Archive for August, 2011

Rein in the UN!

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gets ready to lay a wreath at the tomb of murderous terrorist Yasser Arafat, in Ramallah, 2007

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gets ready to lay a wreath at the tomb of murderous terrorist Yasser Arafat, in Ramallah, 2007

Today, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen  (R-Fl), chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the “UN Transparency, Accountability and Reform Act of 2011,” HR 2829.

It combines an approach to US funding for the UN which supports American goals and interests with provisions that specifically target some of the UN’s bullying tactics against Israel, which — it should be remembered — is allegedly an ally of the US.

The bill says that the US will not fund UN activities that are in opposition to our interests by making our contributions for various programs voluntary rather than assessed. It states that the UN cannot use our money for purposes other than those for which it was intended. It withholds US contributions for any program that will upgrade the status of the Palestine observer mission, and ends US funding for the Hamas-friendly UNRWA refugee agency, the corrupt UN Human Rights Council, and the “Durban process.” It also includes a provision condemning the Goldstone report and calling for its revocation.

A summary of the bill is here and a news report about the bill and reactions to it is here.

It has 57 original co-sponsors. They are all Republicans. The Obama Administration opposes the bill because “This draft legislation is dated, tired, and frankly unresponsive to the positive role being played by the UN,” according to a spokesperson.

The reference is to UN support of US actions in Afghanistan and Libya. But the Ros-Lehtinen bill wouldn’t prevent that kind of cooperation — indeed, it would make it more likely, since UN officials would have an interest in pleasing the US (and of course it depends on individual nations, not the UN bureaucracy).

In actuality, the UN does not play a positive role in almost anything. Many of the useful specialized agencies like the International Telecommunications Union, the World Health Organization, etc. could be spun off, at which point the rest of it could profitably disappear. Short of that, by tying US funding to the actual activities of the units funded, Ros-Lehtinen’s bill could provide some accountability.

Just as an example, how many Americans enjoy having their taxes support the UN’s Special Unit on Palestinian Rights (UNISPAL) and its annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (every November 29, the anniversary of the partition resolution that they rejected)? Not too many, I’ll bet. What about the paying the salary of the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Richard Falk, who has publicly accused the US government of complicity in 9/11 and recently apologized to dogs for comparing them to Jews?

There is no reason why this has to be a partisan issue. Aren’t there Democrats who resent having their money ($3.35 billion in 2010) spent by an unaccountable organization which as often as not opposes our national interests? Or Democrats who would like to see the UN reined in from attacking Israel?

We’ll see.

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The Palestinians and the ‘process’

Monday, August 29th, 2011
A map of Palestine, according to Israel's peace partner

A map of Palestine, according to Israel's peace partner

Especially now, when the world is preparing to award the Palestinians a state — and, if things go according to plan, ethnically cleanse as many as 650,000 Jews from the land ‘that the Palestinians want for their state’ (as the media repetitiously intone) — we need to remind ourselves of who the Palestinian Arabs are:

They are the personification of the atavistic Arab culture that does not abide an alien element in its midst.

They are the bearers of the myth of Arab expulsion and the reality of refugeehood — although the Jews aren’t responsible for this, we are the ones who are paying for it.

They are the popularizers of terrorism as a means to achieve political goals, the inspiration for Al Qaeda and others.

They are a source of manpower for some of the world’s most vicious terrorist gangs.

They are remarkably cruel, to their enemies and to each other. They consider cruelty ‘masculine’.

They are the focus for the mental disorders of Jews like Larry Derfner (see here and here), who confuse their irrational guilt and suicidal impulses with morality.

They are the primary tool of Arab, Muslim, European and world-wide antisemitism, which aims above all to end the Jewish state so that the Jewish people can be persecuted out of existence.

Today the world’s  leading Jew hater is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who — like Hitler — combines geopolitical goals with antisemitic ones. His objective is to remove US influence in the Middle East, get control of the region’s resources and establish a Shiite caliphate. He sees the existence of Israel as a major stumbling block for all of these enterprises, as well as an affront to Islam.

Iran is developing nuclear weapons to strengthen its hand, but Ahmadinejad has said on several occasions that the Palestinian Arabs will be the weapon that will ultimately destroy Israel.

TEHRAN — The creation of a universally-recognized Palestinian state would be just a first step towards wiping out Israel, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday…

“Recognizing the Palestinian state is not the last goal. It is only one step forward towards liberating the whole of Palestine,” Ahmadinejad told worshippers at Friday prayers on international Qods Day — an annual show of support for the Palestinian cause.

“The Zionist regime is a center of microbes, a cancer cell and if it exists in one iota of Palestine it will mobilize again and hurt everyone.”

“It is not enough for [the Palestinians] to have a weak, powerless state in a very small piece of Palestine. They should unite to establish a state but the ultimate goal is the liberation of the whole of Palestine,” he said.

“I urge the Palestinians never to forget this ideal. Forgetting this ideal is equal to committing suicide. It would be giving an opportunity to an enemy which is on the verge of collapse and disappearance.”

It should be obvious that the threat to peace emanates from Iran, not from the lack of a Palestinian state.

The job of Israel’s government is to protect the Jewish state, and by extension the Jewish people. It is not to provide a solution for the Palestinian Arabs. The Oslo agreement of 1993 represented a disastrous deviation from its purpose, and has already resulted in thousands of Israeli (and Arab) victims. Oslo was negotiated in secret and foisted on the public — and I think on Yitzhak Rabin as well — by a cabal of  politicians who understood that it would never be accepted by the great majority of Israelis, who (correctly, it turned out) didn’t trust the PLO.

Whether or not it was originally intended to do so, the Oslo-initiated process has come to stand for the uprooting of Jews from the area east of the Green Line — the wholly arbitrary 1949 armistice line. The Palestine Mandate encouraged the ‘close settlement’ of Jews on the land — all of the land. And Jews lived in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem until they were forced out at gunpoint by Jordanian soldiers in 1948. Now the ‘process’ as interpreted by Barack Obama and Mahmoud Abbas calls for yet another expulsion.

