Archive for November, 2011

Time to take sides

Thursday, November 24th, 2011
No, it's not a toga party. It's (l-r) Hamasniks Ismail Haniyya and Khaled Mashaal with Mahmoud Abbas back in 2007 after one of their periodic 'reconciliations'

No, it's not a toga party. It's (l-r) Hamasniks Ismail Haniyya and Khaled Mashaal with Mahmoud Abbas back in 2007 after one of their periodic 'reconciliations'

The Palestinian Ma’an News agency tells us:

CAIRO (Ma’an) — President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal on Thursday said they had resolved all their differences, after a meeting in Cairo to implement a unity agreement.

“We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything do to with the Palestinian nation,” Mashaal said.

“There are no more differences between us now,” added Abbas, who heads the Fatah movement.

Well, actually there are major differences, which, if Israel were to disappear tomorrow, would probably lead to bloodshed.

But what they are telling us is that with respect to their intentions toward Israel there is no difference. They have the same proximate goal, which is to eliminate the Jewish presence between the river and the sea. After that they can sort out who will be boss, and whether women will be allowed to walk around without their faces covered.

Abbas is saying in the clearest possible way that he is on board with the genocidal Hamas program.

The message that should be received in Jerusalem is that there is no peace process. There is no more need to make concessions to ‘strengthen Abbas’ because he is the same as Mashaal. There is no reason for Israel to collect import duties for the Palestinian Authority, because funding it is no different than funding Hamas.

Which would be no different than helping Hitler.

The Left which is concerned about the welfare of Palestinian Arabs, the various European-paid ‘Israeli’ organizations that look out for their rights, the international Human Rights industry, etc. all need to pay attention: the Palestinian leadership has staked its position as the deadly enemy of the Jewish state. Now it’s your turn to take sides.

Do you choose the path of the Palestinians, which is that “there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad?” (Hamas Covenant, Art. 13) Do you agree that every inch of ‘Palestine’ is an “Islamic Waqf” that must be governed by an Islamic regime? (Art. 11) How do you feel about the obligation of the ‘resistance movement’ to to kill Jews? (Art. 7)

If you agree with Mashaal and Abbas, come out and say it. To those members of  A Jewish Voice for Peace who call for boycott-divestment-sanctions against Israel and want to see Gaza open for weapons shipments from Iran — admit that you, too, agree that the Jews have to go. Maybe you can resettle them in Berkeley. How about it, Rabbi Brant Rosen and Rabbi Michael Lerner?

The EU and UN: go ahead, pass resolutions that “Israel must be destroyed.” If that’s what your policy aims at, why not say it?

I’m sick of the hypocrisy. If the Palestinian Arabs can admit how they feel about Israel, why can’t you?

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Pinkwashing again

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

There can be no better illustration of the lunatic obsession with Israel of the extreme Left than the issue of the treatment of gays and lesbians in Israel and the Arab and Muslim world.

The facts are simple: the majority of Israelis have a liberal Western sensibility. Although there certainly is a fundamentalist minority, they do not in general make the laws and they don’t set the tone in most places. As a result, LGBT people are not subject to discrimination in most venues, homosexuality is not illegal and — except in fundamentalist communities — not subject to social approbation or ostracism.

As I wrote a few months ago,

I think I can say unequivocally that the degree of tolerance for gays and lesbians in a society is directly proportional to the degree to which it is a free society. Israel is an (unfortunately rare) example of how it is possible for a religious tradition which opposes homosexuality to coexist with a temporal authority that does not interfere with the private lives of its citizens. In fact, you could call Israel the San Francisco of the Middle East, or — pardon the expression — the ‘Mecca’ for gay people of any ethnicity in the region.

On the other hand, most of the other countries in the region criminalize homosexuality. In some countries, gay sex is a capital crime. In others, informal sanctions include beatings and even murder.

The New York Times will apparently print anything that is anti-Israel no matter how stupid or illogical — viz. Roger Cohen, Thomas Friedman, and Nicholas Kristoff — or authored by terrorists, like op-eds by Hamas official Ahmed Yousef. Today it gave its anti-Zionist pulpit to Sarah Schulman, an activist from Jewish Voice for Peace, the only Jewish organization to make the ADL’s list of the top ten anti-Israel  groups in the nation.

