Saturday, February 13, 2010

Solomon's Baby in the Middle East

Andrew J. Tabler

View the maps originally published with this article.

"Over our dead bodies!" Najib Khatib shouted in Arabic as I stepped out of our car in Ghajar, a picturesque village cut in two by the boundary between the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights and Lebanon. "Nobody tells us anything!" he said, his arms flailing in the air like a referee signaling a dramatic touchdown. Khatib, Ghajar's spokesperson, can be forgiven for the awkward greeting. Israel, which administers the village with its approximately 2,000 residents as a military area, doesn't normally let foreigners in. I've arrived -- with an escort of a group of Israeli analysts and U.N. officers as well as a squad of IDF soldiers -- to discuss an issue weighing heavily on Khatib's mind: Ghajar's nightmare of boundaries and territorial ambiguity. Khatib's anger stems from the introduction of a U.N. plan to resolve the mess by placing the northern neighborhood of Ghajar under Lebanese, not Syrian, sovereignty. For Ghajar residents, whose loyalties rest strongly with their Syrian cousins, there is little satisfaction in trading Israel's Star of David for Lebanon's cedar flag.

Israel occupied Ghajar in July 1967, a month after it captured the Golan Heights from Syria. Unlike most of the Golan's Druze communities, Ghajar residents accepted Israeli citizenship when the Knesset voted to annex the Golan in 1981, but continued to insist their village was rightfully a part of Syria.

When Israel withdrew its troops from Lebanon in 2000, U.N. cartographers -- who were unable to enter Ghajar due to tensions between Israeli forces and Hezbollah -- drew the temporary demarcation between the states, called the "Blue Line," through the village. After the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) withdrew south of the Blue Line, they left the boundary in the village unbarricaded so as not to affect daily life. Instead, they constructed a security fence south of the village with a gate for residents to cross into Israeli-controlled areas of the Golan Heights. For a time, life in Ghajar was good: Free to re-establish some degree of normalcy after the long-running guerrilla war between Hezbollah and Israel in South Lebanon, many residents fixed up their homes and bought new cars.

Then, in the most audacious attack since the Israeli withdrawal, Hezbollah launched in November 2005 an unsuccessful raid into Ghajar to kidnap Israeli soldiers. For the Israelis, this confirmed that Ghajar was the weakest link in their defenses along the border with Lebanon.

When the "Party of God" successfully abducted three Israeli soldiers elsewhere along the Blue Line and sparked a war in July 2006, Israel occupied all of Ghajar, blew up a Hezbollah command post on the northeast corner of the village, and reinstituted the security fence some 500 meters north of the Blue Line, along the northern edge of the village. Israeli forces have remained in what is now referred to as the "northern neighborhood" of Ghajar ever since. Although this solves Israel's security concerns, it places Israel in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701, the diplomatic agreement that ended the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War, which calls for a withdrawal of all foreign forces from Lebanon.

According to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) plan, Israel would hand the pocket of Ghajar between the Blue Line and the northern security fence to U.N. administration. Lebanon's liaison officer to UNIFIL would hoist Lebanon's flag over the "northern neighborhood," allowing Lebanon to claim sovereignty over the disputed territory until its ultimate disposition can be negotiated between Beirut and Damascus. But this essentially means an indefinite wait: With the Golan Heights still under Israeli control, Israeli-Syrian peace negotiations are still needed to negotiate the terms for the return of the Golan to Syria. As Syria and Israel are not on speaking terms, it could be some time before Ghajar even shares a border with Syrian territory.

Although the UNIFIL plan is relatively straightforward, most other things in Ghajar are not. Khatib and his fellow villagers in Ghajar are Alawites, the obscure offshoot of Shiite Islam that dominates Syria's Assad regime. Speaking with Khatib, I notice he has his Syrian brethren's stunning bluish-green speckled eyes -- but his Arabic accent is totally different. When I mention this fact, Khatib's motionless stare reveals another motivation behind the village's unstinting loyalty to Syria: fear. Any sign of ambivalence about Ghajar's ultimate ambition for reintegration into Syria would undoubtedly be punished if Syrian authorities eventually do assume control over the village.

Ghajar is also focused on keeping its Israeli presence because of more immediate interests. Designation as a Syrian village in the Golan Heights means Ghajar's residents can continue to benefit from the services that accompany Israeli citizenship while still allowing for the possibility that the Golan, and the residents of Ghajar, will someday be returned to the Syrian fold.

Meanwhile, Israelis remain skeptical of their neighbors in Ghajar. It is well known that, before 2006, Hezbollah moved narcotics through Ghajar into Israel. But what the Israelis in my convoy are reluctant to discuss are media reports that Israeli drug dealers -- mostly from Israel's Arab community -- paid Hezbollah with vital intelligence on Israeli military and civilian sites. This detail made Israelis suspicious that the funding for the new cars and home improvements in Ghajar was coming from Hezbollah.

The Israelis also have reason to feel queasy about the precedent set by their withdrawal. Although placing the disputed territory in UNIFIL trusteeship seems pragmatic, it has serious implications: For the first time, Israeli citizens will be placed under U.N. administration -- a precedent that could be applied in the West Bank and Golan Heights.

Making this even more complicated is that nobody seems to know where the border should be. The French, during their "mandate" over Lebanon and Syria in the period between the two world wars, didn't demarcate the Lebanese-Syrian border, leaving a territorial ambiguity that continues to this day. U.N. cartographers drew the Blue Line from a point northeast of Ghajar to a point on the bend on the Hasbani River just south of the Wazzani Springs, Ghajar's water source. Then, more recently, Israeli cartographer Asher Kaufman argued that the line should be drawn to a point somewhere north of the Wazzani Springs, meaning far less of Ghajar could lie in nominally Lebanese territory.

To prove the village's case, Khatib takes us on a tour. As our caravan of cars and trucks begins to move through the town, I notice that, just like in Alawite villages on the Syrian coast, Ghajar holds none of the standard signs of Islam in the Arab world -- mosques, madrassa, or veiled women. "We have crossed the line!" Khatib exclaims at one point, apparently at random. In the eyes of the international community, we are now in Lebanon.

Nearly jumping out of his car seat, Khatib shouted "There!" and pointed over my shoulder at what were clearly pre-1967 black basalt stone houses. He confirms what Lebanese in neighboring villages told me the previous week: Sheikh Muhammed, a local notable and Khatib's grandfather, built the structures in the mid-1950s and registered them in the Syrian Ministry of Interior. He holds this out as proof of Syrian sovereignty over the land prior to 1967. According to Khatib, the border should be 500 meters north of the current security fence.

The details of the UNIFIL plan to take control of the village are being hammered out in trilateral meetings between UNIFIL, Israel, and Lebanon -- the only point of contact between the two countries' governments since the end of the 2006 war. The proposed withdrawal has opened up a Pandora's box of potential legal questions: Can Israel supply a part of Lebanon with electricity? What happens if a villager in the north has a medical emergency and needs treatment in Israel? What legal rights do the northern residents have in Israeli courts?

The success of the Israeli withdrawal will depend greatly on the reaction of the Lebanese political elite. According to some Lebanese politicians, a return of Ghajar will show that diplomacy with Israel works, undermining Hezbollah's resistance narrative. But when Israel leaked that it was preparing to withdraw from Ghajar ahead of Lebanon's June 7, 2009, parliamentary election, in a bid to support the March 14 bloc led by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Hezbollah and its allies accused Israel of meddling in Lebanese domestic politics. Will Hariri, who now leads a government that includes Hezbollah, hail an Israeli withdrawal as a victory for "the resistance" or merely talk about "liberation"?

Washington hopes the withdrawal will also be a small step to help pull U.S. President Barack Obama's administration out of another twilight zone: the Middle East peace process. Diplomacy on Ghajar could provide momentum to the trilateral talks, leading to a resurrection of the Israel-Lebanon Mixed Armistice Commission (ILMAC) -- a body that was designed to monitor the cease-fire following the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and last met in 1978 to deal with Israel's invasion of South Lebanon. Even Hezbollah's ally, Lebanese Gen. Michel Aoun, is in favor, with the caveat that the armistice be "temporary, maybe even for 10 years." A revived ILMAC could be a good venue to resolve the status of the remaining territorial disputes between Israel and Lebanon, which are used by Hezbollah to justify retaining its weapons.

After 30 minutes in Ghajar, the IDF soldiers signaled that our caravan had attracted far too much attention and it was time to go. Khatib's hands trembled as he shook mine. "Remember, over our dead bodies," he said. As we headed for the security gate, young children with light hair and eyes like Khatib's piled out of the village school, which rested where the Blue Line should be. When our car slowed to let them pass, their carefree smiles quickly melted into frowns. In this border hamlet where things are seldom as they seem, they seemed to know that the bodies Khatib offered up could very well be theirs.

Andrew J. Tabler is a Soref fellow in the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Reactionary Nature of "Progressive" Ideology: A Comparison with the Sixteenth Century

Barry Rubin

Michel de Montaigne was a sixteenth-century French philosopher, the forerunner of many modern ideas. During his time, one of the most important debates was between those who argued that monarchy was divinely endowed and those who favored the people having sovereignty.

Being a man who didn’t like absolute rules, Montaigne wrote the following:

“The most excellent and best regime for any nation is that under which it has maintained itself. Its essential form and utility depends on usage. We are easily displeased with the system we have, but all the same I hold that it is wicked and stupid to wish for the rule of the few in a democracy or in a monarchy, another kind of regime. ” At the time, this was a status quo viewpoint of course. In effect it meant that the existing democracies—Great Britain and the Netherlands—should remain that way and all other societies should remain monarchies. From today’s perspective we can see this as a multicultural and Politically Correct viewpoint: everybody’s system is well-suited for them and it is right that it remain in effect.

