Archive for July, 2011

Sarkozy is closer to Israel’s position than Obama

Sunday, July 31st, 2011
French President Nicolas Sarkozy with PM Netanyahu in Paris, 2009

French President Nicolas Sarkozy with PM Netanyahu in Paris, 2009

This is interesting, but probably will make no difference:

At a press conference in Madrid last week, [French] Foreign Minister Alain Juppe publicly declared that “there will be no solution to the conflict in the Middle East without recognition of two nation-states for two peoples. The nation-state of Israel for the Jewish people, and the nation-state of Palestine for the Palestinian people.” Then, lest anyone overlook the statement’s significance or think it a mere slip of the tongue, his ministry yesterday circulated copies of it.

This is truly groundbreaking. Until now, no EU country has been willing to state publicly that an Israeli-Palestinian agreement must recognize Israel as the Jews’ nation-state, though the EU routinely details the concessions it expects Israel to make…

So what made Sarkozy get off the fence and approve Juppe’s public declaration of support for a Jewish state? It’s not that he suddenly joined the Zionist movement; neither have most of the countries favoring such language. Rather, they have finally grasped that no agreement is possible without satisfying Israel’s minimum requirements. No Israeli government will ever sign a deal that mandates full withdrawal to the 1967 lines, lacks adequate security provisions or doesn’t acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state. The major Israeli parties differ on precisely where the border should run and precisely what security arrangements are required, but they all agree on these basics.

Sarkozy, however, has now gone one step further: He’s realized since Israel won’t sign a deal without such provisions, Europe does need to start publicly  demanding these concessions of the Palestinians. Otherwise, they will keep deluding themselves the world will eventually force a complete Israeli capitulation.

Evelyn Gordon, Commentary

You will recall that President Obama also referred to “Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people” in his May 16 proposal. But he did not insist that the Palestinians agree to it before Israel withdraws to pre-1967 lines! This makes his statement no more than window-dressing.

Gordon notes that Sarkozy does intend that recognition must be part of any agreement — putting him closer to Israel’s position than Obama — but so far the rest of the Europeans have not gone along. She writes that

According to Israeli officials, EU foreign policy czar Catherine Ashton adamantly opposes any mention of Israel as a Jewish state, as do Spain, Portugal, Britain, Ireland, Belgium, Slovenia, Austria and Luxembourg. In contrast, such language is favored by Germany, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Romania, Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Palestinians have explicitly rejected Sarkozy’s initiative, as I wrote on Thursday. They think that they have already made a great concession by agreeing that they will permit something called Israel to exist at all, at least until they can change it into an Arab-majority state by settling the descendents of Arab refugees there. And the Quartet did not accept Sarkozy’s formulation either, in deference to the Arabs.

There is a gulf between Israel and the Arabs that cannot be crossed by any creative compromise, because it’s simply the question of will there or won’t there be a Jewish state. This has always been true — recall President Clinton’s unsuccessful struggle to get Arafat to fulfill his Oslo commitment to remove parts of the PLO charter calling for the destruction of Israel — but now it is clearer than ever.

Expect, therefore, that the Palestinians will pursue a unilateral path to statehood. If this train isn’t derailed by unilateral Israeli action — for example, the annexation of part or all of the territories — it will ultimately get to the Security Council, and President Obama will have to decide to cast a veto or not. Either course will be difficult for him, and I don’t think a veto is a forgone conclusion.

There is another possibility, which is not to be discounted. That is that the next war — most think that a conflict between Israel and at least Hizballah and Hamas is inevitable — will be of such character as to significantly change the facts on the ground. The settlement of that war will then determine whether 1)  there will remain a weak, attenuated Israel with a Gaza-like terror state next door, or instead, 2) there will be a healthy Jewish state in control of its historical homeland, with Hizballah and Hamas finally broken, without the capability to threaten it.

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NPR presents 4:16 of anti-Israel propaganda

Friday, July 29th, 2011

Four minutes and 16 seconds on NPR’s premier daily news program, “All Things Considered,” is a major story. The longest one on Thursday, July 28’s program, about the difficulties facing the spouses of US military personnel, clocked in at 4:59.

Four minutes and 16 seconds were provided as a platform for Israel-bashing by one left-wing Israeli retired general, one Arab representing Fatah, the Arab terrorist organization that has killed more Israelis than any other — let’s call it what it is — and Daniel Levy, the co-founder of J Street who famously said (video here)

Maybe, if this collective Jewish presence can only survive by the sword, then Israel really ain’t a good idea.

Did I mention that these gentlemen are in the US on a tour sponsored by the same phony ‘pro-Israel’ lobby, J Street? NPR did, but its piece didn’t talk about J Street’s funding from anti-Israel sources, or its history of lobbying against sanctions on Iran, for the Goldstone report, and for the condemnation of Israel in the UN Security Council.

