Saturday, September 26, 2009

Where’s America? Where are the Americans? Life in a Fourth-Grade Public School

Barry Rubin

My son who is 10 years old is going to the Montgomery County school system in Maryland this year to give him some wider experience after having all of his previous education in either Israeli or Jewish community schools. It certainly is an experience!

In some ways, it seems like a parody of multiculturalism. My children are tough, well-informed and have strong characters, largely informed by an Israeli world view. But they also have a very American persona, though one that may be becoming increasingly rare among upper middle class elite counterparts. Here are some highlights of fourth-grade life in Montgomery County for my son:

--He wrote a fantasy genre story in which there was violence (quite a good story by the way). The teacher refused to let him read it because it included violence and said that this was not permitted. He received another warning after his second such story.

--Two units on man-made global warming as a fact with no indication that it is still an unproven and controversial issue. Children are told that unless carbon emissions are vastly reduced the oceans will rise, large parts of the land will be flooded, catastrophe will ensue.

--But there was no commemoration for the September 11 terrorist attacks that killed around 3,000 Americans (including a number of local people). When my son brought it up and complained, he was allowed to speak two minutes at which point the teacher interrupted him and said that now they would discuss some happier subject.

--Another student in his class, a Nigerian Christian, on finding out that he was from Israel said in private conversation between them that she’d heard Israel “was one of the worst countries in the world.” (My daughter had a parallel experience while attending a summer course at an elite Washington private school.)

--They had a session in which they were told that the “Golden Rule” is observed by people all over the world. This is an ironic example of multiculturalism as provincialism since of course it is a specifically (in the version they were being taught) Christian concept. In addition, while “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” can be a good social and ethical guideline (though don’t try it with con-men, sociopaths, etc) it is a very bad concept for international relations.

Those trying to defeat you in war or conquer you or get the advantage of you in a trade deal (hundreds of examples could be offered) don’t want you to treat them in the same way they treat you.

Under Islamic Sharia law, there are very different treatments of the two genders, for example. This law is based not on individual preferences or reason but on what is believed to be divine legislation.

--But the apex of his indoctrination so far is the “Schedule of Book Projects, October 2009." No, I’m not making this up. Here’s the entire plan:

“October 22 (Thurs.) Fiction book about an Hispanic American OR Native American (American Indians).

Jan. 14 (Thurs.) Non-fiction OR Fiction about an African-American or a book with the setting in Africa

March 18 (Thurs) Non-fiction book on the topic of your choice

May 27 (Thurs) Fiction novel placed in Asia or about Asian Americans.”

Where to begin?

Learning to know about and respect minority groups is certainly worthwhile but it should never be the center of the educational process. First, establish your own identity and understand your own society as a whole, then go into details, sub-cultures (a word which expresses an outdated view of a pluralist rather than multiculturalist society!) and only after you do that phase should you go on to compare it to other societies.

Note that this is not defined as a unit on international literature or learning about other countries and cultures (which would be more understandable and quite reasonable in a balanced context) but as their main interaction with literature, at least for the first half of the year.

There’s nothing whatsoever on the majority of Americans (70 percent or so?) who don’t’ fall into any of these groups and are now reduced to being their own “other.” Perhaps more important, there’s nothing about Americans as such. Americans don’t exist as a category; there is no overall experience or culture in this concept. (The school, of course, could pretend that this is to be covered in the one out of four book of choice but there is no indication that this is intended).

Yet perhaps the most egregious problem is this one: these aren't defined as novels with a range of characters—including Native American or Hispanic or Asian or African-American ones—mixing together in American society but take each group as if it is in a separate (dare we say, “segregated”) world of their own. Yes, in a sense—I don’t want to exaggerate here—it’s a return to the pre-civil rights days. What is multi-culturalism, after all, but a revised version of “separate but equal” societies?

There are tremendous political and psychological implications to such an approach that I will let you fill in for yourselves. But it is worth noting that America succeeded brilliantly as a melting pot, as a country with a unified worldview but freedom for groups to maintain their own organizations, customs (within reason), and beliefs.

Recently, I engaged a graduate student in a discussion about Judaism. She only had one question that interested her (and it was not based on personal interest, which would have been understandable): That life must have been difficult for homosexuals in past centuries.

Now there is nothing wrong with raising this as one issue to discuss, but I realize that in her education only that which is more marginal and minority is paramount. The majority experience or mainstream ideas was of little interest. And of course on such secondary issues any system could be made to seem illegitimate and oppressive.

Has America provided wonderful lives, tremendous freedom, high living standards?

Yes, many students are being taught today but that's not important. What's important is that it discriminated against African-, Hispanic-, and Asian-Americans.

But didn't it work hard to correct these problems? Didn't hundreds of thousands die in a Civil War to abolish slavery? Didn't the system fix itself in response to--in all honesty--rather low-level pressure and a call to conscience by the civil rights movement? Hasn't it leaned over backwards to provide equality?

Yes, many students are being taught today but that's not important. What's important is that only the left worked to change things and there's still racism today. (Even the smallest, most marginal is made to assume tremendous proportions.)

Wasn't America a unique society where people from many backgrounds could blend together to create a common culture, worldview and polity through what was called a "melting pot"?

Huh, many students can say after being taught. What's a melting pot?

In the same way, all America’s achievements could be invalidated by the situation of various sub-groups. Even the fact that it had allowed for the recognition of all of these problems and the solution of many of them did not count if any “oppression” could be found (or invented) to still exist.

For example, the fact that racism in America has probably declined by 90 percent over the last half-century (the number cannot be proven but the proportion seems reasonable) did not say anything great about the United States. Even the election of an African-American president might only be the occasion for acting as if racism had greatly increased.

In addition to all that, however, something else struck me on hearing all of this, as well as from my son’s cross-cultural observations. Aside from the subtle indoctrination to the left and the quite open indoctrination to multiculturalism, there is a kind of naïve-making process. These children are not being prepared for the world as it is but rather a cocoon in which they are taught to harbor unreal expectations and unworkable methods.

So the bottom line is this: the structure of the world view and skills being taught is similar to what went on in the 1950s, albeit without the patriotic aspects and confidence in their own civilization.

The destruction of the commonality of experience, the very concept of mainstream, is terrible. The dissolution of the concept of America is terrible. The creation of a foundation on which college professors can later add a superstructure of saying that America stinks, Western civilization stinks, capitalism stinks, is terrible. The creation of a generation of naifs unable to deal with a tough real world and an even tougher global world is terrible.

No wonder Bill Ayres, former but unrepentant Weatherman terrorist, close friend and apparently key political patron of Barak Obama’s early career is now putting his efforts as a professor into designing the public school curriculum.

Of course, things are much more complex and mixed than these generalizations indicate. It is easy to exaggerate. There will be a U.S. history unit later in the year, though such a thing should come before the current reading project. When we get there I’ll tell you about that one. I’ll just mention for now that a correspondent whose kids go to a school in the western United States told me they covered 1492 to 1789 in one week.

Yet there are worrisome trends and a lack of consciousness about what is being done and why it’s wrong that may grow even worse in time.

When asked about the main goals of their educational effort, the principal at another local school said that the most important was to teach children self-esteem. Yet what about social, civilizational, and national self-esteem?

Of course, they won’t even know what their civilization is, why it has been great, and how to sustain it. That is extraordinarily dangerous and troubling. This is an area, and an era, in which parents—especially the educated and affluent--take a tremendous interest in their children’s schooling. They want them to be advanced in everything, to get into good colleges, and they often arrange extra courses for them.

But how about the values and self-image they are being taught?

PS: A non-American colleague who is currently in his local Massachusetts public school and has no political ax to grind, tells me that during the election campaign students were openly intimidated if they said they supported McCain. He said: "You see such things on Fox and think they are marginal phenomena, but there's a huge amount like this going on."

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

Netanyahu at his best

Give Netanyahu a good platform, a convenient enemy, and a charged issue to fight over, and he is at his best

Heads of state who deliver speeches at the United Nations have a tendency to aim too broadly, sink into diplomatic sentences that are official to the point of tedium, and cover everything without saying anything in fact But this is not Netanyahu’s way. His speech Thursday was focused, clear, and pressed the buttons that the global media cannot ignore. They expected dramas from him, but he wasn’t dramatic. He did not rip up papers, he did not wave his arms, and he did not raise his voice. He was serious, grim, and incisive in appropriate measures.

Netanyahu performed many rehearsals with this text before he went up to the podium. The rehearsals paid off.

Some Israelis likely did not enjoy seeing the repeated references to the Holocaust motive. Netanyahu does not really think that the threat posed by Iran towards Israel is identical to the threat posed by Hitler towards European Jewry. Israel was established so that threats like that will not materialize. However, the Holocaust works in America. Criticism of the UN also works. The Americans despise the UN, and they know why.

The speech comprised four interwoven sections. Ahmadinejad as a Holocaust-denier gave substance to the first part. Iran as a fundamentalist state that aspires for weapons of mass destruction was the focus of the second section. An attack on the Goldstone Report constitutes the third part, and the willingness for peace with the Palestinians in its Bar-Ilan version provided the fourth part.

