Saturday, October 02, 2010

Palestinians: Ball in Netanyahu's court

PA's chief negotiator Erekat says keys for saving peace negotiations in Israeli prime minister's hands. 'Peace and settlements are parallels,' he says. Palestinian officials estimate, however, that PLO will approve return to talks if Israel builds in settlements blocs only – under supervision

Ali Waked
Israel News

Palestinian Authority officials estimated Friday that the Palestinian Liberation Organization's Executive Committee would approve a return to direct negotiations with Israel, as long as the parties reached a formula to continue the settlement construction freeze.

The PLO's Executive Committee is scheduled to meet Saturday to discuss recent developments following US special envoy George Mitchell's visit to the region. According to the sources, Mitchell told the Palestinians that the Israelis were willing to halt construction in isolated settlements in exchanged for accepted construction in the settlement blocs.

A Palestinian source estimated in a conversation with Ynet that the Palestinian leadership would demand an American guarantee for supervision system which would inspect the construction in the large settlements and ensure that there would be no building in isolated communities.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said following the Mitchell-Abbas meeting that the Palestinians expected Israel to choose the path of peace rather than the path of settlements. "These are two parallels which cannot meet," he explained.

Erekat noted that the Palestinian demand was clear: Halting all settlement activities in order to give the direct talks a chance to succeed. He said that Mitchell had stressed during the meetings that the American administration would continue its efforts with both sides to achieve peace in the region based on a solution of two states for two people.

Erekat said that the keys for saving the negotiations were in the hands of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who said earlier that the ball was in the Palestinian court.

"I have met all of my commitments to the Palestinians, the American administration and the international community,"
Netanyahu told his advisors in a closed conversation. "Now I expect the Palestinians to relax their conditions and stay in the talks."

According to the prime minister, "Everyone knows that moderate and restrained construction in Judea and Samaria in the coming year will not affect the peace map in any way.
So the international community must call on the Palestinians to remain in the peace talks. This is a Palestinian interest just like it's our interest."

Meanwhile, senior Likud officials implied that they would support an extension of the West Bank settlement construction freeze in exchange for a "significant" incentive package from the American administration.

Friday, October 01, 2010


Arlene Kushner

Several of my readers have sent me a most excellent Rosh Hashana sermon by Rabbi Shalom Lewis of Congregation Etz Chaim in Atlanta. Entitled "EHR KUMT" (he is coming!), this stunning sermon is everything I was told it was, and more:

" a rabbi I have a compelling obligation, a responsibility to articulate what is in my heart and what I passionately believe must be said and must be heard. And so, I am guided not by what is easy to say but by what is painful to express. I am guided not by the frivolous but by the serious. I am guided not by delicacy but by urgency.

"We are at war. We are at war with an enemy as savage, as voracious, as heartless as the Nazis but one wouldn’t know it from our behavior. During WWII we didn’t refer to storm troopers as freedom fighters. We didn’t call the Gestapo, militants. We didn’t see the attacks on our Merchant Marine as acts by rogue sailors. We did not justify the Nazis rise to power as our fault. We did not grovel before the Nazis, thumping our hearts and confessing to abusing and mistreating and humiliating the German people. We did not apologize for Dresden, nor for The Battle of the Bulge, nor for El Alamein, nor for D-Day. "Evil – ultimate, irreconcilable, evil threatened us and Roosevelt and Churchill had moral clarity and an exquisite understanding of what was at stake. It was not just the Sudetenland, not just Tubruk, not just Vienna, not just Casablanca. It was the entire planet. Read history and be shocked at how frighteningly close Hitler came to creating a Pax Germana on every continent.
"...In WWII we won because we got it. We understood who the enemy was and we knew that the end had to be unconditional and absolute. We did not stumble around worrying about offending the Nazis. We did not measure every word so as not to upset our foe. We built planes and tanks and battleships and went to war to win….. to rid the world of malevolence.

"We are at war… yet too many stubbornly and foolishly don’t put the pieces together and refuse to identify the evil doers. We are circumspect and disgracefully politically correct.

"Let me mince no words in saying that from Fort Hood to Bali, from Times Square to London, from Madrid to Mumbai, from 9/11 to Gaza, the murderers, the barbarians are radical Islamists.

"To camouflage their identity is sedition. To excuse their deeds is contemptible. To mask their intentions is unconscionable.
"...The sages teach – 'Aizehu chacham – haroeh et hanolad – Who is a wise person – he who sees into the future.' We dare not wallow in complacency, in a misguided tolerance and naïve sense of security.

"We must be diligent students of history and not sit in ash cloth at the waters of Babylon weeping. We cannot be hypnotized by eloquent-sounding rhetoric that soothes our heart but endangers our soul. We cannot be lulled into inaction for fear of offending the offenders. Radical Islam is the scourge and this must be cried out from every mountain top. From sea to shining sea, we must stand tall, prideful of our stunning decency and moral resilience. Immediately after 9/11 how many mosques were destroyed in America? None. After 9/11, how many Muslims were killed in America? None. After 9/11, how many anti-Muslim rallies were held in America? None. And yet, we apologize. We grovel. We beg forgiveness.

"Israel is the laboratory – the test market. Every death, every explosion, every grisly encounter is not a random, bloody orgy. It is a calculated, strategic probe into the heart, guts and soul of the West.

"In the Six Day War, Israel was the proxy of Western values and strategy while the Arab alliance was the proxy of Eastern, Soviet values and strategy. Today too, it is a confrontation of proxies, but the stakes are greater than East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Israel in her struggle represents the civilized world, while Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda, Iran, Islamic Jihad, represent the world of psychopathic, loathsome evil.

"As Israel, imperfect as she is, resists the onslaught, many in the Western World have lost their way displaying not admiration, not sympathy, not understanding, for Israel’s galling plight, but downright hostility and contempt. Without moral clarity, we are doomed because Israel’s galling plight ultimately will be ours. Hanna Arendt in her classic Origins of Totalitarianism accurately portrays the first target of tyranny as the Jew. We are the trial balloon. The canary in the coal mine. If the Jew/Israel is permitted to bleed with nary a protest from “good guys” then tyranny snickers and pushes forward with its agenda.

"Moral confusion is a deadly weakness and it has reached epic proportions in the West; from the Oval Office to the UN, from the BBC to Reuters to MSNBC, from the New York Times to Le Monde, from university campuses to British teachers unions, from the International Red Cross to Amnesty International, from Goldstone to Elvis Costello, from the Presbyterian Church to the Archbishop of Canterbury.

"...Democracies don’t always win. Tyrannies don’t always lose.

"My friends – the world is on fire and we must awake from our slumber. 'EHR KUMT.'”


Indeed! We must awake from our slumber. Time grows short.

You can -- and, I will suggest, should -- read the entire sermon. You can find it by clicking here. You can also access it by going on to the synagogue website at and clicking on EHR KUMT. Read it, read it a second time and a third time if necessary. Absorb its message.

I then urge you to share this with as many others as possible Give them the URL. Copy and past my summary, above, along with it, if you wish. Or simply forward this posting.


A thanks to all who sent this to me. And a special thanks to Rabbi Lewis, first, of course, for writing and delivering this powerful material, and then for graciously arranging for it to be placed on his synagogue's website so that I might share it (and the URL) with all of you.

(For the record: In some versions of the sermon circulating on the Internet the rabbi's name is given as Shlomo. It is properly Shalom. The term "ehr kumt" is explained in the full sermon.)


The holiday season is now ended, and here in Israel it's back to normal, whatever that means. I begin with a look at the last few days:

On Wednesday, journalist Eli Brodenstein, writing in Maariv, reported that Obama had sent a letter to Netanyahu offering several US gestures in return for a 60 day renewed freeze on construction. Brodstein wrote that this proposal was expected to be rejected by Netanyahu.

A major part of the proposal, as described, was an offer to block all Arab initiatives to raise the matter of a Palestinian state before the UN Security Council in the coming year [the time during which, presumably, a "peace" would be negotiated].

In analyzing this proposal, Dr. Aaron Lerner, of IMRA, noted that most media reports missed the crucial fact that this offer was only for one year:

"Until now, official American policy, as expressed both by President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, is that a Palestinian state could only be achieved via direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

"Rather than bolster this commitment, the Obama letter, if put into effect, would constitute a very significant deterioration in the American position.