When 8,000 Jews were removed from the Gaza strip, it was a national catastrophe which still, 6 years later, hasn’t healed. When Avigdor Lieberman suggested that a peace treaty could include ‘land swaps’ in which Arab populated areas west of the line would become part of Palestine while Jewish settlements east of it would be joined to Israel, the Arabs screamed bloody murder — even though Lieberman was considering only a change of sovereignty in which nobody would have to leave their homes. That was a non-starter, but transfer of 650,000 Jews is considered reasonable!

At this critical point, Israel must take a turn toward reality and officially recognize the following:

  • The ‘peace process’ never had a chance because the Arabs never wanted less than to replace Israel. It will officially end when the Palestinians go to the UN.
  • The Palestinian Arabs are not the ‘other side’ in the conflict — they are primarily a tool of Israel’s more powerful enemies. Concessions to them are intended to weaken Israel strategically.
  • European and Obama Administration efforts to force negotiations for a ‘two-state solution’ constitute hostile diplomacy. Israel should resist, not support them. They won’t go anywhere, and are simply a way to force concessions.
  • The expulsion of Jews from Judea and Samaria would be a disaster. It would wreck Israeli society, even if the resources were available to house the refugees inside the Green Line, which they aren’t. It cannot be allowed to happen.

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Goodbye to ‘land for peace’

Sunday, August 28th, 2011
Facing reality about 'land for peace'

Facing reality about 'land for peace'

The Land for Peace theory (LFP)  has always been something like this:

Israel and the Arab states are in conflict. The conflict can be ended if Israel gives up the lands it occupied in 1967.

This proposition was suspicious even in 1967, since the Jewish state — or even the Jews in pre-state Palestine — had never had peace until then, even without the territories. But the world in general — certainly the US and the European Union  — at least pretends that it is true, and  has worked hard to get Israel to divest itself of the land. So far Israel has evacuated the Sinai peninsula and the Gaza strip, surrendering them to complete Arab control. This represents by far the greater part of the lands conquered in 1967.

The Oslo accords included a great concession by Israel: the PLO — which had been responsible for numerous murderous terrorist attacks against Israelis inside and outside of Israel — was allowed to return to the territories and constitute itself as a government, the Palestinian Authority. As a result of the Oslo accords, about 95% of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria now live in areas under Palestinian civil control.

One would think that if LFP were true, then there would have been movement toward peace as a result of Israel’s concessions. But this has not proven to be the case:

With regard to the Sinai, although the Egyptian regime refrained from overt conflict (in return for billions in US aid), it did not reign in incitement, nor did it take steps to improve relations with Israel. The ‘peace treaty’ was treated as an extended cease-fire, and now as the regime changes we are seeing a retreat from the idea of peace.

With regard to Gaza, in effect a continuous state of war with Israel exists, and only fear of massive military intervention keeps a lid — loosely — on terrorism.

With regard to Judea and Samaria, the PLO never accepted the ‘peace’ part of the LFP formula, insisting on receiving land without granting recognition (Mahmoud Abbas recently reiterated his refusal to accept a Jewish state as a neighbor to ‘Palestine’). The PLO does not accept the idea of ‘two states for two peoples’ and understands the ‘two-state solution’ as an Arab ‘Palestine’ free of Jews, and an Israel which — by virtue of ‘right of return’ — will have an Arab majority.

Although Israel made proposals for Arab sovereignty in 2000 and 2008, they were not accepted because they included a rejection of right of return and insistence on recognition.

It should finally be clear that LFP is not a possible solution to the conflict, because the Arabs have never accepted that a Jewish state may exist in the Middle East.

Now the PLO (with or without Hamas as a partner — the relationship is unclear) is going to the UN to demand the land without providing anything — even words — in return. And most of the world seems to think that’s just fine:

“The maximum that we can hope to gain [at the UN vote] is for a group of states who will abstain or be absent during the vote,” [Israeli UN Ambassador Ron] Prosor wrote, adding that his comments are based on more than 60 meetings he held during the past few weeks with his counterparts at the UN. “Only a few countries will vote against the Palestinian initiative,” he wrote…

Foreign Ministry sources estimate that 130-140 states will vote in favor of the Palestinians. A major question mark remains over the position of the 27 member states of the European Union…

A senior source at the Foreign Ministry, which is busy trying to foil the Palestinian move at the UN, said that so far only five western countries have promised Israel they would vote against recognition of a Palestinian state — the U.S., Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. “Most western countries will not be willing to be in the hall and vote against a Palestinian state,” the senior Foreign Ministry source said.

Of course, such a General Assembly resolution will not create a Palestinian state, and cannot be used to force Israel to do anything. Only the Security Council can apply sanctions or admit a state to the UN. However the GA resolution will be used as the basis for ‘lawfare’ against Israel, and is clearly the beginning of the process of implementing LFP, without the peace. And only the US stands against a Security Council resolution. May I be excused for thinking that Barack Obama is a weak reed to lean on?

The official position of the Israeli government is that LFP can work, and that it’s possible to reach an accommodation by bilateral negotiation with the PLO that will result in a viable Palestinian state in the territories, and peace. It therefore opposes a UN resolution.

It also points out, correctly, that such a resolution violates all of the agreements between Israel and the Arabs since 1967: UN Security Council resolution 242 (and others) which call for negotiations between the parties, the Oslo agreements, the Road Map, etc.

Although I understand that it is important for the Israeli government to scrupulously maintain what it believes to be the most responsible position, I think it should officially recognize the failure of LFP. This is only a question of opening one’s eyes and seeing reality.

Therefore,  if the PLO seeks a UN resolution supporting a unilateral declaration of statehood, Israel should announce the following:

  1. It will assume that the PLO has abrogated all previous agreements, including Oslo
  2. It will cease all cooperation with the ‘Palestinian Authority’, which was created by Oslo
  3. It will annex those portions of Judea and Samaria that have large Jewish populations or have high strategic or historic importance (note that this will still leave 95% of the Arab population of Judea/Samaria outside of Israel)
  4. It will unilaterally delimit an eastern border and finish the security fence in keeping with it
  5. It will defend its borders vigorously

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Derfner apologizes — but he’s still wrong

Friday, August 26th, 2011
Tali Fahima with al-Aqsa brigades leader Zakaria Zubeidi. At least she wasn't a hypocrite.

Tali Fahima with al-Aqsa brigades leader Zakaria Zubeidi. At least she wasn't a hypocrite.

Larry Derfner has issued an apology and removed the post I discussed yesterday from his site.

