Archive for July, 2013

Ignorance of Mideast a double whammy for Kerry and US

Friday, July 19th, 2013
John Kerry, 1971

John Kerry testifies at Senate Foreign Relations Committee about alleged US atrocities in Vietnam, 1971

Human reason works in part by finding patterns in experience, developing models based on the particular patterns, and then projecting the consequences of possible actions based on the models. This worked well for our ancestors who learned to recognize the patterns in the tracks of different animals, and applying models of the behavior of prey animals and predators. If done correctly, this enabled them to eat the former and escape from the latter.

But international politics are more complicated than tigers and water buffalo. It’s easy to create inaccurate models, and when we act on them the results are not what is expected. Here are two examples relating to our Secretary of State:

Bad model no. 1: linkage

I have been writing about the false and dangerous ‘linkage theory’ since my very first blog post in 2006. Since then, events have shown with more and more clarity that the ‘Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ (a misnomer in itself) is certainly not the ‘core issue’ of instability in the Middle East. But John Kerry, for whatever reason — I would suspect him of looking forward to Saudi largesse in retirement if he weren’t already richer than Croesus — feels it necessary to shut his eyes tightly and proclaim the mantra, as he did in Jordan on Wednesday:

Peace is in the common interest of everybody in this region. And as many [Arab League] ministers said to me today in the meeting that we had – many of them – they said that the core issue of instability in this region and in many other parts of the world is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

As many analysts have pointed out over and over, most of the chaos in the Middle East has absolutely nothing to do with Israel and the Palestinians. The incredibly vicious civil war in Syria whose casualty count is close to 100,000; the political upheavals and economic collapse of Egypt, with accompanying violence against Christians and women; the conflict in Lebanon between Hizballah, which is intervening in Syria, and its opponents; the struggle of the Kurds for independence; the Sunni-Shiite conflict in Iraq; the frustration of the Westernized Turkish people with the heavy-handed Islamism of the AKP; and last but not least, the Iranian program to dominate the region (and incidentally destroy the Jewish state) by nuclear means — none of these are driven by Israeli-Palestinian issues.

Bad model no. 2: there’s a technical solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict

Mr. Kerry is returning from the Mideast after having his latest ‘peace’ proposal slapped down by the PLO, which apparently wants a guarantee that the borders of its new state will approximate the 1949 armistice lines, as well as a freeze on construction in settlements and a release of terrorist prisoners in Israeli jails as a precondition of negotiations.

Kerry’s model is one in which the PLO’s agreement would result in two peaceful states living side by side. It assumes that a) the PLO and its factions actually desire such a peaceful outcome, and b) that Hamas and other radical groups would allow it. Both of these assumptions are false. They ignore the oft-repeated statements to the contrary by the PLO and others, as well as the continued anti-Jewish incitement and terrorism coming from them.

These models place a double whammy on US policy. Not only is it not possible to attain peace by an additional partition of the Jewish national home, but even if it were, it would do little to quiet the more serious conflicts in the region.

So let’s look at some of the real causes of instability.

One is Sunni-Shiite enmity, which the US can do little to affect. Another is the internal conflicts between more and less extreme Muslims, for example the fighting in the Sinai between Salafists and the Egyptian Army. Again, the US has little leverage on this.

But there is one place from which much of the chaos emanates. That place, of course, is Iran, which is engaged on a long-term project to become the regional hegemon of the area. In addition to developing nuclear weapons, it is arming and supporting the Assad regime in Syria and Hizballah in Lebanon, as well as radical Palestinian factions. It is sponsoring world-wide terrorism through its Hizballah franchise, which incidentally has a strong presence in South America that directly threatens the US homeland.

Unfortunately the Iranian project has gone too far to be stopped by talking, unless diplomacy is backed up by a credible threat of military action. But in my opinion there is nothing that could do more to stabilize the Middle East and reduce the amount of terrorism in the world than action to stop the Iranian nuclear weapons program and to disarm Hizballah.

