Saturday, January 01, 2011


Ira Sharkansky

While I do not claim expertise in the history or politics of Great Britain, my impression is that the Munich Agreement of 1938, involving Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and Hitler (" . . . peace with honour. I believe it is peace for our time.") is an icon of shame in that country. It represented great power pressure on the weak government of Czechoslovakia, and traded away part of another country's territory for the empty hope of peace. You find reference to the event under "appeasement" in the Oxford English Dictionary. "Freely used in political contexts in the 20th century, and since 1938 often used disparagingly with allusion to the attempts at conciliation by concession made by Mr. Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, before the outbreak of war with Germany in 1939; by extension, any such policy of pacification by concession to an enemy."

The Economist is part of my Friday morning routine. I view it as the best news magazine in the English language. I usually excuse its tilt against Israel as not overly extreme, insofar as it is generally balanced with a reasonable assessment of Israel's options.

An article put on its website on December 29th, dealing with Israel, the Palestinians, and Barack Obama fell outside my parameters of tolerance. The Economist on this occasion is closer to the spirit of Neville Chamberlain than to that of Winston Churchill.

Fair enough is its warning that the failure of Obama's peace efforts has produced a fragile condition of no war and no peace. It is also fair to note that supplies of armaments to Hizbollah and Hamas add to the dangers, and raise the prospect of a regional war involving Syria and Iran, along with significant civilian casualties in Israel and elsewhere.

The item is fair to note that any peace achieved between Israel and the Palestinians will be incomplete.

"Iran, Hizbullah and sometimes Hamas say that they will never accept a Jewish state in the Middle East."

It is the next sentence that urges appeasement.

"it is the unending Israeli occupation that gives these rejectionists their oxygen. Give the Palestinians a state on the West Bank and it will become very much harder for the rejectionists to justify going to war."

The theme continues

"if Mr Obama fails, because the Palestinians have shown time and again that they will not fall silent while their rights are denied. The longer Israel keeps them stateless under military occupation, the lonelier it becomes—and the more it undermines its own identity as a liberal democracy."

The Economist accepts an outline of an agreement that is widely shared, including by many in the center of Israel's political spectrum.

"The outlines of such an agreement have been clear since Bill Clinton set out his “parameters” after the failure of the Camp David summit a decade ago. The border between Israel and a new Palestine would follow the pre-1967 line, with adjustments to accommodate some of the bigger border-hugging Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and land-swaps to compensate the Palestinians for those adjustments."

It also recognizes what has frustrated agreement.

". . . there is also much difficult detail to be filled in: how to make Jerusalem into a shared capital, settle the fate of the refugees and ensure that the West Bank will not become, as Gaza did, an advance base for war against Israel after Israeli forces withdraw."

Where is Palestinian responsibility in the copybook of The Economist?

The sensitivities of Palestinians and Israelis on the issues of Jerusalem (especially the Temple Mount) and refugees may be the hard kernels that prevent agreement. For The Economists and others to put the onus on Israel and what is said to be a settlement-obsessed government is to reinforce the Palestinian narrative that gives them a monopoly of suffering and justice. Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert racked up Palestinian refusals in response to far reaching efforts to reach agreement along the lines spelled out by President Clinton.

Demanding more from Israel without demanding flexibility from Palestinian may not be equivalent to Chamberlain's deal with Hitler, but it is appeasement.

With all of this, it is too early to give up entirely on The Economist. Another article from the same date gives high marks and a positive projection to Israel's economy. 'Beyond the start-up nation':

Yet another provides a decent review of American blunders, frustrations, and limitations in the Middle East. 'Great sacrifices, small rewards' Has America’s obsession with this region been worth it? This item does bash Israel and ignores the need to press Palestinians, but it is impressive in touching the wide range of elements affecting the region, and those who worry about it.
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The United States, Israel and the Arabs
Please, not again
Without boldness from Barack Obama there is a real risk of war in the Middle East

Dec 29th 2010 |

NO WAR, no peace, is the usual state of affairs between Israel and its neighbours in the Middle East. But every time an attempt at Arab-Israeli peacemaking fails, as Barack Obama’s did shortly before Christmas, the peace becomes a little more fragile and the danger of war increases. Sadly, there is reason to believe that unless remedial action is taken, 2011 might see the most destructive such war for many years.

One much-discussed way in which war might arise stems from the apparent desire of Iran to acquire nuclear weapons at any cost, and Israel’s apparent desire to stop Iran at any cost. But fear of Iran’s nuclear programme is only one of the fuses that could detonate an explosion at any moment. Another is the frantic arms race that has been under way since the inconclusive war in 2006 between Israel and Hizbullah, Iran’s ally in Lebanon. Both sides have been intensively preparing for what each says will be a “decisive” second round.

Such a war would bear little resemblance to the previous clashes between Israel and its neighbours. For all their many horrors, the Lebanon war of 2006 and the Gaza war of 2009 were limited affairs. On the Israeli side, in particular, civilian casualties were light. Since 2006, however, Iran and Syria have provided Hizbullah with an arsenal of perhaps 50,000 missiles and rockets, many with ranges and payloads well beyond what Hizbullah had last time. This marks an extraordinary change in the balance of power. For the first time a radical non-state actor has the power to kill thousands of civilians in Israel’s cities more or less at the press of a button.

In that event, says Israel, it will strike back with double force. A war of this sort could easily draw in Syria, and perhaps Iran. For the moment, deterrence keeps the peace. But a peace maintained by deterrence alone is a frail thing. The shipment to Hizbullah of a balance-tipping new weapon, a skirmish on the Lebanese or increasingly volatile Gaza border—any number of miscalculations could ignite a conflagration.

From peace process to war process

All of this should give new urgency to Arab-Israeli peacemaking. To start with, at least, peace will be incomplete: Iran, Hizbullah and sometimes Hamas say that they will never accept a Jewish state in the Middle East. But it is the unending Israeli occupation that gives these rejectionists their oxygen. Give the Palestinians a state on the West Bank and it will become very much harder for the rejectionists to justify going to war.

Easy enough to say. The question is whether peacemaking can succeed. After striving for almost two years to shepherd Israeli and Palestinian leaders into direct talks, only for this effort to collapse over the issue of settlements, Mr Obama is in danger of concluding like many presidents before him that Arab-Israeli diplomacy is a Sisyphean distraction. But giving up would be a tragic mistake, as bad for America and Israel as for the Palestinians. The instant the peace process ends, the war process begins, and wars in this energy-rich corner of the world usually suck in America, one way or another. Israel will suffer too if Mr Obama fails, because the Palestinians have shown time and again that they will not fall silent while their rights are denied. The longer Israel keeps them stateless under military occupation, the lonelier it becomes—and the more it undermines its own identity as a liberal democracy.

Don’t mediate. Legislate

Instead of giving up, Mr Obama needs to change his angle of attack. America has clung too long to the dogma that direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians are the way forward. James Baker, a former secretary of state, once said that America could not want peace more than the local parties did. This is no longer true. The recent history proves that the extremists on each side are too strong for timid local leaders to make the necessary compromises alone. It is time for the world to agree on a settlement and impose it on the feuding parties.

The outlines of such an agreement have been clear since Bill Clinton set out his “parameters” after the failure of the Camp David summit a decade ago. The border between Israel and a new Palestine would follow the pre-1967 line, with adjustments to accommodate some of the bigger border-hugging Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and land-swaps to compensate the Palestinians for those adjustments. But there is also much difficult detail to be filled in: how to make Jerusalem into a shared capital, settle the fate of the refugees and ensure that the West Bank will not become, as Gaza did, an advance base for war against Israel after Israeli forces withdraw.

Mr Clinton unveiled his blueprint at the end of a negotiation that had failed. Mr Obama should set out his own map and make this a new starting point. He should gather international support for it, either through the United Nations or by means of an international conference of the kind the first President Bush held in Madrid in 1991. But instead of leaving the parties to talk on their own after the conference ends, as Mr Bush did after Madrid, America must ride herd, providing reassurance and exerting pressure on both sides as required.

The pressure part of this equation is crucial. In his first round of peacemaking, Mr Obama picked a fight with Israel over settlements and then backed down, thereby making America look weak in a region where too many people already believe that its power is waning (see article). This is a misperception the president needs to correct. For all its economic worries at home and military woes in Iraq and Afghanistan, America is far from weak in the Levant, where both Israel and the nascent Palestine in the West Bank continue to depend on it in countless vital ways.

The Palestinians have flirted lately with the idea of bypassing America and taking their cause directly to the UN. Going to the UN is well and good. But the fact remains that without the sort of tough love that America alone can bestow, Israel will probably never be able to overcome its settler movement and make the deal that could win it acceptance in the Arab world. Mr Obama has shown in battles as different as health reform and the New START nuclear treaty with Russia that he has the quality of persistence. He should persist in Palestine, too.

Friday, December 31, 2010

'PA arrests Hamas man at no. 1 on 'most wanted' list'


Palestinian sources say IDF have also tried to catch in the past al-Kawasma, who was arrested in Hebron; al-Kawasma has been on Palestinian Authorities' wanted list since 1998.

Palestinian security forces have arrested a wanted Hamas official in the West Bank. Al-Kawasma has been described as number one the Palestinian Authorities' "most wanted" list since 1998.

Security forces told Ma'an news agency that the man was arrested Thursday in the Hebron area. According to the reports, the IDF has also tried to arrest the man in the past. The arrest comes after the Palestinian Authority threatened to deport 50 Hamas leaders from the West Bank, according to a claim by the Islamist movement on Sunday.

The unprecedented threat was seen as yet another sign of mounting tensions between the Fatah-dominated PA in the West Bank and the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

It’s not clear to where the Hamas leaders would be deported. The PA security forces would not be able to carry out such a step without coordinating with Israel.

