Saturday, October 09, 2010

A Dysfunctional Foreign Policy Team: The Obama Administration's New Problem

Barry Rubin

In what is probably the most important sign of U.S.-Israel cooperation for this year, the U.S. government has finalized the sale of the advanced F-35 to Israel.

I repeatedly try to explain to people who believe that everything the Obama Administration does is conditioned by some anti-Israel ideology or that everything is bad that this is not so. The task is to maximize the positive, handling difficult problems.
Understanding the difference between a rigid, nothing-ever-changes ideology-determined perception and understanding how things do change (even if it is hypocritical done for political gain) is one of the key factors in doing good political analysis.

Moreover, there's no country in the world where the make-up of the high-level bureaucracy is as important as in the United States. America has the most decentralized policymaking system o any democratic state. It matters very much who is the secretary of state, defense secretary, national security advisor, and intelligence chief because these are semi-independent entities which have their own institutional point of view. (I discuss this in historical detail in my book, Secrets of State.)

Of course, ultimately all must obey the president and follow his line. But they have a lot of latitude. And when there is a president who is weak or ignorant about international affairs, these people war over his ear, that is try to persuade him as to what he should do with some real effect.

So the resignation of National Security Advisor James Jones is an event of real significance. It's being portrayed as one of those routine end-of-two-years changes, dissatisfaction with Jones has long been clear. Among other things, he has been accused of being rather unenergetic.

Despite his background as a former Marine general with 40 years in uniform, he emerged as one of the more extreme advocates of what might be called the Obama ideology in the foreign policy sector. On the Middle East, Jones was said to be the main supporter for the idea of trying to impose some U.S. devised solution on Israel and the Palestinians. He will not be missed. His replacement is top aide Tom Donilon.

The leftist Huffington Post says that Donilon would be a disaster as national security advisor. Wow, could he really be that good? Seriously, though, it claims Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Jones can’t stand him and that he used to work for FannieMae. Still, this organ--it calls Jones the president's "Iron Hand," which would provoke gales of laughter from anyone in DC who knows anything about what's been going on--is ticked off because it sees Jones as the "left-wing" of Obama advisers.

After all, these are the kind of people who think that making concessions to Syria and engaging that dictatorship doesn't have to be disrupted by "little" things like proof the Syrian military is training Hizballah to fire missiles at Israel.

The Atlantic agrees on how many people dislike Obama (well, they're all using the same gossip sources on this story after all) and adds that the military doesn’t like him either.

Donilon is a Democratic political operative with relatively little government (and even less foreign policy) experience. He is likely, then, to be a yes-man who will do whatever Obama says without having much of an independent view. This, of course, is precisely the trap presidents can fall into, made much worse if they don’t know much about international affairs.

Even worse (for the world if not for Obama) is that he is likely to look for partisan and electoral advantage in decisionmaking, something that is already a bigger problem in this administration then it was in most of its predecessors. This was clear in deciding what to do about Afghanistan and now in Israel-Palestinian issues.

This means two things:

First, Obama is even less likely to get independent advice, leading him into more mistakes.

Second, when top-level officials are debating options, Donilon, unlike Jones, won’t have some independent opinion he is pushing. The likelihood of a U.S. effort to impose a solution on the Israel-Palestinian conflict is thus reduced.

Having a top foreign policy team in heated antagonism plus a president who is ignorant on foreign affairs (sorry, but that's very true of Obama) is a formula for disaster. Add to that the lack of any strong advisor who is a junior partner of the president, think of the relationship between President Richard Nixon and National Security Advisor/Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

That doesn't mean it was a love fest before, where do you think the long delays and uncertainty over Afghanistan came from?

Instead, the secretary of state isn't trusted because she's a former (bitter) political rival, who has her own (more accurate and moderate) views. The secretary of defense is a holdover from the Bush Administration and is not trusted by the White House insiders. And now the national security advisor, while not holding actively silly views, is a yes-man.

Thus, Obama is more likely to come up with his own ideas to an even greater extent. Uh-oh!

Clinton and Gates are relatively good, especially compared to the likely alternatives. Up until now, there has been a debate in which Obama could choose some compromise view between them, on one hand, and Jones plus the more ideological White House staff, on the other. But what if Obama doesnt want to listen to the advice of Clinton and Gates, then operates through Donilon to put through his unadulterated first opinion? Imagine these people meeting to decide how to respond to a nuclear Iran, an aggressive Russia, some big foreign policy crisis.

Consider, for example, what's happening inside the war on...whatever it is. People who want to talk about radical Islamist ideology are treated as if they are extremist crazies and are lucky if they don't get fired. Meanwhile,huge amounts of money are poured into psychological explanations for terrorism or strategies for countering the revolutionaries that ignore all the real causes for their behavior. It would be hard to come up deliberately with a more self-defeating approach.

These are the people who will face the difficult tasks ahead? This does not bode well for the Obama Administration or for lots of others around the world.

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). The website of the GLORIA Center is at and of his blog, Rubin Reports,

Friday, October 08, 2010

German faked conversion to board ‘Jewish’ Gaza boat


Television producers face flak for false report, say “not customary to pressure people to produce conversion documents before interviews.”

BERLIN – The German passenger aboard the Irene catamaran that tried to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza last month appears to have invented her conversion to Judaism, Berlin’s Der Tagesspiegel newspaper reported on Tuesday.

“Edith Lutz is definitely a Jew, like a smoked pork chop is kosher,” reporter Henryk M.Broder wrote. The Irene, organized by the British NGO Jews for Justice for Palestinians, supposedly carried a total of nine passengers and crew members, all Jews, to show that not all Jews supported Israel’s Gaza policies. The Israel Navy diverted it to Ashdod Port.

According to the Tagesspiegel report, the German Jewish psychologist Dr. Rolf Verleger asked Lutz if she formally converted to Judaism, and she “did not dispel the suspicion” that she is not Jewish.

The German television program ARD-Magazin Monitor broadcast a widely-seen report in June, in which Lutz was named as a representative of “Jews from Germany,” and as part of a group of Germans Jews who want to show that “they are not in agreement with the policies of Israel.”

Monitor’s producers have been accused of sloppy journalism for failing to diligently factcheck Lutz’s credentials as a converted Jew, and turning her into a representative of Germany’s 106,000 Jews.

The conservative Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung daily on Wednesday termed the Monitor report “embarrassing” and noted that many German news organizations have paraded Lutz as a “prominent spokesperson for the organization ‘Jews for a Just Peace in the Middle East’ – and she is not a Jew.”

Sonia Seymour Mikich, the editor-in-chief of Monitor, seemed to duck the criticisms in a statement on why the program presented a woman masquerading as a converted Jew.

It “is not customary for Monitor to pressure people to produce baptismal and conversion documents in order to conduct interviews,” she wrote.

Mikich further noted that Lutz wishes to “continue to protect her private life.”

Many German journalists devote a great deal of coverage to fringe Jews who bash the Jewish state.

The popular pro-Israeli blogger website Lizas Welt wrote on Tuesday that Lutz’s tirades against Israel are “what the majority in Germany wants to hear.”

Lizas Welt slammed Lutz’s “verbal attacks on Israel” as including equating the Jewish state’s actions with those of the Nazis.

Lutz has stated that the Israeli government issued her passport without a “deportation stamp.” The word “deportation” in a German context carries a Nazi-era connotation from the time when Europe’s Jews were deported to extermination camps.

Nathan Gelbart, the Berlin-based attorney who heads the German branch of Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that “over 7 million people live in Israel’s democracy, which, in contrast to their more than 30 million Arab neighbors, are allowed to openly discuss the controversy surrounding the appropriateness of the sea blockade of Gaza. And Israelis openly discuss the blockade.

“Edith Lutz, whether Jew or non-Jew, is needed in Israel as much as her three backpacks that she sought to bring to Gaza – that is to say, not at all.”

According to a report from Ulrich Sahm, a veteran journalist in Israel, Lutz brought three backpacks that contained stuffed animals, second hand toys and musical instruments on the Irene.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

"From His Mouth..."

Arlene Kushner

From his G-d's ear. That is the saying.

In this instance I am referring to the perhaps unlikely figure of Knesset Speaker Ruby (Reuven) Rivlin (Likud). In an interview with the JPost, featured on the front page this morning, he said that in spite of the pressure that would be put on him in the months ahead, "I faithfully believe that Netanyahu won't think about dividing Jerusalem."

Is Rivlin a politician? Absolutely. And I cannot say that he's not providing cover for his prime minister at some level. In fact, a good case could be made for this, as I observe that he didn't say he faithfully believes Netanyahu won't concede on extending the freeze. This could be an attempt to allay concerns: Don't worry, in the end it will be fine. The reason I note this at all is because I know Rivlin's own passionate devotion to Jerusalem. I have gone to hear him give a talk, only to find that he used half his time waxing emotional about the several generations of his family who have lived in Jerusalem.