In the first three parts, Netanyahu placed the UN on trial: The UN is guilty of honoring a Holocaust-denier, the UN is guilty of the helplessness it shows vis-a-vis a nuclear Iran, the UN is guilty of the Goldstone Report, and the UN is guilty of not condemning Hamas’ aggression in Gaza.

The speech was received with unusual attention. It was cut off by applause once, when Netanyahu spoke about peace and the prosperity he offers the Palestinians, and ended with relatively long applause. Naturally, the applause from the section where Jewish activists sat were more enthusiastic than the others.

Netanyahu has good reason to positively sum up his visit to New York. This may have been possibly his best week since he was again elected as prime minister. The good news is that Netanyahu is self-confident to the point of haughtiness. This may also be the bad news.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dire Consequences of Obama’s ‘Jimmy Carter Replay’

Christopher Adamo

It was perhaps fitting this last week that former President Jimmy Carter again went public with a continuation of the insipid drivel for which he has become so famous. In an interview on NBC, he asserted that conservative opposition to Barack Obama is undoubtedly the result of racism. Sadly, even in his advanced years, Jimmy Carter is still capable of descending to the same levels of idiocy that he achieved in his “prime.”

More significantly, the intended beneficiary of Carter’s banal commentary, Barack Obama, now holds this nation’s highest office, reminding us all that such a grave national misstep as the election of Jimmy Carter in 1976 can be revisited if its grim lessons are forgotten, as apparently is the case. America inarguably repeated its foolishness at the ballot boxes last November. It is beyond naive to ignore the pattern of similarly disastrous results, many of which are already unfolding with the worst yet to come.

At present, it is unclear whether Barack Obama is actually blind to the dire ramifications that the nation will inevitably reap from his actions, or if he truly intends to inflict such harm on it. What is beyond dispute among thinking Americans is that those bleak outcomes are no surprise, given the past history of playing foolhardy games on the foreign relations front, and the consistently disastrous results that ensued.

Like Obama, Jimmy Carter has always been embarrassed by a vibrant and strong America. Consequently, as its leader he could never muster the inner strength to bear a robust national character in front of the rest of the world. Eventually, his own weakness was perceived as America’s weakness. Not surprisingly, those evil forces that are ever watchful for any occasion to move against it saw a great window of opportunity during the Carter years.

It is notable that during that tumultuous time, with the Cold War raging, Carter’s most significant alteration to America’s military apparatus was the cancellation of the B-1 bomber, thus leaving the nation’s strategic bombing force to struggle along with the antiquated B-52. Such decimation of the military became a defining trait of the Carter presidency.

Few may recall how Carter managed to thoroughly undo the great firewall that had been erected by President Kennedy to prevent the infiltration of Soviet nuclear missiles into the West during the Cuban missile crisis. While Kennedy’s resolve finally forced Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to back down and agree to the removal of his missiles from Cuba in 1961, in the late 1970s, Leonid Brezhnev who was then leading the USSR felt sufficiently emboldened to re-deploy nuclear missiles in Cuba.

On discovery of the missiles by U.S. intelligence, Carter made a big fuss, characterized their presence as “unacceptable,” and demanded their removal. But Brezhnev had correctly sized up the invertebrate Carter, and simply dismissed any complaints. This proved to be a safe bet. In the end, Carter did nothing against that act of Soviet aggression, which remained in place until the end of the USSR.

Similarly, it was Jimmy Carter who set the stage for the downfall of the Shah of Iran and his pro-Western government, and thereby enabled the inevitable rise of militant Islam in its place. The aftershocks of that fiasco were felt almost immediately in the West, with middle-Eastern oil supplies being curtailed and gasoline prices skyrocketing as a result.

Also, the obvious unwillingness of Carter to engage the Islamist regime of Ayatollah Khomeni energized the movement, and in particular its virulent anti-Americanism, thus instigating the November 1979 invasion of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, and subsequent taking of its American staff as hostages.

More than a year of obsequious and embarrassing “negotiations” by the Carter Administration netted no results; except that the increasingly emboldened Iranians were thoroughly enjoying the advantage they held in the situation. Only upon the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and his promise of a harsh response if the matter was not resolved by Inauguration Day, did the Iranians recognize the need to free the hostages.

Ultimately, the total lack of moral and philosophical certitude in the Carter White House, abetted by the criminal incompetence of his staff, left the nation weak and timid in the face of increasingly belligerent Communist and Islamist adversaries. Soviet expansion during the Carter years went unchecked, along with the malignant growth of the modern Islamist/terrorist movement. America has paid, and to this day continues to pay, an awful price for the appalling ineptitude of its “leaders” during those years.

Now, in 2009, America once again finds itself under the “leadership” of an individual who regularly reveals a deep-seated animus towards this nation, its heritage, and its lingering potential to remain a world leader. Clearly following in Carter’s footsteps, Barack Obama is at once creating situations that imperil this nation, while methodically weakening its ability to deal with the crises that will inevitably erupt as a result.

Obama has alienated America’s staunchest allies, such as Great Britain and Israel, while seeking to ingratiate himself to the brutal tyrants and thugs who rule the third world. His willingness to enhance the standing of Venezuelan Marxist Hugo Chávez, while undermining the leaders of Honduras as they attempt to extricate themselves from such a fate, can only portend a burgeoning problem that a free America will eventually have to confront.

Back at home, he wreaks havoc on the national treasury by throwing unfathomable capital at historically unfeasible social programs. In clear “Carteresque” fashion, he concurrently “saves” money by cutting the military budget. This is a particularly foolhardy move, given that the world scene is, by all accounts, increasingly unstable and in particular, growing ever more hostile to America.

Increasing Russian aggression towards former Soviet “Republics” and the wild-eyed dreams among some in the Kremlin to resurrect the old Soviet Union can only be bolstered by Obama’s decision to withdraw America’s missile shield from the Czech Republic and Poland. And just to make the Russians feel sufficiently confident to implement their expansionist plans, Obama has promised to unilaterally make drastic cuts in America’s nuclear arsenal.

A thoroughly weakened America in the “international community,” accompanied by a domestic economy that is in shambles, can only energize those foreign powers that seek to establish hegemony over this nation for the foreseeable future.
And it is certain that in their plans, they will make every effort to prevent its reconstitution from the ashes of its current socialist/pacifist ideology. Contributing Editor Christopher G. Adamo has been active in Wyoming politics for many years and is a managing partner in Best American Buy (, an e-commerce business that markets American made products including the incomparable Abigail Adams Bedspread Set from Bates Mills. Contact information for Chris Adamo, and his archives, can be found at

'Buycott' challenges Israel boycotters

Sep. 25, 2009

A new Web site set up by pro-Israel Canadians seeks to defy anti-Israel boycotts by encouraging subscribers to deliberately buy Israeli products that are being boycotted.

The campaign, titled "Buycott Israel," was organized by the Canada-Israel Committee together with the Jewish federations of Vancouver and Toronto and the Canadian Jewish Congress, Pacific Region, to counter the increasing number of boycotts in Canada over the last year. Aiming to turn a disadvantage into a strong advantage, Buycott Israel's Web site asks readers, "Are you fed up with calls to boycott Israeli goods and services? Want to do something about it?" and then calls on them to sign up for "Buycott alerts."

The enterprise promises to alert users "when a boycott initiative needs to be countered," and lets subscribers know the results of every Buycott action.

"These boycotts have been going on for while, but we've seen a real uptick in activity lately, and as a result, members of the community decided to push back in a very serious way," Sara Saber-Freedman, chief operating officer of the Canada-Israel Committee, told The Jerusalem Post by phone on Thursday.

Saber-Freedman explained that the campaign was in the process of "creating a database of people and items. The Web site is an interactive tool that will allow our subscribers to notify others when they find out about an attempt to boycott a particular [Israeli] item, and in turn the Web site will ask the subscribers to go out and buy that item."

She added, "We are making a statement to the people who seek to isolate Israel that we will see to it that Israel is less isolated, and we will do this because of those actions. And if you seek to limit access to Israeli academics, we will let these voices be heard."

Saber-Freedman told the Post that the worrying trend had been "cropping up in the commercial sector, in labor movements and even in churches"

"The United Church of Canada entertained a boycott notion recently, but it was defeated," she noted. "But even though it was generally defeated, it was deferred to next year for consideration, so we know that this problem is one that will keep on coming back."

Over the last year, there have been three public attempts to boycott Israeli wine in Canada: two protests in Vancouver, and one in Toronto. In the Toronto boycott, protesters led by the anti-war group Not In Our Name picketed liquor store LCBO (Liquor Control Board of Ontario) to protest the sale of Israeli wine there.

Dismayed and disgusted by the protest, Toronto's Jewish community rallied, and hundreds of Jews arrived at the scene to buy all the Israeli wine in the store. Activists claimed to have led LCBO to sell out of Israeli wine - over 500 cases in a just over half an hour - and to have caused the boycotters to leave in defeat not long afterward.

Although there have been a number of anti-Israel boycott campaigns in Canada recently, "in each of them, it comes out of our experience that [buying the product that is being boycotted] has been effective, successful and sends out an absolutely unequivocal message," explained Saber-Freedman.