Note, by the way, that Montaigne did not talk about overthrowing anyone else’s system. He merely said that no one should want to change their own system or wish (merely hope for or believe it would be a good thing) if others changed their system. Elsewhere, he wrote--something very enlightened for his time--that all societies elsewhere in the world had beliefs properly suited for them and of equal value to those held by Europeans.

Yet looking back four centuries we can see the huge flaw in his thinking. Due to internal development or international factors, many societies have changed their system, including France itself, as well as Germany, Spain, Italy, Japan, and many other places in the world. If the traditional system was the best, this raises two issues:

--Why did it change? Is the development from autocratic dictatorship, rule by the few, to democracy a step forward in history, a reversible mistake, or a mere way-station on the way to some "higher" form of dictatorship? Up until quite recently, many people in the West thought it was an error or an interim stage. In the Third World, many still do.

--Why was the change from monarchy to republic almost always an improvement in terms of social progress and the well-being of the great majority, at least after the latter had sufficient time to become stabilized?

These are the things that the last 300 years of history ultimately taught people. In other words, we recognize that change is a law of history even for the most seemingly entrenched systems. We also recognize that a specific direction of change from a society which is in effect a dictatorship or at least a highly centralized state which overwhelms social, economic, religious, intellectual life to one that is a limited-government democratic republic—is a step forward.

A growth in liberty, the development of a reasonably regulated--but not strangled--free enterprise economic system, and a representative form of government is better than a dictatorship by a king, oligarchy, political party, ideology, those who claim to speak for God, or a supposedly well-meaning group of bureaucrats and politicians.

Not long ago, the previous paragraph would have been pretty uncontroversial. Today, however, such talk is close to forbidden. Once again we are told that all people have a culture, society, and political structure that is appropriate for them and it should remain that way forever. In contrast to Montaigne’s neutrality, but in accord with the reactionaries of his time, we are told that one cannot say that democracy is a better system or that it represents progress in human civilization.

Oh, by the way, there used to be a word for those who believed the ideas contained in that previous paragraph celebrating the growth of liberty. The word was “liberal”

Even almost all of those we call “conservative” today have accepted the basic ideas of historic liberalism. The debate between liberals and conservatives today is one over the details of how to balance between liberty and law, between laissez-faire and regulation. These issues are quite passionate and important in their own right but fall below the level of advocating an entirely different system or public philosophy.

In contrast, the concept of Politically Correct, multiculturalism, and “progressive” ideology is a reactionary step backward. Instead of the divine rights of kings, this approach enthrones the absolute correctness of its own ideas which become unquestionable and thus beyond questioning. Like sixteenth-century reactionaries, they want to limit free speech and turn what should be independent institutions into choruses of consensus.

Like the worst opponents of freedom in the sixteenth century, they want to rationalize freezing most of the world into systems which in non-technological ways have more in common with the sixteenth-century West, in which a centralized states dominates society and chooses what liberties to give its citizens, than with the modern world. Like the neo-medieval thinkers of that earlier era, they want to substitute a predetermined set of ideas for logical processes and the scientific method.

Indeed, excluding the extremes, most contemporary Western conservatives are far closer to liberalism than those seeking to hijack that doctrine today. Nothing could be more reactionary from the standpoint of three centuries of democratic liberalism than "progressive," Politically Correct ideology and practice.
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). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood

Al Qaeda Planned Karni Crossing Attack

Hana Levi Julian
A7 News

Thursday's air strike by Israel Air force pilots thwarted an intended suicide bombing planned by the international al-Qaeda terrorist organization, according to Israeli military sources. The planes fired rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) at a squad of terrorists who were preparing to carry out a terror attack near the Karni Crossing, killing one. The joint IDF-ISA (Israel Security Agency, also known as “Shin Bet”) operation eliminated the lead terrorist, a member of Global Jihad, and wounded a second one as well. Military sources said al-Qaeda had masterminded the terrorist operation.

Local Palestinian Authority Arab sources claimed the terrorist who was killed in the strike, Fares Ahmed Jaber, was not a Global Jihad member, however. They claimed that Jaber was a member of the al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Islamist Palestinian Islamic Jihad group. Although the group has carried out numerous suicide bombings in the past, there have been no major attacks since 2007, when an operative allegedly connected with the organization blew up a small bakery in Eilat, killing three workers.

Officials in the IDF Southern Command told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during his tour of the region last month that al-Qaeda would attempt to infiltrate terrorists into Israel disguised as Sudanese refugees. They warned that al-Qaeda operatives are attempting to sneak through the holes in the Egyptian border to set up a terror cell in Israel.

One of the three Hamas-linked terrorist groups that combined forces in the attack that led to the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit in on June 25, 2006 was the Army of Islam, led by the Gaza-based Doghmush clan, which is reportedly connected with al-Qaeda. The Army of Islam terror group was also responsible for the March 2007 kidnapping of the British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) Gaza City bureau chief Alan Johnston, who was held hostage for nearly four months before he was finally allowed to go free. Gilad Shalit is still being held captive; his condition and whereabouts are unknown.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Crisis Plan: Pre-Combat Hesder Students to Man Civil Defense

Rachel Sylvetsky
A7 News

The Civil Defense Command and Hesder Yeshiva heads have reached an agreement in which those students who are studying at the various hesder yeshivas during the Torah learning period prior to basic training, will take on civil defense roles in the event of a national crisis. Students who have already completed army training will in all probability be called up to their units in that event, and are not included in the plan.

The Association of Hesder Yeshivas will work with the Civil Defense Corps to create a list of volunteers consisting of hundreds of these students who will work within population centers in case of need. Eitan Ozeri, general manager of the Association, said: “We are proud to take part in helping Israel’s citizens during emergencies.”

A week ago, there was a meeting of Civil Defense personnel and those in charge of volunteer projects for Hesder students, at which the idea of utilizing the period before Hesder students are assigned specific army units was raised. Over 30 yeshivas sent representatives to the meeting and agreed to the plan in case of all-out war, natural disasters, large IDF operations, and similar national emergencies.

The number of Civil Defense soldiers cannot possibly meet the needs of Israel’s citizens in these situations, the Civil Defense commanders stressed. They added that Hesder students are known for their volunteer work with all facets of Israeli society during their learning periods at the yeshivas. They complimented the students and expressed high hopes for the success of the program.

Ozeri continued: “Hesder students are wonderful young men who are always ready to help others and have been doing it all along in many ways. This is another way they can be of help to Israeli society.”

Israel National News notes that during Operation Cast Lead, hundreds of students volunteered to help Israelis living in the southern areas. Once the ground offensive began, these students effectively were part of the civil defense operations. They opened new bomb shelters, repaired existing shelters, occupied those in the shelters with different activities, accompanied children to school and outings, and did whatever else was needed.

Away with campus timidity

09/02/2010 21:46

In trying to silence Oren, Muslim campaigners made a mockery of UC-Irvine's commitment to freedom of speech.

In the Name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful… The members of the Muslim Student Union at the University of California, Irvine, condemn and strongly oppose the presence of Michael Oren on our campus… Oren personally participated in the Israeli Defense Force in wars that took place in Lebanon and Palestine…Oren and his partners should only be granted a speakers platform in the International Criminal Court... repeatedly disrupted a talk by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren. Eleven of the louts were detained, issued summonses and released.

In trying to silence Oren, they made a mockery of the university’s commitment to freedom of speech and treated its dedication to respectful dialogue with downright disdain. Yes, they probably discomfited our ambassador, but they shamed UC-Irvine and its alumni.

UNFORTUNATELY, what happened on Monday in southern California mirrors the experience of Israeli spokespeople on the European continent, in Britain and increasingly on liberal American campuses. Former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s address last October atthe University of Chicago was disrupted by Muslim student organizations and their fellow-travelers. Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the Court of St James’s, described efforts in British universities to delegitimize and demonizethe Jewish state as a “daily obsession.”

Next month, Israel’s enemies on campus will hold a series of vitriolic, well-orchestrated events aimed at delegitimizing this country and hammering home the poisonous idea thatthe Jewish people has no right to self-determination or a national homeland. In the words of Jerusalem Post columnist Gil Troy, they will be continuing the campaign to “make Israel toxic.”

Related: At Oxford, student shouts ‘Kill the Jews’ at Ayalon

A colossal untruth promoted by the anti-Zionist camp – that Israel is “an apartheid state” – is starting to be believed by the gullible or intellectually dishonest. The old Arab boycott of Israel has been reinvigorated by calls for “divestment.”

Troy is right to argue that friends of Israel can hardly expect to sway those who have “swallowed the apartheid libel and drunk the anti-Israel Kool-Aid.”

The Zionist goal, he argues, should be bolstering “wavering Jewish students and the vast uninformed and uninterested middle.”

WE SUSPECT Jewish college students are doing a bit too much “wavering.”

It is true that Jerusalem speaks with many voices – but it has done so since the 1970s. Spurious efforts to “redefine” what “being pro-Israel means” are also not new.

Moreover, campuses have never been bastions of pro-Israelism. Not in the 1960s, when America’s black power movement became enamored with the Arab cause; not in the 1970s, when Jimmy Carter struggled in vain to conceal his contempt for Menachem Begin, and when Time magazine demonized our premier as a modern-day Fagin.