"Simply put, under the Obama proposal, Israel would be 'rewarded' for extending the freeze by 60 days by having an American gun put to the Jewish State's forehead with the warning: 'make a deal with the Palestinians within a year or the Palestinians will unilaterally be rewarded with a sovereign Palestinians state.'

"The introduction of this American threat would irreparably doom the prospects of Israel actually reaching an agreement with the Palestinians during the course of the negotiations since the Palestinians would know that
they could bring to the UNSC whatever Israeli concessions were put on the table during the course of the year when they go to the USNC for an imposed solution."

This is not a new concern -- I have written about it before. If Israel, at the table, were to even tentatively agree (Heaven forbid): OK, if all other pieces fall into place, we will concede these and these borders, or that you can have Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, or whatever, the PA could then decline to make any concessions of its own in order to achieve an agreement and instead march to the Security Council and request a state predicated on the concessions Israel has already "offered."

Negotiations are, it seems, not only an exercise in futility, they present a real danger to Israel. Until now, there has been evidence that this is a plan the PA is seriously considering. But now Obama -- an enemy of Israel -- has shown himself ready to facilitate it.

As if this were not enough, Lerner additionally noted that:

"...Brodenstein adds that Mr. Obama also threatens that if his offer is not accepted that the U.S. will make what he terms a major gesture to the Palestinians damaging Israel: formally taking the stand that the final borders should be based on the '67 lines with adjustments."


Well, the good news is that Netanyahu has apparently refused the US offer.

By Thursday, Obama had come out with a denial, saying there was no offer. He never sent a letter with a proposal, he insisted; it was just a draft, being worked on by both sides.

It is exceedingly difficult for me to swallow this. David Makovsky, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which has close ties with the administration, has said that a letter was sent. Of course, Makovsky couched it in positive terms, but no matter: Obama's denial rings false.

Wrote Makovsky: "the letter explicitly mentions the need to ensure a complete ban on the smuggling of rockets, mortars, arms, and related items, as well as the infiltration of terrorists into Israel."

Are we expected to take this seriously? Does Makovsky? Just how would it be possible to "ensure a complete ban on the smuggling of rockets and infiltration of terrorists" after the founding of a Palestinian state? Even the IDF, operating with an impressively high degree of effectiveness in Judea and Samaria, does not achieve 100%. Although, of course, we might come close if the PA "security forces" were gone and we operated everywhere from a position of strength and impunity -- which fact is at the core of the security issue.


Two names are being mentioned on the Israeli side with regard to discussions on this letter. These are people who apparently signed off on sending such a letter to Netanyahu. One is Ehud Barak, our defense minister. No surprise there. This is the guy who offered Arafat the store in 2000.

The other is Yitzhak Molcho, a key Netanyahu advisor and negotiator. His involvement is problematic, because it becomes a question of what advice he is giving his boss. Warns Yaakov Katz, chair of the National Union party:

"The offer of advisor Molcho is like the advice of Achitofel, which will bring about the downfall of Netanyahu for the same reason he fell a decade ago." Achitofel was considered a wise man, but gave King David disastrous advice. Apparently sensible suggestions that are fraught with disaster are alluded to as "advice of Achitofel."


We can be certain that the issue of continuation of the freeze has not yet seen its end. Mitchell will be meeting, once again, with Netanyahu and Abbas today. And the EU is getting into the act, with EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton having arrived here as well.


PA prime minister Salam Fayyad, the darling of the West and the PA official touted as most moderate, was in New York about ten days ago, While there, he met with Israeli deputy foreign minister, Danny Ayalon. The meeting was held under the auspices of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, and a Norwegian representative had responsibility for drafting a summary of the meeting.

The summary referred to "two states," and Ayalon, inquiring as to what that meant --"One Palestinian state and one bi-national state, or another Palestinian state?" -- insisted that the summary say"two states for two peoples."

The mere suggestion of this so outraged Fayyad that he stormed out of the room, and a press conference that had been scheduled had to be cancelled.

Our "peace partner."


I have read criticism of Netanyahu for demanding that the PA recognize us as a Jewish state. We do not need their recognition or sanction, goes the criticism -- all that matters is that we know we are a Jewish state.

Well...yes, and no.

Of course what is primary, and deeply essential, is that we know who we are. That is another issue: something to be worked on if we are to retain pride in our heritage.

But I don't think Netanyahu is suggesting in any way that we need the Arabs to tell us who we are. And from the perspective of diplomacy and negotiations his demand is very much on the mark. The Arabs have to acknowledge what we are.

It should have been simple for Fayyad to say, certainly, let's call it two states for two people. But this most "moderate" of PA officials did not dare to do this because there would have been hell to pay back home.

Ayalon -- and more power to him for raising the issue so pointedly -- was on the mark, when he asked, "One Palestinian state and one bi-national state, or another Palestinian state?" Something like this is precisely what they are after. And we cannot afford to lose sight of this, ever.


Khaled Abu Toameh has a major analytic piece in today's JPost on "Abbas's credibility problem":

"Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's credibility has been damaged to a point where it's hard to envision a situation where he would be able to convince even a handful of Palestinians to accept any agreement he strikes with Israel.

"It's Abbas's repeated zigzagging, double-talk and empty threats that have been most devastating for him.

"This week, with the expiration of the moratorium on settlement construction, Abbas's credibility suffered another severe, if not fatal, blow.

"...Not surprisingly, at the same time that he was threatening, in Arabic, to pull out of the talks, the messages he and his aides were sending, in English, to Washington and Western governments was that they had no intention of suspending the negotiations."


Once more, the High Court has found in favor of petitioning Jews, ruling that property in the eastern part of Jerusalem belongs to them.

Until now, in the neighborhood known as Shimon HaTzadik (Sheikh Jarrah), on the eastern side of Nablus Road, three Arab families have been evicted because the court found that the property was Jewish-owned.

Now, with regard to a 10 dunam parcel of land on the other side of the Road, the High Court, upholding a lower court, has ruled that it belongs to Jews, with Jewish ownership going back to 1892. As their leases expire, it is anticipated that several Arab occupants of the buildings on this land will be required to leave.

Much is made of this by Arab activists and sympathizers. One community leader says this proves Israel is not a partner for peace. (Note: We're supposed to give carte blanche to Arab residents usurping the rights of Jewish property owners, but "peace" as defined by such people as this Arab leader would require all Jews in Judea and Samaria to leave their homes.) We can expect a good deal of noise about this in months ahead.

As I mentioned just the other day, in 1948, when Jordan took eastern Jerusalem, it was rendered Judenrein: All Jews were banished and their properties usurped. Thus did eastern Jerusalem become "Arab." In recent years, Jews have been reclaiming their right to properties taken from them or their families.


You might find this article by Steve Emerson, terrorism expert and director of The Investigative Project on Terrorism, on "Washington's Schizophrenic Approach Towards the Muslim Brotherhood":

"...Washington has no policy for dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood, despite evidence that the group's agenda is hostile to the United States. In some cases around the world, there may be little choice but to do so. But a number of people who study the issue contend that the U.S. government is needlessly legitimizing the Muslim Brotherhood.

"...'They're bullet-proof. It's horrible,' veteran journalist Douglas Farah said regarding the political strength of Brotherhood-affiliated groups like CAIR and ISNA. U.S. policy 'empower[s] groups whose ultimate goal is the creation of an Islamic nation in the United States.'"


"The Good News Corner"

The Israel National Roads Company announced a new initiative this past week that will enable bus riders at certain key locations to know when the next bus is coming. Solar-powered digital signs at selected bus stops would be linked to GPS transmitters aboard the buses.


Little Israel, with all her problems and challenges, is doing something very right with regard to health care. The life expectancy for Jews in Israel is longer than the average for the members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development -- in fact, it's longer than for all countries in the world except four.

Non-Jews in Israel (primarily Arabs) have a lower life expectancy, but theirs as well is longer than for Americans (fascinating, no?), and the gap between non-Jewish life expectancy and Jewish life expectancy is being addressed, and closed.

Additionally, while 40 years ago infant mortality rates for Israeli Jews, Americans and residents of other OECD countries was almost identical-- with Arab rates higher, in the years since, the decline in infant mortality rates in Israel has been the greatest, exceeding the decline in either the US or the other OECD nations. The decline in infant mortality rates for the Arab Israeli population was the greatest of all and their levels are now equitable with American levels.

