Saturday, June 20, 2009

Middle East Politics: The Ideal, The Real, and The Imaginary


Barry Rubin

A reader asks: Do we really want to promoting the making of deals with "moderate dictators" or are we better urging them to turn their countries into liberal democracies?

This writer answers:

What we “really want” to do is not the issue here. Political reality is what is important. Under normal and current conditions we—meaning North America and Europe--are better off making deals with relatively moderate dictators while supporting liberal forces to make them stronger so they can play a role some day. The same principle applies for Israel.

Today—except for Lebanon—there is no real liberal democratic alternative in the Arabic-speaking world regarding real political power. If you want to understand why this is true, read my book The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East.

The main threat to the West, to Israel, and even to the Arabs themselves are radical Islamists (Iran’s regime, Hamas, Hizballah, Muslim Brotherhoods, al-Qaida) and their radical nationalist allies (Syria particularly).

Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and—most problematically given its pro-Tehran stance—Qatar are our allies--despite all their problems, shortcomings, and appeasement behavior--in this battle.

Let's take the worst-case eample on the above list, Saudi Arabia. Is the Saudi regime relatively moderate? Yes it is...compared to Iran and Syria.

And yes it is compared to what Saudi Arabia would look like if governed by the most likely alternative....Usama bin Ladin.

And yes it is when you keep in mind that the Saudis have played a very positive role in Lebanon by supporting March 14 against Hizballah. In addition, the original Arab plan for peace with Israel proposed by the Saudis--before the Syrians amended it to make it far worse--might actually have been a starting point for serious negotiation.

None of this is to underestimate the terrible things the Saudis do: antisemitic propaganda, an educational system that produces extreme Islamists, individuals funding terrorist groups, an extremely repressive version of Islam at home, an eagerness to appease Iran (especially if the Saudi regime doesn't trust the West to protect it).

All those points are real and should be very much kept in mind. But is Saudi Arabia's government preferable to a bin Ladin or Ahmadinejad type regime in power? Definitely yes. And is there any other alternative at present? Definitely no.

If you want to understand why the current dictatorships are holding onto power and will be removed only by radical Islamists in the foreseeable future, read my book The Tragedy of the Middle East.

Against the fascists, the US and UK had to ally with Stalin; against the Communists with many dictators. Those who are going to engage seriously in politics must deal with this reality.

At present, there is no serious prospect of turning these countries into liberal democracies, certainly not from the outside. Liberal forces are simply too weak. Democratic institutions don’t exist. Anti-democratic Islamists would win elections and never bother to hold them again. This situation has been clearly seen in the events of recent years.

When a democratic upsurge does come along, as currently can be seen in non-Arab Iran, it deserves support from Westerners and verbal encouragement from Western governments. There is certainly a huge difference between the Iranian demonstrators and the current regime. True, there is far less difference between the opposition candidates and the current rulers. But that margin is important.

Would a less extreme Islamist ruling Iran get better public relations’ advantages in the West while developing nuclear weapons? Sure. But so what. The West isn’t going to take on the current regime any way. Public relations are not going to affect Iran getting nuclear weapons at this point.

It would certainly be better to have a leadership less eager to engage in war, less likely to use nuclear weapons, and more cautious in its international behavior. Equally, it would be preferable to have a regime which had a wider gap between a radical ideology and a more pragmatic practice. Finally, it would be nicer to have a regime that had to devote more of its time and attention to improving its domestic living standards than to foreign adventures.

Unfortunately, such options are not very available in the Arabic-speaking world. They may be, today, in Iran.
But again that is Iran, not the Arabic-speaking world.

Is Egypt’s President Husni Mubarak or Jordan’s King Abdallah preferable to Islamist states ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood? Is Iraq’s current regime preferable to a radical Islamist state under Iranian patronage? Is Lebanon under the March 14 Sunni-Christian-Druze alliance preferable to Lebanon under Hizballah? Is the Palestinian Authority preferable to Hamas?

How many milliseconds did it take you to answer that list of questions?

Working with the dictatorships does not mean supporting them when they repress genuine liberal democrats. That’s where the line must be drawn. Yet why should the West help bring anti-Western Islamist groups to power that would create even worse dictatorships and set off bloody wars?

Nor does working with the dictatorships mean being naïve about them and their policies. Of course, the Palestinian Authority is going to incite violence against Israel—though it will also stop many of the resulting terrorists—but won’t make a lasting comprehensive peace with Israel. Certainly, Mubarak’s government will take American money and then order its media to preach anti-Americanism.

All of these points must be taken into account. We are talking about necessary cooperation for mutual survival, not nominations for sainthood, abandoning any criticism, or writing blank checks.

In contrast, the problem with much of Western strategy today is that while claiming to be realistic, it is dangerously romantic. It often seems more concerned in conciliating with the worst extremists than in preserving and strengthening the less dangerous and repressive—though admittedly corrupt and incompetent—incumbents.

Incidentally, this is precisely the conclusion reached by the overwhelming majority of genuine Arab liberals. They hate the existing governments and are all too aware of their flaws. But they prefer the current rulers to bringing into their own homes the nightmare of Islamist Iran, Taliban Afghanistan, or Hamas Gaza. Who can blame them for reaching this conclusion? They prefer staying in the frying pan to leaping into the fire.

In contrast, in the West, the prevalent current thinking often urges jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Of course, it is easier to advocate such a step for those whose feet won’t be the ones getting burnt.

There are good reasons why there are so many sayings about making a distinction between the horrible and the less objectionable though hardly ideal choice: The best is the enemy of the good. The lesser of two evils is preferable.

Politics is the art of the possible. Bad strategy is the vandalism of the dangerously ignorant.

The Silly and Harmful Fantasy of "Two States for Two Peoples"

Steven Plaut
Those who support the "Two States for Two Peoples" doctrine, and I suppose that now one must even include Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu in that category, no matter how reluctantly he joined it, have a very simple position. Indeed, the entire "Two States for Two Peoples" doctrine can be summed up in one simple idea, in fact in one simple sentence. It is this: maybe after the Palestinians get their own state, then they will agree to live in peace with Israel. No matter how complex and "scholarly" is any article or position paper that supports "Two States for Two Peoples" doctrine, once one clears away the verbiage it all boils down to that one simple idea.

To put it even more strongly, no one who is currently promoting "Two States for Two Peoples" would still be promoting it if they could be persuaded beyond all doubt that the Palestinians would NOT live in peace after getting their own state under "Two States for Two Peoples," or if they discovered with certainty that the second of those states ("Palestine") would be used for nothing other than terrorist aggression. Well, almost no one would. In the increasingly anti-Semitic Left around the world and even at the margins of the Israeli Far Left there are already people arguing that Israel should agree to "Two States for Two Peoples" even if it is totally clear and obvious that "Palestine" will be used for nothing besides terrorist aggression against Israel. They support that idea because they think that creating a Palestinian state is the right thing to do no matter how destructive it will be and no matter how disastrous for Israel will be the consequences of its creation. The more honest far Leftists defend this position by admitting that they want Israel annihilated and all of its Jews thrown into the sea.

Today to promote "Two States for Two Peoples" requires a bit of cognitive dissonance. After all, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, turning it over to the "Palestinian Authority," and the whole world saw the consequences. They included 8000 rocket missiles aimed at Jewish civilians inside Israel. So those who insist that the Palestinians will desire to live in peace once they have their own state are about as consistent and credible as are people who argue that North Korea and Iran will seek genuine peace once they get nuclear weapons, or those that once insisted that Hitler would be satisfied once he gets the Sudetenland.

But more generally, the whole "Two States for Two Peoples" campaign is nothing more than a special case of the "Then Maybe they Will" doctrine. For the past 30 years the Israeli political establishment has been prisoner to the "Then Maybe They Will" doctrine. Every major policy decision made by the government has reflected the power of wishful thinking and faith in the make-pretend. Here is a brief recapitulation of the doctrine:

If Israel gives Sinai back to the Egyptians, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL stop the Nazi-like anti-Semitic propaganda in their state-run media.

If Israel agrees to limited autonomy for Palestinians, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL stop seeking Israel's destruction and the world will not try to set up an independent Palestinian Arab terror state.

If Israel provides the Palestinian Authority with arms and funds, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL not be used for terrorist atrocities against Israel.

If Israel grants its Arab citizens affirmative action preferences, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL stop cheering terrorists and seeking the annihilation of Israel and its Jewish population.

If Israel frees thousands of jailed Palestinian terrorists, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL renounce violence and not murder any more Jews.

If Israel agrees to hold talks with representatives of the PLO, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL put a stop to Palestinian terrorism.

If Israel allows the Palestinians to hold elections, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL not elect Hamas.

If the Palestinians elect Hamas, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL not pursue a program of aggression and terrorism against Israel.