It was no picnic being on campus in the 1980s, when an NBC anchor stood on a Beirut rooftop, with smoke billowing in the background from burning PLO targets, and declared, “…Nothing like it has ever happened in this part of the world. I kept thinking... of the bombing of Madrid during the Spanish Civil War…We are now dealing with an imperial Israel.”

Nor did pro-Israel activism come easy in the early 1990s, when a “pitiless” Yitzhak Rabin expelled 415 Islamic fanatics to southern Lebanon; international pressure eventually forced him to rescind the move, setting the stage for the flowering of Hamas.

In the 21st century a difficult campus situation got even worse, partly due to an influx of Muslim students and the affinity of the anti-globalization movement for the Palestinian cause.

NONE OF this absolves the current cadre of Jewish student activists from stepping up to the plate. The Twitter generation even has the advantage of circumventing the silencing of Israel by utilizing new media.

Never has it been more important to cast timidity aside. To reassert that no one has a stronger claim to this land than the Jewish people; to denounce the notion that Israel’s “original sin” was being re-born after 2000 years; and to explain that the “occupation” and settlements are fundamentally red-herring issues that would fade away, were the Palestinians to negotiate in earnest for a two-state solution.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Arabs Attack Christian Evangelists in Samaria

by Hillel Fendel

Five Christian volunteers were lightly wounded by Arab rock-throwers in the fields of the Jewish town of Har Brachah in the Shomron; the town’s security officer was detained after he shot in the air. The five injured volunteers were part of a group of American Christians who arrived in Har Brachah in Samaria to help the Jewish residents work their fields. The incident occurred on Tuesday, and they were back working the fields on Wednesday.

The chief security officer of the Jewish town of Har Brachah arrived on the scene and when he saw the attack in progress, he fired in the air. The attackers, from the nearby Arab village Irak Burin, then dispersed – but later complained to the police that one of their number had been shot in the shoulder.

The police summoned the security officer for questioning and later released him. They also confiscated his weapon, but returned it late Wednesday morning

The New Wing of the "pro-Israel, pro-Peace" Lobby Comes to Town J Street deceives others in order to falsely represent and promote itself.

The Weekly Standard
by Lori Lowenthal Marcus
February 10, 2010 9:10 AM

The "new," "progressive" voice of the "pro-peace and pro-Israel" lobby known as J Street has had its "pro-Israel" label questioned by many observers, and even some of its own have shed that label. J Street has now also revealed it doesn’t keep its word to trusting Jewish organizations.

On Thursday, February 4, 2010, J Street launched a new "grassroots" division—J Street Local—with an event at the University of Pennsylvania, which was webcast to twenty other locations. The event involved a deception by J Street leadership on the local Hillel and the surrounding Jewish community. When it was discovered that J Street planned to have its new division roll-out from the Penn Hillel, many Israel supporters were concerned that the outside world would assume that Hillel had endorsed J Street, especially because J Street would be webcasting live from there to cities across the country. Not to worry, said J Street to the local Hillel leadership: We promise not to mention that we’re using your facility, and to make clear in our written and oral statements that Hillel does not endorse us. That condition was agreed upon—it was "not just a promise, it was an agreement"—according to Rabbi Howard Alpert, the executive director of all the Philadelphia area Hillels. On the strength of that essential agreement, Hillel went ahead and rented J Street its space.

And then? J Street’s Ben-Ami said exactly what he’d promised not to say—that he was speaking "here at Penn Hillel"—and failed to say a word about what he’d promised solemnly to make clear: that Hillel does not endorse J Street or its message.

In short, J Street manipulated the Hillel of Greater Philadelphia (of which I am a board member) into leasing to them space in the Hillel building for their J Street Local launch by entering into a firm agreement, and then ignoring that agreement to Hillel’s detriment. J Street’s deception made Hillel’s carefully planned and extensive pre-event efforts to soothe concerned donors, students, and others that there was no—and that it would be made very clear that there was no—connection between Hillel and J Street.

Within hours of the event J Street sent out thousands of releases and emails urging everyone who was not present at the launch to go to its website and watch the video. The video of Ben-Ami’s remarks is still up on his website, and the text—that is, the pre-drafted statement, not an extemporaneous slip—is here . You can see for yourself. (After remonstrations by the HGP executive director, after thousands of emails and press releases were sent out without the agreed-upon disclaimer, days later a terse note went up in the site under the video box that Hillel had not endorsed the speech. But “Penn Hillel” is still in the video and in the transcript of Ben-Ami’s speech.)

Now we know: J Street will deceive and damage the central organization representing Jewish life on college campuses in order to falsely represent and promote itself. Perhaps the rest of J Street’s exaggerations and misrepresentations fall under the rubric of clever marketing. Lying, manipulation and damaging Hillel’s reputation should be beyond the pale.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus is president and co-founder of Z STREET.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

'What’s the Alternative?' MK Orlev: Jordan is Palestine

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

Asked to present his alternative to the “two-state” Israel-Palestine option, MK Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home) says, “The Arabs of the Palestinian Authority already have a state – Jordan.” Speaking with Arutz-7 on Tuesday, Orlev – the Chairman of the Knesset Education Committee – said, “The basis for every plan is our right to the Land of Israel, halakhically, historically, etc. In the present situation, however, we must see how we make the most of the situation - and not go for ‘all or nothing.’ There is no question that we cannot expel all of the Arabs who currently live in Judea and Samaria, and so the question is how do we deal with the given situation.”

My proposal, or vision, is based on the fact that there is not enough of an expanse in Judea and Samaria for a Palestinian state, and that if one is established, it will not be viable and will have to spread out towards and threaten Israel. Not to mention that such a state would not be stable; we can never know who will rule there – Hamas, Al Qaeda, Iran…

“The only solution, therefore, is that Jordan, of which 80 percent of its citizens are Palestinian, should be the Palestinian state, with offshoots in the areas that the PA currently controls here in Judea and Samaria. Their national rights, which I believe they deserve, such as a flag, currency, etc., should be manifest in a federation with Jordan - but it must not be an independent state, and Israel must maintain sovereignty and full military control over Judea and Samaria, including the Jordan Valley. In this way, we will maintain our historic rights and our security.”

Benny Elon's "Israel Initiative"

A more detailed plan along these lines has long been promoted by former MK and Moledet party leader Benny Elon. Known as the Israel Initiative, the program calls for the rehabilitation of the Arab refugees and the dismantling of their ‘camps’ and of UNRWA; replacing the ineffectual Palestinian Authority 'partner' with Jordan - a reliable partner interested in stability; and replacing the Israeli ‘occupation’ in Judea and Samaria with full Israeli sovereignty, which will prevent Hamas and other terrorist organizations from taking control and will grant security to Israel and neighboring countries.

Whether or not the plan meets with immediate acceptance does not much concern Orlev, who said, “With or without us, Jordan will one day become a Palestinian state, as a large majority there has Palestinian roots.”

Orlev feels that it is not too late to combat the left-wing success in placing the “two-state” option on the table: “The final borders will not be determined on the battle field, but rather in the schools. If we teach the dangers of a Palestinian state, and that the Land of Israel is ours, and that Jordan is theirs, then we will succeed.”

Unity in the Ranks

Orlev mentioned that if the religious-nationalist camp were united in one party, “we would be a strong political force that could have a strong influence on the diplomatic solution. I have been pushing for unity for a long time, but unfortunately there are those who would rather remain in their own camp…”

A bid to unite what are now the Jewish Home and National Union parties in late 2008, before the last elections, failed after the latter felt that it was being marginalized in the new list of Knesset candidates. National Union leader MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), who joined the party after the split was announced, has been insistent of late on the importance of unity between the two parties.

Interview with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas,1518,676374,00.html
Interview with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
'I Will Not Back Down'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, 74, discusses peace negotiations with Israel and his disappointment with United States President Barack Obama in an exclusive SPIEGEL interview.

SPIEGEL: Mr. President, the whole world is waiting for you to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for talks. When is this finally going to happen?

Abbas: That depends on Israel. We Palestinians have always said that we are willing to negotiate, but only if Israel stops settlement construction completely and recognizes the 1967 borders. SPIEGEL: Why are you standing in the way of talks by setting these preconditions?

Abbas: They aren't preconditions, but steps that are overdue after the first phase of the international roadmap for peace. Unlike Israel, we have met our obligations: We have recognized Israel's right to exist, and we are combating violent Palestinian groups. The Americans, the Europeans and even the Israelis have acknowledged this.

SPIEGEL: At least Netanyahu has ordered a 10-month freeze on settlements, something no other Israeli prime minister has done. Wouldn't it be your turn now to take a step in his direction?

Abbas: It isn't a real moratorium, because a few thousand housing units are still being built in the West Bank, and Jerusalem is completely exempted from the settlement freeze.

SPIEGEL: You negotiated with Netanyahu's predecessor, Ehud Olmert, even though settlement construction was continuing without restrictions at the time. Aren't you applying a double standard here?

Abbas: In a way, yes. But I have asked Olmert to freeze settlement

construction every time we met. Besides, Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in the interim. In his speech to the Islamic world in Cairo, he called for a complete freeze on settlements. When the American president does this, I cannot accept anything less.

SPIEGEL: But now Obama is only talking about Israeli "restraint" in building settlements. At his request, you even agreed to a symbolic handshake with Netanyahu in New York.