This information is from the Taub Center for Social Policy Studies in Jerusalem.

I hasten to point out that Arabs who are Israeli citizens have access to the same health care as Jewish citizens do. We are not looking at any official bias. One only need visit an Israeli hospital to see Arabs in large numbers availing themselves of medical services. There are probably several reasons for the disparity in life expectancy levels, many or most cultural. (There is, for example, a tendency in Arab communities for cousins to marry, which considerably increases the prevalence of genetic diseases.) That we are addressing and reducing the disparity is also to our credit. (Taking the same example, I know of research done within the Bedouin community in particular to identify and address genetic problems.)


see my website

Gissin talks Sharon's Temple Mount visit 10 years later


Former PM's spokesman tells ‘Post’: Sharon knew Palestinians were planning violence, but wanted to show he wouldn’t compromise on J’lem.
Future prime minister Ariel Sharon was told by his spokesman Ra’anan Gissin that visiting the Temple Mount could be used by Palestinians as an excuse for violence, Gissin said Tuesday on the 10th anniversary of Sharon’s controversial visit.

Palestinians began throwing rocks immediately after Sharon left the compound. The Palestinians called the uprising that began the “Al-Aksa intifada,” even though an IDF sergeant critically wounded in a bomb attack the day before Sharon’s visit is considered the first victim of the wave of violence, and Palestinian officials have admitted that then- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had planned the intifada months before. “It was a sensitive time during the High Holy Days and at the end of Ramadan,” Gissin said. “I told him the situation was tense in the West Bank and that [Palestinian general Tawfik] Tirawi’s people were planning to do something on the Temple Mount, whether the trigger would be Sharon or something else. Sharon knew he was playing into their hands, but he went in a clear-headed manner to prove that he wouldn’t compromise on Jerusalem and that Israel would stand up for its rights.”

The initiator of the wave of violence, Marwan Barghouti, later told the Al-Hayat newspaper that he had decided that Sharon’s visit would be the most appropriate moment for the outbreak of the intifada.

“The night prior to Sharon’s visit, I participated in a panel on a local television station and I seized the opportunity to call on the public to go to the Aksa Mosque in the morning, for it was not possible that Sharon would reach al-Haram al- Sharif [the Temple Mount area] just so, and walk away peacefully,” Barghouti said.

“I finished and went to al-Aksa in the morning. We tried to create clashes without success because of the differences of opinion that emerged with others in the Aksa compound at the time,” he continued.

“After Sharon left, I stayed for two hours with other people and discussed the manner of response and how it was possible to react in all the cities and not just Jerusalem.”

Sharon visited the Temple Mount on the advice of his strategic adviser at the time, David Spector, in order to boost his effort to remain Likud leader ahead of an expected challenge from then-former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Highlighting the Jerusalem issue, which was a matter of consensus, helped Sharon unify the Right behind him and prove his leadership.

“The visit was the turning point in his fledgling career,” Gissin said. “He was considered a caretaker party leader in the Likud at the time. He looked for something to posture him as a real leader, and Jerusalem was close to his heart.”

The Likud leader ascended the mountain with his son Gilad and MKs Moshe Arens, Reuven Rivlin, and Yehoshua Matza. Sharon, who owns an apartment in Jerusalem’s Muslim quarter, later used keeping the capital united as a key issue in his campaign against then-prime minister Ehud Barak.

“It was the definitive move to capture the premiership,” Gissin said. “It emphasized his attachment to Jerusalem and helped him position himself as the leading candidate for prime minister. He also wanted to show that we have a right to be there, because Jews were afraid to go up there and police were saying that it wasn’t safe.”

Asked whether Sharon ever regretted ascending the Mount, Gissin said, “No, he said it was the right time to tell the Palestinians that Jerusalem was not for sale.”

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Is German Chancellor Angela Merkel Pro-Israel and Pro-American?

BY Benjamin Weinthal

German chancellor Angela Merkel's speech last week to the Leo Baeck Institute (LBI) in Manhattan, when compared with her administration’s Iran policies, shows the gap between pro-Israel action and flowery pro-Israel rhetoric. The LBI, which researches German-Jewish history, honored Merkel with the institute’s prize for promoting “German Jewish reconciliation” and for supporting Israel. In her acceptance speech, Merkel said, “Our expectations from Iran include that it recognize the security and existence of the State of Israel. Both are never negotiable for Germany.” She also called for—in nebulous terms—a new round of sanctions against Iran but did not mention slashing her country's flourishing trade with the mullahs (which has increased at a 14 percent rate during the first six months of 2010 when compared to the same period in 2009). Merkel has skillfully used every opportunity (including in the U.S. Congress and Knesset) to champion her pro-Israel, pro-American, and anti-Iranian policies. But is she hoodwinking the Israelis and Americans with her rhetoric?

While Merkel was uttering the politically and socially correct statements about Germany's so-called “special relationship” with Israel and scoring superficial points at the LBI, German activists protested her failure to close the notorious EIH Iranian “terror bank” in Hamburg, which represents perhaps the greatest threat to the security of the Jewish state on German soil.

Another window into Germany’s pro-Iranian business position is Germany's leading business daily Handelsblatt, which has made great efforts over the years to oppose robust sanctions against Iran. Matthias Brüggmann complained last week in a commentary titled, “Why Sanctions are absurd,” that German firms have experienced “massive blackmail” from the U.S. to pull out of Iran. In short, companies such as Thyssen-Krupp, Siemens, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, Linde, Allianz und Commerzbank feared the loss of the U.S-based contracts and recoiled from Iranian deals in order not to jeopardize their business with the United States.

What Brüggmann and many German journalists fail to understand is flexing one's economic muscles to promote democracy and protect the West is the right form of American economic might. Invoking economic leverage to change despotic regimes should be embraced by Germany's young democracy, for it is a sign of democratic maturity. All of this means that if Chancellor Merkel wants to fill the German-Israeli “special relationship” with meaning and content at a critical security juncture in Israel's history, she should evict the EIH “terror bank” from Germany and crackdown on the vast sector of mid-level German engineering firms supplying Iran's infrastructure with invaluable technology. German corporations such as BASF and MAN, whose large operations in Iran are serving as a crutch for the Iranian regime, need to be roped in.

Chancellor Merkel can also, following America's lead, use Germany's economic leverage in Europe to compel the Swiss to walk away from their 18 and 27 billion euros gas deal with the Iranian regime.

The mere threat that Switzerland and its giant energy company EGL will be denied access to German contracts and markets would, without question, influence a radical change in the pro-Ahmadinejad attitude of Swiss foreign minister Calmy-Rey.

Roger Koppel, chief editor of the Swiss weekly Die Weltwoche noted in a Wall Street Journal Europe piece: "It is a miracle that her most disastrous act so far went almost unnoticed. In December 2006, she received an Iranian delegation for talks on the nuclear program. To the horror of her closest colleagues, she came up with the idea of improving relations by holding a seminar on differing perceptions of the Holocaust.”
Click here to read more

What about the Arabs?

Op-ed: Israel must demand meaningful Arab gestures in exchange for building freeze

Guy Bechor
Israel Opinion

Both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships don’t want an agreement and cannot secure one. The suspicious are too existential, the leaderships are too week, the hostility is too great, and Obama is too fragile. Everyone understands that the president’s power shall be curbed within a month or so, after the US elections. At the end of the day, it’s a blame game: That is, who will be embarrassed and charged with the failure of these odd negotiations, which have no past and no future.

Netanyahu was wrong to agree to a temporary construction freeze without getting anything in return. It’s odd, as he was the one who coined the famous reciprocity slogan in the 1990s: If they give something, they’ll get something in exchange; if they don’t give it, they won’t get it. Yet this time around he gave something, but got nothing for it.

Global leaders and the international and Israeli media are overjoyed: Netanyahu is in distress now and he will seemingly be blamed for the failure of the talks. However, it is so easy to resolve this temporary distress; after all, Netanyahu himself is the person who presented the formula in his first term in office.

The only thing that Israel needs to say is that it demands a parallel gesture from the Palestinian Authority and all Arab states, which stand behind Mahmoud Abbas and maneuver him.