If Israel holds talks with terrorists, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL renounce their genocidal ambitions and seek peace.

If Israel conducts a unilateral withdrawal from all of southern Lebanon and allows Hezb'allah terrorists to station rockets on the border, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL not launch any of them.

If Israel sits back while the Syrians exert their hegemony over Lebanon, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL rein in Hezb'allah and stop border attacks on Israel.

If Israel refrains from retaliating against Hezb'allah terrorists after they murder captive Israeli soldiers in cold blood, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL not seek to kidnap any more soldiers.

If Israel agrees to one cease-fire after another with the Arabs, THEN MAYBE THE ARABS WILL eventually comply with one.

If Israel allows Arabs in Israel to build illegally, including on public lands, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL become pro-Israel and moderate.

If Israel agrees to the stationing of UN troops in Lebanon, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL actually do something to stop terror attacks on Israel.

If Israel ignores Hezb'allah border violations, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL come to an end.

If Israel lets the Muslims control the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL respond with friendship and moderation.

If Israel expels all Jews from Gaza as a gesture of friendship to the Palestinians, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL reciprocate with friendship toward the Jews.

If Israel turns the Gaza Strip over to the Palestinians, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL not use it as a base for terror attacks against Israel.

If Israel turns the other cheek after Qassam rocket attacks from Gaza, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL stop being fired.

If Israel allows the Palestinian Authority to control parts of the West Bank, THEN MAYBE THE PALESTINIANS WILL not fire rockets at Jews the same way they do from Gaza.

If Israel returns the Golan Heights to Syria THEN MAYBE THE SYRIANS WILL seek peace and reject the idea of using the Heights to attack Israel again.

If Israel agrees to place its neck in the Oslo/Road Map/Saudi Plan noose, THEN MAYBE THE ARABS WILL not pull the rope.

If Israel officially agrees in principle to let the Palestinians have a state, THEN MAYBE THEY WILL abandon their agenda of annihilating Israel.

Ted Belman

Friday, June 19, 2009

Litmus test


Hamas is practically throwing itself at Barack Obama, viewing him as more "sensitive" than his predecessors. Ahmed Yussef, the movement's coquettish liaison to the West, said this week the Islamists will "do anything" for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Well, not quite anything. Unlike the PLO, Hamas will not support a two-state solution. Apart from that, its stance is indistinguishable from Mahmoud Abbas's. Hamas and the PLO agree that Israel must withdraw to the 1949 Armistice Lines; and that Israel must grant four million or so descendants of the 650,000 Palestinian Arab refugees from Israel's War of Independence the right to "return" to Israel proper.

Where they part company is over what to offer Israel. Abbas proposes accepting Israel's existence; Hamas offers a period of extended "quiet." Neither acknowledges any Jewish civilizational connection to this land, both seeing us as temporary interlopers.

Hamas is following in the footsteps of the Palestinian National Council, the PLO's ruling body, which on June 9, 1974 adopted a plank - known as the "phased plan" - which authorized Palestinian leaders to take custody of "any territory from which the occupation withdraws."

Like the PLO, when it was shedding its image of absolute rejectionism, Hamas is making inroads toward greater international acceptability.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers, led by France, steered clear of reiterating the Quartet's principles - that Hamas forswear violence, recognize Israel and accept previous PLO agreements with Israel.

And on Tuesday, former US president Jimmy Carter was in Gaza claiming to be carrying a message from Obama. Flanked by American and Palestinian flags, he held a news conference with Ismail Haniyeh during which the Hamas premier received Carter's backing for lifting the "siege" of Gaza. Israel was treating Gazans "more like animals than human beings," the ex-president lamented. Turning the Quartet's principles on their head, Carter told The New York Times that "first of all, Hamas has to be accepted by the international community as a legitimate player... and that is what I am trying to do today." Carter said he was shattered by what Israel had done to Gaza with warplanes "made in my country."

The Obama administration is, reportedly, also leaning hard on Israel to lift the blockade, which limits the type of supplies permitted into the Strip - cement and iron, for instance, which have civilian and military uses. The US and EU are confident of international monitors effectively guaranteeing that Hamas does not use these materials for its war machine; experience suggests the confidence is sadly misplaced.

Israel routinely channels in tons of food and commodities - even cash to keep the local economy afloat. Yesterday, it allowed in 115 truckloads of aid and commercial goods.

Clearly, this kind of "siege" won't break Hamas. So the Netanyahu government needs to rethink whether the security and deterrence benefits of our limp-wristed blockade are worth the diplomatic costs.

ISRAEL has demonstrated innumerable goodwill measures in the West Bank to "help Abu Mazen." But the claim that capitulating to Hamas in Gaza, out of exasperation over their intransigence, will facilitate the prospects of genuine peace is unconvincing.

Gaza is a test case for what Israelis can expect should Hamas win next January's tentatively scheduled Palestinian elections. The lesson so far is that the Islamists are apt to choose belligerency over coexistence, even if it causes their own people to suffer; and that the international community will side with the Palestinians on the grounds that the people should not be punished for the policies of its elected leaders.

Having been clobbered during Operation Cast Lead, Hamas has for now stopped firing rockets into Israel, though it seems curiously unable to prevent infiltration attempts by other groups. Meanwhile, it continues to rearm, even if fewer weapons may be making it through the Philadelphi Corridor tunnels, thanks to enhanced Egyptian vigilance.

On Thursday, the Red Cross asked to see IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, now three years in Hamas captivity.

If the international community cannot influence Hamas to comply with so basic a humanitarian request, how can it credibly guarantee Hamas's behavior once sanctions are lifted?
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1245184870939&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull

Hillary: Total settlement freeze "important and essential" step for Israel

Jihad Watch

But Lieberman refused. Good for him. Why the Obamaite obsession with the settlements? Who has ever said that the anger the Palestinian Arabs have toward Israel was caused by the settlements? They are just another pretext to justify jihadist bellicosity, and when they are gone, another pretext will arise. Obama apparently never heard of the jihad and Islamic supremacism, despite all his vaunted knowledge of Islam, but he should at least have the minimal historical memory to recall that a few years ago the anger the Palestinian Arabs had toward Israel was all about the "occupation" of Gaza, and the withdrawal from Gaza was supposed to be an important sign of Israeli good will and desire for peace, ushering in a new era of cooperation and mutual trust. Instead, as predicted here, Gaza became a base for renewed jihad attacks against Israel. And once the pretext of the Gaza "occupation" was removed, the jihadists found a new pretext for their continued war: the settlements.

Meanwhile, think also about what Hillary and Obama are not saying. Clinton "said that a total settlement freeze was an 'important and essential' step toward achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians." What did she not say was an "'important and essential' step toward achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians"? She did not say that the Palestinian Arabs had to recognize Israel, or cut out the genocidal rhetoric, or stop teaching jihad and Jew-hatred to their children. She didn't say that Iran had to stop its nuclear program and likewise cut out the genocidal rhetoric against Israel. No, she has remarked on some of that in the past, but apparently none of it is as "important and essential" as making sure that Israel stops the growth of the settlements. The Palestinian Arabs, as always, need do nothing but continue on their vile path of hatred and violence, and as long as the Israelis make enough concessions, lo! Peace will eventually dawn.

"Lieberman repeats refusal to 'strangle' settlement growth," from Haaretz, June 18 (thanks to James):

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman reiterated Thursday his refusal to completely halt West Bank settlement expansion, following a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton.

Speaking of the chances of continued talks with the Palestinians, Lieberman said that "anyone who, from the get go, wants to do a contract the way you would do with a lawyer with 200 pages for every comma"

"Everything has to be instilled on mutual trust, we aren't fooling anyone, we're not going to change the demographics in Judea and Samaria and change existing settlements - we will not have our own people strangled."

On Wednesday the Foreign Minister had met Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and said that Israel could not accept the Obama administration's demand to "completely" halt activity in West Bank settlements, reiterating the issue of natural growth.

"Everywhere people are born, people die, and we cannot accept a vision of stopping completely the settlements. We have to keep the natural growth," Lieberman said.

That comment came after Secretary Clinton had said that a total settlement freeze was an "important and essential" step toward achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Clinton also said that Israeli leaders have in the past shifted their stance on the issue, and expected the current government to evolve in the same way....

Is that a threat?

The coming storm: Obama and American Jewry

Shmuley Boteach , THE JERUSALEM POST

There's a storm coming. It will pit a well-organized community of substantial resources but also substantial insecurity - particularly when it comes to charges of dual loyalty - against a popular president of considerable eloquence but misguided policies that identify Israeli settlements as the main obstacle to Middle East peace. The inevitable clash will separate sunshine Jewish patriots who back Israel when convenient against those who stand with Israel even when it means losing their invitation to the White House Hanukka party. The bogus issue of settlements is already being swallowed whole by many well-meaning Jews. Last week Dan Fleshler, a leader of Americans for Peace Now, wrote in the New Jersey Jewish Standard that Obama has no choice but to pressure Israel because "it is fruitless for a well-armed, occupying power to negotiate the terms of a viable settlement with an almost defenseless occupied people unless a third party mediates and presses both sides."

