Archive for October, 2011

Palestine is a State like night is day

Monday, October 31st, 2011

Earlier today, I discussed the admission of ‘Palestine’ to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). I argued that ‘Palestine’ is not actually eligible for membership, because it does not meet the criteria in the UNESCO Constitution.

In particular, ‘Palestine’ is not a State.

Of course, the Palestinian Authority claims that it is. Let’s see what it means to be a State and whether ‘Palestine’ is one. Here are the criteria, according to geographer Matt Rosenberg. I’ve interspersed my comments (italicized).

An independent State:

Has space or territory which has internationally recognized boundaries (boundary disputes are OK).

No. The lack of defined boundaries go beyond a ‘boundary dispute’. In fact, the PA’s application for admission to the UN that it presented to Ban Ki-Moon does not even specify boundaries, except insofar as it refers to the 1947 partition resolution, UNGA 181, which was never implemented. It could be argued that the PA’s continued publication of maps and other materials that show ‘Palestine’ as occupying all of the land between the Jordan and the Mediterranean indicate that its claims to defined boundaries are frivolous at best.

Has people who live there on an ongoing basis.

Yes.

Has economic activity and an organized economy. A country regulates foreign and domestic trade and issues money.

No. It does not regulate foreign trade or issue money. Its ‘economy’ is based on the international dole. It is a pre-failed state.

Has the power of social engineering, such as education.

Yes. The nature and quality of its ‘social engineering’ is suspect, however, since it is racist and focused on aggression against Israel and not toward building an independent and peaceful state.

Has a transportation system for moving goods and people.

Yes.

Has a government which provides public services and police power.

Yes. It has far more police per capita than New York or Los Angeles, or indeed any UN member state.

Has sovereignty. No other State should have power over the country’s territory.

No. Hamas controls part of its territory where 40% of its population lives. Israel controls most of Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Israel also controls the airspace and most ports of entry. In the parts of Judea and Samaria that it supposedly does control, the PA’s authority is totally dependent on the presence of the IDF and would vanish if it were not there.

Has external recognition. A country has been “voted into the club” by other countries.

Yes, quite a few countries have announced that they ‘recognize’ it. Without sovereignty or defined boundaries, it’s not clear how these statements can be more than rhetoric.

The lack of sovereignty and defined boundaries is critical. Palestine is not a State by the normal criteria of geography.

Of course, for political and propaganda reasons, night can be day.

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For ‘Palestine’, all is permitted

Monday, October 31st, 2011

‘Palestine’ was admitted today to UNESCO, the UN Educational, Scientific and  and Cultural Organization. The Voice of America reports that

France voted for the motion, along with almost all Arab, African, Latin American and Asian nations, including China and India. Israel, the United States, Canada and Germany voted against it. Japan and Britain abstained. A two-thirds vote was required by the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization’s 193 members. [but see below regarding the part in italics]

The contributions of ‘Palestine’ in these areas is well-known. It’s about time they were recognized.

Take for example, the educational achievement of both the PLO and Hamas, who have educated an entire generation with such vicious hatred of Jews and Israelis that they are prepared to die in order to kill them (including babies).

Palestinian advances in rocket science are also remarkable. The new Qassams have a range of up to 30 miles and can carry a payload of up to 100 pounds of explosive. Sure, they don’t compare to the Russian-designed Grad missiles that have been landing on Israeli towns lately, but they show what can be done with simple technology and available materials, if only you have enough desire to commit murder.

And culture — well, a picture is worth a thousand words:

I know that all rules and normal standards are suspended when the Palestinians are involved, but it appears that ‘Palestine’ isn’t even eligible for membership, according to the UNESCO charter, which allows for the following to join: UN members, states which are not UN members (on a 2/3 vote of the UNESCO General Conference), and finally

Territories or groups of territories which are not responsible for the conduct of their international relations may be admitted as Associate Members by the General Conference by a two-thirds majority of Members present and voting, upon application made on behalf of such territory or group of territories by the Member or other authority having responsibility for their international relations.

I think that applies to entities like Puerto Rico. ‘Palestine’ is none of these. But hey, who’s counting? This is ‘Palestine’!

But here is some excellent news (also from the VOA item linked above):

The United States says it is cutting off financial contributions to the United Nations cultural agency following its vote Monday to grant Palestinians full membership.

The State Department said Washington will not make a $60-million November payment to UNESCO because of a longstanding U.S. law that prohibits American support for any U.N.-affiliated body that accepts Palestinian membership.

Washington currently is UNESCO’s biggest funding source, supplying 22 percent of the agency’s budget.

Now it’s time to completely cut off the Palestinian Authority from all US aid. There are plenty of good reasons for doing so, including

  • its direct financial support for convicted terrorists,
  • the continued vicious incitement in its media,
  • its payment of ‘salaries’ to functionaries located in Hamas-controlled Gaza,
  • its abrogation of international treaties including the Oslo accords,

And last, but not least:

  • its reconciliation with the explicitly genocidal Hamas.

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Mahmoud Abbas stays faithful to the Cause

Sunday, October 30th, 2011
Mahmoud Abbas gets a kiss from his mentor, Original Terrorist Yasser Arafat

Mahmoud Abbas gets a kiss from his mentor, Original Terrorist Yasser Arafat

News item:

The Arab nations should have accepted the U.N. partition plan in 1947, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Friday, about one month after he went to the U.N. to seek unilateral recognition of an independent Palestinian state.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 2, Abbas conceded that “it was our mistake” for not agreeing to U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181, which called for the establishment of a Jewish state alongside an Arab state in the British Mandate for Palestine. According to Abbas, Arabs as a whole are at fault for rejecting the plan and should have acted like the Jews and established a state. “But should they [the Israelis] punish us for this mistake for 64 years?” he said, speaking in English.

