Archive for October, 2011

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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