In reading Fleshler one wonders whether he has been himself occupied with building a settlement on the moon with no knowledge of events on Earth. Is he seriously suggesting that the thousands of Katyusha rockets and nonstop suicide bombers that have killed more than a thousand Israelis (the equivalent of 30,000 dead Americans) have come from a "defenseless" foe? Would Fleshler likewise argue that the US ought to have pressure from, say, Russia or China to make peace with the terrorists in Afghanistan, seeing that America now represents a "well-armed, occupying power" against the comparatively defenseless Taliban? Or is it only Israel that is forbidden from defending itself.

Sorry Mr. Fleshler, but Jewish values do not dictate that the only moral Jew is a dead one who refuses to fight in the face of a 60-year terror onslaught.

Any return to the 1967 borders, which is what Obama's attack on the settlements represents, is simply suicide for Israel. The borders are utterly indefensible. The Arabs know it, which is why they press for it. Had Israel not dismantled its settlements in Gush Katif, Gaza would not have become a terrorist state ruled by Hamas, an organization that kills even more Palestinians than it does Israelis.

BUT MISGUIDED Jewish apologists aside, are the rest of us prepared to speak up against the policies of the administration? By this I do not mean the drunken racist rants of the American Jewish hooligans who got attention disgracing themselves on YouTube last week; their bigoted drivel against our democratically elected president represents an abomination to Judaism. I have already written several columns lamenting how a small minority of the large and praiseworthy contingent of Jewish youth who go to Israel from the US after high school ostensibly to study in yeshivot end up instead hanging out on Rehov Ben Yehuda making asses of themselves. That they have no proper supervision and that they are allowed to go through their year in a drunken stupor is an outrage that must be finally addressed by the institutions which host them.

Rather, I mean courageous and intelligent criticism that accepts the president's praiseworthy efforts in making peace but decries his soft posture on tyranny when he bows to an Arab potentate who oppresses women and warmly embraces the dictator of Venezuela.

Asher Lopatin was one of the first students I met at Oxford and the university's first Orthodox Rhodes scholar. Today he is the successful rabbi of one of Chicago's most youthful congregations. He is also Rahm Emanuel's rabbi. But that did not stop him from criticizing the White House chief of staff in Newsweek for his unfair pressure on Israel. Lopatin could easily have basked in the aura of being rabbi to one of the most influential men in the world. Instead, he spoke truth to power.

In promoting the new translation of his Hebrew prayer book, British Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks constantly reminds us that he studies Bible with the prime minister of the United Kingdom. That's nice. But a few years ago Sacks spoke out publicly against Israel, telling London's Guardian newspaper, "There are things that happen on a daily basis which make me feel very uncomfortable as a Jew."

Sacks is a brilliant man but with a long history of pandering to whatever audience he happens to be addressing. He would do well to remember the admonishment of Mordechai to Esther on the responsibility of being close to political power: "If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place."

But while Europe and the UK are significant, the main battle lines will be here in the US and now is the time for American Jewry to organize. From schools to universities to synagogues and JCCs, we must make it clear that when 78 percent of Jews voted for Obama and filled his campaign coffers with cash it was not in the expectation of biased policies against Israel. We're upset, disappointed and we won't take it. We'll march in the streets, write op-eds and blogs, and publish ads making it clear that America should be standing with the Middle East's only democracy and America's most reliable ally.

As Charles Krauthammer pointed out, our president undermines his moral authority when he pledges that henceforth America will "forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions," but then only applies that pledge to Iran, Syria, Cuba and Venezuela, but not to Israel.

Last year, right after Obama captured the democratic nomination, I received a phone call from his campaign asking if I would serve as one of the national chairs of "Rabbis for Obama." It was a tempting offer. I was moved by the candidate's remarkable personal story, his iron discipline, his soaring oratory and, most of all, the fact that his victory would be the culmination of my hero Martin Luther King's dream of a man being judged by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin. In the end I declined because I feared that Obama would draw a moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians and pressure the former to appease the latter. But even I never suspected that it would happen so quickly and so lopsidedly.

The writer is the founder of This World: The Values Network. His upcoming book is The Blessing of Enough: Rejecting Material Greed, Embracing Spiritual Hunger
This article can also be read at /servlet/Satellite?cid=1244371106463&pagename=JPArticle%2FShowFull.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

PM Benjamin Netanyahu interview on the Today Show, NBC (US)

Ann Curry: Well, among the world leaders closely watching the events in Iran is Israel's Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. And Mr. Netanyahu is making headlines of his own. During a speech on Sunday, he endorsed a Palestinian state beside Israel for the first time. But his support came with conditions that are already being rejected by the Palestinians. And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now joins us exclusively. Before we get to your historic speech, given all of Israel's concerns about Iran, do you believe that the re-election of President Ahmadinejad is legitimate?

PM Netanyahu: Iranian democracy is a peculiar exercise, as you can see. What's disappointing is that Iran has been a repressive regime, repressive to its own peoples and threatening its neighbors abroad. It's a terrorist regime that is building nuclear weapons with the express purpose of wiping Israel off the map, as well as intimidating and dominating the other governments and areas in the Middle East and beyond the Middle East. I think it's very disquieting what we see in Iran.

Ann Curry: You mentioned Iran's nuclear ambitions. In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear site. Under your leadership, at what point would Israel go it alone and bomb Iran to stop its nuclear ambitions?

PM Netanyahu: I think the most important thing is for the international community to recognize that an Iran with nuclear weapons would threaten the entire world. Certainly it would threaten Israel, but I think it would threaten the Middle East. It would threaten the United States and American interests, in a very, very wide radius.

They're building ballistic missiles that reach deep into Europe and soon could reach beyond Europe. And, of course, they could give these weapons to the terrorist groups that they harbor and inspire and control. I think this is dangerous for all of mankind, and I think that all of humanity has to join together, the main forces of civilization, to prevent this from happening.

It's not just an Israeli issue. It is, first and foremost, an issue for our security. But it's an issue for the security of the entire world. And I hope the United States leads a successful effort, with the right kind of pressures, to make Iran cease and desist from acquiring those nuclear weapons.

Ann Curry: You mentioned the pressure from the United States. Your speech on Sunday was groundbreaking. For the first time you endorsed a two-state solution, even though you're under tremendous pressure from within your own government not to do so. So how much did President Obama influence your decision, Mr. Prime Minister?

PM Netanyahu: I share the President's view to try to start a new beginning here in the Middle East. I called on all the Arab leaders to meet with me. I said I'm willing to come to Damascus and to Riyadh and Beirut, and frankly I hope they'd come to Jerusalem. But I'd meet them anywhere at any time. And the same is true for the Palestinian leaders.

I said that to the president when I met him in Washington. We have a common vision of peace. We want to see peace between us and our Palestinian neighbors. Just as they expect us to recognize a Palestinian state, they have to recognize a Jewish state. And, of course, a Palestinian state cannot threaten the Jewish state. That's why I said it should be demilitarized.

If you look at the people of Israel and you look at their responses to my speech, I expressed what really overwhelmingly unites Israelis, as well as anyone who wants to see peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Palestinians have to recognize the Jewish state, and Israel has a right to expect that this state next to them, a Palestinian state, will be a demilitarized one. And these are things that can lay the groundwork for a future peace agreement.
Ann Curry: You talk about demilitarized. You know, you're talking about, basically, that this Palestinian state can have no army, can have no control over its own air space, and that Jerusalem will not be divided. One Palestinian legislator has already called this, your idea, a, quote, "ghetto." And also, you know, while President Obama has called this shift in your position, quote, "an important step forward," it does not address the freeze that he says is vital on what's called natural- growth settlements in the West Bank. He called -- President Obama called this a violation -- called those settlements a violation of previous agreements and an undermining of the peace process. So will you stop these settlements from growing? What is your response to this idea that this is a ghetto idea for the Palestinians?

PM Netanyahu: You asked me two questions. First, I think my vision has the Palestinians and Israelis living side by side as free peoples in amity, not in enmity, and allowing our children to have a real life. And I suggested also a variety of economic and other projects that we could launch together to make life better for us, and, by the way, strengthen the moderates and push back the radicals.

But as far as the security of Israel is concerned, this is not a theoretical exercise. We have an enclave in Gaza, an Iranian-supported enclave. We've received 7,000 rockets since we got out of Gaza. And we can't have rockets on Tel Aviv, which makes life unbearable. Just think of seven rockets on New York, let alone 7,000 rockets, and you'd understand our concern with demilitarization.

