Archive for May, 2009

Abbas Zaki, Zionist

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Abbas ZakiI love this guy. Abbas Zaki is a member of the Fatah central committee and the PLO representative in Lebanon. He understands the importance of Zionism, and unlike his boss Mahmoud Abbas, he likes to speak clearly about Fatah goals and principles.

When you examine the statements that follow, please note that he represents the ‘moderate’ Palestinian wing that the US is arming and funding in the name of ‘peace’ and a two-state solution (all boldface emphasis was added by the Editor).

— April 2008: On the use of violence and PLO policy

We believe wholeheartedly that the Right of Return is guaranteed by our will, by our weapons, and by our faith…The use of weapons alone will not bring results, and the use of politics without weapons will not bring results. We act on the basis of our extensive experience. We analyze our situation carefully. We know what climate leads to victory and what climate leads to suicide. We talk politics, but our principles are clear. It was our pioneering leader, Yasser Arafat, who persevered with this revolution, when empires collapsed. Our armed struggle has been going on for 43 years, and the political struggle, on all levels, has been going on for 50 years. We harvest U.N. resolutions, and we shame the world so that it doesn’t gang up on us, because the world is led by people who have given their brains a vacation – the American administration and the neocons…

The PLO is the sole legitimate representative [of the Palestinian people], and it has not changed its platform even one iota. In light of the weakness of the Arab nation and the lack of values, and in light of the American control over the world, the PLO proceeds through phases, without changing its strategy. Let me tell you, when the ideology of Israel collapses, and we take, at least, Jerusalem, the Israeli ideology will collapse in its entirety, and we will begin to progress with our own ideology, Allah willing, and drive them out of all of Palestine. — MEMRI

— July 2008: On Yasser Arafat’s Oslo intentions, help for Hamas rockets

When the Palestinian Authority returned to Gaza [in 1994], Hamas did not have even 20 guns, weapons, and Fatah did not have even 100 guns. Abu Ammar [Yasser Arafat], Allah’s mercy upon him, flooded everybody with weapons, and sent our experts to produce missiles and weapons for whoever who wanted to fight.

One of our people, General Abd Al-Mu’ti Al-Sab’awi, was martyred when he was making a rocket for them and it went off. He was developing missiles for them. Unfortunately, they [Hamas] have turned their backs on us now. — IMRA

— May 2009: On the two-state solution, Jerusalem and Zionism

With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made – just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward. — IMRA

Finally, in case the Obama Administration has not noticed:

— November 2008: on Israel and the US, and the honesty of Mahmoud Abbas

Abbas Zaki: “We consider the U.S. to be an enemy because its only strategic alliance is with Israel...”

Interviewer: “Israel ceased being an enemy once you signed a peace treaty with it. I don’t know how it could be your enemy. Do you talk to the Israelis as if they were your enemies? Do you talk to Israel as a friendly or enemy country?”

Abbas Zaki: “An enemy country, which owes us certain things. The heroic Vietnamese used to negotiate with the French, while they were slaughtering them.

Interviewer: “I can assure you that in his speeches, Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] says the U.S. is a friendly country.”

Abbas Zaki: “Well, this isn’t true. Perhaps Abu Mazen, in his position, needs to use diplomatic language, but he is the greatest critic of the U.S.”  — IMRA

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Lessons of recent wars

Monday, May 25th, 2009

(Updated 2114 PDT)

I’ve recently been reading Anthony Cordesman’s  “Lessons of the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah War”. There are many lessons, and the performance of the IDF in Gaza last winter showed that it has learned several of the technical ones.

But one of the things Cordesman emphasizes is the need to pay as much attention to the information war that is fought in the world’s media parallel to the military one.

In particular he says that,

Israel fought its media battle largely in terms of an effort to influence its own political parties and public as well as its strongest outside supporters. Its information operations were parochial and were based on the assumption that it could not alter the perception of Arab, European, and other neutral and hostile media [p. 40].

He discusses what he considers the overriding importance of minimizing civilian casualties and damage, as well as justifying the use of force and the degree of force used. He calls for real-time response to inaccurate reports of collateral damage and atrocity stories, but also an entirely new way of fighting aimed as much at not hurting civilians as it is at killing the enemy.

Cordesman suggests that the information war is important because wars are fought to attain political objectives. If you defeat your enemy in every battle but the political situation after the war has not improved, you have failed. And the information aspect may have as much or more effect on the political outcome of a war as the actual fighting.