"We even caused the store owners to stock up in anticipation for one of the boycotts," she recalled triumphantly. "We used our internal mail list to ask our members to specifically go and purchase Israeli wine, and as a result the wine sold out.

"What's more, in Vancouver, the second time the anti-Israeli protest happened, the store went out and stocked up on Israeli wine, because they knew that, ironically, if there was a picket, they'd do more business."

But turning serious, Saber-Freedman added that "in our experience, consistently, whether it's store-owners or organizers of cultural festivals, people are annoyed and irritated by people attempting to assert their political agenda on them and on the public… they are tired of being taken hostage by people whose agenda is so narrow and so unthinking."

The reversal of the boycotts appears to have galvanized the Jewish community, and with the advent of the Buycott Israel campaign, Saber-Freedman's hopes for the future are now brighter.

"We're very keen to see where this takes us. It's an exciting step in citizen-based advocacy for Israel," she said.

"As much as anything, we're thrilled that people are as interested in it as they seem to be. The news of the campaign is spreading across the blogosphere," she went on.

"People are just fed up. What we've been seeing in Canada over the last 12 months is an increase in the number of cases and instances where Israel is being boycotted, and we needed to do something against that."

Saber-Freedman stressed that "there's nothing 'stealth' in our approach. It's open and in-your-face. We're doing this in a very conscious way - we're not hiding anything.

"Ultimately, this campaign is part of what we all want - for Israel's right to exist in peace behind internationally recognized borders and not to be challenged at every turn."
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1253820672924&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull


Barry Rubin *

This article considers prospects for developing relations between Israel and the Persian Gulf monarchies: Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. A central feature of U.S. Middle East policy--and one doomed to fail--is an effort to urge Gulf countries to take steps toward peace or confidence-building measures with Israel. Israel has a strong interest to seek normal relations with these countries, as each state moving toward peace further tips the regional balance, making it harder for other countries and movements to attack Israel, obtain funds for arms and terrorism, or subvert the peace process. Israel can also make important (though more modest than many expect) commercial gains by trade with these wealthy countries, while there are certain products they could obtain that would benefit their economies. Yet all of these Gulf countries have very strong reasons that make them unlikely to move toward peace, normalization of relations, or confidence-building measures.

In early August 2009, Saudi foreign minister Prince Saud al-Faysal visited Washington. He praised the Obama administration and then hammered nails into the coffin of its Middle East policy. There was nothing subtle about the Saudi response.

For the first time, a non-radical Arab regime--that is, one nominally allied with the United States--has openly ridiculed the U.S. government’s new policy. Naturally, the prince was full of praise for the Obama administration, in general. In specific, he did the opposite, stating: "Today, Israel is trying to distract by shifting attention from the core issue--an end to the occupation that began in 1967 and the establishment of a Palestinian state--to incidental issues such as academic concerns and civil aviation methods. This is not the way to peace."

Yet these weren’t Israeli ideas; this was the American plan presented by the Obama administration itself. It was a clear sign that the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs would not help the U.S. plan of launching major progress in the peace process by getting a freeze on Israeli construction of apartments in West Bank settlements in exchange for Arab state confidence-building measures.

The Obama Administration’s effort to launch a renewed push for Arab-Israeli peace through confidence-building measures raises the issue of Israel-Gulf relations and possible progress on that front. Could this be a front where something could be done to advance the peace process on a regional level?

After a strenuous effort, the U.S. government was able to come up only with the following: a reported offer by Oman and Qatar to reopen Israel’s trade office in their countries, and a somewhat ambiguous op-ed by a UAE official in the Washington Post.[1]

Certainly, the prospects for any change do not look encouraging, and yet if Gulf Arab states wanted to change the situation they could easily do so. This article considers prospects for developing relations between Israel and the Persian Gulf monarchies: Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates. Each country has different issues, political balances, material incentives, and constraints.

For its part, Israel has a strong interest to seek normal relations with these countries. Each state moving toward peace further tips the regional balance, making it harder for other countries and movements to attack Israel, obtain funds for arms and terrorism, or subvert the peace process. Israel can also make important (though more modest than many expect) commercial gains by trade with these wealthy countries, while there are certain products they could obtain that would benefit their economies.[2]

Of course while there are overwhelming factors against doing so, some reasons could be cited as to why Gulf Arab monarchies might consider building bridges to Israel:
--Hope for profitable trade.
--To gain additional security against the perceived Iranian threat.[3]
--To enhance regional stability and keep the Israel and Palestinian issues from being used by radicals to subvert their own regimes.
--For some, showing their independence from Saudi Arabian control. To some extent, Oman, the UAE, Qatar, and Bahrain view the Saudis or Kuwaitis as arrogant and over-privileged, but the UAE and Bahrain are less willing to risk friction with Riyadh.[4]
--Enhancing their relations with the United States.

These factors were seen in the 1991 Madrid conference, their support for the Saudi-initiated Arab peace plan, and also by the attendance of five of the six Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states (Kuwait was the exception) at an August 1999 U.S.-hosted meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy. An Egyptian writer summarized these points as follows: "The Arab world is no longer as committed to the Palestinian cause as it was.... Arab regimes no longer consider defending that cause vital for their credibility with their own masses; and... they want the issue solved... so that they can become part of the new globalized world order...."[5]

Qatar and Oman have been most active in considering opportunities to move forward again regarding relations with Israel. They did not surrender to Egyptian, Saudi, and Syrian pressure to move slowly when the peace process was advancing during the 1993-1996 era, and only gave in when the process was frozen by an Arab League decision. Even then, they tried to continue contacts behind the scenes.

There are also, though, serious factors deterring GCC states from moving toward relations with Israel:
--Criticizing, or at least keeping distance from, Israel is an easy way to show one's Arab credentials and appease radicals, both domestic and foreign. To cite one symbolic example from the 1990s, the UAE-led threatened boycott against Disney over an Israeli exhibition on Jerusalem seemed largely a publicity stunt to show they had not forgotten the Palestinian issue completely. It is also revealing that the Saudis backed a compromise since some of their princes were big stockholders in the Disney company.

There is, of course, strong emotional support for the Palestinian cause alongside little interest in helping the Palestinians directly. Gulf Arab states are also angry at PLO backing for...

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Centerand editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle East (Routledge),The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East


[1] Shaikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa, “Arabs Need to Talk to the Israelis,” Washington Post, July 16, 2009,
[2] A superb source of information on doing business in these countries are the Country Reports on Economic Policy and Trade Practices published by the U.S. State Department. The reports include a detailed breakdown, for example, of all current major commercial projects, government contacts, and local regulations.
[3] Publicly, Gulf regimes--especially the Saudis--talk about an "Israeli threat" to the region, but this seems more demagoguery aimed at the public than a serious expectation.
[4] Saudi influence can be described as high in Kuwait and Bahrain; medium in the UAE; and low in Qatar and Oman.
[5] Muhammad Sid-Ahmed in al-Ahram Weekly, September 23-29, 1999.
MERIA Journal Staff

Publisher and Editor: Prof. Barry Rubin
Assistant Editors: Yeru Aharoni, Anna Melman.
MERIA is a project of the Global Research in International Affairs
(GLORIA) Center, Interdisciplinary University.
Site: - Email:

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obama to Israel and Palestinians: Make Peace Right Now Cause I Said So!

Barry Rubin

It is difficult to overstate the absurdity in context of President Barack Obama’s performance during the Israeli-Palestinian photo opportunity he organized at the UN. The outstanding theme is his commandist style.

We will reverse man-made global warming, he has said. We will have a health-care bill. This is like the style of an Arab dictator, proclaiming that his will is all and that uttering words make something so. It is not the style of someone helping two parties solve a problem or of a mediator .
But let’s allow William Shakespeare to explain it:

“Why, man, he stands on top of the narrow world
Like the Colossus of Rhodes, and we little men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves disgraceful graves.”

Yet this thundering, you-will-do-this style is combined with an extraordinary weakness, equally self-willed. Giving orders when you are tough is scary; giving orders when you are weak provokes derision. If America won’t use force or be tough or face confrontations or define enemies as such, then the gap between such arrogance and weakness is a chasm into which U.S. foreign policy will fall.

This might wow them in elite salons of the United States but in lots of other countries, people have to lean against the wall to try to stop themselves from laughing.

Personal note: I don’t want to keep bashing Obama, it’s simply that he keeps saying and doing things that defy satire and beg for the harsh criticism and exposure of absurdities that he is not getting in the mainstream media.

But how can one do otherwise when confronted with these statements by him:

“It is past time to stop talking about starting negotiations; it is time to move forward.”

Arab-Israeli negotiations have been going on for sixty years but Obama really seems to believe they have just been waiting for him to give the go-ahead signal.

As I keep stressing the ONLY reason there have been no negotiations for six months—a point the media never points out—is that Obama introduced the demand that Israel freeze all construction on settlements. This issue had never prevented talks before but once Obama raised the ante, well the Palestinians couldn’t be less militant than America’s president.