So it's got nothing to do with those accusations that people are leveling against us. And, in fact, Israelis ask, "Of course it should be demilitarized. Of course they shouldn't be able to put in rockets and missiles to fire at our cities. Of course that's a requirement for peace."

As for the second question about settlements, I think that I made it also clear that I would not build new settlements and that I would not expropriate land for additional building in existing settlements. This is a subject I've been talking to Senator Mitchell (US Special Envoy to the Middle East), who has been here a number of times. I'm going to see him again soon in Europe. And I think President Obama and I are trying to reach a common understanding of this. And I hope, with good will -- and certainly we have good will, and I'm sure the President has that too -- I think we'll find such common ground.

מח' מידע ואינטרנט – אגף תקשורת
15 יוני 2009

"Shifting Focus"

Arlene Kushner

From where I am sitting, there is currently a surfeit of articles and analyses about Netanyahu's talk. And while, undoubtedly I'll return to the subject -- if not today, then soon -- I think it important to widen our lenses a bit and take a look at some other matters. Before I do, however, I provide here a link to the full speech Netanyahu gave, in English translation. (Scroll down for the speech.) I apologize for having neglected to provide this earlier. This is the full speech; I had found some translations were truncated.


I repeat here, verbatim, substantial parts of a letter to the editor that appeared in the Post on Friday, written by Jan Sokolovsky, an American-Israeli and a lawyer, in consultation with a exceedingly knowledgeable international lawyer. It addresses the question of whether Bush's 2004 letter to Sharon regarding settlement blocs is binding, and was written in response to an article that said it was not because it was not ratified by the Senate.

It is true that the US Constitution requires approval of two-thirds of the Senate to ratify a treaty. But, in addition to treaties, for over 200 years American presidents have conducted foreign policy by executive agreements, which are generally an exchange of commitments between the president or his agent and the head of state of another country, or his agent.

The Litinov Agreement signed in 1933 by FDR and the Russian commissar for foreign affairs is an example, providing for US recognition of the Soviet Union in exchange for the assignment to the US of all calms by Russia against US citizens. It was upheld by the Supreme Court in 1942, holding that tit had the same binding effect as a treaty.

Executive agreements have become an essential tool of US foreign policy. In fact, since the 1960s, each year has seen, on average, 250 executive agreements, compared to 30 treaties. Ariel Sharon's undertaking to withdraw from the Gaza Strip in exchange for the commitments in the Bush letter constituted an executive agreement.

We have every right to continue to rely on those assurances, and should be shocked that the Obama administration appears to have avowed them. While the president can renege on US commitments...his doing so would call into question this administration's repeated statements that it intends to abide by international law.


This very issue was in the news just today, as Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is in Washington and has met with his counterpart, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

She reiterated the demand of Obama that settlements be frozen. But Lieberman told her it wasn't going to happen:
"People are born and people die in Judea and Samaria, and the settlements cannot be completely frozen.

"Our stance is clear. We have understandings with the previous administration on the matter."

Right on! Hillary's response, diplomatically put, was that we haven't heard the last from them on this yet.


Aaron Lerner, Director of IMRA, yesterday cited a statement by Obama at a press conference, with regard to settlements:

"[Obama:] 'And there is a tendency to try to parse exactly what this means, but I think the parties on the ground understand that if you have a continuation of settlements that, in past agreements, have been categorized as illegal, that's going to be an impediment to progress.'

"OK. So he is president of the United State of America. And you are drawing a salary and don't want to tick off the boss by correcting him.

"But why isn't there someone on his team - or someone from the outside who has access to him - who can explain to him that there are no 'past agreements' that categorize the settlement activity as 'illegal.'

"That's 'agreements.' The Roadmap wasn't an agreement. Nor was the Annapolis 'Joint Understanding on Negotiations.' The only 'agreements' [i.e., signed documents] are the series of Oslo 'agreements' and none of them categorize any Israeli settlement activity as 'illegal.'

"In point of fact, the only construction activity that is illegal in the Oslo agreements is Palestinian construction that is in violation of various mostly security related restrictions."


I will note here that Condoleezza Rice, as Secretary of State, knew the settlements weren't illegal. That's why she would, most irritatingly, refer to settlements as "not helpful," or "not in the spirit." As if we had to go above and beyond. But this is worse.


And there's yet more to say about Obama. (Isn't there always?)

I was going to address his insistence that he still intends to "dialogue" with Iran, the serious questions of recent electoral improprieties not withstanding. But the situation, with regard to the US position, has morphed from merely seriously stupid to shameful. This is with regard to the refusal of his administration to lend even a modicum of support to those currently protesting in the streets of Iran in the face of considerable repression and official violence.

After a long period of silence, Obama has now said, "I want to start off by being very clear that it is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be."


As Jeff Jacoby has just written:

"Obama made it clear that he was not going to lift a finger for the courageous throngs in the streets -- and that he was keen to engage the junta, no matter how vicious or contemptible its behavior. 'We will continue,' he said, 'to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries.' Yesterday he repeated that while he does not like to see 'violence directed at peaceful protesters,' it would not be 'productive' for the president of the United States 'to be seen as meddling' in Iranian affairs.
"But neutrality is not an option. By not unequivocally supporting the Iranian protesters, Obama is aiding their oppressors. Reporting from Tehran the other night, CNN's Samson Desta noted that Iranian students have repeatedly approached him to say that 'they want to appeal to President Obama. They say, "Is he going to accept this result? Because if he does, then we are doomed."'

"Should it really be so difficult for a president who campaigned for office on the themes of hope and change to raise his voice on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of brave Iranians who are risking their lives to bring hope and change to their country? Where is the president who proclaimed on his first day in office that those 'who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent . . . are on the wrong side of history?' If he could say it at his inauguration, why can't he say it now?

"'Engagement' with the foul Ahmadinejad and the turbaned dictators he answers to has always been a chimera; if that wasn't clear before last week's brazenly rigged election results, surely it is clear now..."


Bret Stephens, writing in the Wall Street Journal, delivered a similar message:
"On Saturday, spokesman Robert Gibbs said the White House 'was impressed by the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians.' [Vigorous debate and enthusiasm????] On Sunday, Joe Biden allowed that there 'was some real doubt' about the election, but said the U.S. would continue its outreach to Iran anyway...

"This is a strange turn of events. In Cairo two weeks ago, Mr. Obama trumpeted 'my commitment . . . to governments that reflect the will of the people.'

"Here's a recent comment from one Iranian demonstrator posted on the Web site of the National Iranian American Council. 'WE NEED HELP, WE NEED SUPPORT,' this demonstrator wrote. 'Time is not on our side. . . . The most essential need of young Iranians is to be recognized by US government. They need them not to accept the results and do not talk to government as an official, approved one.'

"...As for the hope -- expressed over the weekend by one unnamed senior U.S. administration official to the New York Times -- that Mr. Ahmadinejad would moderate his course in foreign policy to allay concerns about his legitimacy, the president [Ahmadinejad] made his views plain on Sunday. 'It's not true,' he said. 'I'm going to be more and more solid.'

"...Rarely in U.S. history has a foreign policy course been as thoroughly repudiated by events as his [Obama's] approach to Iran in his first months in office." (emphasis added)


What does it take, to get avid supporters of Obama to hang their heads in shame, for what they have wrought?

Coming full circle, this dishonorable and pig-headed policy of Obama's teaches us what we might and might not expect from him vis-a-vis Israel.


Yesterday, the Post reported that Palestinians associated with Hamas are in Teheran and helping Iranian authorities to crush the street rebellion. They know who butters their bread.

But this doesn't disturb Jimmy Carter. After meeting with Hamas officials, he announced that he plans to ask President Obama to remove Hamas from the US-designated list of terror organizations.

Carter, the man who was in the White House, and blew it badly, when the current Iranian regime violently grabbed control of the country. No remorse, it seems. No good advice for the current White House resident on making genuine national amends.

What moral obtuseness! What lost opportunity.


I'd like to recommend this article, Willful Deafness About the Meaning of Two States." You might find it useful to share with others, to help them understand the parameters of what we are dealing with.

Writes author Peggy Shapiro:

"The Palestinians, Saudis and Egyptians propose two states. The U.N., E.U., U.S. demand two states. Most Israeli governments have agreed to the concept of two states. Other than Israel, none of the proponents of a "two-state" solution ever planned for one of the states to be the Jewish State of Israel."


"The Good News Corner"

-- The Israel Antiquities Authority has announced it will be re-excavating a well-preserved 1,700 year old mosaic floor, approximately 180 square meters in size, which colorfully depicts detailed mammals, birds, fish, and ships of the time. It was discovered in 1996, in the course of widening of a street in Lod (south of Tel Aviv) and was then covered over for protection until the funding could be found to complete the excavation and turn the site into a public attraction.