I was one of his milder critics. I contented myself with refuting his argument. There were those who suggested that Derfner’s statement that Palestinian terrorism against Israel is justified — although he ‘qualified’ this by saying that he, personally, was opposed to it — constituted incitement to murder, a felony in Israel. Complaints to Israel’s Attorney General were prepared and possibly filed.

Derfner says that he failed to express himself clearly, and takes another shot at it:

I wrote that because of the occupation, Palestinians are “justified” in attacking, even killing Israelis, that they have the “right” to do so. Later on I stressed that I didn’t want them to kill my countrymen, and that I would do anything necessary to stop it. I meant those two points to show that I wasn’t “for” terrorism, that while I thought the occupation justified it, that didn’t mean I supported it. But I see now that the distance from “justified” to “support” is way, way too short – and I am as far away as anybody can be from supporting attacks on Israel and Israelis…

I meant, instead, to shock Israelis and friends of Israel into seeing how badly we’re hurting the Palestinians by denying them independence: It’s so bad that it’s helping drive them to try to kill us. This is something I believe, something liberal Israelis and friends of Israel believe, and I wrote that if we were to start saying so publicly, it might force other Israelis to finally confront the reality of what we’re doing to the Palestinians, and thereby get them to see that it’s wrong and must stop. [my emphasis]

I don’t know what the Attorney General will make of this. But Derfner is still wrong, for the same reasons. His statement that he believes terrorism to be justified while at the same time he doesn’t support it simply makes him a hypocrite. If he honestly thinks it’s justified, then he should have been out there on Route 12 with an AK-47 last Thursday.

Other extreme left-wing Israelis, e.g., Tali Fahima, have made the choice to help Palestinian terrorists. She went to jail for it. Derfner is not prepared to go that far.  But the degree to which he blames the victim in the conflict is pathological (that’s the only word that fits).

Yesterday I described the false assumptions — about the nature of ‘the occupation’, Arab intentions and security issues — that stood behind Derfner’s argument. I won’t do that again. I do want to mention the really stunning falsehood that he repeats today: that Israel is hurting the Palestinians by denying them independence.

Israel offered independence to the Palestinians several times, notably in 2000 and 2008. Negotiations intended to result in Palestinian independence have been going on fitfully since 1993. They have never borne fruit because the Palestinians have always insisted on conditions — like right of return — that are inconsistent with the continued existence of a Jewish state. The Palestinians have never even been prepared to utter the words “Israel is the state of the Jewish people” or agree to the formulation of “two states for two peoples.” Official Palestinian Authority media continues to claim all of the area between the Jordan and the Mediterranean as ‘Palestine’. The PLO never removed the portions of its charter calling for the destruction of Israel, even after the US president (Bill Clinton) personally intervened.

All during these negotiations, Palestinians have murdered Israelis. So I think the correct formulation is that Israel is hurting the Palestinians by refusing to roll over and die, which is driving them to kill . I’m sorry, there is no way that this can be Israel’s fault.

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Logic vs. Larry Derfner

Thursday, August 25th, 2011
Some victims of Palestinian terrorism

Some victims of Palestinian terrorism

Larry Derfner, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, has published an article in his personal blog which argues, simply, that Palestinian terrorism against Israel is justified.

Unlike many pro-terrorism writers who prefer to make their points by appeal to emotion, Derfner presents his immoral conclusion as the result of an apparently rational argument.

As a logician, I see myself as a bullsh*t detective. I do my job by exposing unstated assumptions, as well as analyzing inferences for validity, finding hidden equivocations, etc. Sometimes just exposing the skeleton of the argument is enough to show its unsoundness.

Here is Derfner’s blog post, and here is his argument as I paraphrase it:

1) ‘The occupation’ is unjust and is seriously harming the Palestinians.

2) Israel will not end the occupation on its own.

3) A nation “living under hostile rule” has a right of self-defense.

4) Palestinian terrorism is therefore justified.

Right now, I am inviting Derfner to respond. Did I read you right, Larry? If not, please tell me which of the above propositions you do not accept. I’m not asking you to respond to my whole post — I know you would have plenty to say. I just want to know if I understand you correctly.

Let’s take these propositions one at a time.

1) ‘The occupation’ is unjust and is seriously harming the Palestinians. To begin with, the concept of ‘the occupation’ is loaded with unstated assumptions. It includes the idea that the 1949 armistice line is a border, and to the east of it is a national entity that belongs to another people, which Israel is occupying. It assumes that Jewish settlements there are illegitimate.

All of the above is a political construction which is by no means beyond question — and many of us question it. The 1949 armistice lines were accepted by no one as borders, and the right of Jews to settle in the area between the river and the sea granted by the Mandate hasn’t been renounced, although it was denied during the 1948-1967 period. Although Israel may make an agreement with the Palestinian Arabs to evacuate some of this area — which is at most ‘disputed’, not occupied — so that  a Palestinian state free of Jews may be created in return for recognition and appropriate security guarantees, this hasn’t happened yet (and it isn’t Israel that is preventing it).

So is the presence of Israeli settlements and IDF soldiers in this area ‘unjust’? If you accept that there is nothing illegitimate about Jews living there, and note the historical record of Arab terrorism and pogroms against Jews, from the Hevron massacre to the Fogel murders, then it’s hard to see the injustice of an IDF presence there, or the security fence, checkpoints, etc. Consider also the danger to Israelis west of the armistice line that emanates from the Arab population to the east, and it’s hard to call these things ‘unjust’.

Does this presence ‘harm’ the Palestinians? Probably the opposite if you count things like infant mortality and standard of living — compare them to Arabs living in nearby Egypt, Jordan and Syria — but I will grant that they are harmed psychically by the frustration of their desire to have a state (we’ll leave aside the racist nature of the state that they want).

Yes, the security measures are onerous, and even ‘harmful’ to some extent. But they are in direct proportion to terrorism, and the Palestinians can control them by controlling terrorism.

It is also fundamentally dishonest of Derfner to use the word ‘occupation’ to mean ‘occupation of Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem’, when the Palestinians use it to refer to any Jewish state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. For one thing, Derfner implies that a withdrawal to the Green Line would satisfy the Arabs. Probably the major part of the Palestinians’ psychic pain comes from their narrative of the loss of pre-1967 Israel, not the Israeli presence in the territories. Does Derfner want us to end that ‘occupation’?