Does this mean that he wishes there were a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel, as Resolution 181 envisioned? Does it mean that he recognizes the Jewish state, which was implied in resolution 181?

Of course not. If a separate state were all he wanted, he could have had it in 2008, when then-PM Olmert offered him 93.6% of Judea/Samaria plus swaps, and half of Jerusalem for a capital. Although he now claims that the opportunity was lost when Olmert left office, there is good evidence that the PA walked away from it. And even today he explicitly refuses to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people.

In 1947, the Palestinian Arabs believed that — with the help of the Arab nations — they would succeed in driving the Jews out of Palestine or killing them, and therefore they did not accept partition. But that isn’t what happened. Their strategy backfired in the worst possible way.

Abbas understands that despite Arab mythology that the Zionists planned to force them out in any case, the nakba, the flight of about 600,000 Arabs from the area that became Israel, was a result of the war that the Arabs started.

Had there been no war, the Arab state that would have been created by the UN would have had almost no Jews (1%), and the smaller Jewish state would have been 55% Jewish and 45% Arab (Wikipedia). This would have been a much better starting point for an ultimate Arab takeover in almost every way than Olmert’s 2008 offer. No wonder he regrets that it was not accepted!

What is essential to understanding Abbas is to grasp that his demand for a right of return and his refusal to accept that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people are essential, not rhetorical, demands.

This is because the essence of the ‘Palestinian Cause’ is the reversal of the nakba and the return of all of the land to Arab control. Accepting resolution 181 in 1947 would have prevented the nakba and laid the groundwork for a more gradual end to Jewish rule. Olmert’s 2008 offer would not have served the Cause — and neither would the bilateral negotiations proposed by Netanyahu today, because they do not include right of return.

This makes the somewhat puzzling last sentence of the quotation — “But should they punish us for this mistake for 64 years?” — understandable. The ‘punishment’ Abbas is talking about is the refusal of Israel to allow the refugees and their millions of descendents to ‘return’ to the Jewish state.

In the minds of Palestinians, great exertions and sacrifices are justified to end the unnatural situation of their ‘exile’. Thus they do not accept any solution to the refugee problem other than ‘return’, they engage in terrorism (including suicide terrorism), and they refused what appear to be excellent offers of statehood from Clinton/Barak and Olmert.

All this is completely understandable and unexceptional to every Palestinian. Although Hamas and the PLO disagree about who should be in charge and about the degree to which a Palestinian state will be governed by Islamic law, they are in complete agreement about the Cause.

What is hard to understand, at least for me, is that despite the fact that the Palestinians have been talking about it for the aforesaid 64 years, Western leaders and diplomats still don’t get it!

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A time to talk and a time to fight

Saturday, October 29th, 2011
Moshe Ami, z'l, 56, murdered by Islamic Jihad rocket in Ashkelon

Moshe Ami, z'l, murdered by Islamic Jihad rocket in Ashkelon. They call him a "settler Zionist."

On Thursday, we read the following:

In a departure from previous policy, the government has agreed to put forward a comprehensive proposal on borders within three months, according to a Quartet communiqué issued on Thursday.

The statement, put out following separate meetings the Quartet envoys and Quartet representative Tony Blair held in Jerusalem with Israeli and Palestinian officials on Wednesday, said the parties agreed with the Quartet to “come forward with comprehensive proposals on territory and security within three months.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been reluctant to present a detailed map of where he envisions a future Palestinian state, wary of revealing a key negotiating card before knowing what he can expect in return from the Palestinians on issues such as refugees, Jerusalem and recognition of a Jewish state.

As I write this, rockets are falling into Israeli cities from Gaza, at least one Israeli civilian, a 56-year old father of 4 named Moshe Ami (Elder of Ziyon notes that Islamic Jihad calls him a ‘settler Zionist’) has been murdered and tens injured. The IDF has killed at least 9 terrorists, in strikes on military targets. A million Israelis spent the night in shelters.

So, back to diplomacy: the ‘proposal’ that Netanyahu will deliver should be something like this:

Dear Quartet (which is composed of three anti-Israel parties plus the least friendly American administration since 1948, and which has no authority other than ‘might makes right’ to determine the borders of the state of Israel),

You may (or may not, if you listen to the BBC) have noticed that Palestinian Arabs are presently committing acts of war against Israel. Please don’t tell me that it is a different faction from the one that I am negotiating with, because the hero’s welcome received by freed murderers of all factions shows that they all approve of murdering Jews.

Be that as it may, I am making the following comprehensive proposal:

The state of Israel will not talk to the Palestinian Arabs about anything, nor will it continue to collect taxes for the PA nor supply water and electricity to Gaza, until

  • They agree that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people,
  • They agree that there is no ‘right of return’ to Israel in principle or practice for descendents of Arab refugees,
  • They agree that a final agreement will end all their claims against Israel,
  • Armed factions will give up all weapons and military equipment over and above those needed for legitimate police duties.

Then we’ll talk. Meanwhile, we’ll go after terrorists wherever they are, in Gaza, Judea/Samaria, Jerusalem, etc. Acts of war will be responded to appropriately.

Your friend, Bibi

I’m entirely serious.

First, Israel should not be required to negotiate with those who do not accept her existence. If the Arabs aren’t capable of at least this, then any concession by Israel would be irrational, wouldn’t it? So why talk under those circumstances?

Second, the Kafka-esque situation in which Arabs are allowed to kill Jews and at the same time make demands is unacceptable. Acts of aggression against another state are forbidden by the charter of the UN that the PLO has been asking for statehood, and deliberately targeting civilians is a war crime. One would think that they would be required to stop these activities before the borders of their future state are drawn!