A senior PA security official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post that he was unaware of any decision to deport Hamas members. The official accused the Hamas leadership of “lies and fabrications.”

Since Saturday, scores of Hamas officials and activists have been summoned to the headquarters of the PA’s General Intelligence Service in Ramallah, where they were reportedly informed that they may be deported.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report

Interview with Melanie Phillips on "World Turned Upside Down"

Roger Aronoff

Has Western civilization now reached a point where it has stopped trying to survive? That is one of many questions raised by British journalist and author Melanie Phillips in her recent book, The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth, and Power. In an exclusive interview with Accuracy in Media, she was very critical of the role the media have played in creating this upside down world, as she sees it. She said that “The British media are worse than your American media. At least in America you have Fox News, you have talk radio, which can challenge the otherwise unchallenged worldview of the Left represented in organizations like CNN, ABC, and so on—and our BBC. But the fact is, most journalists are on the Left, and most journalists, I think, are acting as fifth columnists in the war against the West, a war waged both from within and from without.” Melanie Phillips worked for a decade for the left-wing British newspaper, The Guardian, as a correspondent, editor and columnist, starting in 1977. From there she went to The Observer (which had been bought by The Guardian), The Sunday Times and later The Daily Mail, and has written several books along the way, including the widely acclaimed Londonistan. She also currently writes for The Spectator.

Among the issues most important to Ms. Phillips, are the breakdown of the family, the obsession with multiculturalism, the phenomenon of radical Islam coming into Britain and not being dealt with properly, and Israel, of which she is a passionate supporter. She explained that she decided to write The World Turned Upside Down when she realized that the above-mentioned issues, and others such as how the war in Iraq was reported, had something in common: “They were all issues on which it was not possible, any longer, to have a proper discussion or debate; they were all issues on which the progressive side of politics took the view that it wasn’t simply that they believed that people who dissented from their point of view were wrong, they believed that they shouldn’t be allowed to speak at all.”

What these issues have in common, she concludes, is that “They were all linked by the fact that they were all ideologies—that is to say, they were all governed by ideologies such as a whole range of -isms: Feminism, anti-Americanism, environmentalism, anti-Zionism, moral and cultural relativism, and so on. And all these ideologies, because they’re ideologies, basically, they start with the belief that the idea is not only correct, but can’t be challenged, whatever that idea is, and then they force evidence to fit the idea.”

Below, in italics, are excerpts from the interview. You can listen to the entire two-part interview or read the transcript here.

The higher up the social and educational scale you go, particularly people who have been educated in universities in the last decade or two, you find that they are people who are much more likely to have a highly ideological view of the world, to be anti-America, anti-West, anti-capitalism, and to have—most importantly—no idea what truth and objectivity actually are.
They disdain the whole notion of truth and objectivity, and they’re the people who are the most vicious and venomous towards Israel, a subject I care about very deeply. I am, myself, a Jew, but I also believe that Israel should be supported not simply in its own right, but because I believe Israel is a kind of paradigm issue of our time, that as far as Britain and Europe are concerned, it’s where the most irrational and bigoted views coalesce under the umbrella of “being rational” and “progressive.” It’s a kind of symbol, if you like, of where we’ve lost the plot over a whole range of issues.

So all these ideologies—look at environmentalism, look at anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism—we may think that some of them, or all of them, are horrible and destructive, but from the point of view of people who believe in them, they are all ways in which they think the world can be perfected.

So it is extraordinary that the Left literally march on the streets of London, literally march shoulder to shoulder with the Islamists. I think there are a number of reasons. The most obvious reason is that they are both revolutionary movements wanting to overturn Western society and its culture, and replace it by something else. Now, it’s perfectly true that the Islamists want something radically different from the Left, in terms of what they want to replace it by, but they are happy to use each other as troops in the common cause of defeating the West. So that’s the first thing. The second thing is that they are all Utopian creeds...

You have the same problem developing very fast in America. You’re quite behind us in Britain because we’re so far in advance because of our demographic situation, but, unfortunately, you’re going down exactly the same route, because you’re too frightened, collectively—as we are in Britain, collectively—to acknowledge that this thing we’re facing is not simply a problem of terrorism, it’s also a problem of cultural takeover which is rooted in religious fanaticism. Now, how we should be dealing with it, in my view, is this: We should be expecting Muslims who live in Britain and America to adhere to exactly the same standards as every other minority. Britain, we’ve given a lot of ground to sharia law. We’re turning a blind eye to it. So we are tolerating, in Britain, for example, polygamy. We are giving welfare benefits to polygamous households. We are tolerating, and even tolerating, sharia courts. Now, sharia courts, they are courts which do not recognize a superior law of the land, and, consequently, we have the terrible phenomenon developing in Britain of parallel jurisdictions in which British Muslim women, who are British citizens, are effectively being forced to live under a rule of law administered informally within their communities which makes them into second-class citizens. One cannot have that.

In the Islamic world, symbols are very, very important. Consequently, to erect near or very near the site, which is a graveyard, of a terrorist attack—conducted under the aegis of Islamic jihad—a mosque which is particularly large is very, very significant in the Islamic world, because the symbol, the signal, that gives to the Islamic world is that on the site where the Islamic world attacked America, it has kind of planted a flag in triumph. That’s what that [Ground Zero] mosque symbolizes to the Islamic world.

But it struck me that The Guardian had taken a much more strategic decision, which in a way is quite comical, and it’s this: Assange [founder of WikiLeaks] embodies, as it were, two articles of politically correct faith...On the one hand, they support Julian Assange as a hero of the century because of the harm he is doing to America. On the other hand, there is this inconvenient—for them—set of claims that he has committed rape and sexual assault.

But it seems to me that the real fault here [WikiLeaks] is with the American authorities. I mean, it is absolutely staggering that all this material could be downloaded so easily. I don’t know whether this Bradley Manning fellow was the guy who leaked all this—we’ve been told he was...but whoever it was clearly was able to get a hold of this stuff very easily. It almost defies belief—it does defy belief—that America can be so sloppy in leaving this stuff so unprotected, in the sense that it didn’t take much to download all this. I mean, given the number of people who we’re told had access to it all, it’s astonishing that this hasn’t leaked before... It’s just incredibly incompetent.

The trouble is that our media in America and in Britain don’t report this. They are so incredibly biased and prejudiced against Israel and against America—but
, in this respect, against Israel—that they dwell obsessively and viciously on Israel, and they produce this incredibly distorted picture which puts Israel at the center of the problem, whereas, in fact, it is not—it is Iran that is the problem. It is Iran that is the strategic menace to the region, and to the free world. The media simply refuse to report that. So it’s been rather amusing—the WikiLeaks leaks have come as a bolt from the blue for the Left, for whom this is a really inconvenient truth. But to the rest of us, who actually have seen through all the propaganda, it wasn’t a shock at all.

And that is what the WikiLeaks leaks have thrown into such very stark relief, that President Obama’s administration has been acting in bad faith. It has been telling everybody that if you can solve Israel/Palestine, then you have a much better chance of getting all these countries, like Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, on one side against Iran. This was always patently ridiculous. But now, it has been shown to be absolutely true that it was ridiculous, because now we can see that it was a lie, that Obama’s whole approach has been based on a lie, a very cynical lie—because he knew perfectly well. He was being told by these countries, “What we want you to do is take out Iran.” They weren’t even bothered about Israel. So he knew that, and yet he told the world a lie.

I think that Obama is set upon using Israel as the scapegoat in the region for a whole variety of reasons. He had a setback, because his strategy over the settlements has run into the ground, but he will find other ways of hurting Israel. This is a very, very anti-Israel President. He is hurting the West’s major strategic ally—only strategic ally, only unambiguous, strategic ally—in the Middle East, he’s weakening the West as a result, and he’s dumping on the victims of genocidal terror. It is absolutely obscene. What’s going to happen, I don’t know. I mean, Obama clearly has been weakened by the midterms, but he still has power, as we know, over foreign policy. I don’t know whether Congress could rein him in if it wanted to... I don’t think the American media is telling the American public the extent of the perfidy that is going on here, which is almost unbelievable, the extent to which he’s putting the thumbscrews on Israel, and he’s simply finding new ways of doing so.

These things that are being said—“genocide,” “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing”—are obscenities. They are absolute obscenities. First of all, they are completely, and demonstrably, untrue... There is no apartheid. Israeli Arabs have full civil rights. There are Israeli Arabs who are members of the courts. They are lawyers. They are judges. They are politicians. They are members of the Knesset. There is no apartheid at all. These are the most wicked lies, and the Western intelligentsia has been consumed by these lies.

You talk about “ethnic cleansing”—no Arabs have been ethnically cleansed from Israel, but the Jews were ethnically cleansed after 1948, when they were driven out of Arab countries. A future state of Palestine, according to the Palestinians, must have not one Jew in it. That is apartheid. That is ethnic cleansing. That is racism. So this is why I think it really is a world turned upside down, where you have people who are the victims of these terrible things—apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide—who are accused of perpetrating it. The appalling thing is that the West can’t see this for what it is. Contributing Editor Roger Aronoff is a media analyst with Accuracy in Media, and is the writer/director of the award-winning documentary "Confronting Iraq: Conflict and Hope." He can be contacted at

Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Netanyahu's Coalition"

Arlene Kushner

How stable is it? That's the question these days.

At one and the same time, the coalition embraces Labor, with Ehud Barak as Defense Minister, and Yisrael Beitenu (Israel Our Home) with Avigdor Lieberman as Foreign Minister. And each, in his turn, has voiced an opinion on "peace" consistent with his party's position. Needless to say, there is no unanimity in these positions.

