Archive for July, 2012

The ‘culture’ remark

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012
Mitt Romney speaks in Jerusalem

Mitt Romney speaks in Jerusalem

So Mitt Romney compared Israel’s culture favorably to that of the Palestinian Arabs, to explain the economic success of the Jewish state (and by implication, the failure of the Arab entity). “Racism,” said Saeb Erekat, PLO negotiator. “It’s all about occupation.”

Of course the Jews in Palestine were under ‘occupation’ from about the time of Nebuchadnezzar until 1948. During the period of Turkish and British rule from about 1890 until independence, they created the institutions of a new Jewish commonwealth, everything from health funds to road-building companies to labor unions to universities to collective farms to kindergartens to newspapers to an army.

They had some help from international Jewry, but it was small potatoes. Most of what they built was bootstrapped into existence, often — as in the reclamation of previously worthless land purchased dearly — at great human cost.

The Palestinian Arabs, on the other hand, are the greatest recipients of international aid in the history of the world. Billions and billions of dollars have been showered on them to help them create economic, social and political institutions that could be a precursor to statehood. They have political autonomy — total control in Gaza, and civil self-rule over 97% of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria.

Yet they have not been able to create a functional economy in either the PA or Hamas-controlled areas. Criminality and corruption characterize their regimes. Cronies of the rulers control monopolies in telecommunications, building materials, etc.

Erekat is not entirely wrong when he says that ‘occupation’ — such things as Israeli border controls which deny Palestinian Arabs access to Israel, checkpoints on major roads within PA areas — does have a stifling effect on commerce.

But there are things that have held Israel back, too. The continuous pressure of terrorism and the need for security in every aspect of Israeli life, for one, and the periodic wars and time and energy devoted to reserve duty between them, for another.

“Just end the occupation,” would be the answer from Palestinians and their friends. “Then both sides would prosper.”

Unfortunately, that’s been tried, with Gaza. We know the result: so far this month, 23 rockets have landed in southern Israel. There is no reason to think a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would have different results (except that it would be easier to hit Israel’s population centers).

In fact, it insults the Palestinian Arabs to assume that they are lying when they tell us that their greatest desire, the goal to which they aspire every day more than any other, is to get rid of the Jews on what they believe is their land. Why shouldn’t we take them at their word?

Now we are perhaps in a position to understand Romney’s comments about culture. The Israeli Jewish culture yearned for a homeland in the land of Israel. Was this necessarily inconsistent with justice for Arabs in the region? No — but it was inconsistent with Arab culture, which has always insisted that any Jewish sovereignty is unacceptable.

This principle has become the foundation of Arab ideology. It’s been nurtured through the years by ceaseless propaganda in media, educational and religious institutions, as well as by concrete actions, such as preventing the repatriation of Arab refugees and their descendents to anywhere but ‘Palestine’.

So today there is a Palestinian culture which defines itself by opposition to Israel and Jews. Its heroes are Arabs who kill Jews (we call them terrorists) because that is the culture’s highest value. It can express itself in religious terms, as in the Hamas charter‘s inclusion of a Islamic injunction to kill Jews “wherever you find them,” or in pan-Arab or Palestinian nationalist ones.

There is also a combination of anti-Jewish tropes from the Quran with modern European Jew hatred, some of it imported directly from Nazi Germany by the Mufti of Jerusalem, that has been introduced to spice things up.

Funny that Erekat thought to call Romney’s remark ‘racist’. What could he have been thinking?

So that is what is relevant about Palestinian culture. Building an economy and a state is hard work. You can’t do it if you are mainly focused on hating and destroying someone else’s.

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Another California academic

Monday, July 30th, 2012
As'ad Abu Khalil, the "angry Arab"

As’ad Abu Khalil, the “angry Arab”

Will Zionists ever learn how much Arabs hate Israel?
My favorite Zionist delusion is the notion that the Arab people don’t hate Israel but that the Arab governments incite the people to hate Israel, when it is the other way round.  “London 2012 organising committee officials erected a makeshift curtain to split the two halves of a training gym at the ExCeL centre on Friday afternoon to placate the Lebanese team, which was refusing to train at the same time as the Israelis.” — As’ad (“Angry Arab”) Abu Khalil

I had intended to write about why so many peace projects — Oslo, the treaty with Egypt, improving relations with Turkey, etc. — have foundered on the rocks of Arab and Muslim hatred for Jews and Israel. I had planned to illustrate it with Mr. Angry Arab’s remark, as well as the video of Egyptian celebrities exploding in paroxysms of rage in the presence of pretend ‘Israelis’.

But the more I looked at Abu Khalil’s remarks, the more I realized that I agree with him about so many things! I thought it would be interesting to point this out.

Not Israel — he hates it and hates Zionism. I’m a Zionist and I love Israel. So we have an issue there.

For example, he wrote this about left-wing, anti-“occupation” musician Daniel Barenboim:

Can an Israeli redeem himself/herself?
I am often asked that question since I adhere to boycott of all things Israeli.  The answer is yes provided 1) the person refuses to serve in the Army or the intelligence service of the state as part of military service; 2) the person must leave the house he/she occupies and the land on which he/she stands on because chances are the house is occupied, in the literal sense, and the land is occupied, in the literal sense; 3) the person must engage in armed struggle against the terrorist state of Israel.  If an Israeli person fulfills those conditions, he/she should be acceptable from a pro-Palestinian point of view.

He often refers to “terrorist Israel” and repeats Palestinian folktales about the “Jenin massacre” and the reality inversions about the IDF targeting Palestinian children (when, on our planet, Palestinian Arab terrorists go after Jewish children). He travels around giving presentations on “The Case Against Israel.” Not much to agree with there.

