Saturday, December 18, 2010

What Do the Palestinians Want?

Dr. Avi Perry

The potential unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state by the PA will not create an existent Palestinian state. It will merely deepen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For years, it has been taken for granted that the Palestinian leadership, a.k.a. the Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by their current
They intend to keep the road to independence longer than a thousand light years.
president, Mahmoud Abbas, has been striving for an independent state, free of Israeli occupation. They have seemed to be making every effort at being in charge of their own administrative, economic, security and overall governing responsibilities. Moreover, recent plans by Abbas and his "peace team", the PLO and Fatah Central Committees, have called for a unilateral declaration of statehood with the backing of the international community, since "Israel was not interested in reaching a bilateral peace deal." It does seem genuine. Arab's frustration over Israel's "lack of sincerity and violation of agreements" has left the PA no choice, but to completely abrogate the Oslo Accords and all subsequent agreements signed with Israel, declare independence, then hope for the best. But, surprisingly, the "best", according to the secret agenda of the PA, is nothing more than a prolongation of the status-quo, a continuance of the demonization of Israel by the pro-Arab, and anti-Semitic international communities. Let me explain…

If truth be told, the PA does not fancy an independent Palestine confined to the territory of Judea and Samaria (Gaza is ruled by Hamas where the PA has no jurisdiction and no influence what so ever), nor do they desire an independent state status with a genuine, democratic state infrastructure. They are merely bluffing. They put on an act, pretending to yearn for an independent state. It's convenient, it's popular, it's enriching its ruling elite. They stick to the simple reality that getting there is much more fun than being there. And they intend to keep the road to independence longer than a thousand light years.

"It does not make any sense," you might say. "Why?" You might contest. "Isn't independence a preferred status to Israeli occupation?" You might pause to catch your breath, then continue, "And even if the PA does not wish for an independent state, what's the motive behind making us believe they do? And how do you explain their unilateral move toward an independent state?"

Let me tackle these important arguments by taking on the last challenge first.

The potential unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state by the PA will not create an existent Palestinian state. It will merely deepen the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; it may effect another round of Intifada (uprising). Israel will continue to occupy what they call the Palestinian territories; the PA will continue to cry foul; the international anti-Israel propaganda machine will acquire new wings, powered by a fresh cause; the hate engine, the core (and maybe the solitary) force bringing about Arab unity, will reboot to a new phony morality. In short, a unilateral declaration of independence by the PA will yield no change to the actual status of the territory. It, nonetheless, will elevate the PA leadership to a hero standing, will solidify their eminence as bona fide freedom fighters, and will secure their leadership position. It's good politics—not an honest concern for the long-term well-being of their flock.

Furthermore, the PA is not prepared for running their own state. They lack basic infrastructure; they depend on Israel for the most basic needs like financial services, medical services, food, energy, even internal security. And Israel (rather than the PA) is obligated by international law to ensure that as an occupier it must provide for normal and healthy living of the residents in the occupied territories. And as long as the Palestinians remain "occupied", as long as they maintain the "poor refugee" image, the naïve world would feel sorry for them, would shower them with money and resources, would endow their leaders with comfortable, worthy of note lifestyle—not a bad outcome for a fake cause.

It has become increasingly evident that the PA is not seeking an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They have refused to abandon their demand for a return of the so-called refugees, mostly third generation-a unique definition of refugee- to their non-existent homes in Israel and for recognition of Israel as a Jewish state; they have refused to leave the past behind and move on to a better and peaceful future. They keep mounting piles over piles of unreasonable excuses, justifying their unwillingness to negotiate an end to the conflict; they keep encouraging the proliferation of Jew-hatred, since loathing is a strong unifying force in a society overflowing with infighting, rivalry, a culture of endless vengeance and backstabbing between clans, and no tradition or history of national unity.

Mahmoud Abbas must realize that once he rules over an independent Palestine he runs the risk of being exposed to his own fake wishes. An independent Palestinian state may not have the legal entitlement to vital Israeli services—services provided at present under the rule of "occupation". He also knows that independence may bring about an eruption of violence in his own backyard as a direct consequence of invoking further feelings of deprivation.

Abbas does not want an independent Palestinian state. He does want to maintain the status-quo of an occupied territory, maintain pressure on Israel, keep playing the poor, the needy, the deprived, the weak, so that he can prolong the international pouring of sympathy and material gifting. He keeps on playing loser—"never misses an opportunity to miss an opportunity". Abbas belongs with a culture where logical reasoning and forward looking take a backseat to pride and false honor; where redeeming the shame of the 1948 Naqba (the "catastrophe" of Israel's independence) takes precedence over a peaceful future, free of past fiascoes.

The game played by the PA will not lead to a peaceful co-existence.
The US should abandon its fruitless efforts of pressuring Israel for increasingly more concessions in its attempts to facilitate an end to the status-quo. It takes two to tango, and the other partners, the PA and its comfortable leaders, are not about to take unnecessary risks. They do not intend to plead for a change. For the past hundred years, they have brainwashed their own people, preaching Jew-hatred.

Going against their own teaching, the PA leadership may very well terminate their support base, their careers, their livelihoods, their lives…

Good Reports On Situation Along Israel's Northern and Southern Borders

By Barry Rubin

Here’s a good report on Israel’s amazing intelligence activity along its northern border, with new types of information-gathering and targeting equipment concealed in rocks:

And here’s a good report on the heating up of terrorism activity along Israel’s Gaza border:

Note that something very important is happening here--unnoticed [surprise!] by the international mass media. Hamas is showing that it can rake in foreign aid money and rebuild, while simultaneously continuing to attack Israel. Of course, if Israel were to retaliate, Hamas would then run crying to the world about how it is the victim of aggression and how all of its beautiful humanitarian projects are being ruined.

Presumably, though, this also means that Hamas will keep the level of attacks low and carried out mostly by Hamas's friendly allies--notably Islamic Jihad--so Hamas can say that it isn't doing anything and "can't stop" others from attacking Israel.

This is, of course, a con-game but it is one that usually works. Israel will respond with sporadic attacks on specific targets, avoiding a war unless the situation deteriorates sharply and attacks from Gaza vastly increase.

Regarding the north, Hizballah is busy consolidating control of Lebanon and is not seeking a war either. But it has also been playing the same game as Hamas. It brings in advanced weapons, bullies everyone else in Lebanon, supports Iran-Syria hegemony over the country, and rebuilds bases in the south.

The world, through the UN resolution ending the 2006 war, promised to stop these things and sent a large UNIFIL force to do so. But the UN, UNIFIL, EU, and US do nothing.

And then all these same people ask: I wonder why the Middle East is unstable? What could possibly be the cause of these problems?

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,

South Lebanon residents renew clashes with UNIFIL

Ya Libnan

Residents in the south Lebanese village of Tayri, a Hezbollah stronghold clashed Thursday with a French UNIFIL patrol, according to local reports.

The incident took place as the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) patrol was conducting a GPS demarcation, the reports say.

The Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) intervened, following an alert by UNIFIL general command at the scene of the incident, and resolved the situation by taking the patrol’s computer at the request of the villagers. AAnother clash took place earlier today with a French UNIFIL patrol in the village of Hariss in the south Lebanon, another Hezbollah stronghold according to local reports. The incident took place when the patrol began to take photographs of the area, according to local reports.

Last July similar incidents took place in south Lebanon between the residents and UNIFIL.

