Archive for November, 2009

Ban Ki-Moon vs. George W. Bush

Monday, November 30th, 2009

Could he be more wrong?

Palestinian statehood is a “vital” component necessary for regional peace, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said, in a message to mark Monday’s annual International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

I’ve only recently touched on the UN, so I won’t get off on that again. I do want to mention that the “International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People” is held on November 29 for a reason. In the words of Our United Nations,

In 1977, the General Assembly called for the annual observance of 29 November as the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People (resolution 32/40 B). On that day, in 1947, the Assembly adopted the resolution on the partition of Palestine (resolution 181 (II)).

So I suppose this ‘solidarity’ is their way of making up for what they must view as the terrible mistake of 1947!

Just two years before, on November 10, 1975, the UN had passed the notorious resolution 3379, which asserted that Zionism was a form of racism. The sponsors of that resolution also must have had a keen sense of the significance of dates, since November 10 was also the day, 37 years before, of Kristallnacht, the day that marked the beginning of the Nazi Final Solution.

Back to Ban Ki-Moon’s remarks. It’s obvious that Palestinian statehood, far from being vital to peace, would be a cause for war.

A Palestinian state led by Fatah, Hamas or any combination thereof, would, in keeping with the words in the founding documents of these groups, be committed to violent ‘resistance’ against Israel, in order to replace it with an Arab state. Giving Fatah and Hamas and their terrorist militias the cover of a state — with the ability to make treaties, to import weapons, even to invite foreign troops onto their territory — would convert them from irritants into threats.

The history of the Oslo accords and their failure, the second intifada, the Hamas takeover of Gaza and the terrorism and (always) incitement that has characterized this period makes clear that a peaceful state alongside Israel is not the goal of the Palestinian leadership. And the climate of Palestinian politics — in which the most radical elements always get their way, by force if necessary — guarantees that in the foreseeable future there will be no Palestinian leadership that does truly want peace.

So what is actually vital to peace is not statehood, because the state that would be created would be a gangster state with gangster leaders.

Here is what Ban Ki-Moon should have said:

My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror. Yet, at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope. Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born.

I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty…

Today, Palestinian authorities are encouraging, not opposing, terrorism. This is unacceptable. And [we] will not support the establishment of a Palestinian state until its leaders engage in a sustained fight against the terrorists and dismantle their infrastructure.

Oops. Too late, Ban! George W. Bush said it on June 24, 2002.

Preident George W. Bush delivers his Rose Garden speech on the Mideast, June 24, 2002

Preident George W. Bush delivers his Rose Garden speech on the Mideast, June 24, 2002

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A classic Big Lie

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

How many times have you heard something like this:

Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian land are illegal and an obstacle to peace.

The statement is misleading or false in at least three ways:

First, there is no such thing as ‘Palestinian land’ unless you mean land owned by individual Palestinians, and most Israeli ‘settlements’ in Judea and Samaria are built on state land or land purchased by Jews.

The original Palestine Mandate (and the Anglo-American Convention of 1924) specified only that there would be a ‘Jewish National Home’ within its borders; it did not specify that all of it would constitute this home. But it also did not specify that any particular part of it would be a Palestinian Arab state. One might add that in 1922, Britain split off the better part of the Palestine Mandate and gave it to the Hashemites to create an Arab state of Transjordan, which could well be considered a partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab parts.

The 1947 General Assembly partition resolution did call for a division the land into Jewish and Arab states. But this was not accepted by the Arabs, and was not implemented as a result of the invasion by the Arab states in 1948. The Jordanian military aggression and annexation of this area was therefore illegal; in principle, it belonged to the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs.

The actual boundaries that define what the Jordanians decided to call “the West Bank”, which prior to 1950 was called “Judea and Samaria”, were entirely accidental, being the cease-fire lines of 1949. There is no treaty, Security Council resolution, or other basis in international law to say that the cease-fire lines define an Arab state. Indeed, the famous Security Council Resolution 242, as everyone knows, calls for

Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict;

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;

It does not say anything about creating a Palestinian state, it deliberately does not say that Israel must withdraw from all territories it occupied in 1967, and it clearly implies that the cease-fire lines are not the permanent borders of the state of Israel, but that borders must be secure and recognized.

Second, Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria, this area whose status is still undetermined, are not illegal. In fact, the settlements have the same status as Arab settlements there! They are both located in a now-disputed portion of the original Mandate. Indeed, after Jordan gave up its claims to this area in 1988, control of the region has been divided under the Oslo agreement, between Israeli and  Palestinian Authority (PA) areas, with most Palestinians living in PA-controlled areas and most Israelis living in Israeli-controlled areas.

Mainstream media often refer to “Israeli settlements in the areas that Palestinians want for a future state.” Well, yes, they want it, but absent some basis in law, they do not have a right to it. They want Tel Aviv, Haifa, etc., too. As one says in Hebrew, “sh’irtzu” — almost impossible to translate, but it means something like “so they should want” (with a rising inflection at the end).