Should an Arab gesture be granted, Israel would embark on another temporary freeze, yet if such gesture won’t be granted, the construction freeze won’t be extended. The Arab gesture would have to include a dimension of Arab symbolism, just like the freeze had a dimension of Israeli symbolism, and both these gestures must be temporary.

Summit in Jerusalem

A possible gesture is a festive summit that would see Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Mubarak, and Saudi King Abdullah arriving in Jerusalem. Why not? After all, this is a peace process, no? The Arab League, and especially Saudi Arabia, plays such dominant role in these talks, so how can they not meet? And what’s wrong with Jerusalem? We already saw meetings in Egypt, Jordan, and Washington. Can’t Arab leaders set foot in Israel?

An Arab gesture could also include elements of public normalization, or any symbolic recognition of Jewish nationalism. For example, inviting the Israeli prime minister to deliver a speech before the Arab League in Cairo. Why not? After all, we’re in the midst of a peace process.

And what about the anti-Semitic TV shows from the recent Ramadan holiday? Are they also part of the “peace process?” And what about anti-Israeli Arab proposals at international bodies; isn’t it time to withdraw them? Our Foreign Ministry can provide a long list of Arab proposals, which were prompted by the Palestinian Authority, of course.

Another gesture could be to pass a Lebanese law that would grant Palestinians in Lebanon civil rights. I’m not talking about citizenship, heaven forbid, but the basic right to live and work there. Lebanon is the most vicious state towards the Palestinians and does not grant these miserable souls the right to buy an apartment or work, yet the Arab world is silent, of course. The life of Palestinians in Gaza is much better than that of their “transparent” brethren in Lebanon.

There is such wide spectrum of symbolic gestures that Arab states, or even the Arab League, should adopt – yet they won’t be doing a thing. After all, they do not seek peace with Israel, but rather, they wish to weaken and embarrass it. Yet if they fail to undertake these gestures, they would take the blame. With their very conduct, the Arab sides would confirm that they do not seek peace.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

J Street Reeling After Soros Money Revelation

Extent of damage for lobby on Hill unclear; ‘huge setback,’ says expert.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010
James D. Besser
Washington Correspondent

Since it was formed, J Street, the pro-peace process lobby and political action committee, has fought for credibility in the face of charges from the right that it is anti-Israel. This week it was reeling after revelations in the Washington Times that the group has received substantial contributions from controversial financier George Soros — despite two years of denials.

Early indications suggest J Street’s membership base is holding fast, but there were reports that some members of Congress connected with the group may be reconsidering their affiliation.“It’s a huge setback, in terms of ‘corridors of power’ stuff and trust with reporters and congressional aides,” said Jacques Berlinerblau, director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University. “So many people have been rendered vulnerable by their actions — people of good conscience who care about the issue of Middle East peace.”

There are also claims the controversy is affecting J Street’s friendly relationship with the Obama administration. On Tuesday the Washington Times reported that the White House is “distancing itself from the liberal advocacy group... that it once embraced,” citing a White House spokesman’s refusal to answer a question about whether J Street will be included in future conference calls with Jewish leaders.
But, in a contrary indication, some 80 participants in J Street’s Washington leadership forum met with a State Department official on the current round of Middle East peace talks — and with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, who earlier this year had spurned contact with the group.

Still, even some strong supporters concede that J Street’s credibility has been damaged among the constituency it needs the most — pro-Israel and pro-peace process members of Congress.

Staffers in several congressional offices with ties to the group said they are taking a wait-and-see approach to the unfolding crisis, but they expressed strong feelings about J Street’s prevarication on the Soros funding issue.

“There’s a lot of anger here,” said an aide to a prominent congressional Democrat, “a lot of questions being asked: Is this an organization people can trust not to get them in trouble? Some members went out on a limb supporting them when the Soros charges were the most intense. Now they’re vulnerable.”

When J Street was created in the spring of 2008 as a counterweight to a pro-Israel lobby seen by some on the left as overly hawkish, there were reports Soros, a major funder of liberal and human rights causes – including some with a sharp bias against Israel – was a major player.

At the time, J Street founder and director Jeremy Ben-Ami insisted that Soros, a Hungarian-born Jewish billionaire who has given to Palestinian causes but not Israel, had opted not to be involved. But reports of Soros funding persisted, and Ben-Ami, when asked, denied those reports — even after Soros and his family began making substantial contributions to the group two years ago.

On Friday the Washington Times’ Eli Lake reported that the Soros family contributed $750,000 to J Street over a three-year period in which the group had raised $11 million overall.

Lake cited Soros’ funding for liberal domestic groups like and Media Matters for America as a source of controversy—and his strong criticism of U.S. Middle East policy, “including the Bush administration’ decision in 2007 not to recognize a Palestinian unity government that included the militant Islamist Hamas movement.”

Soros has said that AIPAC was “closely allied with the neocons and was an enthusiastic supporter of the invasion of Iraq,” according to Lake.

Lake also revealed that J Street’s biggest contribution during that period came from a Hong Kong resident, Consolacion Esdicul, with no previous history of Middle East activism.

In a statement to J Street supporters, Ben-Ami said, “I accept responsibility personally for being less than clear about Mr. Soros’ support once he did become a donor.”

While arguing that most 501c(4) do not reveal the names of contributors, he admitted “my answers regarding Mr. Soros were misleading. I deeply and genuinely apologize for that and for any distraction from J Street’s important work created by my actions and decisions.”

Then he lashed out at J Street’s detractors.

“We’ve tapped into a pent-up longing in the Jewish community and beyond for a home that marries a love of Israel with a deep desire for long-term peace and security through a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said. “And a lot of people don’t like that. They attack us as anti-Israel. As self-hating Jews. They equate us with the worst enemies of the Jewish people — even as we fight for what we believe is the only way to save Israel’s Jewish and democratic soul.”

There were reliable reports from activists close to J Street that other members of the group’s senior and lobbying staffs were not aware of the Soros donations.

On Capitol Hill, much of the negative reaction this week seemed directed at Ben-Ami himself; the most immediate concern was the controversy’s impact on hotly contested House and Senate races involving incumbents with ties with J Street—almost all Democrats.

By Tuesday, Republican candidates were on the offense.

In the Pennsylvania Senate race, widely seen as a critical test of J Street’s political clout even before this week’s Soros controversy, GOP candidate Pat Toomey strongly criticized Rep. Joe Sestak, the Democratic nominee and a major J Street recipient, for his J Street ties.

In a statement, the Toomey campaign called on Sestak to “cut his ties with the radical George Soros-funded group, J Street” and said the Soros disclosure was “further evidence that [Sestak’s] allegiance with far-left groups puts him far outside the Pennsylvania mainstream.”

In New Jersey, Rep. Rush Holt’s connection to J Street prompted ads by the new Emergency Committee for Israel, a group created by leading Republicans — which has also gone after Sestak. GOP sources say they expect Holt’s J Street connection to become a factor in the strong challenge by Republican Scott Sipprelle.

Matthew Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, said the J Street flap “is a thread that will run through a number of races — both because of who the donor is, and because of the way J Street handled it. That’s made a number of people who have supported J Street very uncomfortable, and they will have to make some hard decisions.”

But Gilbert Kahn, a Kean University political scientist, said, “These revelations will reinforce existing biases about J Street, but I don’t expect there will be a huge impact at the polls.”

In the Toomey-Sestak slugfest, “the Jewish vote is important, and this could have a marginal impact if the race proves very close,” he said. “But overall, I just don’t see a huge impact.”

And while Soros is a red flag to Republicans, “the name ‘Soros’ doesn’t hurt among progressive Democrats,” Kahn said.

Possibly more dire for J Street – but harder to measure – will be the impact on Capitol Hill, where legislators, lobbyists and campaign funders operate in a complex environment that depends heavily on trust.

Capitol Hill insiders say it’s too early to gauge the damage, and that what happens next will depend on how J Street officials respond, starting with Ben-Ami.

“They could be in deep trouble,” said Tom Dine, the onetime executive director of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) who has been affiliated with pro-peace process groups in recent years. “They can recover, but it will be difficult. In the world of lobbying, your word is your coin.”

The only way to reclaim the momentum that has seen J Street raise more than $11 million in less than three years and become an inside player with a Democratic administration is to come clean — and then some, said Dine.