The question has been raised many times as to whether these ministers are "loose cannons," or are floating trial balloons -- saying things unofficially that Netanyahu wants said. I myself have pondered this from time to time. But the two positions are so at odds that they cannot at one and the same time both represent covert opinions of Netanyahu. (And I'm not even mentioning Shas and Eli Yishai as Interior Minister here.) In the last several days, Avigdor Lieberman has been in the media spotlight. At a meeting Sunday of Israel's ambassadors and counsels-general, Lieberman, who is their boss, said that because of current diplomatic and political realities, there is no chance of reaching a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinian Arabs. At least in part, he said, this is because the PA government is illegitimate [having postponed elections so that terms for the president and the legislature have expired].

"I don't think we can reach a comprehensive agreement that solves all questions of security, territory and end of conflict. I think this impossible under present conditions."

Said Lieberman, it is a mistake to create false expectations by implying that a final peace can be achieved in one to two years (which is what Netanyahu has said repeatedly): it is time to work for an interim agreement instead.

His recommendation was that there be cooperation in areas of security and economics, with core issues such as Jerusalem, refugees, and borders tabled.


I will note here that I am not in total agreement with Lieberman, who espouses the idea that reducing the economic gap between Israel and the PA would significantly help to resolve the conflict. This is myth. Ideology trumps economics -- this has repeatedly been demonstrated. Additionally I wish he had said that there should be no further discussion on Jerusalem, which is Israel's eternal, united capital. But, nonetheless... he comes closer to espousing a reasonable position than anyone else in the government.


Netanyahu quickly responded that only he speaks for the government and that government positions are determined via Cabinet decisions. Lieberman's words "represent his personal assessments and positions, just as other ministers in the government have different positions from each other."

On Monday evening, in a TV interview, the prime minister said that if conditions were right, "no coalition considerations would stop me" from pursuing an historic peace agreement. The right conditions? According to Netanyahu, these are recognizing the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state, giving up on the right of return, and then additionally arriving at satisfactory terms on security.

"But up until now they are just trying to run away from negotiations...If they...accept those two basic conditions to reaching an agreement, I will not hesitate."


Netanyahu is playing word games, telling the world, "see we are not the stumbling block, look how eager we are to proceed. Don't pay attention to Lieberman, who suggests we reduce our efforts." But of course Lieberman is correct. There is not a snowball's chance in hell that the Palestinian Arabs will renounce the "right of return" and acknowledge that Israel is the Jewish state.

But neither is there the remotest possibility that Netanyahu, even as he plays these games, really believes in what he is saying. For, on Monday, along with his statement above, he also offered this:

"There could be a situation in which talks with the Palestinians hit a brick wall over the issues of Jerusalem and the right of return, and in that case the result would be an interim agreement.

"It certainly is a possibility."

(Is this, or is it not, a back-handed acknowledgement of the correctness of what Lieberman said?)

Both Labor, inside the coalition, and Kadima, in the opposition, expressed horror at Lieberman's words. "The government of Israel, headed by Netanyahu, has committed itself to the vision of two states for two peoples," read a (delusional) statement put out by Labor.

In spite of this protest and his own alleged anger with Lieberman, however, Netanyahu declined to discipline him for speaking his mind.

Thus followed a flurry of public and media statements -- including a JPost editorial calling for Netanyahu to remove Lieberman from his position. The concern is that there is no coherent Israeli policy with these "wildcat" statements being advanced, and that this makes it impossible for Netanyahu to govern effectively.

That concern has some legitimacy.

Lieberman himself addressed it: "Can Israel put out a clear plan?" he asked. "That is...a good question in the political reality. With the current system of government and coalition contradictions, I don't think you can reach a common model, a common denominator..."


There are predictions that internal dissension within the government will tear it apart. But it is premature to predict this. Netanyahu is, first, an astute and tough-minded politician, guarding his own power base. He trades off one thing for another to keep his coalition intact. This is, indeed, built into the nature of coalition politics, but Netanyahu is particularly adept at manipulating the system.

That this weakens him and interferes with his ability to chart a clear course is obviously the case. In the end, as has happened so often before, we'll be saved by the Palestinian Arabs who are so totally intransigent that Netanyahu can hold tight even without that clear course.


And what are the Palestinian Arabs doing these days?

For starters, they immediately let it be known that they would not accept any interim agreement. Chief negotiator Saeb Erakat declared: "interim solutions are rejected part and parcel."


Then there are serious tensions between Mahmoud Abbas and Muhammad Dahlan, former security commander in Gaza, and until the present an active member of Fatah. Now the Fatah Central Committee has voted unanimously to suspend his membership pending an inquiry into allegations that he was planning a coup against PA leadership. I cannot speak for the authenticity of these allegations, but it is clear that the figurative crown rests uneasily on the head of Abbas, who indeed tends to be paranoid. Abbas has shut down a radio station Dahlan ran in Ramallah.

Dahlan, at not quite 50, is considered a possible successor to Abbas -- he is a "Young Turk," part of the generation that rose up in the party from local roots -- in his case in Khan Yunis in Gaza -- as compared to the older Arafat associates such as Abbas who came here from Tunis. He will be coming to Ramallah from Cairo, where he lives, to face the charges.

Let me emphasize that there are no good guys to root for here, they are all bums. Dahlan has documented links to terrorism, and was connected to the Karine-A weapons ship. Either way, internal dissension further weakens the ability of Fatah and the PA to function. One story has it that Abbas is angry at Dahlan for insulting his sons, saying they became rich by utilizing Abbas's influence.


By the way, George Canawati of Radio Bethlehem was detained for five days by Palestinian security forces because he broadcast a news item regarding friction within Fatah party.

What is it the US says, regarding a democratic Palestinian state?


Most significantly, the PA is now preparing to bring a resolution to the UN Security Council declaring our "settlements" illegal.

There are still several unknowns regarding the precise wording of such a resolution and what the ramifications would be. It is exceedingly unlikely that it would be brought under Chapter 7, which would give the UN enforceability, and the expectation is that the US would oppose the settlement resolution.

While not specifically committing the US to a veto of such a resolution, State Department spokesman Mark Toner declared: "We have consistently opposed taking these kinds of issues to the UN Security Council.

"Final-status issues can only be resolved" through direct negotiations, he declared.


At the same time, Erekat is saying there are no plans in the near future to ask the SC to recognize a Palestinian state.


Yesterday, President Obama appointed Robert Ford, a career diplomat, as the first US ambassador to Syria since 2005. He utilized a recess appointment (i.e., appointment while the Senate is in recess) to bypass opposition from Senate Republicans. They are not amused. Ford can serve only until the end of the next session of Congress.

This is a bad move by Obama, as it rewards Syria for the wrong things. But how typically "Obama" it is.


"The Good News Corner"

There is actually -- Baruch HaShem -- lots of good news.

Moshe Ya'alon, Deputy Prime Minister and Strategic Affairs Minister, gave an interview to Israel Radio yesterday. Among the things he said:

-- As a result of the technological damage done to its computers by the cyberworm, Iran has no capability to create a nuclear weapon now. He estimates it will take three years to develop that capacity again. (Although the US is reportedly worried about the installation of more effective centrifuges that might shorten that time.)

-- The US and Europe are "straying away" from the idea of a unilaterally established Palestinian state.

An offshore natural gas reserve of great size was discovered about 129 km. northwest of the coast of Haifa about a year ago. The Leviathan, located 1,650 km into the water, has been evaluated over a period of several months, and has now been declared the largest find of it kind discovered in the world in the last decade. "It has the potential to position Israel as a natural gas exporting nation." And this, understand, is some 47 km. south of another somewhat smaller gas reserve, called "Tamar," that is said to worth $15 billion.

Israel's gross domestic product increased by 4.5% this past year, a rate of growth larger than had been anticipated. We are faring better than many countries in the OECD

A record number of tourists visited Israel this year, and Tourist Minister Stas Meseznikov hopes to see four million visitors annually by 2013.

We are witnessing a growth in aliyah, as well. More than 10,000 people moved to Israel in 2010, many from free and democratic Western nations. I.e., people are coming because of a positive connection with Israel and not because they are fleeing persecution. The average age of new olim (immigrants) is just under 30.


I confess, the secular new year passes me by with little note. Particularly here in Israel, and most especially because it falls on Shabbat this year.

For all those readers who will be taking note of this event, or celebrating, I most certainly extend wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

For those observing Shabbat tomorrow night, Shabbat Shalom.


© 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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Fayyad: No 'Facebook State' for the PA

Chana Ya'ar
A7 News

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad is not looking for a “Facebook State” – and moreover, he is convinced he isn't building one.

Fayyad told the Reuters news agency Wednesday he expects more countries around the world will fall into line and announce formal recognition of the PA as a new country, which is the way the PA would prefer to create its state with no peace, no recognition of Israel as the home of the Jewish people, no agreement on the "refugee" issue and no negotiated final status agreement with Israel.
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon last week wrote in his personal blog that the “state of Facebook is more real than the state of Palestine.” He compared recognition of such an entity with clicking on the “Like” button on the social networking site. Such an entity would lack designated borders, and would carry no authority or sovereignty.

“Irresponsible governments are quick to 'Like' the Palestinian state without actually checking out its profile: an authority without sovereignty, with no borders or territorial continuity, no economic ability or democratic culture... The State of Facebook is more real than the Palestinian state which would be created unilaterally without negotiation with the elected government in Jerusalem,” Ayalon wrote.

Seventeen years of talks failed to deliver his hoped-for state, Fayyad told reporters, adding that it was "unlikely" that the current Israeli administration "could be trusted" to do so.

Formal recognition of the PA as an independent country by numerous other nations, he said, could “enshrine” such a state in all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

The international campaign to persuade various nations to recognize the PA as an independent country has picked up steam over the past several months. At least five Latin American countries announced they would grant the PA diplomatic status as a new nation, even without formal recognition by the United Nations and without any specific borders or sovereignty.

Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay and Paraguay all said they would recognize the entity as a new country along Israel's 1949 Armistice Line with Jordan and Egypt, which they referred to as the “1967 borders.” Much of the international community uses the term, since that was Israel's demarcation line prior to the 1967 Six Day War. That indefensible line did not include the Golan Heights from which Syrian artillery peppered the Jewish communities along the Sea of Galilee. Judea, Samaria, Gaza and part of Jerusalem were restored to the Jewish State in the 1967 defensive war fought against the attacking neighboring Arab states.

Fayyad has long planned for the unilateral declaration of an independent PA country within Israel's current borders. He announced last year in a speech delivered in Arabic that he would unilaterally declare the State of Palestine in August 2011 if no final status agreement with Israel was complete by that deadline.

“I am not looking for a “Facebook State” – or as I call it myself, a Mickey Mouse State,” Fayyad stated Wednesday. “If it doesn't matter, why did [Ayalon] bother to write a comment on it?”

Israel: Best Economy in the West

Hillel Fendel
A7 News

Israel’s economy is the fastest-growing in the West, the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) reports.

Israel's Gross National Product grew by 4.5% in the year 2010, according to CBS data and estimates – 0.5% more than had been expected. This compares with only 2.7% in the other 33 countries of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Israel became an OECD member state this past September.
In 2009, despite the great worldwide economic crash, Israel’s economy grew by 0.8% - and by 4.2% in 2008. The GNP per capita grew by 2.7% this year, compared with a drop of 1.1% the year before. In the OECD as a whole, this year’s per capita GNP grew by 2.3%.

Israel is also doing better in the employment arena than the rest of the OECD, with a 6.7% unemployment rate, compared with 8.3% in the other countries.

The CBS notes three notable developments in Israel's economy during 2010: Exports slowed during the third quarter, following the growth spurt in the second half of 2009; rapid growth of private consumption began to slow down; and investments in residential buildings and the like continued to grow.

Unite on defensible borders

Isi Leibler
December 30, 2010

Over the past two years, there have been repeated pleas for our politicians to recognize the gravity of the global and domestic challenges facing us, suspend conventional party politics, and work in unison to advance the national interest.

In recent months, the situation has deteriorated, and we are now confronted by an avalanche of global hostility. Irrespective of the rights or wrongs, realpolitik has led to automatic condemnation and demonization. We are generally regarded as a rogue state, responsible for global instability, thus effectively assuming the role of Jews in the Middle Ages, who were blamed for all the woes of mankind. The UN and its appallingly misnamed offspring, the Human Rights Council, are poised to carry a new wave of resolutions condemning, demonizing and launching boycotts against us.

The Durban anti- Semitic hate fest will be reconvened next year. More importantly, there is a campaign supported by the majority of nations to unilaterally recognize a Palestinian state, taking no account of our legitimate security needs.

The Obama administration is aware that the American people support Israel and thus, in all probability, will veto the most hostile onesided resolutions at the UN Security Council. But we should be under no illusions. Despite the recent congressional elections, foreign policy is largely controlled by the White House, and there is no evidence of a change in Obama's ongoing determination to "engage" or appease the Islamic world, even if that means distancing the US from this country.

The greatest threat is the intensification of global initiatives in which our security needs are ignored and attempts made to force us to withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, which were never regarded as borders. There is a real concern that in the not-too-distant future, while purporting to be acting in "an evenhanded manner," the Obama administration may itself move in that direction.

TODAY, THE vast majority of our leaders and people would willingly accept a two-state solution. Ironically, it is the Palestinian Authority, no less than Hamas, whose true objective remains the elimination of Jewish sovereignty rather than independence. And of course, we have the additional threat of a nuclear Iran committed to wiping us off the face of the earth.

No other state is challenged to justify its very existence, and surrounded by so much hatred. The security threats we face today are no less severe than those we confronted in 1948, 1967 and 1973.

During former times of national crisis, our leaders set aside partisan political aspirations and devoted themselves to working in concert in defense of their homeland. It may indeed be impossible to create a national unity government, but surely today's crisis is sufficiently acute for mainstream politicians to suspend their political differences and face up to their national responsibilities by displaying a willingness to show the world a consensus that the country must under no circumstances further compromise its key security interests.

There may indeed be differences over the determination of final borders and some settlements. But Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, Avigdor Lieberman of Israel Beiteinu and Ehud Barak of Labor surely all recognize that it is crucial to retain defensible borders and the major settlement blocs. They surely also concur that prior to making further concessions, there must be a clear formula to ensure that a future Palestinian state will be demilitarized, and would not merely become a platform from which Iran can launch new attacks. There should be affirmation by all mainstream parties to stand firm on these issues.

Livni should follow the example of Netanyahu when he was leader of the opposition. When travelling abroad, he avoided publicly condemning government policy. During the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead, he even provided his services to the government to promote the country's case to the global community.

The current situation is appalling. Instead of behaving responsibly, Livni continues to indulge in the most partisan political infighting.

When Netanyahu introduced the settlement freeze, she bitterly condemned him. Yet when he refused to extend the settlement freeze, she castigated him for undermining the US-Israel relationship. At the recent Saban Forum in the US, in the presence of PA representatives, she condemned her prime minister for lacking the will or desire to reach a peaceful accommodation.

From within the cabinet, both Lieberman and Barak criticize the policies of their own government to curry favor with voters.

Setting aside the merits of much of his argument, the outburst by Foreign Minister Lieberman publicly repudiating the policies of his prime minister made the government look like an unruly soccer team, and if repeated will bring about the downfall of the coalition.

US critics of Netanyahu try to rationalize the distancing of the Obama administration by alleging that the current coalition is right-wing and intransigent. However the reality is that, with only minor exceptions on the far Left and extreme Right, all MKs affiliated to the mainstream parties endorse a two-state solution, have no desire to rule over Arabs, and are willing to make territorial concessions - provided that basic security requirements are not compromised.

Furthermore, based on the political outlook of most Kadima members, aside from minor nuances, even a Kadima-led government would not deviate significantly from the current policies of the Likud, which enjoy the support of most Israelis. Livni should also be aware that her attacks on the government have not increased her popularity. To the contrary, the public is far more likely to reward the opposition if it exercised restraint and displayed bipartisanship on critical issues.

Despite American public support and the fact that President Barack Obama has taken a few steps backward, we face extraordinarily difficult days. The US need only stand aside and give a wink to the Europeans and others to proceed with an imposed solution, which would almost certainly deny us our basic security requirements and pave the way for our enemies to embark on renewed aggression.

There is a real threat by our adversaries to impose a "peace" upon us which would have chilling parallels to Munich and the "peace" imposed on Czechoslovakia. We should be clearly aware that the Europeans have been sending clear signals suggesting they would not be averse to repeating the same perfidious behavior.

If mainstream political leaders display solidarity on the core issues, in addition to neutralizing the campaigns against us, this would enable us to expose the intransigence of our impotent and duplicitous "peace partner." Furthermore, it would provide a dramatic morale booster, creating an atmosphere of optimism for the future and leading to a host of other beneficial consequences.

We are entitled to expect and demand that our political leaders suspend their differences and act in the national interest before it is too late.

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

What Bibi Can Learn From My Father

Yair Shamir

Anyone who thinks Prime Minister Netanyahu, in order to improve relations with the U.S., should succumb to American pressure in return for a U.S. incentives package and extend the freeze of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria is either mistaken or misguided.

It is no secret that there were sharp disagreements in the early 1990s between then-President George H.W. Bush and my father, then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir. But my father succeeded in deflecting pressure from the White House thanks to his principle-driven positions and his astute approach in dealing with the U.S. Congress. Thus, irrespective of President Bush's objections, my father received $650 million in special assistance, $700 million worth of military systems, a considerable expansion of American ammunition pre-positioned in Israel, enhancement of Israel-U.S. counter-terrorism cooperation, upgrading the Haifa port for the use of the 6th Fleet (which yielded $1 million in daily revenues) and breakthrough access by Israel's defense industries to Pentagon repair, maintenance and refurbishing bids - all in addition to annual foreign aid.

Nothing better illustrates my father's success than Defense Minister Ehud Barak's words in his dedication to the book Yitzhak Shamir: Firm as A Rock:

During President George Bush's term in office, while I was serving as the IDF's Chief-of-Staff, I was once summoned to the Prime Minister's Office to meet with then-U.S. Secretary of State James Baker who had been demanding that Israel make far-reaching concessions. Upon the request of Shamir, I briefed our prominent guest with the range of military threats facing Israel. Baker did not retract his demands. Instead, carrying the weight of the only superpower leading the free world today, he insisted that Israel concede. Shamir's face became very tense and alert, it looked like a volcano about to explode. He banged on the table and told the secretary of state in a very blunt and undiplomatic manner, in a very sharp but self-controlled tone: "Mr. Secretary, you can demand what you choose to demand but this is our country and we will not agree to do anything that will harm its interests and future even if demanded by our best friend."

My father's refusal to budge from his principles may not have led to a round of applause and praise in the media, but it elicited respect for the man and improved Israel's national security. His stance should serve as an example to Israeli prime ministers that it is possible to stand up to American pressure and refuse to relinquish both vision and strategic goals. In fact, such a surrender would only serve to erode Israel's power of deterrence in the Middle East and its standing in the corridors of power in Washington.

Genuine leaders realize that saying "no" and withstanding pressure advance strategic goals - while retreat and submission undermine those goals and only increase international pressure.

Fending off pressure sometimes requires an alteration of tactics - but not the abandonment of strategic goals.

Defiance of American dictates may harm a prime minister's personal popularity in the short run, but in the long run it will transform Israel into a stronger strategic ally of the U.S.

There are those who say we cannot compare the state of the world during the 1980s to the state of the world in 2010, and that an Israeli prime minister today faces tougher pressure.