Israel is prepared to give up some territory for peace. But under no circumstances should she be required to negotiate under fire. If the Arabs cannot control their militias, then Israel will have to wage war with the militias first, until they are no longer capable of inflicting damage.

If there are, somewhere, real moderates among the Palestinians who honestly desire to live alongside Israel in peace, then they will do their best to suppress the militant factions. And they will put an end to the vicious incitement that flows continuously from all Palestinian Arab factions. So far there is no evidence at all of this.

To paraphrase kohelet, there is a time to talk and a time to fight. The Palestinian Arabs are telling us by their actions that now is not the time to negotiate.

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Germans want Israel to trade Jerusalem for a submarine

Friday, October 28th, 2011
One of Israel's Dolphin-class submarines

One of Israel's Dolphin-class submarines

News item:

Germany is “reconsidering” its decision to sell Israel a sixth Dolphin class submarine, Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Wednesday.

According to the report, the move was prompted by the tensions between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Merkel’s frustration over the new housing plans approved in east Jerusalem.

Top political sources said that Merkel was irked with Netanyahu, who “gave her the impression that he would be willing to suspend settlement expansion in order to push the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.”

Israel’s recent approval of 1,100 housing units in the Gilo neighborhood in Jerusalem led Merkel to announce that Netanyahu “cannot be taken seriously and has no intention of complying with the basic terms needed to renew the negotiations with the Palestinian.” [my emphasis]

If I may elucidate the boldfaced phrase, Merkel means that Bibi refuses to submit to Palestinian preconditions for negotiations, which include a freeze on all construction outside the Green line, agreement on pre-1967 lines plus swaps as borders, and several other things.

It is quite remarkable: the Arabs demand — and Europe supports them — that Israel agree to their desired outcome before starting to talk. Keep in mind, of course, that even if there were negotiations they could not possibly succeed, because the Palestinians have made it clear that they will never recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people or give up the so-called ‘right’ of return.

So the whole ‘negotiation’ ploy is just an attempt to squeeze concessions out of Israel.

I’ve discussed the Gilo project before:

…this is what all the fuss is about: a few more apartments in an existing Jewish neighborhood where 40,000 Jews already live, located 100 yards from the Green Line, adjoining other Jewish neighborhoods and empty space.

Is it not 100% certain that if Israel and the Palestinians were to reach an agreement to create a Palestinian state that Gilo would end up on the Israeli side of the border? Let me put it another way: what imaginable Israeli government would agree to a treaty that would not place Gilo in Israel?

Palestinian Arab fantasies that the UN or the US is going to declare that everything outside the 1949 armistice line belongs to them so that they can move forward with their plan to expel the Jews are just that — fantasies.

So why do the US and Europe indulge them?

Why indeed?

One reason is that both the EU and the US do not recognize any difference between ‘settlements’ and Jerusalem, and they want to make that point. I also think that they pick on Jerusalem because it is so important to Israelis and Jews — crush us here, and we’ll give up all resistance to walking down the road to the end of the Jewish state (perhaps they got this idea from the PLO’s Abbas Zaki).

The Dolphin submarine is important because the Dolphins, said to be fitted with nuclear-warhead equipped cruise missiles, constitute an important part of Israel’s ‘second-strike’ capability. Iran (or any other nation) understands that even if it devastates Israel, massive retaliation is inevitable. Although this doesn’t entirely solve the problem of Iranian nuclear weapons — they can change the landscape of the region without being used — it is a powerful deterrent against the most horrible scenario.

Nevertheless, Israel can probably live without this sub. It already has 3 Dolphin-class subs with two more under construction. In 2007, analyst Anthony Cordesman estimated that a second strike by Israel on Iran would result in 16 to 28 million dead in that country.

It’s also been suggested that part or all of the problem lies with the price. The deal called for Germany to subsidize $190 million of the estimated $500-$700 million cost. If that’s so, then Merkel should admit that they can’t afford the deal and it can be renegotiated.

But if the sticking point is Jerusalem, my guess is that Israel will tell Merkel that a submarine is not worth giving up sovereignty over part of its capital.

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Dump the Oslo paradigm, part II

Thursday, October 27th, 2011


Caroline Glick discusses dumping the Oslo paradigm:

The vast majority [of Israelis] love the country, want to defend it, don’t want to surrender, don’t want to establish a Palestinian state that’s going to be the death of the country, and don’t want to be beholden to foreign powers, but this view is never expressed.

One of the reasons we have a situation where we are going back time and time again, beating our heads against the wall with this false paradigm of peace on the basis of the establishment of a Palestinian state, is because the left has discounted any alternative policy. Every time we say it doesn’t work, the left always comes back and says, “What’s your alternative?”

Well, the alternative of course is to annex Judea and Samaria, but we haven’t had any discussion of that possible alternative for the past thirty years. It’s been discredited by the left because they don’t want to discuss it. So most Israelis, because we never talk about it, just assume it’s not a possibility.

The paradigm is even stronger in the US. The recent ‘unity pledge’ for American Jews promoted  by the ADL explicitly calls for a “two-state solution.” Similarly, some time ago a synagogue that I belong to appointed a committee to vet suggested speakers. Some of the members were afraid of pro-Palestinian activists, and others of ‘right-wing extremists’. The compromise that they reached was that an acceptable speaker on Israel had to support the “two-state solution!”