Finally, they are not an ‘obstacle to peace’, unless any  unmet Palestinian demand is, no matter how unreasonable. Israel has withdrawn from occupied areas before, for example the Sinai and Gaza, in both cases uprooting Jews who had lived there for years, and would likely withdraw from much of Judea and Samaria in return for a real peace. But it is unrealistic to think — as President Bush agreed in 2004 — that the larger settlement blocs relatively near the Green Line, would or could be evacuated as part of a peace agreement.

The Arabs and their supporters are trying to create reality by repeating the same falsehoods over and over, in a classic big lie operation.

Indeed, the true obstacles to peace are the PA’s insistence that Israel cede “every centimeter” of the land, including East Jerusalem, for the proposed state; its refusal to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish People; its demand to resettle hostile Arabs within Israel; and its continued of incitement of hatred and terrorism against Israel and Jews.

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How to end terrorist kidnappings

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

News item:

Voice of Palestine radio quoted Egyptian sources on Saturday as saying that in an unusual move, security around the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been beefed up, speculating that the added security could signal the imminent transfer of captive Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit from Gaza into Egypt…

The sources also said that when Shalit is transferred from Gaza into Egypt he will be examined by Red Cross medical teams as well as Israeli and French teams, in addition to the German mediator. Israel will simultaneously free 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, the sources said…

Senior Hamas officials said Thursday that the talks had hit a snag over some of the Palestinian prisoners the Islamic group wants freed, including Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat…

Hamas is demanding, among other the prisoners, the release of Ibrahim Hamad, head of the group’s military wing in the Ramallah area, Abdallah Barghouti, a bomb engineer, and Abbas a-Sayad, the Hamas head in Tul Karm who planned the 2002 massacre during Passover in Netanya’s Park Hotel. These three prisoners are considered responsible for the murder of hundreds of Israelis.

Other names mentioned in the Arab media are Hassan Salame, who was involved in planning the suicide bus bombings in the mid ’90s, and Jamal Abu al-Hijla, head of Hamas in Jenin, who was convicted of taking part in planning and funding several suicide attacks during the second intifada.

Unfortunately, Israel has close to zero leverage. Hamas has held Shalit for three years and can keep him for as long as it likes. The Netanyahu government is under tremendous pressure from the media and others to get Shalit out no matter how much it costs. Although I’m sure the families of the terrorists would like them released, Hamas can afford to be far less responsive to its public than Israel! And of course the conditions under which Palestinian prisoners are held in Israel are far better than those faced by Shalit.

So my guess is that if the exchange actually takes place, the price will be whatever Hamas is asking. Some of the freed terrorists will undoubtedly go on to kill Israelis.

Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, recently said that there should be no negotiations with kidnappers, but that the policy couldn’t be changed while Shalit was in captivity. This is nonsense, since tomorrow they will capture another Israeli soldier or civilian.

Here’s my program to end this:

  1. Institute the death penalty for convicted terrorist murderers. Then at least these will not be eligible for ‘exchange’.
  2. Do not negotiate with kidnappers.
  3. Institute reprisals against the leadership when Israelis are harmed. See if the big shots “love death more than we love life”.

To rescue Shalit, immediately cut off all supplies, water and electricity to Gaza until he is released. This isn’t ‘collective punishment’ because all Hamas has to do to end it is to free Shalit, whom they are holding in contravention of (real) international law. If they hurt him, see no. 3 above.

Just do it — anyone who objects will have to argue that Hamas is justified in holding Shalit. Even the Norwegians can’t say that.

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Bad ideas and where they come from

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declared a 10-month settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria Wednesday, in order to “encourage resumption of peace talks with our Palestinian neighbors.”

Predictably, the Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected it, because it allows Israel to finish buildings under construction and does not include Jerusalem, which PM Netanyahu correctly said “is not a settlement”.

Right-wing parties then attacked Netanyahu for “spitting in the face of those who were promised only a year ago that he would lead a change from the expulsion policies of [former Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon.” (MK Yakov Katz of the National Union party).

Certainly Netanyahu could have predicted both of these outcomes. So why did he do it? And why did his cabinet approve it?

Here’s another item:

In an effort to bolster Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the face of a potential mass prisoner swap with Hamas, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) “pardoned” over 90 wanted Fatah militiamen on Thursday on condition they refrain from engaging in terrorist activity.

Under the deal, the 92 fugitives – all members of Al-Aksa Martyrs Brigades, Fatah’s military wing – will be allowed to move freely throughout Palestinian cities within Area A of the West Bank. One of the fugitives included in the deal is Ala Sankara, who was the Al-Aksa commander in the Balata refugee camp near Nablus…

Israel is concerned that a massive prisoner deal with Hamas would undermine Abbas and boost Hamas’s popularity on the Palestinian street ahead of general elections.