But look, he’s an Arab who hates Israel. How refreshing, compared to the Jewish idiots that hate Israel, like Max Blumenthal, Philip Weiss or the editorial board and publisher of Ha’aretz!

And we do agree that both Bashar al-Assad and the “Free Syrian Army” are vicious criminals. We agree that the PA, Fatah and Hamas are corrupt organizations that screw the Palestinian Arabs. We agree that the New York Times is outrageously biased (although we disagree about the direction it leans). He doesn’t trust the Turkish regime (OK, it’s not anti-Israel enough for him), and he dislikes the House of Saud, its corruption and its international meddling. Me too.

What a guy! And he lives right here in Central California, about an hour up the road in Modesto.

He’s a tenured Professor of Political Science at California State University, Stanislaus, and a visiting professor at UC Berkeley. He taught at Tufts University, Georgetown University, George Washington University, Colorado College, and Randolph-Macon Woman’s College.

He teaches courses in American Government, Comparative Politics: Middle East, Gender & Sexuality in the Middle East, and Politics of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (I can only imagine what this is like).

He’s paid — we California residents pay him — to teach our children.

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Why Israel spies on the US

Sunday, July 29th, 2012
1962 Spy vs. Spy cartoon by Antonio Prohias

1962 Spy vs. Spy cartoon by Antonio Prohias

A recent AP piece tells us that the CIA considers Israel its “number one counterintelligence threat” in the Middle East.

The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency’s Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials. Counterintelligence is the art of protecting national secrets from spies. This means the CIA believes that U.S. national secrets are safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel.

The article describes several incidents illustrative of the mistrust between the intelligence agencies of the two nations, including of course the cases of Jonathan Pollard and Ben-Ami Kadish.

One wonders why this article appears now. Did the story idea suddenly pop into the heads of the AP writers? I don’t think so. Someone at the CIA decided to stick it to Israel today, when Mitt Romney is going around (correctly, in my opinion) criticizing the Obama Administration for tilting against Israel.

The piece strains mightily to find an example of a case in which Israeli spying actually damaged US interests (at least, interests that the CIA is willing to publicly admit). The best it can do is point to a Syrian scientist who was working for the CIA who might have been caught because of an Israeli leak.

It’s very probable that the massive damage to US spy networks in the USSR that Jonathan Pollard was accused of causing was actually attributable to spies Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen:

[US Defense Secretary Caspar] Weinberger publicly stated that Pollard was the worst spy in American history: “It is difficult for me, even in the so-called year of the spy, to conceive of a greater harm to national security than that caused by the defendant.” Despite his plea agreement to the contrary with the government, Pollard was given the maximum sentence, life in prison. Weinberger later said that he wished Pollard had been shot.

A week after the sentencing, the Washington Times reported that the United States had identified Shabtai Kalmanovich as the Soviet spy in Israel who supposedly worked for the Mossad but was actually working for the KGB; he had betrayed American secrets to Moscow. Kalmanovich had been flying under a false flag. Washington insiders winked knowingly at one another: Pollard’s contact in Israel had been caught.

Just to make sure that Pollard was blamed, U.S. intelligence sources, several months later, leaked word to the press of the Kalmanovich connection. “A Russian mole has infiltrated the Mossad and is transmitting highly sensitive American intelligence information to the Russians,” was the report flashed around the world by United Press International on Dec. 14, 1987. Citing “American intelligence sources,” the UPI announced that the “sensitive intelligence material relayed to Israel by Jonathan Pollard had reached the KGB.”

But it was all untrue. Every bit of it. Pollard wasn’t the serial killer. The Jew didn’t do it. It was one of their own WASPs-Aldrich Ames, a drunken senior CIA official who sold the names of America’s agents to the Russians for cash. Pollard was framed for Ames’s crime, while Ames kept on drinking and spying for the Soviets for several more years. In fact, Israeli intelligence later suspected that Ames played a direct role in framing Pollard. But no one in America then knew the truth.

Ames was arrested in February 1994, and confessed to selling out American agents in the Soviet Union, but not all of them. It was only logical to assume that Pollard had betrayed the rest of them, as one former CIA official admitted shortly after Ames’s arrest. Even one life lost was too many. So Pollard continued to rot in jail. No one dreamed that yet another high-level Washington insider had sold us out to Soviet intelligence. Years passed, and eventually a Russian defector told the truth. A senior FBI official-Special Agent Robert Hanssen-had betrayed the rest of our agents. Hanssen was arrested in February 2001, and soon confessed in order to avoid the death penalty. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole.

One must ask what, exactly, is the aim of Israeli spying against the US? It is certainly not — as  with Soviet and contemporary Russian espionage — to weaken us diplomatically and gain a military advantage in a possible conflict. Nor does it, as is the case with Chinese spying, also include a massive component of industrial espionage to erode America’s competitive advantage in world markets.

No, it seems to me that Israeli spies are interested in questions like these:

  • What does the US know about Arab or Iranian capabilities or plans that it has not revealed?
  • What are US officials saying to Israel’s enemies in private? What are they hearing from them?
  • What are the capabilities of weapons the US is selling to Israel’s enemies? Is technical information available that could provide countermeasures?
  • What are US plans regarding its possible actions in the event of a conflict between Israel and Arab states, Iran or terrorist proxies?
  • What are agents of Israel’s enemies up to in the US? Who are they working with?