When he says that "I am positive that Netanyahu is incapable of dividing Jerusalem because he realizes that it is the heart of the matter, the reason for the state to exist," he may be expressing his own perceptions. But would a man with this passion for Jerusalem provide Netanyahu with cover if he feared that the prime minister might divide the city?


When asked about whether giving away Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem really constituted "dividing" the city, his answer included information that I think is important:

He and other Israeli leaders explained to Obama when he was here as a presidential candidate in July 2009, that dividing the city was impossible because Jewish and Arab neighborhoods are interspersed.

I have written about this, I just recently cited Abu Toameh on this. But this is the first time I hear that this fact was explained to Obama. This tells us (as if we didn't know!) that the president is not concerned with genuine success in negotiations, with bringing true peace to the area, but rather with surface impressions. He doesn't care if what he supports is viable or not.

Continued Rivlin, "People tell me that the Jewish people did not pray for 3,000 years to return to Wallaje [an Arab neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem]. But the people who say that don't know where Wallaje is, and how important it is. And the Jewish people obviously prayed to return to the Temple Mount -- so giving it up must be unacceptable."

As I said, "From his mouth..." Let's hear more expressions of devotion to our heritage from Israeli politicians.


On Sunday, Netanyahu intends to bring to the Cabinet for approval an addition to the oath of loyalty taken by naturalized citizens: [Israel] "a Jewish and democratic state."

It would not apply to anyone who is already a citizen, nor to any Jew coming under the Law of Return.

Said the prime minister: "Israel is the national state of the Jewish people. This is a basic principle that guides the government in its policies, foreign and domestic. It is a cornerstone of Israeli is fitting that this principle will appear in the declaration of loyalty for anyone who wants to become a citizen."


This proposal, at this particular time, has political connotations, with Israel demanding that the PA recognize us as the Jewish state and the PA refusing.

Naturally, Arab MKs are incensed, saying that this is "fascist" as well as "racist and stupid." This position, that Israel is "racist" if she represents herself as Jewish -- not just via requirements for a loyalty oath, but with a Jewish star on the flag, or the lyrics of Hatikva, etc. -- is hardly new. It is an attempt to weaken Israel from within.

The irony is breathtaking. So many Arab/Muslim states surround us, many forbidding a Jewish presence and denying Jewish freedoms. Yet here in little Israel, where Muslims are citizens, and have freedom to worship, and to vote, and run for the Knesset, and are granted equal protection under the law, and receive all perqs of citizenship, we are called "racist."


A clarification is necessary here, as already there is confusion in the media: Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu party had proposed a loyalty oath for people who were already citizens -- it was, in fact, a plank in the party's campaign.

(While Lieberman's proposal was motivated in good part by the outrageously anti-Israel attitudes and behaviors of some Arab Israeli leaders, including MKs, he also had his eye on certain hareidi sectors of the nation that are not loyal to the state for religious reasons.)

However, what Netanyahu is bringing to the Cabinet is not the same thing.


I am quite frankly weary of the same news recycled in slightly different versions each day regarding whether Netanyahu is going to agree to a 60 day extension of the freeze and what the Cabinet might say, the demands from the PA side for a total freeze and their claim that our building is destroying peace, etc. etc.


But there is one piece of news/potential news/rumor that I think is worth sharing here. According to a few sources, the first being Yediot Ahronot in Hebrew: in return for extending the freeze, Netanyahu has been seeking US approval of the commitments made by the Bush administration in the letter to then prime minister Sharon of April 14, 2004 -- which the Obama administration subsequently refused to honor-- regarding our right to retain settlement blocs.

Netanyahu is looking for a clear American commitment, that cannot be reinterpreted later, which he would hope to use to convince members of the coalition to approve a freeze extension. So far there has been no agreement from Obama, and so he has not brought this to the Cabinet.

My betting is that Obama would not agree to this, because the Arabs would have apoplexy. He has already promised them he would take a stand endorsing the '67 line as border.

I do not want to see the freeze extended. But I confess to a certain delight at envisioning the catch-22 situation in which, if this is true, Netanyahu has now placed Obama. I'm also glad that apparently he is refusing to settle for glib promises. The bottom line is that the president is totally untrustworthy, and Netanyahu knows it.

Along with this story, the press is replete with messages of fear: Netanyahu is afraid Obama might do this, might do that. Might refuse to help us with Iran. Might go to the UN and ask for a unilateral endorsement of a Palestinian state. What I notice, however, is that it is mostly left wing press that is running this stuff. The right is talking about the need to stand strong. A nation cannot be governed from a place of fear.


Tomorrow is the Arab League meeting. I will not be writing again until after Shabbat.

see my website

A trust betrayed

Isi Leibler
October 7, 2010

Some readers will say "Surely not again.

He is obsessed with this issue." Indeed, I am deeply pained and angered that for all these years we have remained shamefully silent while the Claims Conference failed to adequately prioritize the desperate needs of ailing Holocaust survivors.

Since my last Jerusalem Post column, I was castigated by the chairman, treasurer and other apologists for the Claims Conference.

But they were unable to refute a single charge I had raised. Chairman Julius Berman disingenuously misrepresened my remarks about the organization's huge $1 billion in "investments" (defined as such in the Claims Conference financial statement), which has increased by $33 million since the last financial report. I never said all these funds should have been disbursed to survivors. I said more should have been allocated - a statement I emphatically reiterate.

But my principal charge - to which Berman failed to respond - was that if only a slightly greater percentage of the $70 billion allocated by the Claims Conference over the years had been distributed to survivors instead of other charities - many not even Holocaust related, including projects of various organizations represented on the Claims Conference board - we would not today face the tragedy of survivors unable to pay their basic food, medical and utility bills.

SINCE MY last column, I have received a flow of additional information concerning aspects of Claims Conference activities of which I was unaware.

I knew that Berman had assumed the chairmanship of the crucial advisory committees for disbursement of funds in the US and even Israel. But I only learned subsequently that he actually chairs five (!) of the most important committees, including the powerful allocations committee. He is also a member of three other committees which do not list a chairman. With such concentration of power in the hands of one person, checks and balances disappear and governance inevitably becomes corrupted.

Now, to my astonishment, I learned that Burt Neuborne is one of three members of the Claims Conference's "goodwill fund late applicants committee," which decides on payments for claimants who file after the German deadlines for properties for which the Claims Conference had already taken possession or received compensation.

Since its inception in 1994, the fund has disbursed close to $1 billion.

That Neuborne - a lawyer who enriched himself with funds from restitution cases - can be a member of this important committee is obscene. In an op-ed in the New York Post in 2006, Menachem Rosensaft, founding chairman of the International Network of Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, disclosed that in 1997 Neuborne had accepted an invitation from US District Judge Edward Korman "to serve in a pro bono capacity as co-counsel for the plaintiffs" in the Swiss bank litigation. Two years later, he was appointed lead counsel on this basis. In October 2000, he stated that "every penny in the $1.25 billion Swiss bank case will go to Holocaust victims," and ridiculed as "absurd" another lawyer's $4 million fee. As late as September 2005, he boasted, "I am the lead settlement lawyer in the Swiss case, in which I served without fee now for almost seven years."

However, only months later, in December 2005, he had a change of heart and demanded $4.7 million, finally extracting $3.1 million (aside from $4.4 million he had already pocketed from the settlement of Holocaust-related claims against German corporations).

This loathsome behavior enraged Holocaust survivor groups and led to a formal resolution adopted unanimously by the leadership of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants condemning "his greed which eclipses any consideration for overriding moral and ethical concerns. His actions constitute a moral stain on the legal profession."

The anger flowed over to the media, including an editorial in The New York Times.

It is inexplicable and unconscionable that a person who behaves in such a manner is appointed to a leading position in the Claims Conference and is symptomatic of how the uninformed board simply acts as a rubber stamp for every decision proposed by its chairman.

THIS ATTITUDE is compounded by the extraordinary assertion made in response to my criticisms by treasurer Roman Kent, who stated that the Claims Conference refused to provide access to the list of German properties published in 2003 because heirs would "think that they could file claims but will not be able to do so because the Claims Conference sold many of these properties since the 1 March 2004 deadline."

Denying heirs and their children access to such information is in itself outrageous.

Kent's statement reflects the arrogance of the Claims Conference's refusal to adequately publicize these properties to divert funds from rightful heirs and compensate for their appalling failure over the years to prioritize grants to impoverished survivors.

It was only after pressure from the German and UK governments that the Claims Conference released the list of properties to the public. It was initially only circulated for six months. As a consequence, many legitimate heirs only learned of their right to reclaim their properties after the deadline had expired.

This should also be viewed in tandem with the huge uproar and litigation which arose over the manner in which the German properties were managed. There were allegations of questionable practices related to the sale of properties - amounting to up to $7 billion - which led to two internal audits, the findings of which were withheld from the public. To date, the Claims Conference has refused to provide an estimate of the value of the properties it has retained or still claims title to. Allegations of failures in "transparency and democratic accountability" in these areas resulted in a major investigation of the Claims Conference by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the findings of which will soon be released.

