Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Why EU doesn’t care if its aid helps Palestinians

Thursday, April 10th, 2014
If antisemitic aliens from space were to attack Israel, would the EU support them?

If antisemitic aliens from space were to attack Israel, would the EU support them?

Michael Theurer is chairman of the European Parliament’s Committee on Budgetary Control. Here is an excerpt from a piece he published in the Wall Street Journal yesterday:

In its report, issued in December, the European Court of Auditors revealed major dysfunctions in the management of EU financial support to the Palestinian Authority, and called for a serious overhaul of the funding mechanism.

Among other things, the court criticized the absence of any conditions for EU aid to the Palestinian Authority, an approach that reduces the potential leverage of the EU to push for more reforms from the Palestinian Authority. This is a surprising exception to the EU’s famous “more-for-more” principle, according to which the EU offers stronger partnership and more incentives to countries that make more progress toward democratic reforms. This principle applies to every other recipient of EU aid in the world. In other words, the Palestinian Authority is the only body that receives EU funds regardless of its human-rights record or economic performance.

The court also revealed that, since 2007, “a considerable number” of Palestinian Authority civil servants in Gaza have received their salaries partly funded through EU aid—even though they “were not going to work due to the political situation in Gaza.” How exactly does this contribute to peace-building? And how can the EU preserve its credibility back home when it pays salaries to people who don’t work, while millions of European citizens are unemployed?

The court also found that the EU paid insufficient attention to the fungibility of the funds it provided to the Palestinian Authority. There is reason to believe that EU financial assistance has allowed the Palestinian Authority to use its own general budget to support terrorist or criminal activities.

The Palestinian Authority, for example, allocates a significant portion of its budget to paying salaries to Palestinian prisoners convicted of terrorism offenses. These salaries are up to five times higher than the average salary in the West Bank. Prisoners also receive large grants from the Palestinian Authority. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in 2012 the Palestinian Authority’s payments to convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons and to the families of deceased terrorists (including suicide bombers) together accounted for more than 16% of the annual foreign donations and grants to the budget of the Palestinian Authority. In February this year the Palestinian minister for prisoners’ affairs announced that €30 million will be allocated to current or former prisoners in 2014. [my emphasis]

At a time when many European economies are struggling, it might seem strange that the EU would flush away so much money in support of a corrupt dictatorship which is moving in the opposite direction from being a viable country, and which behaves in a way that is contrary to the ideals of peace and freedom that the EU purports to espouse.

But that isn’t the end of it. The Europeans, as the EU, as individual governments and in the form of large Europe-based charitable organizations, also provide a large amount of funding — millions of Euros annually — to organizations run by Israelis. These are in general anti-Zionist groups, on the extreme left of the Israeli political spectrum, which would be extremely marginal if they had to depend on domestic contributions.

It is hard to see how either of these enterprises improves the life of the average Palestinian. The corrupt PLO and dole/graft based economy stifle domestic development and maintain the confrontation with Israel. Indeed, the EU is directly financing radical extremism in the PA.

The Israeli NGOs that are nourished by the Europeans also do not play a positive role. In general they act — by means of propaganda, civil (and not-so-civil) disobedience, and legal maneuvers — to limit Israel’s ability to defend itself against terrorism or even outright warfare. They also work abroad to reduce popular support for Israel (for example, the EU-funded ‘Breaking the Silence’ group tours American campuses with a message that the IDF commits war crimes). Again, rather than promote peace, they encourage the most radical elements among the Palestinian Arabs in their belief that Israel can be overcome by force.

I would be remiss if I ended this piece here, because there is another area in which even more millions of Euros are spent, supposedly on behalf of the Palestinians. This of course is UNRWA, the unique Palestinian welfare agency, to which the EU is the second largest contributor, after the US. UNRWA functions to subsidize large families of refugee descendents, while it does nothing to resettle them. It is no more or less than the enabler of the PLO demographic weapon against Israel, and is structured to maintain the people in its care as stateless and mostly jobless paupers, while they receive ‘education’ from teachers associated with various terrorist organizations.

