Archive for December, 2013

Why the Palestinians keep losing

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

The following axioms of Palestinian Arab behavior guarantee that Israel will have little to worry about from them for the foreseeable future:

1. Honor is more important than life, and lost honor can’t be recovered except by violence. Arab propaganda constantly reiterates the propositions that the Jews stole Arab land, committed massacres of Arabs, etc. The perceived loss of honor creates a massive amount of anger and therefore irrationality — especially in young men that have few other outlets for their energy. Hence the attraction of martyrdom, the propensity to target Jewish children, the glorification of terrorists, etc. Violence is seen as entirely justified until honor is recovered.

The focus on violence is self-defeating, because it impedes diplomatic gambits that might actually work. The most effective strategy of the Palestinian Arabs has been to pretend to want peace, an approach that got them the Oslo agreements, a huge defeat for Israel. Arafat squandered much of the gain by ramping up violence in the second Intifada.

If the Palestinians really want to destroy Israel, they should make compromises in negotiations — for example, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state — which they can always go back on later once they have gained concrete benefits. The boundless naivete in the West and the leftish parts of Israeli society will do their work for them. Fortunately, they are psychologically unable to do this.

2. It is always more important to hurt Jews than to help Arabs. One example of this is Hamas’ use of resources to build rockets and terror tunnels instead of sewage treatment facilities and power plants. Another is the specialization of Palestinian universities in politics rather than actual education. And of course the paradigm case is their insistence that the descendants of 1948 refugees must be kept stateless and miserable rather than being resettled.

As a result, Palestinians are kept poor, ignorant and frustrated. They do not like or trust their ‘leadership’, and are not worth much in a national struggle except as cannon fodder. They are constantly told that their problems are a result of ‘occupation’, but they are smart enough to know that this isn’t true.

Palestinian Arabs and Jews have been shown to be closer genetically than, for example, Jews and Europeans. Look what the Jews have done with this material! Palestinians could, too. But they won’t.

3. It is always a high priority for Arabs to hate other Arabs. This is really a general Middle-Eastern problem, not a specifically Palestinian one. Jews suffer from it as well, but it really is hurting the Palestinians. Today Hamas is in big trouble because it put all its eggs in the Muslim Brotherhood basket of Mohammed Morsi; now he’s out, and they are running out of funds. The feud between Hamas vs. Fatah appears insoluble, and now there are more radical groups operating in Gaza and Judea/Samaria that hate both Hamas and Fatah.

I thought hard about posting this. What if they take my advice? I can’t imagine that they will, though. They have been screwing themselves since the 1920’s; why should they stop now?

Technorati Tags: ,

Where violence is the first resort

Monday, December 16th, 2013
Aftermath of bombing of Aleppo, Syria, yesterday. Yes, some of that debris used to be people.

Aftermath of bombing of Aleppo, Syria, yesterday. Yes, some of that debris used to be people.

At least 76 people, including 28 children, were killed yesterday when regime forces bombed a rebel-held section of Aleppo with so-called “barrel bombs,” drums packed with explosives. It also seems to be the case that chemical weapons have been used at least four times this year, including on several occasions following the attack near Damascus that attracted so much attention.

Although both the Iranian-backed regime and the rebels (supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar) are remarkably vicious, the regime has done more damage because of its greater firepower. As always in this kind of warfare, civilians make up most of the over 100,000 dead, and all of the millions of refugees in neighboring countries — who are now suffering in the winter weather.

Somewhat less well-publicized is the Sunni-Shiite conflict in Iraq. The NY Times reports that nearly four dozen people were killed in Iraq today (Monday), with another 19 over the weekend. Most died as a result of suicide attacks or car bombs, but in a particularly ugly incident 12 Shiite pilgrims on their way to a shrine in Karbala were taken off their bus and executed by shooting. More than 8,000 Iraqis have been killed in “sectarian violence” this year, the UN says.

Violent incidents have been reported in the last few days in Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, Thailand, Yemen, etc. The Muslim world really is aflame, and it is not because of ‘the occupation’, or indeed anything remotely connected to Israel.

Oh, there would be plenty of violence in Israel if its enemies were not deterred by the threat of force. But that is all that stops them.