Then there is the revelation of the fraud perpetrated over the past 10 years. It is alleged that three Claims Conference officials were sacked and two returned to Russia.

Nobody has explained why there was no prosecution and more importantly, no one has revealed how much money was actually stolen. In February, the Claims Conference told the New York Jewish Week that the amount was $350,000. In July, after being further confronted by the Jewish Week, it conceded that the sum had grown to $7 million. However, at the July board meeting, Kent cautioned that this was "only the tip of the iceberg."

Since then, there have been requests for clarification of rumors rampant in Claims Conference circles that more than $40 million may have been purloined. The Claims Conference has made evasive responses without denying the veracity of these rumors.

Whatever the situation, instead of hiring the "biggest and the best" Madison Avenue PR firm, the board should undertake an independent forensic audit and appoint an ombudsman to protect the interests of survivors and heirs. An independent authority should also be commissioned to review the conflicts of interest, governance and transparency of the organization, and in particular investigate the manner and decision-making process by which funds are allocated.

Recently, the New York Jewish Week dropped another bombshell. This month, Stuart Eizenstat, special negotiator of the Claims Conference, will be hosting a concert commemorating the defiance and resistance of Jewish prisoners at Terezin. It will be a gala event, with members of the Obama administration and congressmen expected to attend.

But what angered the survivor community is that instead of using such a laudable occasion as a vehicle to raise funds for survivors in desperate need, the Claims Conference provided a $50,000 subsidy. Admittedly, in the context of billions of dollars, this is a drop in the ocean. However, it reflects an attitude and as Leo Rechter, president of the National Association of Jewish Child Holocaust Survivors, pointed out: "20 survivors could have been taken care of with $50,000 and provided with a shred of dignity in their last days."

David Schachter, head of the Miami Holocaust Survivors Foundation, added that the Claims Conference had "blown close to $250 million on [educational research and documentation] projects in recent years, including grants to board members which had nothing to do with survivor needs.

How in God's name can the Jewish world allow this diversion of holy money while survivors are suffering?" How indeed?

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

"So Far..."

Arlene Kushner

No, I cannot say, " good." It's more like, "So far, we're hanging in there." Who knows what tomorrow brings.

One gets the feeling that if he could -- without losing his coalition -- Netanyahu would: cave on extending the freeze, that is. And so, it is the strength of those coalition members we must pray for.

It is with deliberate consideration that certain members of the coalition (and most notably members of Netanyahu's own Likud party) have spoken out publicly against extending the freeze. ake, for example, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who said in an interview on Monday that it would be "very difficult" to renew a freeze on the basis of American assurances: "It was a unilateral gesture. You don't negotiate on unilateral gestures. You negotiate on a peace settlement." Steinitz said there was no "reciprocity" or flexibility from the PA during the freeze. "To come now and to demand more is very problematic."


Yesterday I picked up a report citing some of those ubiquitous "unnamed Israeli officials." Admittedly, the source was CNN, but consider:

"One senior Israeli official said that Netanyahu is 'determined to make sure talks go forward,' and is 'cautiously and discretely' discussing the settlement issue with the U.S. and his own cabinet. The official said Netanyahu is also considering a set of confidence-building measures to offer the Palestinians in lieu of a full settlement freeze. 'Something has to be agreed on to keep [the Palestinians] at the talks, but not put a full freeze on settlements,' another senior Israeli official said."

Confidence building measures. How weary I am of that expression. There seems to be no end to the groveling. Either the PA wants to negotiate a state, or it does not. And if it genuinely does not, then temping its leaders to come to the table is going to achieve absolutely nothing good.

What this does is shine a spotlight on what we know to be the truth: This fawning is for Obama's sake, not Abbas's.

And what is this business about Netanyahu being "determined" that talks will go forward? It takes two to negotiate, Mr. Prime Minister, and by yourself you cannot make sure of anything. This is posturing -- one more effort to show the world how cooperative we are. An attempt to protect us against the day when Abbas points a finger and says the failure of talks was all our fault.


I would not want to be in Netanyahu's shoes. I am forever mindful of the difficulty of dealing with Obama, who is not only determined but ruthless. Who knows what the threats have been, and will yet be.

There are suggestions that Abbas might be biding his time until after the US midterm elections, confident that Obama, when he no longer requires the goodwill of supporters of Israel, will come down even harder on Israel.

And yet, it is time -- no, past time! -- to call a halt to the nonsense.

The PA is now saying that Obama is working on getting the freeze extended by three months, to save the talks. But the same question emerges here as with that letter said to have been written by Obama that sought a two-month extension. Three months is no more likely than two months to be enough time to allow the parties to resolve all major issues. (Three years, or, I daresay, three decades, would likely not be enough time.)

What would happen at the end of three months, when the Arabs would scream (guaranteed) that things were just starting to go well, and now Israel will ruin it all?


I had pondered recently why Abbas would be seeking the opinion of the Arab League on the question of continuing to negotiate, when the PLO -- officially the negotiating agency for Palestinian Arabs -- had already said there should not be further talks under the present conditions. The answer is that Abbas is not seeking a possible go-ahead from the Arab states; quite the contrary, he is looking for their support as he declines to negotiate.

Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the JPost today, says that PA officials have already secured support from Jordan, Egypt, and "several other Arab countries;" announcement of this was made in Cairo after a meeting between Abbas and Mubarak.


PA negotiator Nabil Sha'ath has offered some reasons as to why the freeze is essential, and they are real winners:

First, in a replay of an old refrain, he protests that it is pointless to negotiate "land for peace" "while the land is being stolen and settlements are growing."

Everyone needs to be reminded that Abbas negotiated with former prime minister Ehud Olmert just fine every though there was no freeze.

But the most essential counter-argument here is that we are not "stealing" land because it doesn't belong to the Arabs. The land under discussion in Judea and Samaria is unclaimed Mandate land -- given to the Jews by the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, which designated it for a Jewish homeland.

All UN resolutions on this issue (not to mention the 1949 armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan) say that determination of Israel's final border can be reached only via negotiations. And yet, the PA would have the world believe that everything beyond the Green Line (an armistice line only) already belongs to them.

The cry that we're taking all the land and leaving nothing for them because of building is a gross misrepresentation. ALL of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria combined take up less than 5% of the land, with major blocs of communities adjacent -- or near adjacent -- to the Green Line.

As far as taking "more land" is concerned," Israel had an agreement with the two US administrations prior to the current one that permitted us to build WITHIN existing communities, as long as the borders of those communities were not expanded. Obama refused to honor this agreement. I cannot say with certainty that no building is going on now beyond existing borders, but I do know that in the main this is not the case. The image of Israelis spreading out all across Judea and Samaria is simply erroneous. Deliberately erroneous, I will add.

The freeze, as imposed by Defense Minister Barak, was so stringent over the past months that residents of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria couldn't close in an open porch or add a bathroom to a house.


The flip side of this issue is that while Jewish building has been frozen for the last 10 months, the Arabs have been on an internationally bankrolled building spree.

Please see Caroline Glick on this in a very informative article, "Do Jews have civil rights?":

"The presumptive purpose of the freeze was to prevent Israel from creating 'facts on the ground' that would prejudice the outcome of the so-called peace talks with Fatah [the PA]. This goal is justified on the basis of the Palestinian misinterpretation of a clause in the 1995 agreement between Israel and the PLO in which they agreed that 'neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.'

"The clause was never intended to refer to construction, and 'neither side,' of course, relates to both Israel and the Palestinians.

"But since the agreement was signed, while the Palestinian misinterpretation has been widely adopted, only one side has been held to account.

"Whereas every Jewish home built since 1995 has evoked a storm of international criticism, the Palestinians have built thousands upon thousands of buildings throughout the areas. They have done so in total disregard for planning and zoning ordinances and even the basic considerations of supply and demand. For instance, a motorist traveling from Jerusalem to Ma'aleh Adumim will pass hundreds of empty five-story buildings in Issawiya and other Arab neighborhoods built for the sole purpose of preventing Israel from connecting the two.

"So too, Fatah-appointed Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has been absolutely clear that the Palestinians are building the new city of Rawabi to 'change the status' of Judea and Samaria and prepare the ground for the establishment of a state outside the framework of the negotiations."


Returning for a moment to Sha'ath's "reasons" why the freeze is necessary, we find this outrage:

"No US-sponsored peace process would have credibility when the Americans can't force Israel to fulfill one of the principal obligations -- to stop settlement construction."

From the time of the Oslo Accords -- which permitted settlements -- a "principal obligation" on the Arab side was the cessation of all incitement. To this day, PA agencies are rife with incitement. There are, of course, the textbooks, which encourage jihad and deny Jewish legitimacy in the land. But, by way of example, let's look at a song and dance routine shown several times recently -- the last time less then a month ago -- on PA-TV. Its lyrics:

"From my wounds, my weapon has emerged.
"Oh, our revolution, my weapon has emerged.
"There is no force in the world that can remove the weapon from my hand.
"My weapon has emerged. My weapon has emerged...
"This revolutionary people has sacrificed and offered in order to live in freedom!
"My weapon has emerged. My weapon has emerged...
"He who offers his blood doesn't care if his blood flows upon the ground...
"As the weapon of revolution is in my hand, so my presence will be forced [upon Israel].
"My weapon has emerged. My weapon has emerged."


