Archive for December, 2012

Polls and flying pigs

Monday, December 31st, 2012

flying-pigs

Two new polls are being widely quoted in the media as showing that Israelis — even voters for  right-wing parties — want to make a two-state deal with the Palestinians. For example, Barak Ravid writes in Ha’aretz [subscription],

Two opinion surveys conducted by different Israeli pollsters in December show that most Likud-Beiteinu and the further-right Habayit Hayehudi voters would support a peace agreement establishing a demilitarized Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders, Israel’s retention of major settlement blocs and a division of Jerusalem. The two polls also revealed that two thirds of all Israelis support such an agreement…

The Abraham Center commissioned parallel polls from Mina Tzemach’s Dahaf and from pollster Rafi Smith on the Israeli public’s views about peace with the Palestinians. The firms were aware of each other’s polls. Each poll asked one question: If the government of Israel presented a public referendum on a peace agreement that would end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be implemented only after the Palestinians held up all the obligations at their end, especially the war on terror, and the United States approved of the agreement, would you support it or not?

The principles of the agreement as presented to respondents were for two states – Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinians, with Palestinian refugees having the right to return only to their new country. The Palestinian state would be demilitarized and its boundaries would be based on the 1967 lines with exchanges of equal-sized territory. Those exchanges would take into consideration Israel’s security needs and would retain the large settlement blocs in Israeli hands…

When it came to the general public, Mina Tzemach’s poll revealed that 67 percent supported such an agreement and 21 percent opposed it, while Rafi Smith’s poll showed 68 percent in favor and 25 percent against. The surveys found that the general public’s support for the agreement rose to 75 percent (Dahaf ) and 80 percent (Rafi Smith ) when augmented by various other “improvements” such as a defense alliance with the United Sates, disarmament of Hamas and an end to its rule in Gaza, and Arab states’ willingness to enact full diplomatic relations with Israel.

Does this mean, as the Left suggests, that it is the intransigence of the Netanyahu government that is holding Israel back from making peace? Does it mean that with a little more pressure from the US, such an agreement is possible?

Of course not. What it means is that Israelis really, really want peace and most would give up territory in return, if peace were attainable by doing so.

The poll question presumes that the PLO state would be demilitarized and the Palestinians would “hold up all their obligations [first].” How demilitarization could be enforced and how the Palestinians could be prevented from violating the agreement — as they have violated almost every agreement they made with Israel since 1993 — are not specified. As for the idea that Hamas would disarm and give up control of Gaza, it’s far more likely that Hamas will end up in control of Judea and Samaria too.

In addition to the practical issues above, the question assumes that the Palestinians would sincerely agree to Israel retaining the settlement blocs, to demilitarization, to abandoning their demand for ‘right of return’, to recognizing Israel as the state of the Jewish people, etc., when they have consistently rejected these ideas when presented as concrete peace proposals. Polls among Palestinians consistently show that they support violent ‘resistance’ until Israel has been replaced by an Arab state.

An acquaintance called this an “if pigs could fly poll.” There is as little chance of the conditions being fulfilled as there being a porcine airlift, so it has no real-world application, except insofar as it shows that even right-wing Israelis dream of peace. But we knew that.

Yet another recent poll, also conducted by Dr. Mina Tzemach, showed that 83% of Israelis believe that withdrawal to pre-1967 boundaries wouldn’t bring peace. That is why they vote for the Likud and rightward.

So why the flying pigs? The Ha’aretz article linked above helps us understand:

The polls were commissioned by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace in Washington D.C. Abraham, who made his fortune with Slim-Fast diet products, is considered a major contributor and close to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He is also known to be close to President Shimon Peres and to former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. However, Abraham has met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on almost every visit to Israel over the past four years.

The Abraham Center is headed by former Congressman Robert Wexler, who is close to President Barack Obama and was very active in the latter’s recent presidential campaign. According to one assessment, Wexler may be appointed to a senior position in the Obama administration in the coming months.

It tells us that the Obama Administration has not given up on its plan to create a Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and to divide Jerusalem. Just wait: the poll will be presented as ‘proof’ that the majority of Israelis want it to!

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Stay off the slippery slope

Friday, December 28th, 2012

We are often warned about the dangers of the “extreme right” in Israel — as Thomas Friedman called them, those who “actually want to annex the West Bank.” I presume that Friedman was referring to people like Naftali Bennett, who has made a proposal to annex Area C — the parts of Judea and Samaria where almost all the Jewish residents and few Arabs live.

Even Daniel Gordis, who — unlike Friedman — actually cares about Israel’s future, has suggested that Israeli voters should beware of, er, excessive Zionism, because it could lead to the isolation and ultimate destruction of the Jewish state. In a recent article, Gordis presents a ‘good’ and a ‘bad’ scenario for the Israel of 2063. In the ‘bad’ one,

European hostility to Israel never subsided, and successive Israeli governments turned irritating both the EU and the US into a national sport. In response to repeated European and American demands that building projects cease, the government assured Israelis, “They’ll learn to live with it. We just have to show them we can’t be bullied.”

Germany changed the rules first. Lufthansa stopped flying to Israel, and a year later, Germany refused El Al landing rights. After subsequent dustups, Air France and France followed suit, as did British Airways and the UK. Soon, the only way to get to Europe was by sea. Israelis could still fly to Turkey, though.

