Archive for September, 2011

Tom Friedman joins “Israel Lobby” conspiracy theorists

Monday, September 19th, 2011

As we get closer and closer to the UN vote on Palestinian statehood, as relations between Israel and Turkey and Egypt deteriorate, the usual suspects are responding in the usual way — and even more so.

The NY Times’ Tom Friedman has gone over to “Israel lobby” conspiracy theories:

The crumbling of key pillars of Israel’s security — the peace with Egypt, the stability of Syria and the friendship of Turkey and Jordan — coupled with the most diplomatically inept and strategically incompetent [I would put ‘U.S.’ here — ed] government in Israel’s history have put Israel in a very dangerous situation.

This has also left the U.S. government fed up with Israel’s leadership but a hostage to its ineptitude, because the powerful pro-Israel lobby in an election season can force the administration to defend Israel at the U.N., even when it knows Israel is pursuing policies not in its own interest or America’s.

Oh, really? Please explain how the “powerful pro-Israel lobby” can swing a presidential election. The problem for President Obama here is that many Americans understand the Middle East too well. They get it that Israel is struggling against the combined forces of Islamism and Arab rejectionism. They get it that the US was attacked by Islamists, not Israelis, on 9/11 (while Palestinians cheered). And they get it that appeasement doesn’t work.

These Americans, 98% of whom are not Jewish and not members of Congress, are not influenced by “the Lobby.” Many of them are independents who will simply be morally outraged if the administration screws Israel.

Friedman says that it’s Netanyahu’s fault for not ‘responding’ to the challenges facing Israel:

Mr. Netanyahu has a strategy: Do nothing vis-à-vis the Palestinians or Turkey that will require him to go against his base, compromise his ideology or antagonize his key coalition partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an extreme right-winger. Then, call on the U.S. to stop Iran’s nuclear program and help Israel out of every pickle, but make sure that President Obama can’t ask for anything in return — like halting Israeli settlements — by mobilizing Republicans in Congress to box in Obama and by encouraging Jewish leaders to suggest that Obama is hostile to Israel and is losing the Jewish vote. And meanwhile, get the Israel lobby to hammer anyone in the administration or Congress who says aloud that maybe Bibi has made some mistakes, not just Barack.

A few minor points:

First, Jews in the US are a small proportion — 1.7% in 2007 — and at least half of them will vote for Obama regardless of his position on Israel. Some of them are in swing states (Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania) but many are in states which are unlikely to go Republican, like California. The “Jewish vote” is not a big deal.

Second, could we leave the settlements alone? Israel is not building new settlements or expanding the boundaries of old ones. The most it is doing is allowing construction within existing settlements, and it tried a 10-month freeze on that without results. This issue never was a barrier to negotiations, until the “inept and strategically incompetent” Barack Obama made it so. The media have been exceptionally dishonest about this, always referring to “settlement construction,” which any reasonable person would understand as building new settlements.

Third, Israel offered to express regret for the deaths of several Turkish IHH terrorists, but would not agree that it was at fault when its soldiers defended themselves, and would not agree to open the gates to unlimited transit of weapons into Gaza by ending the blockade. Turkey would not accept less.

Fourth, the US has done little to stop Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, by not supplying Israel with refueling aircraft and “bunker buster” weapons, it reduced Israel’s power of deterrence, which encouraged Iran.

Fifth, is Friedman really blaming Bibi for “mobilizing Republicans?” Can’t they mobilize themselves? What else is it possible to blame him for?

And one major point: the failure of bilateral negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is not due to Netanyahu’s concern for his ‘base’, but rather due to the Palestinians’ refusal to negotiate without preconditions that amount to giving up the store. To a great extent, this situation is Obama’s fault, for allowing the Palestinians to think that they could get more from American pressure than they could from negotiations.

Friedman must be getting tired if the best he can do is trot out the Israel Lobby, along with pathological Israel-haters Stephen WaltGlenn Greenwald and Philip Weiss.

Friedman’s suggestion for a solution is that Israel (preferably with a new, more pliant, government) should make a “peace overture that fair-minded people would recognize as serious, and thereby reduce its isolation.” So after Israel

  1. returned the Sinai to Egypt (and now the treaty is in question),
  2. allowed the murderous PLO to return from exile and set up a government,
  3. transferred weapons to the PA ‘police’,
  4. withdrew its troops from southern Lebanon (and got a war in return),
  5. evacuated all the Jews, living and dead, from Gaza (and got a war in return),
  6. adopted the idea of a Palestinian state in the territories,
  7. withdrew from much of Judea and Samaria,
  8. released Palestinian prisoners to strengthen Mahmoud Abbas,
  9. removed many checkpoints and roadblocks from Judea/Samaria,
  10. provided humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip while Hamas bombarded it with rockets,
  11. made offers of up to 97% of the disputed territories plus swaps and major concessions on Jerusalem in 2000 and 2008 —

after all of this, and while the PA still has not changed those parts of its charter calling for the destruction of Israel, still insists on a “right of return” for refugees, still broadcasts anti-Israel and antisemitic incitement in its media, mosques and educational system, and adamantly refuses to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people — now Tom Friedman thinks Israel should make yet another ‘peace overture’!

