Archive for July, 2011

Sarkozy is closer to Israel’s position than Obama

Sunday, July 31st, 2011
French President Nicolas Sarkozy with PM Netanyahu in Paris, 2009

French President Nicolas Sarkozy with PM Netanyahu in Paris, 2009

This is interesting, but probably will make no difference:

At a press conference in Madrid last week, [French] Foreign Minister Alain Juppe publicly declared that “there will be no solution to the conflict in the Middle East without recognition of two nation-states for two peoples. The nation-state of Israel for the Jewish people, and the nation-state of Palestine for the Palestinian people.” Then, lest anyone overlook the statement’s significance or think it a mere slip of the tongue, his ministry yesterday circulated copies of it.

This is truly groundbreaking. Until now, no EU country has been willing to state publicly that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement must recognize Israel as the Jews’ nation-state, though the EU routinely details the concessions it expects Israel to make…

So what made Sarkozy get off the fence and approve Juppe’s public declaration of support for a Jewish state? It’s not that he suddenly joined the Zionist movement; neither have most of the countries favoring such language. Rather, they have finally grasped that no agreement is possible without satisfying Israel’s minimum requirements. No Israeli government will ever sign a deal that mandates full withdrawal to the 1967 lines, lacks adequate security provisions or doesn’t acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. The major Israeli parties differ on precisely where the border should run and precisely what security arrangements are required, but they all agree on these basics.

Sarkozy, however, has now gone one step further: He’s realized since Israel won’t sign a deal without such provisions, Europe does need to start publicly  demanding these concessions of the Palestinians. Otherwise, they will keep deluding themselves the world will eventually force a complete Israeli capitulation.

Evelyn Gordon, Commentary

You will recall that President Obama also referred to “Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people” in his May 16 proposal. But he did not insist that the Palestinians agree to it before Israel withdraws to pre-1967 lines! This makes his statement no more than window-dressing.

Gordon notes that Sarkozy does intend that recognition must be part of any agreement — putting him closer to Israel’s position than Obama — but so far the rest of the Europeans have not gone along. She writes that

According to Israeli officials, EU foreign policy czar Catherine Ashton adamantly opposes any mention of Israel as a Jewish state, as do Spain, Portugal, Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia, Austria and Luxembourg. In contrast, such language is favored by Germany, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Palestinians have explicitly rejected Sarkozy’s initiative, as I wrote on Thursday. They think that they have already made a great concession by agreeing that they will permit something called Israel to exist at all, at least until they can change it into an Arab-majority state by settling the descendents of Arab refugees there. And the Quartet did not accept Sarkozy’s formulation either, in deference to the Arabs.

There is a gulf between Israel and the Arabs that cannot be crossed by any creative compromise, because it’s simply the question of will there or won’t there be a Jewish state. This has always been true — recall President Clinton’s unsuccessful struggle to get Arafat to fulfill his Oslo commitment to remove parts of the PLO charter calling for the destruction of Israel — but now it is clearer than ever.

Expect, therefore, that the Palestinians will pursue a unilateral path to statehood. If this train isn’t derailed by unilateral Israeli action — for example, the annexation of part or all of the territories — it will ultimately get to the Security Council, and President Obama will have to decide to cast a veto or not. Either course will be difficult for him, and I don’t think a veto is a forgone conclusion.

There is another possibility, which is not to be discounted. That is that the next war — most think that a conflict between Israel and at least Hizballah and Hamas is inevitable — will be of such character as to significantly change the facts on the ground. The settlement of that war will then determine whether 1)  there will remain a weak, attenuated Israel with a Gaza-like terror state next door, or instead, 2) there will be a healthy Jewish state in control of its historical homeland, with Hizballah and Hamas finally broken, without the capability to threaten it.

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NPR presents 4:16 of anti-Israel propaganda

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Four minutes and 16 seconds on NPR’s premier daily news program, “All Things Considered,” is a major story. The longest one on Thursday, July 28′s program, about the difficulties facing the spouses of US military personnel, clocked in at 4:59.

Four minutes and 16 seconds were provided as a platform for Israel-bashing by one left-wing Israeli retired general, one Arab representing Fatah, the Arab terrorist organization that has killed more Israelis than any other — let’s call it what it is — and Daniel Levy, the co-founder of J Street who famously said (video here)

Maybe, if this collective Jewish presence can only survive by the sword, then Israel really ain’t a good idea.

Did I mention that these gentlemen are in the US on a tour sponsored by the same phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby, J Street? NPR did, but its piece didn’t talk about J Street’s funding from anti-Israel sources, or its history of lobbying against sanctions on Iran, for the Goldstone report, and for the condemnation of Israel in the UN Security Council.

As expected, the speakers blamed Israel for the lack of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and predicted disaster if Israel did not preemptively surrender to Arab demands. I won’t repeat most of it — you can read it at NPR’s site. But the most outrageous statement of all was made by Levy:

The U.S. hasn’t helped matters, says Daniel Levy of the New American Foundation. He says that the Obama administration tried, but failed, to get its partners — the U.N., European Union and Russia — to sign onto a statement encouraging the Palestinians to drop the U.N. bid. The text, Levy says, looked like it was drafted in Jerusalem.

“That’s where we got stuck. I think that isn’t helping get past this U.N. bump. It’s probably going to make a U.N. vote more likely and … this kind of approach, it’s really beginning to marginalize and almost make irrelevant U.S. diplomacy on such an important issue,” he says.

So what extremist demand from Jerusalem did the US ask for that made it impossible to get the Quartet’s agreement? Let me quote a news report:

One of the reasons the Quartet was unable to issue a statement was because [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov reportedly objected to a formula whereby the Quartet would have endorsed renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on a return to the 1967 lines, with agreed upon swaps, and Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Lavrov – reflecting Russia’s desire to play to the Arab League – wasn’t enamored of the Jewish state part of the equation. And it wasn’t only Lavrov.