True, the world has changed - but in Israel's favor. Israel has undergone dramatic upgrades in the military, economic, demographic, technological and medical fields. Moreover, the Free World is much more aware of the threat of Islamic terrorism and Iran's nuclear power and therefore comprehends better the security predicaments of the Jewish state.

Most important, the U.S. Congress has been a bastion of support of enhanced U.S.-Israel relations, displaying a more hawkish approach than even the Knesset when it comes to Israel's national security and especially on the issue of Jerusalem. The Congress is equal in power to and independent of the president. The president executes but Congress initiates, legislates, authorizes - and possesses the Power of the Purse.

Washington's respect for my father was eloquently expressed by then-Senate Majority and Minority Leaders George Mitchell and Bob Dole. At the end of a 1989 visit by my father to Washington, they told him: "You know why we respect you despite our disagreements with your policies? Because you're tough!"

Yair Shamir is chairman of the board of directors of Israel Aerospace Industries.

Copyright 2008

No peace, No peace plans, No price for Peace

Everybody says that his donkey is a horse.

There is no tax on words.

(Two Arab proverbs)

On December 24th 1977, at the very beginning of the negotiations between Israel and Egypt in Ismailia, I had the opportunity to have a short discussion with Muhammad Anwar Sadat the president of Egypt. "Tell your Prime Minister," he said, "that this is a bazaar; the merchandise is expensive." I told my Prime Minister but he failed to abide by the rules of the bazaar. The failure was not unique to him alone. It is the failure of all the Israeli governments and the media. On March 4, 1994, I published an article in the Jerusalem Post called "Novices in Negotiations" The occasion was the conclusion of the "Cairo Agreement." A short time later, Yasser Arafat, proved yet again that his signature was not worth the ink of his pen let alone the paper to which it was affixed, and his word was worth even less. Then, as in every subsequent agreement Israel was taken aback when her concessions had become the basis for fresh Arab demands.

In Middle Eastern bazaar diplomacy, agreements are kept not because they are signed but because they are imposed. Besides, in the bazaar of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the two sides are not discussing the same merchandise. The Israelis wish to acquire peace based on the Arab-Muslim acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state. The objective of the Arabs is to annihilate the Jewish state, replace it with an Arab state, and get rid of the Jews.

To achieve their goal, the Arabs took to the battlefield and to the bazaar diplomacy. The most important rule in the bazaar is that if the vendor knows that you desire to purchase a certain piece of merchandize, he will raise its price. The merchandise in question is "peace" and the Arabs give the impression that they actually have this merchandise and inflate its price, when in truth they do not have it at all.

This is the wisdom of the bazaar, if you are clever enough you can sell nothing at a price. The Arabs sell words, they sign agreements, and they trade with vague promises, but are sure to receive generous down payments from eager buyers. In the bazaar only a foolish buyer pays for something he has never seen.

There is another rule in the market as well as across the negotiating table: the side that first presents his terms is bound to lose; the other side builds his next move using the open cards of his opponent as the starting point.

In all its negotiations with the Palestinian Arabs, Israel has always rushed to offer its plans, and was surprised to discover that after an agreement had been "concluded" it had become the basis for further demands.

Most amazing is the reaction in such cases. Israeli politicians, "experts" and the media eagerly provide "explanations" for the Arabs' behaviour. One of the most popular explanations is that these or other Arab pronouncements are "for internal use," as if "internal use" does not count. Other explanations invoke "the Arab sensitivity to symbols," "honour," "matters of emotion" and other more patronising sayings of this nature. Does Israel possess no "sensitivities" or does it have no honour? What does all this have to do with political encounters?

It is therefore essential, as the late President Sadat advised, to learn the rules of the oriental bazaar before venturing into the arena of bazaar diplomacy. The most important of all the rules is the Roman saying: "If you want peace -- prepare for war." Never come to the negotiating table from a position of weakness. Your adversary should always know that you are strong and ready for war even more than you are ready for peace.

In the present situation in the Middle East and in the foreseeable future "peace" is nothing more than an empty word. Israel should stop speaking about "peace" and delete the word "peace" from its vocabulary together with such phrases as "the price of peace" or "territory for peace." For a hundred years the Jews have been begging the Arabs to sell them peace, ready to pay any price. They have received nothing, because the Arabs have no peace to sell, but they have still paid dearly. It must be said in all fairness that the Arabs have not made a secret of the fact that what they meant by the word "peace" was nothing more than a limited ceasefire for a limited period.

Since this is the situation, Israel should openly declare that peace does not exist as an option in the Arab-Israeli conflict, and that it has decided to create a new state of affairs in the Middle East, compelling the Arab side to ask for peace; and pay for it. Unlike the Arabs, Israel has this merchandize for sale.

From now on Israel should be the side demanding payment for peace. If the Arabs want peace, Israel should fix its price in real terms. The Arabs will pay if they reach the conclusion that Israel is so strong that they cannot destroy it. Because of this, Israel’s deterrent power is essential.

Therefore, if anyone asks Israel for plans, the answer should be: no "plans," no "suggestions," no "constructive ideas," in fact no negotiations at all. If the Arab side wants to negotiate, let it present its plans and its "ideas." If and when it does, the first Israeli reaction should always be "unacceptable! Come with better ones." If and when the time comes for serious negotiations, once the Arabs have lost all hope of annihilating the Jewish state, here are ten rules for bargaining in the Middle Eastern bazaar:

· Never be the first to suggest anything to the other side. Never show any eagerness "to conclude a deal." Let the opponent present his suggestions first.

· Always reject; disagree. Use the phrase: "Not meeting the minimum demands," and walk away, even a hundred times. A tough customer gets good prices.

· Don't rush to come up with counter-offers. There will always be time for that. Let the other side make amendments under the pressure of your total "disappointment." Patience is the name of the game: "haste is from Satan!"

· Have your own plan ready in full, as detailed as possible, with the red lines completely defined. However, never show this or any other plan to a third party. It will reach your opponent quicker than you think. Weigh the other side’s suggestions against this plan.

· Never change your detailed plan to meet the other side "half way." Remember, there is no "half way." The other side also has a master plan. Be ready to quit negotiations when you encounter stubbornness on the other side.

· Never leave things unclear. Always avoid "creative phrasing" and "creative ideas" which are exactly what your Arab opponent wants. Remember the Arabs are masters of language. Playing with words is the Arab national sport. As in the market, so also at the negotiating table, always talk dollars and cents.

· Always bear in mind that the other side will try to outsmart you by presenting major issues as unimportant details. Regard every detail as a vitally important issue. Never postpone any problem "for a later occasion." If you do so you will lose; remember that your opponent is always looking for a reason to avoid honouring agreements.

· Emotion belongs neither in the marketplace nor at the negotiating table. Friendly words as well as outbursts of anger, holding hands, kissing, touching cheeks, and embracing should not be interpreted as representing policy.

· Beware of popular beliefs about the Arabs and the Middle East -- "Arab honour" for example. Remember, you have honour too, but this has nothing to do with the issues under negotiation. Never do or say anything because somebody has told you that it is "the custom." If the Arab side finds out that you are playing the anthropologist he will take advantage of it.

· Always remember that the goal of all negotiations is to make a profit. You should aim at making the highest profit in real terms. Remember that every gain is an asset for the future, because there is always going to be "another round."

The Arabs have been practising negotiation tactics for more than 2000 years. They are the masters of words, and a mine of endless patience. In contrast, Israelis (and Westerners in general) want quick "results." In this part of the world there are no quick results, the hasty one always loses.

Moshe Sharon is Professor of Islamic History at the Hebrew University

It could be likened to Martin Niemoller words of the 1940s

A man whose family was German aristocracy prior to World War II owned a number of large industries and estates. When asked how many German people were true Nazis, the answer he gave can guide our attitude
toward fanaticism.

'Very few people were true Nazis 'he said,' but many enjoyed the return of German pride, and many more were too busy to care. I was one of those who just thought the Nazis were a bunch of fools. So, the majority just sat back and let it all happen. Then, before we knew it, they owned us, and we had lost control, and the end of the world had come. My family lost everything. I ended up in a concentration camp and the Allies destroyed my factories.' We are told again and again by 'experts' and 'talking heads' that Islam is the religion of peace, and that the vast majority of Muslims just want to live in peace. Although this unqualified assertion may be true,
it is entirely irrelevant. It is meaningless fluff, meant to make us feel better, and meant to somehow diminish the spectra of fanatics rampaging across the globe in the name of Islam. The fact is that the fanatics rule Islam at this moment in history.

It is the fanatics who march. It is the fanatics who wage any one of 50 shooting wars worldwide. It is the fanatics who systematically slaughter Christian or tribal groups throughout Africa and are gradually taking over the entire continent in an Islamic wave. It is the fanatics who bomb, behead, murder, or honor kill. It is the fanatics who take over mosque after mosque. It is the fanatics who zealously spread the stoning and hanging of rape victims and homosexuals. The hard
quantifiable fact is that the 'peaceful majority', the 'silent majority', is cowed and extraneous.

Communist Russia was comprised of Russians who just wanted to live in peace, yet the Russian Communists were responsible for the murder of
about 20 million people. The peaceful majority were irrelevant.

China's huge population was peaceful as well, but Chinese Communists managed to kill a staggering 70 million people.

The average Japanese individual prior to World War II was not a warmongering sadist. Yet, Japan murdered and slaughtered its way across South East Asia in an orgy of killing that included the systematic murder of 12 million Chinese civilians; most killed by sword, shovel,
and bayonet.

And, who can forget Rwanda, which collapsed into butchery. Could it not be said that the majority of Rwandans were 'peace loving'?

History lessons are often incredibly simple and blunt, yet for all our powers of reason we often miss the most basic and uncomplicated of points:

Peace-loving Muslims have been made irrelevant by their silence. Peace-loving Muslims will become our enemy if they don't speak up, because like my friend from Germany, they will awaken one day and find
that the fanatics own them, and the end of their world will have begun.