Both Friedman and Gordis seem to be saying that Israel must not defy the Europeans and Obama Administration on the issue of Israel’s rights in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. By playing along — despite the fact that an excellent case can be made for the legality of Jewish settlement in these places — Israel can avoid potentially disastrous punishment.

There are two problems with this position, one philosophical and the other practical. The philosophical problem is that it represents an abdication of sovereignty, the sovereignty that Jews have been fighting and dying to preserve since the beginning of the Zionist enterprise. It represents a return to the ghetto mentality by which Jewish survival was dependent on the good will of the local gentile prince. Once we agree to the principle, where does it stop?

The practical problem is that the immediate objective of the EU and the Obama administration is the reduction of Israel to the 1949 armistice lines (the so-called “pre-67 borders” which actually were never considered borders by anyone). It is not for nothing that Abba Eban referred to these boundaries as “Auschwitz borders,” because they would be a strategic disaster. Whether you take Naftali Bennett seriously or not, you should look at the illustrations in his proposal. Here’s one of them:

3dIsrael

Both the US and the EU do not accept Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem — the US State Department continues to insist that until there is an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel’s capital is not Jerusalem (they won’t say what it is). Many European countries (and the EU’s Foreign Minister Catherine Ashton) are prepared to talk with with a Palestinian ‘government’ that includes Hamas. The EU’s oft-stated position is that any Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line are “illegal under international law.” How can Israel play along with a policy that calls for the expulsion of half a million Jews from their homes?

And this is only the immediate objective. What can we expect next, that the EU will require Israel to grant a ‘right of return’ to 4.5 million descendants of Arab refugees before it will welcome what’s left of Israel into the family of nations?

The EU’s positions can only be expected to harden in the future, as its Muslim population grows. Although it’s harder to predict the behavior of the US in the long run, there are worrisome indications today — like Obama’s floating of a possible nomination for the anti-Israel Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

A policy of appeasing the US and EU can only aid the Arabs in their project to weaken Israel and slice away at it, bit by bit. A better plan is to stand firm and insist on Israel’s legitimate rights — to stay off the slippery slope.

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American ‘experts': listen to ordinary Israelis first

Thursday, December 27th, 2012

I am not one who thinks that only Israelis have the right to comment about Israel. After all, I’m an American and I write about it all the time. But I do think that foreigners should at least pay attention to what Israelis think when forming their opinions, and even more so when proposing ‘solutions’. After all, Israelis are the ones who suffer the consequences of outside meddling.

Can there be a worse example than Thomas L. Friedman of the NY Times? Recently he wrote,

Israel’s friends need to understand that the center-left in Israel is dying. The Israeli election in January will bring to power Israeli rightists who never spoke at your local Israel Bonds dinner. These are people who want to annex the West Bank. Bibi Netanyahu is a dove in this crowd. The only thing standing between Israel and national suicide any more is America and its willingness to tell Israel the truth. [emphasis in original]

It’s hard to imagine a more arrogant attitude! For Friedman’s information, Israel is a democracy, and if right-wing politicians are elected, it is — gasp — because Israelis voted for them. And probably the single most important issue driving votes today — not the only issue, by any means, but the most important — is security.

Israelis have finally realized what a bill of goods they were sold in 1993, when they were suckered into the Oslo agreements. They experienced the Second Intifada, and the results of the ill-advised withdrawal from Gaza. Most of them now understand that security does not lie in surrendering territory near Israel’s population centers to those who want to kill them.

They also are coming to understand that they don’t have to allow antisemitic Europe and Saudi-influenced America to to define the borders of the Jewish state and its capital. Some even believe that the 19-year Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem, did not magically render these areas forbidden to Jews. And the fact that “Palestinians want these areas for their future state,” as we constantly read in news reports, is not an argument for giving them up.

Friedman and other ‘friends’ of Israel believe that they know better, recycling the ideology of the Israeli Left that Israelis themselves have rejected out of harsh experience. They are either ignorant of reality, or their objective is not that Israel should survive and thrive — but something else.

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Build Israel, not Palestine

Friday, December 21st, 2012
Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett

If someone tells you that all of your property belongs to him, and he will get it and dispossess you no matter how long it takes, then would you suggest that he take half of it now in the name of peace?

I am always confused when what the US and European media constantly refer to as Israel’s ‘hardline, right-wing’ government says that it is committed to a ‘two-state solution’ with the PLO as partner — the PLO that has murdered more Jews than any organization since the Nazi party. What is so ‘hardline’ about this?

The government is called ‘hardline’ because it has announced that it will permit construction of apartments for Jews in places like E1 that are under complete Israeli control, according to the Oslo Agreements (even though the PLO showed its contempt for those agreements by unilaterally turning to the UN for recognition as a ‘state’), and in its capital.

But since the PLO wants all of those places to be part of its Jew-free state (the media, normally hypersensitive to the slightest breath of racism, never seem to notice this), then these announcements are considered ‘obstacles to peace’.

The biggest obstacle to peace, of course, is the Palestinian intention to establish an Arab state from the river to the sea.

In 1993 the Israeli Left managed to con the government into letting the PLO return, and since then, the rapidly diminishing Left (now pretty much confined to some academics and members of the Ha’aretz editorial board) has been joined by the Europeans and the US in an effort to force Israel to implement the first stage of the PLO conquest by giving up Judea and Samaria and half of its capital.

The US and Europeans are affected by economic pressure from Arab oil producers, the political muscle of Europe’s growing Muslim population, the entrenched Saudi influence in the US, and plain old Jew hatred. The Israeli Left, such as it is, is either paid off — leftist NGOs are financed by the Europeans and the US-based NIF — or suffer from terminal cases of the Oslo Syndrome.