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Revealing nonsense from Nabil Shaath

Sunday, September 18th, 2011

About six weeks ago I caught PLO official Nabil Shaath (former PM of the Palestinian Authority) explaining that the Palestinians do not, and will not, accept the idea of two states for two peoples.

Shaath gave an interview on Army Radio yesterday and made three notable statements:

1. Asked why the Palestinian leadership refuses to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, Shaath responded that the Jewish people, on their own, decided “that they have really built their state that is not only for the Jewish people because 22 percent of Israelis are not Jewish.”

Jewish tradition is clear about the need to treat the ‘stranger that resides in your midst’ justly. It is therefore possible to have a Jewish state, a homeland for the Jewish people, whose national symbols and national character are Jewish, which nevertheless has some non-Jewish inhabitants who are treated fairly. Indeed, it would not be a truly ‘Jewish’ state otherwise!

But Shaath cannot understand this, because his idea of a national state is one that will expel everyone who is not a Palestinian Arab.

2. Presented with statements attributed to the Palestinian Authority envoy to the United States last week that a Palestinian state would be without Jews, Shaath said that Maen Areikat “never said ‘Jewish free,'” but rather “that at the beginning of our peace, we want to separate.”

But Areikat did say, quite explicitly, that Jews would not be permitted to live in ‘Palestine’, in an interview in Tablet magazine last year. And he said it in the context of explaining a similar statement about ‘separation’. He was speaking in English on both occasions. He was not misquoted, quoted out of context or mistranslated.

3. Asked whether settlers would be allowed to live in a future Palestinian state, [Shaath] added, “If [settlers] decide to accept Palestinian citizenship and buy the territory that they have and live as individual citizens, then why not?”

Why not? Well, for one thing, because PA residents are forbidden by law — on pain of death — to sell land to Jews.

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Let’s give these people a state!

Sunday, September 18th, 2011
Police and Zaka volunteers remove the body of murdered American tourist Kristine Luken, December 18, 2010

Police and Zaka volunteers remove the body of murdered American tourist Kristine Luken, December 18, 2010

So what’s new?

The trial of three Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs charged with the sadistic murder of a Christian tourist and the attempted murder of her Israeli friend began Sunday in the Jerusalem District Court…

The attack took place December 18 at Khirbet Hanut in the Mata Forest, near Beit Shmesh, where Kaye Wilson, a dual Israeli-British citizen, and a visiting friend, Kristine Luken, had gone on a hike. Luken did not survive that day.

Wilson told the court Sunday of the horrific ordeal as the accused men sat in the defendants’ bench and looked on. Luken’s brother, Dean Luken, flew in from Texas to attend the hearing.

The attackers approached the women in the forest and tied them up. They later confessed to Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) interrogators that they had come there with the intent of murdering Jews.

“I saw Kristine being murdered in front of my eyes,” said Wilson, describing how one of the killers gingerly removed her Star of David necklace and then stabbed her. She played dead in order to save her life, while Luken was dying. “She screamed. I did not want him to hurt me. I tried not to utter a sound. It was difficult because the pain was great but I tried to play dead. I heard Kristine uttering her last gasps. I was not sure if I was alive,” she told the court. —  IsraelNN

A pity that the trial couldn’t be held in Texas, where the death penalty for murder is regularly carried out. If found guilty in Israeli court, the murderers will likely be sentenced to long, perhaps life, prison terms. Sounds good, except that they are likely to be released in a lopsided ‘prisoner exchange’, an operation to ‘bolster Abbas’ against Hamas, or just in a general amnesty when the state of ‘Palestine’ is declared.

Even one of the convicted killers of five members of the Fogel family, Hakim Awad, the one who did the stabbing, received only five life sentences.

Israel’s jails are full of Arab murderers of Jews. Murder is a political act, just like stealing Jewish cars or farm animals can be. There are literally hundreds of cases like this — innocent people shot, stabbed, burned, stoned or beaten to death (like Koby Mandell and Yosef Ishran, 13 and 14 years old, in 2001).

In March 2004, an Arab student named George Khoury was shot dead while walking in Jerusalem. The killers were members of Fatah’s al-Aqsa brigades who were looking for “Jewish settlers” to kill and mistook Khoury for a Jew. Yasser Arafat called the young man’s prominent father and personally apologized. The al-Aqsa Brigades issued a statement saying that they regretted the case of “mistaken identity” and that Khoury was a martyr for the cause. I doubt that there will be an apology to Luken’s family.