Instead, the New York Times tells us rather vaguely: “[Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud] Abbas has in the past refused to return to peace talks unless Israel freezes settlement growth in Palestinian territories.” Really? In the past like before January 20, 2009?

"There is a way, I think,” said Obama in an interview with ABC, “to relaunch the peace process and not get bogged down with this question, because we've just wasted six months on this issue. We could waste another six months. I think that's not good. I want to move on to peace."

This could be called the stamping my little foot strategy. And incidentally I’d wager that Obama has no idea of any way to resolve the conflict quickly. Those questions he doesn’t want to get bogged down with are basic and existential ones. And, again, it is his fault that six months have been wasted (he’s also wasted six months on confronting Iran, but that’s another issue).

Instead, Obama wants to leap to permanent status. When was the last time that happened? Think back to 2000 when President Bill Clinton advanced to final status talks and that only after more than six years of preparation called the Oslo peace process. At Camp David the talks quickly fell apart and the Palestinians launched massive violence. And for the last nine years those involved have been saying that it was a mistake to go to final status talks when the foundation for an agreement didn't exist.

The best way to deal with the Israel-Palestinian issue is to get the limited progress possible, not through grandstanding and demagoguery but by finding solutions on small things that can strengthen the status quo and limit violence for the decades stillneeded by the Palestinians to decide they are ready to make real peace with Israel.

Yet perhaps Obama thinks he’s Alexander the Great who, when faced with the Gordian Knot, rather than untie it merely cut through it with his sword. Obama, who carries no sword, can’t do that with a dozen issues that could be listed at this point.

The fact that this man has no real experience in international relations is beginning to tell. No matter how good (or bad) advisors are cannot fully make up for a president who hasn’t a clue of how to deal with an issue like this. I don’t want to be unfair but this seems literally to be true.

And then there’s his style. Obama makes it sound as if countries must do things not because it is in their interest to do so (with American help, pressure, and even threats being part of that interest) but because he wants it and it will benefit him.

"We cannot continue the same pattern of taking tentative steps forward and then stepping back," Obama said. "It is absolutely critical that we get this issue resolved."

But a man who knows more about these issues, Nahum Barnea, the left-leaning Israeli columnist, put it this way: "The Americans discovered that they want an Israeli-Palestinian agreement more than the leaders of both sides desire one.”

Barnea might have more accurately written, “Should have discovered” because evidently the president hasn’t yet found this out.

Instead, Obama stated, “It is time to show the flexibility and common sense and sense of compromise that’s necessary to achieve our goals.”

Flexibility? Common sense? Sense of compromise? What place is he talking about?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan).

Obama's U.N. Speech and Israel

Joseph Klein | Thursday, September 24, 2009

President Obama delivered his long-awaited speech to the United Nations General Assembly yesterday, Wednesday, September 23rd. The address was entitled “Responsibility for our Common Future”.

He claimed major accomplishments in fighting al-Qaeda, dealing with climate change, working for peace in the Middle East, moving to “responsibly” end the war in Iraq, prohibiting the use of torture by the United States “without exception or equivocation”, etc., etc.

Obama added that his administration has “re-engaged the United Nations” and that it intends to work in a multilateral fashion. He outlined the challenges ahead. He called upon all nations to move beyond past differences and to solve global problems with the “cooperative effort of the whole world”.

In other words, the speech was standard Barack Obama rhetoric – big on inspiration, short on concrete specifics. But buried in the speech was one promising sentence regarding Obama’s conception of the Israeli state that would be living alongside an independent Palestinian state: “The goal is clear: two states living side by side in peace and security – a Jewish State of Israel, with true security for all Israelis: and a viable, independent Palestinian state…”

The usual formulation of the so-called two-state solution refers to Israel in bland terms, omitting its uniquely Jewish history and character. Will Obama, while continuing to push Israel to end its settlements and to make other concessions for peace, insist that Israel’s right to define itself as a Jewish state be respected as part of a final resolution of the decades-old conflict? He must. After all, if Palestine decides to enshrine Islamic law into its constitution as its Arab neighbors have done, will anyone in the international community object? Why should Israel be discriminated against in the region by not having its right to ensure protection of its Jewish heritage in its laws?

President Obama has his work cut out for him if he is serious about ensuring the security of a “Jewish State of Israel”. This was evident in the remarks of the Palestine Authority Prime Minister H.E. Salam Fayyad during a press conference held at UN headquarters on September 22nd – the same day that President Obama was meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, to jumpstart the peace negotiations.

In response to my question whether his government could ever recognize Israel’s right to exist securely as a Jewish state, even if the Palestinians obtain the state that they are seeking, his answer was that a Jewish state was not part of the Palestinian’s agreement to recognize Israel’s right to exist. This is tantamount to wiping out Israel as we know it today, especially considering the fact that the Palestinians continue to insist on the “right of return” for millions of their refugees.

Prime Minister Fayyad repeatedly referred to the 2003 Roadmap, accepted by the Quartet of the UN, the U.S., Russia and the European Union as the basis for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He said that it required Israel to freeze all settlements, and in that he is correct. However, he refused to get past this one issue to consider all of the stipulations of the Roadmap. And until perhaps the last few days, so has Obama.

The Roadmap’s full title is a “Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”. It lays out obligations on both sides and on the neighboring Arab countries. But Fayyad only wants to discuss what Israel must do and nothing else.

Just to remind the Palestinian prime minister, here are a few items in Phase 1 of the Roadmap that are not close to being met by the Palestinians and their allies:

* Palestinians declare an unequivocal end to violence and terrorism and undertake visible efforts on the ground to arrest, disrupt, and restrain individuals and groups conducting and planning violent attacks on Israelis anywhere.

* Rebuilt and refocused Palestinian Authority security apparatus begins sustained, targeted, and effective operations aimed at confronting all those engaged in terror and dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure. This includes commencing confiscation of illegal weapons and consolidation of security authority, free of association with terror and corruption.

* Arab states cut off public and private funding and all other forms of support for groups supporting and engaging in violence and terror.

The control of Gaza by Hamas is in direct conflict with the Roadmap. The Palestinian Authority’s inability to ensure stable secure conditions in territory that Israel no longer even occupies undercuts its standing to question Israel’s compliance with the Roadmap. The Arab states’ continued channeling of money through front organizations to Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups belies any intention on their part to pursue a true and lasting peace with Israel consistent with the Roadmap.

It would be better to build on the progress that has been made in recent months in which Israeli roadblocks have been removed and Palestinian security has improved in the West Bank. Facts on the ground that can prove the potential for economic growth in the West Bank as a foundation for a stable political environment leading to independence may be the best path to defeating the extremist elements in Gaza. Then, perhaps, the Roadmap can begin to be realized. But that can only happen if the Palestinians respect Israel’s right to govern itself according to its founding Jewish principles, as much as the Palestinians expect autonomy in how to govern themselves according to Islamic law if that is what they decide.
Joseph A. Klein is the author of Global Deception: The UN’s Stealth Assault on America’s Freedom.

White House: Official ‘misspoke’ on Goldstone report

WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The White House says an official "misspoke" when he said the Obama administration would not allow the Goldstone report recommendations on Israel's conduct in the Gaza war to reach the International Criminal Court. A top White House official told Jewish organizational leaders in an off-the-record phone call Wednesday that the U.S. strategy was to "quickly" bring the report -- commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council and carried out by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone -- to its "natural conclusion" within the Human Rights Council and not to allow it to go further, Jewish participants in the call told JTA.

Tommy Vietor, a White House spokesman, called JTA later to say the official "misspoke" and that administration policy on the Goldstone report remains as articulated last week by Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador.

Rice described the UNHRC mandate as "unbalanced, one sided and basically unacceptable. We have very serious concerns about many of the recommendations in the report. We will expect and believe that the appropriate venue for this report to be considered is the Human Rights Council and that is our strong view."

She did not mention what the United States would do were the report to be referred to the ICC.

The report said the U.N. fact-finding mission investigating Israel's conduct during the January 2009 war found evidence of Israeli war crimes. Israel has denied the allegations and said the report's mandate was biased -- an opinion echoed by U.S. officials.

The Obama administration is ready to use the U.S. veto at the U.N. Security Council to deal with any other "difficulties" arising out of the report, the White House official said Wednesday. The administration also has made clear to the Palestinian Authority that Washington is not pleased with a P.A. petition to bring the report's allegations against Israel to the International Criminal Court.

The official said the Obama administration's view was that the report was flawed from its conception because the mandate presumed a priori that Israel had violated war crimes and that the mandate ignored Hamas' role in prompting the war through its rocket fire into Israel.

This article was made possible by the support of readers like you

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cry Palestine, Stand Proud Israel

Ari Bussel

Our last Postcard, sent just before the dawn of the Jewish year 5770, talks about healthcare in the USA, a system that is faulty and failing due to the burden of bureaucrats and less-than-capable workforce, enormous pressures of frivolous lawsuits and those who cannot afford to see a doctor but visit the emergency rooms instead and the boundless greed of pharmaceutical companies. Other than the title (“A Hospital Visit”) and the name of the series (“Postcards from Israel – Postcards from America”), there was little connection, if any, between the Postcard and Israel.

