Erekat’s Palestinian fairy tale

March 26th, 2014
Palestinian negotiator and teller of tall tales Saeb Erekat

Palestinian negotiator and teller of tall tales Saeb Erekat

I am the proud son of the Canaanites who were there 5,500 years before Joshua bin Nun burned down the town of Jericho. — Saeb Erekat, Palestinian negotiator

On the contrary, former Israeli Ambassador to Canada Alan Baker notes:

According to genealogical research of the Bedouin families in Israel, the Erekat family belongs to the extensive Huweitat clan, which originated in the area between the Liya valley, near Taif, in the vicinity of Mecca in the northern Hejaz region, close to the town of Hekl in the Sarawat Mountains, 350 km. from the Jordanian border, and northern Aqaba. Bedouin genealogical literature claims that the Huweitat clan is a Sharifi clan allied with their cousins the Hashemites. The Huweitat clan settled not only in Israel but also in Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the Sinai Peninsula by Ras Seeder.

A branch of this clan settled in geographic Palestine in several waves of immigration that started some 200 years ago, ending during the period of the Arab Revolt and First World War. Apparently, the family to which Erekat belongs settled in Abu Dis near Jerusalem during the last of these waves, which occurred in the early twentieth century, after the Jewish immigration to the area.

Amb. Baker also quotes Dr. Shaul Bartal of the Middle Eastern Studies department of Bar-Ilan University:

The Palestinians are not the farmers who have lived in Palestine for generations, but rather immigrants who only arrived recently. It was only toward the latter stages of the nineteenth century that the country began to blossom thanks to the emergence of a new presence – Zionism – and the amazing results. In 1878, the population of the country numbered 141,000 Muslims who lived here permanently, with at least 25 percent of them considered to be newly arrived immigrants who came mostly from Egypt.

Various studies done over a span of years by Moshe Brawer, Gideon Kressel, and other scholars clearly show that most Arab families who settled in the villages along the coastal plain and the area that would later become the State of Israel originated from Sudan, Libya, Egypt, and Jordan….Other studies show that the waves of immigrants came here in droves from Arab countries during the period of the British Mandate.

Why do I bother (and why did Baker, whose well-documented paper should be read in full)? Not, I think, because being indigenous is of such overriding importance in determining ‘who owns the land’. After all, ‘indigenous’ is a highly relative concept. Yes, the Jews are more indigenous to Judea than the ‘Palestinians’, but probably the descendents of the ancient Philistines (also, incidentally, not the contemporary ‘Palestinians’) have more roots than the Jews in what is today Tel Aviv.

Peoples migrate, assimilate, conquer and get conquered, wax and die out. Legitimacy comes from a combination of factors, of which one is prior possession, but it is not the only one. Modern international law (the UN charter) does not recognize taking land by force; rather, it prefers diplomatic consensus, which is why the Jewish people argue that they legitimately obtained title to the entire land of Israel with the San Remo conference of 1920, and legitimately defended it in 1967. Of course, the reason that the international community chose Palestine for the Jewish homeland was the Jewish people’s historical provenance there.

The Arabs, by inventing their own historical narrative and denying the Jewish one, wish to lay the groundwork to overthrow the just decision that was made by the international community in 1920, before its institutions became corrupted by Arab oil and terrorism as well as postmodern Jew-hatred.

Happily, it is also true that possession is nine-tenths of the law, and today’s Israel is capable of defending itself, as long as it can stay unified — despite some of its intellectuals who appear to have accepted the narrative of their own deadly enemies.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

Blessing and curse

March 23rd, 2014

Dry Bones Theology

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. — Gen. 12:3

I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism. — Barack Obama, April 2009

No, I do not have an opinion on whether or not the well-known biblical promise will be fulfilled. But there is a sense in which betrayals — of allies and ideals — do indeed bring down a curse on a nation.

The US is a liberal democratic country, one in which belief in the rights of freedom of speech and religious expression are almost fetishistic.  You would expect that it would support other nations with similar ideals, and that its policies would favor freedom and tolerance, and oppose oppressive regimes. But lately it has been doing the opposite.

George W. Bush was explicit in his belief that promoting democracy around the world was one of the most important goals of his policy. Perhaps the implementation was naive, but who can disagree with the intention?

Apparently the present administration has decided that Islamism is the wave of the future, despite being fundamentally anti-democratic, racist and misogynistic, and denying just about all the basic freedoms that are so important to us. Regardless, Obama’s America has decided to back the strong horse, support the Muslim Brotherhood, and not push too hard against Iran.

This is cynical and, worse, a betrayal of the principles that our nation is founded on. Now maybe you think the US is really playing with a deck stacked against the poor and ‘people of color’, etc., and those principles are just a lot of propaganda to keep the chumps in line. Even if you are right, though, aren’t these the ideals that we, as a nation, should be trying to realize?

Even if it is true that the US committed genocide against the indigenous inhabitants, even if it is true that the institution of slavery existed here for hundreds of years, does this falsify the ideal of  equal justice and opportunity for all humans that we should be striving to achieve today? Of course not.

Our exceptionalism consists in the belief that we Americans have a commitment to live according to the principles of “liberty and justice for all,” as it says in the Pledge of Allegiance, and a duty to champion these values in the world — because we believe they are right.

We believe they are objectively better than the values of the Muslim Brotherhood or the Iranian regime because they reject the idea that some humans (male Muslims) ought to have more rights than others, because they understand that slavery is wrong, women are not chattel, executions for apostasy and homosexuality are repugnant, and that planning and preparing for religious genocide is not acceptable. Exceptionalism is not simply chauvinism, as the President’s comment suggests; it has a moral basis.

Can you honestly say that the Brotherhood and the Iranian regime are not morally worse than we are, just different? I think you can’t.

Our recent loss of power and prestige — as Israel’s Moshe Ya’alon recently pointed out to the enormous discomfort of the administration — is due directly to the lack of confidence in American ideals in those at the very top of our political pyramid. Vladimir Putin’s opponents may not admire him, but they respect him because of his consistency in pursuit of his goals. Our administration behaves inconsistently because it doesn’t know what its goals are, so naturally we get no respect.