Naturally, the US doesn’t want Israel to know these things, as they constrain US actions and impinge on some conceptions of US interests. But from an Israeli point of view, it all represents information that is vital to Israel’s survival. And if you think that, from an American point of view, Israel’s continued existence is a Good Thing, you might wonder why Israel finds it necessary to spy on its great ally.

Update [1618 PDT]: The Israeli Prime Minister’s office has commented on the AP item saying “This is a false report.”

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Two versions of American history

Friday, July 27th, 2012
Cartoon shamelessly ripped off from Rubin Reports

Cartoon shamelessly ripped off from Rubin Reports

Here are two versions of American history:

One is that the nation came into being based on the principles of the Enlightenment, in which liberty was a supreme value. Rights like freedom of speech and religion were enshrined in its Bill of Rights. About 70 years after its founding, it was torn by a remarkably bloody war in which the idea that human slavery was acceptable was soundly defeated, and that abominable institution was ended.

Thanks to its commitment to free enterprise, it expanded to both sides of the continent, providing unprecedented opportunities for prosperity and development. Great universities were established, and culture and science thrived.

During WWII, the US turned its mighty industrial power toward defeating the murderous regimes of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan.  417,000 Americans died in that war. Afterwards, the US took the lead in establishing international institutions (like the UN) designed to prevent war and spread freedom and prosperity throughout the world.

After the war, the US opposed the attempts of the Soviet Union to export its totalitarian communism. Ultimately, due to a great extent to US efforts, the USSR collapsed and numerous European countries that had become satellites obtained their freedom.

The Civil Rights movement brought about the end of segregation in the south, as well as other forms of institutionalized racism against African-Americans. Laws were passed guaranteeing voting rights, fair housing, forbidding discrimination in employment, etc. on the basis of race, sex, disability, etc.

The invention of the microprocessor and the development of the computer and communications industry, arguably producing an economic revolution as important as that of the steam engine, began in the US, and innovation continues here.

Another view is that the US was built, from the beginning, on exploitation. Its early economic development was based on slave labor, and since the beginning is has ripped through the natural resources of the continent in the most greedy way possible. Anything that stood in the way of expansion — like indigenous native Americans, who were slaughtered wholesale — was destroyed.

Even after the end of slavery, African Americans were exploited for their labor while being treated abominably. Other industrial workers were paid just enough to keep them alive, and attempts at unionization were met by bullets.

At the beginning of WWII, American citizens of Japanese origin were forced into internment camps. The US was the first nation to use atomic weapons, killing hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians. After the war, the US opposed indigenous liberation movements throughout the world, using military force to defend the colonialist world order in places like Vietnam.

The US continues to exploit and oppress third-world peoples, especially where there are important resources, like oil. Racism is inseparable from our culture.

In recent years, economic inequality has soared, and inflation-adjusted middle-class income has dropped since the 1960’s while a small group of super-rich have become astronomically wealthy. Despite its overall wealth, the US has a worse health care system than most other developed nations.

Powerful interests prevent actions from being taken to reduce the emission of pollutants, greenhouse gases, etc., which foul the entire planet.

Neither of these stories is 100% correct and complete (but they are not ‘equally good’, either).

No nation is perfect, and they all have skeletons in their closets (just ask the Belgians about the Congo — and we won’t even bring up the British, upon whose exploitative empire the sun never set).

But the US does have a commitment to such things as individual rights (as expressed in the Bill of Rights), equality of opportunity, social mobility, democracy, rule of law, etc. Many other nations — perhaps most of them — don’t even pay lip service to these ideals, much less exemplify them.

Where do you start? Do you accept the idea that the US is based on fundamentally sound principles and is an overall force for good in the world? That our job is to fix the problems, but continue on the same general path laid down by the Founding Fathers?

Or do you start with the second story — I’ll call it the ‘anti-American’ one — and conclude that our country is evil, responsible for most of the misery in the world, and must be destroyed or at least completely turned upside down to save it?

Unfortunately, the anti-American story is very prevalent among university academics, and by the people they have educated in the past 35 years or so. Barry Rubin has written extensively about how his child was indoctrinated with anti-Americanism in the US public schools (see here and here).

Unsurprisingly, many of our college-educated politicians share it as well.

Where do our presidential candidates stand?

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Palestinians: moment of silence is racism

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Aaron David Miller, whom I quoted at length yesterday on another subject, wrote recently that

Palestinians deserve an independent state living in peace and security alongside Israel. They’ve suffered enough; their cause is just and compelling.

Is it?

Palestinian Media Watch reports,

The Palestinian Authority is against the moment of silence at the Olympics to commemorate the Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics in 1972. According to the headline in the official PA daily, “Sports are meant for peace, not for racism.”

According to Jibril Rajoub, President of the Palestinian Olympic Committee:

“Sports are meant for peace, not for racism… Sports are a bridge to love, interconnection, and spreading of peace among nations; it must not be a cause of division and spreading of racism between them [nations].”
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 25, 2012]

These words appeared in a letter sent by Rajoub to the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge. The letter “expressed appreciation for [Rogge’s] position, who opposed the Israeli position, which demanded a moment’s silence at the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in London.”

The PA daily does not refer to the murder of the Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972 as terror. In the article about Rajoub’s letter, the killing of the athletes is referred to as “the Munich Operation, which took place during the Munich Olympics in 1972.”

The article continues with examples of Palestinian officials — including President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad — honoring and praising the planners of the Munich massacre, Amin al-Hindi and Muhammad Daoud Oudeh (Abu Daoud).

It is not surprising that Abbas called Abu Daoud “a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter,” because he, Abbas, worked with him as financier of the “operation.”