2) Israel will not end the occupation on its own. It is true that Israel will not evacuate Judea and Samaria unilaterally. The unstated assumption is that this is simply a ‘land grab’. Leaving aside the argument that it is racist for the Arabs to insist that Jews may not live there, there are good strategic reasons against a unilateral withdrawal without effective security guarantees. It’s not as if Arab intentions are somehow hidden — even the ‘moderate’ Fatah has made it clear that it considers all of ‘historical Palestine’ its property, and that violent ‘resistance to occupation’ is justified as a means to  recover it.

Even apart from the historical rights of the Jewish people, a unilateral withdrawal would be suicidal for the Jewish state.

Could this change? Certainly, if the Palestinian authority were prepared to negotiate in good faith on terms and with guarantees that claims against Israel for territory or ‘right of return’ would end. Unless this happens, it is the fault of the Palestinians, not Israel, that there is no Palestinian state.

3) A nation “living under hostile rule” has a right of self-defense. This proposition is based on an understanding of ‘hostile rule’, that does not in any way fit the reality.  The analogy is to the situation of Nazi-occupied Poland, in which a foreign power marched into another country, killed its citizens, and established a dictatorial rule for the purpose of exploitation. I realize that these are the exact terms that are used by Palestinians and their supporters, but with all due respect it is complete nonsense.

Zionist settlers came to Ottoman Palestine, did not displace Arab residents, and indeed improved conditions there for all residents, Arab and Jew. They were met by racist and violent resistance to their presence culminating in a war (1948) that was described by Arab leaders as an attempt to kill or expel Jews from Arab land. Later, in 1967, the Arabs yet again fought a war intended to be the end of the Jews in the region, and again they were prevented from committing the genocide that their leaders called for.

Keep in mind that the Arabs initiated the 1967 war and there was no national claimant to the territories more rightful than Israel. Who would it be? The Ottoman Empire? Britain? Jordan? No ‘Palestinian’ entity had ever existed.

So Jewish control of the territories is hardly a ‘hostile rule’ in the same sense as the occupation of Poland, and does not confer a right of self-defense. The hostility, ironically, is primarily on the Arab side!

4) Palestinian terrorism is therefore justified. This proposition is morally abhorrent. The nature of Palestinian terrorism — vicious attacks against the noncombatant population, with special emphasis on children — is of a kind that is never justified, since it is aimed at third parties. The Palestinians choose these targets not only because they are vulnerable, but also because the particular psycho-social disorder that affects them makes cruelty necessary to ‘even the score’. This form of violence is sanctioned, applauded, encouraged and often ordered by the Palestinian leadership.

Israeli actions against Palestinians are for most part defensive or retaliatory, where retaliation attempts to target perpetrators of terrorism with minimal collateral damage.

This proposition would not follow from proposition 3) even if it did imply a right of self-defense in this case, which it doesn’t. Clearly there are ways to ‘resist occupation’ which don’t require firing anti-tank missiles at school buses.


To sum up the logical case,

Derfner describes the present situation in an ahistorical and dishonest way.

He blames Israel, when it should be clear that the Palestinians’ lack of a state is due to their refusal to give up the idea that they must possess all of historical Palestine.

He makes a false analogy between the Israeli presence in the territories — which is based on historical rights and legitimate security considerations — and a hostile occupation, and claims that the right of self-defense that would apply in the latter case applies in the former as well.

And finally, he makes a completely unsound leap from a right of self-defense — which doesn’t exist in this case anyway — to a justification of vicious terrorism against noncombatants.

Update [26 Aug 1133 PDT]: Derfner has apologized for his post and taken it down. But he’s still wrong.

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Israeli officer was murdered by Egyptians

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
Murdered police counterterrorism officer Pascal Avrahami

Murdered police counterterrorism officer Pascal Avrahami

Yesterday I wrote that there were rumors that Egyptians were involved in a firefight with Israelis. I deliberately didn’t go into more detail because I didn’t want to compromise my source. Now it has become general knowledge:

The incident involving the Egyptians occurred later in the afternoon, while the chief of staff and the defense minister held a press conference north of Eilat. An IDF force rushed to an area where there had been more shooting. Egyptian soldiers were seen holding three men at gunpoint.

When the Israeli officers asked for the captives to be handed over, an Egyptian officer claimed that they were Egyptian soldiers. At some point the troops came under fire, and a sniper killed the anti-terrorist police officer Pascal Avrahami.

IDF and Egyptian soldiers were facing each other along the border and they came under fire from one of the groups of terrorists. They were neutralized by the soldiers. The incident ended about 6 P.M. — Ha’aretz

Here is the story as I heard it, attributed to eyewitnesses: the police counterterrorism officers were observing the Egyptians across the border at a range of several hundred meters. It was late in the day, and the Egyptians were preparing to leave their position, taking apart equipment, etc. Suddenly, several bursts of automatic fire came from the Egyptian side. The Israelis rushed to take cover and return fire, and at this point Avrahami was hit. No one else was wounded on the Israeli side.

The bullet that hit him was an ordinary Kalashnikov slug, not a round from a sniper weapon. At that range, it was a very lucky shot.

If this account is correct, then what happened was not a ‘regrettable accident’. It was a case of deliberate murder, and the Egyptians that were killed were killed in self-defense. There should be no apology from Israel, nor even an ‘expression of regret’. An investigation should be carried out to find out which Egyptian soldier or policeman opened fire, and if he was not one of those killed by the reaction he provoked, then he should be arrested and charged with murder.

Egypt should apologize and compensate Israel for the death of Avrahami.

Of course this won’t happen. The rules in the Middle East say that Israel is always wrong, that Arabs are allowed to kill Jews with impunity, and that Israel should apologize for existing.

During the reign of Mubarak, there was always vicious incitement against Jews and Israel in Egyptian media, although Mubarak kept a tight reign on violent expressions of it. Since his fall, the hatred has become more concrete, with repeated acts of sabotage to the pipeline supplying Israel with Egyptian natural gas and increased support to Hamas and other terrorists in Gaza. ‘Arab spring’ demonstrations in Egypt often include ugly antisemitic and anti-Zionist signs and expressions.

Now the incitement has reached its natural destination, murder.