In other words, if Hamas gets more terrorists on the street than Fatah, then it will be more popular. And the government wants to support Fatah. It’s hard to see how this will help, considering that Hamas will probably get hundreds, possibly more than a thousand freed, including convicted murderers, in the coming exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. And they can claim that they did by means of ‘resistance’, not collaboration, always a plus in Palestinian circles.

(One those who may possibly be released in the trade for Shalit is Marwan Barghouti, one of the most dangerous of those in Israeli prisons. Convicted of masterminding five murders, Barghouti is also a master politician, having the potential to unite anti-Israel forces. In any Arab country (and plenty of non-Arab ones) someone like Barghouti would long since have received a bullet in the back of his neck. But in Israel he is allowed access to the media from his cell).

Back to the 92 Fatah terrorists. You can bet they aren’t wanted for jaywalking. Really, the only way that the Hamas prisoner “exchange” can be made worse is by keeping Fatah’s guerrillas on the street as well. And considering that the aims of Fatah and Hamas with regard to Israel are the same, helping either one is a poor idea.

All of these poor ideas come from the same source, the US, which alone among the participants in this farce seems to think that a peaceful Palestinian state under Fatah rule can be created which will somehow regain control of Hamas-dominated Gaza and henceforth live in peace alongside Israel. In pursuit of this mirage, we train and support Fatah’s “security forces” at the same time as we increase pressure on Israel to make more and more concessions, always “to bolster Abbas.”

Unfortunately the concessions are never enough for the PA, since it knows that if it just refuses to budge, the US will squeeze yet another one out of Israel. So why do anything?

I’ve speculated about the reason for the apparent blindness of US policymakers — whether it has something to do with Saudi-corrupted functionaries, academic ideologues in the administration, the traditional pro-Arab  State Department, the influence of Barack Obama’s left-wing friends, or just plain incompetence.

Why doesn’t Israel stand up for itself? After all, the US has consistently backed down in response to pressure from North Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and even the powerless PA!

The reason is that Israel needs, or believes that it needs, American help to prevent Iran from achieving its goal to get nuclear weapons. But if there is one lesson that Jews should have learned from WWII, and that Israelis should have learned from the 1967 war, it is that it is not possible to depend on third parties in critical situations.

Certainly today, when the US is weaker — both objectively and in the character of its leadership — than at any time since Israel was created, today is not the time to think that America will save Israel from her enemies.

The only option, difficult as it may seem, is for Israel to plan on the assumption that US support will not materialize, and indeed that Israel may need to act against the wishes of the US. Maybe a good place to start is by ending the charade of a ‘peace process’ that only strengthens her worst enemies.

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The world is tired of hearing Jews complain

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

News item:

A British diplomat has criticized the appointment of two leading Jewish academics to the UK’s Iraq Inquiry panel, stating it may upset the balance of the inquiry.

Sir Oliver Miles, a former British ambassador to Libya, told The Independent newspaper this week that the appointment of Sir Martin Gilbert, the renowned Holocaust historian and Winston Churchill biographer, and Sir Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies and vice-principal of King’s College London, would be seen as “ammunition” that could be used to call the inquiry a “whitewash.”

Miles said the two academics were Jewish and that Gilbert was an active Zionist. He also said they were both strong supporters of former prime minister Tony Blair and the Iraq war…

“It is a pity that, if and when the inquiry is accused of a whitewash, such handy ammunition will be available,” he added. “Membership should not only be balanced; it should be seen to be balanced.”

There you go. In regard to any issue which even tangentially touches on Israel, Jews are suspect. I recall someone saying, “when I read a letter to the editor about the Middle East, I immediately look to see if the writer has a Jewish name.” Then I presume she discounts whatever was in the letter. As I wrote yesterday in a different context,

Eloquence, logic, and appeal to facts are irrelevant today. Only the point of view [and apparently the religion/ethnicity of the speaker] matters.

The world is tired of hearing the Jews complain, just as they were tired of them before, during and immediately after WWII. I suppose Miles would prefer the panel to be made up entirely of former ambassadors to Arab countries. Then nobody could call it a ‘whitewash’.

I’ve noticed this myself recently. People who can’t respond to my arguments say that we should ‘agree to disagree’, meaning “just be quiet, of course you think the way you do, you’re Jewish.”

For some reason the fact that there are plenty of anti-Zionist Jews around — including famous ones like Noam Chomsky, Tony Judt, et al — doesn’t seem to make a difference. Jewishness only seems to affect the soundness of one’s arguments when one is pro-Israel.

Indeed, when a Jew or Jewish organization attacks Israel, the same people cheer. After all, if even Jews like Philip Weiss,  Norman Finkelstein or Ilan Pappé think that Israel is an apartheid state committing genocide against the Palestinians, then it must be true.

But poor Sir Martin Gilbert just can’t help being biased!

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