I’ve explained over and over again that the “two-state” solution is not a solution to anything — rather it would be a security disaster — and that there is no reason to make any concessions to the Palestinians as long as their oft-stated goal remains ending the Jewish state.

Everyone who understands the situation knows this. Certainly the Netanyahu government knows it better than most. So why does it continue to pay lip service to the destructive idea that peace could be had through concessions to the PLO?

In a piece about Naftali Bennett of the Jewish Home party — who is considered more ‘hardline right-wing’ than Netanyahu —  David Horovitz notes,

[Bennett] charged that the policy of Netanyahu’s government on settlements and the Palestinians is “schizophrenic” — by which he apparently meant that the prime minister talks a lot about major expansion of building beyond the Green Line, while also insisting he wants to move forward with the Palestinians, positions that manage to annoy the international community, the Palestinians, the settlers and just about everybody else in between.

Is it right-wing extremism to expect consistency? I don’t think so.

It’s time to dump the obligatory genuflection to the need for a Palestinian state, and get on with building the Jewish one.

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Iranian news service blames Israel for Sandy Hook, likes Chuck Hagel

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Yesterday in the Washington Post, Max Fisher notes an article by an Iranian state-run news organization blaming “Israeli death squads” for the Sandy Hook massacre. After describing the contradictions in the article and its deranged source, one Michael Harris, he concludes,

The PressTV story is sad and upsetting, mostly for its incredible insensitivity but also, to a lesser degree, for the obvious bankruptcy of Iranian propaganda. Who, exactly, is this story supposed to convince? Iran is not North Korea; information flows in and out of the country much more freely, and though public attitudes toward the United States are not exactly warm, nor are they so twisted by hatred or ignorance that such an outlandish story as this would seem likely to convince many readers. And, beyond the Mike Harrisses of the world (he also blames last year’s Norway shooting on Israel), it doesn’t seem likely to exactly turn American opinion away from Israel or toward Iran. And yet here it is, outrageous, offensive, and clearly counterproductive, for all the world to see.

Mr. Fisher, I’m afraid you don’t know the half of it. In addition to practically the entire Arab world (which also believes that Zionists train wild boars, sharks, vultures and other animals to attack or spy on them), there is a large sector of Americans — like Michael Harris — who believe such theories. I won’t link to it, but the article has already been reposted on the neo-Nazi website Stormfront, where it is the subject of serious discussion. And don’t get me started on 9/11 conspiracy theories, many of which blame the Mossad.

Unfortunately, the percentage of humans whose thinking is rational is probably in the single digits (OK, this is a guess). And nothing triggers the irrational conspiracy center located not-so-deeply in the human brain better than a conspiracy that involves Jews or Israel.

There is nothing mystifying about their use of this story. It is effective propaganda for many in their audience.

Just keep in mind that PressTV also likes Chuck Hagel, whom they call “an outspoken critic of the Zionist lobby in Washington.”

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Surreal UN over the top today

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

I get frequent press releases from Eye on the UN and UN Watch, describing the surreal doings of our United Nations and its agencies. I am used to it by now, and don’t spit out my coffee so much when I read them. But today’s UN Watch release was just too much.

Here it is in toto. Ask yourself this: How long are we in the US going to continue to tolerate, pay for, and host this herd of swine?

U.N. Adopts 9 Resolutions on Israel, 0 on Syria

 Resolutions on Palestinians omit mention of Syria’s massacre of Palestinians

Contact: media1@unwatch.org
Tel: +41 22 734 1472

GENEVA, Dec. 18 – The U.N. General Assembly today adopted nine resolutions on Palestinian rights and the Golan, sharply criticizing Israel yet making no mention of Sunday’s massacre of Palestinians by Syrian warplanes firing missiles into a mosque in a Palestinian refugee camp near Damascus. Nor did the texts mention the tens of thousands of Palestinians who continue to flee the camp.

By the end of this week, the current 2012 UNGA session will have adopted 22 country-specific resolutions on Israel – and only four on the rest of the world combined, one each for Syria, Iran, North Korea and Burma, noted UN Watch.

Today’s resolutions criticized Israel for “the continuing systematic violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people,” and focused on “the extremely difficult socioeconomic conditions being faced by the Palestine refugees in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

One resolution condemned Israel for holding on to the Golan Heights, demanding Israel hand the land and its people to Syria.

“It’s astonishing,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch. “At a time when the Syrian regime is massacring its own people, how can the U.N. call for more people to be subject to Assad’s rule? The timing of today’s text is morally galling and logically absurd.”

“What is also outrageous is that these resolutions claim to care about Palestinians, yet the U.N. proves itself completely oblivious to the actual suffering on the ground, happening right now: Palestinians slaughtered, maimed and expelled by Assad’s forces.”

“Today’s farce at the General Assembly underscores a simple fact: the U.N.’s automatic majority has no interest in truly helping Palestinians, nor in protecting anyone’s human rights; the goal of these ritual, one-sided condemnations remains the scapegoating of Israel,” said Neuer.

“The U.N.’s disproportionate assault against the Jewish state undermines the credibility of what is supposed to be an impartial and respected international body, and exposes the sores of politicisation and selectivity that eat away at its founding mission, eroding the U.N. Charter promise of equal treatment to all nations large and small,” Neuer added.