As expected, the speakers blamed Israel for the lack of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, and predicted disaster if Israel did not preemptively surrender to Arab demands. I won’t repeat most of it — you can read it at NPR’s site. But the most outrageous statement of all was made by Levy:

The U.S. hasn’t helped matters, says Daniel Levy of the New American Foundation. He says that the Obama administration tried, but failed, to get its partners — the U.N., European Union and Russia — to sign onto a statement encouraging the Palestinians to drop the U.N. bid. The text, Levy says, looked like it was drafted in Jerusalem.

“That’s where we got stuck. I think that isn’t helping get past this U.N. bump. It’s probably going to make a U.N. vote more likely and … this kind of approach, it’s really beginning to marginalize and almost make irrelevant U.S. diplomacy on such an important issue,” he says.

So what extremist demand from Jerusalem did the US ask for that made it impossible to get the Quartet’s agreement? Let me quote a news report:

One of the reasons the Quartet was unable to issue a statement was because [Russian Foreign Minister Sergei] Lavrov reportedly objected to a formula whereby the Quartet would have endorsed renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations based on a return to the 1967 lines, with agreed upon swaps, and Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

Lavrov – reflecting Russia’s desire to play to the Arab League – wasn’t enamored of the Jewish state part of the equation. And it wasn’t only Lavrov.

According to Israeli officials, the EU’s Ashton came to the meeting hoping to get the Quartet to call for a renewal of talks based on US President Barack Obama’s parameters of the 1967 lines, with mutually agreed swaps, but without other language Obama used during his two Middle East speeches in May: language much more amenable to Israel that affirmed the country as a Jewish state and called for ironclad security arrangements before any future Israeli withdrawal.

In other words, the Russians, who represented Arab interests in the negotiations, wanted an agreement calling for Israel to withdraw to (more or less) pre-1967 lines without getting anything in return — not even recognition of what will be left of Israel as a Jewish state!

The recognition issue is key, and the Palestinian Arabs have consistently refused to agree to it. Even the language of the Obama plan, which represented a sharp shift in US policy toward the Arabs, was not enough for them.

The NPR piece didn’t mention recognition of the Jewish state, didn’t mention the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to negotiate anything other than acceptance of all of its demands, and — this goes without saying — didn’t discuss doubts about the ultimate intentions of the Arab side.

It was 4 minutes and 16 seconds of unrelieved propaganda, without even a nod toward balance.

Remember this when your local public radio station asks for donations. I will.

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Shaath’s smoking gun

Thursday, July 28th, 2011
Nabil Shaath (left) shakes hands with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyya after Hamas/Fatah agreement this May.

Nabil Shaath (left) shakes hands with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyya after Hamas/Fatah agreement this May.

False optimism in the service of peace is no virtue.

A press release from The Israel Project:

Jerusalem, July 26 – Israel’s President Shimon Peres said Tuesday that Israel is closer than ever to peace with the Palestinians. He made the remarks at an event for Arabic press organized in cooperation with The Israel Project’s People-to-People Arabic Media Program…

Peres said that both the Israeli people and their government support a two-state solution.

“Peace is made even when it is considered impossible. Peace is just a matter of time, but I prefer that we move quickly,” he said. “Today’s youth are driving the push for peace,” said Peres, noting that the Arab Spring resulted from the Arab public’s desire for real, grassroots change…

A recent poll commissioned by The Israel Project shows that Palestinians in the West Bank are supportive of negotiations with Israel as a path to peace. The poll also shows that they view their well-being – getting jobs, healthcare and investments – as a new priority in the Arab Spring.

Both Peres and The Israel Project are wrong. I analyzed the poll mentioned in the press release here, and it shows precisely the opposite. It shows that insofar as grassroots Palestinian Arabs support negotiations with Israel, it is as a path to replacing Israel with an Arab state. Many support Hamas’ antisemitic principles, even if they do not want to live under a Hamas regime. And almost none believe that “Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people.”

As far as economic issues, it’s true that they chose jobs as the top priority of a Palestinian government — but only because no option relating to the elimination of Israel was offered!

If the Palestinian in the street doesn’t want ‘two states for two peoples’, who does? How about the moderate elements in the leadership?