In a 2002 Sports Illustrated article uncovered by Elder of Ziyon, Abu Daoud was quoted saying that Abbas financed the operation (although the writer of the article suggested that he “didn’t know” that he was financing murder):

Though he didn’t know what the money was being spent for, longtime Fatah official Mahmoud Abbas, a.k.a. Abu Mazen, was responsible for the financing of the Munich attack. Abu Mazen could not be reached for comment regarding Abu Daoud’s allegation. After Oslo in 1993, Abu Mazen went to the White House Rose Garden for a photo op with Arafat, President Bill Clinton and Israel’s Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres. “Do you think that … would have been possible if the Israelis had known that Abu Mazen was the financier of our operation?” Abu Daoud writes. “I doubt it.”

Abu Daoud is dead and Abbas isn’t telling, but even if he didn’t know about this particular mass murder, his statement in praise of Abu Daoud indicates that he approved of Daoud’s terrorist activities. The idea that Abbas “didn’t know” that the PLO he financed was responsible for worldwide terrorism is laughable.

To answer my original question, no, I don’t think that the “Palestinian Cause” — which even today has not deviated one millimeter from the cause of Yasser Arafat, and which can be summed up as “drive the Jews out of ‘Palestine’ whatever it takes” — is just.

And they prove it every day, by their own words.

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Relations have never been worse

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
It's not just policy and perceived interests -- it's personal

It’s not just policy and perceived interests — it’s personal

Aaron David Miller is no ‘Zionist ideologue’ (a phrase that he himself has used pejoratively). He is not a fan of Jewish settlements east of the Green Line, and he has said that

Palestinians deserve an independent state living in peace and security alongside Israel. They’ve suffered enough; their cause is just and compelling.

He recently wrote this about the Levy Commission report, which concluded that Jews have a right to live in Judea and Samaria:

Israeli settlement activity continues unabated. In fact, in a truly bizarre and tortuous bit of twisted logic, a recent report by a committee created by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu actually recommended sanctioning the Israeli activity.

My regular readers know that I applauded the Levy report as a breath of fresh air which could finally bring the government of Israel out of the ghetto it voluntarily created when it ceded its legitimate rights and adopted its enemies’ language of ‘occupation’.

And while I think that Palestinian Arabs have certainly suffered, I also think that the “Palestinian Cause” is no more or less than a racist war against Jewish self-determination — and that the agent of Palestinian suffering has not been Israel, but rather the truly awful Arab leadership.

So Miller and I are not at all on the same page. On the other hand, he has worked for six American Secretaries of State as an adviser on Israeli-Arab negotiations, and has written four books and countless articles on the Mideast. The least we can do is listen to what he says.

And what he says about the prospect of a second Obama Administration is foreboding indeed. After criticizing Netanyahu for not “trusting [his] own instincts” and therefore being untrustworthy himself (yes, I know, “tortuous” and “bizarre” logic), he turns to Obama:

If Bibi seems weak, Obama has left no doubt that he has strong views when it comes to the U.S.-Israeli relationship. And he hasn’t changed his views of Israel or Netanyahu, even if his first failed run at the peace process and the impending presidential election have caused him to back off.

I’ve watched a few presidents come and go on this issue, and Obama really is different. Unlike Clinton and George W. Bush, Obama isn’t in love with the idea of Israel. As a result, he has a harder time making allowances for Israeli behavior he doesn’t like. Obama relates to the Jewish state not on a values continuum but through a national security and interest filter. [I wish! — ed.]

It’s true that the president doesn’t emote on many policy issues, with the possible exception of health care. But on Israel, he just doesn’t buy the “tiny state living on the knife’s edge with the dark past” argument — or at least it doesn’t come through in emotionally resonant terms.

As the Washington Post’s Scott Wilson reported, Obama doesn’t believe the “no daylight” argument — that is, to get Israel to move, you need to make the Israelis feel that America will stand by it no matter what. Quite the opposite: Obama appears to believe that Israel needs to understand that if it doesn’t move, the United States will be hard pressed to continue to give it complete support. [i.e., it will throw Israel to the wolves — ed.]

In this respect, when it comes to Israel, Obama is more like Jimmy Carter minus the biblical interest or attachment, or like Bush 41 minus a strategy. My sense is that, if he could get away with it, the president would like to see a U.S.-Israeli relationship that is not just less exclusive, but somewhat less special as well.

Right-wing Israeli leaders have found ways to cooperate quite closely with American presidents in the past. But this time around, it’s not so easy.

There are just no good answers to the region’s problems. The peace process is stuck, and Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon seems impervious to sanctions or diplomacy. The Arab world is going through changes that will introduce even more uncertainty into Israeli calculations and make risk-taking on the peace process less likely. And as the president might say, let’s be clear: Netanyahu is not going to offer the Palestinians a deal on Jerusalem, borders, or refugees that they will accept. Indeed, on the issue of a peace settlement, Obama’s views are much closer to the Palestinians than to Israel. [my emphasis]

Whatever one thinks of Miller’s ideological stance, he is a professional who has been around for a long time and who knows all the players. At the beginning of his article, Miller quotes Sen. John McCain’s remark that “Everybody knows that relations with Israel have never been worse,” and after describing some of the bad moments under Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan and Bush I, admits that McCain is “on to something.”

The problem is not only one of policy and perceived interests, it is personal, with Obama’s dislike of Netanyahu a matter of public record.

It seems to me that not only are relations between Israel and the US worse than ever, they have the potential to get much worse if Obama is reelected and is no longer constrained by electoral politics.

And now is the worst possible time for this to be the case.