To a certain extent, Israel in its public diplomacy pretends that it is a normal state, surrounded mostly by normal states (Iran is perhaps an exception) where peace is prevented by the intervention of extremists. This is a very distorted picture.

In fact the situation is that Israel is surrounded by states whose leadership and people hate Israel and Jews. They have never accepted the idea of a Jewish state. They only oppose the ‘extremists’ when these threaten their own regimes. This includes, of course, the Palestinian Arabs.

Peace cannot be obtained as long as this condition is maintained, and no Arab or Muslim leadership exists anywhere that wants to change it. This — not settlements, not borders, not human rights — is the reason that there is no peace.

Egypt promised peace in return for the Sinai. Israel gave them the Sinai, uprooting Jewish settlements to do so. But Egypt did not return peace. The regime just placed the stew of hatred on slow boil, and dumped in antisemitic incitement, books, TV shows, ‘education’, etc. And this is why, more than 30 years after Camp David, Egyptians are killing Israelis.

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When not to apologize

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

News item:

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday denied apologizing to Egypt following the deaths of five Egyptian soldiers at the hands of Israeli forces Thursday.

“I didn’t apologize to Egypt, I expressed regret,” Barak said in an interview with Israel’s Channel 2 News, Israel’s most widely-watched TV news network. — Al-Masry al-Youm

Some observers felt that it was a little early even for a non-apology, because very little is known about the incident.  In particular, there are rumors circulating in Israel that there was an incident in which Egyptians — not Palestinians in Egyptian uniforms, but Egyptians — opened fire on Israeli security personnel immediately across the border, and the Israelis returned fire.

Is it true? Who knows? It’s possible. Hatred for Israel in Egypt today is at a fever pitch. Here’s a clip from a demonstration in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo this week:

Israel has been quick to apologize in the past when it was wholly inappropriate: for the staged murder of Mohammad al-Dura, for example, and for the Gaza Beach incident. So far, it has resisted heavy pressure from the Obama Administration to apologize for the Mavi Marmara affair, in which Israeli naval commandos enforcing Israel’s legitimate blockade of Gaza defended themselves from being beaten, shot and stabbed to death by Turkish Islamist thugs.

There is more to this then just the desire of Egypt, Turkey, etc. to use Israeli apologies to validate their version of events. We need to see their demands in their Middle Eastern context, in which Arabs and Muslims are humiliated by their defeats at the hands of Jews, whom they see as inferior beings — defeats which appear to them to turn upside down the natural order of things.

Much of the seemingly irrational behavior of Israel’s enemies — mutilating corpses, targeting school buses, the cruelty inherent in the treatment of Gilad Shalit — things which do not help their case in the wider world, can be seen as attempts to regain their honor after punishing defeats. Most Israelis don’t fully grasp this (although I’m sure the older generation of Mizrachi Jews that still remembers life in Arab countries gets it very clearly).

Should Israel ignore this issue? Is it just Arab silliness? After all, an apology is just words — if there is some diplomatic advantage to be gained, why not just say what they want to hear?

Absolutely not. There is a reality to the concepts of respect and honor, and not only in the Middle East. There is such a thing as national self-respect, which is closely related to motivation to bear difficult conditions and to fight back against aggression. How can you fight your enemies if you agree with them that you are despicable?

There is a well-known Jewish tendency to excessive self-criticism, which has become a major liability in the struggle of the Jewish people to survive.  We’ve absorbed so much of it that some of us have come to believe that maybe our enemies are right after all, and we shouldn’t have our own state.


Here are some hints about when not to apologize:

Israel must never apologize for self-defense. Jews have the right of self-defense.

Israel must never apologize for the Jewish state. Jews have the right of self-determination and Israel is entirely legitimate in international law.

Israel must never apologize for defending the right of Jews to live anywhere between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, which right is also guaranteed in international law.

Israel must never apologize for Israeli culture, although it’s neither entirely Middle Eastern or European (or American).

(h/t for inspiration, ZionistShark).

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Playing with psychopaths, by their rules

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

A game played with psychopaths who can change or violate the rules at will

News item:

Earlier Monday, members of the Popular Resistance Committees, the Palestinian group responsible for last Thursday’s deadly attack, held a press conference to announce that they would abide by a temporary cease-fire between Hamas and other groups in Gaza that have been firing rockets and mortars into Israel over the last four days. The PRC made clear however that the cease-fire referred only to rocket attacks, and that the group would still seek revenge for Israel’s killing of its top leadership last Thursday afternoon. The revenge, the group’s spokesman Abu Attaya said, would be met on the “heads of the Zionist leadership,” Israel Radio reported.

As we begin the ‘cease-fire’ dance yet again, it’s impossible to avoid thinking that an entire nation is allowing itself to be forced into a playing a game with a bunch of murderous psychopaths, according to the psychopaths’ rules, rules which they are permitted to change or violate at will.

There’s a solution: don’t play. Don’t talk, don’t threaten, don’t worry too much about distinguishing between the various posturing factions among the psychopaths. Just kill them.

After Thursday, why is there still an ‘Abu Attaya’? Why is there still a PRC? The technology exists to target specific individuals anf groups with minimal collateral damage. Use it.

Yoram Ettinger thinks that the best approach is to crush the terrorist infrastructure with massive force:

the most effective defense against terrorism – operationally, financially and morally – is not retaliation and a limited, surgical offensive, but a comprehensive, decisive, sustained, disproportionate and preemptive ground offensive, which aims to obliterate terror infrastructures and capabilities, bringing the enemy to submission. A decisive defeat of terrorism requires a victory over – and not coexistence or ceasefire agreements with – terrorism. We need to uproot – not just stop – terrorism.

Any response to terrorism that falls short of devastating the ideological, political, financial, logistic and operational terrorist infrastructures only serves to reassure terrorists that they are immune to annihilation. Moreover, it nurtures their hope-driven terrorism. They hope to destroy Israel’s defiance, wreck Israel’s steadfastness, and sustain the momentum of sweeping Israeli ideological and territorial retreats between the years 1993-2011.

Furthermore, a limited response to terrorism exacerbates wars of attrition – the terrorists’ dream and the nightmare of democratic societies. The limited-retaliation response to terrorism adds fuel to the fire of terrorism, feeding the self-defeating assumption that there is no military solution to terrorism, thus eroding Israel’s deterrence.