While members of the US Consulate in eastern Jerusalem have routinely gone into Judea and Samaria to check on whether we are building, the Obama administration has never intervened to "force" the PA to stop incitement. This is the case even though teaching people to hate is most clearly a bigger threat to peace than building homes.

Of course the "peace process" does not have credibility, and the US administration is not an honest broker.

Yet, sadly, it is for the sake of this process and in deference to this administration that our government is panting with eagerness to proceed.


One of the things that bothers me greatly is that our own government does not speak out loudly for our rights: does not point out that Arab building has continued, or that incitement -- which the PA was committed to eliminate -- is still going on.

There are analysts who believe that the US is reluctant to take on the PA on some of these issues for fear of weakening the case for the "two-state solution," to which it is so committed. If the world knows what the PA is really like....

But what's our excuse?


Can it be? Is Bill Clinton really that ignorant, or is he just giving a boost to his wife's boss?

Yesterday, in a talk in Egypt, he said that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would "take about half the impetus in the whole world - not just the region, the whole world - for terror away. It would have more impact by far than anything else that could be done."

His further claim, according to AP, is that the founding of Israel and the"dispossession" of the Palestinians more than six decade ago has long been a rallying cry among Arabs and Muslims in the region.

Shocking. Either way -- because he's terribly misinformed, or because he is knowingly spreading dangerous untruths --he should hang his head in shame.

Can he truly not know about radical Islam's goal of a world-wide caliphate, ruled by Sharia -- and that advancement of this goal precipitates terrorism? A peace treaty between Israel and the PA would have zero effect on Al-Qaeda or the Taliban or Iran's advancement towards nuclear weapons. Is he not aware that the presence of a Jewish state in the region is anathema to many Muslim states and groups for religious reasons, so that -- rather than embracing it -- they would be upset by a treaty that further legitimized Israel? Does he not realize that most Arabs don't really care about the Palestinian Arabs -- no matter how they use the issue as a convenient rallying cry? We know this because of their failure to contribute to Palestinian Arab wellbeing via such conduits as UNRWA and their reluctance to make Palestinian Arabs welcome in their lands.

Shall we all chip in and buy Bill Clinton a "Terrorism for Dummies"?

In just a couple of short statements by Clinton there is so much to take on. But I won't deal here with the suggestion that we "displaced" the Arabs. That's a posting for another day.


"The Good News Corner"

Known for its health benefits because of a high level of antioxidants and other factors, the pomegranate -- rimon -- is very popular in Israel.

And so it was that in the Galil, a winery (called Rimon) for producing a unique tasting pomegranate wine was established by Gabi Nachmias. It has grown enormously, putting out a port, a bubbly wine, a dry wine and a sweet wine. Over 750,000 liters of wine are bottled annually, with some shipped as far away as Japan.

see my website
see my website

Settlers replace Korans burnt in West Bank mosque attack

A group of settlers (really Israeli Citizens) visit Bayt Fajr mosque to show solidarity with their Palestinian neighbors after Monday's vandalism incident.
By Reuters

Settlers (really Israeli Citizens) on Tuesday gave new copies of the Koran to Palestinians in a West Bank village whose mosque was burned in an attack blamed by Palestinians on settlers.

Several copies of Islam's holy book were scorched in the arson attack and threats in Hebrew were scrawled on the wall of the mosque of Beit Fajjar early on Monday. The village sits on the edge of the Jewish settlement bloc of Gush Etzion.

Suspicion immediately fell on settlers opposed to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, in which some settlements could be turned over to a Palestinian state.

"This visit is to say that although there are people who oppose peace, he who opposes peace is opposed to God," said Rabbi Menachem Froman, a well-known peace activist and one of a handful of settlers who went to Beit Fajjar to show solidarity with their Muslim neighbors.

Froman and other Jews and Palestinians who advocate coexistence held a demonstration by a busy West Bank highway junction, displaying banners saying: "We all want to live in peace." But fewer than 20 people turned out.

"I would like to see more people come to events like this," said Aharon Frasier, a young American-born rabbi from a nearby settlement who wanted to express his "strong objections" to an attack that contradicts Jewish values.

"We can't leave it to the politicians. We have to do what we believe in" to build peace and security, he said.

Stone-throwing youths

When Israeli security forces prevented Beit Fajjar Palestinians from joining what was supposed to be their joint demonstration, Palestinians youths began throwing stones at the
troops, who fired tear-gas in response.

No injuries were reported.

One ultra-Orthodox young Jewish bystander seemed baffled by the demonstration. "A demonstration against the burning of the mosque?" he asked reporters. "Have the settlers all turned left-wing?"

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has called for calm while the Israeli and Palestinian leaders try to avert the collapse of U.S.-backed peace negotiations, condemned the mosque attack and urged police to track down the arsonists.

Any flare-up of violence in the West Bank poses a direct threat to peace talks that were launched just a month ago but suspended by the Palestinians last week when a 10-month Israeli moratorium on building new houses in West Bank Jewish settlements expired.

On the eve of a Washington summit to launch the direct negotiations on Sept 2, four Israelis were killed in a shooting attack near Hebron for which the militant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas claimed responsibility. .

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Subj: To Prime Minister Netanyahu

Earlier today on tv news there was an indication that Netanyahu might be ready to return to the construction freeze. Now, at 1 a.m. there has been a second notice that he is 'considering' such an action'.

I am forwarding a copy of my letter to the PM. Mine is just an example of what one can say. It is important to have individual letters - as copies will be invalidating. There are many points that can be included but it is not necessary for each letter to contain all.

Letters from abroad can state the concern that leads one to write. They should be short, courteous, and contain a couple of facts and that the 10-month freeze has ended permanently. Try to be positive and supportive of his standing firm till now. Sign your name, address, and a phone no.

To Prime Minister Netanyahu,

As an American Israeli I strongly urge that you lead Israel as promised when you were elected. We want to continue our trust in you but this requires your steadfastness on our behalf.

It is obvious that your government is under tremendous pressure from President Obama to 'refreeze' the construction freeze. It was an outrageous demand of a sovereign nation by another government. The 10- month moratorium on building did not serve Israeli citizens; as Syria just pointed out it was done just for Obama's personal benefit.

The past has proven that the more we acquiesce to the demands of outsiders the more is demanded of us. Nothing was required of the Arabs; they were not told to abide by a building freeze yet have not stopped demanding more and more concessions from Israel. ENOUGH!


Netanyahu contacst:

(03) 610-9898 ( tel. in Israel)

(02) 670-5369 (fax in Israel)

Monday, October 04, 2010

"The Other Shoe?"

Arlene Kushner

To all those who wrote to me with words of enthusiasm because of the sermon EHR KUMT that I put out last week: You are most welcome and I'm delighted to see this material shared.


The "other shoe" I'm referring to is the end result of the whole business of extending the freeze, or part of the freeze, or whatever, so that face-to-face negotiations might continue. There is the sense that where we sit now is not the end of it all. (In the vernacular, "waiting for the other shoe to drop" means having heard one shoe hit the floor as its wearer pulled it off, and knowing that there has to be another shoe yet to come.)
I put a question mark after it because I'm not entirely sure there will be another shoe, although it's clear that Obama is not finished pushing and will not let go easily.

Last week, after the news broke about the Obama letter intended to entice Netanyahu into a 60-day extension of the freeze (the letter that Obama denies having written), there was a deluge of reports and analyses, replete with the usual quota of rumors and speculations.

It would be unwise to even try to share all of it here, but it is perhaps valuable to touch a few bases:

What caught my eye was a report from Ben Caspit and Eli Bardenstein, writing (originally in Hebrew) in YNet:

"Alongside a letter to Israel, President Obama sent a letter to Mahmoud Abbas promising that if the Palestinians continued with the direct peace talks, the U.S., and Obama personally, would pledge to support the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 lines [the 1949 armistice lines] with land swaps."

At this point, the word "duplicitous" comes to mind. Earlier reports had indicated that this is something he was threatening to do if we didn't freeze. But it seems he didn't wait for Israel's answer, and is quite content to offer whatever he imagines will be enticing -- as long as he gets everyone to the table before elections next month. As Barry Rubin has pointed out, for example, Obama offered in his Israel letter to allow the IDF to remain in the Jordan Valley, for security reasons, after a state is formed -- but this is a vacuous promise because it's a given that the PA would balk and there is no expectation that Obama would actually push the issue.


Several people ventured guesses as to why Netanyahu was refusing the offer made in Obama's letter.

There is the thought that Netanyahu is holding tight because he won't break his pledge to the people -- but I would call this the weakest of the speculations.