“With more than 40,000 killed in Syria, and millions of Syrian refugees suffering now in the cold of winter, it ought to shock the conscience of mankind that the U.N. will devoting more than 80 percent of this session’s resolutions to Israel, and just one, on Thursday, to Syria.”

www.unwatch.org

UN Watch is a Geneva-based human rights organization founded in 1993 to monitor UN compliance with the principles of its Charter. It is accredited as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) in Special Consultative Status to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and as an Associate NGO to the UN Department of Public Information (DPI).

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Fool me twice…

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012
Sen. Chuck Hagel

Sen. Chuck Hagel

One of the Democratic talking points presented as reasons for pro-Israel voters to reelect President Obama was the degree of US/Israel cooperation on matters of defense. For example, former New York Mayor Ed Koch said this:

The statement of Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak on the cooperation between Israel and the U.S. on intelligence gathering and military supplies provided by the U.S. to Israel was the best ever in the long relationship between the two countries. That again was clear evidence of President Obama’s commitment to Israel.

And David Golder of the Chicago Jewish News wrote,

What’s at stake is Israel’s security. President Obama has directed more security aid to Israel than ever before and funded the Iron Dome system to save Israeli lives from rocket attacks. He has defended Israel at the UN. He personally intervened to save the lives of Israelis surrounded by a mob at their embassy in Cairo, and he directed American personnel to help Israel douse the flames of the Carmel fire.

Just recently, the Administration extended loan guarantees to Israel through 2016, while engaging in the largest-ever joint military exercise between our countries.

On the greatest threat to Israel’s security, President Obama has left no doubt: Iran will not obtain a nuclear weapon. He will not take any option off the table to counter this threat.

He has backed this promise with action – the most far-reaching sanctions ever imposed on the Iranian regime; an international coalition acting to cripple Iran’s economy and isolate its leaders; overt and covert collaboration with our allies to sabotage Iran’s nuclear efforts.

Today, the sanctions are biting and our resolve is unwavering. As the President said, “Israel is a true friend; it is our greatest ally in the region. And if Israel is attacked, America will stand with Israel.”

Most Jews bought it. The President received some 70% of the Jewish vote (down only a bit since 2008, when he got 78%). Most American Jews do care about Israel’s security, even if they embrace mistaken policies such as the ‘peace process’, so it seems that they were reassured that Obama was, if not the most pro-Israel President ever, at least harmless.

They were wrong. Exhibit A, presented even before the inauguration, is his apparent plan to nominate Sen. Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, the single official most relevant to continued cooperation between the US and Israel on security issues.

Hagel stands out in the US Senate as an opponent of Israel, and an opponent of sanctions on Iran.  Here are a few facts about him:

Terrorism

1.     In November 2001, Hagel was one of 11 Senators who refused to sign a letter requesting President Bush not meet with Yassir Arafat until forces linked to Arafat’s Fatah party ceased attacks on Israel.

2.     In December 2005, Hagel was one of 27 Senators who refused to sign a letter to President Bush requesting the U.S. pressure the Palestinians to ban terrorist groups from participating in legislative elections.

3.     In July 2006, Hagel called on President Bush to demand an immediate cease-fire when Israel retaliated against Hezbollah after the terrorist group attacked Israel, abducted two IDF soldiers, and fired rockets at Israeli civilians.

4.     In August 2006, Hagel was only of 12 senators who refused to sign a letter asking the EU to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

5.     In 2007, Hagel voted against designating Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization.

Israel and “the Jewish Lobby”

1.   In October 2000, Hagel was one of only four Senators who refused to sign a letter expressing support for Israel during the second Palestinian intifada.

2.    In July 2002, in a Washington Post op-ed, after several of the most deadly months of Palestinian suicide bombings, Hagel wrote that the U.S. was erroneously “making Yassir Arafat the issue,” that Palestinians could not be expected to make democratic reforms as long as “Israeli military occupation and settlement activity” continue, and that “Israel must take steps to show its commitment to peace.”

3.     In November 2003, Hagel failed to vote on the Syria Accountability Act authorizing sanctions on Syria for its support of terrorism and occupation of Lebanon. The Act passed by a vote of 89 to 4.

4.     In July 2006, Hagel called on the Bush Administration to take up the Beirut Declaration of 2002, also known as the “Saudi Peace Initiative,” saying it was “a starting point” that had been “squandered” by the United States. It calls on Israel to retreat from the Golan Heights, the West Bank, and much of Jerusalem, including the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and the Western Wall, as a precondition for peace.

5.    In calling upon President Bush to demand an immediate ceasefire after Israel responded to a Hezbollah attack in 2006, Hagel said: “This madness must stop,” and accused Israel of “the systematic destruction of an American friend — the country and people of Lebanon.”

6.     “The political reality is that … the Jewish [not ‘Israel’ — ed.] lobby intimidates a lot of people up here.” (Hagel interviewed in Aaron David Miller’s 2008 book The Too Much Promised Land) 

7.       In 2009, Hagel signed onto a letter urging President Obama to open direct negotiations with Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist organization dedicated to the violent destruction of Israel and which has perpetrated dozens of suicide bombings that have killed or injured hundreds of civilians in Israel, including many Americans.

8.       The National Jewish Democratic Council says Hagel has “a lot of questions to answer about his commitment to Israel.”