According to Israeli officials, the EU’s Ashton came to the meeting hoping to get the Quartet to call for a renewal of talks based on US President Barack Obama’s parameters of the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, but without other language Obama used during his two Middle East speeches in May: language much more amenable to Israel that affirmed the country as a Jewish state and called for ironclad security arrangements before any future Israeli withdrawal.

In other words, the Russians, who represented Arab interests in the negotiations, wanted an agreement calling for Israel to withdraw to (more or less) pre-1967 lines without getting anything in return — not even recognition of what will be left of Israel as a Jewish state!

The recognition issue is key, and the Palestinian Arabs have consistently refused to agree to it. Even the language of the Obama plan, which represented a sharp shift in US policy toward the Arabs, was not enough for them.

The NPR piece didn’t mention recognition of the Jewish state, didn’t mention the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to negotiate anything other than acceptance of all of its demands, and — this goes without saying — didn’t discuss doubts about the ultimate intentions of the Arab side.

It was 4 minutes and 16 seconds of unrelieved propaganda, without even a nod toward balance.

Remember this when your local public radio station asks for donations. I will.

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Shaath’s smoking gun

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Nabil Shaath (left) shakes hands with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyya after Hamas/Fatah agreement this May.

Nabil Shaath (left) shakes hands with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyya after Hamas/Fatah agreement this May.

False optimism in the service of peace is no virtue.

A press release from The Israel Project:

Jerusalem, July 26 – Israel’s President Shimon Peres said Tuesday that Israel is closer than ever to peace with the Palestinians. He made the remarks at an event for Arabic press organized in cooperation with The Israel Project’s People-to-People Arabic Media Program…

Peres said that both the Israeli people and their government support a two-state solution.

“Peace is made even when it is considered impossible. Peace is just a matter of time, but I prefer that we move quickly,” he said. “Today’s youth are driving the push for peace,” said Peres, noting that the Arab Spring resulted from the Arab public’s desire for real, grassroots change…

A recent poll commissioned by The Israel Project shows that Palestinians in the West Bank are supportive of negotiations with Israel as a path to peace. The poll also shows that they view their well-being – getting jobs, healthcare and investments – as a new priority in the Arab Spring.

Both Peres and The Israel Project are wrong. I analyzed the poll mentioned in the press release here, and it shows precisely the opposite. It shows that insofar as grassroots Palestinian Arabs support negotiations with Israel, it is as a path to replacing Israel with an Arab state. Many support Hamas’ antisemitic principles, even if they do not want to live under a Hamas regime. And almost none believe that “Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people.”

As far as economic issues, it’s true that they chose jobs as the top priority of a Palestinian government — but only because no option relating to the elimination of Israel was offered!

If the Palestinian in the street doesn’t want ‘two states for two peoples’, who does? How about the moderate elements in the leadership?

Afraid not. Thanks to MEMRI and Barry Rubin, we present here a smoking gun in the form of a statement made by the quintessential ‘moderate’, the US-educated Dr. Nabil Shaath, Deputy PM and Minister of Information in the Palestinian Authority:

Nabil Shaath: The recognition of a [Palestinian] state is basically a bilateral action, which receives the blessing of the UN. This act, however, will make many things possible in the future. Eventually, we will be able to sign bilateral agreements with states, and this will enable us to exert pressure on Israel. At the end of the day, we want to exert pressure on Israel, in order to force it to recognize us and to leave our country. This is our long-term goal…

[The French initiative] reshaped the issue of the “Jewish state” into a formula that is also unacceptable to us – two states for two peoples. They can describe Israel itself as a state for two peoples, but we will be a state for one people. The story of “two states for two peoples” means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this – not as part of the French initiative and not as part of the American initiative. We will not sacrifice the 1.5 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who live within the 1948 borders, and we will never agree to a clause preventing the Palestinian refugees from returning to their country. We will not accept this, whether the initiative is French, American, or Czechoslovakian.

Here Shaath explains what the PA understands as the kind of ‘two-state’ solution that they will accept: “A state for one people,” that is, the racist state east of the Green Line that Mahmoud Abbas was thinking of when he said that “no Israeli will remain” when ‘Palestine’ is declared, and “a state for two peoples”: Israel, which will be converted into an Arab-majority state when the descendents of the 1948 refugees join the Arab citizens of Israel.

He also suggests the strategy that they will use to do this, which is the same as that described by Abbas in his May, 2011 NY Times oped:

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…

And what claims will they have, once they have a state in the presently disputed territories?

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.

Resolution 194 does not in fact call for the admission of millions of hostile descendents of Arab refugees to be admitted to Israel. But it has always been interpreted as such by the Arabs.

If the UN were to admit ‘Palestine’, it might be the first time a new state has been created whose essence is no more or less than the destruction of an existing member state.

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We deserve ours because we’re evil; they got theirs because they were virtuous

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

You may be wondering, “what’s with those Norwegians, anyway?”

Envoy contrasts terror in Israel, Norway

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Norway’s ambassador to Israel drew distinctions between the Oslo and Utoya massacres and Palestinian terrorism.

Svein Sevje said in an Israeli newspaper interview Tuesday that while the Norwergian bomb and gun rampages that killed 76 people and Palestinian attacks should both be considered morally unacceptable, he wanted to “outline the similarity and the difference in the two cases.”

Palestinians, the ambassador told Maariv, “are doing this because of a defined goal that is related to the Israeli occupation. There are elements of revenge against Israel and hatred of Israel. To this you can add the religious element to  their actions.”

“In the case of the terror attack in Norway, the murderer had an ideology that says that Norway, particularly the Labor Party, is forgoing Norwegian culture,” Sevje said, referring to suspect Anders Breivik, a Christian nativist who is opently anti-Islam and anti-immigration.

Unlike European Union states, Norway has engaged Hamas and often been fiercely critical of Israel, to Jerusalem’s dismay.

While Sevje voiced sympathy for Israeli terror victims, having experienced “the inferno” of such attacks during his posting, he saw little chance of Norway reviewing its Middle East policies.

“We Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of  the terror against Israel,” he said. “Those who believe this will not change their mind because of the attack in Oslo.”