Several commentators have observed that Netanyahu's position is that there were supposed to be reciprocal actions that have not been forthcoming; that the Palestinians wasted nine months after the freeze started by not opening direct talks; and that the focus on settlements is excessive, when far greater issues must be dealt with. All are valid arguments, and all have been advanced by Netanyahu.

However, what is also clear is that Netanyahu is constrained by fear of a breakdown of his coalition. (More on this.)


A couple of very reputable analysts pointed a finger at Obama.

Evelyn Gordon, writing in Commentary, observed that "Obama's Repudiation of Promises to Israel Comes Back to Haunt Him."

Whatever excuses Netanyahu has given for not renewing the freeze, she says, "the real reason is too undiplomatic to state publicly: Obama, by his own actions, has shown he views presidential promises as made to be broken. And Israel’s government is loath to incur the real damage of extending the exchange for promises that will be conveniently forgotten when they come due.

"Israel, after all, received its last presidential promise just six years ago, in exchange for leaving Gaza. In writing George W. Bush said the Palestinian Authority must end incitement and terror, voiced support for Israel “as a Jewish state,” vowed to 'strengthen Israel’s capability' to defend itself, and said any Israeli-Palestinian deal should leave Israel with the settlement blocs and 'defensible borders”'and resettle Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian state rather than Israel. He also promised orally that Israel could continue building in the settlement blocs.

"But when Obama took office, he denied the oral pledge’s very existence, infuriating even Israeli leftists. As Haaretz’s Aluf Benn wrote, it was possible to argue the policy should change, 'but not to lie.'

"And while Obama hasn’t denied the written document’s existence, he’s nullified it de facto through his every word and action: he’s never challenged PA incitement; he’s advocated the indefensible pre-1967 borders, including in East Jerusalem (where he bullied Israel into halting construction even in huge Jewish neighborhoods that will clearly remain Israeli under any deal); he hasn’t publicly demanded that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state or said the refugees can’t be resettled in Israel; and far from strengthening Israel’s defensive capabilities, he’s condemned Israel’s enforcement of an arms blockade on Hamas-run Gaza, bullied Israel into accepting a UN probe of its raid on a blockade-busting flotilla, imposed unprecedented restrictions on Israel’s purchase of F-35 fighters, and more..."

While Martin Peretz pointed out in The New Republic that "Obama Made The Construction Moratorium The Issue That It Is. Now the Palestinians Are Stuck With It. And So Is He."


It is Barry Rubin, however, who most effectively poked holes in the Obama offer.

First, he says, Netanyahu's coalition is not in favor of continuing the freeze, and the sort of enticements Obama is making are not going to change the minds of those opposed. Sort of makes it all moot.

But there is more:

Obama has said that all that was being asked is a two-month freeze, and that the administration would not seek a further extension after that. Asks Rubin: "Why two months, why not three or four? Why not two weeks?

"Hmm, readers, what is happening within two months? The U.S. election! The implication is that the Obama Administration is offering Israel the following basic deal: Make us look good until the vote and we will give you a pay-off.

"That’s it. Because the only alternative view is that the United States believes that the once-every-two-week talks will make such dramatic progress in two months that both Israel and the Palestinians will be on the verge of peace or an end to the freeze won’t matter.

"Is that credible? No...

"The Obama Administration cannot bash Israel between now and the elections but it might seek to get revenge in 2011."


And where are we now?

On Saturday, Abbas met with the Executive Committee of the PLO, and they told him there should be no talks until settlement construction is frozen. Yesterday, Abbas declared that the talks were on hold.

If only this were the end of the story...

Word coming out from the Israeli government is that all sorts of compromises are being explored in communication with the US administration, in order to find a way out of this impasse.

Oi! The other shoe slips a bit lower.

However, political wisdom here has it that not only is 54% of the Israeli public against an additional freeze (according to a Dahaf Institute poll), but neither does Netanyahu have support for a freeze in his full Cabinet (with 15 out of 30 opposed, and 7 undecided, according to Yidiot Ahronot) or in the security Cabinet (with eight of 15 opposed), or the Septet (with four out of seven opposed).

Cabinet members who are mentioned as having come out publicly as opposed include finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, and Communications Minister Moshe Kahlon. Others who have not gone public but are presumed to be opposed include Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe Ya'alon and Minister without Portfolio Benny Begin. I would guess that Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom is opposed; and clearly Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is. On it goes.

If our prime minister's back stays strong, it will be because of others standing behind him, lending that critical support.

Undoubtedly he has noticed that the Dahaf poll mentioned above also indicates that if elections were held today, Labor would go from 13 seats to six. Doesn't do much for Defense Minister Ehud Barak's standing.


Abbas still plans to meet with the Arab League in a few days. I confess to a bit of confusion here, however: technically, at least, our negotiations are with the PLO. If this group has declared a halt if we build, I'm not sure how Abbas could proceed even if the League gave him a go-ahead.


While we are still on hold, there are other analyses worth looking at:

Prime Minister Netanyahu has insisted in the course of talk about a Palestinian state, that for sake of the security of Israel, such a state would have to be demilitarized.

Louis Rene Beres, an expert in international law, warns us -- in "Why A Palestinian State Would Never Be 'Demilitarized'" -- that this is not likely to be possible.

"Any rejection of demilitarization, he says, "could find fully authoritative support in pertinent international treaties."

What is more, "There are hidden and very significant dangers to demilitarization. This is because the grave threat to Israel of any Palestinian state would lie not only in the presence or absence of a particular national armed force, but also in the many other enemy armies and insurgents that would inevitably compete for power in the new and fragile Arab country.

In addition, "There is another less obvious reason why a demilitarized Palestine would present Israel with a substantial security threat: International law would not necessarily expect Palestinian compliance with pre-state agreements concerning armed force. As a new state, Palestine might not be bound by any pre-independence contracts, even if these agreements had included certain U.S.guarantees to Israel.

The lesson: avoid a Palestinian state.


Khaled Abu Toameh has written a piece for Hudson NY entitled, "Ask the Arabs of East Jerusalem: Should Jerusalem Be Redivided?"

The answer, of course, is that a majority of the Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem wouldn't want the city re-divided (i.e., as it was from 1948-67). Many of the reasons given are predictable:

"Most Arabs in the city prefer to live under Israeli rule for a number of reasons. First, because as holders of Israeli ID cards they are entitled to many rights and privileges that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip don't enjoy. They include freedom of movement and social, economic, health and education services that Israeli citizens are entitled to.

"Redividing Jerusalem means bringing either the Palestinian Authority of Hamas into the city. The Arab residents of Jerusalem have seen what happened in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past 16 years and are not keen to live under a corrupt authority or a radical Islamist entity.

"Over the past few years, many Arab residents of the city who used to live in the West Bank have abandoned their homes and returned to Jerusalem. They did so mainly out of fear of losing their rights and privileges as holders of Israeli ID cards.

"But many of them also ran away from the West Bank because they did not want to live in territories controlled by militiamen, armed gangs and corrupt leaders and institutions."

But there are other reasons given by Abu Toameh that would impinge upon all of the residents of the city, and these are reasons that we should pay close attention to. They argue against division of the city no matter what:

"Both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators need to take into account that it's completely unrealistic to talk about restoring the pre-1967 situation where Jerusalem was divided into two cities.

"The division was bad for Jews and Arabs back then and it will be worse if it happens once again.

"Jerusalem is a very small city where Jews and Arabs live across the street from each other and on top of each other. Since 1967, Israel has built many new neighborhoods in the eastern part of the city, rendering it impossible to imagine a reality where Jerusalem would exist as a divided city.

"Redividing Jerusalem will turn the lives of both Jews and Arabs into a nightmare, especially with regards to traffic arrangements. Every day, tens of thousands of Jews and Arabs commute between the two parts of the city freely.

"Redividing Jerusalem will result in the establishment of checkpoints and border crossings inside many parts of the city. Jews and Arabs will find themselves confined to their homes and neighborhoods, which will be surrounded by security barriers and checkpoints."

Abu Toameh says, additionally, that:

"Those who think that Jerusalem can be split into two are living in an illusion and clearly do not know what they are talking about. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, like most Palestinians, is aware of this reality. However, that is not going to stop him and others from continuing to demand that eastern Jerusalem become the capital of a Palestinian state."


Now this is something to bring to your elected representatives in Congress. Provide the URL, give brief and salient facts, and ask why your government is supporting a policy that isn't workable.

For your Congresspersons:

For your Senators:


"The Good News Corner"

Tomorrow Israel Aircraft will unveil the Panther, a new type of UAV that can lift off and land like a helicopter.

This Thursday a mass rally entitled “For the truth, for Israel” will be held in Rome. It has been organized by Fiamma Nirenstein -- who is a journalist, a member of the Italian Parliament, and MP, and vice president of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Italian Chamber of Deputies -- in cooperation with other leading European figures.

Israel’s Audacity of Being

Ari Bussel

My heart is aching. I am hurting. It feels like an elephant is standing on my chest, a belt tightening or two hands gripping my neck forcefully. My lungs constrict, air is unable to pass through to the millions of nodes and from there to the brain. I am suffocating. “Relax. Control yourself,” I tell my brain, but the feeling remains, chocking me.