“They have to stop the bleeding, and the truth becomes the tourniquet,” he said. “If I were them, I’d name their top five or 10 donors and say to the public, look, this is who we are — and look at what we’ve accomplished the last two years.”

Georgetown’s Berlinerblau said, “in terms of organizational sophistication, what J Street did here was a bush-league move” that could have a big impact on their lobbying. “At the highest levels of leadership, they may have to consider a change.”

Douglas Bloomfield, the former legislative director of AIPAC and now a columnist for Jewish newspapers, said that overall, J Street’s playing fast and loose with the truth about Soros’ role “will make it harder for people on Capitol Hill to take them at their word and trust them. But it’s probably not fatal; this is a town of short attention spans and a lot of forgiveness. How else can you explain why so many sinners continue to do well in politics?”

Bloomfield predicted that the extreme anger of some J Street’s critics may work to the group’s advantage.

“They will probably be saved by enemies who greatly overstate their case,” he said. “That hysteria is part of what put J Street on the map in the first place, and overreaction of those same enemies may save them from more damage.” .

Anti-Israel reports led to anti-Semitism

Gill Hoffman
from Jerusalem Post

A preponderance of anti- Israel reports around the world contributed to an atmosphere of anti-Semitism that led to 2009 being the worst year for anti-Semitic incidents since statistics starting being kept 20 years ago, Diaspora Affairs and Public Diplomacy Minister Yuli Edelstein said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that will be published in Wednesday’s Succot supplement. Edelstein noted the story that accused the Israeli rescue team in Haiti of harvesting organs following the January 12, 2010, earthquake, and many other malicious reports in the years before.

“When I say demonizing Israel has anti-Semitic roots, some people get a tired look on their face and say, ‘Not again, can’t you guys take any criticism?’” Edelstein said.

“But I will say loud and clear that this delegitimization has anti-Semitic roots. You can’t work in journalism in a mainstream country if you are anti- Semitic, but you certainly can if you are ‘anti-Israel.’ The attacks on many Jewish communities around the world are inspired by an anti-Semitic atmosphere.”

Edelstein criticized the theory that changing Israel’s policies would bring more positive media coverage, which was popularized two decades ago by President Shimon Peres and endorsed by Ehud Barak when he was prime minister.

“Saying that the problem is just our policies and that changing them would make the world love us is an interesting theory, but it has never worked,” Edelstein said.

“It has only made us popular for a couple weeks,” he continued.

“Camp David [the summit with Yasser Arafat in 2000] and the unilateral withdrawal [from Gaza in 2005] proved this.

When I was in Boston and I spoke about how the withdrawal only helped for three weeks, a woman in charge of public relations for Israel there laughed and told me, ‘Those three weeks were so wonderful, but so short.’” Edelstein said the best approach to handling anti- Israel boycotts was to spread information about how relevant Israel was to the world, and thereby change the atmosphere that makes such boycotts accepted.

“In London, when I was asked about boycotting Israel, I said I am in favor, but do it seriously,” he said. “Don’t just stop eating cherry tomatoes – close your laptop computer, call the hospital and ask them to stop treating your relatives with Israeli medicine and medical equipment. It is so easy to boycott Israel when you don’t know what you are talking about.”

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Norway, Arab Royalty Fund Clinton Foundation in 2009

Hana Levi Julian
/IsraelNewsStory and

During U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s first year in office, some of the heftiest contributions to her husband’s charitable foundation came from royal families of Arab nations. The list of those who donated to the William J. Clinton Foundation in 2009 was released to the media last week.

Allowing the names on former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s charity donor list to be made public was a condition set by President Barack Obama prior to offering the position of Secretary of State to Hillary Clinton. A significant number of the high-end contributors were Saudi Arabian business owners and royal families in other Arab countries.

Many Middle Eastern Donors at the Top

Listed among the top donors who gave between $10 million and $25 million in 2009 and in previous years were the government of Norway and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Norway was site of the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the 1990s, and its government has consistently pressured Israel to make security concessions to the Palestinian Authority. It is not considered a strong friend of the Jewish State.

Saudi Arabia, which does not recognize Israel, has promoted its so-called 2002 "Peace Initiative" that calls for Israel to allow some five million foreign Arabs, descendants of those who lived in the area but fled during the 1948 War of Independence, to immigrate to the Jewish State under what it calls the "right of return." The plan also demands that Israel hand over all lands restored to the state in the 1967 Six-Day War, including Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Golan Heights and a large portion of Jerusalem, including areas that contain Judaism's holiest sites.

Norway’s contribution was listed for the year 2009 alone; the Saudi funds were listed as having been donated prior to 2009.

Those who contributed between $1 million and $5 million during 2009 included Nasser Al-Rashid, a Saudi Arabian billionaire and engineering advisor to the royal family in Riyadh. Saudi jet-setting oil mogul Walid A. Juffali, the Sultanate of Oman and the Swedish Postcode Lottery also donated to the cause in the same fiscal category.

In the years prior to 2009, those who donated between $1 million and $5 million included Ethiopian-born billionaire Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi, named the 86th richest person in the world in 2007. Al-Amoudi is the owner of a Swedish oil refinery and has business investments in Africa and the Middle East. He is currently a citizen of Saudi Arabia, with a home in Jedda.

Also on the list of those who contributed between $1 million and $5 million to the former president’s charity the year before his wife became Secretary of State were Lebanese Christian businessman Gilbert Chagoury, who has strong interests in Nigeria, the Dubai Foundation, run by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum who also is the country’s ruler, former Lebanese Deputy Prime Minister Issam M. Fares & The Wedge Foundation, the U.S.-based nonprofit organization “Friends of Saudi Arabia”, the Open Society Institute sponsored by Hungarian-born leftist George Soros, the State of Kuwait, the State of Qatar, Swiss Reinsurance Company, Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office, the government of Brunei Darussalam and the royal family of the United Arab Emirates, based in Abu Dhabi, the Zayed Family.

Recently re-elected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s family foundation also donated between $500,000 and $1 million in 2009 to the former American president’s charitable foundation, as did the Bank of America Foundation. Prominent Saudi businessman Hamza B. Al Kholi, whose companies operate in the Middle East, Europe and the United States, contributed between $100,000 and $250,000 in 2009 alone.

A separation donation was made by the Soros Foundation – also under the auspices of George Soros – in the $500,000 to $1 million category. This was a contribution also apparently made prior to 2009, but without details to indicate whether it was in 2008 or earlier. Another donor of note was Abbas Al-Yousef, who contributed between $250,000 and $500,000 prior to 2009, and whose origins are unclear. Ibrahim El Hefni, an Egyptian-American businessman who is now deceased but whose family maintains his foundation, also contributed between $250,000 and $500,000 prior to 2009.

Although Middle Eastern moguls were not the only donors by a long shot, they were prominent in the upper brackets. Also noticeable were a number of foundations run by entertainers, including Barbra Streisand; one of the biggest contributions came from the Bill Gates Foundation.

Palestinian Peacemakers?

Gabriel Latner

With Israeli-Palestinian peace talks set to resume, the Palestinian delegation is center-stage. But who are these men who hold the fate of Middle-Eastern peace in their hands?

Saeb Erekat, the white-haired don of Palestinian diplomacy, is a fixture on Al-Jazeera and other Arabic television stations. Erekat has a proven record of saying one thing in English for international consumption and quite another in Arabic. Mr. Erekat is hardly alone in this, as Mr. Abbas calls himself a partner for peace, while telling Palestinians that "Israel does not want peace" and that the Palestine Liberation Organization will not make "even one concession" to it. At the close of the Camp David summit in 2000, Erekat argued that the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, of which the Western Wall is the last surviving piece, is a Jewish myth. Erekat exaggerates and exploits Israel's sins for political gain. In 2002, he accused Israel of killing "more than 500 people" in Jenin, when in fact, there were 54 Palestinian casualties.

Nabil Shaath, the bald, bespectacled ex-professor, is the Western face of the PLO. With doctorates in economics and law from the University of Pennsylvania, Shaath knows how to negotiate and has been a key player in the peace process for ages. A former cabinet minister in the PLO, he served as its first foreign minister and headed its delegation to the United Nations.