He added, “Can Israel and the Palestinians solve the problems without Hamas? I don’t think so.”

In other words, Israelis suffer because they oppress the Palestinians, Norwegians because they support them in their ‘righteous’ struggle.

We deserve ours because we’re evil; they got theirs because they were virtuous.

(Thanks to Lise Rosenthal for this formulation).

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The rest of the story about Mohammad Bakri

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
Mohammad Bakri (left)

Mohammad Bakri (left)

This is a long post. But if you get bored, please make sure you read the last few paragraphs where the rest of the story is presented.

The Israeli Supreme Court has dismissed a libel suit against Israeli Arab filmmaker Mohammad Bakri. Here is some background, from a post I wrote in 2009 when the suit was filed:

***

You may recall that in 2002, after a horrendous wave of bombings and shootings in which hundreds of Israelis were murdered and thousands injured, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank to root out the terrorists responsible for it. One of their strongholds was the city of Jenin,  in Northern Samaria. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the period of 2001-2002, 57 Israelis were killed and hundreds injured by terrorists based in or directed from Jenin alone. During April 3-11, 2002, IDF soldiers fought a fierce battle in Jenin with members of Fatah’s al-Aqsa brigades, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

After the first day, the fighting moved to the adjacent ‘refugee camp’, which had been heavily fortified and booby-trapped by the Palestinians. Nevertheless, in order to reduce civilian casualties as much as possible, IDF soldiers fought house-to-house instead of employing artillery and air strikes. As a result — as ultimately attested to by the UN — only 52 Palestinians were killed, almost all combatants; but 23 Israeli soldiers were lost, 13 of them in one ambush on April 9.

After the battle, Palestinian spokesmen such as Nabil Sha’ath, Hassan Abdel Rahman, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Saeb Erakat, claimed that Israel had massacred hundreds of Palestinians, burying them in mass graves or leaving their bodies to decompose under the rubble. But unlike the situation in Gaza, the Palestinians did not control access to the area, and the truth ultimately came out (although, as CAMERA notes in the link above, the fact that they had lied through their teeth didn’t seem to hurt the credibility of the Palestinian spokesmen with the international press).

The anti-Israel media, particularly in the UK, took up the story of the ‘Jenin Massacre’ with glee, embellishing it with ever-more bloody details and accusations of wanton Israeli cruelty. Alleged body counts rose to the thousands. And Mohammad Bakri’s crude propaganda film won a film-festival prize for “Mediterranean Documentary Film-making and Reporting”.

The film consists of after-the-fact interviews with Palestinians who tell ever more horrible stories, and ‘visualizations’ of events such as tanks crushing Palestinians which even Bakri admits didn’t happen:

Bakri spliced together video footage shot during the offensive in which an Israeli tank [armored personnel carrier -- ed.] appears to trample a group of Palestinian prisoners. Bakri said there was no proof that incident ever took place, but that he was trying to demonstrate what an Israeli tank symbolized to Palestinians.Joshua Mitnick in the NJ Star-Ledger, from Electronic Intifada [my italics]

As I reported once before, my daughter met Bakri in Tel Aviv a few years ago and asked him if he really believed that his film was accurate. He responded that he was an artist and not a historian, and that although perhaps all the details weren’t accurate, the film was a true depiction of what Israel was doing to Palestinians. Bakri’s theory of truth seems a bit different from mine.

The definitive refutation of Bakri’s film is a short article by Dr. David Zangen, who was present during the battle as an IDF doctor, and even treated one of Bakri’s interviewees. It’s called Seven Lies about Jenin. Almost as interesting as his comments about the film is his account of the way the audience at a Jerusalem screening treated him.

The film was originally banned by Israel’s film board, but the ban was overthrown by the Supreme Court. Bakri was then sued for civil libel by five IDF reservists who had taken part in the operation. However, the suit was thrown out because the judge ruled that while the film libeled IDF soldiers as a group, it did not single out these soldiers, so they did not have standing to sue.

Now the soldiers have appealed to the IDF Advocate General, who asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to indict Bakri on criminal charges. Bakri’s response was typical: “This is the difference between me and the military advocate general: He is busy with murdering people and I am busy with art.”

Bakri is wrong. He is as much a soldier in the war against Israel as any Hamas bomber. It is unacceptable that he be allowed to use ‘art’ as a shield and to benefit from Israel’s free society as he does his best to destroy it. He should be indicted and held responsible for his actions.

***

Mazuz did not indict Bakri, but rather chose to support the appeal to the Supreme Court. Here is a news report from January 5, 2010:

Jenin, Jenin director Muhammad Bakri will not be charged by the state with libel, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz decided on Tuesday. However, Mazuz stressed that he would attend a hearing on an appeal filed to the Supreme Court by representatives of former combat soldiers who took part in the IDF incursion into the Jenin refugee camp during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. The soldiers and families are appealing a ruling by the Petah Tikva District Court in June 2008, which had rejected their civil libel suit against Bakri, whose film accused IDF soldiers of war crimes…

The district court agreed that the film was libelous, but ruled that the individual soldiers could not seek redress for libel committed against “an entire group.”

Now the appeal has been denied on the same grounds:

In dismissing the suit, the judges ruled that even though Bakri’s film was “full of things that are not true” and even though it was hurtful to the feelings of the five soldiers, there was no provision under the law for them to bring a civil claim against Bakri because the film made reference to the IDF’s operations in Jenin as a whole and not to any specific soldier.

Almost certainly this puts a final end to the issue: Bakri, who deliberately made a film full of vicious lies in order to promote the destruction of the state of which he is a citizen and which gives him the opportunity to practice his ‘art’, will suffer no negative consequences for it.

And now, as the great Paul Harvey would have said, for the rest of the story:

Bakri’s latest film was made in 2005, about his difficulties after Jenin, Jenin. On June 18, this film was screened in New York in an event paid for by the New Israel Fund (NIF). You can read the NIF’s fulsome account of it here, including the repetition of some of the lies told by this “esteemed actor and director” (their words).