With all this ‘help’ from their friends, the Palestinians are more angry and frustrated than ever. Is that surprising? Not really, because European policy is not really about helping Palestinians. It is not ‘about’ them at all. In reality, it is about the Jewish state, which is the target of all of this money and effort.

That, in a sentence, is why the EU does not care if the money it gives to the PA helps Palestinians. As long as it weakens Israel, it is achieving its objective.

Face it, if aliens from space were to attack Israel, the EU would probably give them a grant!

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Kerry’s ‘poof’ moment

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014
...poof, that was sort of the moment

…poof, that was sort of the moment

Today this story appeared in my local newspaper:

Israeli settlement plans sank peace talks

By Paul Richter
Tribune Washington Bureau
[The Tribune Company owns The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Baltimore Sun, and numerous other newspapers and media properties — ed.]

Washington — Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Tuesday that Israel’s announcement last week of new housing for Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem led to the breakdown of his eight-month effort to reach a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. …

“Seven hundred settlement units were announced in Jerusalem and, poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry said. …

First, let me note that The Fresno Bee should have prefaced its headline with “Kerry says” or just “Kerry:” As it stands it is simply and egregiously false.

Now I’ll list a few things about this story that my neighbors probably aren’t aware of, and won’t be made aware of by their local paper or numerous other media that use content from the same source.

1. Israel had agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners, most guilty of murder, in four batches, in return for the Palestinians’ participating in direct negotiations. After the third round of releases in December, the Palestinians stopped meeting with the Israelis. The PA, not Israel, violated its commitment.

2. Released murderers were feted as heroes by the Palestinian Authority (PA) on their return, including murderers of old people, women and children. Incitement to murder continued unabated in PA media. The PA, not Israel, violated the spirit of ‘peace’ negotiations.

3. Israel delayed the release of the final batch of murderers because a) the Palestinians would not agree to extend negotiations further and b) the Palestinians were demanding that prisoners who were Israeli citizens also should be included, something Israel had not previously agreed to. The PA first broke its promise to sit at the table with Israel, and then made new demands.

4. Three days after the scheduled prisoner release, the Palestinians violated their written commitments to Israel and the US that they would seek statehood through bilateral negotiations rather than directly from the UN, by applying to join some 15 UN treaties and conventions. At this point, PM Netanyahu decided that Israel would not release the last batch of murderers. Can you blame him?

5. One of the sticking points during negotiations was the Palestinian refusal to agree to some formulation of the idea that an agreement would recognize that Israel — the part that would remain after a Palestinian state was created — belonged to the Jewish people (as opposed to the Palestinian Arabs). They refused to say that an agreement would end claims against Israel, negate their demand for a ‘right of return’, or end the conflict. In other words, the PA is ready to receive Israel’s terms of surrender, but not to compromise for peace.

6. Finally, the housing tenders that Kerry referred to were located in the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo, in Jerusalem, one of the neighborhoods that — if it were agreed that Jerusalem would be divided — would certainly continue to be part of Israel. So they could have absolutely no effect on a peace agreement. And these were announced after the Palestinians made their move to the UN.

But this is what made the negotiations go ‘poof’, according to Mr. Kerry!

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Stop pretending

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Today everyone is concerned that the negotiations with the Palestinians will “fall apart.” If that happens, it is said, there will be severe consequences for Israel: boycotts and delegitimization (because no matter what, Israel will be blamed for the failure of the talks), possibly another violent intifada (because Palestinians will then be even more ‘frustrated’ than usual), there will be anti-Israel actions by the UN, the Americans will stop supporting Israel diplomatically, etc.

Therefore, it is said that Israel must do everything possible to ensure that the talks continue.

This is despite the fact that everyone must know by now that the Palestinians will not and cannot honestly agree to end the conflict. As I said the other day, even if we offer them a state in all of Judea and Samaria — leaving aside the security considerations that make this impossible — they will never stop insisting that the part of the land of Israel that they don’t get also belongs to them, and will never stop trying to get it.

This is the essence of the Palestinian narrative, the Palestinian Cause, and what they have been assiduously teaching their youth. This is why Palestinian refugee status is hereditary, and why there are hundreds of thousands of refugees who are not permitted to assimilate in their countries of residence, and why they demand a “right of return.” This isn’t rocket science (pardon the expression). Just ask a Palestinian.