Once posted online, a Postcard assumes a life of its own, arriving at strange yet fascinating destinations not intended and often unimagined. I was quite surprised to see “A Hospital Visit” posted on “Palestine Cry.” The name intrigued me, so I ventured a visit.

I was immediately greeted by the colors of the flag of the people who were dancing in the streets of the “occupied land” on a fine Tuesday morning eight years ago. They were celebrating the live broadcast of two twin buildings collapsing in New York City, although later they would call it a Zionist scheme and blame the Jews for its execution.

As the world came to a halt, from air traffic to financial systems, they were in the streets having a field day. More recently, in demonstrations here in Los Angeles, San Francisco and elsewhere, the same colors adorned posters against the United States of America. In the name of “free speech,” all is allowed: The President was called a “Murderer,” those carrying the posters yearned for Sharia Law (here in the USA) and red color was dripping from the flags they were about to desecrate.

So I read with amusement: “The purpose of Palestine Cry is to expose the inutterably vile onslaught by the NWO, led by the American neo Fascist-Russian Communist-Chinese Communist: Triad, via their Zionist genocide committed upon Palestine (the Naqba) and the whole Arab Homeland, especially Iraq, and Afghanistan and Pakistan and every place else they foul with their evil presence. We especially appreciate those individuals and sites that have told the truth no matter what the opposition has been. God bless you, and we know He has and will. FREE PALESTINE AND THE WHOLE ARAB HOMELAND AND THE ENTIRE REGION.”

Most impressed I was with the definition of Greater Palestine, which for some odd reason resounded the message of the Bible about the Land of the Israelites, the Promise of G-d and His Covenant to His people.

If a Jewish person wrote the same, he would immediately have been branded a “right wing extremist.” But here all is permitted in the name of free speech, and the creation of the State of Israel is apparently tantamount to the beginning of a genocide committed against humanity.

So as Palestine Cries, I could not have neglected to notice, again with utter amazement, how “Lord Jesus Christ, Lord,” has been brought into the plight of the people of Palestine – “the Holy Land and all of the Fertile Crescent, especially Iraq, and all from Rabat to Islamabad.”

If only those who created and maintain the site realized that the number of Christians (especially, but not only, practicing believers) has been diminishing in an accelerated pace throughout Muslim lands. The phenomenon is most evident in Bethlehem, birthplace of Christ, ever since the Palestinian Authority took charge, and in Lebanon, where Christians once constituted a majority. It remains to ask oneself why!

But the point is not accuracy or even factual historical information. Mix every sound bite possible, including the Judeo-Christian God, and accuse the Zionists of “Persecution” and “Genocide.” Conclude by saying that “God gave the right to life, no man may take it away” and your website will enjoy constant traffic of liberals, progressives and hoards of anti-Semites.

If anyone were permitted to ask a question, a highly unlikely proposition, one should pose a single question like “so which all-merciful god encourages his believers to go and blow themselves up in crowded pizzerias, malls and discotheques?”

I thought for a second this is a new scheme to discredit those who believe in God and who value life more than they value death. Then I realized that the Postcard was taken from a progressive, liberal central-site, and for some odd reason, no one bothered to read it, assuming that like the majority of other articles there, “A Hospital Visit” too is an anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semite attack on the Jews, thus a sure candidate for inclusion of this site.

May those who actually bother to read “A Hospital Visit” be driven to do something good unto others. May they stop to think for a second, thus possibly arriving at the far-reaching conclusion that the Big Satan and the Small Devil are made of people like them who share similar concerns and aspirations. An impossibility?

Hatred spread against the Jewish People and Israel does not stop there. Nonsense and ignorance will target whatever is conveniently on their way, so get ready – you do not need to be Jewish to be prepared. Protect all that is dear to you, and you will soon realize that Israel is the gatekeeper, standing firm at the entrance of the Free World, protecting Western Society and our sanity for the benefit of all.

Holy Temple Mikveh Discovered Near Western Wall

Hillel Fendel Holy Temple Mikveh Discovered

A 2,000-year-old mikveh (ritual bath) has been uncovered just 20 meters from the Western Wall. Given its location just outside the Holy Temple - where untold numbers of Jews regularly immersed before entering - the newly-revealed pool is among the largest ever discovered in Jerusalem.

The mikveh was found at the site known as the Western Wall Tunnels, which has long been under excavation and study by the Israel Antiquities Authority, with the support of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.

It is located about 30 meters past the entrance to the Tunnels, in the general direction of the Western Wall. Once it becomes open to the public, the 11 broad steps leading down to the mikveh will be seen approximately 8 meters below floor level.

Josephus, the famous turncoat general and historian of the period, wrote that the administrative and governmental center of Jerusalem was located at the foot of the Temple, and that among the buildings there were the National Council and the Lishkat HaGazit, Chamber of Hewn Stone, where the Sanhedrin – Israel’s Supreme Court – convened. The archaeologists feel that it is possible that the luxurious hall aside the mikveh was originally one of these structures.

Archaeologist Alexander Ohn, the director of the dig, explains: “It is interesting to note that in the middle of the first century, changes were made in the grand structure. It was no longer used for public administrative purposes, and in its western wall a large mikveh was installed – with 11 steps descending into the immersion pool. It appears that Jerusalem was growing at this time, and with it the need to provide a solution for the increasing numbers of people who came en masse to Jerusalem, especially on the pilgrimage festivals (Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkot)). Ritual immersion in a mikveh and precise observance of the laws of purity were an inseparable part of Jewish life at this time; the importance of a mikveh, especially in this location, was great.”

Parts of the mikveh had been uncovered in the past, but now another hall – one of three – has been revealed. The structure was built of smooth stone hewn in a particularly intricate manner, with high-quality decorations and architectural style. Its importance can be determined by the fact that it is similar to other luxurious structures built by King Herod such as the Temple Mount, the Machpelah Cave, and one in Elonei Mamreh.

Obama Addresses Israel-Palestinian Issue at the UN

Esther Levens, CEO and Founder of the Unity Coalition for Israel, an organization of Christians and Jews dedicated to a safe and secure Israel. (913) 648-0022 -

Today's meeting at the UN with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was hosted by US President Barack Obama. It represents a foray by Obama into the mired Israel/Palestinian peace process which officially started with the Oslo Accords August 20, 1993. It was later signed by Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, September 13, 1993 Since that time successive American presidents have dived into the process, with little to no success. Now, Obama has begun his presidency by making conciliatory moves toward the Arab world. He has distanced himself from the traditional US pro-Israel position rooted in the religious and historic Judeo-Christian basis of our country.

It is now when 'the rubber meets the road,' so to speak. Americans by and large do not want to see Israel dismantled and reduced to an area along its coastline that is only 9 miles wide in places. That narrow strip of land is home to 70% of Israel's population. Carving a Palestinian state out of Israel's heartland would make these Israelis totally vulnerable to attack from above, if the bordering highlands of Judea and Samaria are relinquished to the Palestinians.

The Palestinian Refugees have been held captive for 61 years, while world financing of the United Nations UNRWA project has kept them impoverished and used as a propaganda tool to generate support for a Palestinian state. The monies contributed have been misused for weapons and military training rather than directed to infrastructure and development of viable businesses to help the people. The camps themselves have been used to foment hatred of Israel, indoctrination leading to incitement, suicide bombings, and rockets and missiles targeting Israeli civilians.

There are other much more desirable options if the Arabs would only begin by stopping the on-going Jihad against Israel and recognizing Israel as a nation - which they have yet to do.

A full page ad in the Washington Jewish Week expresses the case for millions of Americans. It has been signed by Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign (CIPAC), Americans for a Safe Israel and Unity Coalition for Israel (UCI).

Below are some excerpts, followed by the ad in its entirety:

" Dear President Obama, Our organizations, representing the views of millions of Americans, are deeply troubled that current Mideast policy initiatives by your administration will compromise Israel's security and undermine the longstanding U.S.- Israel alliance." . . .

" Israel is entitled to be recognized by all nations as a Jewish state that protects the rights of all of its citizens and freedom of worship for all faiths. The Jewish people became a nation over 3,000 years ago in the Land of Israel, which encompasses Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") as well as the city of Jerusalem." . . .

" A just and lasting peace can be achieved in the Middle East only when the Palestinians and all the nations in the region first recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. They must clearly demonstrate their recognition of Israel by permanently ending all acts of belligerency and incitement directed against Israel and the Jewish people."


(The following letter was published as a full page ad in the September 4, 2009 edition on page 3 of the Washington Jewish Week newspaper.):

Dear President Obama,

Our organizations, representing the views of millions of Americans, are deeply troubled that current Mideast policy initiatives by your administration will compromise Israel's security and undermine the longstanding U.S.- Israel alliance. You have expressed a willingness to consider a broad range of views. In this spirit, we urge you to address the concerns of the important segment of both the Jewish and Christian communities which our organizations represent.