“Some of these may have been something spontaneous in the street, but some were clearly organized,” UN special coordinator for Lebanon, Michael Williams, said last July

UN Officials said patrols by the UN Interim Force in Lebanon were banned from several Shi’ite villages in the south. They said Shi’ites have been attacking UNIFIL patrols in what appeared to be organized by the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah.

On July 3, a UNIFIL patrol was attacked and overpowered by Shi’ites in the southern village of Kabrikha. Officials said the villagers, after one of them had been arrested, pelted UN troops and seized their weapons.

On June 29, Shi’ites attacked a UNIFIL vehicle between the villages of Adeisseh and Kfar Kila. The Shi’ites blocked a road and hurled stones toward a UN patrol during what officials termed a “maximum deployment exercise.” The exercise, meant to ensure troop readiness, was said to have ended on the following day.

“It is incumbent on the Lebanese authorities to ensure the security and freedom of movement for UNIFIL within its area of operation,” UNIFIL commander Maj. Gen. Alberto Asarta Cuevas said last July following the clashes.

Since 2007, UNIFIL has deployed 13,500 troops in southern Lebanon in an effort to maintain the ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah. Under the ceasefire, Hezbollah was prevented from restoring its presence south of the Litani River.

Friday, December 17, 2010

"Not All Bad"

Arlene Kushner

Not by any means.

Consider, for example, the report yesterday by the JPost that, according to a top German computer consultant interviewed by phone, the Stuxnet cyberworm has set Iran's nuclear program back two years:

"This was nearly as effective as a military strike, but even better since there are no fatalities and no full-blown war. From a military perspective, this was a huge success. "It is extremely difficult to clean up installations from Stuxnet, and we know that Iran is no good in IT (information technology) security, and they are just beginning to learn what this all means."

The assumption is being made broadly that Israeli Military Intelligence was involved in developing this worm, which, because of its extraordinary complexity, would have taken years to design. The expert cited by the JPost believes more than one nation was involved -- possibly Israel and the US.


Then we can be buoyed by the friendship of the US Congress. Yesterday a resolution was introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Howard Berman (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee; it was passed by consensus (i.e., unanimously).

The resolution declares that the House "reaffirms its strong opposition to any attempt to establish or seek recognition of a Palestinian state outside of an agreement negotiated between Israel and the Palestinians; and urges Palestinian leaders to — (A) cease all efforts at circumventing the negotiation process, including efforts to gain recognition of a Palestinian state from other nations, and in the United Nations, and in other international forums prior to achievement of a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, and calls upon foreign governments not to extend such recognition..."

Full text here:


While this is essentially a sense of Congress resolution, without teeth as it's written, there is one way in which there is indirect enforceability on the issue: The House holds the purse-strings. On Monday, Congressman Berman had said, "If they [the Palestinians] try to circumvent negotiations, they'll lose the support of a lot of people like me, and it will jeopardize their foreign aid as well."

Remember that this response is from a Democratic lame-duck House that will be replaced by a Republican-majority House in January. Berman himself will be succeed by Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), who was formerly the committee chair and is currently the committee's Republican ranking member; she will advance an even more stringent position than Berman.

According to her spokesman, "The ranking member has long said that the US assistance to the PA should be conditioned on the PA living up to its obligations to stop violence against Israel and recognize Israel's right to exist as a democratic, Jewish state, among other things that it has demonstrably failed to live up to. These unilateral efforts serve to undermine the prospects that those obligations might finally be met."


It goes without saying, however, that the above does not mean that all is sweetness and light.

Last night, PA officials met in Cairo with foreign ministers of member states of the Arab League, seeking endorsement of the current policy of not negotiating with Israel, directly or indirectly, until there is a full building freeze in Judea and Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

And -- are we surprised? -- the ministers proved to be quite cooperative. The statement they put out read:

"The negotiation track between the Palestinians and Israelis is futile. There is no return to talks. Any resumption is conditioned on a serious offer that ensures the end to the Arab-Israeli conflict based on the peace process references."

My reading of "peace process references" would be compliance with the terms set out by what is referred to as the Arab League peace plan, which calls for Israel to return to the '67 armistice lines and to take in "refugees." Whether the Arabs are looking for US assurances on these issues (which is likely the case, as the US is supposed to coerce Israel), or advance Israeli commitments is not entirely clear.

Additionally, the Arab ministers want to bring the issue of Israeli "settlements" to the Security Council in order to "obtain a decision that confirms the illegal nature this activity and that would oblige Israel to stop it." The ministers' statement also urged the US not to block this decision.

See here for solid background information on the legality of settlements:


Obama's administration is on record as being in favor of a negotiated settlement. We don't know yet if what the Arab ministers are currently proposing will actually move beyond talk (and threats) to action. But my guess at the moment is that the US would veto.


The US commitment to negotiations, however, is nothing short of delusional. George Mitchell is here, and has met now with Netanyahu and Abbas, and then, to update him on the situation, with Egyptian president Mubarak yesterday.

Explains Mitchell, "In the days ahead, our discussions with both sides will be substantive, two-way conversations with an eye towards making real progress in the next few months on the key questions of an eventual framework agreement."

Real progress? The two sides can't even agree on what must be discussed first, and it remains entirely unclear, given the above, that the Palestinian Arabs will be participating at all.

The way I've been hearing it, Mitchell plans to discover, via separate meetings, the position of each side with regard to the core issues, and then find a way to bring the parties together.


Just days ago, the EU, which was flirting with the idea of recognizing a Palestinian state, reached the decision that it will not be doing so now. After 27 EU foreign ministers met in Brussels, the Foreign Affairs Council released a statement reiterating "its readiness, when appropriate, to recognize a Palestinian state." There was no indication of what they believed would define the appropriate time or circumstances.


A week ago, 26 former EU leaders -- including former EU diplomat Javier Solana, Germany’s former chancellor Helmut Schmidt, and former Irish president Mary Robinson -- issued a letter calling for boycotts and sanctions against Israel because of "settlement" construction. The letter, which was sent to current EU leaders, stated that, “Israel’s continuation of settlement activity... poses an existential threat to the prospects of establishing a sovereign, contiguous and viable Palestinian state.”

We should not really be surprised by this European response, which Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor called “strange and harmful.”

"It is difficult to see how the call for sanctions and Israel’s isolation will promote peace, but clearly this will diminish the EU’s capability to play a constructive role in promoting peace in the region.”

At present it appears that the EU will not be acting on the recommendations in the letter.


I have alluded numerous times to the decision of Syria to move more solidly into Iran's sphere because it is Assad's assessment that the US is weak. Now we see the same with Jordan:

King Abdullah, speaking of the importance of improving Jordanian-Iranian relations, has just accepted an invitation to visit Iran. Jordan, which once solidly leaned toward the West. In one sense this is shocking, but in another, totally comprehensible, for Jordan is terrified of Iran.

This is what Barry Rubin says about the situation:

"Why is it that suddenly the king finds this to be so imperative? Because Iran is getting stronger-and may soon have nuclear weapons-and he can't depend on the United States to protect him. This is one more signal about how 'regional moderates' feel about the current situation.

"President Barack Obama thinks he's being nice to 'Arabs' and 'Muslims.' In fact, he's being mean to America's friends. And they will do whatever is necessary to save themselves. If the United States cannot or will not protect them, they find it 'imperative' to get in good with its enemies."


I do not expect Obama to change his approach. Whether he's self-destructive or deluded or obtuse does not matter.