Schulman wants to tell us that it is forbidden to use the facts mentioned above as a pro-Israel argument (this is not surprising, because for the pathological Israel-hater the only good thing about Jewish Israel is the most extreme fringe anti-state Left):

This message is being articulated at the highest levels. In May, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Congress that the Middle East was “a region where women are stoned, gays are hanged, Christians are persecuted.”

The growing global gay movement against the Israeli occupation has named these tactics “pinkwashing”: a deliberate strategy to conceal the continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights behind an image of modernity signified by Israeli gay life. Aeyal Gross, a professor of law at Tel Aviv University, argues that “gay rights have essentially become a public-relations tool,” even though “conservative and especially religious politicians remain fiercely homophobic.” [my emphasis]

I would call it a deliberate strategy to point out the truth, that Israel is a modern nation. And the fact that although there is a religious sector that is not comfortable with gay life, nevertheless Israel has managed to create a place where there is a flourishing gay culture — this speaks volumes about the tolerant and free nature of Israeli society.

She continues,

Pinkwashing not only manipulates the hard-won gains of Israel’s gay community, but it also ignores the existence of Palestinian gay-rights organizations.

I am happy to hear that there are Palestinian gay-rights organizations, but it may be more than a few years before there is a Gay Pride parade in Ramallah — and don’t even think about Gaza City! — as there is in Tel Aviv.

In essence, Schulman’s argument is just this: don’t mention the good things about Israel, because it might distract people from the only thing that we want them to think, which is that Israel is denying the Palestinians their human rights.

Of course I believe that the conflict is about the Arab and Muslim nations of the Middle East trying to deny the Jews their human rights. Now let’s see, what good thing about their societies can I think of that will distract people from that?

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The Arab Spring is an anti-American season

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011
Not the best policy, was it?

Not the best policy, was it?

News item:

Against the backdrop of a mass civilian uprising in Egypt, senior Egyptian diplomats have relayed a calming message to Israel declaring their commitment to preserving peace between the two countries, Army Radio reported Tuesday. The diplomats said the peace agreement with Israel was of strategic importance to Egypt.

Of course it is. Egypt can barely afford to feed itself — actually, it can’t even do this — and the last thing it needs is a war with Israel. But this doesn’t mean that when (not if) the Muslim Brotherhood takes complete control of the government and begins the process of replacing key military leaders with its own people — that’s the real ‘Turkish model’ — it will not begin to work closely with Hamas, providing arms and even volunteers.

Hamas is in fact an offshoot of the Ikhwan (Brotherhood) itself, and while it was happy to accept Iranian support in the days of Mubarak, it will be more comfortable with its own Sunni parent organization. It will also be important for Egypt to wean Hamas away from Iran; Egypt still sees itself as the preeminent power in the region and views Iran’s growing power as a threat.

Although it’s said that the turmoil in the Middle East is due to a desire of the masses for democracy, truly progressive forces are very much in the minority, and don’t stand a chance of taking over in any Arab country (surprisingly, I think that there might be hope for one non-Arab country — Iran, which has an educated middle class that is strongly opposed to the mullocracy!).

Here is a better explanation:

The US has bled itself almost dry in two wars and is struggling to maintain its role as regional boss. Although it hasn’t happened yet and it is not a forgone conclusion that it will, it’s possible to see America withdrawing the way Britain did after WWII.

Many of the regional players expect this. US influence has dropped like a stone everywhere that Islamists are becoming more powerful: Turkey, Egypt, Tunisia, Lebanon, etc. The Arab Spring is really an anti-American season. Somehow the White House missed this when it helped overthrow Mubarak, and it is missing it now in its support of Turkey.

A contest for leadership is developing between three regional powers: Iran, which wants to control the flow of Persian Gulf oil and establish a Shiite caliphate; Egypt; and Turkey, which sees itself  — the Turkish foreign minister was quoted saying as much in a Wikileaks report — as the center of a new Ottoman empire.

This is playing itself out in various places, for example Syria, where Turkey is trying to help push Assad out so he can be replaced by an Ottoman-friendly Sunni Islamist regime, and Gaza, where Egypt is replacing Iran as patron of Hamas.