These are cultures where violence isn’t the last resort — it’s the first.

One can argue that Western cultures have done worse. The Catholic Church persecuted Jews for hundreds of years. The Germans gave us the Holocaust, and the US and Great Britain killed hundreds of thousands in WWII by massive strategic bombing of enemy cities, including the use of nuclear bombs against Japan. Western colonialism often involved great violence against indigenous peoples. The US practiced a particularly cruel form of human slavery for at least 200 years.

This is undeniable. But Western cultural ideals oppose violence, and Western societies seem to be capable of some degree — perhaps not enough, but some degree — of moral evolution. The Church has renounced Jew hatred and embraced tolerance of other religions. Slavery will not rise again in the US, and its vestiges in the form of racial discrimination are being extirpated. Western military doctrine is evolving in the direction of reducing civilian casualties rather than trying to create them. War itself is treated as something to be engaged in only when necessary, not a noble adventure to be welcomed.

On the other hand, Muslim culture is based on the Quran and the life of Muhammad, in which war to expand the territory of Islam and the subjugation of non-Muslims, are positive values. These cultures did not experience the questioning of traditional beliefs that the West did in the Reformation and the Enlightenment, so they are in general closed to the kind of moral evolution that the West has undergone. Of course there are exceptions. But they prove the rule, which is exemplified by the well-educated Mahmoud Abbas whose regime venerates terrorists who murder civilians, or the Iranian Ayatollahs who preach genocide.

Let’s face it: all cultures are not equal (but different). Some are more evolved — or capable of evolving — than others.

Some people are civilized, while others are barbarians.

Technorati Tags: ,


Rick Jacobs and Stephen Wise

Friday, December 13th, 2013

When Rabbi Richard ‘Rick’ Jacobs was nominated to be the head of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) in 2011, I and other members of Reform congregations were strongly opposed. Rabbi Jacobs was a member of J Street’s Rabbinic Cabinet and a board member of the New Israel Fund (NIF), both of which are de facto anti-Zionist organizations, in spite of their self-definition as ‘pro-Israel’. Jacobs also proudly took part in a demonstration in support of Arab squatters in an East Jerusalem neighborhood, even after the left-leaning Israeli supreme court upheld the decision to evict them.

The reaction of the URJ to our criticism was immediate (actually coming before an advertisement we placed in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal hit print) and vicious. Despite its pretenses to democratic principles, nobody knows how to threaten, slander, and stifle free speech like the Left!

Now Jacobs has been in charge of the URJ for several years (and his official bio does not include J Street and the NIF among the multitude of organizations that he has served). Where does he stand on Israel today? Let’s look at the speech he delivered at the URJ Biennial yesterday.

He writes,

There has been interdependence between the Diaspora and Israel from the start. In this current moment, the paradigm of Jewish life is moving toward a more globally interdependent world Jewish community that shares responsibility with the State of Israel for the preservation and regeneration of the Jewish people wherever they may live.

Actually, Jewish life is drying up in the diaspora. In Europe, Jewish communities are fleeing or living in fear of resurgent Jew-hatred, both from Muslim immigrants and home-grown neo-fascists. In the US, the liberal Jewish community is rapidly shrinking. While the number of Orthodox Jews is growing to some extent, the Conservative movement is on its last legs, with synagogues closing and merging rapidly.

The Reform Movement, led by Jacobs, is trying to hold its own (although membership in URJ congregations has dropped significantly in recent years) by embracing what Jacobs calls “interfaith families.” I call them families that are unlikely to have Jewish children and almost certain not to have Jewish grandchildren. This is a policy that leads to short-term growth and long-term disaster.

It’s probably correct to say that today the center of gravity of Jewish life has shifted to Israel from the diaspora. But what Jacobs means by ‘sharing responsibility’ is a paternalistic attitude exemplified by the URJ, J Street and the NIF, which purport to know what’s best for Israel much better than Israelis or their democratically elected government. As if to prove my point, Jacobs goes on to lecture Israel about its relations with the Palestinians, settlements, the treatment of women, and the delicate balance between the religious and secular aspects of the state.