What I most fervently do wish, however, is that the American people would finally understand what's happening here.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Making Friends with the Octopus: Jordan Bows to Iran

Barry Rubin

Here's an old joke that applies to the contemporary Middle East. The Lone Ranger was a Western lawman who chased bad guys with his friend, a Native American named Tonto. One day, they were surrounded by dozens of Native American warriors.

The Lone Ranger turned to Tonto and said, "Don't worry! We can fight them off."

Tonto replied, "What do you mean 'we,' Paleface?"

Or, in other words, if your friend decides he can't rely on you to get him out of a jam he can always change sides. Which brings us to Jordan. Let me begin by telling a story I've never recounted before. The year is 1990, after Iraq has invaded and seized Kuwait. I'm sitting in a meeting with some high-ranking Jordanian military officers and officials (don't ask, it's a long story).

Someone asks what they would do if Iraq's army appeared on Jordan's border and Saddam Hussein asked safe passage to attack Israel. Before responding, the highest-ranking Jordanian there leaned over to the man sitting next to him and whispered in Arabic, "Of course, we'd fight them!"

At the time, of course, the Jordanians knew they could depend on their superpower ally, indeed the only country of that type in the world, the United States.

In 2003, of course, Saddam was overthrown. From Jordan's standpoint, though, he was replaced by Iran as a threat. And just as the Jordanians had wanted and needed American protection from Baghdad now it required that shield to save it from Iran. We already knew this, of course, but the Wikileaks have documented that fact.

Even in 2004, King Abdallah warned Americans about the Iranian threat. According to the State Department cable, Jordanian officials called Iran an "octopus" whose tentacles "reach out insidiously to manipulate, foment, and undermine the best-laid plans of the West and regional moderates."

According to the Jordanian government, Iran's "tentacles," its allies in seizing control of the region and putting into power revolutionary Islamism, are Qatar, Syria, Hizballah, Hamas, and Shia Muslims in Iraq.

Now, however, the king is singing a different tune. In fact, he has just accepted an invitation from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to go to Tehran. It is "imperative," says the king, "to undertake practical steps for improving Jordanian-Iranian relations."

Why is it that suddenly the king finds this to be so imperative? Because Iran is getting stronger-and may soon have nuclear weapons-and he can't depend on the United States to protect him. This is one more signal about how "regional moderates" feel about the current situation.

President Barack Obama thinks he's being nice to "Arabs" and "Muslims." In fact, he's being mean to America's friends. And they will do whatever is necessary to save themselves. If the United States cannot or will not protect them, they find it "imperative" to get in good with its enemies.

* 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), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to You can read and subscribe to his blog at

Driving foreign journalists away

12/15/2010 22:58

Taking away tax exemptions for their first three years here, as the Treasury intends to do, will only cause news networks to move elsewhere, like Ramallah or Amman.
Rightly or wrongly, Israel has a reputation for being good at news management. But every now and then the government does the PR equivalent of picking up a revolver and taking aim at both feet. When that happens, responsible observers need to try to talk it round. Over the next month, it seems likely the Treasury will take away foreign journalists’ tax exemptions. Instead of paying a flat rate of 25 percent for their first three years here, they will have the same deal as Israelis. It will make the government an extra few hundred thousand shekels a year. And, you may ask, why should foreign correspondents get subsidized anyway?

There are several good reasons why the government should think again. There is already a steady drip of foreign networks and newspapers moving their operations away from here, mostly for cost reasons. Israel should be doing what it can to reverse that. Instead, it may end up driving foreign journalists to Ramallah, Amman or further away.

TO REPORT on Israel, you need to live here. This is a unique country, facing unique challenges. The many different points of view here are complex. If Israelis want them understood, they need to explain them. That is why Israeli spokespeople go to the lengths they do, and why they are good at it.

And that is why people who have worked with the likes of us, like MK Nachman Shai, are horrified at the Treasury’s shortsightedness: “We always complain that the press has a superficial view, but they really do tend to build relationships here and learn many dimensions of the complex situations. In contrast, temporary or visiting reporters have no commitments to anyone,” Shai said.

Exactly. What Israel needs to avoid at all costs is foreign paratroopers – journalists who land in the country for a few days, armed with a clutch of Wikipedia articles and the book they read on the plane.

You cannot ‘wing it’ if you want to report on this part of the world, although many try to get away with it. More often than not, when they do they take sides, because they think it helps them report the story better. Black and white is easier to communicate, but as we all know, the truth is usually in between.
I have been here four years, so I am no longer entitled to special treatment. But I know the benefits of having been here that long, and would suggest it is in everyone’s interests to maintain the status quo.

There are insights you get just by being here. When your next door neighbor’s daughter, who has baby-sat your children, goes into the army, you understand better how Israelis have a different attitude to their military, and the risks they take compared to citizens of other countries.

And there is what you learn by just sitting talking to people over the gallons of coffee and tea I must have consumed, from Gaza to the German Colony to Majdal Shams.

Israel has learned that the worst kind of PR agent operates from a bunker, barking at the foreign media. But for some the message has not sunk in. The Treasury risks driving us away.

Shai has a point when he says, “This is a country with a special talent for harming itself – we are experts at that. There are reporters here who are not enemies of Israel, even if they are critical, and but instead of drawing them closer, we are hurting them.”

One government official recently complained to me about the “groupthink” anti-Israel mentality of journalists, diplomats and aid workers living in east Jerusalem.

Causing a stampede of foreign journalists to Ramallah or beyond is not going to help.

The writer is Sky News’ award-winning Middle East correspondent and has been based in Jerusalem for the past four years.

Guest Comment: These freelancers must get their employers to pay them more, or, as suggested, move to Ramallah and beyond; the farther away the better. They should try Mecca and get exemptions there; why not try?! I've heard they enjoy hosting people of all religions over there. Why should the foreign media be subsidized to live in Jerusalem while the city is unaffordable for Jews? While there is a shortage in apartments for Jews because this media advocates for construction moratorium in Jerusalem?! Ramallah is a great place for this media to spread the same lies they do from Jerusalem. Jerusalem and Ramallah are only few kilometers apart. Just remember that if you're not a "Palestinian" MK you have no undeniable right to be subsidized while undermining the country. Israel is smart... the good ones in the media will remain with or without exemptions...Nurit Greenger

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Israeli Flag Flies at Dubai Sports Complex

Chana Ya'ar
A7 News

Israel's flag flew for the first time at a pool in Dubai on Tuesday afternoon as the national swim team representing the Jewish State arrived for the opening of a worldwide competition.

Israel's five-member team is competing in the 10th FINA World Short Course Swimming Championship that begins today (Wednesday). It is also the first time the world swimming competition is being held in an Arab city, according to the website of the Gulf emirate's Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, where the pool is located. The sports complex -- named for the Crown Prince of Dubai -- was inaugurated on Sunday and opened just in time for the international swimming competition.

Gal Nevo, the first to walk onto the pool deck Wednesday morning, competed in the opening heat of the first event, the men's 200-meter freestyle. He finished 37th in the 78-man field.

Guy Marcos Barnea, another member of the team, competed in the 100-meter backstroke heat competition. Amit Ivri, Alon Mandel and Johnathan Koplev are also swimming in the competition.

Nevo told a reporter from the Associated Press after finishing his swim that the team had arrived late because “there was some problem with the security.” He added, however, that he feels “lucky as an athlete being here, because the average Israeli guy probably wouldn't visit here.”

The United States and Australia also both sent teams to compete in the Championships.