If there is a political sense to the biblical curse, this is it. Yes, the US is betraying Israel, its true ally and the only country in the region that shares its values. It is also betraying these values, and is beginning to pay a high price for it.

Technorati Tags:

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

Zionism is moral and necessary

March 18th, 2014

Gideon Levy of Ha’aretz, like Abbas Zaki of Fatah, comes out and says what he thinks, no matter how ugly. Here he asserts that Zionism is Naziism:

This kind of talk could only take place in darkness; in beer cellars, at violent fringe demonstrations or at the headquarters of outlawed organizations. Only the extreme, fascist, neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and xenophobic right would dare to breathe a word of it. Only skinheads and their masters would dare to speak of national purity and of defining their country based on ethnicity, religion, race, nationality or heredity.

No one would dare to say France for the French, America is all-American, Germany is a German state or Italy is a Catholic one. Anyone who did so wouldn’t be considered credible. These countries are democracies of all their citizens; their character is determined by the components of the entire population. Living in each are minorities, their numbers growing in this era of globalization and migration. No one speaks of a nation-state, of a state of one religion, of one racial group. …

This time it’s not the goyim’s fault, it’s Israel that yearns to live in a ghetto. It’s an old-new obsession, and history laughs its bitter laugh. The new Jews, the Israelis, embrace the methods and the standards of the Nazis, may their name and memory be erased. The Israelis check their bloodlines and then put them in a ghetto. …

It’s “no entry” to Middle Eastern culture, to Arab art and history, to African asylum seekers, to anyone who isn’t a Jew. Every Israeli knows the mantra “a Jewish state,” but it’s doubtful anyone knows what it means. Is it a halakha state run in accordance with Jewish law? Is it a theocracy with no civil marriages, no public transportation on the Sabbath and a mezuzah on nearly every doorpost?

That’s a Jewish state. And would Israel be non-Jewish without these traditions? Would it be non-Jewish with 50,000 asylum seekers and Jewish without them? We haven’t yet decided whether Judaism is a religion or a nationality, or even who is a Jew. The main thing is that we want a Jewish state, the kind Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will recognize forever.

Some of my correspondents think I shouldn’t waste time on such as Levy. But he raises some issues that are highly relevant to today’s diplomacy in a clear way (and he’s just as clearly wrong about them).

He asserts, first, that nationalism must be fascism. This is a poor argument which depends on a conflation between civil rights and national expression. Full civil rights for minorities — voting and representation, all state economic benefits, the same degree of freedom of speech, religion, assembly, etc. as the majority, are generally recognized as something a national government is required to provide. National expression — a flag, a national anthem, even a dedication to the preservation of a particular group and its culture, is not necessary for life and is not automatically due to everyone in a diverse society.

The Nazis, of course, systematically deprived Jews and other ‘undesirable’ groups of their civil rights, including the right to life. Israel, on the other hand, is committed to providing full civil rights to all of its citizens, while it defines itself as the state of the Jewish people. The difference is immense.

Not only is a Zionist state morally acceptable, it is necessary: in the case of some ethnic groups, particularly the Jews, the world’s nations have historically denied their civil rights. One of the driving forces of Zionism has been the unhappy fact that Jewish rights cannot be guaranteed except in the framework of a Jewish state, one whose reason for being is in part to ensure that these rights will always be preserved. Norwegians are welcome to create non-nationalist states with open borders if they wish, but this would be a poor choice for Jews.

The existence of a Jewish homeland also protects Jewish rights in other nations, by diplomatic action, rescue, or conceivably by military force. Could an ‘Israel’ — or whatever it would be called — “of all its citizens” perform this function? How long could such a state even keep its Jewish majority?

Levy notes that it is not easy to define ‘Jew’, nor to determine the proper amount of influence to give to religious institutions and values. All this is true, but so what? Just because it’s hard to provide a simple definition of something does not imply that the concept isn’t meaningful. And even a decidedly pluralistic state like the US has trouble defining who are members of minority groups (something Americans obsess about) and finding an appropriate place for religion.

“No one would dare say France for the French…” says Levy. He’s wrong. Marine Le Pen heads the third-largest party in France, and she talks exactly that way. In the halls of the Left she’s called a fascist, of course, but almost 18% of French voters preferred her in 2012, compared to Nicolas Sarkozy (27%) and François Hollande (29%). 6.4 million French citizens are not Nazis!

Le Pen’s success is partly a reaction to the practical problems that result from almost uncontrolled immigration. Levy also seems to think that tiny Israel can be a solution for an unlimited number of refugees from dysfunctional African states, but even Europe can’t do that.

Finally, Mahmoud Abbas also wants a nation-state, for the ‘Palestinian people’. It’s pretty clear that, like Jordan and Saudi Arabia, there would be no Jews in ‘Palestine’. The proposed constitution for Palestine states that “Islam is the official religion of Palestine.” I have never heard Levy or anyone else on the Left object to this, or compare the Palestinians to Nazis. Even the usual concerns for human rights (don’t forget women, gays, etc.) are elided where the Palestinians are concerned.

The Left’s vision of a borderless world in which every nation is a “democratic state of all its citizens” is being tried now, in Europe, and it is failing badly, economically, socially, and — most important — demographically, with native fertility rates far below what’s needed for the society to survive. Israel’s Jewish fertility rate is a healthy 2.8, well above the replacement rate of 2.1. Perhaps Israel’s social and economic vitality has something to do with the national pride and religion that still exist there, despite what is written in Ha’aretz?

Without Jewish nationalism, that is, Zionism, there would be no Israel, and no reason for one — which is why psychopathic Jew-hater Gideon Levy advocates against it.

Technorati Tags: ,

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

Plenty of room at the inn

March 14th, 2014

How many times have you heard that early Zionists came to a land already populated, and found the inhabitants ‘invisible’ in their European arrogance? “A land without a people for a people without a land,” they supposedly said, and then proceeded to kick out the people that they hadn’t noticed, in order to get their land.

This is the basis of the Palestinian narrative, and we hear it from their apologists as well, who love to talk about the ‘indigenous’ Palestinians and the ‘European colonialist’ Jewish ‘settlers’ that ‘dispossessed’ them.