9.       When questioned about his pro-Israel record during a meeting in New York with supporters of Israel, Hagel is reported to have said, “Let me clear something up here if there’s any doubt in your mind. I’m a United States Senator. I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States Senator. I support Israel. But my first interest is, I take an oath of office to the constitution of the United States. Not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel.”

Iran

1.     On July 24, 2001, Hagel was one of only two U.S. senators who voted against renewing the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.

2.     In June 2004, Hagel refused to sign a letter urging that President Bush highlight Iran’s nuclear program while at the G-8 summit.

In every case that Israel has had to defend herself in recent years — the Second Intifada, the second Lebanon War and the two operations in Gaza — Hagel has spoken out against Israel. As Secretary of Defense, how would we expect him to argue if Israel again finds itself at war and asks for ammunition or spare parts for American weapons?

Despite the talking points, Obama has been relatively weak on sanctions against Iran, tugged kicking and screaming by Congress and even the Europeans — and even then has granted exemptions to Iran’s largest trading partners. Hagel’s softness on Iran and its proxies Hizballah and Syria is not likely to strengthen the administration’s stance.

Ed Koch, who urged Jews to vote for Obama, is now opposed to Hagel’s nomination, calling it a “terrible appointment.” But others, like Iran’s Press TV as well as the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) have only good things to say about him (CAIR endorsed him for President in the 2008 election).

The usual suspects, of course, are talking about Hagel’s “hardline” critics who support Israel’s “right-wing government.” But Hagel’s positions on Hamas, Hizballah, Iran, etc., are far from the norm in the Senate — either among other Republicans or Democrats — and themselves could be called ‘extreme’.

Nevertheless, its hard to imagine Hagel’s fellow senators voting against confirming a member of their exclusive club. It is pretty much Obama’s call.

So much for pre-election promises.

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More about Pollard’s sentence

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Friday I wrote about new documents declassified in the Jonathan Pollard case, which might help us understand his disproportionate life sentence and why he is still imprisoned after 27 years.

Pollard’s lawyers negotiated a plea agreement with the government: he agreed to plead guilty and gave up his right to a jury trial; in return, the prosecution agreed not to seek a life sentence. By the precedents set by other cases of espionage on behalf of allies, Pollard expected a much lighter sentence.

Instead, the Secretary of Defense, Caspar Weinberger, presented a memo to the court at the last minute accusing Pollard of doing massive damage to the US. The prosecution then reneged on its agreement, and the judge sentenced Pollard to life imprisonment. Pollard’s lawyers were able to see the document for a few minutes, but were not given the opportunity to respond. The document has been released in a highly redacted form, so it is still not possible to know precisely what was in it.

Part of the content was probably assertions that information from Pollard found its way to the Soviet Union, exposing several American agents who were then murdered by the KGB. As I explained Friday, it appears that the agents were actually betrayed either by double agent Aldrich Ames, or another ‘mole’ in the CIA who was being protected by Ames. Hershel Shanks explains,

In 1983 Ames was made chief of the CIA’s Soviet counterintelligence branch in the Soviet-East European Division. Ames was recruited by the Russians in 1984. Ames would, of course, have every reason to deflect suspicion from himself and blame someone else for what was happening in the Moscow bureau – and Ames was in a position to do so.

The information Pollard passed to Israel about Russian weaponry in Arab states was obtained, at least in part, from American agents in Russia.

In the intelligence community it was well known that in the past KGB moles had penetrated Israeli intelligence. Perhaps a still-undiscovered Soviet mole inside Israeli intelligence passed the secrets to the Soviets that Pollard had passed to Israel.

Pollard was not sentenced until March 1987. Ames was still in charge of Soviet counter-intelligence within the CIA. Based on what Ames told him, Weinberger drafted his affidavit to the court. [my emphasis]

But the government apparently provided additional ‘facts’ to the judge. When Pollard attempted (unsuccessfully) to withdraw his guilty plea in 1990, attorney Alan Dershowitz presented the following affidavit to the court:

  1. My name is ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ. I am a Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. I serve as one of the lawyers for Jonathan J. Pollard. During the 1963 – 1964 Supreme Court term, I was a law clerk to Mr. Justice Arthur Goldberg. Between that time and his death, I remained a close friend and associate of Mr. Justice Goldberg. We worked together on many projects, spoke and met frequently, and jointly authored articles and proposals.
  2. Following the publication of the a letter to the Jerusalem Post, on September 12, 1989, I spoke to Justice Goldberg an the telephone about the sentence imposed on Jonathan Pollard. I promised to send him some comparative sentencing data. Justice Goldberg promised to make some inquiries on his own regarding the sentence.
  3. Subsequent to this conversation, Justice Goldberg called me to tell me that he had personally met with Judge Aubrey Robinson and discussed the Pollard sentence with him. Justice Goldberg told me that Judge Robinson had told him that he (Judge Robinson) had been provided by the government with evidence that Jonathan Pollard had given Israel American satellite photographs proving that Israel had tested Jericho missiles in South Africa and had provided South Africa with missile and nuclear technology. Justice Goldberg told me further that Judge Robinson was particularly outraged by the Israel-South Africa connection and Pollard’s role in providing Israel with evidence that the United States had satellite evidence of it. Justice Goldberg told me that he understood why Judge Robinson, as a Black man, would be particularly sensitive to this evidence.Justice Goldberg told me that Judge Robinson had told him that Pollard-South African connection had weighed heavily in his (Judge Robinson’s) decision to impose a life sentence. I told Justice Goldberg that I did not believe that Jonathan Pollard had provided Israel with any such satellite information, but that I would check.
  4. I immediately called Hamilton Fox and Nathan Dershowitz [Pollard’s lawyers] and told them of my conversation with Justice Goldberg. Fox said he would check with Jonathan Pollard and his earlier attorney, Richard A. Hibey concerning the truth or falsity of the evidence provided to Judge Robinson.
  5. After being assured by Fox that there was no truth whatsoever in the claim that Jonathan Pollard had provided satellite photographs or information to Israel about South Africa, Jericho missiles or nuclear technology, I wrote Justice Goldberg the attached letter (Attachment A).
  6. On January 15, 1990 I spoke with Justice Goldberg on the phone. He was quite upset at the content of my letter and promised to get to the bottom of it. He told me that he would phone Attorney General Thornburgh for a meeting to discuss this issue and the sentence. He told me that if my facts were correct, then the Justice Department had improperly “pandered” [that was his precise word) to Judge Robinson’s racial sensitivities as a Black judge by providing him with false, inflammatory, ex parte information.
  7. On Friday morning January 19, 1990, I learned from Robert Goldberg that his father, Justice Arthur Goldberg, had died in his sleep during the night.