The status quo between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs is, despite what you hear, not such a bad thing. There is no mass murder taking place as it is in Syria, nor endemic ethnic and political violence as in Egypt. Palestinian Arabs are economically better off than Arabs anywhere else in the Mideast — except for Arab citizens of Israel  — and despite the lies spread by the European and left-wing media, are not victims of apartheid.

The US should stop wasting effort on futile attempts to solve a problem which will not be solved until the Arabs — both the Palestinians and the Arab nations — decide that it is more important to develop their economies than to destroy Israel. This won’t be in the near future, unfortunately.

Rather, it should take whatever steps are necessary against Iran and Hizballah. I’m sure Israel would be happy to cooperate.

Update [1317 PDT]: Now it looks like Kerry’s negotiations will continue. Nothing changes.

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The EU: abject cowardice and racist bullying

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013
EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton with former Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad. Courtesy Jewish Press

EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton with former Palestinian PM Salam Fayyad. Courtesy Jewish Press. Ashton appears to be waving the foot of a huge chicken, perhaps in celebration of European courage.

On September 1, 1939, German aircraft bombed the town of Wielun, Poland. Five minutes later, a German battleship bombarded the free city of Danzig, and several hours after that German infantry and armor invaded on three fronts.

On September 3, the UK and France declared war on Germany (of course Britain did little until Churchill became Prime Minister in 1940, but that’s another story).

Note that they did not declare war on the Kriegsmarine, the Luftwaffe, or the Heer. Even Neville Chamberlain understood that the struggle was against the Nazis, and Germany’s armed forces were simply instruments thereof. But today’s European Union (EU) politicians aren’t even Chamberlains, not to mention Churchills.

There is indisputable evidence that Hizballah has been responsible for world-wide terrorism over the past three decades, including several attacks in EU nations — the latest being the bombing of a tour bus carrying Israelis in Burgas, Bulgaria. Hizballah also carried out the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. It was directly responsible for the Second Lebanon War with Israel, and is on track to start another one.

Despite this, the EU has been so far unable to decide to call Hizballah a terrorist organization. But riding to the rescue is Churchill-like Catherine Ashton, the head of EU Foreign Policy:

European governments have been deadlocked over the issue since May when Britain asked for the Shi’ite Muslim group’s military wing to be put on the EU terror list, citing evidence it was behind a deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria last year.

Several EU capitals had objected, arguing such a move could destabilize Lebanon where Hezbollah is part of the government, and questioning whether there was sufficient evidence linking the group to the attack in the seaside resort of Burgas [nonsense — ed.]

Before further talks on the issue in the coming days, the EU’s Catherine Ashton suggested a compromise that could allay concerns that a blacklisting would complicate the EU’s relations with Lebanon.

Two EU diplomats told Reuters the proposal suggests including a statement the EU “should continue dialogue with all political parties in Lebanon” and maintain funding to Beirut.

This is one of those propositions that is so utterly moronic that it’s hard to present it with a straight face in order to refute it! Ashton would like us to think there is a political wing of Hizballah which does, er, politics, and a military wing which blows people up and starts wars. She does not explain who tells the military wing whom to blow up.

In case you are wondering, here is an organization chart for Hizballah. Having Allah and Muhammed at the top is a nice touch:

Hizballah organization. Courtesy Wikipedia, Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh

Hizballah organization. Courtesy Wikipedia, Ahmad Nizar Hamzeh

The truth is that the EU is so frightened of Hizballah and its patron and puppet-master Iran, that this absurd distinction is the best it can do — if it even goes this far.

Of course there is no danger that the Jews will blow up anything or anybody in Europe, so the EU is quite courageous in its denunciations of and directives against Jews living in places that Europeans promised them that they could live in, until they decided to take back their promises.