I’m sympathetic. But I think that a massive response could result in Israel being responsible for administering what’s left, as well as diverting resources needed in the North and on the Egyptian border, creating more problems with the US, etc.

I think that fear of one’s own, personal, death can be a very strong motivator, and it should be applied to the terrorist leaders. It should at least be tried before another risky invasion.

There is also the absurd situation in which Israel supports a hostile entity, supplying electricity, water, food and medical supplies to Gaza. This should be stopped as long as terrorist activity continues.

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Jewish politics are local, too

Sunday, August 21st, 2011

I had intended to use this cartoon to illustrate an article about the Tel Aviv tent protest. But if all politics are local, that goes for Jewish politics too. What’s true for Moty and Udi’s generation is also true for American Jews. So I am going to write about local, and American, Jewish politics.

On Thursday, Israel suffered a painful shock when terrorists murdered 8 Israelis, including a pair of kindergarten teachers on vacation with their husbands and Pascal Avrahami, a 49-year old father of three sons who was a member of the police counterterrorism unit (yamam) that was primarily responsible for stopping the attack, keeping a small disaster from becoming a large catastrophe. My own son, who served with him, went to Avrahami’s funeral on Friday.

Since then, over a hundred rockets have fallen in Israel, killing one or two (reports are unclear) and injuring dozens, including small children (see The Muqata for a minute by minute account of events). There is a possibility of serious escalation.

So — to get local — I was upset, although not surprised, when I went to a Friday night service at our Reform temple and these events were not mentioned. The service was, as always, very upbeat and musical. Prayers were said for local people that were ill, and yahrzeits and recent deaths were commemorated, again as always. But not a word about what was happening in the Jewish state.

Let me say as strongly as possible that I am not criticizing the rabbi of the congregation. I’m convinced that he is personally pro-Israel. He is brand new in Fresno and is just getting to know the members and their politics. He has heard that they are quite contentious — probably he has heard somewhat exaggerated stories about their differences — and he has said that his job is to bring people together, not to push them apart.

Discussion of Israel has become taboo in many Jewish circles, like politics and religion at the boarding house dinner table. Danny Gordis recently wrote that at one rabbinical seminary,  a “campus dean actually instructed students to cease all e-mail discussion of Israel, while every other political topic remained fair game.” A rabbinical seminary!

So one can’t blame the rabbi for not wanting to touch an issue that might fracture his congregation.

And yet, this is a Jewish congregation and Israel is the state of the Jewish People.  Yes, some members have relatives in Israel that they are worried about, but this is emphatically not about that. It is about whether there is a special connection between our Jewish congregation and the Jewish state. Dozens of innocent people were also killed this week by terrorists in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Thailand, Nigeria and Algeria, but isn’t Israel special to us? Or is it ‘just another country‘?

The Torah is central to all forms of Judaism. It’s a lot of things — a moral and legal code, a history book, a theological tract — but more than anything else, it’s a book about a relationship. And this relationship has three poles: God, the Jewish People, and the Land of Israel. What about the last two?

Danny Gordis argues that liberal Judaism has lost its way, rejecting “the sense that no matter how devoted Jews may be to humanity at large, we owe our devotion first and foremost to one particular people—our own people.” This, combined with some pernicious post-modernist reasoning, has brought us to the absurd situation in which the leaders of the anti-Zionist movement in the West are mostly Jews!

And it has brought the Reform movement in the US (URJ) to the point that it would choose J Street and New Israel Fund activist Rabbi Richard Jacobs as its president. Most tellingly, URJ leaders were shocked at the controversy their decision gave rise to. A rabbi close to the process told me that they were blindsided by the political criticism. In effect, they said “we need this guy’s organizational skills and he’s not that far out politically — what’s their problem?”

Jewish groups in the US are often distinguished by the degree to which they follow the commandments:  how they observe Shabbat, kashrut, how they dress, etc. But in my opinion these differences are unimportant compared to the wide gulf that separates those congregations that identify primarily as part of the Jewish people from those that see themselves as human beings who are secondarily of the Jewish persuasion.

I don’t think, incidentally, that all Reform congregations must fall on the universalist side of that divide, despite the URJ’s  Rabbi Jacobs. But I do think that every congregation, including the one I belong to, needs to ask itself how important the Jewish People and the Land of Israel are to them.

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PRC murderers have a bloody record

Friday, August 19th, 2011
Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, murdered by the PRC in May, 2004

Tali Hatuel and her four daughters, murdered by the PRC in May, 2004

Yesterday’s terror attack was perpetrated by the so-called ‘Popular Resistance Committees’ (PRC). In retaliation, Israel struck a PRC meeting in Gaza, killing PRC official Khaled Shaath, ‘military wing’ chief Abu Awad Nayrab and PRC operatives Imad Hamad, Abu Jamil Shaath and Khaled Masri. Shaath’s 2-year old son was also killed, according to Palestinian sources.

The PRC is (or was) a vicious bunch, formed by dissident Fatah members in 2000. Here is a list (from Wikipedia, but well-documented) of some of their activities:

The November 20, 2000 bombing of a bus full of children as it passed near Kfar Darom, killing two

The October 8 shooting attack on a bus carrying airport workers near the Rafah terminal on October 8, 2000, wounding 8 civilians, and a similar attack on a car on the road from Kerem Shalom to the Rafah terminal, killing the woman driver

Mortar attacks on April 28, 2001 on the Netzer Hazani agricultural Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip (wounding five, one seriously), and similar attacks on Kfar Darom on April 29 and on Atzmona on May 7 of the same year.

The February 14, 2002 killing of three Israeli soldiers using large explosive charges designed for tanks, and similar killings of three more soldiers on March 14 and one more on September 5 of that same year.

The May 2, 2004 killing of the unarmed and pregnant Tali Hatuel, and her four daughters aged 2 to 11, on Kissufim road. The PRC and Islamic Jihad jointly claimed responsibility, also claiming that the attack was in retaliation for earlier Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killings of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi.

The January 13, 2005 killing of six Israeli settlers [sic] at the Karni Passage near Gaza, carried out together with Hamas and the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades.

On February 4, 2008 the Israeli Air Force assassinated the PRC’s top military leader, Amer Qarmut (Abu Said) in response to a joint suicide bombing by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in Dimona, which killed one Israeli.