Afraid not. Thanks to MEMRI and Barry Rubin, we present here a smoking gun in the form of a statement made by the quintessential ‘moderate’, the US-educated Dr. Nabil Shaath, Deputy PM and Minister of Information in the Palestinian Authority:

Nabil Shaath: The recognition of a [Palestinian] state is basically a bilateral action, which receives the blessing of the UN. This act, however, will make many things possible in the future. Eventually, we will be able to sign bilateral agreements with states, and this will enable us to exert pressure on Israel. At the end of the day, we want to exert pressure on Israel, in order to force it to recognize us and to leave our country. This is our long-term goal…

[The French initiative] reshaped the issue of the “Jewish state” into a formula that is also unacceptable to us – two states for two peoples. They can describe Israel itself as a state for two peoples, but we will be a state for one people. The story of “two states for two peoples” means that there will be a Jewish people over there and a Palestinian people here. We will never accept this – not as part of the French initiative and not as part of the American initiative. We will not sacrifice the 1.5 million Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who live within the 1948 borders, and we will never agree to a clause preventing the Palestinian refugees from returning to their country. We will not accept this, whether the initiative is French, American, or Czechoslovakian.

Here Shaath explains what the PA understands as the kind of ‘two-state’ solution that they will accept: “A state for one people,” that is, the racist state east of the Green Line that Mahmoud Abbas was thinking of when he said that “no Israeli will remain” when ‘Palestine’ is declared, and “a state for two peoples”: Israel, which will be converted into an Arab-majority state when the descendents of the 1948 refugees join the Arab citizens of Israel.

He also suggests the strategy that they will use to do this, which is the same as that described by Abbas in his May, 2011 NY Times oped:

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…

And what claims will they have, once they have a state in the presently disputed territories?

Once admitted to the United Nations, our state stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel. A key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948.

Resolution 194 does not in fact call for the admission of millions of hostile descendents of Arab refugees to be admitted to Israel. But it has always been interpreted as such by the Arabs.

If the UN were to admit ‘Palestine’, it might be the first time a new state has been created whose essence is no more or less than the destruction of an existing member state.

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We deserve ours because we’re evil; they got theirs because they were virtuous

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

You may be wondering, “what’s with those Norwegians, anyway?”

Envoy contrasts terror in Israel, Norway

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Norway’s ambassador to Israel drew distinctions between the Oslo and Utoya massacres and Palestinian terrorism.

Svein Sevje said in an Israeli newspaper interview Tuesday that while the Norwergian bomb and gun rampages that killed 76 people and Palestinian attacks should both be considered morally unacceptable, he wanted to “outline the similarity and the difference in the two cases.”

Palestinians, the ambassador told Maariv, “are doing this because of a defined goal that is related to the Israeli occupation. There are elements of revenge against Israel and hatred of Israel. To this you can add the religious element to  their actions.”

“In the case of the terror attack in Norway, the murderer had an ideology that says that Norway, particularly the Labor Party, is forgoing Norwegian culture,” Sevje said, referring to suspect Anders Breivik, a Christian nativist who is opently anti-Islam and anti-immigration.

Unlike European Union states, Norway has engaged Hamas and often been fiercely critical of Israel, to Jerusalem’s dismay.

While Sevje voiced sympathy for Israeli terror victims, having experienced “the inferno” of such attacks during his posting, he saw little chance of Norway reviewing its Middle East policies.

“We Norwegians consider the occupation to be the cause of  the terror against Israel,” he said. “Those who believe this will not change their mind because of the attack in Oslo.”

He added, “Can Israel and the Palestinians solve the problems without Hamas? I don’t think so.”

In other words, Israelis suffer because they oppress the Palestinians, Norwegians because they support them in their ‘righteous’ struggle.

We deserve ours because we’re evil; they got theirs because they were virtuous.

(Thanks to Lise Rosenthal for this formulation).

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The rest of the story about Mohammad Bakri

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
Mohammad Bakri (left)

Mohammad Bakri (left)

This is a long post. But if you get bored, please make sure you read the last few paragraphs where the rest of the story is presented.

The Israeli Supreme Court has dismissed a libel suit against Israeli Arab filmmaker Mohammad Bakri. Here is some background, from a post I wrote in 2009 when the suit was filed:


You may recall that in 2002, after a horrendous wave of bombings and shootings in which hundreds of Israelis were murdered and thousands injured, Israel launched Operation Defensive Shield in the West Bank to root out the terrorists responsible for it. One of their strongholds was the city of Jenin,  in Northern Samaria. According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the period of 2001-2002, 57 Israelis were killed and hundreds injured by terrorists based in or directed from Jenin alone. During April 3-11, 2002, IDF soldiers fought a fierce battle in Jenin with members of Fatah’s al-Aqsa brigades, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas.

After the first day, the fighting moved to the adjacent ‘refugee camp’, which had been heavily fortified and booby-trapped by the Palestinians. Nevertheless, in order to reduce civilian casualties as much as possible, IDF soldiers fought house-to-house instead of employing artillery and air strikes. As a result — as ultimately attested to by the UN — only 52 Palestinians were killed, almost all combatants; but 23 Israeli soldiers were lost, 13 of them in one ambush on April 9.