Abbas: I was initially very optimistic after Obama won the election. His Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, kept coming to us and promised to urge the Israelis to stop settlement construction completely. Mitchell said that the negotiations would only resume after a moratorium. The American government suddenly backed away from this position in September.

SPIEGEL: Are you saying that it's the Americans' fault that things aren't progressing?

Abbas: Naturally, I'm not pleased with the Americans' change of course. But I will not back down.

SPIEGEL: What do you expect from Obama?

Abbas: I still hope that he will revive the peace process. At least he has to convince the Israelis to announce a complete freeze on construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for a few months.

SPIEGEL: Apparently the pressure Obama has exerted on Israel until now hasn't been very effective.

Abbas: It isn't my job to tell the Americans how to deal with Israel. But they have options. They are, after all, the most powerful country in the world. Obama said that a Palestinian state constitutes a vital American interest. The president is under an obligation to apply all of his energy to achieving peace and the vision of a Palestinian state.

SPIEGEL: Could it be that the real reason for the current standstill is that you don't trust Netanyahu?

Abbas: What he has said so far, at any rate, leads me to question whether he really wants a solution. He has not expressly accepted the two-state solution.

SPIEGEL: In a speech at Bar-Ilan University in June 2009, Netanyahu said: "If the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state."

Abbas: You see, he's the one who is setting preconditions. He declares Jerusalem as the "undivided and eternal capital of the State of Israel." He refuses to discuss the question of Palestinian refugees. And he insists that we accept Israel in advance as a Jewish state.

SPIEGEL: But the principle of the two-state solution must mean that the one state is for the Palestinians and the other is for the Jews. Why do you have a problem with recognizing Israel as a Jewish state?

Abbas: We recognized the State of Israel within the 1967 borders. Whether it defines itself as a Jewish state, a Hebrew state or a Zionist state is its business. As far as I'm concerned, it can call itself what it pleases. But he cannot force me to agree with this definition.

SPIEGEL: Israel wouldn't be Israel without a Jewish majority.

Abbas: It is a fact that the majority of the citizens of the State of Israel are Jews. But it isn't within my power to define Israel's character.

SPIEGEL: But with such remarks, you create the suspicion among Israelis that you actually hope to eventually overcome this Jewish majority, particularly when you continue to insist that all Palestinians expelled in 1948 have the right of return.

Abbas: I understand these concerns. Today, there are 5 million Palestinian refugees. I'm not saying that they all have to return, but we need a fair solution. United Nations Resolution 194 ...

SPIEGEL: ... of Dec. 11, 1948 ...

Abbas: ... states that those who relinquish their right of return must receive appropriate financial compensation for doing so. In other words, the solution has been on the table for 60 years, so what's the problem?

'Palestinians Never Miss an Ppportunity to Miss an Opportunity'

SPIEGEL: Netanyahu's predecessor Ehud Olmert made you the best offer: The establishment of a Palestinian state on far more than 90 percent of the West Bank, a division of Jerusalem and the return of a few thousand refugees to Israel. Why did you reject it?

Abbas: I didn't reject it. Olmert resigned from office because of his personal problems.

SPIEGEL: You waited too long. If you had accepted, most Israelis would probably have been willing to ignore the corruption charges against Olmert. Former Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban once said that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity ...

Abbas: ... to miss an opportunity. Yes, I'm familiar with the quote. But we did seize the opportunity when Olmert was in office. We negotiated very seriously with him. We exchanged maps showing the locations of the borders. Then he left office. His successor Tzipi Livni lost the subsequent election. So where is the opportunity that we missed?

SPIEGEL: If you had accepted Olmert's offer early enough, it would have strengthened those who support the peace process. Instead, you now have to make do with Messrs. Netanyahu and Lieberman.

Abbas: That's right. We were in a race against time to reach a solution. But I wasn't the one who thwarted an agreement. Olmert resigned from office shortly before the finish line.

SPIEGEL: Mr. President, the Palestinian camp is deeply divided. Your Fatah movement was unable to prevent Hamas's violent takeover in the Gaza Strip in 2007. How do you intend to guarantee that the same thing won't happen in the West Bank?

Abbas: We have complete control over the security apparatus in the West Bank. The situation is 100 percent stabile. We will not allow the same thing to happen in the West Bank that happened in Gaza.

SPIEGEL: As long as Hamas controls Gaza, Israel will never agree to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Abbas: We spent two-and-a-half years conducting a dialogue sponsored by Egypt to seek reconciliation. It culminated in a document that we, representing Fatah, signed on Oct. 15, 2009. To this day, Hamas refuses to sign this document.

SPIEGEL: How can reconciliation be possible between the secular outlook of your Fatah movement and the Islamist worldview of Hamas?

Abbas: We are a people with different religious and political sentiments. Some are extremely religious, some are strictly secular and others are moderate. But we have been accustomed to living together for the past 60 years. All of these movements exist within the PLO.

SPIEGEL: Would Marwan Barghuti, the hero of the second Intifada, who is imprisoned in Israel, be someone who could bring about reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas?

Abbas: Marwan Barghuti is part of the leadership of Fatah. He is a member of the central committee of our movement. If he were released, it would be very advantageous for us. But not even Barghuti will be able to bring about reconciliation on his own. There is an external reason why Hamas isn't signing the document.

SPIEGEL: You are referring to Iran.

Abbas: That's what you said.

SPIEGEL: Mr. President, you have announced that you will not run again for the office of president of the Autonomous Authority. Is this an admission that you will no longer be able to make the Palestinian dream of a sovereign state a reality?

Abbas: That's absolutely correct. The road to a political solution is blocked. For that reason, I see no purpose in remaining president of the Autonomous Authority. And I also have a warning for the world: Do not drive the Palestinians to the point of total hopelessness.

Interview conducted by Hans Hoyng and Christoph Schult. Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan.
Thanks NG

Monday, February 08, 2010

Adelson: Israel's Media are Dictatorial, Fox News was My Model

Arutz Sheva

Businessman Sheldon Adelson, the publisher of the Yisrael HaYom newspaper, fired a loud broadside over the decks of rival newspapers Sunday evening, accusing them of "dictatorial" practices. He also said that saw his newspaper as emulating the role that Fox News plays in the United States. Speaking at the Israel Media Watch media prize award ceremony, Adelson said that over the last 20 years, in which he has been visiting Israel very often, he noticed that “something seemed strange” about the political views of his friends in the Jewish state. While Adelson's own political views were “far to the right,” he said (“Attila the Hun was too liberal for me,” he humorously put it), the friends' political views “didn't seem to jibe with reality.”

He said that he came to realize that the friends' world view was based on a false picture of reality which they had been receiving from the newspapers – particularly Ma'ariv and Yediot. “I found out that not only are they off base … they clearly follow the carrot and the stick approach. You get something nice if you act nice, or you get beat up if you don't act nice. Now what does that 'act nice' mean? Give me what I want, do want I tell you – purely in a dictatorial way.”

He told the audience at the IMW event that he sees his mission as similar to that of Fox News in the US, and that he even went so far as to contact Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch and to receive his permission to use the slogan “fair and balanced,” which Fox News uses to describe itself.

Fox News is widely perceived as offering an alternative to the liberal stream which dominates mainstream media.

Israel Media Watch awarded its annual media criticism prize to Amos Regev, editor-in-chief of Yisrael HaYom newspaper, and to the family of IDF Captain R., who successfully sued Channel 2's Ilana Dayan for defaming him.

Yisrael HaYom, which is handed out without charge on the streets and in bus and railway stations, is becoming increasingly popular, challenging the supremacy of Yediot Acharonot and Maariv – the two newspapers that have dominated Israel's print news media for decades. It has already surpassed the latter's readership.

'We will be #1'

Adelson said at the IMW event that “the success of Yisrael HaYom is an unprecedented phenomenon and the aim is to be the largest newspaper in Israel.” Adelson added that “as an entrepreneur, I always try to attack the existing business status quo. In line with the trends in the western democracies, I saw the possibility of establishing a daily newspaper in Israel, too, that would be handed out for free with the motto of telling the truth in a fair, direct and balanced way. We don't tell our writers what to write.”

"I am proud to say that our success is phenomenal,” Adelson said, adding that he is an ardent Zionist and that when he first began looking at existing Israeli newspapers, he felt that they were out of touch with reality so that a new, high level and well-written paper was needed. He countered claims that his paper is a mouthpiece for Netanyahu, as competing newspapers have said.

Adelson law 'ridiculous'

Amos Regev said in his acceptance speech that the Israeli news media had become dominated, over the years, by what he said was a left-wing ideological uniformity. All writers are in favor of the so-called "peace process," he explained, and he who dares question that process finds himself "outside the bubble." He noted that Yisrael HaYom's competitors were so threatened by it that they engineered a "ridiculous" attempt to pass a law that would prevent foreign residents from owning newspapers in Israel.

The law has been dubbed the "Adelson law" and is seen as aimed at closing down Yisrael HaYom, although the Haaretz newspaper group is also partly owned by German publishers.

The second recipient of the media criticism prize was the family of Captain R., who was acquitted in a military court of charges that he had 'executed' an Arab girl in Gaza. R. filed a lawsuit against journalist Ilana Dayan for an investigative report that portrayed him as maliciously murdering the girl, which was aired as his trial began. The court ruled in his favor and ordered Dayan and production company Telad to pay him NIS 300,000 in damages.

Steinitz: Respect the Truth

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz spoke at the event and said: “Sometimes there is a feeling that for the media, truth is less important than sensationalism, attractiveness and gossip.”