Your calls for a freeze on construction in the so-called "settlements" only serve to promote the anti-Jewish bias of Israel’s enemies.
Stifling the growth of thriving Jewish communities will not bring peace. Therefore, we urge you to take the following fundamental factors into account when formulating U.S. policy regarding the Middle East:

1. Israel is entitled to be recognized by all nations as a Jewish state that protects the rights of all of its citizens and freedom of worship for all faiths. The Jewish people became a nation over 3,000 years ago in the Land of Israel, which encompasses Judea and Samaria (the so-called "West Bank") as well as the city of Jerusalem. Based on the Jewish people’s deep historic and religious connection with the land, their fundamental right to settle throughout this land was explicitly recognized under international law by the League of Nations (Mandate for Palestine, unanimously adopted 1922). This internationally guaranteed right has never been abrogated or revoked by any international successor organization. Therefore, U.S. policy must support the right of Jews to live anywhere within the Land of Israel.

2. It should be understood that the United Nations recognized the State of Israel in 1948 based on the historic and biblical right of Jews to live in their ancestral homeland, not only because of the Holocaust. The Arab nations' refusal to accept this fact has been demonstrated countless times over the last 60 years by their hostile behavior towards Israel.

3. The "two-state solution" currently promoted by your administration is incompatible with the goals of peace. Establishing a terror-sponsoring Palestinian state in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and in the heart of Jerusalem, where no Jews would be allowed to live, would seriously undermine Israel's security as well as violate the internationally guaranteed right of Jewish settlement.

4. Israel, as a sovereign nation, has the unconditional right to designate an undivided Jerusalem as its capital. Jerusalem was established as the capital of the Jewish nation in biblical times. The city was divided by illegal Jordanian occupation of its eastern neighborhoods in 1948, and then reunified under Israeli sovereignty in 1967. Jerusalem stands today as a free and unified city. Therefore, U.S. policy must clearly reflect recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, and firmly reject any proposal which would redivide the city.

A just and lasting peace can be achieved in the Middle East only when the Palestinians and all the nations in the region first recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. They must clearly demonstrate their recognition of Israel by permanently ending all acts of belligerency and incitement directed against Israel and the Jewish people.

Mr. President, we urge you to give these issues your serious attention.


Hon. Marc Caroff
(President, Louis D. Brandeis District chapter of the Zionist Organization of America).
ZOA (local Brandeis District chapter): 301-384-7637;

Richard A.Hellman
(Founder and President, Christians' Israel Public Action Campaign).
CIPAC: 202-234-3600;

Herbert Zweibon
(Chairman, Americans For a Safe Israel).
AFSI: 212-828-2424;

Esther Levens
(Founder and CEO,Unity Coalition for Israel).
UCI: 913-648-0022;

Warren Manison
(Washington,D.C.representative, Unity Coalition for Israel)

'It's enough talking about talking'

Sep. 23, 2009
Hilary Leila Krieger, JPosr correspondent in NEW YORK , THE JERUSALEM POST

The Obama administration is growing increasingly frustrated with Israeli and Palestinian foot-dragging over peace negotiations, which it wants to see relaunched immediately and based on previous agreements and principles laid out in earlier talks. "We're not going to be starting from scratch," a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post, following three-way talks held by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, US President Barack Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. "There's a body of agreements and basic principles" to build on, he said.

The Obama administration has until now been vague about how it sees such a process going and what frameworks would govern the talks. But Obama called for immediate final-status talks at the beginning of Tuesday's trilateral meeting, telling the press, "Permanent-status negotiations must begin, and begin soon."

The senior official described Obama as having expressed his "impatience" over the need to start negotiations during his separate one-on-one meetings with Netanyahu and Abbas earlier in the day.

"It's enough talking about talking, and it's time to get started as soon as possible," he said.

While he pointed to the previous formulas as providing a framework for the talks - something the Obama administration has until now refrained from staking out - the senior official added that "neither side should hold out for the perfect formula."

US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who spoke to reporters following the meetings, said the mechanisms of the negotiations were still being worked out and would be part of the discussions set for the coming weeks.

"We anticipate that there will be an active United States presence," he indicated, but added, "Of course that does not preclude the likelihood of direct negotiations between the parties. No successful negotiation is all of one and all the other. There has to be both, in appropriate circumstances on appropriate subjects."

Though Netanyahu has repeatedly said he is ready to restart talks, with the Palestinians demanding that Jerusalem completely freeze settlement construction before negotiations begin, the US official said that "both sides have been holding out for different things before the talks can start," and noted that in his meetings, Obama had taken both sides to task for not moving forward more quickly.

The US had been hoping to announce the resumption of negotiations as part of this week's three-way event, but it became clear the sides were too far apart for that to happen.

Mitchell, who has been meeting with the sides and is set to speak to them again next week, said the administration had gone ahead with the trilateral meeting anyway to show Obama's commitment to the issue and the "urgency" with which he saw it.

Mitchell described Tuesday's conversations, in which he participated, as "cordial," "direct" and "frank," as well as occasionally "blunt on all sides."

Washington had been pushing Israel to freeze settlement construction while the Palestinians clamped down on incitement and reformed their security services, and in exchange for gestures from Arab states that didn't have relations with Israel.

Mitchell said that conversations on settlements and other issues were continuing, but that the United States had never seen settlements as the only obstacle or a settlement freeze as a precondition for talks starting.

"There are many obstacles. [Settlements] are one. It's not the only one," Mitchell said.

"We are not identifying any issue as being a precondition or an impediment to negotiation. What we have said is that we want to get into negotiations," he continued, describing the settlement freeze and other US "requests" on all sides as ones that would "create the most favorable conditions available to try to achieve success in those negotiations."

Mitchell stressed, however, that the US had moved the process significantly forward and that officials expected the sides to move forward with talks.

"While differences remain between them, we have made very substantial progress," he said. "It's difficult to disentangle ourselves from history, but we must do so. The only reason to hold public office is to get things done. We all must take risks for peace. Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is critical to Israel's security, and it's necessary for Palestinians to realize their aspirations."

"We actually think we're close, but we have more work to do," the senior administration official told the Post.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1253627542026&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fond Jane and Mr. Braun


We're all familiar with holier-than-thou anti-Semites whose much-touted "best friends" invariably are Jews. Well, the good news is that Jane Fonda is awfully fond of us. She says so in her blog. Given all that fondness, Fonda feels persecuted for no fault of her own. She cannot fathom why she must "wake up in the morning to a barrage of e-mails" about "a petition protesting the Toronto International Film Festival's decision to feature a celebratory 'spotlight' on Tel Aviv... By doing this the festival has become, whether knowingly or not, a participant in a cynical PR campaign to improve Israel's image, make her appear less warlike."

Fonda is so fond of us that she insists our face remain as dirty, demonic and denigrated as she and her avidly mud-slinging chums (like Danny Glover, presumably our friend by association) deem appropriate for us. Truth may be detrimental to their ends, which obviously justify any and all means.

FOR THESE ends Israel needs to remain besmirched and blackened. And that was why fond Fonda, comrade Glover and more than 50 other petition signatories (among them various indispensable useful-fool Israelis) had such a bone to pick with the Toronto festival, itself hardly a Lovers-of-Zion shindig by any measure.

It featured a bunch of films about Tel Aviv, many of which conform to the popular Israeli genre of self-deprecating, pro-Arab flicks scripted for the explicit purpose of winning acceptance and accolades from Fonda and her ideological likes overseas. Sucking up to the Fondas of this world, it's widely believed in our provincial backwoods, is the only way for an ambitious Israeli academic/artiste/author/moviemaker to carve out a career and bask in the ambiance of moneyed Israel-bashing liberal patrons.

How deliciously ironic then that Fonda - albeit indirectly and inadvertently - punishes precisely those Israeli producers who obsequiously fawn to please just her sorts. Their radicalism and/or brownnosing make no difference. This effectively parallels two millennia of Jewish experience with assorted Judeophobes - including those who had cut no slack for urbane "Germans of the Mosaic persuasion."

Toronto's festival, according to the Jane-brand of spurious historiography, omitted to stress that "Tel Aviv is built on destroyed Palestinian villages, and that the city of Jaffa, Palestine's main cultural hub until 1948, was annexed to Tel Aviv after the mass exiling of the Palestinian population. This program ignores the suffering of thousands of former residents and descendants of the Tel Aviv/Jaffa area who currently live in refugee camps."

Uncool as it may be, according to George Orwell "speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act." Fonda should appreciate revolutionary acts. In her younger years, when she bombastically boosted Huey Newton and the Black Panthers, she insisted that "revolution is an act of love. We are the children of revolution, born to be rebels. It runs in our blood."

So let's get on with the revolutionary act of telling the truth. Habitual knee-jerk detractors, who disdain historical references, please note that Fonda and crew were those who launched us on this foray into that past.

RECENTLY I wrote of almost forgotten Tel Aviv founder Yosef-Eliahu Chelouche, a native of Jaffa, scion of a Jewish family from North Africa (kosher presumably for Third World ennoblers) and a notable political dove till Arab bloodlust disillusioned him. In his 1931 memoirs, long before Tel Aviv became the vast Zionist empire's icon, Yosef-Eliahu described those 12 desolate windswept acres of wasteland purchased for a hefty sum in 1909 for Ahuzat Bayit (as the embryonic city was called). They were hardly occupied by Arab villages as Fonda and friends aver.