Peace-loving Germans, Japanese, Chinese, Russians, Rwandans, Serbs, Afghanis, Iraqis, Palestinians, Somalis, Nigerians, Algerians, and many others have died because the peaceful majority did not speak up until it was too late.

As for us who watch it all unfold, we must pay attention to the only group that counts; the fanatics who threaten our way of life.

Lastly, at the risk of offending, anyone who doubts that the issue is serious and just deletes this email without sending it on is contributing to the passiveness that allows the problems to expand. So, extend yourself a bit and send this on and on and on! Let us hope that
thousands world wide, read this -think about it - and send it on.

Abbas to lay cornerstone for new PA embassy in Brazil


Palestinian Authority president set to preside over ground breaking ceremony in Brasilia; move follows Brazil's recognition of Palestinian state.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was scheduled to lay the cornerstone of a new Palestinian Embassy in Brazil's capital, Brasilia later this week, AFP reported.

After presiding over the ground breaking ceremony on Friday, the PA president is to attend the inauguration of Brazil's next president, Dilma Rousseff, according to the report.
Earlier in the month, Brazil said it had recognized the state of Palestine based on borders at the time of Israel's 1967 conquest of the West Bank.

The Brazilian Foreign Ministry said the recognition was in response to a request made by Abbas a month to President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva a month earlier.

Silva sent a letter to Abbas on Dec. 1, saying Brazil recognizes Palestine and hopes that the recognition will help lead to states of Israel and Palestine "that will coexist peacefully and in security."

The foreign ministry sad that the recognition is "in line with Brazil's historic willingness to contribute to peace between Israel and Palestine."

Following in Brazil’s footsteps, Argentina announced several days later that it recognized a “free and independent” Palestinian state, sparking an immediate condemnation from Israel.

Argentina’s President Cristina Kirchner told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in a letter that her country recognized a Palestine defined by 1967 borders, Argentine officials said.

Most recently, Uruguay's foreign minister said last Thursday that his country plans to join the other South American countries in recognizing a Palestinian state.

Minister Luis Almagro told reporters that the decision to formally recognize a sovereign Palestinian state has been taken, though officials are studying the implications of that decision with regard to international law and politics. The recognition was expected to take place in the earlier part of 2011.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

PA lightens ban on working in settlements to ease Palestinian unemployment

Figures show number of Palestinians employed in settlements has increased to nearly 35,000; PA legislation barring employment there would be an economic blow to Palestinian population.
By Avi Issacharoff

The Palestinian Authority has reconsidered a proposal that would have barred Palestinian laborers from working in West Bank Jewish settlements.

Although several PA officials, notably Economy Minister Hassan Abu Libdeh and Prime Minister Salad Fayyad, came out in favor of such a move at the beginning of the year, it appears the PA has decided not to push for legislation on the issue because it is unable to offer the workers alternative employment. Nonetheless, the PA's campaign against the purchase of products from the settlements is continuing with greater intensity. It has recently expanded the campaign all over the West Bank and says certain localities do not use items produced in the settlements.

The settlements and laborers who work in them have a mutually beneficial relationship, and settlement construction relies on Palestinian labor. Many Palestinian workers who do not have permission to work in Israel proper find employment in the settlements.

According to Israeli figures from September 2009 that were provided to the PA's donor countries, 22,000 Palestinians were working with Israeli permission in the settlements, including the settlements' industrial zones.

Non-governmental organizations have said, however, that about 10,000 other Palestinians are working in the settlements without formal permission, mainly in seasonal agricultural work.

It also appears that since September 2009, the number of Palestinians employed in the settlements has increased to nearly 35,000. These workers support a Palestinian population of more than 200,000, and PA legislation barring employment in the settlements would be an economic blow to Palestinians in the West Bank following a rise in Palestinian living standards there.

Abu Libdeh told Haaretz that the issue is currently being handled by Labor Minister Ahmed Majdalani, who said he has no details to provide at the moment.

Associates of Fayyad said there was never an intention to pass legislation barring Palestinian employment in the settlements without suitable alternative employment. They said the PA seeks to reduce the number of Palestinians working in the settlements, but there is no intention at this time to harm the laborers financially.

"Clarifying our Position"

Arlene Kushner

Last night was the Hadar-Israel seminar, "What Are Israel's Security Needs for a Viable Peace?"

The over-arching messages of the evening was that it's time to be very clear and specific and vocal with regard to what Israel's security needs are. As moderator Dan Diker (Secretary-General Designate for the World Jewish Congress) explained: We have been living in a time of ambiguity with little attention paid to Israel's needs.
Each speaker in his own way returned to this.


The first speaker was Maj. Gen. (res) Yaakov Amidror -- former commander of the IDF's National Defense College and former head of the IDF's Research and Assessment Division, and now program director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

He addressed the issue of foreign troops in Judea and Samaria -- a very bad idea that is being proposed by some as a way to provide "security" for Israel without an Israeli military presence.

There is a matter of a significant principle, first, said Amidror: Israel operates on the basis of self-defense. We must be able to defend ourselves. With just four minor exceptions (e.g., there is American radar in the south now that is operated by Americans), we have never had foreign troops on our soil.

We don't need foreign forces to protect us and we must not rely upon them.

In this vein, Amidror made a most interesting comment. He said he was asked whether Israel is pressuring the US to attack Iran. He knows the answer to this is "no," because Israel is preparing to do it herself.


Then there is the practical aspect: It would be very naive to exchange territory for international protection. In the end, no nation would be willing to pay the price to protect us. What we need is control of critical areas.

In point of fact, we have had no experience with international forces that have defended us as they were supposed to, but quite the contrary:

-- UN forces evacuated the Sinai in 1967 at the demand of Nasser, just when they were needed because Nasser was preparing for war.

-- UNIFIL in Lebanon has been a farce with regard to blocking Hezbollah: The goal of these troops is to survive and to that end they have compromised with "insurgent" forces. Three Israeli soldiers were kidnapped 100 meters from a UN checkpoint (in 2000, at the Israel-Lebanon border). Re-arming done by Hezbollah was never stopped. There has not been a single instance of assistance provided to Israel by the UNIFIL forces.

What is more, UNIFIL's presence has interfered with Israel's ability to act and react. International forces in Judea and Samaria would create the same situation -- they would interfere with our ability to react to terrorists and would provide an umbrella for them.

Lastly, foreign forces fighting and dying for Israel would have multiple ramifications for international relations. This is with regard to the US and Israel, and the US and the Arab world. Amidror posed a hypothetical situation in which US troops chased after Hamas terrorists in the narrow alleys of Nablus. When American boys, killed by Hamas, were brought home in boxes, what, he asked, would the American people's response be? How would this impinge upon Israel's relationship with the US?


The second speaker was Maj. Gen. (res) Uzi Dayan -- former commander of Sayeret Matkal (an elite special forces unit), and then, in turn, head of Central Command, Deputy Chief of Staff, and head of the National Security Council (until 2005).

He spoke about defensible borders. Borders and security arrangements constitute the most tangible issue to be addressed, he said.

The US understands that it has failed twice in attempts to move negotiations along. Now there is talk of the US presenting a plan of its own. And so now is the time for addressing very clearly what our security needs are. We have both the need and the right to defensible borders.

UN Security Council Resolution 242 did not require Israel to return to the 1967 line, but spoke instead about "secure" boundaries."

The famous letter given by President Bush to PM Sharon in 2004 (Note: which declared that "the United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israel's security, including secure, defensible borders...") was endorsed by both Houses of Congress -- and then Senator Hillary Clinton voted for it.


The primary issue is one of strategic depth:

There are only 64 km (about 40 miles) from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This is the minimum that Israel requires in the way of strategic depth. We require the Jordan Valley and a presence at the river in order to defend ourselves.

We must prepare for an attack from the east. The future of Iraq and Jordan are in doubt. No one knows what Iraq will be like in years ahead. There are one million Iraqis in Jordan. And the Kurds are awakening.


Additionally there is the issue of counter-terrorism:

If a Palestinian state is to be demilitarized, this requires control of boundaries so that weapons cannot be brought in. And there is, further, a question of control of air space.


Various suggestions regarding ways to ensure Israeli security without actually stationing Israeli troops on site will not work. These suggestions include listening stations, trip wires, and permission for the IDF to deploy in a crisis.

Said Maj. Gen. Dayan:

You cannot replace the soldier fighting on his own land. "It's our land, and we will defend it."


Third speaker of the evening was Dr. Dore Gold -- former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, advisor to prime ministers, and for the last ten years, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

He addressed the strategic and diplomatic ramifications of the current situation. We are at a crossroads and must rethink our diplomatic strategy.

Until now, Israel was behaving as if there was the possibility of entering negotiations imminently. Thus we tended to be vague so as to not tip our hand, and to offer confidence building measures. (Note: the question of whether this was ever a good idea was not addressed.)

But now there is the emergence of a new set of circumstances. Some countries are beginning to recognize a Palestinian state (in some cases, specifically with a '67 "border"). There is concern about the possibility of the US advancing its own peace plan or a bridging proposal.

It is Gold's observation that Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian's chief negotiator, has been pushing the issue of refugees of late in order to establish the claim when the US makes a proposal or in anticipation of unilateralism. This is a new diplomatic stage.

We must put our cards on the table now -- we must talk about issues such as defensible borders and Jerusalem.


An aside: Dayan noted, during questions, that when a Palestinian is asked what he expects from negotiations, he will say, refugee return, Jerusalem as the capital, '67 borders. People may disagree but there is no doubt about what is being demanded. But ask an Israeli what is expected, and you may get an answer like, "Well...we want peace. It's complicated... we'll have to see how it works out..." There is not clarity.