A crack undercover security unit greeted the team upon landing and escorted the swimmers to a hotel separate from the rest of the competitors, according to a report broadcast on Channel 5 Sports TV. Their equipment was also scrutinized at the airport by security personnel, who will guard the Israelis around the clock.

Initial reports said the Israeli swimmers were not provided with entry visas, nor did they receive entry stamps in any of their passports, although the Dubai government had allegedly guaranteed visas on arrival. Jordanian Air refused to take the delegation to Dubai without the visas, causing further delays.

Ultimately, the team did not arrive until the day before competitions began, giving the swimmers barely a day in which to prepare for the meet.

Israel's representative to the International Olympic Committee, Alex Giladi, also was prevented initially from obtaining a visa, according to a report published on the website of Swimming World Magazine.

The Israel Broadcasting Authority's television division, which has the broadcast rights to telecast the finals each night, also had difficulty acquiring visas for its crew until just before the competition began, according to the report.

According to a source in Dubai quoted by a swimmer, the Israelis were granted visas late in the evening, 24 hours prior to the start of the competition.

“There is nothing sinister about it,” the Dubai source claimed. “They were not the only ones to experience a slight delay in their visas, and there was never any intention to keep the Israeli team away. They were granted their visas a matter of hours later than had originally been expected. This is not about politics but sport, and the Israeli swimmers are welcome guests.” The source was not identified.
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"Acting for Israel"

You've heard it here many times: speak out as you can, write letters to the editor, write to elected representatives, call in to talk shows, speak to friends and associates. Do what you can to set the record straight on behalf of Israel.

Today I attended an all-day conference sponsored by Honest Reporting called "Reclaiming the Narrative." Focusing on several approaches and several aspects of the problems we deal with, it delivered that same message: Do what you can, what is comfortable for you, but don't sit still -- speak out for Israel.

Some highlights of the day: Award-winning British journalist Melanie Philips (see her blog at: ) spoke first.

Progressivism, she told us, has replaced facts with ideology and moral relativism. They have embraced a whole lot of "isms" and have a utopian ideological fixation. Members of the intelligentsia, who are supposed to be the defenders of reason, have become the destroyers of reason.

European anti-Zionists actually believe that Palestine belongs to indigenous Arabs and that European Jews displaced them after the Holocaust. They feel guilt for their role in this perceived scenario, and will be relieved if Israel and the Palestinian Arabs make peace. They cannot allow Israel to be the victim.

We cannot fight irrationality with reason, says Phillips, and so a whole new approach is needed. Not arguing, not simply doing education: but defeating the bigots instead of fighting on their battleground. It's time to go on the offensive with a new narrative. Israel, for example, should not be sucked into discussion regarding a two-state solution.

As we'll see, this theme of a new approach was reiterated several times during the day.

Lastly, Phillips suggested that reputation is extremely significant to people in the public world -- this includes journalists and educators. Sometimes it's possible to shred their reputation by showing via the evidence that what they've said is simply wrong.


Danny Seaman, who was until recently Director of the Government Press Office (see his significant interview in the JPost, which I carried last month, here: ).

Never apologize for Israeli self-defense, he advised. Right is on our side: the right of the Jewish people to self-determination in their ancestral homeland. Be secure that your narrative is correct.

The Israeli government "gets it," he maintains, but doesn't have "the balls" to act. There is a bureaucratic mindset that says we shouldn't make waves and that conventional thinking should not be crossed.

There has been an Israeli mindset of defeatism: We have stopped talking about our rights and have instead lent credibility to the Palestinian Arab cause, When mention is made of the Palestinian Arab narrative it sends the wrong message.

Language is important and this is a battle we've lost -- with reference to "settlements," "the West Bank," etc.

Political views that were defeated by the public in the election are still given disproportionate voice in Israeli media.

Seaman is interested in seeing legal action brought when there is falsification of facts via the abuse of images: this should be considered media fraud that makes the perpetrator liable to criminal charges.

(See the Honest Reporting website -- -- home page, for a three part special report called "Shattered Lens," on how images are misused, not doctored but framed in a way that misrepresents. E.g. "How the wire services use bars in their images to promote the Palestinian narrative of suffering and the impression of Palestinians as 'prisoners' of Israeli brutality.")

Lastly, and very importantly, Seaman says, "we have a moral obligation to never be silent."


Neil Lazarus, advocacy trainer (and actually a very funny man), provided a good deal of professional advice about how to market the Israeli position -- for that is what we must do: Not just provide facts, but market.

Speak to your audience, he advises. Know whom you're speaking to and choose your language accordingly.

Some of his major points with regard to taking on falsehoods and misrepresentations about Israel -- winning an argument:

[] Show the contradiction between the persons values and belief system. "How can you support Hamas and be a feminist?"

[] Devalue a statement or question. "Let's move away from rhetoric and look at facts on the ground." "It's more complicated than this." "I would be very disturbed if some of the things being reported were really true."

[] Reframe. "That's not the issue, the issue is..."

Then, of course, you must have your facts and know how to deliver your message.

Other points:

[] The liberal perspective has become anti-Israel. Human rights is used in service of this agenda. Instead of attacking, show empathy. It gives you credibility. Be more politically correct than the speaker and take him/her off guard.

"You think Gaza is bad, I think it's appalling. We have to reach the point where it's better."
"I would be the first one to take a brick out of the security fence -- it's offensive, but until we have a partner for peace..."

"We know Palestinian lives are not as good as we would wish. But what prevents them from being better? The Palestinians who won't make peace."

[] Use the issue of extreme force.

"You say that Israel uses disproportionate force? It's true that I'm proud of it. We make phone calls to civilians before we attack. You want proportional force? Next time rockets are shot at civilian areas of Israel, we'll shoot rockets at civilian areas of Gaza."

[] Use "alleged" when being attacked.

"As to the alleged force that Israel uses."

It's not enough to be right -- have to be able to express it. Use packaging in language of the audience that touches their feelings, and resonates. Use words like "future," "peace," "hope," "children." They win arguments.

"Of course we all have hopes for the future that our children can live in peace." Also "freedom," values," "change," "decency," "opportunity."

See for a six part digital diplomats course by Neil Lazarus that will teach you how to help Israel via the Internet.


Elliot Chodoff, an IDF (res) military analyst, presented "Fighting Terrorism is not Photogenic."

Some of Chodoff's major points:

A preventative policy that succeeds will always be condemned: The standing building that was not hit is not a story. Stopping the terrorist becomes the story.

Media -- which are in the business of earning money -- want to offer consistency, entertainment, and then news (as sensational as possible). The people reporting are mainly ignorant and unprofessional.

Reporting is done in the present tense without context or perspective. Terms commonly applied are:
"breaking news"
cycle of violence
At a certain point it becomes pornographic -- designed just to arouse emotions.

Even when a viewer intellectually knows better, it is almost impossible to correct a visual illusion, which hangs on.

Sometimes journalists are just ignorant of the facts. Example: In the Lebanon War, a Palestinian photographer, in the process of photographing an Israeli tank at some distance away was shot and killed by the Israelis. Reuters, who had employed him, was enraged and spoke at length about allowing journalists to do their jobs, etc. However, the fact is that the shoulder-held long distance camera the photographer was aiming at the tank had the same appearance as a shoulder-held anti-tank missile launcher. The Israelis in the tank thought they were about to be blown away.


Lastly, a few brief pointers from Joe Hyams, CEO of HonestReporting:

You cannot afford to get it wrong. It destroys credibility. If you can't win, don't try.