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Jew-washing divestment

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012
JVP "Jew-washing" operatives at Presbyterian General Assembly

JVP “Jew-washing” operatives at Presbyterian General Assembly

I’ve mentioned the Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) organization before, and I’m particularly interested in where they get their money. Their 2010 IRS form 990 shows an income from public contributions and grants of $705,605, they have 6 paid employees and a payroll of $367,186. That is a significant amount of money, and it is deployed very effectively.

For example, as Yitzak Santis and Gerald M. Steinberg tell us, they were instrumental in “Jew-washing” the attempt to pass a divestment resolution at the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA):

These were the “Jew-washers” – very visible actors in many such political attacks on Israel, particularly in Christian frameworks.  They are influential beyond their actual numbers, providing a convenient means for cleansing such actions from the stains of double standards, demonization and sometimes anti-Semitism against the Jewish state of Israel, and even Judaism itself.

JVP is spearheading divestment campaigns in several arenas, such as the educational financial services organization TIAA-CREF, and of course on many campuses.

In each case the approach is the same: “look, we are Jews and we think Israel is oppressing Palestinians, and we support boycott-divestment-sanctions (BDS) as a nonviolent way to get Israel to give them their rights and obey international law.”

It is not made clear to liberal Presbyterians and others that the goal of BDS is simply the destruction of Israel. But it’s not a secret. JVP refers us to the official BDS Movement website where we find that “punitive measures” will  continue until

Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people’s inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by:

1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

As the Levy Commission recently found, Israel is not in violation of international law, and it is not occupying or colonizing “Arab lands.” JVP’s ideas of the ‘fundamental rights’ of Arab citizens of Israel goes far beyond what we normally think of as civil rights — for example, these ‘rights’ are said to be violated by Israel’s being a Jewish state — and UN resolution 194 does not require Israel to admit the grandchildren of refugees. Practically, does anyone doubt that an influx of up to 5 million claimants of refugee status to Israel will end the Jewish state?

I think that very few American Jews would go this far. Even the phony ‘pro-Israel’ J Street understands that the BDS movement is beyond the pale. And yet, JVP represents itself as a “Jewish voice!”

Jewish? How about anti-Jewish? Santis and Steinberg continue,

In many cases, Jew-washing is also used to whitewash the blatant theological anti-Semitism that accompanies the church-based BDS attacks on Israel.  One example is Sabeel, a Palestinian Christian group that is very influential in those mainline churches active in the BDS wars.  Its theology includes supercessionism – a reading of the New Testament that considers the Church to have superseded the Jewish people in God’s promises – and deicide – the charge that “the Jews” killed Jesus – that served as the basis for centuries of anti-Jewish persecution.

Giving Sabeel a thorough Jew-wash is JVP’s Rabbinical Council, which in its “Statement of Support for the Sabeel Institute” acknowledges “the more radical incarnations (sic) of some of [Sabeel’s] theological images.”

Yet, Sabeel’s frequent denigration of Judaism as “tribal” and “primitive” and comparisons of Palestinians to Jesus on the cross put there by the Israeli government’s “crucifixion machine,” does not seem to affect JVP’s rabbis, who assert that it is “a mistake to dismiss Palestinian Christian theology wholesale.”

Investigations of J Street’s funding showed connections to Saudi Arabian, Turkish and Iranian interests. JVP has been very secretive about its sources of income, but can you imagine what we’ll find when they slip up?

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Tit for tat?

Thursday, July 19th, 2012
IAF C-130 brings medical teams to Burgas, Bulgaria after terror attack

IAF C-130 brings medical teams to Burgas, Bulgaria after terror attack

Regarding the terrorist bombing in Burgas, Bulgaria on Wednesday, The NY Times reports:

One senior American official said the current American intelligence assessment was that the bomber, who struck Wednesday, killing five Israelis, had been “acting under broad guidance” to hit Israeli targets when opportunities presented themselves, and that the guidance had been given to Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group, by Iran, its primary sponsor. Two other American officials confirmed that Hezbollah was behind the bombing, but declined to provide additional details.

The attacks, the official said, were in retaliation for the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, for which Iran has blamed Israeli agents — an accusation that Israel has neither confirmed nor denied. “This was tit for tat,” said the American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way.

Tit for tat?

In my opinion, ‘tat’ was more likely the killing of master Hizballah terrorist Imad Mugniyah in 2008, attributed to Israel. Hizballah has been trying to get revenge since then.

Mugniyah had the blood of literally hundreds of Americans, Jews and others on his hands, being responsible for the Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut in 1983 (241 American and 58 French soldiers dead), the kidnapping, torture and murder of Western diplomats in Lebanon during the 1980’s, the 1992 bombings of the Israeli embassy in Argentina (29 dead) and the Jewish Cultural Center (AMIA) building there (86 dead). There’s much more.

Israel certainly killed Mugniyah, and the world is a better place for it.

I suppose it is also possible that the attack was retaliation for the killings of the nuclear scientists. You would have to ask the Iranians or Hizballah.

Lest you think that these scientists were innocents:

TEHRAN (FNA) — The wife of Martyr Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan Behdast, who was assassinated by Mossad agents [possibly] in Tehran in January, reiterated on Tuesday that her husband sought the annihilation of the Zionist regime wholeheartedly.

“Mostafa’s ultimate goal was the annihilation of Israel,” Fatemeh Bolouri Kashani told FNA on Tuesday.

Bolouri Kashani also underlined that her spouse loved any resistance figure in his life who was willing to fight the Zionist regime and supported the rights of the oppressed Palestinian nation.