The Russians seem to be aligning themselves with Iran, both to help push the US out and because of their historic geopolitical rivalry with Turkey.

I wonder if the Obama Administration really understands where its policies are leading?

While Israel does not expect that Egypt will announce that it is abrogating the peace treaty and returning to Nasser-like confrontation any time soon, it is quite correct in beefing up its defensive capability in the South. And I don’t think it’s time yet to cut the defense budget.

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Israel: Kill UNRWA, end racist treatment of Arab refugees

Monday, November 21st, 2011
Students at an UNRWA school in Gaza (from the film “Palestinian Refugee Policy: From Despair to Hope”)

Students at an UNRWA school in Gaza (from the film “Palestinian Refugee Policy: From Despair to Hope”)

Israel plans to ask the UN to terminate the special UN agency for Palestinian Arab refugees, UNWRA.

As everyone knows, there are almost 5 million people who claim ‘Palestinian refugee’ status, although reasonable estimates of the number of Arabs who fled the area that would become Israel in 1948 range from 550,000 to 750,000.

No other refugee population has ever been granted the ability to pass down this special status — and the right to be maintained indefinitely on the international dole — except the Palestinian Arabs.

Think about that: all other refugee problems are by definition temporary. Wars and natural catastrophes create refugees, and the international community does its best to help them weather the crisis. There have been millions upon millions of refugees since the UN was created; Jews, Palestinian Arabs, Iraqis, Hmong, Somalis — the list is endless. What happens to them? Some are repatriated, some are resettled in other places, some die. Their descendants carry on, perhaps in new homes. The US and Europe are full of them.

But the Palestinian refugees are special, in two ways. One, it is forbidden to consider resettlement. The only way to end their refugee status is for them to ‘return’ to what is now Israel. And two, Palestinian refugee status is hereditary.

A consequence of the first special condition is, ironically, discrimination against Palestinians by host countries. Palestinians in Lebanon, for example, have been denied the right to work in many professions, own property,  go to school with Lebanese, vote, etc. They are restricted to refugee camps, many of which would better be called ‘towns’ — or ghettos — because they are built of permanent structures.

The Arabs living in these ghettos are provided with their needs by UNRWA, which feeds and clothes them, and builds schools and housing. Some 99% of UNRWA employees, of course, are Palestinians, so UNRWA is the main, and in some cases the only, employer of Palestinians in a refugee ghetto. Most of the ghettos are controlled by terrorist factions, and organized crime flourishes.

The hereditary nature of ‘Palestinian-ness’ means that this will continue forever, or until the Arabs succeed in overrunning Israel. Since UNRWA humanely provides assistance in proportion to the size of each family, this encourages the population to grow without bound. It also has given rise to a dangerously youthful demographic pyramid.

UNRWA was created in 1947 by UN GA Resolution 302, which clearly intended it to be temporary:

[The General Assembly] Recognizes that, without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 11 of General Assembly resolution 194 (III) of 11 December 1948, continued assistance for the relief of the Palestine refugees is necessary to prevent conditions of starvation and distress among them and to further conditions of peace and stability, and that constructive measures should be undertaken at an early date with a view to the termination of international assistance for relief;

Needless to say, the idea that refugee status would be hereditary is nowhere mentioned in this resolution! Today, the UN  funds UNRWA’s budget ($1.2 billion in 2009) with money mostly donated by the US (the biggest donor) and the EU.

It is remarkable that the UN, which produced resolution 302, could later accept a concept that would extend the problem indefinitely into the future. Perhaps by then it was a different UN. But it is even more remarkable that it would accept the Arab insistence that nothing short of ‘return’ could end refugee status. Together they imply agreement with the Arab project to end the Jewish state.

The two special conditions together are a lethal concoction: the ‘refugee’ population is primarily young, alienated, and educated by highly ideological Palestinian teachers. The population is rapidly growing, but there are few outlets for youthful (or adult, for that matter) energy. The only hope held out to them is that some day they will rise up and take back what they believe to be their patrimony.

In other words, the UN has created a monster.

Israel believes that there are no more than 250,000 (in my opinion, this number is high) Arabs who qualify for refugee status by the UN’s traditional definition. It will propose that they be assisted by the usual UN mechanism (the UN High Commission for Refugees, UNHCR), and that the special status be ended.