Here is what he says about the farcical ‘peace process’:

The security concerns that Israel faces are of the utmost concern to all of us. Let us never forget. Israel still remains surrounded by forces that, if they believed they could militarily destroy her, they would not hesitate to do so. Only Israel’s strength, enhanced by American support, prevents this outcome. At the same time, we remain deeply committed to the proposition that a real peace process that brings about a viable Palestinian state and secure borders for Israel is indispensible [sic] for Israel’s security and well-being, even as it is for Palestinian political aspirations and for U.S. and Canadian foreign policy interests throughout this volatile, but vital region. [my emphasis]

Now it is bad enough that Jacobs seems to think that “Palestinian political aspirations” do not include the replacement of the Jewish state by an Arab one, or that he thinks that the Jewish people need to be responsible for anyone else’s political aspirations.

But the part about “U.S. and Canadian foreign policy interests” is chilling, especially when the present US administration is so hostile to Israel.

It is the voice of his predecessor in the Reform Movement, Rabbi Stephen Wise, who worked against efforts to save European Jewry during the Holocaust, going so far as to call Ze’ev Jabotinsky a “traitor” and activist Peter Bergson “worse than Hitler” for their attempts to raise the awareness of Americans to the horror taking place in Europe.

Wise did what he did out of devotion to President Roosevelt, and from the conviction that making too much of a fuss about a genocide in far-off Europe would exacerbate Jew hatred in America. Some suggest that he was simply too dazzled by his closeness to power to understand his true moral obligations. And there is the age-old impulse of the diaspora Jew to cling to the hope that non-Jewish power will protect him.

Jacobs clearly sees himself as politically ‘progressive’, but there is more to his remark than ritual obeisance to the administration. I interpret it as an attempt to reassure the non-Jewish world that there is no question of dual loyalty here. When it comes to a conflict between Israel and the Obama Administration, Jacobs wants there to be no uncertainty about where he stands.

With the administration.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Three simple reasons Kerry’s plan will fail

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

News item:

Israeli and U.S. officials said on Wednesday that Kerry began discussing a “framework agreement” for a peace treaty with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and the head of the Palestinian negotiation team, Saeb Erekat, in Washington on Monday. …

[Kerry] said the solutions to each core issue are known from pervious negotiation rounds. He cited the outline presented by former U.S. President Bill Clinton in December 2000 and the Annapolis talks in 2007-2008 as a basis for these solutions.

“It is essential, in my judgment, to reach for a full agreement and to have a framework within which we can try to work for that. … A basic framework will have to address all the core issues – borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, mutual recognition, and an end of claims. And it will have to establish agreed guidelines for subsequent negotiations that will fill out the details in a full-on peace treaty,” Kerry said.

This represents a departure from the philosophy of the Oslo agreement that informed previous American attempts to broker a solution, in which the  the “core issues” were left for the end. The original idea was to build trust with small steps, so that ultimately it would be easier for both sides to make the ‘hard choices’ that would be required.

This failed for several reasons. One was that the PLO was incapable or unwilling to repress the extremist elements in Hamas, Fatah and other factions, so that continuing terrorism made it impossible to build trust on the Israeli side.

In turn, Israel’s actions to protect its population — the security barrier, etc. — were considered to be aggression by the Arabs. The PLO leadership also claims that construction in eastern Jerusalem and within existing settlements in Judea and Samaria is evidence that Israel isn’t serious about reaching an agreement, but I believe that this is only a pretext and their real opposition rests on the issues listed below.

Kerry claims that the basic principles of a solution have been known since the Clinton parameters of 2000. This is nonsense — in fact the issues that prevent a solution have been known for years, by both sides. They are:

1. A truly (or even partly) sovereign Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria is inconsistent with Israel’s security. Israel will never offer a degree of  sovereignty that will be acceptable to the PLO.

2. Any Jewish sovereignty between the Jordan and Mediterranean is inconsistent with the PLO’s reason for being. The PLO will never recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, and will never stop trying to end the Jewish state.

3. The PLO is unstable, corrupt, and incapable of protecting itself against radical elements (Hamas, Salafists, etc.) and therefore could not deliver peace in return for concessions, even if it wanted to.

No degree of prodding by the US can overcome these facts.