There is no doubt in my mind that these considerations were taken very seriously by decision-makers in the government and the IDF before the recent Gaza war. Absolutely unprecedented efforts were made to warn civilians away from targets before they were bombed; the IDF spokesperson’s office implemented a video blog that very effectively showed how weapons were hidden in mosques and rockets were fired from schoolyards. Although there were some failures — Palestinian casualty figures were disputed but inadequate documentation was provided, sometimes responses were agonizingly slow, etc. — there was a huge improvement since 2006.

And yet…

Israel’s information defeat in the Gaza war was total. Where there were PR failures, they were exploited. Where there were not, Israeli-provided information was simply ignored. The IDF spokesperson’s video blog wasn’t even close to a match for Al-Jazeerah (it didn’t help that Israel was trying to present verifiable facts and the other side just made things up).

It might even be the case that Israel’s hesitancy about the political consequences of its actions was partly responsible for the way the war stalled without entering ‘phase 3’, the deep penetration into the Hamas strongholds in Gaza City, which might have been successful in eliminating Hamas as a military threat. In other words, Israel might have taken PR concerns too seriously, to the point of failing to achieve important objectives.

Israel really is in a special situation in the world, completely isolated politically from so many other nations and at a PR disadvantage after years of continuous vilification by a multiplicity of enemies. What Israel actually does may not matter at this point. Cordesman asssumes that the propaganda battle can be won, both by changing the way the army fights and by improved PR techniques. But what if he’s wrong? Then the very attempt to win the information war works against the effort to win the military one.

Part of the strategy of asymmetric war is to take advantage of a modern army’s need to pull punches for political/information reasons. A force like the IDF is thus forced to fight on the level of Hezbollah or Hamas. But if the propaganda battle is essentially unwinnable, maybe the way to win such wars is to ignore the PR considerations and apply overwhelming force; to play to one’s strength and the enemy’s weakness. It seems to have worked for the regime in Sri Lanka.

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Responsibility for ending conflict lies with Palestinians

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

The responsibility for ending the conflict with the Palestinians does not lie with Israel.

How can it when the most popular political party among Palestinians is Hamas, whose founding document calls for killing Jews and which contains language from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

How can it when the ‘moderate’ Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, the official representative of the Palestinian people to the world insists that there is no Jewish people and refuses to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?

How can it when every time Israel withdraws from occupied territories, the response is war and terrorism?

How can it when Hamas, the PA and their allies don’t let up for a moment in their barrage of hateful antisemitic propaganda, lies about Israel and incitement to violence against Jews and Israel?

How can it when negotiations go nowhere because the PA won’t compromise on borders — insisting on “not one millimeter less” than the the boundaries established by the 19-year Jordanian occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, an occupation that began when the Jordanians killed or drove out every last Jew in the area — nor on a right of ‘return’ to Israel for millions of hostile descendants of 1948 refugees, an unprecedented ‘solution’ to the problem they and their allies created, which by the way would end the Jewish state?

How can it when in 2007 70% of Palestinian Muslims viewed suicide bombing as sometimes or often justified? When 76% of Palestinians have a favorable view of Hezbollah (Pew survey, 7/24/07)? And when 77% of Palestinians say that “the rights and needs of the Palestinian people cannot be taken care of as long as the state of Israel exists” (Pew survey, 6/27/07)?

But the US acts as though it does.

The Obama administration has, as far as we know, not made any demands on the Palestinians. It has not demanded that they recognize Israel as a Jewish state — although Prime Minister Netanyahu mentioned this in his recent meeting with President Obama. It has not insisted that the Palestinians stop their antisemitic incitement. It has not told the Palestinians that the ‘right of return’  is off the table, although Obama has suggested in the past that in his view this is impractical. It has not even fulfilled its promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem and officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel — even though the seat of government is in undisputed West Jerusalem.

No, what the Obama administration has done is to demand that Israel stop construction of homes in existing settlements, even those which are neighborhoods of East Jerusalem that any reasonable border compromise would place in Israel.

And let us not forget that — even before they officially took power — Obama’s people forced a premature end to the Gaza war, saving Hamas and thus ensuring that the peaceful “two-state solution” it calls for cannot be implemented!

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Logic, facts and history washed away in hate

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

Some loosely related thoughts for today:

Someone recently said that the way to tell the difference between criticism of Israeli policy and antisemitism is to watch for the froth at the corners of the speaker’s mouth.