Let’s see: the NIF supported most of the NGOs that provided material for the Goldstone Report, it supported a coalition of groups that advocate an economic boycott of Israel, and it supports groups who are practicing ‘lawfare’ against Israel, including the arrest of Israelis in Europe for ‘war crimes’ (all of this is documented here).

Now it is paying to provide an audience for an admitted liar and anti-Israel propagandist in the US!

How long will it take for the liberal American Jews who support the NIF — including Rabbi Richard Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism — to learn whom they are really helping?

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A massacre is a terrible thing to waste

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

The state of mind of Anders Breivik is beyond understanding for a normal person.  There’s been some discussion as to whether there are ‘signs of mental illness’ in the document that he provided to ‘explain’ himself, but asking the question is ridiculous — clearly there is a big piece missing from his brain, or soul, or whatever. One doesn’t need to be a psychologist to recognize a monster.

It’s probably unavoidable that there will be a few sociopaths like him in our societies. When the pathology is combined with intelligence, energy and resourcefulness, they can be tremendously dangerous. Sometimes they even become the leaders of nations, where they can do thousands of times more damage than Anders Breivik.

But our response to them ought not to be hysteria, but rational thought. And the reactions to Breivik have been anything but rational.

Voices from the Israel-obsessed Left claim that he was working for the Mossad, acting to punish Norway for its support of the Palestinian Arabs. These types are as crazy as Breivik, if somewhat less dangerous.

No, I’m talking about the ‘moderate’ voices in our media, who have pitched themselves into an abyss of illogic in response to this terrorist act.  Illogic — and character assassination.

Here is what the respected columnist Eugene Robinson wrote in the Washington Post (and it will probably appear in my local paper this week):

The monster who admitted slaughtering at least 76 innocent victims in Norway was animated by the same blend of paranoia, xenophobia and alienation that fuels anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Yes, it could happen here…

In a 1,500-page screed setting out his philosophy, Breivik referred favorably to the work of several well-known anti-Muslim polemicists in the United States — zealots who usually boast of their influence but now, for some reason, seek to deny it.

Breivik quoted Robert Spencer, a writer who runs a Web site called Jihad Watch, more than 60 times. Spencer is the author of such books as “Stealth Jihad: How Radical Islam Is Subverting America without Guns or Bombs,” “Religion of Peace?: Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t” and “The Truth about Muhammad: Founder of the World’s Most Intolerant Religion.”

Robinson has just asserted, without any attempt at proof, that Robert Spencer’s opposition to Islam is based on “paranoia, xenophobia and alienation” which is the “same blend” as that of Breivik. But whether or not you agree with Spencer, who thinks that Islam is inherently expansionist, or with Daniel Pipes (whom Breivik also quoted a few times), who thinks that a radical interpretation of Islam is contending with a more traditional and less confrontational one, these are rational points of view.

They are based on analysis of Islamic writings and statements, and historical and current facts. They may be right or wrong, but they rational. Nobody knows what demons possessed Breivik, but he certainly did not get the idea of “executing traitors” from Spencer.  Robinson’s blazing non sequitur constitutes defamation of Spencer and others.

Nevertheless, Robinson tries to prove that there is a direct connection:

At least one anti-Muslim blogger had the decency to acknowledge feeling “terrible” about being cited in Breivik’s writings. The anonymous “Baron Bodissey,” who runs a Web site called Gates of Vienna, wrote that Breivik “is a monster and deserves just as little pity as he gave to his innocent, unarmed victims.”

Unfortunately, the blogger went on to write that Breivik’s “total lack of respect for human life is not, however, something he can have picked up from me, or from any of the other Islam-critical writers I know. . . . Indeed, the lack of respect for human life is often one of the great shortcomings of Islamic culture that we have consistently pointed out.”

Think about the implications of that last sentence. If Muslims have no respect for human life, why should anyone respect their lives? Or, for that matter, the lives of the government officials who invite Muslims to live among us? Or the lives of the sons and daughters of such traitorous quislings?

The sentence in question says that a lack of respect for human life often — not necessarily, but often — characterizes Islamic culture. And I’m sure that the blogger in question would cite mass terror attacks and suicide bombers as evidence for that.

Now, I wouldn’t make a statement like that, even with the qualifier ‘often’. I would be much more specific about which Muslims I was referring to. Nevertheless, I see the point of it (if you don’t, note the Palestinian attitudes toward terrorism revealed in this survey).

But the leap to the idea that therefore one should not respect their lives, or anyone else’s, is not justified by logic or reason. It is a non-sequitur, not unlike Robinson’s attribution of devilish characteristics to Robert Spencer, and in particular the kind of non-sequitur that a deranged psychopath with murder on his mind might find useful. It was a peg for Breivik to hang his murderous hat on.

Robinson’s statement that the “implications” of the statement he quotes are that murder is justified, along with the accusations that Spencer and others are “prejudiced purveyors of anti-Islam vitriol” constitute an attempt to characterize legitimate political discourse as hate speech and to shut it down.

Robinson is actually relatively mild, compared to some others. But it’s not unexpected. After all, as Rahm Emanuel almost said, a massacre is a terrible thing to waste.

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Moty & Udi: Nothing wrong with self-defense

Monday, July 25th, 2011

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The United Nations deferred the release of its findings on Israel’s deadly seizure of a Gaza-bound Turkish ship to give Jerusalem and Ankara more time to mend fences.

An inquiry set up by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had been due to publish a report on the 2010 Mavi Marmara incident Wednesday, but Israeli officials said the release was moved to Aug. 20.

The report has been postponed repeatedly while Israel and Turkey, both of which have delegates on the U.N. panel under former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, pursue bilateral reconciliation talks.

I wouldn’t put it that way, folks.

The report has been delayed because it would cut the ground out from under the absurd Turkish position, which is that Israel needs to ‘apologize’ for several of its soldiers defending themselves in the only way possible, from beaten and stabbed to death.

