Archive for January, 2014

Still Oslo, after all these years

Friday, January 31st, 2014

The Oslo accord was based on several premises:

• That peace could be obtained by creating a Palestinian state on land from which Israel would withdraw.
• That the PLO ultimately desired peace, and so could be a partner.
• That the PLO could transform itself from a terrorist group into a stable governing authority.
• That Palestinian attitudes would moderate as Israel made concessions, and a ‘virtuous cycle’ could be established.
• That there could be ‘solutions’ to the questions of Jerusalem and refugees that both sides could accept.
• That both sides would educate their people for peace.

Every one of these was false in 1993, and as time passed it became evident that they were not going to become true — indeed, Arab attitudes hardened. The transfer of power from the arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat to the bureaucrat Mahmoud Abbas had no effect on them. In addition, the rise of Hamas created brand-new, insuperable difficulties for the Oslo approach.

But despite this, these premises remained at the foundation of Western ‘peace’ proposals, from the Road Map, through Olmert’s too-generous proposals, to the Obama-Kerry plan. Only details and methods of implementation changed.

If we didn’t know in 1993 that the argument was not about ‘Palestine’ but rather about Israel, we know it today, from Abbas’ refusal to admit that Israel is the nation of the Jewish people (he claims there is no such people, only a religion), and from the content of their media, educational system, art, literature, etc., all of which send the message that there is no ‘Israel’ between the river and the sea, only ‘occupied Palestine’.

If we didn’t know that the PLO wasn’t interested in living peacefully alongside a Jewish state, we know it today from the official adulation and financial support for terrorist murderers whose release from prison was extorted by US pressure.

After 21 years of the ‘Palestinian Authority’ (PA) receiving billions in support from the gullible West, Palestinians have no democracy, no independent judiciary, no investment in the public sphere, no private economy — only ‘security’ forces and Swiss bank accounts. Can you imagine what a sovereign ‘Palestine’ would be like?

Israel has totally withdrawn from the Gaza Strip and placed more than 90% of the Arab population of Judea and Samaria under control of the PA. It tried a settlement freeze, removed checkpoints, released prisoners — murderers — and made various other concessions in the name of peace. But there have been no matching concessions from the Arabs. Incitement against Jews and Israelis in Palestinian official media has, if anything, increased. Our overtures of compromise have been taken as signs of weakness.

Negotiations of one sort or another have been going on since Oslo, punctuated by wars and generally accompanied by terrorism. The objectives of the two sides, however, have always been different, as I wrote yesterday: Israel wants peace and security, while the Arabs want to weaken Israel enough so that it can be overwhelmed, and replaced by an Arab state. There’s no common ground here.

We’ve heard over and over that “the basic outlines of a settlement are clear, it’s only a question of details.” This is the opposite of the truth. An agreement based on false principles cannot be achieved, no matter how cleverly the details are worked out.

The approach has been tried, and it has failed. Maybe 21 years ago, Kerry could have been excused for believing that it could work. Not today. Unfortunately, forcing it on the unwilling parties will have an asymmetric result: the Arabs will be forced to say things that they don’t believe, while Israel will be exposed to unprecedented levels of terrorism.

Bill Clinton finally understood this in 2001. But either nobody told Obama and Kerry, or their goal is closer to that of the Arabs than to the Israelis.

Israel can rip the veil off the Oslo fantasy by giving Kerry a firm ‘no’, and ending relations with the PA. The US and the Europeans will then punish Israel by reducing aid, boycotting its products, etc. Such actions would clearly damage the economy. But as Caroline Glick argues today, a few rockets hitting Israel’s high-tech centers and international airport would wreck the economy much more effectively than anything the US and Europe could do.

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Thursday, January 30th, 2014

The outline of the agreement that Obama and Kerry wish to impose on Israel and the PLO is becoming evident. Lead US negotiator Martin Indyk is talking, and reportedly

…told the Jewish leaders on Thursday that under the framework agreement about 75-80 percent of settlers would remain in what would become Israeli sovereign territory through land swaps; he added that it was his impression that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was not averse to allowing settlers who want to remain as citizens of the Palestinian state. …

This implies the ‘relocation’ of about 100,000 Jews (half as many as Ferdinand and Isabella kicked out of Spain in 1492). Practically speaking, this will be impossible, since many of these Jews will resist. Multiply the numbers of the Gaza expulsion by 10 or more, and then consider the ideological commitment of many of these Jews. Blood would be shed. For the Jewish people, it would be a historic defeat and disaster. It would tear the nation apart.