Here is an example of a comment on a NY Times op-ed by Roger Cohen. It is chosen almost entirely at random; there are thousands more like this. The first sentence is a quote from Cohen, and the commenter has supplied the transition to antisemitic ranting:

One view of Israel’s continued expansion of settlements, Gaza blockade, West Bank walling-in and wanton recourse to high-tech force would be that it’s designed precisely to bludgeon, undermine and humiliate the Palestinian people until their dreams of statehood and dignity evaporate! This is not a view! This is official, blatant, arrogant Israeli policy since before America blundered into allowing these Zionist to steal these lands. murder these peoples, and prevent any peace in Palestine! Few of these Jews are victims or children of Nazi or even Russian atrocities; but all are dedicated Zionists with a single goal of stealing back the lands their God of blood and genocide gave to his chosen people; chosen to kill it seems!

Logic is not relevant to the special case of Israel. It’s all about hating.

By the way, have you noticed that the Nigerian army is — right now — slaughtering civilians in the Niger Delta? Or that at least 80,000 people have been killed in the 26-year Tamil Tiger intifada, which has finally been put down by the Sri Lankan army operating with little regard for collateral damage. These events are being reported, but without the ranting, and any outrage will be gone by next week.

Another phenomenon of the treatment meted out to the Jew among nations is a willingness to believe all Palestinian stories, which cannot be refuted once told, like the one that Israel bombarded a school and  killed 42 innocents inside (when actually only 12 people were killed, outside the school, and 9 of them were confirmed Hamas fighters). Or the oft-quoted Palestinian figures for civilian casualties in the Strip, perhaps four times too high.

Facts, too, can be ignored in this special case. Certainly they will be next week when the ‘Eyewitness Gaza activists‘  come to town to describe the entirely manufactured ‘siege of Gaza’.

In some ways even worse than lies about current events is the falsification of history, the deliberate attempt to wipe out Jewish provenance and rights in the land of  Israel. Our rabid anti-Zionist friends eat this stuff up: the Palestinians are said to be descended from the biblical Canaanites (instead of mostly from people who migrated to the region in the 19th and early 20th centuries), there was no Jewish Temple in Jerusalem and today’s Jews are actually Khazars anyway. Sheer nonsense, but nonsense designed to erode Jewish political rights today.

A good example is the entirely unjustified Palestinian claim that any part of the land that was under Jordanian control from 1948-1967 belongs to them, and any Jewish presence there is a ‘settlement’ that must be extirpated:

…the Palestinians consider that “East Jerusalem” is also part of the “occupied territory.” That includes not only the Hebrew University on Mount Scopus, but also the cemetery in Mt Olives and the Old City Jewish quarter, from which Jews were ethnically cleansed in 1948 (See Ethnic Cleansing of Jerusalem. It also includes areas that were formerly border areas and no-mans land such as the Ramat Eshkol Area. The disputes over the places where the settlement freeze applies will de facto create a consensus about what might be annexed to Israel and what belongs to the Palestinians. So we have to ask, if the Palestinians will raise a ruckus when a Jew dies and wants to be buried in Mt. Olives Cemetery, or when Israel wants to add some buildings to the Hebrew University campus on Mt. Scopus, or build in the Ramat Eshkol area or French Hill or other such neighborhoods.

More important, we should be asking if any such activities will bring down the wrath of Hillary Clinton on the Israeli government. Regarding the Palestinians, we do not have to ask, as we already know the answer. The Palestinians will fight for every millimeter that was under Jordanian sovereignty for the precious 19 years between 1948 and 1967 that in retrospect were turned into a sacrosanct period in international law. They are busy building an “alternative narrative” in which no Jews ever lived in Jerusalem prior to 1967.  — Ami Isseroff

This stuff, as well as the atrocity stories and even the antisemitism, all works its way into common discourse and becomes conventional wisdom. Logic, facts and history — all three dishonored.

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The Deserving

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

News item:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told reporters Tuesday that she reiterated the U.S. government’s commitment to a two-state solution and its demand that Israel halt construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

“Underlying that commitment is the conviction that the Palestinians deserve a viable state…”

An interesting concept, to deserve a state.  Other groups also say they deserve a state. The Kurds, for example, but nobody seems interested in giving them one. Possibly some Francophone Canadians. And the Tamil Tigers, at least before they were wiped out.

Somehow the Palestinian Arabs’ struggle seems to have caught the imagination of the world in a way the others didn’t. Is this because they are more deserving? Let’s look at some reasons that might make a person or group deserving of something and see if any of them fit the Palestinians.

One is that someone had something which was unfairly taken from him and he deserves to get it back.