The report is said to conclude that Israel’s blockade of Gaza is legal, and that the Turkish state had direct involvement in the flotilla and the militant IHH that provided the thugs who attacked the boarding party, as I wrote at the time. It also reportedly says “the IDF acted ‘too soon’ and with excess force,” but after all — this is the UN we are talking about.

If this is correct, then the report shows that the Mavi Marmara incident did not ‘just happen’. While it could perhaps have been prevented by better intelligence and planning on the Israeli side, it was clearly designed by the Turkish leadership to further widen the breach between Israel and Turkey which was initiated by Turkish PM Erdoğan when he walked off the stage at Davos in January 2009, after accusing Israel of murder:

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Erdoğan has threatened to downgrade diplomatic relations with Israel even further if Israel does not meet his demands:

In a speech to a conference of foreign ambassadors to the Palestinian territories in Istanbul, Erdogan condemned the continuing blockade of Gaza as “illegal and inhuman,” and said the Palestinians’ troubles were Turkey’s troubles, and would not go neglected.

Erdoğan opened his speech by naming each of the men killed in the raid on the Mavi Marmara ferry, which led the activists’ flotilla. “We have not forgotten, nor will we forget, the self-sacrifice of our brothers, their memories and the massacre they were subjected to,” he said.

Turkey withdrew its ambassador to Israel after the incident in May 2010, suspended military cooperation, and closed its airspace to Israeli military aircraft. It wants Israel to apologize for the killings, pay compensation to the families, and end the embargo of Gaza. — Jerusalem Post

Since Erdoğan’s AKP has been in power in Turkey, he has systematically stripped power from secular and military elements who were responsible for relatively good relations with Israel. With the AKP victory in recent elections, he’s moved Turkey even farther from the West and closer to Iran. There is no reason to think that relations will improve in the foreseeable future, and any gesture on Israel’s part will only be interpreted as an admission of guilt or a sign of weakness.

Israel’s Attorney General supposedly advised PM Netanyahu to apologize in order to prevent the filing of lawsuits against IDF soldiers. In other words, Israel should plead guilty for a crime it did not commit because otherwise it might have to defend its soldiers against equally false accusations. Anyway, who’s to say that there won’t be lawsuits in any event, especially if there is an official admission of guilt to serve as grounds for them?

One of the main thrusts of the propaganda war against Israel has been to delegitimize any use of force in self-defense. This was the theme after the 2006 Lebanon war as well as Operation Cast Lead in 2009-10. This is more than just an attempt to damage Israel by making it harder for her to protect herself. It is intended to humiliate and criminalize the state itself.

Note also that Erdoğan demands an end to the blockade of Gaza. The Mavi Marmara incident already was used by the Obama Administration to force Israel to loosen the blockade, which was originally intended as a way of pressuring Hamas economically. The objective now is only to prevent massive amounts of weapons from reaching Hamas.

The Turkish regime has rejected compromises, such as an ‘expression of regret’. This is just as well, since anything Israel agrees to will be spun as an admission of guilt. The best thing that can happen at this point is that negotiations on this issue will end with no result. There is no possible upside for Israel.

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Norwegian terrorist is more like Manson than Atta

Sunday, July 24th, 2011
Anders Breivik (from his manifesto). The badge declares itself a "multiculti traitor hunting permit"

Anders Breivik (from his manifesto). The badge declares itself a "multiculti traitor hunting permit"

The terrorist attack in Norway that was called “the deadliest attack by a lone gunman anywhere in modern times” was committed by an individual who placed himself in the tradition of Charles Martel and other Christian defenders of Europe. If you can bear it, here is a boring 12-minute video he posted attacking “cultural Marxism,” multiculturalism and Muslims. And here is a 1500-page document in English that he wrote to explain himself (I haven’t read most of it).

Here are some things that are almost certain:

  • No Christians anywhere will celebrate his actions and give out sweets in his honor
  • Right-wing groups in Europe who are opposed to multiculturalism and worried by what they consider the threat of an Islamic takeover there will nevertheless not claim to ‘understand’ his actions
  • He will not turn out to have received funds or other help from any government
  • Unlike the 9/11 or the 7/7 attacks, this one does not advance the political objective of its perpetrator

Despite the fact that this is one of the most viciously executed acts of terrorism of recent years — and we’ve had plenty to compare it to — I think it will be entirely ineffective as a political act.

One of the objectives of political terrorism is to draw attention to the grievances of a group or movement. How many departments of Middle East studies have been created in the US since 2001? How much material about Islam appeared in American newspapers before then?

But political terrorism is systematic. It always carries the threat that the latest outrage is only the beginning. It is intended to create a “Stockholm syndrome” effect that paradoxically leads its victims to support the cause of their tormentors. Do you think the Israeli Left would be less strident in its irrational demands for national surrender if it weren’t for the serial murders that have traumatized Jews in the Middle East for the past century or so — the phenomenon called the “Oslo syndrome?”

I do not believe that any group will claim Breivik, nor will there be follow-up attacks. His appropriation of the symbolism of Christianity will evoke revulsion. His terrible action will be seen to be disconnected from any political purpose. It’s as if he murdered nearly 100 people to protest the price of milk.

His action will probably damage the anti-multiculturalist movement in Europe.  Those who want to deny the importance of ideological and religious motivations for Islamic terrorism will say “you see, both sides have crazy sociopaths — the real enemy is extremism and terrorism.”

His manifesto is a disjointed, childish collection of ramblings, some of which make sense and some which do not. It calls for a new Crusade, and points out that the Church granted indulgences for Crusaders in the Eleventh Century. It includes detailed plans for deporting Muslims, protecting Christians in Muslim-majority nations, making body armor, making bombs, obtaining weapons, obtaining nuclear weapons (really), physical training, misleading enemies, fighting techniques, lists of targets and political strategies. It discusses the need for his defense attorney to provide him with a “Justiciar Knight” uniform to be worn at his trial. It also contains chilling descriptions of the tactics that he actually employed in his attack, such as dressing as a police officer.