The hidden assumption here is that there was only enough land for one people. The conflict had to be a zero-sum affair: if the Jews came in, the Arabs would have to get out.

Nobody denies that there were more Arabs than Jews living in the land when the Zionists began their immigration. But what if there was plenty of land for both peoples? What if the conflict grew out of something other than a struggle over land?

Israeli-born sociologist Amitai Etzioni was disturbed by Ari Shavit’s apparent acceptance of the zero-sum thesis in his book, My Promised Land:

I knew that a fundamental aspect of Shavit’s thesis was deeply flawed, but I was reluctant to give voice to my criticisms, because they were based on personal observations. I then realized that there is strong statistical data to support my conclusions. But first, a brief account of what I saw and experienced in the days before Israel existed as a state.

I was born as a Jewish child in Germany in 1929. In 1935, as Nazi influence grew, my family escaped, joining four other families of the same background to form a new settlement in Palestine in 1936. They named it Kfar Shmaryahu (it’s next to Herzliya). The five families occupied 600 “dunams,” [a dunam is about 1/4 acre] cleared the rocks, drilled a water well, paved a road before erecting a bunch of modest homes and farming the land. All this was done on previously unoccupied land — land that was lying fallow next to an Arab village called Sidney Alley. …

The relationship between my parents’ village and Sidney Alley varied over the years, ranging from comfortable to tense. However, as far as I recall, no shots were fired, and most assuredly, no one was driven off land or out of a home. Those who lived unmolested in Sidney Alley until 1948 left at that point. We were told that they took with them keys to our homes that they somehow acquired, and had agreed among themselves who will get which of our homes after the seven Arab militaries that attacked the weak and newborn Israel defeated it. I never saw any evidence that supports this tale, but I know firsthand that no Israeli forces drove out the people of Sidney Alley.

Because it was personal and local I was reluctant to draw any conclusions from this experience, until I realized that there was clear evidence to show that there was plenty of room in Palestine for Jews and Arabs. Here is what the data show: At the end of 1946, just before the United Nations’ declaration that led to the foundation of Israel, there were 1,267,037 Arabs and 543,000 Jews in Palestine. By the end of 2012 there were 1,647,200 Arabs in Israel (and nearly 6 million Jews). That is, the numbers of Arabs increased by nearly 400,000. Since 1946 many more Jews and Arabs found a home in this blessed land.

Shavit makes it sounds [sic] like Palestine was a small home that was taken, that there was no room at the inn. Actually it was more like a motel that had plenty of empty rooms, although surely some were taken. True, some Arabs were driven out. And way too many Arabs and Jews died at each other’s hands. But the tragic reasons for these developments is not, the data unmistakably show, that there wasn’t enough room for both peoples.

I should add that in 1880 there were far, far fewer Arabs between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, maybe 500,000 at most, and many of those came to those vilayets (provinces) of the Ottoman Empire that would be called ‘Palestine’ in the 1830s with Muhammad Ali’s invasion from Egypt. Mark Twain’s 1869 Innocents Abroad describes the land as mostly barren and underpopulated, its Arab and Jewish residents living in terrible poverty and abysmal health conditions.

Zionist development of the land created economic opportunities for Arabs, and this — combined with political strife and droughts in Syria — brought more of them. Finally, the British imported Arab workers for various projects, including building railroads, etc.

And the Zionists didn’t dispossess the Arabs. Ami Isseroff tells us that

Zionist immigrants did not displace Palestinian Arabs in mandatory Palestine. Quite the opposite, the Arab population of Palestine grew at a tremendous rate between 1922 and 1948. In 1922, at the start of the British Mandate there were some 589,000 Muslim Arabs and  71,000 Christian Arabs in Palestine, a number that is probably an overestimate. By 1945, there were well over 1.2 million Arabs in Palestine and perhaps over 1.3 million by 1948. The Arab population of Palestine had about doubled during the years of the mandate. If the Zionists were plotting and planning to evict the Arabs of Palestine, the supposed Zionist policy would have to be judged a miserable failure.

At the same time, the Jewish population grew to over 600,000. The land that had held 753,000 people in 1922,  held about 1.9 million in 1948. The “full box” of Palestine turned out to have very elastic walls. As it has done elsewhere in the world, immigration to Palestine stimulated the economy and resulted in a higher standard of living for everyone. The immigration of Jews and the investment of Palestine were due directly to Zionism and its impact. …

So not only was there still room for both Jews and Arabs in 1946, but those Arabs that were there were not significantly more indigenous than the Jews. The difficulty then, as now, was that the Arab leadership would not countenance Jewish sovereignty for religious and cultural/ethnic reasons.

Technorati Tags:

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

US weakens stance on recognition of Jewish state

March 9th, 2014
State Department spokesman Jen Psaki: "No one is talking about an obligation"

State Department spokesman Jen Psaki: “No one is talking about an obligation”

Watch carefully as the US tilts more and more in the PLO direction:

Barack Obama, March 3, 2013:

Meanwhile, Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state and that Israelis have the right to insist upon their security.

American Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, February 21, 2014:

It’s too early to know what compromises and concessions both sides will make … But we do believe … that Israel deserves recognition as a Jewish state. That has always been US policy — that Israel is a Jewish state and should remain a Jewish state. That will be one of the elements of the framework we’re working on.

But here is State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki on March 7, 2014:

MS. PSAKI: … And if you look at the issue of a Jewish state and whether Israel will be called a Jewish state, that’s been our position, as you know, for a long time, but that doesn’t reflect what the parties will agree to, which I know you know, and of course there are many issues like that that are being discussed as part of the framework. …

QUESTION: Okay. My question to you is: Why the Palestinians are obligated to recognize Israel as a Jewish state when all the other states that have relations with Israel and have recognized Israel since day one did not do the same?

MS. PSAKI: No one is talking about an obligation. We’re talking about a discussion and what’s being compromised as part of a discussion on a framework for negotiations.

QUESTION: Right. Okay. So you don’t see this as a precondition, then?

MS. PSAKI: I think I’m done with your line of questioning.

Yeah, you can trust these guys, Mr. Netanyahu!