Another example was the engineer and “key figure in Iran’s missile program,” General Hasan Moghaddam, killed in an explosion last November. The explosion may or may not have been an accident, but Iranian media reported that Moghaddam had wanted his epitaph to read “He wanted to destroy Israel” (Google translation and original Farsi here).

I would like to ask the “senior American official” if he or she, on reflection, would take back the ill-considered expression “tit for tat.” It sounds as though the official thinks that blowing a bunch of Jewish tourists to bits is equivalent to executing a serial murderer like Mugniyah, or taking out some people who are working overtime to make practical the murder of thousands, even hundreds of thousands, more.

The Obama Administration has made clear that it would consider an overt Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program a Very Bad Thing. The “tit for tat” remark implies that the speaker disapproves of Israel’s clandestine war against it as well.

Am I going too far when I say that it also implies an attribution of responsibility to Israel for becoming a target for terrorism? Would the official say that if Israel would only play nice, leave the Iranians alone, give the Palestinian Arabs what they want, etc., then nobody would bother them? Is the implication that Israel had it coming?

One wonders if any form of Jewish self-defense can be acceptable.

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Clinton’s really, really bad advice

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012
Secretary of State Clinton meets PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem Monday

Secretary of State Clinton meets PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem Monday

Some days all I can do is shake my head. Consider this news item:

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton held talks Monday evening with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the end of a day of meetings with Israel’s leaders on Iran, Palestinian peacemaking and America’s desire to see Israel heal its ties with Turkey.

Clinton reportedly urged Netanyahu to mend ties with Turkey and make moves to jump start peace talks with the Palestinian Authority.

So here we have Ms Clinton telling Israel that it should apologize to Turkey because its soldiers defended themselves when Turkish thugs, in a provocation orchestrated by the Turkish government, tried to kill them.

Next, Israel should give in to PLO demands for freezing construction East of the Green Line, releasing prisoners, and who knows what else (the demands change from day to day) in order to restart negotiations which cannot possibly lead to anything but further impossible demands.

The item continues,

The US secretary of state, in Israel as the last leg of a tour through Asia, also told Netanyahu that Jerusalem should transfer small arms to the PA in order to help get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, according to Ynet news. She also called on Netanyahu to release Palestinian prisoners. Both moves have been mentioned as Palestinian prerequisites for coming back to talks…

Oh — give them more weapons. I forgot that one. Naturally they can’t possibly hold ‘peace talks’ without weapons. You will recall that the PLO will not recognize Israel as belonging to the Jewish people, nor will they stop dedicating children’s summer camps to terrorists like Dalal Mughrabi. In fact, I can’t think of a single compromise or concession that they have ever made in order to move the ‘peace process’ along.

This is how the US treats Israel, an ally. I’m sorry, but this isn’t the relationship you have with an ally. You don’t pressure it to surrender to its enemies, you don’t create obstacles for it — you may remember that it was President Obama who originally came up with the idea of freezing construction in the territories — and above all, you don’t ask it to compromise its security.

But here is the icing on the cake:

Clinton reportedly told Netanyahu he should hurry to achieve peace with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, since it was not clear who would replace them.

This wins the monthly Bad Advice Award with an oak leaf cluster for Cluelessness: does Clinton think Hamas would honor an agreement made with Abbas and Fayyad? Doesn’t the precedent of the peace treaty with Egypt, which is now being ‘reexamined’ by the new Islamist regime, tell us that you can’t count on treaties made with despots to survive them?

Clinton is asking — telling — Israel to trade land and security, which it cannot easily get back if things don’t work out, for a promise of peace from an illegitimate Palestinian regime (PA elections are long since overdue) that would be overthrown in a moment if the IDF didn’t protect it and the US didn’t finance it.

What a deal!

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Prominent American Jews who are ruled by fear

Monday, July 16th, 2012

The Israel Policy Forum (IPF) is a left-of-center group formerly associated with Clinton Administration officials, which apparently slipped into irrelevance with the eclipse of the ‘peace process’, the violence of the Second Intifada, and the Hamas takeover of Gaza.

It’s back, reconstituted under the sponsorship of philanthropist Charles Bronfman, and with some big names in the American (and American-Israeli) world behind it.

But money and names can’t change reality.

No matter how irrational the land-for-peace paradigm proves, no matter how little support there is for it among ordinary Israelis (who will have to deal with the consequences), no matter how vicious the anti-Jewish hatred spewing from PLO media, no matter how many rockets land in southern Israel, no matter how explicit the Palestinian leadership is about its desire to replace Israel with an Arab state, no matter how often the Arabs pocket concessions and immediately escalate demands, no matter how clear it is beyond any reasonable doubt that further concessions at this point will lead to war, not peace — no matter what, some people simply cannot face the brute fact that there is no possibility of peace with the Palestinian Arabs and the larger Arab world in the foreseeable future.

They have convinced themselves that yet another partition of the land of Israel (or ‘Palestine’ — whatever you want to call it) will end the conflict. It won’t. It will only damage Israel’s ability to defend herself while providing a platform for more demands. Soon we will be hearing about “Arab Haifa, Yafo and Acco,” and then perhaps “Tel Arabiyya.”

This is the lesson of recent history. This is what we have learned from what the Arabs say and from what they do. But the ideological commitment to the impossible ‘solution’ seems to override the ability to learn from events.

Here is the letter that 40 well-known (mostly) American Jews have written to Israel’s Prime Minister, under the auspices of the IPF, calling upon him to reject the report of the Levy Commission, which offered a legal opinion that Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria is legal under international law. I’ll intersperse comments.

