palestinians?
  • Why does no Arab country except Jordan allow Palestinians to become citizens (and even in Jordan their rights are strictly circumscribed)?
  • What country has killed more Palestinian Arabs than have died as a result of their struggles with Israel since 1948?
  • In 1967, the life expectancy of a Gaza resident was 48 (today it is 72). Why is that?
  • Why are there 4-5 million claimants of Palestinian refugee status today (about 600,000 fled from Israel in 1948)? Why has this problem persisted longer than any other refugee problem in history, including that of 850,000 Jews who were kicked out or fled from Arab countries at about the same time?

Thanks to Ma’ariv writer Ben-Dror Yemini, and the bloggers Elder of Ziyon and IsraeliNurse, you can find the answer to these questions, as well as the real story of the Palestinian Arab refugees here.

Don’t miss it. Seriously, read it (you won’t find it in English anywhere else) and ask yourself why Israel should pay the price for the real nakba of the Palestinian Arabs.

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The speech Netanyahu should make

Sunday, May 15th, 2011

This Thursday, President Obama will give a speech about the Middle East.

It will undoubtedly suggest that the death of bin Laden and the political upheavals in Arab countries imply that the future of the Arab world is bright and democratic. It will not take notice of the fact that Egypt, the largest and most important member of it, is moving rapidly toward an Islamist takeover. It will not mention that the West has sat quietly while Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad sent his security forces to murder, torture and rape thousands.

It will certainly mention Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. And the timing is interesting. Israeli PM Netanyahu will be coming to the US the next day, and is planning to speak before a joint session of Congress. Netanyahu is a very effective and persuasive speaker, and his speech was expected to energize Israel’s Congressional supporters. Now it will be transformed into a reaction to whatever ‘The Leader of the Free World’ says on Thursday.

Caroline Glick thinks that Obama is preparing to put the screws to Israel yet again:

With the new international security credibility he earned by overseeing the successful assassination of Osama Bin Laden, Obama apparently believes that he can withstand Congressional pressure and make the case for demanding that Israel surrender Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria to Hamas and its partners in Fatah.

I don’t know. But I do know that the nakba day festivities, which included attempts to overrun Isarel’s borders from Gaza, Lebanon and Syria, a rampage by an Arab truck driver in Tel Aviv which by sheer luck left only one Israeli dead, and various riots, stabbings, etc. sent the message that the Fatah/Hamas Palestinian Authority (PA) — and the ‘Palestinian people’ themselves — are not in any way peace partners.

Just in case there is still someone who doesn’t understand this, I’ll remind you that the nakba narrative refers to the entire land of Israel, from the Jordan to the Mediterranean, which the Palestinian Arabs have convinced themselves belongs to them.

The Palestinian national movement is the effort to get it away from the occupying Jews. This has nothing to do with 1967 or with the Palestinian yearning for a state of their own. Rather, it is about the ending of the Jewish occupation and the physical possession of the land, all of the land.

I’ll also remind you that the PA broadcasts this message to its people every day, and they eat it up.

Palestinian Arab leader Mahmoud Abbas made it clear yet again that the goal of the movement is to bring some 4 or 5 million descendents of Arabs who may have lived in the land before 1948 into Israel to dispossess the Jews:

Ramallah – Every Palestinian has the right to see his homeland and the leadership will never give up the right of return, President Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday.

‘We want every Palestinian to see Palestine,’ he told a group of Palestinians from neighbouring Arab countries who were visiting the West Bank.

‘The return is something that should be done on the ground, and not just a slogan. Palestine is for us, and if you were from the north, the centre or the south and lived anywhere in it, then you are in the homeland,’ Abbas said.

His statement came on the eve of what Palestinians call Nakba, now marked each year on the day when most of them fled their homes in 1948 following the creation of Israel.

According to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA), there are an estimated 4.8 million people registered as Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and the occupied territories of West Bank and Gaza.

‘The Palestinian leadership will never give up the right of return and that will be through practical steps and return to the homeland to end living in exile because the homeland is our final destination,’ Abbas said.

President Obama, in his famous Cairo speech, genuflected to ‘Palestinian aspirations’. We are already used to the ambiguous way in which this is meant — to Arabs it means the end of Israel, but to Americans and Israelis it is supposed to mean two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace, etc. But as it becomes more and more evident to Israelis — and this weekend’s events bring it home — that the Palestinian leadership, now allied with the antisemitic and genocidal Hamas, is an enemy, not a partner, the US administration’s pronouncements about the need to implement a solution to the conflict sound more and more disingenuous.

There is something infuriating about listening to Israeli leaders agreeing with US officials about the need to achieve peace via a two-state solution, when you know that they know that it’s a complete fantasy — or worse, a way to make a piecemeal process of surrender palatable to victims about to be sacrificed by the West on the altar of a completely distorted perception of its true interests.

So — let Obama do his worst on Thursday. Then maybe (but I’m not betting) Netanyahu will finally make a speech like this:

To the honorable members of the US House and Senate:

You know and I know that the Palestinian Arabs — their leaders and the people in the street — have no intention of making peace with us.

You know and I know that they are expecting that the world, led by the United States, will tear off as much as it can of the only Jewish state, the only tiny piece of the world where Jews ought to be able to feel that they belong and are finally safe from antisemitism, pogroms and expulsion — and hand it to the Palestinian Arabs.

You know and I know that as soon as they get that piece of our land, they will continue their vicious struggle for the rest of it.

We are not taken in by the twisting of truth and the false application of the languages of human rights and international law, and I hope that you are not either.

I am here to tell you that we are not playing this game. We will not cooperate. Everyone has on his or her desk a copy of the Hamas covenant. Read it carefully and you will understand why we consider these creatures our deadly enemies.

Our intention is to defend ourselves against them, rather than cooperate in the destruction of the Jewish state that we finally regained after two thousand years of exile and persecution. We will not permit the re-dispersal of the Jewish people.

Members of Congress, and President Obama: with all due respect, take your ‘peace’ plans, processes, frameworks, roadmaps, freezes, etc. and line your birdcages and litter boxes with them.

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