Inside my body, circulating in the blood, are trillions of tiny bubbles, all threatening to explode. The pressure has been building for some time, and there is no escape.

In the series 24, the good guys always seem to escape at the very last minute, almost completely unharmed, miraculously recovering from the torture of the previous scene. In superhero movies, Superman or Batman always comes to the rescue. But in real life, we must count only on ourselves.

As I look at Israel, I feel the very same feeling of suffocation. How long will she continue sliding this slippery slope with nothing to hang to as she accelerates into the abyss?

Watching the Harry Potter movies, we know that good will prevail. This, however, does not stop us from cringing every time Harry, Hermione and Ron are in deathly peril, and from pronouncing a sigh of relief whenever the skies turn blue and we seem safe again.

To watch Israel, though, is a terrifying experience. Our body aches and yet we cannot make her understand her ways are fault. It is like watching an anorexic son or daughter struggling to stay afloat. Even worse, it is watching a spouse or a parent suffering from an illness that is either not diagnosable or its cure as yet unknown.

American President Obama is determined to bring peace to the region. All he needs is the declaratory relief “I brought about the peace that has eluded all previous American Presidents!” That will elevate him to new heights, a feeling not yet felt.

Present Obama does not really need another Nobel Prize – he already won one although few understand for what achievement. The only triumph to-date is his pronunciation of “Change” and “Hope” for which he already won the White House and entry into the pages of history as the originator of the two words that have brought down the United State of America.

Similar to the Health Care reform, the President will stop at nothing to win “Peace,” irrespective of the distance of that achievement from any semblance of a true peace. Israel has been given a very short window of opportunity before she will feel the full strength and iron will of Obama – he is currently distracted by the upcoming mid-term elections, so he is not pressing so hard – until the first Wednesday in November.

Israel has imposed a self-moratorium on construction in Judea and Samaria. The pregnancy complete, the child was born healthy on the 26th of September, 2010, welcomed into the world with the Palestinians’ demand he be immediately murdered: There must be no construction, else there will be no resumption of direct talks. They are indeed eager for peace – just throw out the baby with the murky water.

The Israelis even had the audacity to demand from the Palestinians recognition as a Jewish country (what a racist, bigoted idea!) and offered to continue the freeze if President Obama releases Jonathan Pollard (just imagine, betraying your own friends and asking for forgiveness).

What great Chutzpa and utter nonsense – these Israelis forgot who they are and at whose mercy they exist. Jerusalem is Palestine’s eternal capital, and Israel, from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River and beyond, is Palestine. Construction anywhere in this land must be prohibited, for it is not the Israelis’. They are The Occupier, soon to be defeated, crashed and thrown away.

It seems that not only the Palestinians and the World at large believe this nonsense – Israel, too, fell into the trap of Middle Eastern fairy tales and behaves as if she has no claim to the land. I do not know if it is strictly arrogance displayed by Israelis, but I am astonished anew every time.

Israelis themselves are able and willing participants, and so they truly must give up, stop with the nonsense and yield, raise their hands in surrender and march to the new death camps, to the crematoriums singing their anthem, “The Hope” (“Peace in our Lifetime”). Done, finished, throw away this experiment called the Jewish State – you do not believe in it any way, so why bother?

Israel’s Environmental Protection Minister Erdan along with IDF representatives and the media will tour the site of planned Palestinian city of Rawabi, which is designated to house 40,000 residents in 6,000 units. The first residents are due to move in into their units in 2013. They may even be incentivized to move in, with no charges imposed on them for these units.

No Jewish construction, only Palestinian ones allowed and promoted by Israel. What is wrong with this picture?

While camouflaged as a tour to “inspect the measures that will be taken to prevent environmental damage – water and ground pollution, illegal dumping sites, etc.,” it is the pinnacle of capitulation to the Palestinians.

Defense Minister Barak, the true ruler of Judea and Samaria and his boss, Prime Minister Netanyahu, must join the tour. For that the US President might fly in to bring the full weight of America to the songs of the defeated – no, Israelis are not going to lament that which is apparently not theirs – and the joyous shouts of the Palestinians. What an achievement that would be – gone with the Jews, throw away the American Jewry along the way, they control too much of the media, the banking and other elements of beloved America.

Israel should earmark now one billion shekels, a number that will at least generate some interest, for immediate construction throughout Jerusalem – from East to West – and Judea and Samaria. Teams of bureaucrats from all relevant ministries must be made available to expedite building applications and ensure all red tape is erased, at least temporarily. Readily available are all those highly paid “negotiators” from Likud and Kadima and the various ministries that are engaged in much of the same for already 18 years.

Instead of supporting new Palestinian cities for tens of thousands of enemies, Israelis must embark on new cities for Jews in the Jewish State of Israel, particularly in Judea and Samaria, those areas from which the defiled and hated word “JEW” came into being.

How about taking care of 40,000 Israelis, those who believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Moses and Aaron, David and Solomon, who serve in the Israel Defense Forces and are constructive members of Israeli society? [Yes, they wear yarmulkas and are otherwise known as “religious right,” “modern orthodox” or the most vilified word in today’s lexicon, the dreaded word “SETTLERS.”]

Why advance the goals of the enemy rather than your own – UNLESS you believe the enemy is correct and has the greater right over this land (possibly the only right)? Maybe the reason Israel is not fighting any more should be interpreted as Israel’s admission and recognition in the rights of the Palestinians to destroy the Jewish State?

Our cries to Israel to Wake Up are unheeded – possibly she does not want to wake up? Is it even possible that Israel has already capitulated and it is only a question of time before her total elimination?

It is not for me to answer. Israelis must think very carefully before they do anything else. At the very least they need to have the courage to admit: If Judea and Samaria are not rightfully theirs Israel must disengage and leave. She better do it right away. But be warned: first Judea and Samaria, then the rest of Israel. Give away Jerusalem and you allow the enemy to stab the body Israel right at the heart.

It will hurt no more. The body will be dead, even if it would appear to be quivering for a few moments longer.

I am still gasping for breath. Israel has no will to survive.

The series “Postcards from America—Postcards from Israel” by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager is a compilation of articles capturing the essence of life in America and Israel during the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The writers invite readers to view and experience an Israel and her politics through their eyes, Israel visitors rarely discover.

This point—and often—counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.

© “Postcards from Israel—Postcards from America,” October, 2010

MK Danon: 'Jewish Homes On The Ground - Pure Zionism!'

Malkah Fleisher
A7 News

Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, whose growth was unilaterally stifled by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's government during the 10-month building moratorium, have found a friend in Likud Knesset Member Danny Danon.

The 39 year-old rookie MK, who is seen as one of the prime minister's biggest critics within his party – as well as a rising Llikud star – has made himself a champion of new building efforts, placing the weight of his Knesset seat behind them. Following the recent termination of the building freeze, his office has been instrumental in acquiring permits for new construction projects in the biblical heartland.

On the day of the termination of building, he led dozens of buses filled with World Likud members on a tour of Jewish communities in the region, with an emphasis on expressing the need for growth – and the motivation of local citizens to make it happen.

In an interview with Israel National Radio's Yishai Fleisher on the day residents returned to building, Danon explained why he is dedicated to the cause. "We were elected on a very clear platform to build and to settle the land," he said. "If the prime minister would have told the voters that we will not build in Judea and Samaria, he would not be the prime minister today, and I would not be in the Knesset today. Likud members are sending a clear message to the prime minister: we support you, but you must stay loyal to the way, to the platform. Otherwise, you will have no support."

Supporting Jewish growth throughout Israel is not just about political success for himself or the Likud, however. According to Danon, it is a matter of survival. "I see the large amount of [foreign] pressure on this minor issue of Jewish building in the settlements, and I ask myself, 'What will happen when we will get to the core issues?' Imagine the amount of pressure President Obama will put on our prime minister," said Danon. "We have to be very strong now. Otherwise, it will be a very dangerous precedent, because the Americans will understand they can push Israel. We have to be very strong today, because we will face the issue of Jerusalem, settlement, borders… I can only imagine the amount of pressure that will be brought to bear upon us."

MK Danon urged the United States to relent on that pressure, in the name of democracy. "We respect the American democracy, we respect the American president, but we want the American people to respect democracy in Israel, to respect the sovereignty of Israel, where we tell Jews they can build everywhere in the [land of Israel]."

For him, that right is not just a fundamental part of what Likud stands for, but a core Zionist value. "When you have Jewish homes on the ground, this is pure Zionism," he said.

Danon's adherence to essential Zionism is also evident in his Knesset record. A former Jewish Agency emissary to Miami, Florida, Danon is a co-sponsor of a new bill that would create a national holiday celebrating Aliyah – return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel. "I believe that the energy to sustain and to win the fight is by having the good people and the right people," Danon told Fleisher. "That's why when I see Zionist people, I tell them that the ultimate force is to make Aliyah to Israel. That is what you should do."