Gold then addressed the issue of Jerusalem, which went on the negotiating table only with Oslo in 1993. Notably, however, by 1995, then Prime Minister Rabin, in his last address before his assassination, laid out Israel's future, and included a united Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Rabin, after initial enthusiasm, had already pulled back after assessing the realities on the ground.

There are several myths current with regard to dividing Jerusalem:

1) The myth of the "blue and the green": the idea that Jerusalem can be divided into east and west, or Arab Jerusalem and Jewish Jerusalem. Demography won't allow this, as Jerusalem is a checkerboard. There are 189,000 Jews who live in Jerusalem neighborhoods past the Green Line.

2) The myth that the Palestinians might accept the village of Abu Dis -- which is not within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries but is immediately adjacent -- as an alternative location for its capital. This proposal may have first been advanced during unofficial talks between Yossi Beilin and Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas), but the bottom line is that the Palestinians saw Abu Dis as no more than a springboard to the Old City of Jerusalem. Their claim is to Har Habayit (the Temple Mount).

3) The myth of demography. The argument is made that the Jewish majority of Jerusalem is declining because of the higher birth rate of Arab residents of Jerusalem. Thus, it is said, we have to remove the Arab neighborhoods. But the reality is that lack of affordable housing is driving Jews to move out of the city. And thus the solution is the construction of housing -- including in the eastern part of the city. Additionally, Jerusalem should be a priority in terms of economic development so that jobs are available.


An interesting, and not insignificant, aside by Gold that connects to the points made earlier by Maj. Gen. Amidror: In 1947, as part of the UN partition plan, Jerusalem was supposed to be international. But when the Arab League attacked after Israel declared independence, no one in the international community lifted a finger to protect Jerusalem.


Jerusalem has strategic value as it provides a key route for forces into the Jordan Valley.

But most significantly, Jerusalem is tied to our purpose here: We must believe in the justice of our cause, and no where is this more the case than with regard to Jerusalem. If Israel were to give up on Zion, it would constitute a heavy blow to Israeli national self-assurance.


A final last word from Maj. Gen. Dayan, which was the most enthusiastically received line of the entire seminar. During questions, he was asked about what would happen if certain steps were taken for the Palestinians. He stepped to the podium and declared:

"I'm sick and tired of trying to please the Palestinians!"

Let's work to please the Israelis, he suggested. Nothing pleases the Palestinians.


For further excellent information on the issue of Israel's Critical Security Needs, see 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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Muslim-owned South African store refused to fill an order from a Jew

When a Muslim-owned South African store refused to fill an order from a Jewish organization, Maurice Ostroff sent them the open letter reproduced below. It's worth saving (and editing somewhat) for use in future situations of a similar nature - and there WILL be others! Jewish Chronicle 2 Nov 2010
Hall of Infamy: Saley's Travel Goods
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa --
Saleys, a Muslim-owned supplier in Johannesburg canceled an order placed by a South African Jewish group with comments about "blood money." The South African Zionist Federation had ordered conference bags from Saley's Travel Goods previously without problems, and had received a confirmation from them the day prior to their hate-filled rejection of Jewish business.Saley's faxed a hand-written cancellation of the confirmation, on which they printed these phrases:
"Please don't pay! Don't contaminate our account with your blood money
"We cannot supply you any of our goods as we don't want or need your blood money! Please do not contact us any more."

An open letter to the Managing director of Saley's
From Maurice Ostroff

Congratulations on your brave refusal to continue to do business with a long-standing customer because of your antagonism to Zionism. To ensure that your action is not a meaningless gesture, we look forward with great interest to seeing you demonstrate your sincerity and consistency by following through with a complete boycott of all Israeli products.

You can make an immediate start by examining your computer and throwing it out if it contains software or an Intel Pentium chip that was developed in Israel. Of course you should also avoid instant messaging based on ICQ, that was invented by Israeli teenager Arik Vardi and three friends. And you will of course avoid mobile telephony, developed in Israel by Motorola, the camera telephone chip and Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) as used in Skype and similar applications.

You will be hard pressed to locate all the Zionist components in your Security Software, Network Firewalls, Anti-virus programs, System Software, Microsoft Operating Systems (XP and Vista), Google, Disk on Key and Wi-Fi, but I am sure you will assiduously check your equipment and rule out everything with Zionist roots. Unless you do so thoroughly, it will appear that you don't have the courage of your convictions and that your refusal of the small SAZF order was an insincere gesture playing to the anti-Israel gallery.

I could go on and on about the items you must avoid to be consistent in your attitude, but for humanitarian reasons you will be excused if for medical reasons you or members of your family use the "camera pill" developed in Israel to investigate the intestines painlessly by swallowing a pill containing a mini camera and transmitter.

Despite your anti-Zionist feelings, if you have a heart attack, don't hesitate to let the surgeon insert a stent, which was developed in Israel.

You will also be excused if you or members of your anti-Zionist business use new Israeli methods to measure and inject insulin for diabetics or Copaxone to reduce the physical breakdown caused by MS and other MS medicines such as Betaseron and Avonex. Similarly you will be excused for using Israeli developments in computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance systems (MRI), ultrasound scanners, nuclear medical cameras and laser surgery.

You will be excused too, if you use the Israeli developed Resperate, an interactive breathing device, for lowering blood pressure as well as treatments for cancer, diabetes, AIDS, auto immune diseases, Alzheimer, cardiovascular diseases and aging as well as the ReWalk, a robot suit that enables wheelchair users to walk, sit and stand again.

On second thoughts I suggest that it would be more rational to re-examine your prejudices and enter into a civil discourse with the Zionists. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that we have much in common and I would be happy to enter into a dialog with you about the issues on which you feel so strongly.

This letter is being publicized as will the response I hope to receive from you.

Maurice Ostroff

Monday, December 27, 2010

How ‘experts’ got it wrong

Op-ed: Demographic threat hyped up, Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria unnecessary

Moshe Dann
Israel Opinion

Opponents of Israel's legal and historical rights to Judea and Samaria raise a powerful and persuasive argument: Israel faces a "demographic crisis;" the Arab population between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River will soon outnumber that of the Jews, and the nature of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state is in danger. They argue, therefore, that Israel must withdraw from what was known, under Jordanian occupation, as the "West Bank," (to distinguish it from Jordan's "East Bank"), including "eastern Jerusalem," the Old City and Temple Mount, and create a second Arab Palestinian state (after Jordan); the Golan Heights, in this plan, would revert to Syria. This, they argue, would avoid charges of "occupation," "oppression," "racism," "apartheid," etc.; it does not relate to Palestinian Arabs who are Israeli citizens, or the "Nakba," (Catastrophe) in 1948, Israel's creation and what Palestinians consider "occupation."

The "demographic argument" was used to convince former PM Yitzhak Rabin to agree to the Oslo Accords, and was promoted by the dominant left-wing media, former PMs Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, Israeli ministers and politicians, and PM Netanyahu. There's only one problem: it's a myth, part of a campaign to destroy the settlement movement; it has been thoroughly refuted by various studies, including Bar-Ilan University's The Million Person Gap and work undertaken by The Institute for Zionist Strategies,

The fact is that today, nearly all non-Israeli Palestinians living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are under the PA. The Gaza Strip, under Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, is a separate entity, with its own army and administration, supported by the PA, but opposed to its controlling group, Fatah. "The occupation," therefore, at least that since 1967, refers to territory, not people.

The legal status of the area is disputed and has never been adjudicated by a court of law. Organizations like the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN and EU, political groups, and governments regard the area as "occupied" by Israel, without determining to whom it belongs; the question of its sovereignty is moot, subject to negotiation.

According to the Oslo Accords, Judea and Samaria was divided into three regions: A (under total PA control); B (under PA civilian control); C (under Israeli control). No Jews reside in areas A and B (comprising an estimated million-and-a-half residents); all Jewish communities/settlements (over 300,000 Jews) are in area C, along with about a few tens of thousands of Arab Palestinians (there are no accurate figures). In addition, over 200, 000 Jews live in new neighborhoods of Jerusalem established after 1967; these areas have already been virtually annexed.

There’s no crisis

If the entire area of Judea and Samaria is considered as a single unit, the demographic argument looks overwhelming. But, when the areas are separated – viewing area C alone, as distinctly Jewish – the perspective is quite different; there is no demographic threat.

Similarly, large concentrations of Arabs reside in pre-1967 Israel, primarily in the Negev and the Galilee. Looking at the entire population between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, using the demographic argument, the situation looks grim, with Jews and Arabs almost equal. When the areas are seen as discrete, however, the perspective changes, and the alleged demographic threat dissipates.

The argument that withdrawal is necessary to "preserve Israel's Jewish character," moreover, is vague, and contradicts the support for including hundreds of thousands of non-Jews, Arabs, Africans, and others seeking to live in Israel. Concern for the humanitarian rights of illegal immigrants seems to trump maintaining Israel's Jewish identity.

Moreover, an estimated several hundreds of thousands of immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are not Jewish, many with no connection to Judaism, were given citizenship. Although many of them serve in the IDF and have applied for conversion, this is a controversial issue between those who expect sincere commitment according to Jewish law, and those who demand less, or none at all.

In other words, demographic arguments, including questions like, "Who is a Jew?" and "What is Israelism?" are complicated societal issues which cannot be resolved, or understood by simplistic notions, manipulating statistics, and hyping scare tactics.

There is no crisis, nor urgency to abandon Judea and Samaria in order to save the State of Israel. In fact, given realistic assessments of the threat a Palestinian state poses to Israel, the most reasonable solution is to leave things as they are.

The author is an historian, writer and journalist living in Jerusalem

Sunday, December 26, 2010

"The Letter Is Coming"

Arlene Kushner

Reports are that Prime Minister Netanyahu will honor his promise to appeal directly, officially and publicly to President Obama for the release of Jonathan Pollard. According to a close associate, "The letter will be ready by Sunday or Monday..." (just missing the hoped-for goal of right before Christmas).