Shaath said in May 2010 that "there is a need to create and endorse new struggling tools, such as the popular resistance, and to increase our efforts in the international arena to isolate and punish Israel, prevent it from deepening its relations with the European Union and attempt to expel it from the United Nations."

More recently, on September 3, the day after peace talks began in Washington, Shaath promised that "the Palestinian Authority will never recognize Israel as a Jewish State."

Yasser Abed Rabbo was a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an extremist militia, in 1968, when it hijacked an El Al flight from Rome, taking the passengers hostage. In 1969, Abed Rabbo left the PFLP and formed the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), a Maoist militia which he helped lead until 1991. DFLP's activities in this period included killing 25 men, women, and children in the Israeli town of Ma'alot; sending a wagon bomb into Jerusalem, killing seven; and attacking an Israeli home, murdering four.

After 1991, Abed Rabbo became a staunch ally of Yasser Arafat and left DFLP, voicing support for the peace process and condemning suicide bombings during the Al-Aqsa intifada. Like Erekat, Abed Rabbo accused Israel of a massacre in Jenin, claiming the army buried nine hundred Palestinians in mass graves.

Muhammed Shtayyeh has demonstrated an ardent desire for peace and a willingness to compromise for the good of the Palestinian people. Shtayyeh is the Minister of Public Works, founded the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction, and is a trustee of "Middle East for Non-Violence and Democracy," which seeks to keep Palestinian youth from engaging in violence and terrorism.

Sadly, Shtayyeh and other Palestinian moderates are outnumbered. All the delegates are either long-serving members of Fatah or devoted to Abbas. These talks are supposed to be between Israel and the Palestinians -- not Israel and Fatah. We cannot ignore that Fatah controls only the West Bank and is at war with Hamas. Akram Haniyeh, another delegate, is the founder and editor of Palestine's second-largest paper, Al Ayyam, which has constantly run editorials and cartoons critical of Hamas and was banned in Gaza. How can these delegates, all with acrimonious relationships with the Gazans, possibly get them to agree to a peace deal?

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, official spokesman for Chairman Arafat and now President Abbas, makes no secret of his feelings about peace -- at least not while speaking to Al-Jazeera in March: "We are ready for any Arab option. If they want to go to war, let them declare that and mobilize their armies and their people, and we will follow suit."

And what of President Abbas, the leader upon whom both Presidents Bush and Obama have pinned their hopes for peace? His doctoral thesis, entitled "Relations Between Zionism and Nazism," refers to the Holocaust as "the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that six million Jews were killed."

Abbas remarked in July that he "will never allow a single Israeli to live among us on Palestinian land." That statement is ambiguous at best.

With peacemakers like these, it's anybody's guess how talks can result in a Palestinian state that coexists peacefully with Israel.

Gabriel Latner is a law student at the University of Cambridge and an intern at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Page Printed from: at September 28, 2010 - 07:06:48 AM CDT

Monday, September 27, 2010

"Tackling the Issues"

Arlene Kushner

Today I would like to examine several issues that touch upon the "peace process," including the whole question of a freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria.

We begin with a link to something I recently wrote. On September 10, Charles Krauthammer -- who is someone whom I have admired greatly over the years -- wrote a column about the "peace process called "Your Move, Mr. Abbas," which appeared in the Washington Post. It seemed a startling deviation from Krauthammer's usual take on matters, and it included information that was askew. I drafted a response, but the Washington Post declined to accept it as an opinion piece, while in other quarters I subsequently encountered a reluctance to accept it because it commented on material that had run elsewhere. And so... I've put it up on my website:

Precisely because Charles Krauthammer is so deeply respected and so widely read, it is important that this alternate perspective on matters be shared. I encourage you to read this and then to distribute it broadly, with full attribution. Run the entire essay on your blogs, share it with your lists and groups. Put out the URL where you can.

There are facts it contains that everyone needs to be clear about.


As to that freeze and the reasons why it is dead wrong to demand one:

The assumption implicit in an insistence that Israel stop building in Judea and Samaria is that ultimately the very areas upon which Israeli buildings are being constructed will/should some day be part of a Palestinian state. The continued building is presented as usurpation of Palestinian Arab land.

But it is precisely this notion which is dead wrong: part and parcel of the fallacious idea -- long promoted by the Arabs -- that we belong only within the Green Line (this constituting our original "border") with everything beyond being Palestinian Arab territory.

In point of fact, the Green Line was never intended to be more than a temporary armistice line, with it clearly understood -- both in the armistice agreement signed with Jordan in 1949 and UN SC resolution 242 passed after the Six Day War -- that a final border for Israel, which would extend beyond the Green Line, was still to be negotiated.


If it's not a given that everything beyond the Green Line is Arab territory, and if it still must be determined where the final border will be drawn, then there are two approaches to handling a freeze that might have been utilized:

1) One approach says that major "settlement" blocs that are near the Green Line are almost certain to be included as part of Israel in any final agreement. And so, surely, there should have been no problem building in these.

Instead, this issue has become a bone of contention, with Abbas and Obama alike, as well as the EU (and, I should add, Peace Now), maintaining otherwise. It is with regard to this issue that Obama reneged on an understanding previously reached by then prime minister Sharon and then president Bush.

2) A case might have been made for requiring everyone to stop building in Judea and Samaria until determination of the final border had been made. But this is not what has happened. Instead, there has been an enormous inequity, with Arabs building away during the ten months that we were frozen, and no one in the international community demanding a halt.

It is for this reason that some leaders in Judea and Samaria have referred to the freeze as racist: It is directed only at Jews.


Before leaving this issue, however, let's step back even a bit more in considering Israeli/Jewish rights:

A very strong case can be made for the fact that ALL of the land between the River and the Sea belongs to us, and that we are totally justified in building anywhere. This is the position of nationalists, myself included.

The League of Nations, in 1922, conferred the Mandate for Palestine on Great Britain, which was charged with establishing a Homeland for the Jewish People in this area, and encouraging "dense settlement."

The Mandate was predicated upon the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which acknowledged "sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspirations" and stated "His Majesty's Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people..."

The preamble to the text of the Mandate was incorporated in the document by the League of Nations; it read:

“Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country..." (Emphasis added)

(With thanks to Eli Hertz of "Myths and Facts" here and following.)

Winston Churchill, who was in 1922 the British Secretary of State for the Colonies, wrote, shortly before the Mandate was passed, that the Jewish People "is in Palestine as of right and not sufferance." (Emphasis added)


The Mandate was incorporated within international law and has never been superseded.

How the world has turned, that we are now denied rights which were once acknowledged!

At a bare minimum it is appropriate to say that Judea and Samaria represent unclaimed Mandate land, to which we have the most solid claim. The pity is that we didn't make that historical/legal claim clear when we acquired all of the land between the River and the Sea in 1967. We are not "occupiers" and we are not usurping (or "stealing") another people's land. The "settlements" are not illegal according to international law, no matter what you may read.

What has done us in is a failure on our part to stand strong for and promote our rights, when confronting the Arab lies that have been so successfully promulgated. Because successive governments have waffled, we have lost a whole lot of (metaphorical) ground.

But for the world to claim we have no right to build in Judea and Samaria??? Our work is cut out for us. When our government agrees to a freeze, it is weakening our case that the land is ours.


Various additional thoughts regarding the "settlements":

[] It must not be forgotten that Abbas negotiated with former prime minister Olmert when there was no freeze. The issue is an artificial, politicized one and not genuinely a matter of principle.

[] When Jordan took Judea and Samaria in the Six Day War, it rendered the area Judenrein. As only Arabs lived in these areas for the subsequent 19 years, the notion was promoted that they are "Arab" areas. In point of fact these are areas at the very heart of our ancient heritage in the land.

[] There was never a Palestinian state, and so there is no validity to the suggestion that, with regard to the land, we must "give it back" to the Palestinian Arabs. They never had it. As recently as Resolution 242 in 1967, there was absolutely no mention of a Palestinian state or a Palestinian people. It was assumed that negotiations for determining the final border would be done with Jordan.

[] If we look all the way back to the Mandate for Palestine, we see that in no way whatsoever did it mention or provide for an Arab political entity within Palestine.