After the battle, Palestinian spokesmen such as Nabil Sha’ath, Hassan Abdel Rahman, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Saeb Erakat, claimed that Israel had massacred hundreds of Palestinians, burying them in mass graves or leaving their bodies to decompose under the rubble. But unlike the situation in Gaza, the Palestinians did not control access to the area, and the truth ultimately came out (although, as CAMERA notes in the link above, the fact that they had lied through their teeth didn’t seem to hurt the credibility of the Palestinian spokesmen with the international press).

The anti-Israel media, particularly in the UK, took up the story of the ‘Jenin Massacre’ with glee, embellishing it with ever-more bloody details and accusations of wanton Israeli cruelty. Alleged body counts rose to the thousands. And Mohammad Bakri’s crude propaganda film won a film-festival prize for “Mediterranean Documentary Film-making and Reporting”.

The film consists of after-the-fact interviews with Palestinians who tell ever more horrible stories, and ‘visualizations’ of events such as tanks crushing Palestinians which even Bakri admits didn’t happen:

Bakri spliced together video footage shot during the offensive in which an Israeli tank [armored personnel carrier — ed.] appears to trample a group of Palestinian prisoners. Bakri said there was no proof that incident ever took place, but that he was trying to demonstrate what an Israeli tank symbolized to Palestinians. — Joshua Mitnick in the NJ Star-Ledger, from Electronic Intifada [my italics]

As I reported once before, my daughter met Bakri in Tel Aviv a few years ago and asked him if he really believed that his film was accurate. He responded that he was an artist and not a historian, and that although perhaps all the details weren’t accurate, the film was a true depiction of what Israel was doing to Palestinians. Bakri’s theory of truth seems a bit different from mine.

The definitive refutation of Bakri’s film is a short article by Dr. David Zangen, who was present during the battle as an IDF doctor, and even treated one of Bakri’s interviewees. It’s called Seven Lies about Jenin. Almost as interesting as his comments about the film is his account of the way the audience at a Jerusalem screening treated him.

The film was originally banned by Israel’s film board, but the ban was overthrown by the Supreme Court. Bakri was then sued for civil libel by five IDF reservists who had taken part in the operation. However, the suit was thrown out because the judge ruled that while the film libeled IDF soldiers as a group, it did not single out these soldiers, so they did not have standing to sue.

Now the soldiers have appealed to the IDF Advocate General, who asked Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to indict Bakri on criminal charges. Bakri’s response was typical: “This is the difference between me and the military advocate general: He is busy with murdering people and I am busy with art.”

Bakri is wrong. He is as much a soldier in the war against Israel as any Hamas bomber. It is unacceptable that he be allowed to use ‘art’ as a shield and to benefit from Israel’s free society as he does his best to destroy it. He should be indicted and held responsible for his actions.


Mazuz did not indict Bakri, but rather chose to support the appeal to the Supreme Court. Here is a news report from January 5, 2010:

Jenin, Jenin director Muhammad Bakri will not be charged by the state with libel, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz decided on Tuesday. However, Mazuz stressed that he would attend a hearing on an appeal filed to the Supreme Court by representatives of former combat soldiers who took part in the IDF incursion into the Jenin refugee camp during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002. The soldiers and families are appealing a ruling by the Petah Tikva District Court in June 2008, which had rejected their civil libel suit against Bakri, whose film accused IDF soldiers of war crimes…

The district court agreed that the film was libelous, but ruled that the individual soldiers could not seek redress for libel committed against “an entire group.”

Now the appeal has been denied on the same grounds:

In dismissing the suit, the judges ruled that even though Bakri’s film was “full of things that are not true” and even though it was hurtful to the feelings of the five soldiers, there was no provision under the law for them to bring a civil claim against Bakri because the film made reference to the IDF’s operations in Jenin as a whole and not to any specific soldier.

Almost certainly this puts a final end to the issue: Bakri, who deliberately made a film full of vicious lies in order to promote the destruction of the state of which he is a citizen and which gives him the opportunity to practice his ‘art’, will suffer no negative consequences for it.

And now, as the great Paul Harvey would have said, for the rest of the story:

Bakri’s latest film was made in 2005, about his difficulties after Jenin, Jenin. On June 18, this film was screened in New York in an event paid for by the New Israel Fund (NIF). You can read the NIF’s fulsome account of it here, including the repetition of some of the lies told by this “esteemed actor and director” (their words).

Let’s see: the NIF supported most of the NGOs that provided material for the Goldstone Report, it supported a coalition of groups that advocate an economic boycott of Israel, and it supports groups who are practicing ‘lawfare’ against Israel, including the arrest of Israelis in Europe for ‘war crimes’ (all of this is documented here).

Now it is paying to provide an audience for an admitted liar and anti-Israel propagandist in the US!

How long will it take for the liberal American Jews who support the NIF — including Rabbi Richard Jacobs, head of the Union for Reform Judaism — to learn whom they are really helping?

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