On March 6, 2008 the PRC detonated a roadside charge near the Kissufim crossing, killing an Israeli officer and wounding three others, one critically.

The murder of Tali Hatuel and her children was particularly vicious and shocking, not that every murder isn’t evil:

Tali Hatuel and her four daughters were killed when two Palestinian terrorists fired on an Israeli car at the entrance to the Gaza Strip settlement bloc of Gush Katif. They were on their way to campaign against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan. Their white Citroen station wagon spun off the road after the initial shooting, then the attackers approached the vehicle and shot the occupants dead at close range. The Hatuels’ car was riddled with bullets, and the carpet inside was stained with blood. The girls were killed hugging one another. On the car was a bumper sticker saying, “Uprooting the settlements, victory for terror.” — Israel MFA

Tali didn’t live to see the ‘disengagement’ she was so opposed to, and the terrorists got their victory. It didn’t stop the PRC from ‘resisting occupation’ even after every last Jew was gone from Gaza.

Yesterday’s attacks, including the use of buried IEDs, were in keeping with the PRC’s modus operandi. The security services had advance warning, but unfortunately expected the attack at a different time and place. A team from the police YAMAM unit and IDF soldiers from the Golani division were in the area, and their immediate response prevented what could have been a far worse disaster — at the cost of a veteran YAMAM officer and a young Golani soldier.

The PRC kills Americans, too:

On October 15, 2003, a U.S. embassy convoy was on a visit to Gaza to interview ‘Palestinian’ candidates for Fulbright scholarship programs in the United States. The convoy consisted of three fully armored but unmarked Suburbans. The first vehicle was occupied by the diplomats on the interview mission. The second vehicle was occupied by American contract protective security specialists: John Branchizio (36), John Linde (30), and Mark Parsons (31). The third vehicle had agents of the Diplomatic Security Service on a “route and area familiarization” trip.

Just after the convoy entered the Gaza Strip from the Erez checkpoint, an explosion totally destroyed the second vehicle in the motorcade, killing the three specialists. A U.S. embassy document states that the device appeared to have been “placed under the road and remotely detonated as the vehicles passed.” — Israel Matzav

The US demanded that the Palestinian Authority (PA) investigate the attack. PRC leader Amer Qarmut (killed in 2008) admitted that he had dug the hole for the bomb while PA guards watched, although he denied placing the bomb itself. The PA arrested several low-level PRC members who were soon released. The US Court of Appeals for DC has just ruled that the family of one of the contractors has the right to sue the PA in US courts.


The IDF spokesperson reports that more than 25 rockets have been fired into Israel in the past two days. One person was killed and several injured when a Grad missile struck Ashdod.

Always the victim, PA official Nabil Shaath (I don’t know if he is related to the PRC terrorists mentioned above) claims that everything is Israel’s fault:

According to Shaath, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is interested in military escalation in the Strip in a bid to divert attention from the socio-economic crisis in Israel.

He further accused Israel of seeking regional escalation in order to torpedo Palestinian efforts vis-à-vis the United Nations in September. “Israel’s madness will not deter the Palestinian leadership from appealing to the UN, the opposite is true, and it will push the leadership to work harder in its efforts.”

In a press release on Friday Shaath alleged that Israel was looking for an excuse to carry out collective punishment against the Palestinian people saying: “This is a war crime aimed at causing efforts by the Palestinian Authority and other factions to avoid armed conflict to fail.”

Shaath has called on the international community to act swiftly to stop what he calls “Israeli aggression”.

Remarkably, many will agree with him. What will it take for people to understand the truth about the ‘Palestinian cause’ and its exponents?

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Terrorist attack in south, Israel retaliates

Thursday, August 18th, 2011
PRC target in Rafah, northern Gaza strip, burns after being hit by IAF

PRC target in Rafah, northern Gaza strip, burns after being hit by IAF

There has been a serious terrorist attack in the south of Israel, north of Eilat. At least 40 injured, some critically. 7 dead. Civilian buses and cars were fired upon by at least 20 terrorists armed with various weapons, including RPGs, and IDF forces were attacked when they arrived to assist.

Apparently the terrorists originated in Gaza, and crossed into Israel via the porous Egyptian border. IDF and security forces have engaged the terrorists, but at this time it’s possible that some have still not been caught. Live updates can be found at Israel Matzav, The Muqata, Challah Hu Akbar, and Israellycool.

The IDF has said that they don’t think Hamas is directly responsible. The IAF has already struck targets belonging to the ‘Popular Resistance Committees‘ (PRC, a Hizballah-linked group) in Gaza, killing 6 including two of its leaders.

The shooting is still going on. The Muqata reports that an Israeli was seriously wounded 300 meters from a press conference held by Ehud Barak, by shots fired from across the Egyptian border!

Barry Rubin provides context:

This isn’t just another terrorist attack—it’s a major escalation, a new phase in the Arab-Israeli conflict in two ways. First, it is the bitter fruit of the U.S.-backed downfall of the government of President Husni Mubarak in Egypt, opening the Egypt-Israel border as a new front in the war. Second, it is probably the first successful al-Qaida attack on Israel. (The Palestinian Popular Committees, a Gaza-based al-Qaida affiliate is the prime suspect.) …

For more than 30 years the Egyptian government ensured peace along the desolate border between the two countries. In the post-Mubarak phase–as I warned back in February–the successor regime is not so committed to the Egypt-Israel peace. Military discipline has slackened and terrorist groups are increasingly operating in the Sinai penninsula. The natural gas pipeline to Israel is bombed every time it is put back into operation. A current Egyptian operation is intended to clear out terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida, from north Sinai.

The initial phase was marked by virtually free smuggling of arms, weapons, and money into the Gaza Strip for the Hamas regime there. The Mubarak government, though its efforts were imperfect, had kept the flow of munitions limited, making it harder for Hamas to renew full-scale warfare against Israel. Now, a new conflict could break out any time as Hamas is better-armed and more confident. The old Egyptian government looked at Hamas as a threat; the forthcoming Egyptian government will look at Hamas as an ally.

But while the media will no doubt attribute this attack to al-Qaida groups–and that might be accurate–this is far from the only problem. Hamas would no doubt cooperate with cross-border attacks on Israel from Egypt, as would the powerful Muslim Brotherhood which might well provide 30 to 40 percent of the members in the next parliament.