Defenders of Israel are losing not on substance but delivery. Keep it short. Distill complex points. Get into feelings.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Terror Victim Group:Stop Coddling Rock Throwing Terrorist Youths

David Lev
A7 News

The allegations in a report by the leftist B'tselem organization released Monday about alleged police abuses against Arab minors who throw rocks at Israeli drivers dominated the Israeli media all day. They may or may not be true, says Meir Indor, chairman of the Almagor terror victims' organization – but the report is irrelevant. “The criteria they use relate to the rights of criminals, but Arab rock-throwing is not an individual crime – it's a nationalistic act of war, and must be treated as such.”
The B'tselem report claimed that Israeli police have been abusing the rights of Arab youths suspected of throwing rocks at Israeli drivers and passerby in several neighborhoods of Jerusalem, especially the City of David neighborhood (Silwan). The report claims that police forcefully invaded the homes of several suspects, rousing them from their beds, and prohibiting their parents from being present during their questioning as required by Israeli law. In addition, the report said that many of the youths had complained that police assaulted them as they were being arrested.

“We are certainly not for the abrogation of individual rights for criminals,” Indor told Israel National News. “But the rock throwing by Arab youths is far more than criminal – it's nothing less than an act of war. It's become all too common, and it's life threatening.” Indor himself was injured by a large rock thrown at him by Arab youths on the Mt. Of Olives in October.

“Today, when one of these youths is arrested, he is legally permitted to basically sit in an interrogation room and make fun of police,” Indor said. “The youth is required by law to have his father present, so of course no headway is made in the interrogation. And besides, the youths have a whole array of liberal and leftist organizations, like B'tselem, at the ready to defend them, regardless of what they have done.”

In that sense, said Indor, B'tselem is working against Israel's interests – and, rather than be permitted to continue harming Israel's security by defending terrorists, the organization should be brought up on charges of treason. “B'tselem has a huge budget, much of it supplied from abroad. Police know who these people are, but are powerless to stop them.

“We plan to introduce legislation that will change the law and reclassify these kinds of attacks as terror incidents, that will subject these youths to stiffer penalties, and especially to a different process, other than the normal one that applies to criminals,” Indor said. “In a society that suffers from terrorism as Israel does, we accept that it is reasonable for people to stand in line at the mall and be checked by a security agent. In the same way, it should be reasonable to expect that the individual rights of terrorists – no matter how young they are – be suspended to ensure the safety of society.”

Left, Right Clash on Support from European Right

Gil Ronen
A7 News

A show of support for Israel's settlements in Judea and Samaria by a delegation of right-wing European politicians has led to a highly charged yet fascinating debate between left-wing and nationalist spokesmen in Israel.

Samaria spokesman David Ha'ivri sees the European Right's support for settlements as “a revolutionary opportunity” for Israel and is already planning a follow-up visit to Europe, including joint appearances with the right-wing European politicians. n Left-wing Ha'aretz, Adar Primor blasted the Europeans' visit and the reasoning behind it. In an article titled “The unholy alliance between Israel's Right and Europe's anti-Semites,” it mocked the Israeli nationalists who “believe they have tamed this bunch of extremists they brought over from Europe” but warned that the Europeans “have not genuinely cast off their spiritual DNA, and in any event, they aren't looking for anything except for Jewish absolution that will bring them closer to political power.”

“Filip Dewinter, a member of the delegation, is a leader of the Vlaams Belang party, a successor to the Flemish National Movement, many of whose members collaborated with the Nazis,” wrote Primor. “Among its current members are a number of Holocaust deniers. Dewinter himself moved about in anti-Semitic circles and has ties to European extremist and neo-Nazi parties. In 1988, he paid his respects to the tens of thousands of Nazi soldiers buried in Belgium, and in 2001, he opened a speech with an oath used by the SS.”

Primor had worse words for Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria's Freedom Party. “If Jorg Haider was 'Hitler's spiritual grandson,' then Strache is his extremely illegitimate great-grandson. His grandfather was in the Waffen-SS, and his father served in the Wehrmacht. As a university student, Strache belonged to an extremist organization from which Jews were banned, hung out with neo-Nazis and participated in paramilitary exercises with them. Commentators in Austria say that Strache is trying to copy Haider but that he is less sophisticated and ultimately more extreme than his role model.”

Ha'ivri headed for Europe?

Ha'ivri, one of the settler movement's most prominent representatives on the world media stage, was unfazed by the leftist riposte. “If these European leaders – with their ties to anti-Semitic groups and their past – come around and declare that Israel has a right to exist securely in all of the areas under our control, and that Europe has a moral responsibility because of the crimes of their past, then I believe that we should accept their friendship,” he told Israel National News.

“Their statements are the strongest possible tool in the war against antisemitism,” Ha'ivri contended. “No skinhead cares what [Anti-Defamation League Chairman] Abe Foxman has to say, but if Filip Dewinter and Heinz-Christian Strache make these statements they will have real impact. For that reason I am considering appearing with them in their countries for pro-Israel rallies. I think that it is worth the risk of being defamed by Ha'aretz and the like if we can cause a shift in the European nationalist movements, moving them away from their traditional Jew-hatred and bringing them closer to appreciation of Zionism. I don't think that I am naive to feel that this is a revolutionary opportunity.”

“I agree that we should be careful,” Ha'ivri added on his Facebook page. “The Left on the other hand will never let up; they will use fascist tactics and brand us as fascists. Their historic heroes [Chaim] Arlozorov and [Rudolf] Kastner actually collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust. But the Left never excused Avraham Stern ('Yair') for exploring the option of working with the Germans against the British before the Holocaust began.”

Arlozorov, Kastner and Stern are well known figures from Israel's pre-statehood and early statehood era. Labor party functionary Arlozorov was killed by unknown assassins in 1933, Lechi underground leader Stern was murdered by British authorities in 1942 and prominent Hungarian Jewish leader Kastner was shot dead by a Holocaust survivor in 1957.

The debate between Israel's left wing and right wing over the subject of the European Right is as old as Israeli politics. While the Left tends to despise all things nationalist, including Jewish nationalism, the Right tends to differentiate between anti-Jewish nationalism and other forms of nationalism.

However, cooperation with politicians from right-wing European parties is a subject of controversy within the Israeli nationalist camp as well. According to Ha'ivri, no Knesset member would meet with the European parliamentarians when they visited the Knesset. Even MK Michael Ben-Ari, who hails from the same ideological camp as Ha'ivri, avoided meeting them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

How Terrorism Ends

Audrey Kurth Cronin
Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. 330 pp. $29.95
Reviewed by Max Abrahms
Middle East Quarterly
Fall 2010, pp. 85-86 (view PDF)

A battle is raging in terrorism studies. Proponents of the "strategic model" claim that rational people participate in terrorist groups mainly for the political return. Proponents of the "natural systems model" claim that rational people participate in terrorist groups mainly for some form of social gain. The first model argues that terrorists attack civilians for the collective benefit of coercing political concessions, whereas the natural systems model claims that individuals engage in terrorism for the personal, selective benefit of participating in an exciting, tight-knit, social group. Although this debate is spearheaded by academics, it is hardly academic: The question of terrorist motives is fundamental to counterterrorism because one cannot expect to cure a malady without understanding its underlying cause.[1] Cronin, professor of strategy at the U.S. National War College, does not explicitly align herself with either school of thought, but How Terrorism Ends suggests that social calculations are more determinative than political ones. Her analysis of how terrorism ends indicates that it is seldom due to rational, political considerations. Cronin finds, for example, that negotiating with terrorists "very rarely" works since most "terrorist groups choose not to negotiate at all." This aversion to compromise results because "organizational survival overshadows the [stated] cause." The logic is clear but sadly familiar: "If violence is part of the identity or livelihood of participants themselves, then the likelihood of negotiations resolving a conflict is miniscule." The Oslo accords are illustrative: By embracing them, Palestinian terrorists of all persuasions would have unquestionably advanced their stated territorial aims. But groups such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad instead ramped up their violence, helping to derail the peace process in order to ensure their organizational survival.