Let me add a word about why recognition by the Palestinians of Israel as the state of the Jewish people is important. We often hear the argument — even Abbas himself has made it — that Israel can define itself as whatever it wants and does not need the Palestinians to agree. Or, as the unnamed reporter above put it, why should the Palestinians be required to do more than other countries that have recognized the State of Israel?

The answer to the question “why does Israel think recognition as a Jewish state is necessary” lies in why Mahmoud Abbas refuses to grant it. And that is because after an agreement that gives Palestinians a state, it is his intention to press on for the remainder of their ‘rights’ — in particular, the admission of millions of descendents of Arab refugees into Israel.

The PLO position, expressed daily in its official media, is that Israel is an illegitimate colonial entity squatting on land that ‘belongs’ to a historic ‘Palestinian’ civilization. Abbas wrote in the NY Times in 2011 that if Palestine were admitted to the UN, he intended to continue to pursue its objectives in whatever forums were available:

Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.

It would be no different after an agreement with Israel, unless that agreement specifically included the termination of such claims, particularly the so-called ‘right of return’ for the descendents of refugees. That ‘right’ is premised on the claim of Arab ‘ownership’ of the land of Israel — which is precisely what recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people (even an Israel truncated to pre-1967 size) would relinquish.

The reason that negotiations between Israel and the PLO-based leadership of the Palestinian Arabs have failed since Oslo is that the aims of the sides are entirely different. Israel would like to trade land for an agreement to end the conflict, while the Arabs would like to obtain land for a base from which to continue the conflict. These are mutually exclusive.

Keep in mind also that except for careful statements made in English such as Abbas’ op-ed, we have no reason to believe that the conflict would not continue in its violent aspect as well as its diplomatic one after an agreement was signed — and a great deal of evidence that it would.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

Iranian regime puts its people at risk

March 5th, 2014
The Klos-C, Iranian container ship intercepted by Israeli Navy carrying weapons bound for Gaza

The Klos-C, Iranian container ship intercepted by Israeli Navy carrying weapons bound for Gaza

Early this morning it was reported that Israel’s Navy intercepted a vessel, the Klos-C, on its way to Port Sudan with a cargo intended for terrorist organizations in Gaza — a cargo including M-302 missiles, some versions of which which have a range of up to 150 miles. This would allow Hamas (or whoever had control of them) to target virtually all of Israel. IDF spokesperson Peter Lerner, in a conference call this morning, said that “dozens” of M-302′s had already been found on the ship (along with other weapons), even before the IDF finished searching the ship.

According to the IDF, the missiles were manufactured in Syria, shipped by air from Damascus to Tehran, and then over land to Bandar Abbas where they were loaded on the ship. The ship stopped at an Iraqi port on the way to Sudan, and then was intercepted in international waters, almost 1000 miles from Israel. Now it is proceeding to Eilat, where the weapons will be removed.

I’m sure that the details of the operation — which involved the Navy and Air Force — the intelligence collection leading up to it (Lerner said it had been going on for “months”), the possible assistance of Egypt, etc. would be fascinating. But this is what I want to say about it:

The consequences of these missiles having reached their intended destination would have been catastrophic. Supplying this kind of weapon to terrorists with genocidal aims is a violation of international law of course, but morally speaking it is a seriously evil act. The Iranian regime is guilty of attempted mass murder, and in a just world its leaders would be tried, convicted and imprisoned.

We don’t live in that kind of world, so the Iranian president will continue to be described as ‘moderate’ and treated with respect at the UN. But where there isn’t official justice, sometimes it can be obtained by direct action. The Iranian revolutionary regime has been killing Jews all over the world since the 1980s — it destroyed the Asociación Mutual Israelita building in Argentina in 1994, armed Hizballah in Lebanon before and after the 2006 war, bombed a tour bus full of Israelis in Bulgaria in 2009, and now is developing nuclear weapons while its ‘Supreme Leader’ calls Israel a “rabid dog.” Would it be surprising if at some point Israel decided that the regime should pay for its past actions and be deterred from future ones?

Even the US State Department has called Iran the “most active state sponsor of terrorism” in the world. Ordinary Iranians, who by all accounts are mostly not fanatics, should understand the position that the regime has placed them in. If it succeeds in fielding a nuclear weapon or in some other way precipitating  a confrontation with Israel, it may be too late for a ‘surgical’ response, and the Iranian nation as a whole would suffer the consequences.

Update [2004 PST]: I had previously said the Klos-C was Iranian-owned. This is not the case. It is registered in the Marshall Islands, where documentation requirements are minimal.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

Israeli building as “aggressive” as Bakersfield

March 4th, 2014
Artist's conception of how the new Palestinian city of Rawabi will look when finished

Artist’s conception of how the new Palestinian city of Rawabi will look when finished

…we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long timeBarack Obama, interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, March 2014

US and European officials obsessively cite “settlement construction” as an “obstacle to peace.” PLO negotiators use it as an excuse to refuse to sit down with Israelis:

The chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erekat, on Friday called the construction plans “a slap to Mr. Kerry’s efforts and a clear message by Israel’s prime minister: ‘Don’t continue with your peace efforts.’ ”

“Israel Doubled West Bank Settlement Construction in 2013″ screams the headline of a Time magazine article. “If Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited,” warns (or threatens) Obama.

Two things. First, a point about language. President Obama and most of the journalists who use the expression “settlement construction” are native English speakers. Yet they persist in using this misleading expression, which anyone who didn’t know differently would think means “building (new) settlements.” But in fact, the construction they are referring to is construction of houses and apartments within the boundaries of existing communities.  The truth is that there have been virtually no new settlements established since the 1990s, except for unauthorized outposts which the government often demolishes by force.

Is there a deliberate intent to deceive? Certainly those who suggest that such construction “gobbles up land” are simply lying. The President carefully avoids saying this, referring only to his position that “settlements are illegitimate” (Europeans say “illegal”) and are “unhelpful” to the process, although he or other officials never explain exactly what “illegitimate” means or why the Palestinian claim on the land is justified.