Ultimately, Danon is optimistic about the future, though there is much work left to do. "When I see the energy of the people, I know we will prevail. It will not be easy, it will not be short-term, it will be long-term, but we will prevail. That is why we are here supporting the settlers who are the pure Zionists of Israel today."

MK A. Lieberman presents painful truth at the 65th General Assembly

H.E. Mr. Avigdor Liberman 
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs

By P. David Hornik

Not surprisingly, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman’s speech to the UN General Assembly this week drew condemnations, with Palestinian delegates walking out on the speech. Israel’s left-wing daily Haaretz ran an article claiming U.S. Jews were “outraged.” It quotes extreme-dovish activist Seymour Reich as saying, “If Lieberman can’t keep his personal opinions to himself, he ought to resign from the cabinet,” and an unnamed “leader” as saying, “Every time…Lieberman voices his skepticism about achieving peace, he undermines Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s credibility.” In Israel, among prominent commentators denouncing the speech was Ron Ben-Yishai in Yediot Aharonot, the country’s largest daily. In a piece called “Time to Fire Lieberman,” Ben-Yishai, who usually writes on military affairs and is often quite reality-cognizant, bitterly accused Lieberman of showing “chutzpah and contempt” toward Netanyahu, “undermin[ing] Israel’s image as a democratic, enlightened state,” and “grant[ing] a diplomatic victory” to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. Ministers from the left-of-center Labor Party — part of Netanyahu’s coalition — also skewered the speech.

Now, what did Lieberman actually say? A perusal of the short address reveals nothing morally or intellectually objectionable. After the opening pleasantries, Lieberman asked: “why, during the seventeen years since we signed the Oslo Accords, have we not arrived at a comprehensive agreement signifying the end of the conflict [with the Palestinians]?”

He went on to contest “the prevalent view that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the heart of the instability in the Middle East,” noting that more than ninety percent of the wars and war victims of the [region] since the Second World War did not result from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are in no way connected to Israel, stemming rather, from conflicts involving Muslims or conflicts between Arab states. The Iran-Iraq war, the Gulf war, the wars between North and South Yemen, the Hamma atrocities in Syria, and the wars in Algeria and Lebanon, are just a few examples of a list that goes on and on.

Anything wrong there? Nope; I could have said it myself. Lieberman then turned to the “second flawed explanation” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, namely, “the so-called ‘occupation,’ the settlements in Judea and Samaria and the settlers themselves.” He pointed out Firstly, all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza were under Arab control for 19 years, between 1948 and 1967. During these 19 years, no one tried to create a Palestinian state.

Peace agreements were achieved with Egypt and Jordan despite the presence of settlements. And the opposite is also true: we evacuated twenty-one flourishing settlements in Gush Katif [in Gaza], and we transferred more than 10,000 Jews and in return, we have Hamas in power and thousands of missiles on Sderot and southern Israel. Again, all quite accurate.

Lieberman went on: The other misguided argument is the claim that the Palestinian issue prevents a determined international front against Iran…. In truth, the connection between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is precisely reversed. Iran can exist without Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah, but the terrorist organizations cannot exist without Iran…. [I]n searching for a durable agreement with the Palestinians…one must understand that first, the Iranian issue must be resolved…. Adding that “this is not a sufficient condition [but] it is nevertheless a necessary one,” Lieberman was again spot-on.

He then came to some remarks that indeed diverge from Netanyahu’s — recently — stated positions. Referring to the conflict’s underlying “emotional problems” such as the “utter lack of confidence between the sides,” Lieberman said: [W]e should focus on coming up with a long-term intermediate agreement, something that could take a few decades. We need to raise an entire new generation that will have mutual trust and will not be influenced by incitement and extremist messages.

As is true everywhere, where there are two nations, two religions and two languages with competing claims to the same land, there is friction and conflict. Countless examples…confirm this, whether in the Balkans, the Caucasus, Africa, the Far East or the Middle East. Where effective separation has been achieved, conflict has either been avoided, or has been dramatically reduced or resolved. Consider the cases of the former Yugoslav republics, the split-up of Czechoslovakia and the independence of East Timor….

Thus, the guiding principle for a final status agreement must not be land-for-peace but rather, exchange of populated territory. Let me be very clear: I am not speaking about moving populations, but rather about moving borders to better reflect demographic realities.…This is not an extraordinary insight [nor] a controversial political policy. It is an empirical truth.

Again, this is reasonable thinking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, both well grounded and out-of-the-box. It’s inconsistent with what Netanyahu has lately been saying in two regards: the prime minister’s declared optimism that an agreement with the Palestinians can be reached within a year; and his seeming acceptance of the dominant land-for-peace paradigm now considered (wrongly) to be based on the 1967 borders.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu’s reaction to his subordinate’s talk was mild. His office stated that Lieberman’s address was not coordinated with him, and that “the prime minister is the one who is heading the negotiations on behalf of the State of Israel. Issues related to the peace process will be discussed and decided on at the negotiation table, not anywhere else.” It was a distancing but not a repudiation, and the question is why.

One thing to point out is that Lieberman is not from Netanyahu’s Likud Party but, instead, the leader of his own Yisrael Beiteinu faction. As such, in Israel’s parliamentary system, Lieberman’s independence of Netanyahu could be seen as less jarring. This is, however, a nicety that may not be appreciated abroad. Also to be mentioned is Netanyahu’s wish to avoid rocking the boat of his so-far stable coalition. So is the need to project that he’s in charge, hence not react too sharply to Lieberman’s seeming defiance.

But there may be another factor at play as well. Few observers believe Netanyahu is actually a convert to Pollyannaish views of Israel’s conflict with its environment. More likely, his approach to the Palestinian issue is aimed at managing the relentless pressure from a U.S. president for whom it’s an obsession and who in his own recent UN speech devoted ten paragraphs to it compared to two paragraphs for international terror and two for the Iranian threat.

It could well be that for Netanyahu, too, Lieberman’s words were a breath of fresh air. Someone needs to tell the truth.

Behind Obama's Identity

Ronald Kessler

As his presidency unravels, Americans are asking themselves just who the real Barack Obama is.

“No one seems to know who this guy is,” Edward Klein, a New York Times best-selling author, tells Newsmax. “In fact, I don’t even know if he knows who he is.”

Together with former New York Republican Congressman John LeBoutillier, Klein has just come out with a brilliant and funny satirical novel exploring that mystery. Called “The Obama Identity: A Novel (Or Is It?),” the book addresses such questions as where Obama was born, who is behind him, and his real agenda. A former editor in chief of the New York Times Magazine, Klein previously wrote “The Truth About Hillary,” and most recently, “Ted Kennedy: The Dream That Never Died.” His co-author, LeBoutillier, is a Newsmax columnist.

For the new book, which Vanity Fair online is excerpting, the authors conducted research into Obama and his past.

“The reason people are questioning his identity is because he is an unknowable person, and when people are like that, it means they don’t know themselves what they stand for,” Klein says. “I don’t think he knows what he stands for. He’s a total mystery to us, to the public, as well as to himself and those around him.”

Although the mainstream media gave rave reviews to Obama’s memoirs, Klein says that even they failed to explain who he is.

“In fact, they prove that he is a rootless guy, a rootless man who has been searching for himself all of his life,” Klein says. “And when he said during the campaign we are the people we’ve been waiting for, what he really meant to say was that he’s been waiting for himself all his life. He doesn't know who he is and, therefore, he’s unable to project a clear identity to the American public.”

That uncertainty about himself and what he stands for accounts for Obama’s inconsistent and often illogical policies, Klein says. He cites Obama’s decision to approve a surge in troops in Afghanistan while setting a deadline of next July to begin withdrawing.

“For a president to ignore the best advice from his military and not send the necessary troops to Afghanistan in order to do the job, and then on top of that to put a deadline on the generals to accomplish a mission which is not accomplishable, sends a message to the enemy that they can bide their time and then eventually take over,” Klein says. “It’s self-defeating.”

Obama’s healthcare legislation and stimulus spending are also self-contradictory, Klein says. “The president says that the healthcare law is going to save people health insurance premiums, when we know that it is only going to drive up healthcare premiums, and they already are going up. He has spent over $800 billion on a stimulus bill that has done virtually nothing to drive down unemployment.”

“Obama doesn’t have a consistent vision because he is not a whole, integrated personality,” Klein continues. “That’s why people have doubts about him. He projected one personality during the 2008 campaign, and he’s projected several different personalities since he assumed office.”

The president’s comment in Bob Woodward’s “Obama’s War” that “We can absorb a terrorist attack” is another example of his lack of core values, Klein says.

“The 9/11 attack ‘absorbed’ 3,000 lives,” Klein says. “Which 3,000 lives does he think we can ‘absorb’ this time? That comment is horrifying.”

Co-author LeBoutillier observes, “‘The Obama Identity,’ while humorous, has a serious message: America cannot and will not be saved by any one man or messiah. The idea that a savior will be parachuted into D.C. to rescue us from evil is in itself un-American. It is the American people themselves who will fix things. Thus the rise of the tea party movement.”