Morally speaking it would be unjust. Jews were encouraged by the ‘international community’ to settle in all of mandatory Palestine, but they were expelled by the Jordanian invasion and ethnic cleansing in 1948. Now they will be expelled again, in order to create a racially pure Arab state.

Yes, a racist state. Jewish citizens of a Palestinian state? The concept is a cruel, antisemitic joke. To even think about this, after the official adulation given to the newly released, joyously unrepentant murderers — it’s incredible. I have no words.

Broadly, Indyk said, the agreement will address: mutual recognition; security, land swaps and borders; Jerusalem; refugees; and the end of conflict and all claims. …

This, too, with a straight face, when anyone can see that if the Jews are removed from the territories and the Arabs do not uphold their end of the deal, then what? Will the Jews return to their homes?

On some sensitive issues — particularly the status of Jerusalem — the framework would be vague, but Indyk went into detail on other issues that participants said was surprising.

Among these was the security arrangement for the border between Jordan and the West Bank: Indyk said a new security zone would be created, with new fences, sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles.

Military experts, including Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, have made it clear why this is worthless. Simply, all of this high-tech equipment, even if it works correctly and can’t be sabotaged, can’t stop anyone. There is a high-tech fence at the border with Gaza, but it is patrolled by the IDF. How long would it stay there if the army were to leave?

Suppose the King of Jordan is overthrown and a Muslim Brotherhood regime is established. Suppose this regime masses an army on the border, even invites other nations to join it. Suppose ‘Palestine’ invites them onto its territory, in view of Tel Aviv.

All this will contravene lots of agreements, and Israel — kept up-to-date by its high-tech sensors — will be able to … do what? Complain to the UN?

Frankly, the whole idea of “high-tech security arrangements” is nonsense — worse, its purpose is to give Kerry an excuse to pressure Israel to abandon its security. It is another aspect of the deceit that characterizes this enterprise.

Indyk also said that the framework would address compensation for Jews from Arab lands as well as compensation for Palestinian refugees — another longstanding demand by some pro-Israel groups but one that has yet to be included in any formal document.

If the world recognizes the need to provide a humanitarian solution for the refugees, which includes resettlement in Arab countries and anything else they need after the way they have been used and mistreated by the Arab regimes, fine. But ‘compensation’ implies a right that has been taken away, and there is no such right. Any vestige of a symbolic right of return will soon transform itself into the demand for a real one. Much simpler and more just to simply consider the Arab and Jewish refugees a population exchange and call it even.

The same principle applies to the land swaps. Legally, the 1949 armistice lines have no political significance. But if  Israel compensates the Arabs for land it keeps outside of the lines, the implication is that it belonged to the Arabs in the first place. Otherwise, what is there to compensate for?

He said that the framework would describe “Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the nation state of the Palestinian people,” a nod to a key demand by the Netanyahu government that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state.

Fine. After all, their word is their bond! And now we come to the best part:

He said the framework would address the issue of incitement and Palestinian education for peace.

Here I can absolutely guarantee that the Arabs will not keep their side of the bargain. How do I know? Because this was part of the Oslo accords, part of the Road Map, and probably part of other agreements, and neither Arafat nor Abbas ever took any steps in this direction. Never.

And this, more than anything else — the hate-education system, the glorification of murderers and terrorists — even while ostensibly negotiating for peace, shows that in fact the Arabs are not negotiating for peace. Their objective is to get prisoners released, to get control of territory, to get money and weapons, to build an ideologically driven army of all of their people, to weaken Israel in every possible way in order to ultimately destroy it.

What is the common thread here? Deceit — and not just on the part of the Arabs, who are simply behaving as they always have. No, I am referring to Barack Obama, John Kerry and the Europeans who, by now, must understand the consequences of what they are doing, but keep throwing up smokescreens — like ‘high-tech security arrangements’ — to hide them.

And I haven’t even mentioned yet that they are doing this at the same time that they are pursuing improved relations with Israel’s most dangerous enemy, Iran — and in the process enabling Iran to get nuclear weapons. Here, too, deceit is key.

For whatever reason, the objective of the Obama-Kerry plan is to wreck the only functioning democratic state in the Middle East, the one closest to American ideals, the only one with a flourishing economy.  And the only refuge for the Jewish people in a world that is rapidly becoming very unfriendly.

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Barghouti’s blood libel

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014
Blood libelist Omar Barghouti

Blood libelist Omar Barghouti

Recently Omar Barghouti has been speaking on college campuses in favor of BDS. One of the stories he likes to tell is about IDF soldiers allegedly

“hunting children,” saying that sharpshooter Israeli soldiers target Palestinian children and shoot to kill, and that the soldiers “entice them like mice” into playing football and then shoot them with silencers.