-- Israel is joining with Germany and Ethiopia in launching an agricultural development project in Ethiopia to promote irrigation development activities throughout the country. Israel will be providing the technical know-how.

-- There are currently 110 bio-med companies in Jerusalem, with Teva Pharmaceuticals the largest. Now Mayor Nir Barkat has announced plans to raise 100 million NIS to be invested into the industry in Jerusalem in the next five years.

Right now, approximately 43% of all bio-tech research and about half of all clinical research in Israel is done at Hebrew University and Hadassah Medical Center, both in Jerusalem. Additionally, Jerusalem hosts the only technological incubator in Israel dedicated to drug development, BioLine Innovations Jerusalem.


A few housekeeping matters:

[] It is not unusual for one of my postings to a reader to bounce back -- because it has been rejected by a server (which perhaps identifies my material as "spam) -- or because a mailbox is full. I am certainly not in a position to notify each of you when this happens. If my mail stops arriving for a substantial period of time (and I haven't indicated that there will be a hiatus), you might check space in your mailbox, then your own spam settings and finally your server.

[] Please be aware that it is not always possible for me to answer your comments personally. There are simply too many.

[] Remember, you can always unsubscribe by writing to me at the address above.

see my website

Grandma’s Common Sense

Norma Zager

Friday, June 12, 2009(first posting)

“Common Sense is Common Sense” according to Your Grandma.

“Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” Buddha

An interesting sidelight to penning a controversial point of view is the strange conglomeration of followers one recruits along the way. An ideal, universally proposed, that is simply every day common sense seems to transcend nationality, ethnicity, religion or gender.

I have been happily surprised that so many corners of our world read and agree with our message. Of course, many don’t as well. But, how can so many agree when the message articulates such a controversial point of view as Israel’s right to exist? After all, there are even Jewish people who believe the Arab propaganda disseminated so successfully throughout a worldwide liberal media.

One must find humorous irony in the fact so much of that media is owned and run by Jewish people whose families died at the hands of the very people they applaud and support. Ah, but that is another issue and only between these people and their God, and common sense in no way enters into that discussion.

I do sometimes envision these liberal moguls, who so enthusiastically perpetuate the anti Israel line, entering heaven—yes, I agree the heaven thing may be a stretch, but stay with me here to play out my hypothesis.

So Mr. Big Shot Media Mogul Liberal enters heaven and is greeted by his grandmother murdered at the hands of the Arabs after the United Nations accord. The mogul runs to hug his Nana, but she puts her hand out to stop him.

“Schmuck! What the hell is wrong with you? You help the people who killed me spread more hatred? I did something to make you hate your grandmother? You dishonor my memory and help my enemy?”

“No, Grandma I love you, but Israel is not right. It’s not fair to the poor Arabs. We need to move forward and give something to get something.”

“I gave at the office. I gave my life. I gave my family. I gave my future. That wasn’t enough for you, Mr. Liberal? What more should have I given?”

“You spread their vicious lies, you help them destroy Jews and bomb our country and you call yourself my grandson? I don’t know who you are any more. So tell me: How did you die?”

“I was sitting in a restaurant in Tel Aviv and suddenly I heard a loud sound, then I was floating upward and saw you.

“Why were you in Tel Aviv and what did you order?”

“I was there to attend a land-for-peace conference with the Palestinians leaders.”

“So how’s that working for you so far, that land-for-peace thing? Did you at least get to finish your meal?”

“No, the waiter was just setting my plate down, and I…”

“I can’t look at you and don’t bother your grandfather, he doesn’t want to see your face. He said you shamed the family and you are dead to him.

“But Grandma, what’s the difference? I’m dead to everyone now.”

“Yes, and in a day or two your wife and children will be murdered and join you up here. I wonder if they’ll be so crazy about you, also. I have to go now and calm your grandfather down. He is still very upset you sold out your own people to the anti-Semites. Did you think giving them Israel would make them like you? Feh, you’re an idiot. I hope you enjoy heaven, although you may have a problem since so many here are German Jews. They aren’t so nice as I am. I’d steer clear if I were you, Mr. Liberal.”

Of course our friendly Liberal would say he will be rewarded in heaven and blessed for his humanity. I suppose it depends on one’s point of view, and Grandma’s.

I receive supportive comments from Muslims, Christians, both religious and secular Jews and agnostics, from Germany, Israel, Iran, New York, Iowa, Washington and St. Louis.

It’s just a matter of common sense. Hate can’t build bridges, repair wounds or enhance life.

Jewish people are not taught to hate. Our books don’t preach destruction. The Ten Commandments, the signpost of Jewish faith, state clearly, “thou shalt not kill.” This also implies thou shalt not strap a bomb on your baby and send it to murder.

Israel has tried to give back land, to call a truce to appease its neighbors. Perhaps it hasn’t always done everything everyone would have liked, but it tried. And it must keep trying until peace is achieved. Israelis want that solution more than anyone. They are exhausted from the battle that has raged for 61 years. Burying their dead, sending their precious sons and daughters off to war.

Many Arabs are tired also, but the reasonable voices are drowned out by hate mongers with an evil agenda. They are also robbed of peace and a calm, decent life, although many Arabs already live and work side-by-side with Israeli neighbors every day. Where is the common sense in all of this?

We must all pray for common sense and reason to prevail; unless you’re in a rush to join Grandma.

Norma Zager Most recent columns

In the series “Postcards from Israel – Postcards from Home,” Ari Bussel and Norma Zager invite readers throughout the world to join them as they present reports about Israel, homeland of the Jewish People, as seen by two sets of eyes. This “point - counter-point” presentation has, since 2008, become part of our lives. It can be found in numerous websites around the world as well as in print in the USA. Ari and Norma can be reached at:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Hillel Fendel Rivlin to Carter: No '2 States'

Though PM Netanyahu agreed to a demilitarized PA state under specific conditions in his policy speech this week, Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin told former U.S. President Jimmy Carter that the issue is far from agreed upon by the Israeli public. “The heart of the dispute in our region is not just one of local territorial disputes,” Rivlin told the self-proclaimed mediator on Monday, “but an all-around Arab-Jewish dispute.” Rivlin explained just last week, during a solidarity visit to the Jewish city of Ariel in Samaria, that “only after we solve the Arab-Jewish conflict and can be confident that the Arab countries recognize Israel and our right to live here in security, can we address the conflict between ourselves and the Palestinians, with whom we are destined to live together.”

“There is no consensus in Israel regarding the two-state formula,” Rivlin said to Carter during the latter’s visit to the Knesset. “We will not, under any circumstances, allow the establishment of a neighboring state that will be a genuine threat on our existence.”

The two met for a half-hour, and discussed the recent speeches by U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Rivlin: We Want Long-Term Peace, not "Peace Now"

“We have returned to our homeland over the past 200 years in order to stay here,” Rivlin said. “When we first established this state, 61 years ago, we could never imagine that we would reach today’s population figures of seven million. We don’t want to rule over another nation, but we must protect ourselves. We want real peace, not fake, short-term ‘Peace Now,’ which is liable to be nothing more than an illusion.”

Carter Compares Terrorists and Shalit

Rivlin and Carter discussed the matter of Gilad Shalit, who has been held captive by Hamas in Gaza for three years. Rivlin said that Hamas has not allowed any visitors to see Shalit, in contravention of all humanitarian behavior. Carter noted that imprisoned Arab terrorists also do not receive visits from their mothers. Rivlin responded immediately, “There’s absolutely no room for comparison. Those are dangerous terrorists who were lawfully arrested after they perpetrated, or tried to perpetrate, murderous attacks in our streets.”

Carter asked to visit imprisoned convicted murderer Marwan Barghouti, a popular figure in the Palestinian Authority. Rivlin implied that this would be unlikely, as Barghouti is a dangerous terrorist who was convicted of five murders and acquitted for lack of evidence of some 30 more, but said that Carter should submit a request and the matter would be looked into.