Technorati Tags: ,


‘Security arrangements’ can’t defy reality

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Leaving aside the historical, religious, economic and political objections to an Arab state in Judea and Samaria, there is one issue that can’t be ignored: security. Israel has always insisted that security issues be settled before such things as borders, refugees, etc. Which of course makes sense, to a degree: no security means no Israel.

The US has made a proposal which is intended to allay Israeli concerns. It calls for an Israeli presence in the Jordan Valley for a limited time (3 or 4 years) and for ‘Palestine’ to be “demilitarized of heavy weaponry” but with a “strong security force for internal security and fighting terrorism.” There are more details, including surveillance by US drones, etc. Apparently the — beyond ludicrous — idea of replacing the IDF with international peacekeepers has fallen by the wayside.

One problem is that no effective plan can possibly be accepted by the Palestinians, because it would have to allow the IDF freedom of action in the territories similar to what it has today. As everyone knows, the most heavily populated areas of Israel, as well as its international airport, are in easy rocket range of terrorists operating from the territories. If you wanted a sovereign state, would you agree to the presence of enemy troops in it? Why would they?

There is also the need to control the borders of the new state. If it is to be demilitarized to any degree, someone has to ensure that weapons are not imported. How sovereign is that? And will the ‘sovereign’ state be allowed to invite, say, Iranian troops if it wants?

Then there is the question of the ‘refugees’. There are millions of individuals claiming refugee status according to the special rules for Palestinians created by the UN. The PLO position has always been that they have a right to return to “their homes” in Israel, but that they will not be given citizenship in the new ‘Palestine’. So what will happen to them? Israel won’t take them, so they will either have to stay where they are forever, or be taken into ‘Palestine’, which can’t even support its present population.

Finally, and most importantly, even if — a big if — the PLO were sincere, what would a deal with it be worth? How will it defend itself against Hamas when the IDF isn’t around? And Hamas isn’t even the biggest problem anymore. Guy Bechor writes,

A new force is growing in the territories: The Salafi movement, part of which is called the Party of Liberation (“Hizb ut-Tahrir”) and whose center of activity is in Hebron. Two huge demonstrations of force held by the movement in central cities in Judea and Samaria were attended by tens of thousands, carrying the black al-Qaeda flags. They hate “the Authority” more than they hate Israel, and they hate Hamas too. They reject a Palestinian state and refuse to recognize any borders or negotiations. Their proclaimed aspiration is to establish Islamic caliphates all across the Middle East, and their point of solidarity is the Salafis in Syria, Lebanon and the rest of the Arab countries.

This week the al-Qaeda movement announced the establishment of its first branch in the Judea and Samaria territories, and the IDF has already killed three activists of this Salafi organization. The Salafis accused the Palestinian Authority of passing on the intelligence on their location to the IDF. Al-Qaeda admitted that the terrorists killed belonged to the movement and vowed to carry out additional acts of terror.

Let’s just imagine a reality in Judea and Samaria without the permanent presence of the IDF and the defense establishment. Why, within several days the territory will turn into Salafland. Will Secretary of State John Kerry rush to defend Israel with the “security arrangements” his experts suggest? Not to mention the fact that the Palestinian leadership has announced that it plans to import to the independent territory hundreds of thousands and maybe even millions of “Palestinians” from Syria and Lebanon – in other words, trained Salafis with their weapons. What will the reality of life in Israel look like then, if there even is a life?

The trouble is not that it is difficult to ensure Israel’s security next to a Palestinian state. It is that a sovereign Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria is incompatible with the continued existence of Israel. All of the effort being expended to this end is being wasted (unless the goal is the elimination of the Jewish state).

What the US and Europeans should be doing if they are interested in a peaceful solution to the conflict is to explore arrangements to provide autonomy and self-government for the Arabs of the territories within Israeli and perhaps Jordanian sovereignty.

At the same time, states such as Lebanon, Jordan and (some day) Syria should grant full citizenship to ‘Palestinian refugees’. UNRWA should be abolished, and the funds it receives should be used to integrate these Arabs into their countries of residence.

The idea, expressed by President Obama, that the Palestinian Arabs “deserve” a sovereign state is nonsense, and continuing to push it against the constraints of reality is not doing anyone — including these Arabs — a favor.

Technorati Tags: ,