Sound familiar? Europeans have been kicking Jews out of their homes for centuries. In a temporary fit of sanity (or humanity) they let them return to their homeland, but apparently almost immediately were seized by regrets. Now they are doing their best to shrink it, while at the same time empower the  less ‘civilized’ enemies of the Jews — like Hizballah — who want them gone entirely.

That’s apparently EU political character: abject cowardice compensated for by racist bullying. What a joke.

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EU officially boycotts Jewish communities

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

The European Union of Dying States has fully embraced its Nazi past:

Last month, the EU distributed a binding directive to all member countries forbidding the financing, giving of scholarships, cooperation, research stipends and prizes to anyone residing in Judea and Samaria and east Jerusalem, Haaretz reported on Tuesday.

According to the directive, any future agreement signed with Israel must include a clause stipulating that the settlements are not part of the sovereign state and are not included in the agreement. It is unclear if and how any Israeli government ministers, including Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) will agree to sign on to any agreement that contains that distinction.

The directive goes into effect on Friday. [Update: not until 2014]

David Kriss, EU spokesman in Israel, confirmed the report, adding that the directive will be published on July 19 in an official EU policy publication. In a statement, Kriss said, “On June 30 the European Commission adopted a Notice containing guidelines on the eligibility of Israeli entities and their activities in the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967 for grants, prizes and financial instruments funded by the EU from 2014 onwards.

The EU’s justification for this boycott is the old “settlements are illegal under international law” argument, which, in the opinion of many competent jurists, is unsound. But many of these jurists are Jewish, and Europe doesn’t put much store in their opinions.

The text of the directive is to be released on July 19, and a lot of things aren’t clear. So I have a few questions to address to the august personages of the EU regarding this:

Who gave you the right to determine the boundaries of sovereign states?

What happened to UNSC 242, Oslo, the Quartet’s Road Map, etc., all of which say that borders are to be determined by negotiations between the parties? Do you repudiate them?

What is an ‘Israeli entity’? Does an individual Israeli Jew count as an Israeli entity? Are you saying that a Jew living in Hevron is not eligible for a scholarship but an Arab is (h/t: NB)? Is this racism or what? [Update: the guidelines do not apply to individuals, only organizations]

Will you stop making huge grants to anti-state NGOs like B’tselem who operate in the territories? Surely they are ‘Israeli entities’. [Update: no, they won’t stop. They specifically exclude groups that agree with their policies.]

International law about terrorism is far less in dispute than the status of the territories. Yet you continue to fund the Palestinian Authority, which is ruled by the PLO, whose charter calls for the violent destruction of the state of Israel. You still haven’t declared Hizballah a terrorist entity. What’s up with that?

Do you have a similar directive for agreements with Morocco, regarding Morocco’s occupation of Western Sahara? Or do EU contracts specify sovereign borders only for Israel? How about Russia’s occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Or China’s occupation of Tibet and Aksai Chin? Or India’s occupation of Arnuchal Pradesh and Kashmir? Or Armenia’s occupation of Nagorno Karabach? Could there be a double standard? (h/t: AB)

Lest those of us who live in the US feel smug about our government’s ‘fairness’ to Israel, please note that the US Consulate in Jerusalem, which is supposed to provide services in the territories and eastern Jerusalem, also boycotts Jewish residents.

Update [1547 PDT]: The text of the EU guidelines appears here. Just to give you an idea of the flavor of it, item 15 is this:

Notwithstanding points 12-14 above, the requirements set out in section D do not apply to activities which, although carried out in the territories referred to in point 2, aim at benefiting protected persons under the terms of international humanitarian law who live in these territories and/or at promoting the Middle East peace process in line with EU policy.

So yes, they can continue to fund B’Tselem and a whole array of NGOs engaged in subversive activity.

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Yes, ‘pro-Palestinian’ does mean ‘extremist’

Monday, July 15th, 2013
Oday Aboushi at El Bireh Convention

Oday Aboushi at El Bireh Convention

Palestinian-American lineman Oday Aboushi was drafted by the (American football) NY Jets this year. He has become a center of controversy because of his out-front support for the Palestinian cause.