Second, are new homes springing up like weeds? Based on the urgency expressed by the President, the Europeans and the Palestinians, one would think so. So how many new homes and apartments are being built? Time tells us:

Israel began work on 2,534 new housing units in the West Bank [Judea and Samaria] in 2013, according to the report — more than double the 1,133 units built in 2012.

This is an area with a Jewish population of more than 300,000, and a birthrate greater than 3 children per (Jewish) woman, in a country with a booming economy. For comparison, Bakersfield, California, with about the same population, a lower birthrate, and a somewhat depressed economy, built 2238 privately-owned dwelling units in 2013. I don’t see any aggression here, do you?

Keep in mind that Palestinians are also building “aggressively,” including a new “high-tech” city near Ramallah. There is also European-funded Arab construction throughout Area C, the part of the territories supposedly under complete Israeli control by the Oslo agreements. And there is continuous illegal building there as well.

You will recall that the Palestinians began insisting on freezing Jewish construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem in 2009, following the lead of none other than President Obama.

So not only is this a manufactured issue, but the biggest factory is in Washington, DC!

Technorati Tags: , ,

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

Obama does it again

March 2nd, 2014

Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu will be meeting with President Obama tomorrow. In a long interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, the President revealed — or at least presented the public face of — his thinking on the Palestinian question, Iran, Syria and other Mideast issues.

If what he told Goldberg truly reflects his thinking, it is profoundly depressing, because his remarks display both ignorance and prejudice. And the timing, when Bibi is already on his way, is ugly.

Ignorance:

…with each successive year, the window is closing for a peace deal that both the Israelis can accept and the Palestinians can accept — in part because of changes in demographics; in part because of what’s been happening with settlements; in part because Abbas is getting older, and I think nobody would dispute that whatever disagreements you may have with him, he has proven himself to be somebody who has been committed to nonviolence and diplomatic efforts to resolve this issue. We do not know what a successor to Abbas will look like.

The “time is running out” theme is pervasive (Goldberg headlines the interview with it). But “changes in demographics,”  at least if you exclude Gaza, are definitely in favor of Israel. The Jewish birthrate is high, and the Palestinian one is declining. There are far fewer ‘Palestinians’ than official numbers would have it. “What’s happening with [Jewish] settlements” — a few additional homes within existing communities are planned — is irrelevant, and one can even argue that illegal European-sponsored Arab construction in Area C is more significant as a fact on the ground.

Most important is this: the fact that Abbas is relatively (stress that word) moderate compared to his likely successors has precisely the opposite implication than the one Obama suggests. What good would a deal reached with Abbas be if (when) he is replaced by an extremist who will tear it up?

[Netanyahu] has an opportunity also to take advantage of a potential realignment of interests in the region, as many of the Arab countries see a common threat in Iran. The only reason that that potential realignment is not, and potential cooperation is not, more explicit is because of the Palestinian issue.

So the Saudis and Kuwaitis who still hate Palestinians for their support of Saddam; the Lebanese who maintain an apartheid system in which Palestinians residing there cannot go to Lebanese schools, own property or work in numerous professions, and who fought a vicious mini-war against a Palestinian militia in one of the refugee camps several years ago; the Egyptians who are enthusiastically collapsing Hamas tunnels — these Arabs would jump at the chance to cooperate with Israel if only it were nicer to the Palestinians?

Yes, they are scared to death of the prospect of a nuclear Iran, but the idea that nations which have historically (long before ‘occupation’) made opposition to Jewish sovereignty an ideological pillar of their regimes would suddenly go public about any cooperation with Israel is ludicrous.

But here’s what I know from my visits to the region: That for all that we’ve seen over the last several decades, all the mistrust that’s been built up, the Palestinians would still prefer peace. They would still prefer a country of their own that allows them to find a job, send their kids to school, travel overseas, go back and forth to work without feeling as if they are restricted or constrained as a people. And they recognize that Israel is not going anywhere. So I actually think that the voices for peace within the Palestinian community will be stronger with a framework agreement and that Abu Mazen’s position will be strengthened with a framework for negotiations.

Maybe a few short visits weren’t enough. He seems to have missed the ideological indoctrination in the Palestinian media that calls for an unending struggle until there can be a complete victory, an ideology in which martyrdom for the Palestinian cause is the highest value, and in which Jews are compared to the Crusaders, who even after hundreds of years were expelled from ‘Arab land’.

And he has missed the surveys of Palestinian popular opinion that show that, for example, in 2011, “Only 7% agreed that ‘Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people’ while 84% thought that ‘over time Palestinians must work to get back all the land for a Palestinian state’”. So much for the Palestinians recognizing that “Israel is not going anywhere!”

Prejudice:

Do you resign yourself to what amounts to a permanent occupation of the West Bank? Is that the character of Israel as a state for a long period of time? Do you perpetuate, over the course of a decade or two decades, more and more restrictive policies in terms of Palestinian movement? Do you place restrictions on Arab-Israelis in ways that run counter to Israel’s traditions?

When I read this, I wonder what ‘Israel’ he’s talking about. The one I know has reduced restrictions on Palestinian movement in recent times, to the point of endangering security (and released murderers, if that counts). It also treats Israeli Arabs as well as any national minority is treated anywhere in the world.

So it is not realistic nor is it my desire or expectation that the core commitments we have with Israel change during the remainder of my administration or the next administration. But what I do believe is that if you see no peace deal and continued aggressive settlement construction — and we have seen more aggressive settlement construction over the last couple years than we’ve seen in a very long time — if Palestinians come to believe that the possibility of a contiguous sovereign Palestinian state is no longer within reach, then our ability to manage the international fallout is going to be limited.

Aggressive settlement construction? Nobody is building settlements, except perhaps Arabs in Area C. Why does he keep hitting this nonsensical issue? Only because it is a reason to blame Israel for the inability to reach an agreement, and to set the stage for the threats to follow. The man is a bully — except with Iran, which he is afraid of.

Here he becomes a pussycat. “Time is running out” to give the Palestinians a state that they certainly ought not to have, but

… the most important thing that I have said to Bibi and members of Congress on this whole issue is that it is profoundly in all of our interests to let this process play itself out. Let us test whether or not Iran can move far enough to give us assurances that their program is peaceful and that they do not have breakout capacity.