Despite his ideological obsession, in his vicious, personal terrorist act he doesn’t represent anyone. He is closer to Charles Manson than to Mohammed Atta.

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Ilan Pappé’s Middle East peace plan

Friday, July 22nd, 2011
Ilan Pappé's Middle East peace plan

Ilan Pappé's Middle East peace plan

Renegade Israeli academic Ilan Pappé is one of the most passionate anti-Zionists around. Does it also make you an antisemite if you want to see the Jewish people dead and/or dispersed? Anyway, here’s a few drops of his venom:

…we have to extricate ourselves from the politicians’ grip on our lives. In particular we should not be misled by the power game of politicians. The move to declare Palestine, within 22 percent of its original being, as an independent state at the UN is a charade whether it succeeds or not…

This is another gambit in the power game politicians play which has led us nowhere. When Palestinians solve the issue of representation and the international community exposes Israel for what it is — namely the only racist country in the Middle East — then politics and reality can fuse again.

And slowly and surely we will be able to put back the pieces and create the jigsaw of reconciliation and truth. This must be based on the twofold recognition that a solution has to include all the Palestinians (in the occupied territories, in exile and inside Israel) and has to be based on the construction of a new regime for the whole land of historical Palestine, offering equality and prosperity for all the people who live there now or were expelled from it by force in the last 63 years of Israel’s existence.

Nice. But

  • 22% of the “original being” of ‘Palestine’ is exactly nothing. So is 1000%, because there never was a ‘Palestine’, only a bunch of Arabs whose ancestors mostly migrated from Syria or Egypt to take advantage of the development wrought in the land by the hated Zionists.

As Elder of Ziyon tweeted this morning:

How come there are Palestinians with the name al-Masri [Egyptian], al-Hourani [Syrian], al-Turki, al-Hindi – but none named al-Filastini?

Pappé’s insanity is flagrant when he foams, “Israel is the only racist country in the Middle East.” Come on, Ilan: Israel is probably the only non-racist country in the region! Certainly ‘Palestine’, where selling land to Jews is a capital offense and whose ‘President’ has announced that “not one Israeli will remain” after independence, isn’t getting off to a non-racist start.

The best part is his solution: there are about 5 million Arabs living in the Land of Israel, including Israeli citizens and those living in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and East Jerusalem. There are supposedly 9 to 11 million ‘Palestinians’ outside the Land, including the 4.5 million that claim refugee status in the Middle East and expatriates all over the world. So Pappé  wants to ‘construct a new regime’ for these 15 million Arabs along with the 5.8 million Jews that live in Israel today, in the area between the river and the sea. The old one is ‘racist’, so it will have to go.

What a deal! All the land and property there, including nice cars and women will of course be divided fairly among the ‘owners’.

Ilan Pappé actually gave a talk here in Fresno back in 2003, sponsored by the same fair and entirely unbiased academics who are now in charge of Fresno State’s Mideast Studies Department. Pappé now teaches at the University of Exeter in the UK. He was forced to resign from the University of Haifa in 2007 after his disturbed rantings were too much even for the very ‘post-Zionist’ world of Israeli academe, where almost anything is tolerated.

***

Shabbat shalom!

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Detailed results of Pal-Arab poll even worse than I thought

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

I discussed this recent poll last week, based on a Jerusalem Post report. Today, the complete polling data has been released.

The results show that the great majority of Palestinian Arabs do not support the idea of a peaceful two-state solution. Some of the numbers that I note are these:

  • 52% agree that they “do not accept a two-state solution,” while only 44% said they accepted it
  • 56% are “not so certain that Israel will exist 25 years from now as a Jewish state with a Jewish majority
  • Only 7% agreed that “Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people” while 84% thought that “over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state”
  • 92% thought that Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine while only 3% thought it should be shared

These last three points imply that the two-state solution, where it is accepted, is only accepted as a tactical station on the way to the elimination of the Jewish state, part of the implementation of the PLO’s ‘phased plan‘.

Attitudes towards Hamas seem to indicate that Palestinians approve of its approach to the Jews and Israel, although they don’t want to be ruled by it. Most do not reject partnering with an explicitly genocidal, terrorist group:

  • 81% support the agreement between Fatah and Hamas
  • Of those, 74% would continue to support it even if it resulted in reduction of aid
  • 55% of those who support the agreement believe it will make peace between Israel and the Palestinians less likely

But Hamas is not a popular choice to rule ‘Palestine’. When asked who they would vote for if elections were held today, 46% chose Fatah and only 17% Hamas. Nevertheless, the basic ideas of Hamas are popular:

  • 73% said they “believed” the quotation from the Quran in the Hamas covenant that “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him… “
  • 80%: “For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails.”
  • 62%: “When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad. We must spread the spirit of Jihad among the (Islamic) Umma, clash with the enemies and join the ranks of the Jihad fighters.”

Interestingly, violence as a tactic is not so popular.

  • ‘Only’ 45% agreed with the Hamas  Covenant statement that “Peace initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.
  • Only 32% say that they would support a Third Intifada.

Some have suggested that this indicates a hopeful trend toward compromise and coexistence. But I think that we can see by the continued rejection of Israel’s existence, the support for the antisemitic Hamas platform, and the implication that a two-state solution is a stage in the acquisition of all of the land, that this is only a tactical decision — a recognition that the diplomatic offensive has brought them closer to their goal than the intifadas or Hamas’ rocket attacks (of course, a certain degree of violence is needed to move the diplomatic track along).

Shimon Peres’ remark quoted by Shula in the cartoon above was likely based on questions about what the highest priority of a new Palestinian government should be. Depending on the way the question was asked, 75 or 83% said that it was to “create new jobs.” But although some of the other alternatives offered related to Israel — one was “get Israel to lift roadblocks and ease movement” — there was none that was even close to “promote the elimination of Israel in favor of a Palestinian state from the river to the sea,” which I believe would be a clear winner.