He added that “respect for truth, commitment to truth, to the extent that it can be found out, must be our guiding light. This involves a lot of skepticism, fact checking and verification – in this field, Israeli media still has a long way to go.”

"Is It Just Me?"

Arlene Kushner

Last week, Syrian president Bashar Assad, in a statement made to Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos, which was carried by Syrian media, observed that, "Israel is not serious about achieving peace since all facts point out that Israel is pushing the region towards war, not peace."

This was followed by a statement Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem that "Israel should not test Syria's determination. ... Israel knows that war will move to the Israeli cities. ... Israel has to commit to the just and comprehensive peace requirements.This is saber rattling, with the message being that we had better start thinking about relinquishing the Golan Heights (which is the Syrian version of "just and comprehensive peace requirements").


Our Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who takes no guff from anyone, responded in a speech at Bar Ilan University on Thursday:

"Assad should know that if he attacks, he will not only lose the war. Neither he nor his family will remain in power.

"Our message should be that if Assad's father lost a war but remained in power, the son should know that an attack would cost him his regime. This is the message that must be conveyed to the Syrian leader by Israel."


Thus my question: Am I the only one who thinks this tough talk is just fine?

Some members of the Knesset were horrified. And Netanyahu's office released a statement indicating, "that the government's policy is clear: Israel's face is directed to peace and carrying out diplomatic negotiations with Syria without preconditions."

Tensions have been high between Syria and Israel, and the Prime Minister was seeking to cool things down. The question is whether "talking nice" genuinely serves our interests better than tough talk does.

Lieberman would say that it does not. In an interview on Friday, in which he defended himself, he commented that, "I don't work for the media or for public opinion.

"A red line was crossed like we have never seen before. A direct threat to attack population centers. What I said was at the right time in the right dosage...

"I think that the Golan Heights need to remain a part of Israel..."

"My response, which I made in order to clarify that the situation [with Syria] is unbearable, was immediately met with a hysterical reaction in Israel of 'how dare we anger the nobleman.'

He said that he found it unfortunate the Israeli left tends to react as it does: "I think that in the Middle East, we cannot let grave things go without a response."

To this, I say, Right on!

When he speaks of how the left reacts, he means with an attitude of appeasement, or self-abasement. What I would questions is whether it's only the left that this is true of. It's a very bad, and fairly mainstream, mode of thinking here in Israel.


I far prefer the tone of Lieberman to that of Defense Minister Ehud Barak (and yes, he's on the left), who spoke last week at the Herzliya Conference. It was critical, he said, to begin negotiations with Syria soon, while Assad perceived us as being strong. "In the absence of a deal with Syria, we could reach an armed conflict that could develop into a full fledged war."

But what does this mean? He seems to be suggesting that it's not enough to talk to Syria, we must reach a deal. If Syria insists that "a deal" requires us to relinquish the Golan, does that mean we relinquish it to avoid an "armed conflict" that could lead to "a full fledged war"? Hopefully this is not what Barak meant, but it sure sounds like it -- sounds like he advocates our making concessions to avoid that war. This sort of talk renders us weak, not strong.

There is an increase in the warlike bombast coming from Syria, and thus unease about the possibility that we're facing war to the north. Caroline Glick certainly voiced this opinion in her Friday column.

Strong means delivering to Assad the sort of message that came from Lieberman: Don't even think of starting with us, or you'll be the loser.


If you agree with me, you can tell Defense Minister Lieberman you're behind him:

Phone: 02-675-3231 (From the US: 011-972-2-675-3231)

Fax: 02-640-8921 (From the US: 011-972-2-640-8921)



Glick, by the way, noted that the "incendiary comments threatening Israel with war" came from the Syrian government on "the same day that the US informed Syria of its intention to send an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in five years."


As to our strength, or deterrence power, I note this aside, which I've picked up from a couple of different sources now:

While we are being accused of having assassinated key Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai last month, we are certainly not taking credit for this, and indications are that there were many others who would have been glad to eliminate him. (Latest news is that those who assassinated al-Mabhouh used Irish passports.)

Whatever the case, the word on the Arab street is that we did it. And so, whether we actually did or not, the perception that we are capable of this increases our deterrence. Perception is all important.


Yes, I confess, I missed it entirely, even though I had written about this in the past:

Last January there was a fight between the PA and Hamas regarding when Mahmoud Abbas's term as PA president was over. Hamas said the term was for four years, and Abbas had served for four years, so he was out.

The PA argued that the election for president that placed Abbas in office was held a year earlier than would be the case normally -- at a time that coincided with parliamentary elections, because Arafat had died and his successor had to be chosen. Thus, went the argument, Abbas would stay in office for five years.

Well, as of last month the five years was also over. But of course no elections were held because Hamas will not permit balloting in Gaza. So where does this leave Abbas now? He's a lame, lame-duck president. Or something.

What, we may ask, gives him legitimacy to negotiate anything? The issue is moot with regard to the legislature, which is not meeting in any event. But Abbas is carrying on, as if...

And the Obama administration, which is pushing "peace negotiations," ignores these niceties all together.


Abbas, meanwhile has said he is considering the Obama proposal for indirect negotiations and will announce a decision. He indicated, however, that the PA was not willing to "offer more compromises" to get the process going.

"More"? Incredible.


I refer above to the speech by Barak at the Herzliya Conference and now want to return to discuss what Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the same conference, which offered a generous measure of good news.

Netanyahu said -- this is NOT the good news -- that he had reason to believe that within weeks talks with the Palestinian Arabs would begin again, without preconditions. I have no idea what prompted him to make this announcement, which seems very far removed from the reality (unless he was referring to the "proximity" diplomacy), or why he should consider this a positive. It seems mostly pro forma, rather than something of import to him.

But what did have import was his statement that:

“Here in the land of our fathers, which is also the land of our children and grandchildren, in order to determine our fate we need to strengthen our collective efforts in three primary spheres: security, economy and education.”

He then spoke about security, and the need to strengthen the IDF, because “The weak do not survive in the difficult geographic region in which we find ourselves.” And of the need to have a vibrant economy to support the defense needs.

However, he said, what is also needed is a commitment from the people, and an understanding of why we are here. And for this, we must look to education, with the strengthening and deepening of “all of our connection to each other and this place...I think that this type of education begins with the Book of Books, it begins with the Bible.”


He added, with regard to the Bible, that “this is a subject close to my heart these days.”

This is clearly the case, in part, because his son, Avner, 15, just won the Jerusalem Regional Bible Quiz for state schools -- which perhaps tells us something. But I think, from off-the-record information I've received, that he's coming closer to Jewish tradition for other reasons as well.

Just as he says that the people need the connection to the Bible, to understand why we are here, so is his connection heartening, because it will help point him in the right direction.


Netanyahu is absolutely on the mark in fingering the need for the people of Israel to understand why we are here. The education necessary for the survival of Israel, he said, starts with the Bible and moves through our history to the Zionist present.

That he says this is exceedingly good news. So often I've lamented the fact that our leaders have failed to tell our narrative. But here he's prepared to recapture it.

Very soon, said the prime minister, he was going to be introducing a "Heritage Plan" to preserve archeological sites and historical sites. There will also be museums, where documents and photographs and films will be preserved and made available to the public.

Part of this heritage plan, said Netanyahu, would be the introduction of two Trails, to complement the already existing Israel Trail. Studies show that young people who have walked the land are highly motivated to serve in the military -- they feel connected to the land.

Now there will be a "Land of Israel trail, which will connect between dozens of ancient archaeological sites. Within our tiny piece of land, there are 30,000 ancient sites, 800 of which have clear national importance. Sadly, only 50 of those sites are open to the public, and even they are not in great shape. That is going to change on a huge scale.

"The second trail will be the "Israel Experience" trail. This trail will include the treasures of our country, and will serve as a living Land of Israel museum. It will connect between dozens of stops celebrating the history of the Jewish Yishuv [the Jewish population before the establishment of the State of Israel]. It will include historic buildings, settlement sites, small museums, memorial sites and personal stories - all of which are part of our Zionist heritage."

"I know people will ask: 'This is the topic you chose to speak of here, at a discussion about our national strength?" My answer is yes. Sometimes small steps lead to great things."

This plan, if carried out, is nothing short of marvelous.


You can see his entire talk here:


Please, thank Netanyahu for his vision.

Ask him to be sure that the plan will include archeological and historical sites beyond the Green Line, which is where much of our ancient history unfolded:

Fax: 02-670-5369 (From the US: 011-972-2-670-5369)

Phone: 03-610-9898 (From the US: 011-972-3-610-9898)

E-mail: and also (underscore after pm) use both addresses


see my website

Sunday, February 07, 2010


"Israel knows that if it declares war on Syria, such a war will reach its cities as well. Israel is sowing an atmosphere of war in the region. Once they threaten Gaza, once southern Lebanon, then Iran and now Syria. We are saying to them, 'Stop playing the role of villain in the region.' Syria does not rule out the possibility of an Israeli attack, as that entity lives on aggressiveness. If Israel touches southern Lebanon or Syria, this will turn into an all-out war." - Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem, February 3, 2010 In light of this most recent threat from the Syrian Foreign Minister, we thought it would be good to circulate the article written in January this year by Jan Willem van der Hoeven:

Peace, real peace comes through victory, not through endless negotiations.

Had England or the Allied Forces taken seriously Adolf Hitler's peace initiative when he sent his deputy, Rudolf Hess to Britain - no peace would have come to the European continent. To attain a true peace you have to win a war.