Was there a “South African connection?” It seems unlikely, considering the kind of information Israel sought from Pollard — information about its Arab enemies and their Soviet supporters.

But more important, even if there were such a connection, Judge Robinson’s outrage that Israel may have aided the hated South African regime is hardly a legitimate reason to doom Pollard to life in prison! After all, even if true, this wasn’t Pollard’s doing.

If indeed a combination of false accusations and an inappropriate emotional reaction by the judge resulted in Pollard’s life sentence, then a miscarriage of justice occurred.

The administration should either release Pollard, or explain convincingly why he should remain in prison.

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Pollard still in prison after 27 years — an object lesson for Jews?

Friday, December 14th, 2012
Highly redacted CIA document about Jonathan Pollard case. Click for larger version.

Highly redacted CIA document about Jonathan Pollard case. Click for larger version.

I haven’t written about Jonathan Pollard in a while. I’m prompted to do so again by two things: a recent news report that Pollard was taken to the hospital after collapsing in his cell (he is now back in jail), and the release today of formerly classified documents about his case.

Pollard, a Navy intelligence analyst, was arrested for passing classified information to Israel in 1985 and sentenced in 1987 to life imprisonment, when the government reneged on a plea deal. The judge in the case ruled after receiving confidential information about the damage that Pollard’s spying allegedly caused from former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

Weinberger’s memo to the court has now been declassified, but unfortunately the content that persuaded the judge to send Pollard to prison for life has been redacted, so we still don’t know exactly what Pollard is supposed to have done that justified his hugely disproportionate sentence. You can read more about the case here.

Some commentators think that Pollard was accused of being the source of information which led to the deaths of American agents at the hands of the Soviet KGB, when in fact this was provided by traitors Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen. But this can’t be determined from what’s left of Weinberger’s memo.

One interesting item that appears in the declassified documents are details about some of what Pollard provided:

The documents provided information on PLO headquarters in Tunisia; specific capabilities of Tunisian and Libyan air defense systems; Iraqi and Syrian chemical warfare productions capabilities (including detailed satellite imagery); Soviet arms shipments to Syria and other Arab states; naval forces, port facilities, and lines of communication of various Middle Eastern and North African countries; the MiG-29 fighter; and Pakistan’s nuclear program. Also included was a U.S. assessment of Israeli military capabilities.

The government has not provided any additional information that makes the reasons for keeping Pollard in prison clear. While he certainly is guilty of transmitting classified information to an ally, his is the only case of this kind that has resulted in a life sentence. I can’t believe, if the government actually has information to justify the sentence, that it could not be provided in a manner that would be convincing without revealing damaging secrets.

There are at least two other possible reasons for not releasing Pollard that come to mind: either

  1. he knows something which still, after 27 years, would embarrass the CIA or some other government entity or official; or,
  2. the administration believes that it is absolutely necessary to send a message that Jewish disloyalty will be treated with maximum harshness.

I’m going with number 2.

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The NY Times: dishonest, defamatory and deliberate

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

new_york_times_frontpage1

I have often criticized the New York Times for slanting ‘news’ stories as well as for its consistent anti-Israel bias in editorials, selection of op-eds, columnists, etc.

Now the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) has prepared a study of the Times’ content that they argue demonstrates that the newspaper is as bad or worse than I’ve said:

The dominant finding of the study is a disproportionate, continuous, embedded indictment that dominates both news and commentary sections. Israeli views are downplayed while Palestinian perspectives, especially criticism of Israel, are amplified and even promoted. The net effect is an overarching message, woven into the fabric of the coverage, of Israeli fault and responsibility for the conflict.

The summary (the full report, with detailed data will be available soon) lists several newsworthy  topics — the peace process, the Mavi Marmara affair, the ‘siege’ of Gaza, violence and incitement in Israel and the territories. It argues that the Times’ coverage of these has been biased to the extreme. It also notes that editorials and articles chosen for the op-ed pages have been almost entirely anti-Israel — some totally irrational, such as a remarkably ugly piece by an anti-Israel extremist that “characterized Israel’s tolerance toward homosexuals as a devious ploy to conceal abuses of Palestinian human rights.”