I would hope that the proposal would also include a demand for an end to the racist policies of discrimination against Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the Palestinian Authority, where the refugee ghettos exist. ‘Refugees’ that have lived all or most of their lives in these nations should be granted citizenship and full rights (ironically, the Palestinian Authority has said that it will not give resident refugees citizenship if it is granted statehood).

The chance of such a proposal being accepted, despite the fact that it is the only practical way to end the enormously expensive and dangerous Arab refugee problem, is near nil. This is because the root of the problem is not really Arabs, it is Jews. And when has the ‘international community’ ever been rational about Jews?

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PLO/Hamas reconciliation is not likely

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

News item:

Hamas and Fatah are expected to announce a new unity government on Thursday after reporting over the weekend that they had made a breakthrough in discussions toward a reconciliation agreement…

London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi reported that the new Palestinian government would be headquartered in the Gaza Strip, and its new prime minister would also hail from Gaza. “Fatah and Hamas have concluded that the president’s compound and the parliament will stay in Ramallah. Hamas and Fatah are in complete agreement that the next Palestinian unity government will be seated in the Gaza Strip and its prime minister, too, will be from Gaza,” Hamas official Ahmad Yousef told the newspaper.

After the failure of the PLO attempt to get a Security Council vote on Palestinian statehood, or even to get admitted to a bunch of UN agencies, the latest tactic is to  threaten ‘unity’ with Hamas again.

One of the issues about which there are conflicting reports is whether Salam Fayyad, the US-educated Palestinian Prime Minister, will keep his post. Hamas calls him a tool of Israel and the US, suspecting that he would be happy to settle for a peaceful state alongside Israel — it’s interesting that they don’t seem to suspect Mahmoud Abbas of the same heresy. Of course Fayyad is the only one the Western donors that keep the Palestinian Authority afloat trust to not simply steal all of their money, so there are, er, practical reasons to keep him.

Having said that, it is important to realize that there can never be an actual ‘reconciliation’ between Fatah and Hamas. They have irreconcilable views of the nature of the ‘Palestine’ that they both hope will rise on the ashes of Israel — and plenty of personal blood feuds.

There are examples of radical Islamists putting aside their differences when there is a greater enemy. For example, Shiite Iran was prepared to supply and finance the Sunni extremists of Hamas, whose parent was the Muslim Brotherhood, one of Iran’s great rivals in the struggle for the Middle East. And Iran-backed Syria supported Sunni insurgents in Iraq who were fighting Americans and even attacking Shiite Iraqis! But I think working together in the same government will be more than Fatah and Hamas can manage for any length of tme.

Interestingly, the possible presence of Hamas in the Palestinian ‘government’ seems to make little or no difference to the EU, which — despite its own money troubles, and in the middle of a bruising budget fight — has decided to boost aid to ‘Palestine’ by another 100 million Euros! They either don’t know what Hamas is — and they cannot possibly be that stupid or ill-informed — or their anti-racist, peace-loving, genocide-opposing ideals don’t amount to more than a truckload of horse-pucky.

PM Netanyahu has said that the Palestinians can’t have both Hamas in the government and peace. Israel and the US have threatened to cut off cooperation and funding from the PA if it allows Hamas to join the government (unless Hamas agrees to the the ‘Quartet conditions’ of ending terrorism, recognizing Israel and accepting prior PLO agreements, like the Oslo accord. But this sounds quaint today).

The Obama Administration really doesn’t want to cut off the PA, and indeed recently convinced the head of the House Foreign Relations Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), to remove a hold on $200 million of aid which she had placed as a result of the PA’s UN maneuver. The administration produced 500 pages of documents, presumably to show that without the aid, the PA would collapse and Hamas would take over.

This is a game of diplomatic ‘chicken’. The PLO and perhaps the Europeans think that the the threat of legitimizing Hamas is enough to force Israel into precipitous concessions on issues like settlements, Jerusalem, etc. But the danger is that Hamas really might succeed in overthrowing the Fatah-run PA. One thing that is probably not in the cards is a stable unity government composed of Fatah and Hamas.

My guess is that the PA will keep Fayyad and keep its aid, and do little more than talk about reconciliation with Hamas.

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