Since Oslo, the ‘centrist’ position has been that the only way to end the conflict is to establish a Palestinian state in essentially all of the territories and re-divide Jerusalem. But this was not always the case. During the 1970′s and 80′s, the moderate point of view was that Israel could trade some — but definitely not all — of the territories for a peace agreement. It was generally thought that Jordan would receive the parts of Judea and Samaria that Israel did not retain, or perhaps some kind of Palestinian autonomous entity would be created. But after the desecrations of the Jordanian occupation, almost nobody imagined splitting Jerusalem again. Few conceived of a sovereign Palestinian state, ruled by the murderous PLO.

Now we’ve had the Second Intifada (some call it ‘the Oslo War’). We’ve had a war with Hamas in Gaza and the Shalit affair. We’ve had some remarkably vicious terrorism like the Fogel murders. Rockets still fall on southern Israel and they are moving north.

Today the PLO demands all of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, and unashamedly admits that its goal is not to end the conflict, but to continue it until all of Israel has been replaced by an Arab state. Hamas, which didn’t exist until the late 1980′s, controls 40% of the Palestinian Arab population and is newly flush with weapons from the disintegrated Gadhafi regime.

Meanwhile, our ‘moderates’, following the Obama Administration’s lead along with the cowed Netanyahu government, keep calling for Israel to work together with the PLO in dismantling the Jewish state. But there are other options.

Lots of energy, thought, blood and astronomical amounts of money (mostly from the US) have gone into the futile effort to give life to a fantasy, a two-state solution with the PLO. What if it had gone into a plan that did not include the participation of terrorists? What if the idea that all states in the region, including Israel, need “secure and recognized boundaries” had not somehow fallen by the wayside?

What if the focus of the ‘peace process’ had really been peace and security rather than creating a Palestinian state at any cost?

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JCPA adopts craven resolution on Title VI

Wednesday, October 26th, 2011
Anti-Israel demonstration at UC Santa Cruz

Anti-Israel demonstration at UC Santa Cruz

Last week I wrote about a resolution of the Jewish Federation-funded Jewish Council on Public Affairs (JCPA) regarding the use of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect pro-Israel Jewish students from campus harassment.

The draft resolution reportedly included the following:

Lawsuits and threats of legal action should not be used to censor anti-Israel events, statements, and speakers in order to ‘protect’ Jewish students … but rather for cases which evidence a systematic climate of fear and intimidation coupled with a failure of the university administration to respond with reasonable corrective measures.

At this moment, the US Department of Education Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is investigating three such complaints, including one filed by Dr. Tammi Rossman-Benjamin which argues that precisely such a ‘systematic climate’ does exist at the University of California Santa Cruz campus. The complaint documents the harassment experienced by the students in and out of the classroom, and the non-response of the faculty and administration.

Objections to Rossman-Benjamin’s complaint are couched in terms of free speech and academic freedom, so the suggestion — coming as it does from a group that styles itself “the representative voice of the organized American Jewish community” — that such complaints may be filed in order to ‘censor’ free speech is especially damaging.

Attorney Susan Tuchman of the Zionist Organization of America wrote,

If the JCPA adopts the draft resolution, it would send an alarming and demoralizing message to Jewish students: that they, unlike other victims of harassment and intimidation, should hesitate before seeking to enforce their legal right to a school environment that is physically and emotionally safe and conducive to learning, or else risk criticism and a lack of support from their own Jewish communal leaders. And it would send a dangerous and destructive message to OCR: that the agency made the wrong decision in issuing the Title VI policy protecting Jewish students, because even the Jewish community is not united behind it. At the least, the Resolution could encourage government officials to take Title VI complaints by Jewish students less seriously, because Jewish communal leaders themselves are so wary of this legal remedy.

On Monday, the JCPA board adopted a modified form of the resolution, which includes this:

It is not in the Jewish community’s best interest to invoke Title VI to promote a “politically correct” environment in which legitimate debate about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is squelched and academic freedom is undermined, because use of the remedy in such circumstances could undermine its long-term effectiveness.  It may also be in conflict with basic values of tolerance and ideological moderation important to many contemporary college students, thereby potentially alienating both Jewish and non-Jewish students from the rest of the Jewish community and significantly harming the Jewish student community on campus. [my emphasis]

If anything, the mention of ‘political correctness’ and ‘squelching’ debate is more damaging than the originally reported evocation of ‘censorship’.

But worse, the argument reeks of cowardice: “don’t make too much noise, because it will only increase antisemitism.” Isn’t this the same argument that was used against those who tried to get  Roosevelt to take action to rescue Jews during WWII? Should American Jews give up their rights as Americans in order not to ‘alienate’ the majority?

To add insult to injury, the JCPA then issued a misleading press release which calls for “campus leaders to do more to combat anti-Jewish and anti-Israel activity” and deemphasizes the highly negative slant toward Title VI taken by their ‘statement’ (they’ve stopped calling it a ‘resolution’).

JCPA President Rabbi Steve Gutow said  “We are taught that there is a time to break down and a time to build up.  And there is a time to foster dialogue just as there is a time to go to court.” Certainly in the case of the University of California, Santa Cruz, fostering dialogue hasn’t worked.

So why is Gutow’s JCPA is doing its best to reduce the probability of prevailing in court as well?

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“Unity pledge” is a terrible idea

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the American Jewish Committee are promoting a “pledge” to be signed by Jewish organizations, elected officials and individuals that “U.S. – Israel friendship should never be used as a political wedge issue.”

I am always suspicious of pledges, especially when they are as vague as this one. Of course a ‘political wedge issue’ sounds like a bad thing, but does the pledge mean that one agrees not to criticize a candidate because of his or her position on Israel? Ron Paul, for example, thinks that the US should cut off all aid to Israel. Shouldn’t this be a reason to publicly oppose him?