If you think that I’m mistaken, here are some other results, shocking in what they imply about the Palestinian Arab mindset:

  • When asked to quantify their feelings about various people and institutions on a scale of 1 to 100 (100 is the most positive), Dalal Mughrabi got a mean rating of 69.84 — higher than Fatah (61.18) or Hamas (39.85). She was second only to Yasser Arafat, who received 88.92. Dalal Mughrabi was the terrorist who led the Bus of Blood attack in 1978 which killed 36 people, 13 of them children. Jews, on the other hand, got a 4.9 rating and Israel a 1.82. A “two state solution with independent Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel as a Jewish state” was given 19.12.
  • 62% think that kidnapping Israel soldiers and holding them hostage is right
  • An incredible 29% think that “the killings in Itamar,” where five members of a Jewish family, including a 2-month old baby were viciously stabbed to death, were right!
  • 61% think that naming streets after people like Dalal Mughrabi is right
  • 53% think that teaching songs about hating Jews in Palestinian schools is right
  • 72% think that denying that Jews have a history going back thousands of years in Jerusalem is right
  • 22% think that firing rockets at Israeli cities and citizens is right (my guess is that many who disagree do so for tactical reasons)
  • 56% favor the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and 51% oppose his release.

These are the people that President Obama thinks “must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their full potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state” next door to a truncated Israel. Let’s hope they never reach their “full potential” for evil, which is truly remarkable.

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Kindergarten Zionism

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Little Zionists celebrate Purim in Kibbutz Sarid, 1930's

Little Zionists celebrate Purim in Kibbutz Sarid, 1930's

You’d think that this doesn’t deserve mention in a newspaper:

Beginning this September, Jewish nursery and kindergarten teachers will be required to open the week with the raising of the Israeli flag and the singing of “Hatikva,” in accordance with new directives issued by the Education Ministry.

The preschool teachers will also be required to teach the children the state symbols once a week. The directives state that by next Independence Day, “All the children will know the words to the national anthem.”

Could anything be less exceptional? This is done in the US and certainly in many other nations.

According to the Education Ministry, the directives will not be implemented in the Arab sector. “We are conducting discussions in the Preschool Department to see how we can adapt [the directives] to this sector,” the ministry said.

Oh — a problem. OK, leave Arab schools out. Israel is a special country where a large part of a large minority identifies with its enemies. That’s a subject for another post. I just hope ‘adapting’ doesn’t mean that they will be allowed to raise a Palestinian flag and sing the Palestinian national anthem, which, by the way, includes this:

With the resolve of the winds and the fire of the guns
And the determination of my nation in the land of struggle
Palestine is my home, Palestine is my fire,
Palestine is my revenge and the land of endurance

But some Israeli Jews are unhappy. The article continues,

“It looks like a competition between members of the Likud to see who can push us faster into the arms of fascism,” said Prof. Gabi Solomon of the University of Haifa, an Israel Prize laureate for education.

“There’s definitely a place for Zionist education for Jews,” Solomon said. “But it has to be balanced by democratic values. We are a Jewish and democratic state and without this balance even the best of intentions sound chauvinistic.”

What?

It is ‘fascism’ to raise the flag and to learn the words to the national anthem? Americans did these things all through WWII and it didn’t make them pro-Hitler — probably the opposite. And how is it anti-democratic — does it take away anyone’s right to vote?

Prof. Solomon thinks that Zionism must be ‘balanced’ by democratic values. But there’s nothing undemocratic (or democratic, for that matter) about Zionism, which is compatible with any form of government that allows Israel to be the state of the Jewish people.

The tension is in the mind of those like Solomon, who appear to think that ‘democracy’ means that each group in a state has an equal voice. It doesn’t. In a democracy, each citizen has a vote, and — with safeguards to ensure the civil rights of minorities — the majority rules.

Israel is a Jewish state with a Jewish flag and national anthem, and that is the way the majority wants it. While Arab residents might prefer otherwise, as long as their civil rights — the right to vote, fair treatment in housing, employment, etc. — are not violated, this does not make it undemocratic.

Israel can be a democratic state that gives equal civil rights to all of its citizens, while still being the state that belongs to the Jewish people and that exists for the Jewish people. For those non-Jews who nevertheless feel diminished or infuriated by living in such a state, they are not required to do so. After all, there are 23 Arab states among 192 other members of the UN to choose from.

Some anti-Zionist Israelis seem to be prepared to resist in a passive-aggressive way:

Y., a kindergarten teacher in the Tel Aviv area, said she didn’t think teachers would implement the directives.

“I’m certain that no teacher will even know about this,” she said. “Even the most diligent teachers read until page 7 of the pamphlet of directives; no one will get to page 11.”

“Even though it obligates us, nobody bothers asking us about it,” she continued. “In any case, I have no way of raising a flag, because I don’t have a flagpole.

“In the past they tried to do something like this and it didn’t go over,” Y. said. “I know that in Binyamina there was a kindergarten that tried something like this two years ago, and the parents just rebelled. They started bringing their kids late in the morning on purpose.”

I can see it now: “Moshe, put your pants on more slowly, do you want to arrive early and become a fascist?”

The new directives are part of a series of initiatives launched by Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar aimed at strengthening pupils’ Jewish and Zionist identity. These have included “adopting” a grave of a fallen soldier, school visits to Hebron and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the Israeli Journey program sponsored by the Bereshit association headed by Rabbi Motti Elon, and expanding visits to Jerusalem, with a stress on the City of David.

Sa’ar has also instructed schools to increase their cooperation with the IDF, and officers are invited to motivate both teachers and pupils.

Last year, the ministry introduced a new subject to the state schools’ curriculum called Jewish Heritage and Culture, taught in grades six through eight for two hours weekly. The class teaches about the Jewish calendar and “the Jewish people’s link to the Land of Israel.”

Why is this necessary? Because in recent years the Israeli educational system has removed material about Jewish history in the land of Israel from the curriculum. After 1993, a succession of left-wing Education Ministers took out references to ancient Israel and even recent wars in order to “educate for peace” (of course the Palestinian Authority developed its educational system to create a generation of haters and even encouraged ‘martyrdom’ for their cause). Emphasis on Jewish history was replaced by a universalistic approach that was more congenial to the Left.