So how does Barghouti know this? The source is an article by viciously anti-Israel journalist Chris Hedges that appeared in Harper’s Magazine in 2001. Here is the relevant passage:

The boys dart in small packs up the sloping dunes to the electric fence that separates the camp from the Jewish settlement. They lob rocks toward two armored jeeps parked on top of the dune and mounted with loudspeakers. Three ambulances line the road below the dunes in anticipation of what is to come.

A percussion grenade explodes. The boys, most no more than ten or eleven years old, scatter, running clumsily across the heavy sand. They descend out of sight behind a sandbank in front of me. There are no sounds of gunfire. The soldiers shoot with silencers. The bullets from the M-16 rifles tumble end over end through the children’s slight bodies. Later, in the hospital, I will see the destruction: the stomachs ripped out, the gaping holes in limbs and torsos.

Yesterday at this spot the Israelis shot eight young men, six of whom were under the age of eighteen. One was twelve. This afternoon they kill an eleven-year-old boy, Ali Murad, and seriously wound four more, three of whom are under eighteen. Children have been shot in other conflicts I have covered—death squads gunned them down in El Salvador and Guatemala, mothers with infants were lined up and massacred in Algeria, and Serb snipers put children in their sights and watched them crumple onto the pavement in Sarajevo—but I have never before watched soldiers entice children like mice into a trap and murder them for sport.

And he didn’t see it this time, either. What he reports is that he heard no shots, and then later saw injured children in the hospital whom the Palestinians said the Israelis shot. So of course the soldiers had to be using silencers! Hedges apparently didn’t consider the much simpler hypothesis that the the soldiers shot no one and the Palestinians were lying.

But here is a lie, like the one about the shooting of Mohammad Dura, which has traveled halfway around the world before the truth got its pants on. Barghouti made it even juicier by adding the part about playing football.

Indeed, it is favorite trope of the Arabs and their supporters to say that Israel deliberately targets civilians and especially children, although careful research based on mortality data [2002] shows that the exact opposite is true:

Palestinian claims, journalistic summaries, Kofi Annan’s comments, and instances of excessive force to the contrary, the mortality data show no sign of systematic targeting of Palestinian civilians by Israeli forces. Nor do they show any signs that the Israeli forces are systematically failing to avoid targeting Palestinian civilians. On the contrary, the fact that less than 5 percent of Palestinian casualties are either women, elderly, or young children, in comparison to more than 40 percent of Israeli casualties, supports the key Israeli claim: that the higher number of Palestinian deaths reflects the high number of Palestinian attacks on Israeli targets, not the reverse. This is the reason for the huge bulge in male mortality from late childhood through middle age among the Palestinians.

Arabs, on the other hand, have perpetrated numerous attacks in which a high proportion of victims were children. Here’s a partial list:

The Ma’alot massacre, in which 25 Israelis were killed including 22 children, the Bus of Blood (35 dead, 13 children), the attack on the nursery at Kibbutz Misgav Am (4 dead, 1 2-year-old), the Dolphinarium bombing (21 teens dead), the Sbarro Pizza bombing (15 dead, 5 children), the shooting at the Mercaz HaRav Yeshiva (8 dead, 7 teens), the vicious butchering of the Fogel family (5 dead, 3 children), the antitank rocket attack on a yellow school bus (1 child) …

Not only that, but they are not loathe to put their own children at risk (from the 2002 study quoted above):

A standard Israeli position since September 2000 has been that (a) young Palestinian teens and children actively participate in violent activities, especially in the throwing of Molotov cocktails and stones; and (b) Palestinian gunmen have frequently fired at Israeli positions from among these young demonstrators, inviting Israeli return fire. Journalists, non-partisan international observers, and human rights monitors have tended to agree with these claims. In August 2000, before the outbreak of the violence, The New York Times reported the existence of summer camps in which 27,000 Palestinian children had participated the past summer, learning guerrilla tactics, how to operate firearms, practicing kidnapping, etc. In October 2000, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urged the PA to take energetic measures to discourage those under 18 years of age from participating in any violent action because such action places them at risk.

The lie that Israel targets children is a specialty of anti-Israel ‘journalists’ like Gideon Levy and Amira Hass of Ha’aretz and anti-Zionists like Alison Weir (the subject of a forthcoming post). It has particular resonance in the West, whose emotional buttons it pushes.

But like most of what comes from the mouths and keyboards of Barghouti, Levy, Hass and Weir, it is a vicious lie.