In sum, says Klein, “I don’t think Obama has a real set of beliefs. I think he has an attitude that he’s special, that he’s different, that he is somehow above the common man to a degree that makes him an historic figure. I think he truly believes in all of that, but I think behind that, it’s sort of like the straw man. There’s nothing behind it.”

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Boycotts and Divestments have Consequences

Victor Sharpe

The latest weapon employed by Israel bashers is the boycott. It is a device being considered by a host of groups and organizations to selectively end all investments in companies doing business with Israel and to boycott stores and retail outlets selling Israeli products. It is known as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions campaign (BDS). Their inspiration comes from the decade’s old failed boycott of Israel by the Arab League. Within the last week, I was asked to prepare a one page flyer to be used in Port Townsend, Washington State, to combat an anti-Israel boycott resolution initiated by two leftist and radical members of a Food Co-Operative. The flyer was derived from an earlier article I had published defending Israel against the usual false charges and libels heaped upon the embattled Jewish state.

Several hundred copies of the flyer were distributed among the four hundred or so members who attended the board meeting. Fortunately the message in the flyer succeeded in beating back the anti-Israel resolution: A small victory in an ongoing war, yet the same miscreants who proposed the boycott in Port Townsend threaten to attempt the same boycott in the Spokane, Washington, Co-Op.

Several years earlier, a resolution to divest investments in Israeli companies was submitted by the leadership of the Presbyterian Church at its 216th General Assembly. Among the reasons the Presbyterian leadership gave for boycotting the Jewish State at that time was Israel’s security fence, which it compared to the Berlin Wall.

Of course, the Communist regime in East Germany erected their wall to trap its citizens and suppress their freedom of movement. Sadly what those who formed a relatively small but influential committee within the Church omitted to explain to the general membership was that the purpose of Israel’s security fence was, and is, to protect its citizens from attacks by Palestinian Muslim terrorists. Nor did they choose to echo Israel’s stated aim, which is that the security fence would go once Palestinian terror permanently ended. Sadly, a vain hope.

The Church’s divestment campaign, aimed solely against Israel (not against states that routinely persecute Christians and disseminate crude anti-Jewish propaganda, such as Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, or the Palestinian Authority itself) had consequences damaging to Jewish-Christian relations, to the integrity of the Presbyterian Church, and upon the influence it had. It emboldened the Episcopal Church and the World Council of Churches to also plan divestment from Israel. Fortunately wiser heads prevailed and the clique within the Presbyterian Church was eventually voted down. Yet the danger still remains.

If members of the liberal churches decide to fall in line with the boycott against Israel - joining the leftist constellation of so-called “peace” and “justice” groups that proliferate among the universities and colleges - they should at least have the courage of their convictions and begin by throwing away their computers. Why?

Well most of Window’s operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel. The Pentium NMX Chip technology was designed at Intel in Israel. The Pentium 4 microprocessor, the Centrium, and Core processors were entirely or in part designed and developed in Israel.

Those boycotting Israeli products had better take note that Microsoft and Cisco built their only R & D facilities outside of the U.S. in Israel. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel; so was the technology for the AOL Instant Messenger (ICQ). And horror upon horror, the cell phone was an Israeli invention.

But these are only technologies. Perhaps divestment and boycott supporters should check their personal medications. They should refuse any products made by Teva or Abic. They will have to suffer from colds and flu this coming winter and purchase more expensive cholesterol lowering drugs; but that’s a small price to pay for their campaign against Israel.

Trouble is, those wretched Israelis have also developed a simple blood test that distinguishes between mild and more severe cases of Multiple Sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease.

So if all who embrace divestment from Israel and boycott Israeli products in the stores know of any family or friends suffering from MS or Parkinson’s, tell them to ignore the Israeli patents that may more accurately diagnose their symptoms and bring relief.

If they have, or know of, young children with breathing problems, tell them that the anti-Israel boycott will not allow them to accept another medical breakthrough - the Child Hood. Although it replaces the inhalation mask with an improved drug delivery system that provides relief for child and parent, it must remain unacceptable because the Israelis invented it.

If a boycotter has a family member who is a stroke victim and who is severely disabled and unable to move their bodies or communicate, do not tell the patient that an Israeli device provides the ability to write an e-mail, to communicate and steer a wheelchair by sniffing.The revolutionary device identifies changes in air pressure inside the nostrils and translates these into electrical signals, which can then be used either to write messages or to move a wheelchair. But dear boycotter, please don’t tell a soul, especially a suffering soul.

Oh, and if the divestment freak knows someone who has paralyzed hands, he or she better not mention yet another Israeli made device, which electronically stimulates hand muscles and provides hope to millions of stroke sufferers and victims of spinal injuries.

Those wicked Israelis have also tried to help women who undergo hysterectomies each year for the treatment of uterine fibroids. Israel’s ExAblate 2000 System is a welcome breakthrough, but keep it quite – better to divest and boycott, isn’t it?

In fact, Parkinson’s disease patients can also benefit from deep brain stimulation techniques, developed through the Movement Disorder Surgery program at Israel’s Hadassah Medical Center, which eliminates the physical manifestations of the disease.

But, again, keep that quite too as it would be hypocritical for liberal church members and loony leftists to benefit at the same time they are divesting from Israel or boycotting its products.

So due to their divestment campaign and boycotts, they will have poor health, no computers or cell phones. After all, those technologies were developed in Israel of all places.

Of course, the boycotters could suggest to retailers, hospitals, and pharmacies that they replace on their shelves the nasty Israeli products with those manufactured in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority. A few such Arab products come to mind: Qassam missiles, exploding suicide belts, and racist, anti-Semitic ‘literature’ that will bring joy to the hearts and minds of every neo-Nazi.

Now reflect on the massive contribution Israel is making to all the peoples of the world – including the Palestinian Arabs – in medicine, science, agriculture, security and communications.

Not bad for an embattled people living in a tiny country no larger than Wales or New Jersey. Contributing Editor Victor Sharpe is a freelance writer, contributing editor, and author of Volumes One and Two of “Politicide: The attempted murder of the Jewish state.”

Yesha chair: US' offer is poisonous pill

Danny Dayan says he hopes Prime Minister Netanyahu will withstand US' pressure over settlement freeze; adds conceding will put Israel in clear disadvantage for duration of peace talks

Yair Altman
Israel News

One week after the settlement movement marked the end of the West Bank construction freeze, the movement on Saturday commended Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refusal to compromise on the matter.

Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan told Ynet Saturday that any Israeli agreement to reinstate the settlement moratorium will be perceived as political concessions to the Palestinians, even before the peace process gained any true momentum. "Those urging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept Obama's offer lack in reading comprehension," he said. "They either fail to understand the gravity of the offer or are deliberately trying to trick Netanyahu."

Dayan's statement came following a reported incentive package the Washington administration offered the prime minister, in exchange for a 60-day extension of the settlement freeze.

Speaking of reports suggesting the American president promised Israel it could retain IDF presence in the Jordan valley as part of a future peace deal, Dayan said that should Israel agree to that, "It may as well admit it has given up on the area and all the communities in it before the negotiations have even begun. Otherwise, why would anyone need to agree to have Israeli military presence?

"This would be an admission that Israel is willing to return to the 1967 lines – borders which cannot be defended. There is no deal hear, nothing that offers any incentive for two additional months of settlement freeze. This is an attempt to strip Israel of its assets," said Dayan.

'Beware the clear disadvantage'

The Yesha Council chairman went on to warn that if Israel concedes to anything now, "When the negotiations for Jerusalem, the refugees and water begin, Israel will be at a clear disadvantage.

"The Palestinians keep pressing to finalize the borders first and Israel keeps refusing. Accepting Obama's proposal will give them what they want."

The ramifications, he added would be detrimental to Israel, "as the settlement freeze will be prolonged and we will lose ground in the negotiations. We will pay a million dollars and get nothing but a slap in the face in return. It would constitute outrageous ineptness in negotiating skills.

"Obama's letter," he added, "Isn't a candy given by the American administration to Israel, but a poisonous pill made to look attractive."

Beyond the loss of face and standing on Israel's part should it accept Obama's offer, Dayan warned that once Netanyahu's credibility is shattered, Abbas and Obama will employ the same method over and over – the Palestinian president will threaten to walk away, Netanyahu will be made to appease him, "And if this is how things go, when the negotiations end we'll all be travelling to the Western Wall on a tourist visa."

Dayan concluded by saying he believed a face off with Washington now was better that an Israeli surrender to all its demands. "A smart statesman never puts himself in a situation like this, even if he thinks he can get out of it."

Later Saturday, Gershon Mesika, head of the Shomron Regional Council commented on the PLO's threat to end the peace talks, saying that "We cannot blame Abbas and his colleagues. We have only ourselves to blame.

"We brought them here, we gave them guns and we continue to provide (the PA) artificial resuscitation, while all we get is a spit in the face. This is what the scripture mean when it says 'They sow the wind and reap the whirlwind.'"