In fact, Cronin notes that what usually brings terrorists to the negotiating table are generally threats to the organization itself rather than to its putative political purpose. She finds that terrorist groups rarely abandon the armed struggle due to achieving their official political goals. This conclusion is expected given the fact that terrorist groups virtually never attain their given political aims, a point underscored in this reviewer's 2006 study in International Security, which compared the abysmal success rate of terrorist campaigns to other forms of protest.[2] Her case studies do, however, bolster the thesis that terrorism is inherently politically counterproductive by hardening governments and discouraging them from making concessions. She sensibly focuses on the handful of terrorist groups in modern history that achieved their policy demands such as the African National Congress and shows that they did so "despite the use of violence against innocent civilians [rather] than because of it." The author is quick to point out that this does not mean terrorism accomplishes nothing at all; as previous studies have shown, terrorist acts can undercut the organization's professed political agenda while simultaneously boosting membership, morale, and cohesion.[3]

So how then does terrorism end? By provoking government repression, its perpetrators have occasionally been stamped out. In fact, Cronin observes that "it is difficult to find cases" where governments did not use repressive measures, digging in their political heels. This does not mean that she endorses a policy of outright repression, however, since this response risks backfiring by turning the local population against the government and ultimately invigorating the terrorist group. A more frequent way for terrorism to end is by alienating potential supporters. She provides numerous examples of terrorist groups that "imploded" due to their lack of appeal to fresh recruits, infighting between organization members, and especially, backlash against the gory violence itself, which she believes is "the most common" way for these organizations to go out of the terrorism business. One example occurred in August 1998 when the Real Irish Republican Army splinter-group spurred a local backlash against it by killing twenty-nine noncombatants in Omagh, Northern Ireland. Similarly, the November 2005 Islamist terror attacks in Amman, Jordan, killed sixty innocent people but dramatically eroded local support for al-Qaeda and its affiliates throughout the country. Finally, Cronin finds that terrorist groups sometimes abandon the armed struggle but remain intact for patently apolitical reasons. A typical reorienting pathway is the transition to purely criminal behavior exemplified in the Abu Sayyaf Group, a Philippines-based al-Qaeda affiliate.

Cronin has written an important book on how terrorism ends. Her analysis is equally illuminating for its insights into why people engage in terrorism in the first place. The evidence is growing that these two areas of study may actually lead to the same conclusions. If so, serious implications for counterterrorism policy should flow from the recognition that social factors tend to trump political ones in the making and unmaking of terrorists.

Max Abrahms is a postdoctoral fellow in the Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College, a postdoctoral fellow on the Empirical Studies of Conflict project sponsored by Princeton University, and lectures on terrorism at Johns Hopkins University.

[1] On the debate in terrorism studies between the strategic model and the natural systems model, see Max Abrahms, "What Terrorists Really Want: Terrorist Motives and Counterterrorism Strategy," International Security, Spring 2008, pp. 78-105.
[2] Max Abrahms, "Why Terrorism Does Not Work," International Security, Fall 2006, pp. 42-78.
[3] Mia Bloom, Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terrorism (New York: Columbia, 2005); Marc Sageman, Understanding Terror Networks (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004).

A New Code Word for Anti-Semitism

Ari Bussel

For anyone following Israel-related events, the year 2010 would be remembered by one word: Delegitimization.

Just half a year ago, no one knew the meaning of this word or how to pronounce it. As the year comes to an end, people use it freely, understanding very little about what it means in action and how to combat this process. It sounds good, as much as “Israel is Apartheid” became a commonplace statement with Israel’s haters. In Israel “Delegitimization” became a magic word, as it seems all the ills of the world are directed at “delegitimizing Israel.” Her enemies though do not use the word; they act, undermining the very existence of the Jewish nation.

The situation is dire, and one would expect that action be taken, that Israel will go on the offensive, at the very least try to protect her very being. Instead, there is only talk.

When deeds and actions substantively back talk, then speech becomes unnecessary. But without substance, talk is immediately recognized for what it really is: blowing hot air.

Israeli politicians are guilty of dereliction, taking center stage and pronouncing out loud what needs to be done and yet never engaging, refusing to change old habits or getting their hands dirty.

“Our hands are tied,” they pronounce readily. “It is up to individuals and non-government organizations to act,” they point fingers and assign tasks.

Lack of action and meaningless pronunciations are very dangerous, for they give a false sense that the leadership is at the helm, directing and engaging. Modern day Israel, like the Titanic, is about to sink, and the passengers drown in the icy cold water, the lifeboats unusable and insufficient.

One day perhaps a new movie will be made, Exodus II of sorts, an epic saga of a people who were blinded by their own success and deserted all the goodness they were afforded – Israel, a gift created in Heaven for them, and them alone.

First, allow me to define “Delegitimization,” so that we are on the very same page. This is a process on multiple fronts, both visible and covert, seemingly innocent on the surface yet insidious and sinister, that denies the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish nation, blames anything bad on Jews and Israelis (often calling them Zionists and Occupiers) and plants in our minds the notion that ridding the world of Jews is beneficial for they only bring evil to the world.

Delegitimazation is the new code word for anti-Semitism. It has replaced the word “restricted” in polite conversations and belies little of its dangerous and frightening implications or very purpose: to destroy the Jewish people.

Its clever effect of attacking a nation in lieu of the individual Jew is clearly the new secret weapon of the hoards of Jew haters that populate today’s world.

The process attacks Israel (“it is legitimate to criticize Israel”) as a substitute for the Jewish People. Thus, in essence, it tries to rid the world of Jews, a modern-day version of centuries-old anti-Semitism.

In many ways, by dehumanizing the Jews, it becomes acceptable and thinkable to harm them. Homicide bombings in weddings and other gatherings, missiles directed at civilian populations, inflicting chemical and biological agents, lynching innocent people and tearing their hearts out or limbs apart while they are still alive, setting people and their property on fire and other horrors are all excusable if directed against those who do not deserve to live, sub-humans who are the filth of the globe.

Most cannot understand how the Germans acquiesced to hundreds of thousands of people being burned, shot dead or gathered to perish in ghettos and concentration camps, while life just a few blocks away continued, people went to restaurants and the opera or for weekend excursions to the country where their children played and completely ignored what they did not want to see, smell or experience.

A person dying in the street was nothing more than filth, not deserving a moment’s brief acknowledgement. She was no longer a human being, she became a nuisance, and so her fate was just and deserving.

Is anything different today? No, we are nearing a point of eruption, and then all the hatred will surface, having no bounds, no stops. Will Israel, the designated shelter and safe haven of some eight million Jews living outside of Israel, be able to protect her six million Jewish residents and fulfill her role and obligation toward world Jewry?

As it stands now, Israel will be unable to carry out her obligations. New leadership must rise to lead Israel from the darkness that will engulf her and the world into light.