The Two-State To Nowhere: Another Futile Attempt At Appeasement

Jihad Watch

Dr. Alex Grobman is a Hebrew University trained historian. His is the author of a number of books, including Nations United: How The UN Undermines Israel and The West and a forthcoming book on Israel's moral and legal right to exist as a Jewish State. “There is reason to believe that [the president] cherished the illusion that presumably he, and he alone, as head of the United States, could bring about a settlement –if not a reconciliation—between Arabs and Jews. I remember muttering to myself as I left the White House after hearing the President discourse in rambling fashion about Middle Eastern Affairs, ‘I‘ve read of men who thought they might be King of the Jews and other men who thought they might be King of the Arabs, but this is the first time I ‘ve listened to a man who dreamt of being King of both the Jews and Arabs.’”1 Herbert Feis, a State Department economic advisor, did not say this about President Obama’s address in Cairo in June 2009, but after Franklin D. Roosevelt met with Ibn Saud, King of Saudi Arabia, in February 1945. Roosevelt wanted the Arabs to allow thousands of Jews from Europe to immigrate to Palestine to which Ibn Saud responded, “Arabs would choose to die rather than yield their land to Jews.”2

George Antonius, an Arab nationalist, reiterated this point when he said, “no room can be made in Palestine for a second nation except by dislodging or exterminating the nation in possession.”3

Attempts to solve the Arab/Israeli conflict regularly fail because of the refusal to acknowledge that this dispute has never been about borders, territory or settlements, but about the Arabs refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist. “The struggle with the Zionist enemy is not a matter of borders, but touches on the very existence of the Zionist entity,” declared an Arab spokesman.4

Unlike the Nazis who carefully concealed the Final Solution, Hamas and the Palestine Authority openly avow their intentions in their Charter and Covenant and in the Arab media which is available in English on the Internet on MEMRI and the Palestinian Media Watch.

For Hamas liberating all of Palestine to establish an Islamic state requires a holy war against Israel. Anyone daring to sign away even “a grain of sand in Palestine in favor of the enemies of God…who have seized the blessed land” should have their “hand be cut off.”5

Coercing Israel to make concessions and accept a two-state solution will not bring peace to the region. One-sided concessions have convinced the Arabs of the rightness of their policies and the efficacy of using violence to cleanse the country of Jews and Christians.

What compelling reason do Arabs have to stop launching rockets indiscriminately into Israeli cities, refuting the Jewish connection to the land of Israel, destroying artifacts and Jewish holy sites, denying the Holocaust, dehumanizing Jews in their media, textbooks, educational system, political discourse, religious sermons by portraying them as Satan, sons of apes and pigs, a cancer, and using children as homicide bombers, if the West does not hold them accountable?

Instead of demanding that Arabs cease their incitements and attacks, the U.S issues meaningless statements of condemnation, and then grants them foreign aid, arms and military training.

The U.S. pressures Israel to make goodwill gestures in “peace negotiations,” yet Israel has never been the aggressor. Is there any example in history where a victor withdraws from territory when the defeated party does not sue for peace, admits there will never be any reconciliation, declares they will not concede the victor’s right to exist, and labors relentlessly to destroy him? 5

When Israel opens her border check-points as an act of goodwill, the Arabs dispatch homicide bombers to maim and kill Israeli civilians. After Arab terrorists are released from Israeli prisons, they revert to murdering Jews.

Comparing the plight of the Arabs with that of African Americans is a distortion of history and demeans the experiences of the millions of Africans who were brutally abducted from their homes, transported under inhuman conditions aboard slave ships and exposed to torture, murder and rape.

Nothing remotely like this has ever occurred with the Arabs in Israel. Had the Arabs not attacked the Jews before and after Israel was established, they would not be displaced persons today.

If we are to learn from history, we must transmit what actually transpired and not allow those with their own agenda or ignorance to obscure what occurred.

Whether it is naiveté, self-delusion or hubris, a number of U.S. presidents and diplomats have assumed that their powers of persuasion could modify fiercely held beliefs about the sanctity of Arab land. Such reasoning has consistently failed.

Those claiming that Jews have a moral obligation to cede land to the Arabs do not understand Israel’s legal right to exist as a Jewish state. That right was granted by the British in the Balfour Declaration in November 1917 and later recognized under international law at the San Remo Conference on April 24, 1920 by Great Britain, France, Italy and Japan (who defeated the Ottoman Empire and divided up the empire), the Mandate for Palestine and the Franco—British Boundary Convention of December 23, 1920, as the Jewish National Home.

There are no comparable legal documents conferring the same right on the Arabs living in Palestine at that time or since. 6 Which other country would relinquish land that is legally theirs to anyone, let alone to a people engaged in internecine warfare, who cannot even live in peace among themselves?

The West has not learned that Israel represents all that is abhorred about the U.S. and Europe—a free and open democratic society, and an ethical system encouraging individual expression and independence.7 Through appeasement the U.S. and the West have enabled the Arabs to continue what Ben-Gurion called a “permanent war” against the Jewish people.

This latest drive to establish separate Arab and Jewish states will fail because as Yasser Arafat said, “We don’t want peace, we want victory. Peace for us means Israel’s destruction and nothing else. What you call peace is peace for Israel…. For us it is shame and injustice. We shall fight on to victory. Even for decades, for generations, if necessary.”8

1. Herbert Feis, The Birth of Israel: The Tousled Diplomatic Bed (New York: W.W. Norton, Inc. 1969):16-17.
2. Charles E. Bohlen, Witness to History 1929-1969 (New York: W.W. Norton, Inc. 1973):203-204.
3. George Antonius, The Arab Awakening, the Story of the Arab National
Movement (New York: Capricorn Books, 1965): 412.
4. (Kuwait News Agency, May 31, 1986), quoted in Arieh Stav, Peace: The Arabian Caricature: A Study of Anti-Semitic Imagery (New York: Gefen Publishing House, 1999):78.
5. Jacob L.Talmon, Israel Among The Nations (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970), 172.
6. Lloyd George, The Truth About The Peace Treaties vol. II, (London: Gollancz Ltd, 1938),1149-1201; Howard Grief, The Legal Foundation And Borders Of Israel Under International Law (Jerusalem: Mazo Publishers, 2008): 136-147, 493.
7. Ruth Wisse, “The UN’s Jewish Problem,” Weekly Standard (April 8, 2002).
8. Oriana Fallaci, “An Oriana Fallaci Interview: Yasir Arafat,” The New Republic (November 16, 1974), 10.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Forty-Eight Hours of Reality

Barry Rubin*

June 16, 2009

In the Middle East the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry because reality steps in.

President Barack Obama based his policy of engaging with Iran on the idea that while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a wild man, Supreme Guide Ali Khamenei was a closet moderate, or at least a pragmatist.
Now all can see that Ahmadinejad and Khamenei are wedded, together at last. Khamenei is so set on Ahmadinejad’s character and policy that he risked the regime’s internal and external credibility and stability in order to reassure his reelection. Pro-Ahmadinejad forces are now talking about this event as a “third revolution,” following on the 1979 Islamist takeover and then seizure of the U.S. embassy and the holding of all their as hostages. In other words, this is an even more radical rebirth of the movement, but this time with nuclear weapons.
Reality: 1, Obama policy: 0

Then comes the Palestinian reaction to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech which accepts immediate negotiations and a Palestinian state at the end of the process, if an agreement can be made.
What did Obama say in Cairo? First, he said that the Palestinians, have “suffered in pursuit of a homeland” for more than 60 years. Second, he insisted that “the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.”

As I pointed out at the time, the first statement was a misrepresentation of history, the second a false picture of the present.

Now if Obama was right, the Palestinians should be eager for a state. So if Netanyahu calls on them to recognize Israel as a Jewish state—what do they care if they are accepting to live alongside it permanently?—and have their own state. Yes, that state would be “demilitarized,” I prefer the word “unmilitarized,” but all that means is that they would have the same security forces that they do now. And in proportional terms, the Palestinian Authority (PA) already has more men in uniform compared to the overall population, than any state on the planet.

So here’s Obama’s solution: an independent Palestinian state, Muslim and Arab, according to the PA’s constitution for that country, next to a Jewish state.

But how does the PA’s leader—who is always referred to as “moderate” in the Western media and is more moderate than any other Palestinian leader (it’s all relative)—react?

Nabil Abu Rdainah, spokesman for PA leader Abbas, said Netanyahu’s speech "torpedoes all peace initiatives in the region." Another top PA leader, Yasser Abed Rabbo, said that recognizing Israel's Jewish character would force Palestinians "to become part of the global Zionist movement".

Think carefully about what Rabbo said. Very carefully. The Zionist movement advocates a Jewish state, Israel, exists. But the PA leadership—the top “official” leadership, the most moderate people in the Palestinian movement—are still not reconciled to Israel’s existence.

Sure, there might be a country there but not a Jewish state, in their thinking. But if it isn’t a Jewish state, why call it Israel? They have another name for the future state they have in mind for Israel to become: Palestine.

How does even the BBC, famous for its anti-Israel bias, explain this? “The Palestinians say they and their millions of descendants have the right to return to Israel - which would mean an end to its Jewish majority - but Israel has consistently rebuffed that demand.”

And Abbas is well-known as a fervent advocate of this “right of return.” So Netanyahu is right: the core of the issue is the refusal to accept Israel’s existence as Israel, not a Palestinian “pursuit of a homeland” or “intolerable situation.”

Ladies and gentleman, the facts are before you.

Iran’s regime is irreconcilable. It seeks to become the main regional power. It doesn’t want conciliation with America, it wants America’s defeat.