Britain, thank God, understood what few in today's Israel understand.

This is the theme that which is repeated over and over again in the very Book the Jewish people were a channel for giving to the world; yet they themselves are so woefully ignorant of this lesson.

Here is one such passage:

And Elisha said to him, "Take a bow and some arrows." So he took himself a bow and some arrows. Then he said to the king of Israel, "Put your hand on the bow." So he put his hand on it, and Elisha put his hands on the king's hands.And he said, "Open the east window"; and he opened it. Then Elisha said, "Shoot"; and he shot. And he said, "The arrow of the LORD's deliverance and the arrow of deliverance from Syria; for you must strike the Syrians at Aphek till you have destroyed them."Then he said, "Take the arrows"; so he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, "Strike the ground"; so he struck three times, and stopped.And the man of God was angry with him, and said, "You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck Syria till you had destroyed it! But now you will strike Syria only three times." (2 Kings 13:15-19)

While Christians are taught, in relation to personal life, to turn the other cheek and to pray for their enemies, the same Scriptures they hold dear also teach that 'government does not bear the sword in vain,' and under God Himself every honorable government has the national duty to defend and protect, in the best possible way, the citizens entrusted to their care. This of course is also true in relation to the government of Israel, surrounded on all sides - as it is today - by fierce and deadly enemies intent on her final destruction.

In the former building of Yad Vashem, commemorating the victims of the dreadful Holocaust of the Jewish people, who perished under the Nazis often with the willful compliance of many of the virulent anti-Semites in the countries in which they perpetrated their monstrous act, a photograph was exhibited of the cordial meeting in Berlin between the Fuhrer and the then leader of the Palestinian people: the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini of Jerusalem. For those who have the willingness to see and comprehend - this picture says it all.

A deep, deep hatred for the Jewish people existed in the Muslim Palestinian leadership long years before the Jews had their independent state. It is not for nothing that Muslim children often reveal what they have learned and believe from their superiors to be their ultimate aim and fervent desire, when during wars with Israel they sing: "First we will kill the Saturday people (= the Jews), and then we will kill the Sunday people (= the Christians)."

To varying degrees, each Muslim-controlled nation shares this dream and desire - NOT a dream, like that nurtured by so many, many Israelis, for a peaceful coexistence with their former enemies, but a dream wherein the Muslim Middle East will one day be free of the cancerous growth called Israel. That is the goal for which most of the Muslim nations, if not all, have been striving and still strive today!

Every honest observer and student of history can learn this disturbing reality from what follows. Though many may, at first, be unwilling to come to grips with it - there is after all not so much difference between what the Nazis wanted - the excising of the Jewish cancer in their midst - and what the majority of today's ferocious enemies of Israel aspire to: the dissolution of the hated Jewish state in their Muslim midst!

The origins of this present hatred amazingly lay in Egypt, the very nation with which Israel has made a kind of peace; a shaky peace, because even President Anwar Al Sadat tried his utmost include a clause during the drawing up of the Camp David Accords which, even as he signed a kind of peace treaty, would give Egypt the right to again go to war against Israel if Israel attacked any other Arab states with which Egypt was in league.

Seeing through Sadat's very clever ruse, Menachem Begin threw up his hands and exclaimed that in that case he, as prime minister of Israel, would be signing not a treaty of peace, but of war, giving Egypt by his very signature the right to make war again on the Jewish state when Egypt perceived it its brotherly, Islamic duty to come again to the aid of Israel's other enemies when they were threatened by Israel.

What this means is that Sadat's peace plan was, in reality, a cleverly calculated sham, which the majority of often-gullible Israeli politicians and people were quick to ignore or deny.

Two Israelis who did have the courage and intellectual honesty to see through this wrote as follows.

Sadat also rejected Article 6, section 5 of the November 11, 1978 American draft treaty according to which "The parties undertake to fulfill in good faith their obligations under the treaty ... independently of any instrument external to the treaty." This provision would have given the treaty precedence not only over the West Bank/Gaza issue (on which Sadat wanted the exchange of ambassadors to depend), but also over any agreement which Egypt has with other Arab states. It nullified in effect, Egypt's log-standing membership in the united Arab front of aggression against Israel. Thus, in rejecting Article 6, section 5 of the draft treaty, Sadat was simply looking for a legal loophole to "justify" breaking off diplomatic relations with Israel at his convenience, while continuing to pursue his strategy of conquest. The final "peace" treaty leaves this matter comfortably ambiguous. (Indeed, hardly was the ink dry on the treaty when, in April 1979, Egyptian Prime Minister Mustapha Khalil declared: "If Syria goes to war to liberate the Golan, this could be considered a defensive war and the joint Arab Defense Pact [sic] could be invoked." (Sadat's Strategy by Paul Eidelberg, Dawn Publishing Company, Quebec, Canada, 1979. pp 20-21)

And if this was not enough, on December 4, 1948, Sadat's Deputy Prime Minister, Fahri Makram Abid , declared that "the treaty with Israel is not the end but only a frame for realizing the aims of the Arabs ... In the future we shall demand of Israel to relinquish its Zionist goals ... to abolish its 'law of return' ... to abandon the idea of its historical rights to the land of Israel and ... to stop the immigration of Jews to Israel." To demand this of Israel is to call for its termination as a sovereign state. (Ibid. pp 86-87)

Shmuel Katz, a close advisor and confidant of Menachem Begin who was present at the peace talks in Washington, related this episode of duplicity:

In Jerusalem he [President Jimmy Carter] was received gloomily. The atmosphere of crisis clouded all the courses at the State dinner given in his honor. Begin, in his speech there, again announced that the situation in the negotiations was critical. He was outspoken. "It is impossible to demand of us that we sign a peace treaty which from the outset gives legitimacy to whoever violates it." The next morning it became known that the government of Israel had proved that it was definitely possible "to demand of Israel that it sign a peace treaty that from the outset gives legitimacy to whoever violates it." Begin had again capitulated.

The peace treaty between Israel and Egypt includes an Appendix (described as "Agreed Minutes",) which provides an interpretation to paragraph 5 of Article 6 of the Peace Treaty. It reads:

"It is agreed by the Parties that there is no assertion that this Treaty prevails over other Treaties or agreements or that other Treaties or agreements prevail over this Treaty. The foregoing is not to be construed as contravening the provisions of Article VI (5) of the Treaty, which reads as follows:

'Subject to Article 103 of the United Nations Charter, in the event of a conflict between the obligations of the Parties under the present Treaty and any of their obligations, the obligations of this treaty will be binding and implemented.'"

The first part of the interpretative article nullifies the priority status of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. It accords Egypt license to go to war with Israel together with an Arab country or several Arab countries whenever convenient to her or to them. ...

With the introduction of Clause 6 in the "agreed minutes" Egypt's future war against Israel will be represented as honoring a commitment whose legality Israel itself had recognized. (The Hollow Peace by Shmuel Katz, Published by Dvir Co. Ltd. and The Jerusalem Post, 1981, pp 298, 299, emphasis in the original.)

For many today, the above-mentioned facts may be brushed aside as nothing more than interesting footnotes of modern Middle Eastern history. If true, however, then with the ever-growing radicalization of ISLAM as we have recently seen in Turkey, Egypt may as yet pose a serious and singular threat to Israel.

Certainly, then, Egypt may also soon turn into a warring enemy that Israel will have to face.

Let us not forget that Egypt already initiated two major wars against Israel: The Six Day War under Gamal Abdul Nasser, and the Yom Kippur War under the devious Anwar Al Sadat. On top of that, Egypt has been - and is increasingly again -the breeding ground for the worst kind of Islamic fundamentalists who gave rise to some of Israel's most vociferous and dangerous enemies.

This is how authors David Dalin and John Rothmann describe this phenomenon in their book "Icon of Evil."

As the convener and president of the World Islamic Congress, Haj Amin al-Husseini was now increasingly recognized as the preeminent voice of radical Islam and a new and powerful force on the world political scene. ... Many future leaders of radical Islam, such as Egyptian presidents Gamal Abdel Nasser and Anwar Al Sadat, began their political careers as young activists in the Muslim Brotherhood during the 1930s. Youssef Nada, chairman of Al Taqwa Bank, joined the Muslim Brotherhood during World War II, when he was recruited along with others in the Muslim Brotherhood by German military intelligence agents supervised by the mufti for espionage against the British colonial government in Egypt. Yasser Arafat became active in the Muslim Brotherhood during the early 1950s.

The Muslim Brotherhood had been founded in Cairo by al-Husseini's ideological soul-mate, Hassan al-Banna, a young Egyptian schoolteacher...

The Muslim Brotherhood, a forerunner of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al-Qaeda, was established as a pan-Islamic movement that believed in the virtue of a one-world Islamic utopia and the use of terrorism, when necessary, to achieve its goal. From the brotherhood's inception, jihad (holy war) became one of its central tenets. Members of the brotherhood emphasized the honor and reverence given to those who sacrifice their lives as jihadist martyrs in the name of Islam, proclaiming, "Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Koran is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the name of Allah is our highest hope." ...

The rise of radical Islam, and the evolution of its political and religious worldview, drew further inspiration from the writings of the Muslim Brotherhood's most influential theoretician, Sayyid Qutb ...

...Qutb had a profound ideological influence on the emerging radical Islamic movement, including its principle leaders - ranging from al-Husseini and al-Banna in the 1930s to Yasser Arafat, Ayatollah Khomeini, and Osama bin Laden in later decades - and its principle terrorist organizations - Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda. Together, al-Husseini, al-Banna, and Qutb constituted the founding fathers of radical Islam as we know it today. ...