I would like to recommend a thoughtful and significant article:

Mark Silverberg, writing in Hudson NY, looks at "Negotiating in the Middle East: How the Other Side Sees It":

"Our media, talking heads, academics, and even our government strategic thinkers have been dealing with the Arab and Muslim world based on the politically-correct paradigm of even-handedness, attributing most international problems to poverty, misunderstandings, rectifying historical grievances...while ignoring or underplaying key elements, such as the importance in Middle Eastern cultures of the values and importance of honor, shame, clan loyalties, theocratic religion, retaining absolute power, and frustrated religious imperialism. (Emphasis added)

"As Harold Rhode, recently of the Pentagon's Office of Net Assessment, wrote for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, it is crucial to understand the mindset of our enemies – something the current US Administration and the leaders of the European Union appear loathe to do.

"...Much the same point is made by Richard Landes in Augean Stables: "Arab leaders view any compromise with Israel as a catastrophic loss of face...Such a blow to Arab honor cannot be tolerated for cultural and political reasons: losing face means to feel utter humiliation, to lose public credibility, and to lose power; the only way to restore such lost honor is not through compromise, but to shed the blood of this enemy. In this kind of war, negotiations will not work as the solution is in zero-sum terms: I win, you lose. The Palestinians cannot recognize Israel without suffering an unbearable, catastrophic loss of honor; while Israel cannot cede any further territory without absolute security guarantees and its recognition as a Jewish state. (Emphasis in bold added)

"...Our efforts at compromise, contrition, accommodation and appeasement are perceived as symbolic of our weakness; and our attempts to find common cause with our enemies merely reinforce their belief that we are 'paper tigers,' and easy prey." (Emphasis added)

"As Rhode also notes, in the wake of the Iranian hostage-taking crisis, 'Iran put the hostages on a plane less than an hour before Ronald Reagan became president. The hostages left Iranian airspace when Reagan raised his hand and took the oath of office. The Iranian "students" believed Reagan was a cowboy and feared he would "level" Tehran.... Interestingly, during the hostage crisis, a group of Iranian terrorists also occupied the Soviet Embassy in Tehran. But they quickly left, because Moscow informed Tehran that if the Iranians did not leave the Soviet Embassy within hours, Tehran would be bombed,' and they knew the Russians meant it.

"...Only when the West, including Israel, re-establishes its credibility as the most powerful force in the region, and shows the strength and resolve expected of a superpower, will those who threaten us come on board. Regrettably, as power, honor and humiliation cannot be separated from Iranian or Arab political cultures, it may become necessary to destroy both the military forces and the political infrastructures of our enemies..."


Compare the above message to that of Barry Rubin, in his piece today on Obama's UN speech, "How non-American":

"It wasn't a very strong speech, and it was lacking any particular American perspective. At no point is there any assertion of US leadership...

"There have been presidents who thought that the outside world is exactly the same as America. There have been presidents who thought that the rest of the world is worse than America. Obama is the first president who thinks the rest of the world is better than America."


Meanwhile, the PA is requesting the release of dozens of Arab prisoners as a "good will gesture" to help the "peace process" go forward.


The last article to be included here refers to something I am not certain I truly understand. The hi-tech science involved in comprehending what is involved with regard to "a cyber worm, called Stuxnet, [which] may be the world's first known cyberweapon designed specifically to destroy a real-world target" may be a bit beyond me.

I had picked this up originally from an unconfirmed source, and so did not mention it. Wasn't even sure how legit or real it was. But here it is now, in an article in the Christian Science Monitor.

"The cyber worm, called Stuxnet, has been the object of intense study since its detection in June. As more has become known about it, alarm about its capabilities and purpose have grown. Some top cyber security experts now say Stuxnet's arrival heralds something blindingly new: a cyber weapon created to cross from the digital realm to the physical world – to destroy something.

"At least one expert who has extensively studied the malicious software, or malware, suggests Stuxnet may have already attacked its target – and that it may have been Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant..."

If this turns out to be accurate information, it is stunning -- with revolutionary implications both hopeful and terrifying.

There are suggestions from some sources that Israel -- which is one of only a handful of countries with the hi tech capability to unleash such a cyber worm -- might be the source of Stuxnet. This might suggest some capability to disable or slow down Iran's march to nuclear capability without having to send out a single plane. I say "might" because, even as I report this, I consider it still hypothetical or unverified. Perhaps I'm slow to wrap my head around such astounding innovations. Maybe I simply need time to absorb this.


see my website

"Ending That Freeze?"

Arlene Kushner

Here I am, returned from my focus on Sukkot to report on what's happening with the end of the freeze -- the freeze that never should have happened in the first place. But, as I had anticipated, there is no startling news today. Officially, the freeze ends at midnight, and there has been no announcement from Netanyahu that there will be an extension. Already there is expressed determination on the part of the residents of Judea and Samaria to start building immediately. Arutz Sheva is featuring the 2,000 balloons released in the town of Revava, near Ariel in the Shomron, this evening at a demonstration sponsored by World Likud -- 2,000 representing the number of new housing units that have already been approved and can now be started (at least in theory). In a couple of places cornerstones were laid to represent the beginning of housing construction; in Kiryat Netafim, for a kindergarten. There were impassioned speeches about how we can go back to proper values for our nation now.

But in point of fact, the enthusiasm has been tempered, for we are waiting for the other shoe to drop: Right now the prime minister is asking that residents of Judea and Samaria and activists "use restraint" and "play down" the beginning of new construction. Communication continues between our government and the US regarding some compromise on the issue.

Reports continue that Abbas may actually not walk away from talks, as he has been threatening to do. Al Hayat, however, tells a different story (this one for Arab consumption): Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina says that "President Mahmoud Abbas will not abandon the Palestinian national consensus which stresses that there must be a freeze in settlement activity for the continuation of negotiations." He further stated that Abbas has requested an October 4th meeting with the "Arab follow-up committee" of the Arab League in order to consult with them regarding negotiations. And at the UN on Saturday, he said that Israel would have to decided between settlements and peace.

So we're going to have to watch the unfolding of events in the days ahead.


Last Thursday, the very first day of Sukkot, Obama spoke at the UN, and he outdid even himself.

"We believe the moratorium should be extended..." he told the General Assembly. "We"? The only "we" that counts is the people of Israel, and "we" do not believe anything of the sort. His gall is unmitigated.

He then went on at some length with regard to the need to make peace here. "This time we should draw upon the teachings of tolerance that lie at the heart of three great religions that see Jerusalem's soil as sacred." But there is no tolerance in the teachings of Islam! Rather, those teachings talk about Muslim dominance.

And he finally concluded that if we "reach for what's best within ourselves" "when we come back here next year, we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations -- an independent, sovereign state of Palestine living in peace with Israel."


For a more detailed report on what Obama said at the UN, see Anne Bayefsky:

What transpired, she says, "made it startlingly clear that the U.S. president does not understand the threat facing America and the world from Iran.

"...Obama chose not to speak the plain truth — that Iran seeks nuclear weapons — or to commit his government to stopping them, period. He said instead that Iran had not yet demonstrated peaceful intent and asked Ahmadinejad to 'confirm' this intent...

"...Ahmadinejad understands perfectly well that confronting Iran is out of sync with the 'new era of engagement' that is the trademark of Obama’s foreign policy. 'Engagement' looks like this: The president of the United States keeps talking about 'extended hands' and 'open doors,' and the president of Iran keeps building nuclear weapons.

"...President Obama played to his U.N. audience just as the president of Iran did. Obama made the centerpiece of his speech an overt squeeze on the state of Israel. Before a U.N. audience infamously hostile to Israel, he demanded that Prime Minister Netanyahu renew the moratorium on building 'settlements.' He made no such specific demands of the Palestinian side. Instead, he painted a picture of moral equivalence between the terrorists that seek Israel’s annihilation and Israel’s reasonable skepticism of a negotiating partner that still refuses to accept a Jewish state...

"Ahmadinejad got the message. Israel is vulnerable with President Obama in office, and Iran has no serious reason to believe that hate and terror will be on the losing end any time soon."


At times like this I find myself pondering how it is that the people of America allowed themselves to be so badly duped that they ended up with this man for president. What makes it difficult for me to have even a modicum of equanimity as I ponder this is the knowledge that Obama, with his policies, has made the world in general a more dangerous place and has rendered Israel in particular more vulnerable.

It is in light of this that I share a link to a video that delivers an important message to America: the second (non-politically correct) verse of the Star-Spangled Banner.