As strong advocates for Israel’s security and well-being as a Jewish and democratic state, we are deeply concerned about the recent findings of the government commission led by Supreme Court Jurist (Ret.) Edmund Levy. We fear that if approved, this report will place the two-state solution, and the prestige of Israel as a democratic member of the international community, in peril.

There is no comment about whether the Levy report is correct in its legal judgment or not; only that its adoption will make it harder for Israel to cede land to the Arabs in pursuit of the imaginary ‘solution’, and that it will anger the “international community,” which, by and large, would prefer that there be no sovereign Jewish state.

It’s important to understand that the legitimacy of the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria derives from the same source — the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine — as does the Jewish presence West of the Green Line. The line is an accidental boundary with no legal significance. Hence if the Government of Israel were to reject the report, then it could be construed as weakening the case for Jewish sovereignty anywhere. This is a far greater ‘peril’ than the loss of the two-state fantasy.

As you boldly stated in your address to the United States Congress last May, “I recognize that in a genuine peace, we’ll be required to give up parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland.” As you said clearly, doing so is not easy. While the Jewish people indeed share a biblical connection to the lands of Judea and Samaria, you told Congress, “there is another truth: The Palestinians share this small land with us. We seek a peace in which they’ll be neither Israel’s subjects nor its citizens. They should enjoy a national life of dignity as a free, viable and independent people living in their own state.”

If Israel does give up part of the “ancestral Jewish homeland” for peace — if somehow this becomes possible, as it clearly is not today — it will be as part of a comprehensive agreement that recognizes that the Jewish people do have a right to a homeland here. Rejecting the report today implies that there is no such right, before there is even a glimmer of hope for an agreement. Insisting that we have a right to this land doesn’t preclude us from agreeing to part with some of it. And if we don’t have the right, why should we keep any of it?

Securing Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state requires diplomatic and political leadership, not legal maneuverings. We recognize and regret that the Palestinian Authority has abdicated leadership by not returning to the negotiating table. Nonetheless, our great fear is that the Levy Report will not strengthen Israel’s position in this conflict, but rather add fuel to those who seek to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist. At this moment, it is more critical than ever that Israel strengthen its claim in the international community that it is committed to a two-state vision, which is, in turn, central to Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.

This paragraph is shocking in its open admission of cowardice and assertion that appeasement is better than standing up for our rights! Never mind if it is actually legitimate for Jews to live in Judea and Samaria, let’s say it’s not — so the Arabs will be empowered to demand that we expel those Jews, in the name of ‘peace’ that they will never permit us to have anyway.

Israel’s right to exist is not determined by its degree of commitment to “a two-state vision,” but rather by its rights under international law and its ability to defend itself against encroachments against those rights. The only thing that can come of surrendering those rights de jure is that we will be forced to give them up de facto as well.

There is also the implication — a sure sign of Oslo Syndrome infection — that if only we make this new concession, the “international community” will finally accept us. Have any of the previous withdrawals or concessions to the Palestinians brought anything other than additional demands or rockets and terrorism?

The “international community” has no problem with the racist exclusionary state that the Arabs plan to set up. Of course Jews will not be able to live in an Arab Palestine! But it is very, very concerned about the rights of Arabs living in Israel. Does this asymmetry tell us anything?

The last sentence suggests that we have no options other than surrendering our rights to Judea and Samaria, or annexing all of it and accepting all of its Arab population as citizens. But this is by no means an exhaustive dichotomy.

Finally, look at the language of the letter: “We fear that if approved…,” “Our great fear is…” How revealing! And how inappropriate for representatives of a Jewish people with a sovereign state.

We are confident that with your deep understanding of the gravity of this situation, and your unprecedented political strength, you will ensure that adoption of this report does not take place.

I wonder.

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Israel can take care of herself. Can we?

Friday, July 13th, 2012

I’ve written about this myself. But you can’t emphasize too often the craven, and ultimately destructive, cowardice displayed by our American leadership (Europe is long gone).

Israel can take care of herself. Can we?

Diana West writes,

The Washington Free Beacon reported this week on the continuing omission of Israel from a U.S.-sponsored organization called the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF). At a recent forum meeting in Spain, Maria Otero, U.S. undersecretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights, delivered a speech titled “Victims of Terrorism,” but, in her roll call of victims, she didn’t mention Israel. The conference at which she spoke was described as a “high-level conference on the victims of terrorism,” but Israel wasn’t a participant.

It bears repeating because it is so fantastic: At an international conference devoted to victims of terrorism, the world’s leading victim or, better, leading target of terrorism — Israel — was nowhere in sight, or mind.

Welcome to the GCTF — U.S. counterterrorism’s new “normal.” This 30-member organization got its official start last September as a “major initiative” of the Obama administration when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced its launch in New York.

It was quite an occasion; Hillary curled her hair. Seated next to her Turkish co-chairman, ensconced amid ministers from Algeria, Egypt, Indonesia, Jordan, Morocco, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and 18 other miscellaneous member-states plus the European Union, she then said the magic words: “From London to Lahore, from Madrid to Mumbai, from Kabul to Kampala, it’s innocent civilians who have been targeted …”

Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon? Poof, gone. And that’s the point: This new counterterrorism organization, with its related counterterrorism center coming soon to Abu Dhabi, is Judenfrei. Not coincidentally, it is also heavily Islamic. Eleven member-states — slightly more than one-third of the organization’s membership — also belong to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a bloc of 56 Islamic countries working to impose Islamic law (Shariah) on the world. Six of those 11 members additionally belong to the Arab League. Both groups have defined “terrorism” to exclude Israeli victims (sometimes U.S. soldiers), and “terrorists” to exclude groups dedicated to the destruction of Israel, such as Hamas and Hezbollah. It is no wonder the Arab-Islamic members would now unite in “counterterrorism” without Israel.