This is a common Palestinian theme, the claim that they were dispossessed by the Jews, and are entitled to their land back. But let’s look at what really happened.

Palestine (called southern Syria) in the 19th century was a backward part of the Ottoman empire — in no way was there a Palestinian state or even a geo-political entity of Palestine. Arabs and a smaller number of Jews lived there. Ottoman policies and taxation made it very difficult to make a living. The Jews purchased land and began to develop it.  But analysis shows that Jewish immigration before 1948 did not dispossess or displace Arabs:

Every indication is that there was net Arab immigration into Palestine in this period [1880-1948], and that the economic situation of Palestinian Arabs improved tremendously under the British Mandate relative to surrounding countries. By 1948, there were approximately 1.35 million Arabs and 650,000  Jews living between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, more Arabs than had ever lived in Palestine before, and more Jews than had lived there since Roman times. Analysis of population by sub-districts shows that Arab population tended to increase the most between 1931 and 1948 in the same areas where there were large proportions of Jews. Therefore, Zionist immigration did not displace Arabs. — MideastWeb, “Population of Ottoman and Mandate Palestine, Statistical and Demographic Considerations

After WWI under the British Mandate, conditions improved drastically. But especially under the leadership of Haj Amin al-Husseini, the unfortunate choice of the British for Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Palestinian Arabs perpetrated anti-Jewish riots and pogroms throughout the period, including the bloody Hebron Massacre in 1929.

In November 1947 the UN Partition Resolution called for the division of Western Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state (the larger eastern part had already been given by the British to the Hashemite Abdullah in 1921, creating the state called Jordan today). The Palestinian Arabs responded by attacking Jewish towns and farms, starting the war we know as Israel’s War of Independence. In May 1948, when the British pulled out and Israel declared independence, the Palestinians were joined by troops from five Arab states.

As we all know, Israel won this war and about 700,000 Arabs became refugees. The Arabs claimed that they were ‘expelled’, but in truth they left for a spectrum of reasons, with only a small minority — primarily the population of towns on the road to Jerusalem from which attacks were launched against convoys attempting to supply beseiged Jerusalem — actually forced to leave. Some well-to-do Palestinians left before the war to wait it out in comfort, others were frightened by atrocity propaganda, and still others fled actual fighting.

I would argue that the responsibility for creating these refugees lies with the Palestinians and their allies, who — instead of accepting partition — started and lost the war. And certainly the responsibility for making impossible their return or, later, the resettlement of their descendants, lies with the Arab nations who for sixty-one years have chosen to use them as a tool to try to reverse the outcome of the war.

The land which would have become the Palestinian Arab state was gobbled up instead by Jordan and Egypt, which held it for 19 years. So there was no ‘Palestine lost’: rather there was a missed opportunity to create one.

Another reason is that someone has shown by his actions that he is capable of managing something constructively and thus earned the right to do so.

By 1948 the Jews had built all of the institutions of a modern state including political, educational, legal, health care, etc. institutions. Today the Palestinian Authority is corrupt and enjoys support from only a small portion of the population, while Hamas has an explicitly racist and genocidal program.

Over the years Palestinian behavior has not met the standards expected of a political entity that aspires to statehood. Terrorist attacks on Israelis have been a constant since before the founding of the state. The Palestinian leader who more than anyone else represents the Palestinian national movement, Yasser Arafat, did more to popularize terrorism against civilians as an instrument of policy than anyone else in recent times.

The murderous Arafat Intifada of 2000, begun in response to an offer of statehood — which was real and generous, despite self-serving Palestinian statements to the contrary — is an example of Palestinian behavior, as is the continuous rocket war waged against Israel by Hamas from Gaza.

Finally, one indication that someone deserves something is that he is willing to give up something significant to get it.

Israel, for example, gave up the Sinai Peninsula, which was highly strategic, had oil and other mineral deposits, resorts,  settlements and important military installations, to Egypt in return for what turned out to be a minimal peace treaty. But the Palestinian authority will not give up its demand for Israel to absorb millions of refugee descendants, will not accept Israel as a Jewish state, and will not compromise on receiving all of East Jerusalem.

Of course the real elephant in the room is the systematic ambiguity about what they ‘deserve’. Ms. Clinton thinks that it is the territories that were occupied by Jordan and Egypt in 1948.  But — as Jeff Jacoby points out — Palestinians have always spurned this, believing that they ‘deserve’ all of the land ‘from the river to the sea’ as they are fond of saying.

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