The pledge also contains this:

U.S. leadership in the efforts to achieve an agreement resolving the conflict that results in two states—the Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peaceful coexistence—is more critical than ever.

I find this objectionable. The Palestinian leadership has made it clear that its intention is not to “live side by side in peaceful coexistence,” but seeks a sovereign state as a platform to continue to wage war against the Jewish state, in both the diplomatic and military spheres. US ‘leadership’ — that is, pressure — to help them do this is not favorable to Israel’s interests. Support of a “two-state solution” should not be a litmus test for supporting Israel, and it’s time to stop repeating the failed formulas of the Oslo period.

The real motivation for the pledge is apparent from the statement of the ADL’s Abraham Foxman in an accompanying press release:

We want the discourse on U.S. support for Israel to avoid the sometimes polarizing debates and political attacks that have emerged in recent weeks, as candidates have challenged their opponents’ pro-Israel bone fides or questioned the current administration’s foreign policy approach vis-à-vis Israel … The last thing America and Israel need right now is the distractions of having Israel bandied about as a tool for waging political attacks. [my emphasis]

Could anything be more transparently partisan?

As a Democrat who has called the Obama team “the most anti-Israel administration since 1948,” it is very important to me that I be able to hold it to account for its Israel policy — and that Republicans do so as well. How else can we influence our politicians if we refrain from criticizing them at election time?

There is a real danger posed by organizations like the ADL, AJC (and don’t forget the Jewish Federation-supported JCPA and the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ)), which is that they purport to represent large segments of the Jewish public, when they are actually controlled by a small group of activists. Even the URJ’s liberal constituency is not necessarily in agreement with the more radical positions taken by its leadership. Non-Jewish Americans can be excused for being misled about what Jews generally think about Israel (and other things).

The ADL is dominated by one man, Abe Foxman, and it shows. Take for example, his embarrassing faux pas over recognizing the Armenian Genocide, or his vicious attack on opponents of Rabbi Jacobs as URJ President. The ADL could serve a useful function if it stuck to fighting antisemitism, and it should do so.

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God help Britain

Monday, October 24th, 2011

I’ve written more than once about the relationship between anti-Zionism and antisemitism. But a recent piece in the UK Guardian (circulation 279,000 in January 2011) surprised even me.

A creature named Deborah Orr writes a weekly column in that newspaper, which refers to her as “one of Britain’s leading social and political commentators.” God help Britain, then.

Orr rarely if ever writes about Israel – indeed, going back to January of this year I can find no other mention of the subject. So she is not one of the multitude of professional Israel-bashers, which makes it worse.

Here is the whole ugly thing:

It’s quite something, the prisoner swap between Hamas and the Israeli government that returns Gilad Shalit to his family, and more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners to theirs. The deal is widely viewed as a victory for Hamas, the radical Islamist group that gained power in Gaza after years of frustration at the intractability of the “peace process”. Conversely, it is being seen by some as a sign of weakness in Israel’s rightwing prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

All this, I fear, is simply an indication of how inured the world has become to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are more important than Palestinian lives. Netanyahu argues that he acted because he values Shalit’s life so greatly.

Yet who is surprised really, to learn that Netanyahu sees one Israeli’s freedom as a fair exchange for the freedom of so many Palestinians? Likewise, Hamas wished to use their human bargaining chip to gain release for as many Palestinians as they could. They don’t have much to bargain with.

At the same time, however, there is something abject in their eagerness to accept a transfer that tacitly acknowledges what so many Zionists believe – that the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence than those of their unfortunate neighbours. [my emphasis]

What Orr has done is standard procedure for those who meld hating the Jewish State with hating Jews. She takes bare facts and imputes to them the worst possible motives, in this case entirely inverting the truth.

The truth of the Shalit affair is this: Hamas snatched a young soldier and held him underground, incommunicado, for more than five years, in order to use him to extort the release of convicted terrorists, including the most vicious murderers of innocents.

Due to the confluence of an effective public relations campaign waged by Shalit’s parents, which touched the hearts of Israelis whose sons and daughters are conscripted into the IDF, and political factors affecting both the Netanyahu government and Hamas, a deal was made. It is highly disadvantageous to Israel, freeing dangerous and unrepentant criminals, destroying the deterrent effect of imprisonment, boosting the political fortune and morale of Hamas, and causing pain and fear to the bereaved families of the terrorists’ victims. There has already been a surge of terror attacks – stabbings and arson – as the Arabs mark their triumph.

Nevertheless there was a overwhelming feeling of joy in Israel, that the state cared enough about one soldier – everyone’s son – to take the risks and accept the humiliation that the deal implied.

It is this feeling that Orr renders as a belief that “the lives of the chosen are of hugely greater consequence…”!

She implies that the reason this deal is viewed as a victory for Hamas and a defeat for the Netanyahu government is not because, in objective, strategic terms, it was both of those, but rather because the world is “inured … to the obscene idea that Israeli lives are worth more than Palestinian lives.”

What is obscene here is Orr’s taking a situation in which Israeli Jews have been victimized — first by terrorist murders, then by Shalit’s captivity, and finally by having the murderers freed — and turning it into yet another false accusation of Jewish racism.

Note also her use of the concept of “the chosen,” a staple of antisemitic  discourse, which falsely claims that it is a principle of Judaism that Jews are superior to non-Jews.

It’s interesting that Orr, who usually writes about popular culture and likely cares about understanding how the public thinks and feels, didn’t notice how objectionable her piece really is. Or maybe she is in sync with her audience.

Everyone knows that the Guardian’s point of view is radically anti-Israel. But this piece more than crosses the line and should have been rejected by the editor. Perhaps he or she didn’t notice that either.