If, in fact, they can’t get there, the worst that will have happened is that we will have frozen their program for a six-month period. We’ll have much greater insight into their program. All the architecture of our sanctions will have still been enforced, in place. Their economy might have modestly improved during this six-month to one-year period. But I promise you that all we have to do is turn the dial back on and suddenly –

There are several paragraphs of rationalizations, but I’ll spare you. The sanctions regime is dead. It cannot be brought back to life. It was leaky before, and now it has a iceberg-sized gash in it and is listing 70 degrees. He’s given the Iranians the time they need to do precisely what they want, which is to get the “breakout capability” that will make it impossible to stop them. That is “the worst that will happen,” and it will happen for sure, unless someone bombs them.

Providing this interview on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit is reminiscent to his 2011 announcement calling for an agreement “based on pre-1967 lines” while Bibi was, like today, on his way to the White House. This tactic is an embarrassment. David Horovitz wrote,

The timing could not have been any more deliberate — an assault on the prime minister’s policies delivered precisely as Netanyahu was flying in to meet with him, and on the first day, too, of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual tour de force conference across town.

At the very least, that might be considered bad manners, poor diplomatic protocol, a resounding preemptive slap in the face: I’ve just told the world you’re leading your country to wrack and ruin, Mr. Prime Minister. Now, what was it you wanted to talk to me about?

Did I say he was a bully?

Technorati Tags: , ,

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

What have the Palestinians done for the USA?

February 28th, 2014
The Al Quds Brigades, one of the many terrorist gangs among the Palestinian Arabs

The Al Quds Brigades, one of the many terrorist gangs among the Palestinian Arabs

Put simply, Palestinians deserve a state of their own. — Barack Obama, March 21, 2013

Here I go again. But this time I do not intend to discuss all the reasons that a Palestinian state carved out of the historic homeland of the Jewish people would be a bad thing for what would be left of Israel.

No, today I want to talk about what the Palestinian Arabs have done for America — and what a Palestinian state might do.

Let’s start around the time the ‘Palestinian people’ were invented by Yasser Arafat and the KGB, 1968. On June 5, Palestinian terrorist Sirhan Bishara Sirhan murdered Senator Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles, an act that arguably changed American history. Kennedy had just won the California Democratic primary election, and many believe that he would have been elected President that November. Paul Kujawsky explained,

Sirhan blamed America for his lack of success and hated the country for its support of Israel. His anger gradually fixed on Robert Kennedy, who promised to send 50 fighter jets to Israel if elected president. He wrote in his notebook: “Kennedy must die by June 5th” — the first anniversary of the Six-Day War. …

According to [Mohammed T Mehdi, secretary-general of the Action Committee on American-Arab Relations], Sirhan’s act had a rational rationale: “The one and only reasonable explanation for Sirhan’s decision is to bring the tragedy of Palestine to the attention of the American people so that the people of the United States would not continue the strange policy of helping Zionist Jews of Europe and elsewhere go to the home of Christian and Moslem people of Palestine.”

Mehdi concluded that Sirhan had acted in justifiable self-defense: “[W]hen Robert F. Kennedy supports Israel against the Arabs, he is assuming the role of an Israeli high ranking official… Sirhan was defending himself against those 50 Phantom jets Kennedy was sending to Israel.”

I recall the event well, and I also remember that the political aspect of it was not widely discussed. Sirhan was described as a “mentally unstable Jordanian.” But his statements and writing before and after the murder clearly evidenced his political motive: the Palestinian Cause.

Another well-known case was the 1973 murder of the US Ambassador to the Sudan, Cleo Noel; his deputy George Moore, and Guy Eid, the Belgian Ambassador. They were killed by the Black September faction of Fatah. The terrorists took ten hostages, and interestingly, one of their demands was that the US release Sirhan. In 2006, the State Department declassified a report indicating that the ‘father of Palestine’, Yasser Arafat, was personally responsible. Joseph Farah wrote at the time,

The document, released earlier this year, with no fanfare, makes it clear the Khartoum operation “was planned and carried out with the full knowledge and personal approval” of Arafat, a frequent visitor to the White House throughout the 1990s who died in 2004. …

The admission comes 33 years after James J. Welsh, then the National Security Agency’s Palestinian analyst, saw a communication intercepted from Arafat to his terrorist commandos in Sudan.

There were also many ordinary Americans who lost their lives as a result of Palestinian terrorism. Here is a page that lists American terror victims. Other than those who died on 9/11, the overwhelming majority — hundreds — were murdered by Palestinian Arabs or by other terrorists on behalf of the Palestinian Cause.

Palestinians did not invent the airline hijacking. There have been hundreds of hijackings going back to at least the 1950′s, by criminals, political dissidents, mentally ill individuals and simply desperate people. But beginning with the Dawson’s Field hijackings of 1970 by the PFLP, carefully planned hijackings to achieve political goals became one of the favorite tactics of the Palestinian Arabs, and the idea seized the imaginations of terrorists and would-be terrorists, especially Arab and Muslim ones.

Neither did the Palestinians invent suicide terrorism, but in recent times, their exploits in this area have been remarkable. Between 1989 and 2008, there were at least 160 suicide attacks by Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and other Palestinian gangs, causing more than 800 fatalities and countless injuries.  The much-vaunted Tamil Tigers (137 suicide attacks between 1987 and 2009) come in second.

So what do you get when you combine hijacking and suicide terrorism? Of course, the Palestinians didn’t do 9/11, much as they cheered the perpetrators on that day (and yes, the footage of Arabs dancing in Gaza streets was real). But isn’t it likely that the success of these techniques in the hands of the Palestinians served as an inspiration for the architects of 9/11?

Leaving all of this aside, could a Palestinian state possibly become a valuable ally or trading partner for the US (like, for example, Israel)? Hardly. For one thing, Palestinians don’t like us. In a survey of attitudes toward the US in 39 countries, the Palestinian Authority came in tied for third from the bottom with Egypt (only in Jordan — which has a majority of Palestinians itself — and Pakistan were we liked less). Israel was second from the top, slightly behind the Philippines, despite the recent pressure from President Obama.