But if we know that the talks can’t succeed, why keep up the pretense? Well, in order to avoid the consequences discussed in the first paragraph.

My hypothetical visitor from Mars is shaking what would be his head, if he were an Earthling. This is so pointless.

But it is not pointless for the Palestinians. They have made it clear to the US that they will talk only if they are paid to do so. So they receive bribes, including money and military aid (to, er, “fight terrorism.”) Most important, every time there is a ‘crisis’ in negotiations (which they create), they threaten to walk away unless they get something from Israel. They present their demands, and the US explains to Israel that it’s necessary to “generate good will,” to “build confidence,” or to “strengthen (the allegedly moderate) Abbas.” So Israel releases 104 murderers, for example. This has been going on literally for decades.

Note that Israel gets nothing in return, except a continuation of the talks that we know will not succeed. And the Palestinian demands are never satisfied. Israel offers an additional 400 prisoners? Not enough, say the Palestinians, give us 1000! A construction freeze in Judea and Samaria? Not enough, it must include eastern Jerusalem!

I submit that the consequences of continuing the talks are worse than letting them fall. It will happen anyway at some point, and Israel will be worse off because of all the concessions it has made along the way.

Israel doesn’t need to be ashamed of its history and of its possession of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem. It doesn’t need to apologize for its struggle to keep the Jewish homeland that has been reestablished after almost 2000 years. And it doesn’t need to pretend that its enemies — who themselves don’t pretend otherwise — are interested in coexistence.

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Two questions

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

Today I would simply like you to read the words of so-called “right-wing” MK Danny Danon, and then think about two questions.

Would the U.S. release individuals swearing to continue waging jihad in order to liberate their lands? Definitely not. The number of killers operating against the U.S. who received the death sentence [mostly extra-judicially — ed.] or who are being held in military prisons on life [or indeterminate] sentences is growing. And, of course, every U.S. leader knows that any individual who radiates weakness in the face of those who scorned American pride could end up losing his seat. Are U.S. President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s measures implying that they have lost their respect for us? Does somebody truly believe that the pain felt by families of terror victims hurts any less? Does somebody actually think American blood runs redder than Israeli blood? Where do they find the gall to ask us to release hordes of killers after we sent our best, for the sake of state security, to risk their lives for the sake of bringing in these terrorists, some of whom were holding ticking bombs?

Introducing the name “Pollard” into the equation is a cynical, harmful attempt to exploit certain Jewish values, including the value of “returning our sons to their land,” over others. For 29 years, Jonathan Pollard has languished in prison so the U.S. could teach its good friend in the Middle East a lesson. Our friend the U.S. is forcing us to try to complete an unfair equation: one prisoner for 426. One man, who paid his dues over dozens of years in prison, who is not a threat to society, for hundreds of menacing terrorists, several of whom committed murder or were complicit in the slaughter of hundreds of Israelis. We all want to see Pollard out of jail and in Israel, but not like this.

The questions:

1. When does the relationship Israel has with the US become too expensive for its benefits? Has it already?

2. Has Israel traded the independence it gained through its historic and agonizing struggle for a role as a satellite of the US? Is it already too late to regain it?

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Obama administration’s use of Pollard is despicable

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

The ransoming of captives [פדיון שבויים] takes precedence over the feeding and clothing of the poor. Indeed there is no religious duty more meritorious than the ransoming of captives, for not only is the captive included in the generality of the hungry, the thirsty, and the naked, but his very life is in jeopardy. — Rambam (Moses Maimonides)

CNN reports:

Jonathan Pollard, the former U.S. intelligence agent who was convicted of spying for Israel, could be released before the Jewish holiday of Passover as part of efforts to save Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, an Israeli official involved in the talks told CNN. …

Kerry stated Tuesday night that “no agreement has been reached with respect to any prisoner” — be it Pollard, whom he was asked about, or anyone else — though talks involving all parties are ongoing in hopes of reaching a broader agreement.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that President Barack Obama hasn’t decided whether to release the convicted spy at Israel’s request. …

In exchange for the release, the sources have said that Israel would have to make significant concessions to the Palestinians, which could include a settlement freeze, the release of additional [Palestinian and/or Israeli Arab] prisoners beyond the current group in dispute and an agreement to continue peace negotiations beyond the end-of-April deadline.