Another protégé of the mufti, and for many years one of his most trusted allies and loyal political supporters, was future Egyptian president Anwar Al Sadat. Sadat, like his close fried and associate Gamal Abdel Nasser, whom he succeeded as president of Egypt, had begin his political career in the mid-1930s as a teenage activist with the Muslim Brotherhood. It was through his early political activity with the brotherhood that Sadat (like Nasser) had first met al-Husseini. Both Sadat and Nasser boasted a long history of pro-Nazi sympathies and anti-Semitic speeches. In his autobiography, In Search of Identity, Sadat candidly admitted that he was inspired by Hitler's Germany. Like his friend Nasser, Sadat was recruited by the mufti to engage in espionage activity on behalf of the Third Reich. During World War II, Sadat had worked for the mufti as a spy for Nazi Germany in British-occupied Egypt. He later served a term in prison for his role in these pro-German activities. Sadat's attitude did not change after World War II. In 1953, while serving as a close associate and political confidant of al-Husseini, Sadat published a letter in the Egyptian weekly Al-Mussawar, addressed posthumously to Hitler, in which he expressed sorrow over the defeat of the Third Reich and hailed Hitler as the "immortal leader of Germany." (Icon of Evil - Hitler's Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam by David G. Dalin and John F. Rothmann; Random House, New York, 2008. pp 35, 36, 37, 38, 87)

Should Egypt, therefore, again make war with little Israel one day, after all the wars, bloodshed and duplicity against Israel Egypt has already been responsible for, God's judgment and response will be swift and devastating.

That Egypt is specifically singled out in this serious way in the prophetic Scriptures proves this very point!

Look! You are trusting in the staff of this broken reed, Egypt, on which if a man leans, it will go into his hand and pierce it. So is Pharaoh king of Egypt to all who trust in him. (Isaiah 36:6)

"Egypt shall be a desolation,
And Edom a desolate wilderness,
Because of violence against the people of Judah,
For they have shed innocent blood in their land.
But Judah shall abide forever,
And Jerusalem from generation to generation.
For I will acquit them of the guilt of bloodshed, whom I had not acquitted;
For the LORD dwells in Zion." (Joel 3:19-21)

In that day Egypt will be like women, and will be afraid and fear because of the waving of the hand of the LORD of hosts, which He waves over it. And the land of Judah will be a terror to Egypt; everyone who makes mention of it will be afraid in himself, because of the counsel of the LORD of hosts which He has determined against it. (Isaiah 19: 16,17)

This is not to say that God's Word ignores the other nations which have - in the past and up to this very day - caused so much suffering to the Jewish nation, like Edom (Saudi Arabia) mentioned here, and Syria as well as others. But the very nation of Egypt, which has been trumpeted as a moderate and champion of peace, God shows to be not all that trustworthy.

It is my prayer that Israel's leaders may heed these words.

In exchange for: All the loss of Sinai with its strategic depth - crucial in the event of renewed war with Egypt, - the loss of Israel's oil fields, the self-destruction of Israeli settlements - a very bad precedent - and the loss of so much more - Israel got a temporary peace that can be broken, as Anwar Sadat clearly foresaw, at any time that may suit Egypt's Islamic Arab strategic interests.

There is an additional reason why Egypt - and this without any Israelis realizing it - has become a snare: Egypt's insistence on a 100 percent withdrawal from Sinai and the dismantling of Israel's outposts - Yamit etc. The consequence: a judenrein solution and a 100 percent withdrawal for any peace efforts can and will now be the norm and demand of Arab states. For why should Syria (which in any case aspires to become Greater Syria, inclusive of all of Lebanon and "Palestine,") wish to settle for anything less than "moderate" and "peacemaking" Egypt, as she is touted as being by Israel and the world?

I still remember how Israel was pressured by Egypt to give back the last meters of sand near Taba; and how on re-entering this last piece of "their" Sinai the Egyptians were shouting: "Today Taba, tomorrow Jerusalem!" There was not even a hint of any thankfulness or willingness to co-exist with the Jewish State of Israel.

God has seen this also, and though His people in their fervent and sometimes blind pursuit of peace have been willing to swallow all these sufferings, setbacks and humiliations, not so God. He indeed has registered all these injustices in His books, and His answer will come as surely as He has said it will.

Therefore, if Anwar Al Sadat, an open and fervent admirer of Adolf Hitler, an early student and activist in Egypt's fanatical Muslim Brotherhood, and a student of the German military genius Carl von Clausewitz - could become the inspiring hope for peace to the majority in Israel, then to the Israeli elite and leadership, any deception is possible.

Arafat, a pathological liar - as even Ariel Sharon called him - an arch-murderer and terrorist, taught in his young years by the evil, totally pro-Nazi Icon, Jerusalem Mufti Amin al-Husseini, became also a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace (as had Sadat,) all because of the arrogant - "we know better" - and often gullible Israeli leaders' blind pursuit of peace.

Two intifadas, numerous terrorist attacks in his name, and all the broken promises for a true peace - all this caused a slight doubt to enter at least some Israelis regarding their self-touted peace partner Arafat, but NOT for long!

After Arafat's death, the world and Israel quickly ran after a new hope for 'peace.' Abu Mazen, the one who stood at Arafat's side during all his murderous exploits, was co-initiator of the massacre of Israeli Olympic Athletes in Munich and is an ardent Holocaust-denier: he is now Israel's and the world's hope for peace, even as he is kept in the unsure saddle of his Palestinian leadership by the Israeli government and army, while he remains totally beholden to all the anti-Israel ISLAMIC feelings of most of his Muslim surroundings.

If Sadat was murdered by these same evil forces, so will Abu Mazen be, even if, under pressure of the West and Israel's blind leadership, he would get "his Palestinian state" from Israel.

He, already old, may either go the way of Sadat or die a natural death, and more radical Hamas-like persons will thankfully receive the just-created Palestinian state for the purpose for which is has always been intended: as a base and springboard towards Israel's final destruction. As even Yitzhak Rabin once remarked: "A Palestinian state will be built on the ruins of the State of Israel."

But Israel's willingness to travel this road of deception under constant pressure of the world, though much wounded and still shaken, is more or less intact. Not only do they see the totally untrustworthy Abu Mazen still as a hope for peace, ridiculous as this may seem, but Bashar el-Assad the fervent supporter of all terrorist actions against Israel - be it via Iran's Hezbollah or Khaled Mashaal's Hamas - is still being thought of by some absolutely foolish people as the man that can be pushed or cajoled into a certain peace deal with Israel. As for a starter - and this every Israeli should know by now - receiving all of the Golan must be a given before Assad is even willing to talk to the Israelis.

So here we go - after Anwar Sadat comes Arafat, after Arafat, Abu Mazen, and after Abu Mazen, Assad of Syria. Every one of them of course wants all of "their" lost territory, so that then the now nearly totally Islamized world will gladly finish off what is then left of Israel!

Jan Willem van der Hoeven, Director

Is this Israel's calm before the storm?

It's been a year since the election that brought Benjamin Netanyahu to power in Israel and, for most Israelis, it's been the best year in recent memory. There has been almost no violence or breaches of security, and the country's economy weathered the world recession remarkably well. Israelis, for the most part, feel safe and secure, and the Prime Minister's rating in public opinion surveys reflects that satisfaction: Mr. Netanyahu is retaining his hold on his centre-right supporters and is gaining support among voters in the centre and on the left. The only drop he has suffered is among voters of the far right who reject his temporary freeze on construction in some Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Now, it seems, 2010 is supposed to be even calmer. The country's annual intelligence assessment released this week spoke of “low probability of war” and little likelihood of serious clashes.

But as veteran Israeli observers will tell you, when you hear such rosy forecasts, it's time to head for the shelters.

“Experience in the Middle East shows that calm can turn into tension, and tension can turn into war, in an instant,” wrote Aluf Benn in yesterday's Haaretz newspaper. (Article Below)

A flare-up in sabre-rattling with Syria is the exception that proved the rule. Syrian officials warned that, if there were a war, Israeli cities would become targets, and that drew a bellicose response from Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said that, in that event, the Assad regime would be toppled.

Mr. Netanyahu moved swiftly to calm the waters and return matters to their previous quiet. Israelis were left scratching their heads about where all the rhetoric had come from.

It came, in fact, from an apparent misinterpretation by Damascus of remarks made earlier this week by Ehud Barak, the former Israeli prime minister and the current Defence Minister. Mr. Barak had told an audience that, if peace with Syria is not achieved, Israel could face an unnecessary war that would leave issues between the countries exactly where they are now.

It was intended as a cautionary note to Israelis not to be complacent, but it so surprised the regime of Bashar al-Assad that they took it for a threat. Perhaps it's one of the consequences of not having a channel of communications between the two countries' leaders.

Mr. Barak's warning has fallen on deaf ears in Israel, where most people can't imagine a peace that would entail giving back to Syria the Golan Heights, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

“Why would we want do that?” people ask. “There's no chance of war with Syria, and the Golan has become part of Israel. It's a great place to visit during Passover.”

Mr. Barak is not alone in warning of the danger of complacency.

Jordan's King Abdullah and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also have cautioned Israel about being too smug.

“Israel should give some thought to what it would be like to lose a friend like Turkey in the future,” Mr. Erdogan said this week.