There is no doubt in my mind that the data will confirm rigorously what I noticed years ago and continue to notice: that the New York Times has chosen the path of dishonesty and even deliberate defamation, over responsible journalism. They are not disinterested observers of events; they are fighters in an information war.

I think we must draw a distinction here between the normal political ‘slant’ of an editorial policy — all media have them — and a sustained policy to abet the assassination of a nation. I am entirely serious when I say that the difference between the New York Times and Der Stürmer is one of style and degree. The intent is similar.

“Oh, come on,” you say. “Don’t be an extremist yourself. It’s just the usual liberal bias.” No, it isn’t. It is a sustained campaign to establish certain false propositions in the minds of the public — an educated, influential segment of the public. These beliefs are intended to influence policy, in a way which will directly damage Israel’s security. The New York Times is doing its best, in other words, to get people (Jews) killed.

Here are some of the false propositions that are repeated, over and over, in the pages of the Times:

  • The conflict continues because Israel is not prepared to make peace with the Palestinians.
  • Any defensive action in the face of terrorism is collective punishment of Palestinians.
  • Any defensive action that hurts Palestinians is disproportionate.
  • Israel’s government is an extremist right-wing regime.
  • Israelis in general are racially prejudiced against Arabs.
  • The security fence is a land grab.
  • Israeli Jews have no right to live beyond the Green Line.
  • Eastern Jerusalem is “Arab Jerusalem.”
  • ‘Settlers’ are terrorists, Palestinian Arabs are oppressed.

The objective of this propaganda is to make it harder for Israel to defend itself against terrorism and war, and to facilitate diplomatic pressure to reverse the outcome of 1967. Of course, once that is accomplished, it will be the results of 1948 that will be placed under pressure.

I could go on. I could speculate about the motivations of the editors and publishers. But wondering about the motivations of their enemies is a Jewish disease.

What we should do is to stop giving aid and comfort to them. To stop subscribing to this newspaper, even if we like the book reviews or sports articles. You wouldn’t make donations to Hizballah, right? Then don’t buy the Times.

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The same old tired nonsense

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Because of my business, which involves synagogues, I have accidentally been placed on many synagogue mailing lists. So I get to read about simchas and deaths, holiday parties, trips to Israel, building campaigns, etc. Most of this is uninteresting, relating to people I don’t know in places I haven’t been, but sometimes it’s revealing.

For example, I recently received a copy of a message from a Reform rabbi whom I won’t identify, but whose remarks can be paraphrased as follows:

The recent fighting between Israel and Hamas was terrible. Many innocent people on both sides were hurt. Why do we keep repeating this irrational behavior? Bellicose leaders on both sides are at fault. The only way to end the conflict is a two-state solution, to talk rather than fight.

I’ve left out a great deal, some of which I found so ‘evenhanded’ as to be offensive, as though the rabbi felt that if he criticized Hamas it would only be fair to criticize Israel harshly as well.

I’m sure the rabbi’s congregants expect him to be knowledgeable about Israel and the conflict that has always informed its existence. But he is representative of many Jewish leaders in that, to be as polite as possible, he seems to be talking about the Middle East located in the Upsilon Andromedae system rather than the one on earth.

He must be unaware of the recent Hamas ‘victory’ celebration where tens of thousands of Gazans cheered Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, who said,

Palestine is ours, from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land … We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take…

We will not rest until we liberate the prisoners. The way we freed some of the prisoners in the past is the way we will use to free the remaining prisoners…

[The right of return to Israel for Arab ‘refugees’] is sacred to us and we will not forfeit it…

And apparently he does not understand that Mahmoud Abbas of the PLO declared the Oslo ‘peace process’ null and void by unilaterally turning to the UN for statehood (and he doesn’t grasp that the General Assembly affirmed this denial of the only cooperative road to a two-state solution).

He seems to ignore the multiple times that the PLO rejected Israeli offers of almost the entire area of the 1948-1967 Jordanian conquest. The fact that no Arab leadership has ever given up the so-called ‘right of return’ of the descendents of Arab refugees to Israel — a ‘right’ for which there is no legal or historical precedent — does not dampen his enthusiasm for “two states.”

He doesn’t appear to ask if the hundred-year history of pogroms and terrorism by Arabs against Jews in the land of Israel, along with the vicious anti-Jewish hatred spewed by the Hamas and PLO media and educational systems, their maps that show ‘Palestine’ as including all of Israel, etc. — if all of this might imply that the Palestinians wouldn’t be satisfied even if they obtained pre-1967 boundaries?

Gazan child re-enacts bloody 2000 lynch of Israeli reservists

Gazan child re-enacts bloody 2000 lynch of Israeli reservists

He doesn’t bring up the fact that the Middle East has become an even more dangerous place than ever before, with a radical Islamist regime rising in Egypt, total chaos possible in Syria and a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran. Is this the time for Israel to invite new security threats?

Although the rabbi doesn’t discuss the security issues that would be raised by an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria, doesn’t the recent experience of withdrawal from Gaza make him think? Even if an agreement were made with a non-hostile Palestinian entity — although the idea that the PLO is non-hostile in anything other than its English statements is questionable — what would happen if (when) Hamas or hardline PLO factions take over, placing Tel Aviv, Ben-Gurion airport, Jerusalem and more in the position of Sderot?

Keep in mind that if it doesn’t work out — if the Palestinians don’t keep their agreement (and they have broken numerous prior agreements) then getting the land back isn’t easy. Israel is expected to make real, concrete concessions in return for promises.