Yosef-Eliahu recalled them as "a sea of sand, a barren desert with powdery yellow mountains and hills, where jackals howled." Beyond Jaffa's decaying narrow alleyways stretched an undulating shadeless wilderness. It was a horrendous, almost impassable and seemingly interminable tract, without landmarks or signs of habitation.

From its inception Ahuzat Bayit was traversed by a boulevard - not because it was a preplanned aesthetic feature. Tel Aviv would rise on pyramidal mounds with unstable continuously shifting slipfaces. These were pronounced unsuitable for construction. To level off the area, teams of pioneers used wheelbarrows to move tons of sand from the highest points and deposit them in the gullies bellow. The deepest ditch cut across Ahuzat Bayit exactly where Sderot Rothschild now stretches. Filled with so much soft sand, it was judged unsafe to support structures. Instead it was covered with topsoil and lined with trees. If anything, Tel Aviv was reclaimed from an empty strip of desert.

Elementary intellectual integrity should oblige Fonda and her retinue of our "best friends" to recall that Jaffa was also a pivotal early 20th-century Jewish hub. If anyone was forcibly dislodged therefrom, Jaffa's Jews were; 1921's unprovoked five-day Jaffa-generated Arab riots, in which 49 Jews were massacred (among them leading Jewish literati, including left-wing Yosef Haim Brenner) and more than 150 wounded, effectively brought down the curtain on Jaffa's Jewish community and boosted adjacent Tel Aviv as a separate, independent, viable, modern and thriving alternative entity.

The carnage filled 12-year-old Tel Aviv with tents and makeshift sheds to shelter Jewish refugees fleeing the Jaffa bloodbath before even self-proclaimed anti-imperialists of the Fonda-mold could conjure up supposed Jewish provocation for Arab butchery.

As to the 1948 escapades of Jaffans on the eve of Israeli independence, I will summon my own mother's testimony. The minaret of Jaffa's Turkish-constructed Hassan Bek Mosque, for instance, was used by Arab snipers to take frequent potshots at passersby on the adjacent streets of Tel Aviv. For Jane's attention, that was before we could conceivably be accused of becoming conquistador ogres.

My mother often recalled the mortal risk entailed in crossing the street to the corner grocery. She was nearly shot on her way to the dentist. One afternoon, her landlord, Mr. Braun, buttonholed her at the entrance to his apartment house on 7 Rehov Aharonson. Standing in the doorway he lectured her sternly about the foolhardiness of her sorties outdoors. Just then a bullet whistled by. Mr. Braun fell dead at my mother's feet.

Odds are Jane doesn't know about Mr. Braun. But she should educate herself about Hassan Bek's snipers, who didn't care about the identity of their numerous random victims. It helps Jane's predatory propaganda not to mention them, to pretend that Jaffa didn't aggressively and continuously attack Tel Aviv, that peaceable Jaffans were dispossessed arbitrarily in villainous circumstances devoid of context.

In a world of cosmopolitan detachment, Jane's propaganda works. Toronto Festival codirector Cameron Bailey half-apologetically conceded "that Tel Aviv is not a simple choice and the city remains contested ground." But if even Tel Aviv is "contested ground," if even its legitimacy is questionable, what are we to say about Israel as a whole?

So much for all those insincerely avowed two-state syrupy sentiments.
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Likud divided over diplomatic effort

Sep. 22, 2009

Likud cabinet ministers praised Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday for entering Tuesday's tripartite meeting with US President Barack Obama and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas with the upper hand, while rebel MKs in the party launched an effort to limit Netanyahu's diplomatic flexibility. Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman will not be the only Israeli politicians in the US on Tuesday. They will be joined by the fiercest critic of the peace process in the Knesset, Likud rebel MK Danny Danon.

Danon came to New York to meet with Jewish leaders and congressmen in an effort to pressure Netanyahu to stick to the Likud's policies and not surrender to Obama and the Palestinians. Reacting to Netanyahu's advisers' boasts about "kicking off" a renewed diplomatic process, he warned the prime minister not to fall into a trap set for him by the American president.

"Any concession of Netanyahu's won't satisfy Obama or the Palestinians, so there is no point," Danon said. "No one remembers now that Netanyahu gave in on a Palestinian state at Bar-Ilan University [in June].

"Everything he said there is now taken for granted, and in New York, Obama will push for more. The real US pressure begins now."

Danon criticized Netanyahu for failing to bring a nine-month settlement freeze to the cabinet or Likud faction for approval before his trip to the US. But he said he would praise the prime minister if he left the meeting with the president without giving in.

"If Netanyahu is strong and tells Obama what he really believes, he will get support from the Likud and from all of Israel," Danon said.

Ministers from the Likud and other parties on the Right said Netanyahu already deserved praise for resisting American and Palestinian pressure. Minister-without-Portfolio Bennie Begin, who has led battles against diplomatic concessions in the past, said that Netanyahu had proved his ability to stand strong for Israel's interests.

"The Palestinians had misconceptions," Begin told Army Radio. "They mistakenly thought that Israel's head would be delivered to them [not on a silver platter but] on a plastic McDonald's plate. Yet that didn't happen."

Habayit Hayehudi's Daniel Herschkowitz, who heads the most right-wing party in the coalition, said that even though he opposed any stoppage of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, Netanyahu impressed him by removing public buildings, Jerusalem and 450 housing units from his understandings with the US.

"I personally am not happy with any freeze, and I would vote against it, but it's definitely clear that it could have been a lot worse," Herschkowitz, who is minister of science and technology, said. "I don't think Obama will intensify pressure on Israel in New York beyond what Mitchell did. But even if there will be pressure, Netanyahu will be strong enough to withstand it."

Shas chairman Eli Yishai added that he was "convinced that Netanyahu would defend Israel's interests in the face of American pressure."

At the opposite end of the political spectrum inside Netanyahu's cabinet, Barak's No. 2 man in Labor, Welfare and Social Welfare Minister Isaac Herzog, said his party must unite in support of the peace process and issued a veiled threat to Netanyahu about what would happen if he let the diplomatic negotiations falter.

"If it will be proven that the peace process isn't serious, and it is merely a farce intended to stall time, I will lead the process of taking Labor out of the government," Herzog said at a meeting with Labor pensioners in Jerusalem.
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1253198168911&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Monday, September 21, 2009

Goldstone Mission Guilty of Hate Crime

Ignoring Nine Years of Terror

September 21, 2009 | Eli E. Hertz

Arab leaders will see the Goldstone Report as justification to continue to incite, inflame and encourage Palestinian Arabs to pin every problem they face as individuals and as a society on Israel. This strategy of channeling frustrations into hatred and revenge against Israel is adopted both by Israel's immediate Palestinian Arab neighbors and Arab leaders throughout the Muslim-Arab world.

The UN Goldstone Mission ignores Hamas - a terror organization listed as such by the United States, European Union, and Canada among others. Internationally binding instruments go on to impose uniform mandatory counter-terrorist obligations to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of terrorist attacks and stresses that those responsible for aiding, supporting or harboring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable. The Goldstone Mission in effect became a violator of international law.
There is no escape clause - United Nations Security Council repeats its unequivocal condemnation of all acts, methods and practices of terrorism as criminal and unjustifiable, regardless of their motivation, in all their forms and manifestations, wherever and by whomever committed.

Terrorist organizations such as Hamas that indiscriminately launch around-the-clock Qassam rockets targeting civilian populations in Israel, are clearly committing Crimes Against Humanity - acts of terrorism for which the United Nations Security Council Resolutions under Chapter VII of the UN Charter directs everyone to fight terrorism by all means.

International law leaves no room to question Israel's right to defend its citizens against systematic and sustained terrorist attacks launched by Hamas from Gaza.

Israel's reaction to nine years of Hamas aggression is nothing more than a measured, fair and proportional response, designed to effectively terminate the attacks upon it, in order to prevent its recurrence. Israel was far from using all means in fighting Hamas in Gaza, as required by the United Nations.

Myths and Facts

Rosh Hashanah Rockets

Jacob Shrybman
Sun Sep 20 2009 14:19:06

It is true that there were no direct physical casualties from last night's rocket fire- but that doesn't explain what happened here in Sderot, Israel last night. My family lives in Silver Spring, Maryland- thousands of miles away from where I live and work. I spent the family oriented holiday Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, with amazing families in Sderot, Israel where I work and live.

After a long day of eating, drinking, and celebrating I arrived home to take a relaxing shower and go to bed. As I got out of the shower with my towel the night silence was lit up and my relaxed body turned into a racing heart beat and quivering legs. The echoing "Tzeva Adom" (Color Red) reverberated in my first-floor apartment in Sderot as I huddled in its most sheltered area- the corner of the kitchen next to the refrigerator. Then suddenly the sheer silence as the alarm finished was swiftly broken by a not so distant explosion. Since I work for Sderot Media Center two qassam rockets had just clocked me into work at just before 1am- and I was out the door running down the street to get my camera.

Why has the world bought into this misconception that the rockets have stopped as more than 250 have struck Israel in the past eight months?