It is top priority for the government of the soon-to-be state of ‘Palestine’ to free all Palestinians in Israeli prisons, whom they consider political prisoners or at most prisoners of war:

The PA president said that recognition of statehood with pre-1967 borders is necessary for renewed negotiations with Israel. “We need to have full [UN] membership within [pre-1967] borders in order to go to negotiations on a basis adopted by the world so that we may discuss the permanent issues of Jerusalem, borders, refugees – and our prisoners in Israeli prisons.” — Mahmoud Abbas, September 16, 2011

One of the issues that has prevented a prisoner-exchange deal with Hamas for Gilad Shalit is the Hamas demand for the release of numerous murderers. Although ridiculously unfair “prisoner exchanges” have been the rule for the past few years — including one that released the vicious child murderer Samir Kuntar — apparently the demands this time were over the top, even for an Israeli government under tremendous pressure to get Shalit out of Hamas’ hands regardless of the price.

The judges in the case of Fogel murderer Hakim Awad considered sentencing him to death:

“A case such as this tempts the use of such a punishment,” the judges wrote in their decision. “The imprisoned criminal, whose life would be taken after being sentenced to death, might turn into a martyr, a shaheed in their terms, with all the meanings that are attached to it.” — JTA

I admit that I don’t understand this. There are plenty of Palestinian Arab ‘martyrs’ to serve as inspiration for more. The PA constantly names streets, schools, camps and playgrounds after them to make sure that they do inspire others, especially young people. One more wouldn’t hurt.

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Abbas will go to UNSC, US will veto, Israel will pay

Saturday, September 17th, 2011

Yesterday, Mahmoud Abbas explained what he expects to get from the UN:

“We are going to the United Nations to request our legitimate right, obtaining full membership for Palestine in this organization,” Abbas said in a televised speech, indicating he would seek a vote on the issue in the UN Security Council…

“If we succeed, and this is what we are working towards, then we must know that the day following the recognition of the state, the occupation will not end,” Abbas said.

“But we will have obtained the world’s recognition that our state is occupied and that our land is occupied and not disputed territory, as the Israeli government claims,” he said.

He added that the move is not intended to isolate Israel or delegitimize its legal status. “Israel is there, no one can isolate or take away its legal status, but we need to isolate the policies of Israel. We need to put an end to the occupation and take away the legal status of the occupation.”

The PA president said that recognition of statehood with pre-1967 borders is necessary for renewed negotiations with Israel. “We need to have full [UN] membership within [pre-1967] borders in order to go to negotiations on a basis adopted by the world so that we may discuss the permanent issues of Jerusalem, borders, refugees – and our prisoners in Israeli prisons.”

For once, he’s telling the truth. Although they don’t like to admit it, and no matter how often their friends in the media say “settlements are illegal under international law,” the Palestinians realize that in fact the territories are at most ‘disputed’, and Jewish settlements east of the Green Line legal (see scholar Howard Grief’s arguments for Israel’s legal title to all of the area of the mandate here).

Abbas believes that a Security Council resolution that recognizes a state of ‘Palestine’ in the territories will overcome the precedents set by

the San Remo Resolution of April 25, 1920, the Mandate for Palestine conferred on Britain by the Principal Allied Powers and confirmed by the League of Nations on July 24, 1922, and the Franco-British Boundary Convention of December 23, 1920 [Grief]

as well as UNSC resolutions 242 and 338, which state that the disposition of the territories captured in 1967 shall be determined by the agreement of all of the parties (and not imposed by the UN), and of course the Oslo accords which reaffirmed that principle.

All of this, he hopes, will disappear. But statehood will not confer any responsibilities on the Palestinians, such as to feed their own people or resettle any of the Arab refugees (except in Israel).

A PLO official remarked that statehood would not affect the right of refugees to return to their ‘original homes’ in Israel. Indeed, it will not affect the status of any Palestinian ‘refugees’, not even the ones within the PA.  They will remain in refugee camps, supported by the UN (mainly with US money) until they can be mobilized to overrun Israel and turn it into West Palestine!

The arrogance is remarkable, considering that the Palestinians have no economy, have created no real institutions, do not have a unified leadership, and have proudly announced that they plan to create an apartheid state which will engage in ethnic cleansing of its Jewish inhabitants. But none of this seems to matter.

The PA — and this doesn’t include payments to the UN refugee organization, UNRWA — receives half  a billion dollars a year of US taxpayer funds, plus millions more from the EU. US instructors train its army, which is armed with US weapons. Much of the money is paid to PA officials in Gaza, which is under Hamas control. Without this international dole, there would be no PA.