When facing evil (and what is evil if not the plans and words of Ahmadinjad??) terms such as triumph, just cause and victory are appropriate. "Engagement" is the way to disaster.

(With thanks to Andrew B.)


Obama was not the only one in recent days speaking out of turn. We also heard from former president Bill Clinton (known here in Israel as "Beel"). According to Foreign Policy magazine, last week Clinton, during a roundtable discussion with reporters, said "an increasing number of the young people in the IDF are the children of Russians and settlers, the hardest core people against a division of the land. This presents a staggering problem."

The only thing staggering here is the outrage of his saying such a thing.

I confess that I was not happy with much of the response to Clinton that came from here in Israel. Statements such as that by MK Lia Shemtov, Chair of the Knesset Immigrant and Absorption Committee: "The immigrants from the former Soviet their country and want, like every other citizen, to live their lives with security and peace. There is no basis to the claim that the immigrants oppose peace..."

First of all, this equates dividing the land with "peace." The fact is that true peace would be undermined if our land were divided. And former Russians are not keen on doing this -- they tend not to support left wing or progressive parties. But that's their right (pun not intended).

This statement about Russian immigrants sounds like apologetics.

Only one comment was necessary: It is not the business of the former president of the United States to make disparaging remarks about any element of the Israeli populace. As members of a democracy, all elements have a right to their political positions.

The Knesset will be holding a hearing on what Clinton said.


Shameless, as I knew it would be. Last week, both Abbas and Fayyad, meeting Jews in the States, delivered messages in English that were absolutely moderate. Their skill at deceiving and saying in English what their listeners want to hear is unsurpassed. What is there to do but keep our eye on the ball: remembering always their policies and actions and statements in Arabic that are the antithesis of moderation.


We are now dealing with increased violence -- in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Last week, a security guard driving alone in an Arab area of eastern Jerusalem found himself surrounded by an angry mob. Afraid for his life, he shot his gun, killing an Arab man. Riots then ensued in and around the Old City, with police moving to block stone-throwing at worshippers at the Kotel as Sukkot began. Some ten Israelis were injured.

Today, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at Border Police in the Givati parking lot near the Old City; a search of the area turned up three more Molotov cocktails. When fighting broke out on Salah a-Din Street, the police arrested four Arabs; a riot ensued with rocks thrown at the police.

Near the community of Teneh Omarim in Judea, a husband and wife, driving in their car, suffered a shooting attack. (Yes! again.) The husband was lightly injured, the wife, nine-months pregnant, moderately so. Her baby boy, her first child, was delivered by C-section and is fine (thank G-d!). His mother will recover. Police, seeking the perpetrators of the shooting attack, entered the nearby Arab town of Dahariya, setting up checkpoints. Clashes have broken out with young residents of the town, as houses are being searched.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Ship of Jewish Leftists Sets Sail for Gaza

Gil Ronen
A7 News

A ship carrying Jewish left-wing activists from around the world set sail from Cyprus at noon Sunday, and is headed to Gaza, carrying what activists say are humanitarian supplies.

Among the passengers are Yonatan Shapiro, a former IDF helicopter pilot who co-signed a letter by IDF reservists who refused to serve in missions that targeted terrorists in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, for fear of killing civilians. Shapiro also recently vandalized the Warsaw Ghetto memorial with graffiti comparing the ghetto to Gaza. Shapiro said that the goal of the ship is to “break the siege on Gaza” and transfer equipment and humanitarian supplies. He stressed that they would not enter a confrontation with the IDF even if the IDF stops them from reaching Gaza.

Among other activists on board are a Holocaust survivor, Julie Moskowitz, and Rami Elhanan, who lost his daughter in an Arab terror attack.

Israel's position is that those who wish to transfer supplies to Gaza by land are allowed to do so using Israeli and Egyptian crossings. Only weapons and dual-purpose goods are barred. However, no supplies may be shipped by sea due to concerns that Hamas and other Gaza terrorist groups would take advantage of such a sea route, if opened, to import weapons that would be used against Israel.

Jews in Israel have grown increasingly nationalistic in the last two decades, after the granting of autonomy to Arabs within the Land of Israel resulted in a wave of unprecedently barbaric Muslim attacks that have killed and maimed many thousands. However, some Israeli Jews still hold leftist views and see Israel as the aggressor in the conflict.

Outside Israel, too, right-wing Jews are increasingly critical of Jewish leftism regarding Islamism. Conservative writer David Horowitz recently called liberal Jews who support Islamists "Jews for Cutting Their Own Heads Off" and blogger Don Feder called liberal jews "Temple Beit Meshuga," (beit meshugaim means "insane asylum" in Hebrew).

You are hypocrits-data shows Hamas steals the aid-you know this yet you have hijacked"aid" to perform illegal acts against our sovereign nation.

PM’s associates: He’ll never give up Western Wall


Netanyahu not bound by Olmert’s offer to Abbas, hopes to make peace on his terms, aides say.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is under no obligation to honor any of the commitments that former prime minister Ehud Olmert made to the Palestinians, Netanyahu’s associates said on Saturday night, reiterating statements Netanyahu made throughout his campaign for the premiership a year and a half ago.

Olmert wrote an opinion piece for Friday’s Jerusalem Post in which he called on Netanyahu to offer the Palestinians what he did, which he first revealed to the public in a June 2009 interview with Newsweek’s Kevin Peraino. Olmert told me he met with Palestinian [Authority] President Mahmoud Abbas in September 2008 and unfurled a map of Israel and the Palestinian territories,” Peraino wrote. “He says he offered Abbas 93.5 to 93.7 percent of the Palestinian territories, along with a land swap of 5.8% and a safe-passage corridor from Gaza to the West Bank that he says would make up the rest. The Holy Basin of Jerusalem would be under no sovereignty at all and administered by a consortium of Saudis, Jordanians, Israelis, Palestinians and Americans.”

Regarding refugees, Olmert says he rejected the right of return and instead offered, as a “humanitarian gesture,” a small number of returnees, although “smaller than the Palestinians wanted – a very, very limited number.”

In a Tel Aviv speech sponsored by the Geneva Initiative last Sunday, Olmert revealed that the “very, very limited number of refugees” Israel was willing to accept was 20,000. He also claimed that the United States had offered to accept 100,000.

When top Bush administration officials denied that an offer of such a large number could have been made, sources close to Olmert hinted that it came from either George W. Bush himself or his secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice. Olmert did not reveal who made the offer in the article.

“Olmert said all along that the terms of his negotiations were that there would be no deal on anything until there was a deal on everything, so not only would Netanyahu not have to accept anything Olmert offered, but even Olmert wouldn’t,” a Netanyahu associate said.

“What Olmert told the Post has no impact on us.”

MKs close to Netanyahu went further and specifically ruled out Netanyahu accepting a single Palestinian refugee or giving the Palestinians or any foreign entity control over Jerusalem’s Holy Basin, singling out the Temple Mount and Western Wall.

When asked whether they thought they could make peace without paying the price that Olmert was willing to pay, Netanyahu’s confidants would only say that this was what the current negotiations were intended to determine.

“There is no situation in which Netanyahu or any Likud leader could offer the Palestinians what Olmert offered, especially regarding Jerusalem,” said Likud faction chairman Ze’ev Elkin, who is close to Netanyahu. “I don’t think any Likud MK would vote for it, and the public would be overwhelmingly against it as well.”

Likud hawk MK Danny Danon said the problem was not with Netanyahu but with the president of the United States, Barack Obama.

“I don’t believe Netanyahu would have considered Olmert’s conditions but there is no doubt that Obama sees them as obligatory,” Danon said. “They don’t understand that we had an election that changed the reality in Israel.”

Meanwhile, Labor officials denied a report in Friday’s Yediot Aharonot that quoted an international businessman who tried to mediate a deal for Barak to join Kadima following 2006’s Second Lebanon War, when he was out of the Knesset.

The report said that Barak offered to break up the Labor faction and take a third of it with him in return for the Defense portfolio.

“Olmert is once again rewriting history and distorting reality in order to distract the public from the envelopes of bribes he received,” a Labor spokesman said. “The initiatives and strange ideas portrayed in the newspaper have come from Olmert’s wild imagination.

“Any offers made to Barak were politely declined.”