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Break out of the Oslo paradigm before it’s too late

Sunday, October 23rd, 2011
Palestinian Authority 'security' forces. Feel secure yet?

Palestinian Authority 'security' forces. Feel secure yet?

It appears that Israel offered a freeze on government-sponsored construction in Judea and Samaria in return for the Palestinian Authority (PA) returning to talks. The PA rejected the offer, because it did not include eastern Jerusalem and because it only applied to government, not private, construction.

Can we please stop this charade?

Now that the Shalit affair is over, after freed terrorist after freed terrorist has promised to go back to slaughtering Jews, after there has already been at least one attempted terrorist murder in the euphoria inspired by the triumph, it’s time to end the pretense, admit the truth, and begin to implement a completely new approach.

PA officials have made no secret of their admiration for acts of violence and murder against Jewish civilians. They have not stopped inciting their people to do more of them. They have not hidden their program to eliminate the Jewish state. They continue to insist that the world owes them a living and in fact owes them Israel, which they expect to have handed to them on a platter — the sooner the better, thank you.

Israel enables and facilitates this by calling for negotiations with them, allowing them to continue their posturing as a legitimate national entity, indeed, as anything more than a collection of gangs and militias, tolerating the idea that a Palestinian state might be created in the territories, and offering to preemptively surrender Jewish rights.

How many Jews will have to be murdered before the government of Israel can learn the word ‘enemy’ and understand that the PLO and Hamas are the enemies of the state and the Jewish people?

An enemy is someone who wants to kill you. Think of the US and Imperial Japan during WWII. But unlike WWII enemies, Arab enmity does not flow from a particular regime, or geopolitical aspirations thereof. It is pure ethnic/religious hatred which leaves no room for compromise. The relevant difference between the Nazi party and the PLO or Hamas is that the Nazis were better organized and more effective. But there is little difference between their objectives.

Negotiations in this situation can’t bring peace. They are just another part of the complex of military, diplomatic and information weapons that is being deployed against the Jewish state. Talking to the terrorists is in itself a victory for them.

In addition to physically fighting the terrorists, it’s also necessary to explode the false picture of who and what they are and what their goals are. Every time that an Israeli politician takes a Palestinian official seriously, every time Hamas or the PLO are given the slightest legitimacy, it is a victory for them.

Israel should not make any offers to the Palestinians except an offer to help facilitate regime change. Even if such a change did occur, it might be half a century or more before the poison spread initially by Yasser Arafat, who raised an entire generation of creatures corrupted by pathological hate, would lose its potency. And who knows what it would take to attenuate the religious murderousness of Hamas?

Today it’s not realistic to expect peace. The credulous acceptance of the ideas of Oslo, the wishful thinking that replaced simply opening eyes and ears and paying attention to the actions and statements of the PLO, led to the deaths of thousands of innocents. By now, the vocabulary of Oslo has pretty much gone from the conversations of ordinary Israelis, but it still defines (perhaps cynically) the approach of the US and Europe toward Israel.

It is a serious error to humor them. Israeli policy needs to change 180 degrees from the direction of Oslo. Israel cannot survive if it accepts the false premises of the Oslo conceptual scheme, which will bring about a piecemeal surrender to Palestinians who have no intention of letting up on the military and diplomatic pressure. No concession is ever enough, and every rejected Israeli offer becomes the starting point for the next round of demands.

It is remarkable the way the Palestinian Arabs, who have no economy apart from the international dole and no real military power, can successfully chip away at a country like Israel, with its flourishing economy and world-class military. But they are doing it, by combining relatively primitive terrorism with a diplomatic assault that uses the Oslo framework and the language of human rights to leverage the power of the US, the EU, the UN, etc. to squeeze Israel, little by little.

Israel’s government must stop enabling the process. Its diplomacy should send the following message:

  • The PLO and Hamas are enemies of the state of Israel. We won’t deal with them except to fight terrorism.
  • There is no ‘peace process’ and can be none until the PLO and Hamas are replaced by a regime that ends terrorism and declares that they are prepared to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.
  • Israel will not cooperate in attempts to ethnically cleanse Jews from areas that were occupied by Jordan in 1948-67. Territorial compromises, if any, will be made in the framework of UNSC resolutions 242/338, which guarantee secure and recognized borders and do not privilege the 1949 armistice lines.
  • The Oslo agreements — which were not signed in good faith by Yasser Arafat, whose provisions for modification of the PLO charter and ending terrorism and incitement were never carried out, and which were abrogated by Mahmoud Abbas’ unilateral appeal to the UN — are null and void. The PA that they created is illegitimate.

It might not be possible to change the attitudes of the people in the Obama Administration, for example, who are pushing the one-sided ‘peace process’. But at least Israel can officially end its acquiescence in what some call the ‘piece-by-piece process’.

One of the horrible ironies of Oslo was Israel’s providing weapons to the PA ‘police’, which were then turned against Jews in terrorist attacks. Let’s stop handing them the conceptual weapons — far more dangerous than assault rifles and armored cars  — that they are using in their diplomatic war against the Jewish state.

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Four big Israeli mistakes

Friday, October 21st, 2011
IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren (center),with General Uzi Narkiss (left) at the Western Wall, June 7, 1967

IDF Chief Rabbi Shlomo Goren (center),with General Uzi Narkiss (left) at the Western Wall, June 7, 1967

On June 7th, 1967, Israeli Paratroopers liberated the Temple Mount. Although some religious leaders (including, initially, Rabbi Shlomo Goren) favored destroying the Dome of the Rock and building a Third Temple, this idea was never seriously considered. But short of that, what was to be done? There was a debate among the rabbis about how to deal with the prohibition against entering the Holy of Holies. Some proposed simply banning Jews from the entire area. But Rav Goren felt that Jews should be allowed to pray on at least specified parts of it, because otherwise Israel would lose its sovereignty there.