It was Ankara that provided the good offices through which Israeli and Syrian officials conducted negotiations aimed at a peace agreement more than a year ago.

But the once-valued ally – Turkey and Israel even carried out joint military exercises – has been snubbed by the Netanyahu administration for having criticized Israel's assault on Gaza early last year.

As for the Palestinians, with whom Mr. Netanyahu has yet to enter into peace talks, Mr. Barak also warned: “A deadlock will lead to another round of violence that will serve Hamas.”

Up to now, there has been little public pressure on Mr. Netanyahu to change things.

Most Israelis never encounter Palestinians, though most Israelis live within a few kilometres of them. Few Palestinians can enter Israel, including east Jerusalem, and almost no prudent Israelis ever journey into the Palestinian territories. Israelis are more likely to visit Rangoon than Ramallah.

Most of the Israelis who do come into contact with Palestinians are settlers, and that contact usually is through their car windows, as they whisk past Palestinians on the sides of the roads that carry Israelis to their settlements in the West Bank.

It is true that life is better these days for many Palestinians, as the Netanyahu government has removed many internal checkpoints and the Palestinian economy has blossomed.

But the comforts that have arrived in the West Bank's major cities have yet to trickle down to the hundreds of Palestinian villages and smaller towns.

As well, the dream of statehood remains elusive, and the Palestinian Authority has a president whose term expired more than a year ago. The elected Palestinian Legislative Council has been suspended for almost three years.

President Mahmoud Abbas stands firm in his refusal to negotiate with Israelis until they cease construction in all settlements, including those in east Jerusalem. This position wins him a measure of respect, but the settlements continue to expand, and the rival Hamas organization grows stronger.

Rather than trying to find a solution in peace talks, the Palestinian Authority harasses Hamas officials and keeps some 600 Hamas members in jail. The result of such heavy-handedness is to distance many of the people from their rulers and to generate more support for Hamas.

Few Israelis, however, feel the need to press Mr. Netanyahu into ending this situation by agreeing to Mr. Abbas's demand for a real halt to settlement construction.

To most Israelis, security is measured in whether they feel safe taking the bus or sitting in a popular café, both of which had been targets of suicide bombers in the past. By such measures, Israelis feel very safe. The last suicide bombing was five years ago and, for every warning from a King Abdullah or a Recep Tayyip Erdogan, there's a Silvio Berlusconi or a Mike Huckabee to reassure Israelis they're doing everything right.

Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad has taken his case to the enemy's camp, speaking this week at the annual Herzliya Conference, at which Israeli leaders regularly attend. He told his audience that, if Palestinians didn't achieve statehood through negotiations, they would opt for a unilateral declaration of independence. His biggest task, he said, is constructing the infrastructure for such a day.

Mr. Fayyad is dead serious, and the prospect of a unilateral declaration and a campaign to win world support for the Palestinian state should jar Israelis out of their complacence. But the fact that he spoke in such a gathering of elite Israelis suggests he is more friend than enemy, so why worry?

President Barack Obama's recent admission of failure to get Israeli-Palestinian peace talks started, meanwhile, has left the Netanyahu government gloating and the Israeli peace camp marginalized.

History, however, suggests this smugness could be the calm before the storm. In 1973, recalls Gideon Rafael, a former director general of foreign affairs, Israelis were brimming with confidence from their victory in the 1967 war and didn't see the coming of the Yom Kippur War that would almost defeat them.

Similarly, in the wake of the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty and the successful routing of the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon in 1982, Israel was blind to the advent of the Palestinian intifada in 1987 and the potency that campaign would have.

And in the late 1990s, Israel was basking in the glow of the Oslo peace process and was blind to the second, more violent intifada on the horizon.

Israelis aren't likely to heed Ehud Barak's warnings right now; they have been conditioned to reject criticism. And who can blame them? For 62 years, their little country has been mostly isolated and often at war. They don't want to hear bad news just when things seem quiet.

But it's got so that even great supporters of Israel can't criticize it with impunity.

This week, a right-wing movement, Im Tirtzu, has launched a campaign against the New Israel Fund, a 30-year-old organization that supports various human-rights groups in Israel. It blasts the NIF for assisting Richard Goldstone, the South African judge whose report on the Gaza campaign raised questions about possible war crimes and crimes against humanity, and for supporting the idea of an independent inquiry into the Gaza assault.

On Thursday, NIF president Naomi Chazan was told by The Jerusalem Post that it was dropping her weekly column.

One more critical voice is quieted, and the rest of the country goes back to planning its Passover vacation.


Fri., February 05, 2010 Shvat 21, 5770

World isn't buying Israel's explanations anymore
By Aluf Benn

"Your situation isn't good," said a high-ranking European diplomat recently. "No one believes Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] and we don't want any connection with [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Lieberman. Only a dramatic and surprising diplomatic move, like [former prime minister] Ariel Sharon's disengagement, will change the impression."

A few hours later, Time magazine published an interview with U.S. President Barack Obama, in which he expressed disappointment with Israel's unwillingness to make "bold gestures" toward the Palestinians.

In a speech at a conference not long ago, an Israeli diplomat serving in a European capital touted Israel's hoary PR line, distinguishing between "the only democracy in the Middle East" and its autocratic Arab neighbors.

"We share common values," the Israeli told the Europeans. To his surprise, a member of the audience stood up and replied to him: "What common values? We have nothing in common with you."

In diplomatic conversations, Europeans are critical of Israel because of the Gaza blockade, the construction in the Jewish settlements, the home demolitions in East Jerusalem, the pervasive loathing of the right-wing government and even the social gaps and the way Israel is moving away from the European welfare-state model.

The Netanyahu-Lieberman government is nearly always described as "hard-line" in the foreign media. This is not entirely fair: The government of Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni went to war in Lebanon and Gaza and built thousands of apartments for Jews in East Jerusalem and the West Bank settlement blocs - many more than did Netanyahu, who has refrained from employing military force and has declared a 10-month freeze on settlement construction. But they liked the Kadima government because Olmert and Livni made the right noises about their desire for peace and a final status agreement, whereas they don't believe Netanyahu when he talks about "two states for two peoples." The fact that Olmert and Livni achieved nothing in the negotiations makes no difference. It's the intentions that count.

Netanyahu and his aides have answers to the accusations against Israel. The blame for the Gaza blockade lies squarely with the Palestinians, who chose Hamas to reign over them and kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit. "You are worrying about the humanitarian rights of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza. You should be worrying about one Israeli who is being held there," Netanyahu's people tell UN representatives.

In East Jerusalem, the government is hiding behind Mayor Nir Barkat and the planning and construction institutions, which are approving building plans for Jews and home demolitions for Palestinians. And for the diplomatic stagnation, it is blaming Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is refusing to renew the talks.

There is one little problem: The world isn't buying Israel's explanations and it isn't prepared to condemn Palestinian obduracy. Obama has split the blame for the stagnation between the two sides and has also taken some of it upon himself ("We raised expectations").

American envoy George Mitchell's appeal to the members of the Quartet that they urge Abbas to return to talks, has gone unanswered. This week he completed another frustrating visit to the region, with zero results.

Obama's approach - to "park" the diplomatic process for lack of achievements and to concentrate on domestic issues - has not surprised Netanyahu. Three months ago, a senior Israeli official said the Obama administration would probably put off the Israeli-Palestinian problem to his second term, explaining: "Now they're weak, they have unemployment and the economic crisis, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and they aren't emerging from that. They don't have the strength to complete an agreement. In the meantime, the maintenance will continue."

U.S. officials are hoping talks will be renewed within six months. The main thing is that there be some negotiations. They have no expectations of more than that.

Disturbing scenario

The Palestinian Authority is conducting a campaign to isolate Israel, based on the Goldstone report and the hatred for the Netanyahu government. Political scientists Shaul Mishal and Doron Mazza are calling it "the white intifada," which is aimed at enlisting international support for a unilateral declaration of independence in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. In a document they distributed last week, they warn of Israeli complaisance and present a disturbing scenario: The Palestinians declare independence, and Israel refuses to recognize it and is faced with a boycott. Regardless of whether it yields or reacts with force, Israel cannot win, and will also lose control of the process. Therefore the two scholars recommend a preemptive diplomatic move.

Diplomatic isolation can be costly. Former Foreign Ministry director general Gideon Rafael wrote in his memoirs that in the summer of 1973, he felt that the diplomatic stagnation, which was perceived as something taken for granted, and perhaps even desirable, was liable to become "a death trap."

Former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat cut Israel off from its friends in the Third World, proposed a peace initiative to the Americans and was rejected. He then raised the demand for the return of the Sinai Peninsula in the UN Security Council and came up against an American veto.

In his book, "Destination Peace: Three decades of Israeli Foreign Policy, a Personal Memoir" (published in English by Littlehampton Book Services, 1981), Rafael wrote that Israel rejoiced in the veto and did not realize that closing the diplomatic door left Egypt with only one option - war.

In the coming weeks Israel apparently will request an American veto in the Security Council again, in order to bury the Goldstone report. Netanyahu is planning a fourth meeting with Obama, concerning the nuclear security conference in Washington on April 12 and perhaps even before then. The agenda will center on Iran - or "the new Amalek," as Netanyahu called it in Auschwitz on Wednesday. The question is whether alongside his demand that Obama take action against Iran, Netanyahu will also tell him that in exchange, Israel will take some sort of initiative vis-a-vis the Palestinians. This would be in an attempt to persuade the world to believe him and ameliorate Israel's increasing diplomatic isolation. .