Last night, the two rockets with doubled explosive warheads that the recently debuted Al-Qaeda terrorist group Ansar al-Suna fired at civilians was out of the news in minutes as usual, as thankfully there were no casualties.

Why is it such a struggle to make people listen to what is happening here in southern Israel? If President Obama gives his wife a "fist-bump", the whole world knows about it and is giving "fist-bumps," Yet, no news coverage is given to thousands of people running from rockets in the Holy Land over the New Year's holiday.

Thankfully there were no casualties, however, that is not at all reporting any of the stories of what happened. Here are just three short stories of the thousands that occurred.

Today, the day after, as I was eating lunch with my friend from work I asked him if he was asleep when the Color Red alarm went off, and he told me he was. Knowing that he is a bit lazy, I asked him if he got out of bed when it sounded. He answered me, "Of course, because everyone was yelling and screaming throughout the whole house." This comes from a family that never talks about the rocket fire existing.

After one lunch I stopped in to wish some other friends a happy new year. Over a cold glass of grapefruit juice this mother was telling me how some of her kids had finally started sleeping on the second floor of their home, as the family sleeps in the living room on the ground floor for years now because of the rockets. She said but after last night when they all jumped up and ran into their sheltered room on cue from the Color Red alarm they have been scurrying around the house like traumatized mice.

After a cold drink and catching up with some friends I arrived at another close friend's house for their holiday bbq. Amongst the festivities, I asked my friend how she was doing after the Color Red alarm last night. She, who takes 6 daily pills for coping, told me she was surprisingly fine. She continued to tell me that it only took her an hour to fall asleep after calling her pregnant daughter to check how she was doing following the alarm. She shifted to quietly explain to me how her 14 yr-old son jumped out of bed from the alarm and for awhile following was having trouble breathing from the panic attack he was having.

Due to the normalization of this rocket fire has it become boring to the rest of the world to hear about these acts of terror?

As millions of parents around the world send their kids off to their first weeks of school this September, is it not striking that there is an entire generation of children in Sderot suffering from the reality of not knowing life without consistent rocket fire?

Once again, it is true that there were no direct physical casualties from last night's rocket fire- but that doesn't explain what happened here in Sderot, Israel last night.

This Rosh Hashanah, away from my family I started the new year crouching to protect myself from incoming rockets, while thousands of miles away my father was taking a digesting walk and my mother was reading a book on the couch. People are physically detached from this reality of rocket fire but ignorance is no excuse.

As we start the new year, the rockets are still striking here so how long do the people of Sderot have to wait until the world listens?.

Palestinians suspected of setting fire to settler field, caravan

Fire injures six, burns down caravan. Police arrest four Palestinians for suspicion of arson

Efrat Weiss

Six people were injured from smoke inhalation after Palestinians allegedly set on fire to fields near the Gilad Farm outpost in the West Bank on Sunday. A mobile home was entirely burnt down and two other structures sustained damages following the fire. Police arrested four Palestinians for suspicion of arson. Palestinians living nearby denied the allegations, saying the settlers set fire to Palestinian fields. These fires, they said, sometimes spread to the settlers' own property.

The families living in the area managed to escape ahead of time, but their belongings, which included clothes, furniture, books and picture albums was completely destroyed inside the caravan.

Police, army and fire units arrived at the scene and managed to extinguish the flames within a few hours. Those injured were taken to the hospital for treatment.

Twenty five families currently live at the Gilad Farm outpost. Itzik Zar, one of the residents, described the chain of events. "At around 1pm one of the residents from the northern houses spotted two people approaching the farm in a blue tractor, carrying an object in their hand."

Zar added that "about 160 yards away from the farm, the two started a fire, while one of them began to scream and whistle."

"I saw smoke coming toward the houses, but despite it being a holiday, I called the emergency hotline and notified the council as well."

"While we were setting up a dining table outside the house, the wind carried the smoke in our direction and in about 10 minutes the fire reached the table and consumed it whole. The residents used fire extinguishers and pans, giving a true fight," he said.

According to Zar, Yitzhar's security officer arrived at the scene first with a water tanker, at which point smoke entered Zar's children's rooms and the houses at the lower part of the farm. Following this the women and children left the area in their vehicles.

"If this would have happened at night, and we would not have been alert, it could of ended in disaster," said Itay Raz, who suffered injuries. "There is no water pipe here, and the water tanker emptied out before we were done. We waited 40 minutes for a water tanker to arrive from Ariel. There are people with families and children living here, so let us live."

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Letter to IDF Radio:"Remember Asaf Ramon When You..."
by Gil Ronen

"Captain Asaf Ramon, his father, the Ramon family and many others like them symbolize the Return to Zion; the realization of the Zionist vision; the readiness to sacrifice for all of us; the Jewish moral code in defense of our nation, its state and our country; the beautiful Israel; the solidarity in Israeli society; the giving, the Zionist ethos!

Remember him when you report innocently about “demonstrations” at Na'alin by “activists” who hurt the bodies and souls of IDF soldiers and Border Police."

( Arutz Sheva's Hebrew service published a letter Friday sent by an unknown person to Galei Tzahal, the IDF's radio station (also known as IDF Army Radio).

The letter reads thus:

Captain Asaf Ramon, his father, the Ramon family and many others like them symbolize the Return to Zion; the realization of the Zionist vision; the readiness to sacrifice for all of us; the Jewish moral code in defense of our nation, its state and our country; the beautiful Israel; the solidarity in Israeli society; the giving, the Zionist ethos!

Remember him when you report innocently about “demonstrations” at Na'alin by “activists” who hurt the bodies and souls of IDF soldiers and Border Police.

Remember him when a doctor of philosophy at Tel Aviv University disseminates a photo of an IDF soldier and calls him a murderer – yet you remain silent. You did not cover that.

Remember him when IDF reservists turn to the Attorney General and demand that he investigate the Ha'aretz newspaper and Danny Zamir for libel, after they besmirched the IDF during Operation Cast Lead – and again you are silent, you did not cover that either!

Remember him the next time you consider participating in a media lynch against a battalion commander and reservists as you did to the battalion commander who hit violent anarchist Yonatan Pollak while he and his friends destroyed an IDF roadblock, confronted soldiers and harmed them.

Remember him when you give Hamas terrorists an open microphone.

Remember him for not holding an in-depth discussion about the Tel Aviv “Rugatka” pub that prevents soldiers from entering it. You preferred to hide that...

Remember him for the prominent podium you give to anarchist groups and “Breaking the Silence,” which assassinate the character of the IDF and its soldiers.

Remember him when you prevent discussion and prevent anyone from expressing deep and fundamental opinions against those who defame IDF soldiers without any basis.

Remember him when you do not cover the protest against those organizations.

Remember him when you pillory those who call to make government service conditional on military, civilian or national service, and thus damage all those who serve.

Remember him when you exalt Israeli films that win prizes only because they present the IDF as an immoral army of murderers.

Remember him when you interview the actors who dodged military service and whose only contribution to the IDF was to sling mud at it.

Remember him, because handing out briefs and undershirts to soldiers on (the program) “A Mother's Voice” and pretending that you care about the soldiers, but then slandering them after every operation – that is not being “the soldiers' home” (an IDF Radio slogan – ed.).

Remember him, because when you wear a uniform or enter the gates of the station, you are supposed to be in the same army!

Remember him, because your broadcasts de-legitimize, and even demonize, IDF soldiers in compulsory service and the reserves.

Remember him – because we ask you, Galei Tzahal – are you on our side or that of the enemy?

Arutz Sheva asked the person who wrote the letter to contact it and make his or her identity known.

Israel: Talks stalled because of Palestinians

Foreign Ministry rejects Abbas remarks, says Palestinians at fault for stalled negotiations

Roni Sofer

The Palestinian Authority is at fault for curbing any progress in the peace process, the Foreign Ministry said Saturday.

"The Authority is the one to prevent a meeting and resumption of the peace process," the Ministry said in response to earlier remarks by Mahmoud Abbas. The Palestinian leader said Israel should be blamed for the stalled talks. "Ever since the government was formed, Israel is willing to meet wit the Palestinian Authoroity and resume peace negotiations with no pre-conditions," Foreign Ministry spokesman Yossi Levi said.

Abbas: Peace process stuck

Abbas said earlier Saturday that the peace process was "stuck" after the failure of the last mission by Special US Middle East Envoy George Mitchell.

Abbas made the remarks after a meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo.

US Envoy Mitchell returned to Jerusalem empty-handed Friday after his latest four-day mission in the region. Mitchell failed to get Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a freeze on Jewish settlements or a resumption Israeli-Palestinian dialogue.

'We must focus on Israeli side'

President Abbas said it was now up to Israel to pave the way for peace negotiations, adding that Mr. Mitchell would resume his efforts with officials in the region after the annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly.

Abbas also said the Palestinian side has met all its obligations, adding that "we must focus on the Israeli side" and noting that Envoy Mitchell still has plenty of work ahead of him.

An agreement on a settlement freeze is believed necessary in order to open the way for a tripartite summit next week in New York between Netanyahu, Abbas, and President Barack Obama on the sidelines of the UN meeting.

Comment: This response is too little, too late. Abbas and his PR machine beat Israel, again, to the story!