In a confidential memorandum to the Ministerial Committee for Holy Places which he sent shortly after military hostilities had ceased, Goren proposed that

the prime minister should declare that the holy places of the Jews be placed under rabbinic supervision. All the Temple Mount is holy to the Jews and therefore it is in the jurisdiction of the Chief Rabbinate even though mosques were built there. Since it is forbidden for Jews and non-Jews alike to enter the Temple Mount the Chief Rabbinate should request the army to close the Temple Mount for everybody. This step should be taken immediately [Goren's emphasis] before the military curfew is lifted and before free access is given. Now the Arabs are in a state of shock, and their only hope is to stay alive and not be massacred. Now is the moment to set the conditions and basis for the status quo proposed. Through such a step, the exclusive Muslim rule on the Mount will be circumvented. Later it will not be possible to do anything. If this proposal comes from the rabbinate rather than the government it will be seen as a religious matter of holiness rather than a political idea. And since entry will be forbidden for Jews, the Arabs cannot claim discrimination.

Such a ban, which could have lasted years, would have given the Chief Rabbinate time to study the problem including clarifying which areas are permitted to enter and which are not. Goren added that “if the Arabs are suspicious it is possible to give them El Aqsa.”

But Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and Chief of Staff Yitzhak Rabin overruled him. The Temple Mount was placed under the control of the Jordanian waqf and the Western Wall was left for Jewish prayer. Later, Rabbi Goren tried to change the status quo, but many rabbis opposed him as did most of the political echelon. The Temple Mount in effect remained under Muslim control despite theoretical Jewish sovereignty in Jerusalem.

Since then, the waqf has excavated and built illegally, destroying archaeological evidence of a historical Jewish temple, and Israel has done nothing. Jews are permitted to go up to the Mount, but may not pray there — a Jew was arrested (by Israeli police) for trying to wave a lulav (a device woven from the ‘four species’ in observance of Sukkot) this week, and Jews have been reported by waqf officials for moving their lips.

Any Jewish activity in the area is cause for Arab riots. There is constant incitement of the Muslim population in mosques and by the Islamic Movement  of Raed Saleh. ‘Peace’ proposals made to the Palestinians have included sovereignty over the Temple Mount — why not, since Israel has long since surrendered it.

Jewish soldiers died to take back all of Jerusalem, not just part of it. Rabbi Goren was right, Dayan and Rabin wrong. Mistake no. 1.

***

On May 20, 1985, Israel released 1,150 Palestinian prisoners, including murderers, in exchange for three Israelis who were captured in the 1982 Lebanon war and who were in the hands of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC) of Ahmed Jibril). Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin made the deal and Shimon Peres was PM.

The agreement set the stage for several others in which either large numbers of terrorists were freed or particularly vicious ones. The recent Gilad Shalit ‘exchange’ (I call it a ‘jailbreak’) included both. This agreement is the worst yet, but the precedent was set in 1985. Now — unless it institutes a death penalty — Israel has entirely lost its power of deterrence against murderous terrorism. Mistake no. 2.

***

In 1992, Yossi Beilin, then Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, and some other Israelis secretly met with representatives of the PLO in Oslo, Norway, by authority of Shimon Peres, then Foreign Minister. They agreed — and Peres later signed the agreement — that Israel would recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, allow Yasser Arafat to return to the territories from exile in Tunis and form a ‘Palestinian Authority’ (PA) to govern them. In return, the PLO would recognize Israel, and end terrorism and incitement. The agreement was brought to US President Clinton, who then mediated public talks between the parties.

The final agreement, signed by PM Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, called for a transitional period of up to five years, during which permanent status talks would define an end to the conflict in accordance with UN resolutions 242 and 338 — secure and recognized borders, and an end to Palestinian claims against Israel. The issues of precise borders, the status of Jerusalem, the Arab refugees, security guarantees, and the nature of Palestinian sovereignty were left for these permanent status talks.

The agreement was made to the great surprise of the Israeli people, who had voted for Rabin’s platform which called for negotiations with non-PLO Palestinians. Rabin also said that Jerusalem would remain undivided. Once the agreement was signed, however, the government pulled out all the stops to ‘educate for peace’, to overcome the resistance of the great majority of Israelis who hated and feared the PLO.  Israel even provided arms to the PLO ‘police’. The US and Europe financed the PA, and the US now trains its ‘security’ forces.

Arafat began to break his promises within moments of his return, sponsoring terrorism, ratcheting up incitement, and not changing the PLO charter (to this day it calls for violent resistance against Israel). He turned the educational system, religious establishment and media into anti-Israel and antisemitic propaganda factories. This hasn’t changed under his successor, Mahmoud Abbas.

More than a thousand Israelis died in the Second Intifada after Arafat rejected the Clinton proposals at Camp David in 2000. The PLO, which had been discredited, marginalized and exiled, has been resuscitated, and is now trying to get the UN to declare a Palestinian state without negotiating with Israel — in violation of the Oslo agreement that saved it.

As a result of the promises  of Oslo, the world has come to believe that a partition of territory controlled by Israel is a necessary and sufficient condition for ‘peace in the Middle East’. The pressures on Israel today are a direct descendent of Oslo.

Oslo was Mistake no. 3, maybe the biggest.

***

In August 2005, Israel unilaterally unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The withdrawal was planned and executed by Ariel Sharon, but in December and January he suffered two strokes, the second of which completely incapacitated him, and his deputy, Ehud Olmert, took over. In any event, it was a disaster. Israeli soldiers and police removed Jewish residents, sometimes by force, from the homes they had been encouraged by successive governments to build there. Although they were promised compensation, jobs and housing, many of them today still do not have permanent housing or good jobs.