The Palestinian Authority is non-democratic, without an independent judiciary or most of the institutions required for an even partly free country. Freedom house rates both Gaza and the PA as “not free.” Its ‘president’ has overstayed his term by 5 years. It is ridden by crime and corruption, and home to an alphabet soup of terrorist gangs. Palestinians have been the largest recipients of international aid for decades, and much of this aid is simply stolen or used for weapons and explosives. What kind of state could it become?

Rather than try to bring ‘Palestine’ into being despite the cost, the US should is oppose the creation of yet another oppressive failed state, a base for terrorism and an economic and human rights disaster.

Technorati Tags: ,

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

The good cop and the bad cop

February 27th, 2014

May God bless and keep the Tsar… far away from us! — Rabbi, in “Fiddler on the Roof”

Mark Landler, in the administration’s favorite newspaper, writes,

WASHINGTON — President Obama, after avoiding a hands-on role in Middle East peacemaking since the setbacks of his first term, plans to plunge back into the effort, his advisers said this week, starting with an urgent appeal to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.

When he welcomes Mr. Netanyahu to the White House on Monday, these officials said, Mr. Obama will press him to agree to a framework for a conclusive round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations that is being drafted by Secretary of State John Kerry.

Later in March, Mr. Obama is likely to meet with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to make the same pitch. The goal, officials said, is to announce the framework, a kind of road map for further talks, by the end of April, the nine-month deadline that Mr. Kerry set last summer for a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

In response to the failure of the Kerry mission — Kerry is an object of derision in Israel, while Mahmoud Abbas has referred to his proposals as “insanity” — the administration seems intent on salvaging its latest effort to push Israel out of the territories by bringing in its biggest gun.

This raises the question, yet again, of American priorities. In a world containing Syria, Ukraine, Nigeria, Iran, Venezuela, etc., how can forcing Israel to commit suicide be so important as to require direct presidential involvement? We all have our theories.

I think, though, that this development doesn’t bode well. If anything characterized Kerry’s approach, it was naivete. According to Palestinian sources,

The top American diplomat reportedly offered for Abbas to form a Palestinian capital in the neighborhood of Beit Hanina, not all of East Jerusalem, as the Palestinians have demanded.

Kerry also suggested that Israel keep 10 settlement blocs as part of any territorial exchange, according to Al Quds, the most widely read Palestinian daily, on Wednesday.

The Jordan Valley would not be part of a future Palestinian state, Palestinian sources told the paper, nor would there be an international force stationed there. And Kerry reportedly demanded that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.

Only someone who believes that Abbas and his PLO are actually interested in ending the conflict and living at peace with a Jewish state could propose such ‘radical’ concessions! Yasser Arafat would turn over in his grave if Abbas were to agree to such a framework.

The Palestinian narrative, which is explained every day in their media and schools, implies that all the land between the river and the sea belongs to them. The magnanimous Abbas is prepared to agree to establish a state today in all of Judea and Samaria, including eastern Jerusalem, rather than insisting on all of the land at once. But by no means will this end the conflict, which will continue by diplomatic and legal means, as Abbas has said in English — and by armed struggle, as Palestinian media say daily.

Kerry apparently didn’t understand this. Far better deals, including the re-division of Jerusalem and the evacuation of the Jordan Valley, were rejected by the PLO in 2001 and 2008, mostly because of the refugee issue (recognizing Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people means, among other things, that the descendents of refugees do not have a right to ‘return’).

The heart of the impasse between Israel and the PLO has always been the same. Although it is not unimaginable that Israel could have reached an accommodation with the Palestinian Arabs in the early 1990′s, it could not have done so — as events showed — with the PLO, whose very reason for being is opposition to Jewish sovereignty. Unfortunately, the PLO, Hamas and even more extreme elements have been able to suppress any moderate elements, and to establish their rejectionist ideologies as preeminent through their control of media, culture and educational systems. Today there is no partner for an agreement that leaves Israel able to defend herself.

The President will have to bring more than his pretty face to the negotiations if he wants to get the PLO to sign onto some kind of deal. And unfortunately, from what we can glean about his beliefs, particularly when we consider his background and associations, there is reason to think that he will lean more in the direction of the PLO than Kerry apparently has.

The NY Times report seems to suggest that Obama will apply more pressure to Israel to make an even more PLO-friendly deal. It’s hard to see how PM Netanyahu can give up on the only issue that matters.

It’s possible that the ‘framework’ will be so ambiguous as to be vacuous. Nevertheless, such an agreement can give more legitimacy to the PLO, and foreclose Israel’s option to end the process and take unilateral action.

We’ve had the good cop. Now we are going to get the bad cop.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

Why Zionism is unpopular with younger Jews

February 26th, 2014

I was having a discussion with a friend about J Street, the recent BDS resolution at UCLA (which was defeated, but still…), disturbing trends in college Hillel groups, and similar examples of why some of the worst enemies of the Jewish people are Jews — especially young Jews. The question came up, as it always does: why?

Here are some answers:

The Oslo Syndrome, a coinage of Kenneth Levin in his book of the same name (which I discussed here): a disorder in which the sufferer, a Jew afflicted by powerlessness in the face of Jew-hatred, decides that the problem resides in himself rather than the Jew-haters. Thus he regains the power to affect the situation, by changing himself so that he stops being an object of hatred. This can take the form of trying to remove Jewish characteristics (nose jobs), renouncing religious observance, and of course opposing the Jewish state. The joke is on him, of course, since the Jew-haters will continue to hate him regardless.

Left-wing credentials. Since the 1960′s, when the KGB explained to Yasser Arafat that he would have more success with Western public opinion if he presented his cause as a national liberation movement for an oppressed people, rather than as the racist and genocidal project that it really is, it has been de rigeur for anyone aspiring to a leftist identity to adopt anti-Zionism as an article of faith. The need became even stronger with the Durban conference of 2001, in which Israel was equated with apartheid South Africa. Many Jews are attracted to left-wing or ‘progressive’ politics, and need the credentials to be accepted there.

Moral narcissism.