What is both shocking and shameful, however, is that the U.S. would, too. It shows that the U.S. has implicitly but clearly accepted the Arab League/OIC definitions of terrorism and terrorists…

I would like to say this is all something President Barack Obama initiated, but such appeasement goes back a long way. If we look to the Gulf War in 1990-1991, we see this same denial of Israel’s existence take shape in the makeup of President George H.W. Bush’s “international coalition” — sans Israel. The same is true in 2003 with the formation of President George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” in Iraq (also Afghanistan) — sans Israel.

These omissions were in no way due to Israel’s unwillingness to join the “war on terror.” They were due to the same Islamic pressure in force today. Both Bushes bowed to it, accepting a state of dhimmitude (inferiority of non-Muslims under Islam) for the high privilege of spilling American blood and treasure into the ungrateful desert. Israel, both Bushes agreed with their Islamic “allies,” just wasn’t fit to fight on Islamic sand. Thus, Israel was excluded from these wartime alliances.

Such dhimmitude only intensifies, as the latest developments show. Under the Bushes, after all, while Israel was not permitted to fight alongside coalition forces, at least it was still recognized for withstanding more than 60 years of Islamic terrorist attacks. Today, under the auspices of the Obama administration, Israel no longer rates mention even as a victim. “Big Satan” has thrown “Little Satan” to the sharks. Which says two things about Big Satan. Our institutions now see the world from the Islamic perspective, and, as far as the sharks go, we’re next.

Shabbat Shalom!

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Times to Israel: don’t anger the Goyim!

Thursday, July 12th, 2012
Former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy. Unlike the NY Times, no ghetto mentality.

Former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy. Unlike the NY Times, no ghetto mentality.

Yesterday I explained why a New York Times editorial was wrong when it said that the decision of Israel’s Levy Commission that Israel had a legal right to build settlements in Judea and Samaria was “bad law.” Today I want to take on the accusations that it is “bad policy” and “bad politics.”

The Times writes,

The recommendations would annul a number of past Israeli Supreme Court rulings and orders, including a 1979 decision forbidding the expropriation of land for “military needs” when the real goal is settlement construction. It is alarming to see this latest attack on the court, which has tried to temper government excesses, ruling that several outposts and buildings constructed on private Palestinian land should be dismantled. Thirty families were evicted from five such buildings last month.

The implication here is that Israel is going around condemning Palestinian property and handing it over to ‘settlers’.

This is untrue and disingenuous. The commission did not rule that Israeli Jews had a right to take “private Palestinian land.” If anything, it called for additional safeguards to ensure that ownership of land is clarified before it is built on by anyone, Jew or Arab. Unlike in the US, questions of land ownership in the territories are often very complicated and unclear, with missing documentation the rule rather than the exception, and various systems of law involved, including those in force in the Jordanian, Mandate and Ottoman periods.

It doesn’t help that the Palestinian Authority has decreed a penalty of death for an Arab who sells land to a Jew. Nor does it help that European and New Israel Fund financed lawyers and NGOs are seeking out Arabs to file claims against settlements, and that in some cases the government has ordered demolition of structures after receiving complaints, without waiting to establish the actual ownership of the property (see link to Ulpana below).

The commission also recommended the option of compensating owners when encroachment was established after construction rather than eviction and demolition, such as in the recent case of Ulpana (you will have to read the details; it’s too bizarre for me to summarize).

Bad policy? It seems to me that it is a much better policy than before.

In the vein of “bad politics”, the Times continues,

The commission, led by Edmund Levy, a former Supreme Court justice, was established in January under pressure from settlement leaders. If its conclusions are not firmly rejected by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there is likely to be new international anger at Israel. That could divert attention from Iran just when the world is bearing down with sanctions and negotiations to curb Tehran’s nuclear program.

This is absolutely delicious: the Times warns the Jewish state against provoking “international anger,” as if absolutely anything Israel does that is not a concession doesn’t provoke “anger,” and as if concessions aren’t always pocketed and immediately followed by new demands.

The Times’ idea of ‘good politics’ is that Israel should not assert its legitimate rights under international law because that will anger the Goyim, who then won’t protect Israel against the Iranian pogromists!

Does the Times hire its editorial writers straight out of medieval ghettos? Because this is the mentality they display.

We know and they know that the “international community” is not going to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

We know, and they are either too stupid or too dishonest to admit, that in order to survive Israel must deter aggression or preempt it. Appeasement, so consistently recommended by the Times and its columnists, is precisely the wrong way to bolster deterrence.

Let me point out a final bit of dishonesty:

[if the report is accepted by the government] It would also draw attention to a dispiriting anomaly: that a state founded as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people is determined to continue ruling 2.5 million Palestinians under an unequal system of laws and rights.

Perhaps the Times has failed to notice that something like 97% of the approximately 1.5 million Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria are under the administration of the Palestinian authority (I have no idea where they get the 2.5 million figure). But Israel is not ‘ruling’ them except insofar as it is not permitting their terrorist gangs to operate.

The commission did not, as this paragraph suggests, decide that the entire area of Judea and Samaria was a permanent part of Israel, but only that settlements there are not illegal. The eastern border of the state of Israel remains undefined, as it has been since the war of independence. Israel is still waiting, as it has for 64 years, for serious negotiations with the Arab nations and the Palestinians.

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