Aboushi was criticized for speaking at the convention of the El Bireh Palestine Society, a group which has had other speakers with connections to terrorism, and whose Facebook pages include pictures of terrorists and other “horrifically anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and terrorist propaganda.” The organization’s logo shows the entire state of Israel covered by a Palestinian flag. Aboushi’s own Facebook page contained what was called ‘objectionable’ material, which was removed after a previous exposé. Joe Kaufman, the author of the articles, asks “what will the Jets do?”

Probably very little, given that Aboushi is being criticized for political beliefs, something which doesn’t usually fly in the US unless it’s possible to establish that a person’s beliefs are racist (as in the case of poor Paula Deen), in which case he or she can be ostracized from public life, terminated from employment, etc. But nobody caught Aboushi calling anyone a ‘kike’.

He is only a patriotic Palestinian, and what could be wrong with that?

Abraham Foxman of the ADL supported Aboushi against what he called “smearing:”

Absolutely nothing in the public record suggests that Aboushi is anything other than a young American athlete who takes pride in his Palestinian heritage.  His participation in a conference organized by the El-Bireh Society, a Palestinian community organization that was until recently defunct, should not be used to tar him as an extremist.  Allegations claiming that he is affiliated with other extreme groups are similarly unsubstantiated and appear to be exaggerated for the express purpose of smearing Aboushi.

There is nothing wrong with someone being proud of their ethnic or religious background, and this should be true regardless of one’s chosen profession.  Even if one disagrees with the agenda of the groups whose events he has attended, it is unfair and farfetched to cite those as evidence that he is an extremist.

Being pro-Palestinian does not mean you’re an anti-Semite or an extremist.

I have no idea of what organizations Aboushi is affiliated with and what his degree of affiliation is, or if he is in any sense a racist or Jew-hater. Probably not.

But Foxman is dead wrong: “Being pro-Palestinian” does make you an extremist, and anti-Jewish.

The Palestinian cause is nothing more than the negation of Jewish self-determination and sovereignty in their land. Supporting the Palestinian cause means that you accept the Palestinian narrative that they are an indigenous people whose land was taken from them by colonialist usurpers in a violent nakba, and that you favor the ultimate redemption of that land — all of it — from the hands of the Jews.

As Aboushi tweeted,

Aboushi's tweetToday there is no Palestinian leadership that does not take as its ultimate objective the replacement of the Jewish state with an Arab one, from Hamas and the various extreme factions in Gaza, to the PLO and multiple Fatah factions in Judea and Samaria. They differ on strategies, tactics and timetables, as well as the nature of the state that will replace Israel. But they do not differ on this point.

Sometimes they will even say, in English, that they would agree to coexist with a Jewish state. But permanent coexistence is not part of any of their ideologies, as they express them in Arabic. This is also evidenced, on the part of the supposedly moderate PLO, by their insistence on negotiating terms that are incompatible with the continued existence of a Jewish state, such as the demand for a right of return for the descendants of Arab refugees.

Being pro-Palestinian means that you want to see the end of Jewish self-determination, and probably — according to the policies of the various Palestinian factions — the dispersal and/or death of that half of world Jewry which lives in Israel today. I would call this an ‘extremist’ point of view, and one that is anti-Jewish.

Many Americans who call themselves ‘pro-Palestinian’ would indignantly deny this. They would say that they are for peace and coexistence. But if there are virtually no Palestinian Arab leaders that think the same way, then support for their cause translates into support for terrorism and war.

Oday Aboushi recently said “As for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict … I hope that both sides make peace and live in prosperity.” If he believes this, it places him outside the mainstream of the Palestinian movement. I hope that he does.

But this post isn’t about Aboushi — it’s about the Palestinian cause and what it implies.