They are asking the UN for statehood while Hamas — an explicitly racist group which espouses genocide against the Jewish population of Israel, which is holding a kidnapped Israeli incommunicado in violation of international law, and which continues to fire rockets at random against a civilian population (a war crime) — is officially part of the PA.

All of this is justified by an invented, inverted historical narrative, and — in the case of Hamas — a radical Islamist ideology.

The only thing preventing the passage of such a resolution is a threatened US veto. Abbas claims that a veto would “destroy the two-state solution.” In Abbas-speak, a “two-state solution” does not mean a Palestinian state alongside a Jewish one. It means that there will be a Palestinian state where Jews are forbidden to live, and an ‘Israel’ where 4.5 million Arab ‘refugees’ will have the right to join the existing Arab minority to create another Arab state. So according to this definition, he is correct.

Direct negotiations with Israel could have given the Palestinians a state in the territories with generous borders and serious concessions on Jerusalem. But it could not, ever, give them a right of return for refugees because no imaginable Israeli government would commit suicide.

It’s also the case that any bilateral agreement would have to include recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people, and a statement that the Palestinians have no further claims, territorial or otherwise, against Israel.  These conditions would not be acceptable to the Arabs for obvious reasons. It is not “Israeli intransigence” or construction within settlements that has prevented a bilateral agreement. It is simply that Israel won’t negotiate itself out of existence.

The Obama Administration has promised to veto the Palestinian proposal in the Security Council. Most analysts believe that it will do so. Polls show that most Americans support Israel. It is already becoming a partisan issue, with Republicans increasingly staking out pro-Israel positions. Can you imagine what would happen if Obama became the first president in history to permit an anti-Israel resolution to pass in the Security Council?

But in my opinion, the President and his advisers are a slim reed to lean on. And supposing that there is a veto, what will Israel have to pay to get it?

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Palestine no refuge for Palestinians

Thursday, September 15th, 2011
Jewish refugees, Czechoslovakia, 1946. Israel made room for them.

Jewish refugees, Czechoslovakia, 1946. Israel made room for them.

The very first thing Israel did as a state was to do its absolute best to bring Jewish refugees everywhere home.

European refugees from the Holocaust, Jews expelled from Arab countries with little more than the clothes on their backs, Jews in danger in Ethiopia — every Jew who needed a home was given one, despite the enormous cost, the lack of food and housing, and the precarious existence of the Jewish state.

Now that the Palestinian Arabs are, or think they are, on the verge of statehood, what do they plan to do for the 4.5 million or so people who claim Palestinian refugee status?

After all, statehood is supposed to provide a solution for the “plight of the Palestinians” and part of their plight has always been said to be the horrible circumstances of the ‘refugees.’ So surely one would expect that a top priority for the new state of ‘Palestine’ would be to help these people: give them citizenship, homes, education, jobs, etc. Get them out of camps and help restore their self-respect.

But in keeping with the Fundamental Axiom of Arab Priorities™ which says that “Hurting Jews is Always More Important than Helping Arabs,” that is not the case.

Thanks to Elder of Ziyon for bringing this to our attention:

BEIRUT: Palestinian refugees will not become citizens of a new Palestinian state, according to Palestine’s ambassador to Lebanon.

From behind a desk topped by a miniature model of Palestine’s hoped-for blue United Nations chair, Ambassador Abdullah Abdullah spoke to The Daily Star Wednesday about Palestine’s upcoming bid for U.N. statehood.

The ambassador unequivocally says that Palestinian refugees would not become citizens of the sought for U.N.-recognized Palestinian state, an issue that has been much discussed. “They are Palestinians, that’s their identity,” he says. “But … they are not automatically citizens.”

This would not only apply to refugees in countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, Syria and Jordan or the other 132 countries where Abdullah says Palestinians reside. Abdullah said that “even Palestinian refugees who are living in [refugee camps] inside the [Palestinian] state, they are still refugees. They will not be considered citizens.”

Abdullah said that the new Palestinian state would “absolutely not” be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees.

Neither this definitional status nor U.N. statehood, Abdullah says, would affect the eventual return of refugees to Palestine. “How the issue of the right of return will be solved I don’t know, it’s too early [to say], but it is a sacred right that has to be dealt with and solved [with] the acceptance of all.” He says statehood “will never affect the right of return for Palestinian refugees.” —  Daily Star, Lebanon

In other words, the refugees will continue to be stateless, living on the UN (mostly US) dole, in ‘refugee camps’, as they have for the past three generations, until they can finally fulfill their purpose — to overrun the Jewish state.

So not only will ‘Palestine’ be a racist, antisemitic, apartheid state, it will not lift a finger to help its own people. They want a ‘right of return’ to Israel, but they will not get one to Palestine!

Tell me again why the UN will vote for Palestinian statehood, please.

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