Although every Jewish resident and soldier was removed (even bodies were disinterred from Jewish cemeteries), Palestinians and their supporters still claim that Gaza is ‘occupied’. Greenhouses that were purchased by prominent Jews and other Americans (including Bill Gates) and left to form the basis of a Palestinian economy were torn to pieces. Synagogues were gleefully burned. Terrorism from Gaza in the form of rockets and mortars fired into Israel began almost immediately. Whether Sharon would have been able to deal more effectively with the aftermath is debatable, but Olmert did not respond forcefully. In 2006, Hamas terrorists tunnelled under the border and kidnapped Gilad Shalit.

In 2007, Hamas executed a violent coup against PA authorities in Gaza, viciously murdering Fatah (PLO) rivals. They converted Gaza into a base for terror actions against Israel and a laboratory for Palestinian Islamism. By the end of 2008, rocket and other attacks provoked Operation Cast lead.

The withdrawal was mistake no. 4.

***

There are other candidates: allowing Yasser Arafat to survive the 1982 evacuation of the PLO from Lebanon, the precipitous withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, the other mistakes that led up to the failure to destroy Hizballah in 2006, the early termination of Operation Cast Lead, leaving Hamas in power, and the Shalit jailbreak.

There is no undoing these errors. But there is the possibility of learning from them so as to not repeat them.

Update [23 Oct 0653]: Corrected factual mistakes. It was, of course, Sharon who carried out the withdrawal from Gaza in August 2005.

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Moving forward after the jailbreak

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Yesterday, of course, was ‘Gilad Shalit Day’. Palestinians and supporters celebrated the end of the affair as a huge victory, a military operation which achieved its objective, which was to rescue their ‘heroes’ to fight again — which they promised to do.

Those on the side of Israel generally took one of two lines. Either

  • The 1027:1 swap was a mistake that will prove disastrous, resulting in additional terrorist murders, boosting morale and popularity of Hamas, eviscerating Israel’s ability to deter terrorism, re-opening the wounds of the families of terror victims, etc.

Or

  • Israel’s behavior represented a triumph of Jewish morality, in which the imperative to redeem one captured soldier overrode the fear of future terrorism.

It’s interesting that the division was not necessarily along the lines of Right vs. Left (although clearly the tendency of the Right was to oppose the swap and the Left to favor it). One of the most uncompromising pro-Israel observers that I know, who can safely be characterized as on the Right, wrote this after watching Gilad’s return home:

Compare the pure soul of a magnificent Israeli soldier, a true hero, against 1000 Arab murderers, the assassins of so many Israeli innocent civilians, children, men, women, grand parents and babies in their cribs and ask yourself a simple question: who is worth more to humanity, who deserves to be rescued at any price? Yesterday, after watching the rescue of this young man who never harmed a fly, gentle, shy, noble, intelligent, educated and eloquent, who radiates sweetness and goodness, this man, our son, every Israeli’s son, was worth the price after all.

The anguish of the bereaved families who lost their loved ones in the hands of those scum, was felt by all of us, more than words can tell. But no amount of anguish could have brought the victims back. Gilad Shalit could be brought from the dead.

Now it is left to Israel’s IDF and intelligence services to make sure none of these terrorists would return to murder more of us. The chiefs of these services promised they can do it.

I was opposed to the deal for strategic reasons, which I won’t repeat here. Now that it’s done, we need to move forward.

First, let’s not dignify it by calling it a ‘prisoner exchange’. It was a jailbreak, executed by taking a hostage and holding a gun to his head.

Despite the ‘pardons’ that the prisoners received from President Shimon Peres, those who were murderers on Monday remain murderers today. Most of the worst of them have been exiled, some to Gaza, and some to Turkey, Qatar, or Syria. Israel should adopt a policy that if any of them are found in Israel (including the territories and Jerusalem) they will be subject to the death penalty. Those who were guilty of murder and not exiled should be rearrested and serve out their sentences. Israel does not have to keep its word to terrorists, who obtained it by duress.

Second, a death penalty must be implemented from now on for terrorist murder.

It will not be simple to do this. Can you imagine the demonstrations among Palestinians and the Israeli Left, the objections from the ‘civilized’ Europeans and the UN when anyone is scheduled to be executed? But a way will have to be found to quickly establish guilt and immediately carry out executions. There is simply no other way to deter terrorism.

There are some who advocate a “just shoot them” approach, in which security forces will not take prisoners when terror attacks occur. But this prevents the terrorists from being interrogated, and — worse — will never include the planners who kill without dirtying their hands.

Third, Israel must end the charade of the ‘peace process’.

The hero’s welcome and endorsement given to the released prisoners by Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority (PA) should indicate — as if any more proof were needed — that, despite philosophical differences, the intentions of Hamas and the PLO toward Israel are identical.

Israel will not get secure borders from negotiations with the Palestinians. In light of the abrogation of the Oslo accords by the PLO indicated by its appeal to the UN, Israel should stop cooperating in any way with the PA, including collecting taxes for it and transferring funds to it.

Fourth, Israel must regain its posture of deterrence toward Hamas (and other terror factions).

In terms that the Arabs will understand, Israel must regain its honor. This may mean targeting Hamas leaders or some of the released prisoners. Hamas must pay a price that will make it clear that the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit and the jailbreak it facilitated was not a victory.

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Update [20 Oct. 1031 PDT]: I’d incorrectly included Egypt as a place to which some terrorists were exiled. The correct destination is Qatar.