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Natural allies

Friday, July 12th, 2013

News item:

Christian Arab citizens of Israel are forming a new political party that calls for Arab enlistment into the IDF. The party’s Hebrew name — B’nei Brit Hahadasha — means “Sons of the New Testament,” although the word “allies” is hidden in the title as well.

The effort is part of a growing assertiveness on the part of Christian Arabs in the wake of the Arab Spring, as they increasingly sound calls for an identity distinct from Israel’s broader Arab society, which is around 90% Muslim.

This is an interesting development. In the early part of the 20th century, the first stirrings of Palestinian nationalism were found among the Christian community, which was generally better-educated and more politically sophisticated than the Muslims. But the majority Muslims, led by the Nazi al-Husseini, soon picked up the banner, although it was more an anti-Jewish or Arab supremacist one than a ‘Palestinian’ one. That had to wait for Arafat and his creation of the ‘Palestinian people’ as a colonized third-world nation fighting a ‘war of liberation’.

In any event, today’s worldwide civil war between the Sunni and Shiite camps and the ascendance of more aggressive interpretations of Islam has been very hard on Christians in the Middle East. Churches have been destroyed and Christians murdered in Egypt, Gaza, Syria and even Lebanon. Possibly these Israeli Arab Christians realize that their interests are closer to those of the Jewish state than to a Muslim one.

If you believe, as I do, that the world is experiencing an increasingly violent flare-up of the long struggle between Islam and the mostly Christian or secular West, then it makes sense for both Jews and Christians to understand that they are on the same side.

Among those who do not understand this are the liberal Protestant denominations who have been carefully cultivated by Israel’s enemies, both via their concern for ‘human rights’ (greatly misplaced here), and by anti-Jewish theological arguments — so-called ‘replacement theology.

A fascinating case study in liberal protestant anti-Zionism, and its descent into — or exposure as — old-fashioned illiberal Jew-hating is James M. Wall, a contributing editor for the respected publication The Christian Century. Researcher Dexter Van Zile chronicles his journey here, from a mildly pro-Palestinian point of view to flaming Hitlerism in roughly 15 years.

Some Jews, especially intellectuals, have taken a similar path. Of course they are not influenced by replacement theology, but progressive politics and a sense of guilt serve the same function — turning them into Jewish Jew-haters (and they have no love for Christian Zionists, either).

I used to think that the problem was that Arab propaganda was devilishly effective. But actually it is not. The fake ‘history’ of the revisionist historians has holes big enough for real scholars to drive a truck through. The theatrical productions like the ‘death’ of Mohammed al-Dura can be shown to be transparent fakery, for anyone who is willing to listen. And you really have to be stupid to believe the medieval blood libels peddled today in the Middle East.

No, what I think today is that there are three kinds of anti-Zionists: Arabs and Muslims who find the idea of Jewish sovereignty unacceptable either for religious reasons or because it threatens their honor; ignorant or uninterested people who unquestionably accept the anti-Zionist story from others; and some thoughtful and intelligent individuals who are nevertheless conditioned, predisposed by some dark element in their character, to believe evil about Jews and their state. James Wall is one of these, as is the Jewish Max Blumenthal.

There is nothing that can be done about the first and third categories. But most of the world’s Christians do not hate Jews or Israel. In the Middle East they are becoming aware, in the most concrete way possible, of the worldwide struggle that is developing and their place in it.

Perhaps now is the time for Jews in the rest of the world to overcome their reticence — admittedly developed over the years as a result of the anti-Jewish attitudes and behavior of some Christians — and reach out to them. It’s not simple — there are still pockets of Christian Jew-hatred, even in places (like Eastern Europe) that are under siege by Islam.

But there’s no alternative. The Jewish people is a tiny minority in the world, in part due to centuries of hatred, pogroms, forced conversions and prejudice-driven assimilation. We will not survive without allies, and our natural allies are not and will never be found among the Muslims.

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