The Palestinian movement as presently constituted is irreconcilable. It wants to destroy Israel, not live alongside it. The movement prefers to sustain the conflict for decades rather than make a stable peace.

President Obama and everyone else, take heed and act accordingly. You already have two strikes against you and we're just getting started.

* Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), with Walter Laqueur (Viking-Penguin); the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan); A Chronological History of Terrorism, with Judy Colp Rubin, (Sharpe); and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books, go to

"Response is Muted"

Arlene Kushner

What is muted is the criticism of Netanyahu's speech from the right wing of his own party.

Minister of Information Yuli Edelstein, for example, said:

"I think PM Netanyahu proved last night why he is the one who should be leading the country during these difficult times; his speech reflected the complex situation we are currently in." While Edelstein didn't agree with Netanyahu's reference to a Palestinian state, he said he understood "the pressure he is facing."

And Minister Benny Begin, who said he had some reservations about the speech, praised Netanyahu's "important remarks regarding the root causes of the conflict.

"In his speech Netanyahu presented a number of facts that are sometimes absent from public discourse in Israel and the world, such as why are we here. We are here because we have a historic right to be here, as opposed to those who claim Israel was established on account of the Holocaust."

MK Danny Danon said the allusion to Palestinian statehood was "one unnecessary sentence in a brilliant speech... [The] sentence was added as a result of American pressure."


Less muted was the criticism of Habayit Yehudi (The Jewish House), which is part of the coalition, while MK Aryeh Eldad of Ehud Leumi (National Union), which is not in the coalition, was pointed in his attack on the speech.


As I had indicated yesterday, Likud members are beginning to work from inside of Likud to block the formation of a Palestinian state. Deputy Minister Ayoub Kara said the Likud Central Committee would be convened as quickly as possible to vote on policy with regard to this issue.

Kara, who is convinced that a majority of Likud members are opposed to a Palestinian state, said that while the party respects Netanyahu, he, in turn, must respect the democratic processes of the party. He referred to the White House as "a branch office of the [Israeli Arab] Balad party." (Kara is Druze.)


The work of the Likud party and others in the coalition to block action to establish a Palestinian state will be all important in preventing the slide further down that slippery slope.

In actuality, his reference to "a Palestinian state" aside, Netanyahu didn't actually lay out parameters for a sovereign state for the Palestinians (who fully recognize this). A political entity that cannot have an army, cannot make the treaties it chooses, cannot control its own air space, etc. etc. is not a sovereign state.

The problem is that the world is all too ready to forget the restrictive parameters that were part of the political plan espoused by the prime minister, and to simply latch on to the fact that he uttered those words, thereby ostensibly endorsing a state.

So when the world demands that he proceed, now that he has voiced "endorsement," he will be blocked by his coalition. In truth, I don't believe he will be sorry about this, and he may actually have counted on it. It gives him an out: I cannot do more or the government will fall.


Obama responded positively to the speech, already doing just what I described: He grabbed ahold of the phrasing, and ignored the provisos that went with it.

White House Press Secretary Gibbs said:

"The President welcomes the important step forward in Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech. The President is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples.

"He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel's security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu's endorsement of that goal."

Excuse me, Netanyahu did not endorse "the fulfillment of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a viable state." Let us not put words in his mouth.


Part of the challenge that Netanyahu leveled last night was against the US government:

"Therefore, today we ask our friends in the international community, led by the United States, for what is critical to the security of Israel: Clear commitments that in a future peace agreement, the territory controlled by the Palestinians will be demilitarized: namely, without an army, without control of its airspace, and with effective security measures to prevent weapons smuggling into the territory – real monitoring, and not what occurs in Gaza today. And obviously, the Palestinians will not be able to forge military pacts."

This, Obama has conveniently ignored.


As NewsMax pointed out, what complicates Netanyahu's stipulations is the fact that the US, via the office of General Dayton, is currently training PA security troops. How can the US work towards guaranteeing a demilitarized Palestinian state if this is the case? Would the US ever come out for a policy that requires Palestinian demilitarization? And what would then happen to the troops that had been trained?

There has already been controversy about these troops, who are theoretically being trained to defeat Hamas. First because Dayton is alleged by reliable sources to have said that if the Palestinians don't get their state in a couple of years they may turn on Israelis. Besides which, there are still attempts to forge a unity government that would embrace an unrepentant Hamas. In which case there are serious questions regarding who would command these forces Dayton is training. All of which leads to the most serious of questions regarding the priority of rushing pell-mell to train these troops in an unstable situation.

It is unlikely in the extreme that a Muslim/Arab-tilting Obama will grapple with these issues with seriousness. Easier to make glib, pie-in-the-sky statements and reach for the quick fix.


As one of many indicators of what a non-starter the whole proposition of a state with the stipulations outlined by Netanyahu is, we have this:

Jimmy Carter, former US president and spokesman for the Arabs, says that a demand that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state is "an obstacle to peace."

Doesn't this perverse statement say it all?


Even more pertinent: Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has made precisely the same charge: "Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state is ruining the chance for peace."

To those who don't understand the true root of the conflict, such a statement is astounding. For Israel as a Jewish state side-by-side with Palestine as an Arab state would be a given, one might think.

But "peace" in the Arab lexicon means destroying Israel as a Jewish state. We've hit a sore point and must hold fast to our rights.

Mubarak is now hinting that there will be violence if there is not a comprehensive peace agreement.

"The solution to the major problems of the Arab and Islamic worlds is through Jerusalem,” he insisted, meaning that we would have to surrender all of eastern Jerusalem, at least.

The solution to the major problems of the Arab and Islamic worlds? What garbage.


The EU has decided not to proceeding with the upgrade of ties with Israel, which had been in the planning stage, because Netanyahu's talk was deemed insufficient. "We need a few steps more," declared Luxembourg's foreign minister.

They should live so long.

The PA saluted this action. An aide to Abbas is calling for isolation of Israel within the international community.


So here it is, my friends. In his speech, Bibi told the story of our heritage and our legitimate claim to this land. I cannot remember another leader of the State referring to our links here that go back to Abraham and to Isaiah. He spoke of the settlers as Zionists and patriots. He insisted that Jerusalem will remain eternally undivided, under Israeli sovereignty. He identified the true roots of our conflict with the Arabs. And then he asked for the help of the Almighty in finding peace.

He did us proud.

Yes, he uttered the term "Palestinian state," which makes many of us cringe. But he set out parameters that provide for our rights and security needs -- including the absolute right to be recognized as a Jewish state, as well as the right to live in Judea and Samaria, and to not be threatened by terrorists. He demanded a cessation in PA incitement, and demilitarization; and he categorically refused to accept a single Palestinian Arab refugee.

He did all this in the face of enormous pressure from Obama, reacting in a way that I believe he is convinced is in our best interest.

Because he didn't turn into an eager Olmert clone, running after the Palestinian Arabs to show how many concessions we can make...because he had the audacity to make demands on behalf of Israel, he is facing an enormous amount of hostility from the international community, and most specifically from the Arabs.

And so at this point Bibi deserves our support. We owe it to him, and to our nation, which must present a united front now.

Once again, I ask you to contact him. Tell him what you appreciated about his speech. Let him know that you want him to continue to speak for our strength -- that this is the only way to go, and that you will stand proudly with the nation whatever the difficulties.

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

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

E-mail: (underscore after pm)


Is this a glimmer of light?

According to an interview Malcolm Hoenlein gave to NewsMax, American Jewish leaders "are expressing concern about what was said [in Obama's Cairo speech]. I've heard it from some of his strongest
supporters. It's expected from his detractors. Even people close to him have said to us that there were parts of the speech that bothered them.

"...There's a lot of questioning going on about what he really believes and what does he really stand for."

Hoenlein, is executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which represents major Jewish mainstream organizations such as B'nai Brith, American Jewish Congress, and the Anti-Defamation League. While he insists these are simply his observations, he has his finger on a lot of pulses. Until now the discontent that has been present among Jewish leaders -- including and especially those on the left -- has been expressed only privately.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Bibi Netanyahu

June 15, 2009
Honored guests, citizens of Israel.

Peace was always the desire of our people. Our prophets had a vision of peace, we greet each other with peace, our prayers end with the word peace. This evening we are in the center named for two leaders who were groundbreakers for peace -Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat - and we share their vision. Two and a half months ago, I was sworn in at the Knesset as the Prime Minister of Israel. I promised that I would establish a unity government, and did so. I believed, and still believe, that we need unity now more than ever before.

We are currently facing three tremendous challenges: The Iranian threat, the financial crisis, and the promotion of peace.