The continued imprisonment (29 years) of Jonathan Pollard, the highly disproportionate sentence he received and the dishonest conduct of the government in his affair are a blot on the supposedly equal justice system of the United States.

Pollard should have been released long ago, but it seems that the government has been waiting for the moment at which it could exact the heaviest ransom. It’s true that nations act according to interests, and concepts like justice and mercy are not relevant to interests. On the other hand, nations have leaders who make decisions, and they are ultimately held to account by God, if not by history.

Last August, Israel agreed to release a total of 104 Arab prisoners, most of them convicted of murder (including multiple murderers) in order to persuade the PLO-ruled Palestinian Authority (PA) to engage in peace talks. Israel was aware that the talks would lead nowhere, but it was considered more important to remain in the good graces of the US. Three of four scheduled prisoner releases have been carried out; in each case, freed murderers were greeted as honored heroes on their return to the PA. There was a great public outcry in Israel — after all, these are murderers and Israel has received nothing in return from the PLO except more incitement to murder.

The fourth and last release has been held up by Israel, primarily because it includes Arab citizens of Israel, whose release calls Israel’s sovereignty over its own citizens into question, and because the PLO has hardened its positions rather than moving closer to an agreement.

Now the US is raising the possibility of freeing Pollard in return for going ahead with the last scheduled prisoner release, and acceding to even more PLO demands. This could be the last time it will be possible for the US to play this particular card, since Pollard is not well and could die in prison (and on the conscience of Barack Obama).

In other words, the US wants to use its Jewish captive — he is no more than that, because he has long since paid his debt to the US for his offenses — to extract concessions from Israel to benefit the PLO, one of the most vicious of terrorist organizations in recent history and one which has absolutely zero desire to end its conflict with Israel.

The fourth prisoner release will damage and humiliate Israel while strengthening the PLO. Other concessions as demanded will do the same. It goes without saying that continuing the negotiations with the PLO will only result in more opportunities for the US to pressure Israel to meet new Palestinian demands.

So Benjamin Netanyahu (leaving aside the significant political consequences for his government that will follow from this decision) is left with a very difficult choice. Should he take the deal, release more murderers to go home to their heroes’ receptions and lifetime pensions (paid for mostly by US taxpayers), compromise Israel’s claim on the territories by freezing construction, and reward the PLO for its intransigence in other ways?

Or should he reject it, almost certainly to see an old Jew die in prison, a Jew that he is enjoined to redeem from captivity both by his tradition and his position as head of the Jewish state — after all, one of the reasons for the founding of the Jewish state was to provide a refuge for Jews everywhere?

There is a precedent. In 1286, scholar and rabbi Meïr of Rothenburg was arrested and imprisoned in Germany (purportedly for leading a band of Jews attempting to emigrate to Palestine).

The account of a young contemporary of Meïr, who was in very close relations with him, seems to indicate, however, that Meïr had entirely different reasons for emigrating. He says that the emperor demanded a great sum of money from the Jews, which the latter would not or could not pay, and that consequently their leader feared—and justly so, as the sequel showed—that the emperor would seize him as a hostage …

The Jewish communities of course did everything to secure the liberation of their greatest teacher; but the ransom demanded by the government—30,000 marks, according to one report—was such an exorbitant one that the negotiations dragged. A later authority … says that Meïr himself prevented any such high sum being paid for his liberation lest the government should repeat this expedient of imprisoning important men for the purpose of extorting money. He therefore remained in prison from June 28, 1286, until his death (1293).

It’s understood, therefore, that a ransom can be too high, in which case it is permissible to allow a captive to go unredeemed.

This is one of those (frequent) times when I am glad that I am not the Prime Minister of Israel! I don’t know what he will decide, but it is absolutely despicable for the Obama Administration to use Pollard in this way, despicable to place the Prime Minister in this position, and — more than anything — despicable to support the PLO (because that is what this amounts to) in its project to eliminate the Jewish state.

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