…the tendency of members of the well-meaning, intellectual elite to align with causes and ideological positions which are based, not on the actual viability or justice of a cause, but on how the moral narcissist feels about him- or herself by committing to a particular cause or movement. (R. L. Cravatts attributes this use of the term to Richard Landes)

Since the anti-Zionist position is often disguised as a moral concern for human rights, ending ‘oppression’, anti-racism, etc. (the double standard associated with its application to Zionism confirms that it is in fact a disguise), its adoption provides an emotional boost for susceptible individuals — and young Jews, especially those brought up in liberal religious and political traditions, are very susceptible.

Academic indoctrination. The large proportion of college teachers with left-wing politics, along with activist Middle Eastern students and ‘Middle East Studies’ programs, has created a strongly anti-Zionist atmosphere on many campuses. In addition, the influence of ethnic and gender studies in which politics and academics seem to have merged has made it more acceptable for teachers to use their classrooms for political indoctrination. Students strongly want to ‘belong’, and to fight the current is to risk ostracism. Together these factors have created loci of Israel-hatred like Evergreen State College.

The conventional wisdom. Jews are people like anyone else. They read newspapers, watch TV, listen to the radio. Here in the US, some of the most popular media among Jews — the NY Times, NPR, MSNBC, etc. are strongly biased against Israel. In many countries — certainly in the US — political leaders are anti-Israel. Even if a person tries to avoid it, he can’t help getting it by osmosis. Some time ago, a friend who is definitely pro-Israel said to me “if only that Netanyahu weren’t so stubborn about the settlements, there could be peace.”  When I asked him why on earth he thought that, he didn’t know.

To a great extent, these forces act on the emotions, and only peripherally by reasoned argument. Even the media coverage, which could be seen as describing facts, correctly or incorrectly, is often crafted for its emotional effect. As Jonathan Haidt argued in his insightful book The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are divided by Politics and Religion (which I wrote about in more detail here), judgments of right and wrong are based on ‘intuitions’ — innate triggers of emotional responses — and only later justified by rational argument. This explains why it’s so hard to persuade someone to make this kind of judgment by citing facts and giving logical reasons.

These are some of the reasons Zionism is losing support among Jews, especially younger ones. In a forthcoming post, I will suggest ways to overcome them.

Technorati Tags: ,

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine

Freedom of worship — for Jews in Israel

February 25th, 2014
The Temple Mount

The Temple Mount

News item:

A first-of-its-kind debate over the right of non-Muslims to enter, and pray at, the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem was held at the Knesset on Tuesday, with over 30 MKs from both right wing and left wing parties requesting to voice their opinion on the divisive topic. Almost all of the parliament’s Arab members chose not to attend the discussion in protest over the decision to hold it. …

“The Israeli leadership is shirking its calling,” [MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud)] said at the opening of the session, during which he called for Jewish freedom of worship at the site where the first and second Jewish temples once stood.

“Behind the back of our people we gave up on any vestige of Israeli sovereignty at the Mount. Every terrorist organization can wave their flag there, but the flag of Israel? It must not be mentioned. Reciting a psalm is grounds for arrest. Even wearing a skullcap [at the site] is inadvisable by police standards.”

There is no question that the Temple Mount itself is the holiest site in Judaism, far exceeding the Western Wall. But when the Old City was captured in 1967, the decision was made by Defense Minister Moshe Dayan to place the responsibility to administer it in the hands of the Muslim Wakf of Jerusalem, although Israel claims national sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. Jews are not permitted to pray on the Mount “for fear that they will provoke a violent reaction from Muslims.”

Rabbi Shlomo Goren, IDF Chief Rabbi at the time, opposed the decision and wanted to construct a synagogue on the Mount. Although it is commonly thought that Goren also wanted to blow up the Muslim holy places, it is almost certain that this is a politically-motivated lie (see Shalom Freedman, Rabbi Shlomo Goren: Torah Sage and General, ch. 37).

This was once-in-a-millennium opportunity. The Muslims understood that they were defeated, and would have had to deal with Jewish religious rights on the Mount, especially when they it became clear to them that they too would be able to pray there and that their structures would not be destroyed (I’m sure in the first days, they fully expected it — it’s what they would do, after all).

But Dayan prevailed, and the chance was lost.

Freedman wrote,

…by leaving the total religious control of the Temple Mount in the hands of the Wakf, Moshe Dayan in effect taught them that they need not recognize any Jewish rights on the Mount. This … appears to be obviously linked with the failure of the Muslim world to recognize Jewish rights to any part of the Land of Israel. [p. 125]

Since then, the Wakf — as anyone could have predicted — has exercised its authority in ways intended to weaken Israeli sovereignty. For example it has ignored Israeli laws regarding safeguarding antiquities, digging in the area and discarding material of great archaeological significance, especially when it might suggest a historical Jewish presence there.

On a regular basis, riots and other violence are incited by the Islamic Movement, Hamas or PLO officials on the pretext that Jews are ‘storming’ the Mount, preparing to destroy the mosques, or even merely praying there. The Arabs claim that the Second Intifada began because Ariel Sharon dared to visit it (in fact, the Intifada was carefully planned in advance; but the fact that Sharon’s visit can be used to justify a murderous uprising is significant).

Anyone who understands Arab attitudes knows that an enemy that shows fear or even consideration is seen as weak and invites further aggression. So, naturally,

MK Zahava Gal-on of the left-wing Meretz party stated that though she believes Jews have a right to pray at the Temple Mount, such a right must be expressed only after consulting with Palestinian and Arab representatives. Feiglin’s proposal, Gal-on said, was “a match that could ignite the powder keg on which the Middle East rests,” and implementing it “would harm the peace process.”

What a combination of cowardice and ignorance! But that’s the Israeli Left.

There is really no good reason that Jews should not be allowed to share this holy place with Muslims, especially since many Jews died in order to secure the city (even though Dayan, like Gal-on, might have preferred to see it remain in Arab hands). It’s ironic that Israel, the Jewish state, takes pains to provide freedom of worship for Muslims while denying it to Jews.

Technorati Tags:

Share:
  • Print
  • email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • Google Bookmarks
  • StumbleUpon
  • Technorati
  • Tumblr
  • NewsVine