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Today’s news in brief

Monday, January 27th, 2014
Tawfik Tirawi

Tawfik Tirawi

The EU take on Holocaust Remembrance Day

EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton (oops, Baroness Ashton) issued a statement on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day (today). Here it is in its entirety:

Today the international community remembers the victims of the Holocaust. We honour every one of those brutally murdered in the darkest period of European history. We also want to pay a special tribute to all those who acted with courage and sacrifice to protect their fellow citizens against persecution.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must keep alive the memory of this tragedy. It is an occasion to remind us all of the need to continue fighting prejudice and racism in our own time. We must remain vigilant against the dangers of hate speech and redouble our commitment to prevent any form of intolerance. The respect of human rights and diversity lies at the heart of what the European Union stands for.

Do you notice anything missing? The identity of the victims, perhaps? (h/t: Yisrael Medad).

PA official describes strategy

News item:

Senior Fatah official Tawfiq Tirawi, who serves as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ security adviser, said Sunday that the Palestinians should embark on a violent uprising in the West Bank and resume their “armed resistance.” …

Asked whether resuming violence does not counter the principles set by Abbas himself following the Second Intifada, Tirawi noted that the Palestinians “have never forsaken the path of diplomacy, just like we have never forsaken the path of armed resistance, which is an inseparable part of how we work.”

The alternation of diplomatic pressure with murder has indeed been an “inseparable” part of PLO strategy since Yasser Arafat, who paid terrorists to kill Jews while negotiating the implementation of the Oslo agreement. It’s refreshing to have an official confirmation of that.

The Palestinian strategy since Oslo has been to stimulate Israeli concessions in talks by promising relief from terrorism (which never comes). The Israeli strategy is the opposite: Israel releases prisoners, etc. Which approach works better?

Stephen Harper on the Israeli media

After the Israeli media almost entirely ignored the remarkable pro-Israel speech he gave at the Knesset, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper responded to reporters’ questions about settlements, etc., thus:

Yesterday in the Palestinian Authority … no one asked me to criticize the Palestinian Authority on matters of governance, human rights or any other subject. When I am in Israel I’m asked to criticize Israel, and when I am in the Palestinian Authority I am asked to criticize Israel.

I suppose a positive way to look at it is that Israel’s media is freer than that of the PA. Or we can note that we are our own worst enemies.

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Values count in international affairs

Friday, January 24th, 2014
Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Israel's Netanyahu

Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper with Israel’s Netanyahu

Daniel Pipes has written an essay (“The Sick Middle East“) that sums up the condition of the region in depressing detail. He writes that “maladies run so deep in the Middle East (minus remarkable Israel) that outside powers cannot remedy them,” and then goes on to present a truly remarkable list of problems caused by endemic backwardness, racism, greed and shortsightedness. Read it if you woke up in an excessively optimistic mood today!

Nevertheless, he concludes that while fixing it may be impossible, action is sometimes necessary in order to protect the civilized world from the barbarians that it has empowered by its thirst for their oil:

Nineteenth-century diplomats dubbed the Ottoman Empire “the Sick Man of Europe.” Now, I nominate the whole Middle East the Sick Man of the World. The region’s hatreds, extremism, violence, and despotism require many decades to remedy.

While this process perhaps takes place, the outside world is best advised not to expend blood and treasure to redeem the Middle East – a hopeless task – but on protecting itself from the region’s manifold threats, from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and harems to mega-terrorism and electromagnetic pulse.

This is why the policy of the Obama Administration to permit the most dangerous element in the Muslim Middle East, the expansionist and war-mongering Iranian regime, to obtain nuclear weapons is so foolish. And why supporting the interests of one of the most viciously racist and aspirationally genocidal entities there, the mother of terrorism called the PLO, is so irrational.

Israel really is different, as Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted this week:

I believe the story of Israel is a great example to the world.

It is a story, essentially, of a people whose response to suffering has been to move beyond resentment and build a most extraordinary society, a vibrant democracy, a freedom-loving country with an independent and rights-affirming judiciary, an innovative, world-leading “start-up” nation.

You have taken the collective memory of death and persecution to build an optimistic, forward-looking land one that so values life, you will sometimes release a thousand criminals and terrorists, to save one of your own.

In the democratic family of nations, Israel represents values which our government takes as articles of faith, and principles to drive our national life.

The US under Obama, it seems, has given up on the idea that values count in international affairs. Either that, or the values of the administration are closer to those of the Iranian leaders or the PLO than to those that characterize Israel — or Stephen Harper.

Shabbat shalom!

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