For a day and a half last week, after Netanyahu decided to proceed with the appeal, Pollard's wife Esther was not able to get a message to her husband, because he had undergone emergency surgery. His health has so deteriorated during his time in prison that there is concern for his life. This means there truly is no time to be wasted. Herb Keinon of the JPost has analyzed the possible political implications of Obama responding positively to the letter:

"When evaluating the current flurry of activity surrounding efforts to free Jonathan Pollard, two assumptions should be kept in mind.

"First: Things don't just happen.

"And second: Anything publicly being done by the Israeli government on the matter is known in advance by Washington. Israel is not looking to ambush the US administration on Pollard-related issues.

"With those two assumptions in mind, the timing of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's announcement that now, 25 years after Pollard was arrested, Israel will publicly ask the US president to release him takes on added interest.

"Two key questions that must be asked are 'Why now?' and "what took so long?' Why wasn't this done years ago? The official response to that question from the Prime Minister's Office is that a cost-benefit analysis was done among the powers that be with the conclusion that whereas in the past the feeling was that more could be done for Pollard in closed-door meetings, now the sense is that he would benefit from the light the media will shine on a public Israeli governmental appeal..."


And here's the clincher, at least according to Keinon:

"...After Obama's first two rather rocky years with Israel, releasing Pollard would be a huge push on the reset button in his relations with American Jews. With this move, he could say, 'See, I really do care about Israel, and am doing something no other US president was willing to do.'

"For Israelis, including senior government officials, releasing Pollard would go a long way to rebuilding trust with the president. Netanyahu...would now be able to say that the release shows Obama is indeed 'back on our side' and could be trusted."


Give me a break! Are Jews -- both American Jews and Israeli officials, as alluded to here -- this gullible? One politically self-serving act by Obama, one attempt to appear to be our friend, and we are expected to embrace him with a feeling of trust, knowing that he is "back on our side"?

The bottom line is that there was a miscarriage of justice with regard to how Pollard was handled by the US government, not least of which was the broken pledge not to seek life imprisonment for him if he cooperated. If Obama moves to secure Pollard's release now -- while, please G-d, he is still alive and can be brought back to health -- he will only be doing what is right. I don't imagine that there would be a political backlash on this -- for the climate in the US has shifted, with former government officials actually coming forward publicly to say that what was done to Pollard was not fair.


While this scenario may well explain Obama's readiness to receive the public request on Pollard and perhaps act on it -- and I suspect Keinon has the political undertones right -- we have to hope that Jews will be more savvy than to be taken in by what would really be a simple act for Obama.

As to any notion of his being "back on our side," implicit in this is a conceptualization of Obama as someone sometimes "on our side" and sometimes not. (Although I'm not actually sure when he ever was, never mind.) If he is "back on our side" now, when it suits him, he will walk away from our side again, when it doesn't. This does not inspire trust.

And his doing what is right on this occasion does not mean we "owe" him.


I return here to a recurring theme of mine -- one that cannot be emphasized too much: the way in which US weakness has strengthened Iran here in the Middle East.

Caroline Glick, in her Friday column, "Slouching towards Iran," addresses this issue:

"Two weeks ago, Iran scored a massive victory. Jordan, the West's most stable and loyal ally in the Arab world began slouching towards the Iranian Gomorrah.

"On December 12, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Chief of Staff Esfandiar Rahim-Mashaei met with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman and extended a formal invitation from Ahmadinejad for him to pay a state visit to Iran. Abdullah accepted.

"...Abdullah reportedly said that his country recognizes Iran's nuclear rights and supports its access to peaceful nuclear technology.

"Abdullah was one of the first world leaders to sound the alarm on Iran. In 2004 Abdullah warned of a 'Shiite crescent' extending from Iran to Iraq, through Syria to Lebanon. His words were well reported at the time. But his warning went unheeded.

In the intervening six years, reality has surpassed Abdullah's worst fears...
"In the face of Iran's expanding web of influence and the mullahs' steady progress towards nuclear capability, Washington behaves as though there is no cause for concern. And the likes of Jordan are beside themselves.

"In a WikiLeaks leaked cable from April 2009 written by US Ambassador to Jordan R. Stephen Beecroft, Jordan's frustration and concern over the Obama administration's incompetence in handling the Iranian threat was clear.

"Beecroft wrote, 'Jordan's leaders are careful not to be seen as dictating toward the US, but their comments betray a powerful undercurrent of doubt that the United States knows how to deal effectively with Iran.'

"...the Jordanians recognized that the Obama administration was committed to appeasing Iran and so tried to convince the Americans to ensure that their appeasement drive didn't come at the Arabs' expense.

"Beecroft reported a clear warning from Abdullah. Abdullah cautioned that if the Arabs believe that the US was appeasing Iran at their expense, 'that engagement will set off a stampede of Arab states looking to get ahead of the curve and reach their own separate peace with Teheran.

"'King Abdullah counseled Special Envoy George Mitchell in February [2009] that direct US engagement with Iran at this time would just deepen intra-Arab schisms and that more "countries without a backbone" would defect to the Iranian camp.'

"That was then. And since then, the Obama administration did nothing after Ahmadinejad and his henchmen stole the presidential election. It did nothing as they repressed the tens of millions of Iranians who demonstrated against the election fraud. The Obama administration did nothing as Iran conducted repeated war games along the Straits of Hormuz, progressed in its nuclear program, deepened its military alliances with Turkey and Venezuela and escalated its proxy war against the US and its allies in Afghanistan.

"The Americans said nothing as Iran prevented the pro-US faction that won the Iraqi election from forming a government. They did nothing as Iran forced the reinstallation of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki despite his electoral defeat.

"As Washington stood idly by in the face of Iran's aggression, Jordan and the other US-allied Arab states watched as Obama harassed Israel, announced his plan to withdraw all US forces from Iraq next year, appointed a new ambassador to Syria and approved more military aid to the Iranian-controlled Lebanese army. And Abdullah and the other Arabs watch now as the US is poised to begin yet a new round of appeasement talks with Iran next month.

"And so, just as Abdullah warned would happen, today he is leading Jordan into the ranks of 'countries without a backbone,' and making a separate peace with Ahmadinejad."


How painful all of this is, and from the perspective here in Jerusalem, how terrifying. It makes a mockery of any notion that Israel can trust Obama as a friend.

Make no mistake about it: the greater the movement by Arab nations in this region into the Iranian sphere, the more difficult for us. We are on our own.

And be clear about this, as well: If Jordan, at our eastern border, is under the sway of Iran, it makes it all the more imperative that we retain forces at the Jordan River. It diminishes the already very meager possibility of making any security arrangements with the PA with regard to a Palestinian Arab state at that border.

Obama just doesn't get it: He claims to want to foster peace, but acts in ways that undermine true peace.

I still want to yell: Wake up America!


I alluded the other day to my memory of Arafat, right before Christmas, telling journalists, "I must go to Bethlehem and pray." As if he were a Christian who prayed on Christmas. He was co-opting the Christian experience for the public. And the media, not to their credit, ate it up.

Once, not so long ago, Beit Lehem (Bethlehem) was a Christian city. No more. The Muslims have driven the Christians out. And so now they "do" Christmas in Beit Lehem.

Again with credits to Caroline Glick, who produces the Latma satirical videos:

Her latest, "Jihad Bells," wickedly satirizes the Muslim take-over of Beit Lehem and their treatment of Christians.


We won: The "Israeli War Crimes -- Your Tax dollars at work" campaign that was slated to place ads with this message on Seattle buses starting this week has been stopped.

On Friday, King County Executive Dow Constantine ordered the county's transit system not to accept this ad -- which was to be placed by something called "The Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign -- or any other new noncommercial advertising.

This was a result of the outcry that the plans for this campaign elicited -- which teaches us an important lesson. "Given the dramatic escalation of debate in the past few days over these proposed ads, and the submission of inflammatory response ads, there is now an unacceptable risk of harm to or disruption of service to our customers should these ads run," Constantine said.

A spokesman for the Awareness Campaign charged that the county had submitted to "intimidation." After all, the ad was only designed to stimulate discussion and promote awareness.


On Friday, the UN General Assembly in New York approved a resolution -- 104 to 22, with 33 abstentions -- to hold a summit on September 21, during the assembly’s annual ministerial meeting, that would commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Durban conference on racism.

Tonight, Israel's Foreign Ministry released a statement stating that:

"The Durban Conference of 2001, with its anti-Semitic undertones and displays of hatred for Israel and the Jewish World, left us with scars that will not heal quickly,

"As long as the meeting is defined as part of the infamous 'Durban process,' Israel will not participate."


Canada announced its intention of boycotting this summit weeks ago, but Israel waited until the vote and formal announcement connecting the summit with Durban I.

US Ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, released a statement indicating that the US voted against the resolution "because the Durban Declaration process has included ugly displays of intolerance and anti-Semitism, and we do not want to see that commemorated."

This is all fine, as far as it goes. But if the US does not want to see a commemoration of Durban, will it also decline to participate in the summit? There's no word on this.

What a statement it would make if all of the democracies of the world declined to participate that day. I dream, I know.


Tomorrow night, December 26, Hadar-Israel (Council for Civil Action) will be holding a seminar on the question,"What Are Israel's Security Needs for a Viable Peace?" with Former UN Ambassador Dore Gold, Maj. Gen. (res) Uzi Dayan, and Maj. Gen. (res) Yaakov Amidror. Dan Diker, Secretary-General Designate for the World Jewish Congress will moderate.

It is being held at the Begin Center in Jerusalem, starting at 7:30. Those out of the area may want to know that the seminar will be able to be accessed via live video simulcast, at


© 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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