What are some of the current mistakes or shortcomings?

Israeli “professionals” err at looking back rather than forward. When the benchmarks are yesterday’s failures, then “improvements” are only relative to a very low starting point. No one can be expected to excel when he himself does not look up and forward.

The head of Israel’s Ministry of Public Diplomacy and the Diaspora, for instance, is a very important person. A Director General of a Ministry has a hefty salary, personal benefits, numerous subordinates, budgets (enormous at times) and self-importance. Almost without exception, ministry director generals are political appointees of the current ministers. Their main qualification for the job is that they ran their ministers’ campaigns or to whom a debt is owed.

If “Delegitimization” is today’s most valuable commodity in politics, then the person in charge of the Ministry that is supposed to combat it must be not only influential, but also detrimental to the successful accomplishment of that destruction mission.

Ronen Plot, however, has the false notion and is under the wrong impression that the world believes Israel is a desert with camels as the preferred mode of transportation. Thus, Israel’s iconic response is a segment, commercial-like, trying to dispel this notion.

In most elementary courses about Israel-hatred, one would point out that there exist notions that Israel is a desert with camels, a war zone where everyone possesses guns, Rambo-like, or a religious country where everyone wears black hats, a male-version of Afghanistan. More recently Israel is portrayed as the new Nazi Germany with concentration camps and ghettos, walls and vicious guard dogs.

As one graduates to a higher level, one realizes that Israel is not the main figure in this little pretend play; she only has a supporting role to highlight the plight of the Palestinians. Thus images, even if disconnected from reality, have no bearing on the plot, and dispelling them will do nothing to alleviate the situation.

The only image that was implanted in our collective minds is the understanding that Israel, Goliath, one of the strongest militaries in the world, an unstoppable colonialist power, Occupier of Arab lands, is preventing the Palestinian refugees from returning to their rightful homes, land and capital. The Zionists are preventing the Palestinians from having running water and the Settlers are contaminating Palestinian land with sewage.

Dear Director General: The world needs not be told that Israel is modern and thriving, where high rise buildings and freeways, a beachfront and nightlife, history and archeology meet nanotechnology, medical and technological advancements the likes of which can be found nowhere else on earth. All these are irrelevant to the process of Delegitimization.

Ronen Plot, you head a ministry of propaganda, what you call “Public Diplomacy” and not tourism. They seem to be doing a very good job.

The desert and the camels are part of the picture in which Israelis are bad and the Palestinian-David is the underdog. Understand this, fight this, and you will start understanding what “Delegitimization” is all about.

Ronen Plot, though, is not alone. He is endemic of Israeli bureaucrats and politicians.

Over the past ten days two Israeli Vice Prime Ministers visited Los Angeles (as well as the Minister of Public Diplomacy and the Diaspora himself).

There was a plethora of activities welcoming both Vice Prime Ministers. It seems most of us like to shake hands with “influentials,” have our pictures taken with them and feel momentarily “important.”

So the honored guests were ushered from one event to another, breakfast, lunch and dinner, speaking engagements here and there. There were police officers and security guards, half the Consulate staff, photo-ops abound; a genuine dog and pony show.

What is amiss with such important visits? After all, these very important guests have used the word “Delegitimization” so many times it became obvious that combating the process is on their minds day and night. Their attention is focused solely on this existential threat to Israel’s very existence.

Except that they stop short from taking even the most basic action to actually combat Delegitimization. First, they need to understand what it is all about. Appearing before adoring, loving and supporting audiences does not expose them to the dangers the world hosts in plain eyesight. People seeking a photo op are not relevant to this battle.

Second, by excluding those on the forefront of the battle lines, they do disservice not to the foot soldiers, but to those who need to understand what is going on. The schedules are so meticulously prepared, that only very important people are ever notified of the visits to the clear exclusion of all others.

Salvation will not come from the status quo or from following what has clearly allowed “Delegitimazation” to flourish and reach the epidemic proportions it has already achieved. Excluding and refusing to see and listen to criticism, other views and reports from the ground does not make the problem go away, instead it makes one passing moment seem more comfortable and enjoyable.

Many of these visits are either for the sole purpose of fundraising or are intermingled with fundraising events. A day will come when Israeli law will prohibit any elected or appointed official or their staff members from either asking for money or attending any event whose purpose is to raise funds. Then perhaps they will be able to actually focus on the agenda of their office and purposes for which they were elected or appointed, rather than money.

Money could be raised in Israel, one of the stronger economies today in the world. There seems to be no shortage there, just a different way of thinking (where giving is not expected and demanded as from Jews in the Diaspora).

The following can and should all take place in Israel: fundraising, legislation to combat anti-Israeli actions stemming from within Israel and the flow of funds supporting these activities and other defensive and offensive measures. Instead, Israeli officials come here to the U.S. and ask for help.

Israel will continue suffering greatly until Israelis, as one, start fighting back.

From the Prime Minister to his dozens of Ministers along with the hundreds of paid-advisors and thousands of support staff, to each member of the Parliament, to each diplomat and staff member, the bureaucracy must move to action. When this giant good-for-nothing, big government begins to fight back, only then will Jews around the world witness for themselves the resurgence of the Jewish Spirit and be incentivized to enter the battle.

When those elected, appointed, paid and expected-to-do-the-job start doing their duty and engage all those who want to destroy Israel, there will be momentum and inertia against the new armies of anti-Semites. Then words will not be necessary, for we all understand and “know” deep down what “Delegitimization” and hatred are all about.

Israel and the Jewish people need someone to lead by example, to take the helm and move us to a safe harbor. At the moment, we are sailing deeper and deeper into the freezing waters of the iceberg-dotted arctic waters while music plays on board our Titanic.

On the upper decks, empty words provide a false sense of protection, a false pretense of action that is either meaningless or nonexistent and a false promise of hope for a future that is becoming darker by the minute.

The picture painted is depressing and hopeless, so let us all join one of the celebratory events for the foreign guests. Between the handshakes and photo opportunities, the wine and hors d’oeuvres, the main course and desserts with Cognac sipping, we will undoubtedly feel relaxed and at ease. Perhaps that will be the time to speak up and take aim at the madness.

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 America—Postcards from Israel,” December, 2010


"Writing on the Wall"

Arlene Kushner

Much of the world may not have conceded the point yet, but it is fairly obvious that there will be no more "peace negotiations" between Israel and the PA/PLO.

The keynote address by Hillary Clinton for the Saban Forum on Friday night, vaunted as "a very formal set of remarks," was basically an unremarkable reiteration of what was already understood about the US position -- and about which I have already written.

You can see her full remarks (and a video) here: Essentially, she speaks of the need to have a final resolution of conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs via that "two-state" solution. She says that neither side has "yet made the difficult decisions that peace requires." And so to facilitate matters the US will be "moving forward with refocused goals and expectations" by having serious discussions with each side on the core issues: "borders and security; settlements, water and refugees; and on Jerusalem itself."

She makes it clear that "we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and two-state solution, but to Israel’s future itself."

She also states that "We continue to support the vision of the Arab Peace Initiative," which she refers to as "a vision of a better future for all the people of the Middle East," and which I call a horror. (If Israel will go back to the '67 lines and take in refugees, it essentially says, then we'll be friends -- at least until we push Israel out of existence.)

"The parties," says Clinton, "have indicated that they want the United States to continue its efforts." More on this below -- as it is not quite the case.