One should also remember the old strategy of the PLO in the late 1960s and in the 1970s: create waves of attacks on Israel’s borders, provoking Israeli retaliation and mass enthusiasm for war with Israel; then push Arab states into the war for what is hoped to be a full-scale showdown.

Have no doubt. This is not just an isolated incident but the opening of a new phase. It will get worse. At a minimum, Israel will have to devote a lot more of its limited resources to guarding the Egypt-Israel border. An important question is how decisively will the Egyptian military react and how supportive of the attack will be Egyptian public opinion.

Given U.S. policy, nothing can be expected from Washington except words of dismay. The Egyptian regime will assure everyone that it is committed to the peace treaty and will take strong action. But what will happen when the military hands over power to a parliament with an Islamist-far left majority in a few months? Anyone want to hand over Israel’s West Bank border to sovereign Palestinian control?

Just another incident, today very painful, but it will soon become just a dull ache as it joins the string of murders and pogroms against the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel going back at least 100 years. Except for the families of the victims, of course.

I am thinking that this will stop only when outside support for the vicious creatures that commit these atrocities ends — the direct support that comes from much of the Arab and Muslim world, and the indirect support and encouragement (although of course they would deny it) that is provided by the worldwide demonizers of Israel.

Meanwhile, congratulations to the IDF for killing the terrorists and their commanders.

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Arabs commit ‘crime against humanity’ — PLO

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011
Damage in Palestinian refugee camp, Latakia, Syria

Damage in Palestinian refugee camp, Latakia, Syria

News item:

(Reuters) – An assault by Syrian security forces on a Palestinian refugee camp in the coastal city of Latakia amounts to a crime against humanity, a senior official in the Palestine Liberation Organization said.

“The shelling is taking place using gunships and tanks on houses built from tin, on people who have no place to run to or even a shelter to hide in,” Yasser Abed Rabbo, the PLO secretary general, told Reuters. “This is a crime against humanity.”

Abed Rabbo should ask himself why these people are living in camps, in houses of tin, where erstwhile PLO ally Bashar al-Assad can shell them.

It’s not a secret that the Arab world has done its best to keep the descendents of the 1948 refugees unassimilated, as miserable as possible and as hostile to Israel as possible in order to use them as both diplomatic and military weapons against the Jewish state. And they are miserable indeed, in many cases lacking citizenship and basic rights to education, employment, etc. in their host countries.

No Israeli negotiator will agree to allow an influx of millions of hostile Arabs as part of a ‘peace’ agreement, because it would simply be the end of Israel (and probably the end of many of its Jewish inhabitants). In fact, the insistence on this is one of the reasons that I and others argue that the PA is not serious about negotiations today.

The existence of the refugees is a ‘fact on the ground’ that can’t be ignored. This, combined with ‘honor’ and the belief that if they struggle long enough they will ultimately win, has made the issue one that the Arabs will not compromise on.

Let’s look at just a couple of examples of Arab attitudes toward these Arab refugees.

The Arab League Peace Initiative (also called the ‘Saudi Initiative’ after a previous version proposed by the Saudi monarch) includes the following demands regarding the refugees and their descendents:

Achievement of a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194. [sec. 2-II]

…the rejection of all forms of Palestinian patriation which conflict with the special circumstances of the Arab host countries. [sec. 4]

The Arab nations have always understood resolution 194 as calling for the ‘return’ of refugees to Israel, although most Western authorities think that it does not. Section 4 makes it clear that there is no other option for them: the host countries (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Hamas-run Gaza and the Palestinian Authority) would not be considered an acceptable permanent destination for the refugees.

Last October, after a vicious struggle in Lebanon between radicals in a Palestinian refugee camp and the Lebanese army, a UNRWA official dared to say the unsayable:

Speaking at a National Council for US-Arab Relations conference [in October 2010], [Andrew] Whitley, who heads United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), said that Palestinian refugees needed to start “debating their own role in the societies where they are rather than being left in a state of limbo where they are helpless.”

The UN official added that the Palestinian refugees must not be allowed to preserve the cruel illusions that perhaps they will return one day to their homes.”

“We recognize, as I think most do, although it’s not a position that we publicly articulate, that the right of return is unlikely to be exercised to the territory of Israel to any significant or meaningful extent,” he said, adding that “It’s not a politically palatable issue, it’s not one that UNRWA publicly advocates, but nevertheless it’s a known contour to the issue.”

Ben Cohen tells us what happened:

Whitley’s candor has cost him his job and, it would seem, his dignity too. Angrily criticized by everyone from Hamas to the Jordanian government, Whitley was compelled to recant in a letter to UNRWA’s spokesman, Christopher Gunness. His tone is so supine and humble that the reader is bound to wonder if these words are actually Whitley’s, or whether they were authored, in the manner of the KGB, by someone else. “I express my sincere regrets and apologies over any harm that my words may have done to the cause of the Palestine refugees and for any offence I may have caused,” the letter says. It ends thus: “The Agency is at liberty to use my statement in whatever ways it sees fit. There is no need for a reply.”

Little has changed since 1967, when Israel tried to build permanent housing for refugees after it got control of the territories. The program was aborted due to pressure from the UN and terrorism from the PLO:

What is perhaps surprising is that the United Nations also opposed the program, and passed harsh resolutions demanding that Israel remove the Palestinians from their new homes and return them to the squalid camps. For example, UN General Assembly Resolution 31/15 of Nov. 23, 1976:

Calls once more upon Israel:

(a) To take effective steps immediately for the return of the refugees concerned to the camps from which they were removed in the Gaza Strip and to provide adequate shelters for their accommodation;

(b) To desist from further removal of refuges and destruction of their shelters.

Similarly, UNGA Resolution 34/52 of November 23, 1979 declared that:

measures to resettle Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip away from their homes and property from which they were displaced constitute a violation of their inalienable right to return;

1. Calls once more upon Israel to desist from removal and resettlement of Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip and from destruction of their shelters;

Perhaps thanks to this support from the UN, the PLO began threatening to kill any refugee who would move out of the camps. After a few such attacks, the build-your-own-home program died, and that is why there are still Palestinians [in] refugee camps in Gaza. — CAMERA

Truly, Abed Rabbo is right. The condition of the refugees is a crime against humanity. And the Arabs are guilty of it.

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