In short, why does the rabbi advise his congregants to ignore the lessons of history as well as everything that the Palestinian leadership says and does, and call for a ‘solution’ that doesn’t solve anything, but only makes the situation much worse?

I won’t even ask why the rabbi, as a Jewish leader, doesn’t even mention the fact that the parts of the land of Israel that would be abandoned in a two-state agreement are those with the most historic Jewish significance. Nor would I ask whether his evident compassion for Palestinians extends to the Jews — the settlers — that would be displaced (for an idea of how this would work out, see the former residents of Gush Katif). These questions are too personal.

After all that has happened since 1993 — the second Intifada, the disaster of Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, the Hamas takeover and the two wars that has spawned, the intransigence of the PLO and its tolerance of terrorism, the continued incitement against Jews and Israel, the abrogation of the Oslo Accords, the radicalization of the Arab world, etc. — why do people like this rabbi continue to repeat the same, old, tired nonsense?

When can we finally put the idea of the “two-state solution” out of its misery?

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Why disproportionate response pays

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

A bit of video showing Israeli soldiers running from rock-throwing Arabs caused a stir last week. Some Israeli officials suggested that the problem was that rules of engagement were too strict. Others added that ‘activists’ with cameras were prepared to create legal and public-relations problems for Israel in the event that Palestinians were hurt (of course rock-throwing Palestinians were trying to kill the Israelis).

The problem isn’t a legal one and the concern with Israel’s image as a modern, humanitarian state is misplaced. Rather, I would say that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the human animal on the Israeli (and generally, Western) side, a misunderstanding that our enemies exploit to the fullest.

Humans are not motivated very much by logical arguments, and less so by logical arguments about moral issues. The Christian concept of turning the other cheek never got much traction, even among Christians, because it goes strongly against the atavistic gut feelings that actually do motivate us, and which we love to rationalize after the fact.

Imagine a man, even a UN diplomat, in a nice suit with nice hair. Then imagine inside of him a naked prehistoric ancestor. The ancestor doesn’t have concepts like moral reasoning — he is motivated by feelings like hunger and acquisitiveness, fear and hostility toward outsiders, perhaps respect for and fear of stronger members of his own tribe, etc.

Now understand that even the diplomat in the suit is driven by the same forces. The only difference is that he has layers of ‘culture’ and the ability to express himself in abstract language, to argue rationally in order to justify his preexisting feelings. This is a description of almost every modern human.

There is no way a Jewish state (or for that matter, the Jewish people) will ever generate feelings of love or even liking in the world, and not just among Arabs. Even Norwegians will not think to themselves, “it’s admirable that those Jews care about others.” They will respond to the non-rational ethnic hatred that boils inside of them, and rationalize it by talking about ‘stolen Palestinian land’, settlements, ‘international law’, etc.

I’m not going to discuss the roots of these sentiments now, but they are deep and entirely irrational. They can’t be changed by rational argument.

The Arabs understand this, which is why their propaganda includes viscerally racist anti-Jewish components and plenty of burned babies (even if the babies were burned by Syrian bombs). To ice the cake, they mouth words about justice and law, but that only serves to provide a handle for boycotts and UN resolutions. The real force is in the ugly stuff. It’s job is to feed the flames.

Israelis have gut-level motivations too, mostly the motivation to survive. But they seem to think that the best way to change the behavior of the world toward them is to explain, by appealing to actual facts and with logical arguments, that (for example) the IDF is the “most moral army in the world,” that Israel desires peace, and  the way to obtain it is to sit down with our enemies and talk through our differences.

This does not work with Norwegian diplomats, who will always come up with more reasons that Israel is an oppressive colonial power, because the logical arguments are just epiphenomena. The real motivation comes from a lower level, which rational Israeli arguments don’t touch.

And this is even less effective on Palestinian rock-throwers, who see Israeli attempts to not hurt them as simple weakness. If they could hurt us they would, they think, so if they don’t it’s because they can’t. These attacks are meant as much to humiliate IDF soldiers as to hurt them. When they succeed, they are emboldened to throw more rocks, to take even more risks (which have the side effect of demonstrating their manhood).

This is well-understood by Avigdor Lieberman, who said “There is no way that Palestinian policemen can punch and slap soldiers and live to tell about it.”

Lieberman’s statement was undoubtedly greeted with horror by less-astute but supposedly more ‘cultured’ people who find live fire a highly disproportionate response to a punch or slap (or thrown rock).

The fact is that the prehistoric ancestor within us doesn’t respond to proportionality. The way to get him on your side is not to explain how cultured you are, but to show him that if he messes with you he and his relatives will quickly be dead.

So Israel’s carefully measured surgical response to Hamas murder rockets, ending in a negotiated settlement, strengthened Hamas politically and psychologically, even while it destroyed its infrastructure. Infrastructure can be rebuilt and ammunition replenished, so the IDF’s actions achieved only a temporary advantage. Hamas’ victory celebration was not inappropriate, if we are talking about the psychological dimension.

In order to change the political landscape, it’s necessary to change the psychological one. The way to do this is not by careful surgical strikes, defensive strategies, and unbalanced concern for the welfare of those who are trying to kill IDF soldiers. It is by massive, disproportionate response to attacks.

While some are afraid that this would create legal and diplomatic problems, these problems appear anyway based on false and exaggerated ‘evidence’ — see the Goldstone report, for example.

Israel should hit its enemies hard. Deep down, even the Norwegian diplomats will understand.

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