"And in the days ahead, our discussions with both sides will be substantive two-way conversations with an eye toward making real progress in the next few months on the key questions of an eventual framework agreement. The United States will not be a passive participant. We will push the parties to lay out their positions on the core issues without delay and with real specificity. We will work to narrow the gaps asking the tough questions and expecting substantive answers. And in the context of our private conversations with the parties, we will offer our own ideas and bridging proposals when appropriate.

"We enter this phase with clear expectations of both parties. Their seriousness about achieving an agreement will be measured by their engagement on these core issues."

A fantasy.


Palestinian Arab officials responded to this talk by saying that they will decide in coming days whether to return to indirect negotiations, as proposed by Clinton. This position was clear even before she spoke -- they have to consult with the Egyptians, the Arab League, etc. etc. That stance makes Clinton's statement -- that "both sides decided together to pursue a framework agreement that would establish the fundamental compromises on all permanent status issues and pave the way for a final peace treaty" -- more than a bit bewildering.


Khaled Abut Toameh reports that:

"The Palestinians expressed anger over the weekend with the Obama administration for failing to persuade Israel to renew a moratorium on settlement construction.

"They said it was unacceptable that the only superpower in the world would declare its failure to put pressure on its major ally – Israel.

"The Palestinians also said they would continue to stick to UN General Assembly Resolution 194, which calls for the return of Palestinian refugees to their original homes inside Israel, Yasser Abed Rabbo, a top PLO official and adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, declared.

"Commenting on US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s speech over the weekend on the Middle East peace process, Abed Rabbo said she did not bring anything new. 'This is a repeat of previous American positions,' he said.

"He accused the US administration of avoiding playing an effective role by holding Israel and the Palestinians equally responsible for the current stalemate.

"Abed Rabbo added that the Palestinian leadership was studying all 'alternatives' to determine its strategy for dealing with the next phase.

"Without the help of the US and without pressure to 'end the occupation,' the peace process would continue to evolve in a vicious cycle, he said.

"The peace talks wouldn’t be serious unless there was a clear US position that stated that the purpose of the negotiations was to end occupation completely and establish an independent Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967 borders, Abed Rabbo said.

"...Hafez Barghouti, editor of the PA’s Al- Hayat al-Jadida newspaper, also accused Clinton of trying to sell the Palestinians 'old merchandise.'

"...The time has come for us to stop surrendering to American deception. The Americans are colluding with Israel’s settlement policy, which will inevitably lead to bloodshed and war."


A truly promising beginning for the new US venture, is it not?


From the Israeli side, there is relief that Clinton says:

"The United States and the international community cannot impose a solution...And even if we could, we would not, because it is only a negotiated agreement between the parties that will be sustainable. The parties themselves have to want it."

If the US government holds fast to this position, we will be all right.


The following statement is attributed by various sources to Shimon Peres (and I thank Jeff D. for calling my attention to it):

"If a problem has no solution, it may not be a problem, but a fact - not to be solved, but to be coped with over time."

This, my friends, is an excellent description of the situation in which we find ourselves with regard to our conflict with the Palestinian Arabs. It is time for Israel to recalibrate foreign/diplomatic policy, which has been so focused on efforts to "solve" this conflict, while in fact there is no solution. It's time to start thinking seriously, and out of the box, about how to cope with a reality that is not going to go away.


On this note, I recommend JINSA Report # 1045, "End the 'Peace Process' and Move On":

"...the problem isn't getting the world to recognize 'Palestine' - it's been trying since 1947 to midwife a Palestinian Arab state. The problem remains as it always has been: the Arab states refuse to recognize the legitimacy of Israel and without that, the Palestinians can't do it.

"If the Administration is inclined to continue the dance, it would be well advised to put its energy into the righting the historic wrong done to Israel at its birth in 1948 - the attack on its independence by the Arab states and their continuing refusal to meet the terms of UN Resolution 242 that entitle Israel to "secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."

"The Palestinians can catch up whenever they choose."


"The Good News Corner"

The interminable drought has ended.

The nation is now in the grip of its first intense winter storm. Not all pleasant, by any means -- with the Haifa port closed, flooding, and power out in several places. But oh, so necessary. In the north, rain has been so intense that, according to one meteorologist cited by Arutz Sheva, it "makes up for the last two months in three days ."

Strangely, here in Jerusalem, except for a few sprinkles, we've had only very heavy skies and strong wind. But it may yet come tomorrow.

Snow is falling on Mount Hermon in the Golan and may move to the northern Galil.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Why Did U.S. Peace Process Diplomacy Fail; What Happens Next?

Barry Rubin

I think this lead from Jackson Diehl's Washington Post article says it all:

"The latest collapse of the Middle East peace process has underlined a reality that the Obama administration has resisted since it took office--that neither the current Israeli government nor the Palestinian Authority shares its passion for moving quickly toward a two-state settlement. And it has left President Obama with a tough choice: quietly shift one of his prized foreign policy priorities to a back burner -- or launch a risky redoubling of U.S. efforts." Since I've been trying to explain this for about ten years it's gratifying to see others getting the point. It's pretty remarkable that only after two years has the Obama Administration perhaps begun to get the first point: peace is not in the cards. One might also hope that it won't take ten years to understand that the reason for this situation is that the Palestinian Authority doesn't want peace.

Diehl understands that also. While criticizing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for not offering enough, he adds:

"[Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud] Abbas has resisted negotiating with Netanyahu ever since he took office early last year, saying he doesn't believe the right-wing Israeli leader will ever offer serious peace terms. But Abbas also turned down a far-reaching offer from Netanyahu's predecessor....By now it should be obvious: at age 75, he prefers ruling a quiet West Bank to going down in history as the Palestinian leader who granted final recognition to a Jewish state."

Diehl also says something that should have been obvious for years but one rarely hears in the mainstream debate:

"As I have pointed out before, the settlements are mostly not material to a deal on a Palestinian state, since both sides accept that the majority of them will be annexed to Israel in exchange for land elsewhere. The issue has become an obstacle in large part because of Obama's misguided placement of emphasis on it, which forced Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to embrace a hard line."

Then there's Diehl's second sentence in his lead: What will Obama do? Many people believe that he's so ideologically set on this issue that he's going to do a "risky redoubling."

Here's Diehl's conclusion. If Obama does present

"A U.S. or international plan for Palestinian statehood and try to impose it on both sides. History--including that of the last two years -- suggests that double-or-nothing bet would produce a diplomatic fiasco for Obama and maybe a new war in the Middle East. But given Obama's personal fascination with Middle East diplomacy, there's a reasonable chance he'll try it."

I agree with that argument, both regarding the "diplomatic fiasco" and the "reasonable chance." But this outcome is by no means inevitable. Preoccupied with domestic issues, possibly having learned something from the last two years (if only that he doesn't want to look foolish), fearing another diplomatic fiasco, opposed by Congress, starting to think about reelection in 2012, busy with domestic issues, Obama might well downgrade the issue in practice (even while maintaining rhetoric about high-level involvement.

This is a question that will be resolved in early 2011. We should not assume the answer to the question but wait and see what actually does happen, carefully looking for clues along the way. I promise to do that.

Footnote: Yes, I caught Diehl's reference to the "current" Israeli government not having a passion for peace. It should be noted that the current government also includes the Labor Party, the main party of the left, and that while a different prime minister might try harder--as former Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres, Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and Ehud Olmert all did--as one can see from their experiences the roadblock still remains PA intransigence.

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,