At the same time, propaganda from anti-Zionist sources — the false history of the ‘new historians’, the nakba narrative, even pseudo-scientific arguments that there is no Jewish people — proliferate.

In part as a result, the number of young Israelis avoiding the draft has soared. Intellectual destruction makes possible physical destruction.

There is nothing inherently fascist or wrong with loving one’s country, with identifying with one’s people, and even with valuing them more than other groups. This is a normal human characteristic, which should not be confused with manifestations of excessive particularism like racism or chauvinism. It is not necessary to destroy the former in order to prevent the latter.

Maybe it’s because we live in a world where ethnic and religious hatred is more the rule than the exception — may I point out that this is especially a problem in the Muslim world? — that we go to extremes to try to stamp out any such attitudes among ourselves. The Jewish people has been particularly ‘extremist’ in this regard, in some cases to the point of encouraging national suicide.

Let’s get a grip: raise the flag, sing the national anthem, learn about the history of the Jews in the Land of Israel and the heroism of the Jewish fighters that have made it possible for, finally, there to be one tiny Jewish state.

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A short history lesson

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

If you haven’t seen this 6-minute video starring Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, it’s worth watching.

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He touches on some important points, which I’ll expand into a short history lesson:

There never was an Arab state of ‘Palestine’.  After WWI, the victorious Allies carved up the territory that had been in the possession of the Ottoman empire for about 400 years.  ‘Palestine’ was actually composed of several former Ottoman provinces, and 74% of it was east of the Jordan River.

All of this land was earmarked for Jewish settlement by the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which was adopted by the victorious Allies at the San Remo conference in 1920, and made part of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1922. In the Mandate, Britain was charged with facilitating the development of a Jewish national home (that didn’t work out too well).

Several Arab countries were created at about the same time, including ‘Transjordan’ — the part of Palestine east of the Jordan, which was given by the British in 1921 to Abdullah, the great-great-grandfather of the present Jordanian king, as a present for his (minimal) support during the war. This was really the first ‘partition’ of Palestine.

In 1947, the UN General Assembly passed a non-binding resolution calling for the area from the Jordan to the Mediterranean to be divided into a Jewish and Arab state. Every Arab state and the representatives of the Palestinian Arabs rejected it.

In 1948, when the British Mandate ended, Israel declared a state in ‘Palestine’, and five Arab nations joined with the Palestinian Arabs to try to nip it in the bud. When they failed, armistice talks in 1949 demarcated a line of disengagement — which the Arabs specifically demanded must have no political significance. This line is what everyone calls the “pre-1967 borders.” They are not and never were borders!

After the war, Jordan ‘annexed’ the territories. They called this area the “West Bank.” Before then, it had always been “Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem.” But only the UK and Pakistan recognized the annexation.

In 1967, Egypt, Syria and Jordan launched another war to destroy the Jewish state — yes, they ‘launched’ it. Although Israel fired the first shot, even the UN agreed that Israel was not guilty of aggression but fought a defensive war. As everyone knows, Israel conquered Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem in that conflict.

After the war, the Arabs refused (Khartoum, Sept. 1, 1967) to negotiate with Israel, recognize her or allow her to live in peace. And UN Security Council resolution 242 was passed, stating that all nations in the area, including Israel, had a right to “secure and recognized boundaries,” boundaries that were to be negotiated between the parties and not intended to be identical to the 1949 lines (which were neither secure nor recognized).

So now Judea, Samaria and Eastern Jerusalem are called ‘occupied territories’, as if it were like the US occupation of Japan after WWII. But what country was occupied? Not ‘Palestine’, which was not and never had been a country. And not Jordan, which had no legitimate right to be there in the first place.

Danny Ayalon calls them ‘disputed territories’, after the model of so many other places in the world that are claimed by more than one nation. But I wouldn’t go even that far. First, there is no legitimate Palestinian nation to claim them — and even if there were, Israel, the state of the Jewish people, has a prima facie claim on the area from the Mandate.

Note also that settlements are said to be illegal in occupied territory “by the Geneva Convention.” Even if the fourth Geneva Convention (art. 49) — which was intended to prohibit actions like Germany’s forced population transfers during WWII — can be construed to apply to voluntary settlement which does not displace anyone, it certainly cannot apply to territory that is not ‘occupied’ or another country.

Now look at President Obama’s ‘peace’ plan in the light of the above:

He calls for an end to Jewish settlements — in other words, he demands the forcible transfer of a population of as many as 500,000 people against their will from a place where they are legally resident. If this isn’t a violation of the 4th Geneva Convention, I don’t know what is! And to add icing to the cake, a religious criterion is applied to decide who will be deported!

He insists that Israel must withdraw from all of the “West Bank” — with the exception of “mutually agreed swaps.” This implies at best that the 1949 armistice lines determine the absolute size of the state of Israel, since any expansion requires equal compensation. But at worst, if the Arabs refuse to agree to swaps, then the 1949 lines become the borders!

If Obama isn’t aware of history, neither are the Palestinians. Negotiator Saeb Erekat said that Ayalon’s video “expresses open hostility to the Palestinian people.” It’s impossible to understand this in a meaningful historical sense, so I presume it’s based on the “Palestinian narrative” in which their (invented) ancient civilization was dispossessed by European Jews, and that is what is meant by ‘occupation’.

Now that the Palestinian Authority has made it clear that it does not and will not accept the existence of a Jewish state, it’s time for new ideas. Caroline Glick recently suggested that Israel should unilaterally annex all of Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem, including its Arab residents. This idea doesn’t appeal to me (the part about the Arab residents).

But I do think that Israel legitimately can and should annex parts of the territories, in particular those with large Jewish populations, those containing holy places — because otherwise no Jew will set foot in them again — and those necessary for strategic reasons, to create the secure boundaries that the Arabs and Obama wish to deny Israel.

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