The Iranian threat still is before us in full force, as it became quite clear yesterday. The greatest danger to Israel, to the Middle East, and to all of humanity, is the encounter between extremist Islam and nuclear weapons. I discussed this with President Obama on my visit to Washington, and will be discussing it next week on my visit with European leaders. I have been working tirelessly for many years to form an international front against Iran arming itself with nuclear armaments.

With the world financial crisis, we acted immediately to bring about stability to the Israeli economy. We passed a two-year budget in the government and will pass it through the Knesset very soon.
The second challenge, rather, the third, so very important challenge, facing us today, is promoting peace. I discussed this also with President Obama. I strongly support the idea of regional peace that he is advancing. I share the President of the U.S.A's desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region.

I discussed this in my meetings with President Mubarak in Egypt and with King Abdullah in Jordan to obtain the assistance of these leaders in the effort to expand the circle of peace in our region.

I appeal tonight to the leaders of the Arab countries and say: Let us meet. Let us talk about peace. Let us make peace. I am willing to meet at any time, at any place, in Damascus, in Riyadh, in Beirut, and in Jerusalem as well. (Applause)

I call upon the leaders of the Arab countries to join together with the Palestinians and with us to promote economic peace. Economic peace is not a substitute for peace, but it is a very important component in achieving it. Together we can advance projects that can overcome the problems facing our region. For example, water desalinization. And we can utilize the advantages of our region, such as maximizing the use of solar energy, or utilizing its geographical advantages to lay pipelines, pipelines to Africa and Europe.

Together we can realize the initiatives that I see in the Persian Gulf, which amaze the entire world, and also amaze me. I call upon the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world, to come and invest here, to assist the Palestinians and us, to give the economy a jump-start. Together we can develop industrial zones, we can create thousands of jobs, and foster tourism that will draw millions, people who want to walk in the footsteps of history, in Nazareth and Bethlehem, in the heights of Jericho and on the walls of Jerusalem, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and at the baptismal site of the Jordan. There is a huge potential for the development of tourism potential here. If you only agree to work together.

I appeal to you, our Palestinian neighbors, and to the leadership of the Palestinian Authority. Let us begin peace negotiations immediately without prior conditions. Israel is committed to international agreements, and expects all sides to fulfill their obligations.
I say to the Palestinians: We want to live with you in peace, quiet, and good neighborly relations. We want our children and your children to 'know war no more.'

We do not want parents and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, to know the sorrow of bereavement. We want our children to dream of a better future for humankind. We want us and our neighbors to devote our efforts to 'plowshares and pruning hooks' and not to ?swords and spears?? I know the terror of war, I participated in battles, I lost good friends who fell [in battle], I lost a brother. I saw the pain of bereaved families from up close ? very many times. I do not want war. No one in Israel wants war. (Applause)

Let us join hands and work together in peace, together with our neighbors. There is no limit to the flourishing growth that we can achieve for both peoples - in the economy, in agriculture, in commerce, tourism, education - but, above all, in the ability to give our younger generation hope to live in a place that?s good to live in, a life of creative work, a peaceful life with much of interest, with opportunity and hope.

Friends, with the advantages of peace so clear, so obvious, we must ask ourselves why is peace still so far from us, even though our hands are extended for peace? Why has the conflict going on for over 60 years? To bring an end to it, there must be a sincere, genuine answer to the question: what is the root of the conflict? In his speech at the Zionist Congress in Basel, in speaking of his grand vision of a Jewish homeland for the Jewish People, Theodor Herzl, the visionary of the State of Israel, said: This is so big, we must talk about it only in the simplest words possible.

I now am asking that when we speak of the huge challenge of peace, we must use the simplest words possible, using person to person terms. Even with our eyes on the horizon, we must have our feet on the ground, firmly rooted in truth. The simple truth is that the root of the conflict has been ? and remains - the refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish People to its own state in its historical homeland.

In 1947 when the United Nations proposed the Partition Plan for a Jewish state and an Arab state, the entire Arab world rejected the proposal, while the Jewish community accepted it with great rejoicing and dancing. The Arabs refused any Jewish state whatsoever, with any borders whatsoever.

Whoever thinks that the continued hostility to Israel is a result of our forces in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is confusing cause and effect. The attacks on us began in the 1920s, became an overall attack in 1948 when the state was declared, continued in the 1950s with the fedaayyin attacks, and reached their climax in 1967 on the eve of the Six-Day War, with the attempt to strangle Israel. All this happened nearly 50 years before a single Israeli soldier went into Judea and Samaria.

To our joy, Egypt and Jordan left this circle of hostility. They signed peace agreements with us which ended their hostility to Israel. It brought about peace.

To our deep regret, this is not happening with the Palestinians. The closer we get to a peace agreement with them, the more they are distancing themselves from peace. They raise new demands. They are not showing us that they want to end the conflict.

A great many people are telling us that withdrawal is the key to peace with the Palestinians. But the fact is that all our withdrawals were met by huge waves of suicide bombers.

We tried withdrawal by agreement, withdrawal without an agreement, we tried partial withdrawal and full withdrawal. In 2000, and once again last year, the government of Israel, based on good will, tried a nearly complete withdrawal, in exchange for the end of the conflict, and were twice refused.

We withdrew from the Gaza Strip to the last centimeter, we uprooted dozens of settlements and turned thousands of Israelis out of their homes. In exchange, what we received were missiles raining down on our cities, our towns and our children. The argument that withdrawal would bring peace closer did not stand up to the test of reality.

With Hamas in the south and Hezbollah in the north, they keep on saying that they want to 'liberate' Ashkelon in the south and Haifa and Tiberias.
Even the moderates among the Palestinians are not ready to say the most simplest things: The State of Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish People and will remain so. (Applause)

Friends, in order to achieve peace, we need courage and integrity on the part of the leaders of both sides. I am speaking today with courage and honesty. We need courage and sincerity not only on the Israeli side: we need the Palestinian leadership to rise and say, simply "We have had enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish People to a state its own in this Land. We will live side by side in true peace." I am looking forward to this moment.

We want them to say the simplest things, to our people and to their people. This will then open the door to solving other problems, no matter how difficult. The fundamental condition for ending the conflict is the public, binding and sincere Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish People. (Applause)

For this to have practical meaning, we need a clear agreement to solve the Palestinian refugee problem outside of the borders of the State of Israel. For it is clear to all that the demand to settle the Palestinian refugees inside of Israel, contradicts the continued existence of the State of Israel as the state of the Jewish People. We must solve the problem of the Arab refugees. And I believe that it is possible to solve it. Because we have proven that we ourselves solved a similar problem. Tiny Israel took in the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees from Arab countries who were uprooted from their homes.

Therefore, justice and logic dictates that the problem of the Palestinian refugees must be solved outside the borders of the State of Israel. There is broad national agreement on this. (Applause)

I believe that with good will and international investment of we can solve this humanitarian problem once and for all.

Friends, up to now, I have been talking about the need for the Palestinians to ecognize our rights. Now I will talk about the need for us to recognize their rights.

The connection of the Jewish People to the Land has been in existence for more than 3,500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where our forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob walked, our forefathers David, Solomon, Isaiah and Jeremiah ? this is not a foreign land, this is the Land of our Forefathers. (Applause)

The right of the Jewish People to a state in the Land of Israel does not arise from the series of disasters that befell the Jewish People over 2,000 years -- persecutions, expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, murders, which reached its climax in the Holocaust, an unprecedented tragedy in the history of nations. There are those who say that without the Holocaust the State would not have been established, but I say that if the State of Israel had been established in time, the Holocaust would not have taken place. (Applause) The tragedies that arose from the Jewish People?s helplessness show very sharply that we need a protective state.
The right to establish our sovereign state here, in the Land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: Eretz Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish People. (Applause)

As the first PM David Ben Gurion in the declaration of the State, the State of Israel was established here in Eretz Israel, where the People of Israel created the Book of Books, and gave it to the world.

But, friends, we must state the whole truth here. The truth is that in the area of our homeland, in the heart of our Jewish Homeland, now lives a large population of Palestinians. We do not want to rule over them. We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them. In my vision of peace, there are two free peoples living side by side in this small land, with good neighborly relations and mutual respect, each with its flag, anthem and government, with neither one threatening its neighbor?s security and existence.

These two facts ? our link to the Land of Israel, and the Palestinian population who live here, have created deep disagreements within Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more unity than disagreement.

I came here tonight to talk about the agreement and security that are broad consensus within Israeli society. This is what guides our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation. We have to recognize international agreements but also principles important to the State of Israel. I spoke tonight about the first principle - recognition. Palestinians must truly recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is demilitarization. Any area in Palestinian hands has to be demilitarization, with solid security measures. Without this condition, there is a real fear that there will be an armed Palestinian state which will become a terrorist base against Israel, as happened in Gaza. We do not want missiles on Petah Tikva, or Grads on the Ben-Gurion international airport. We want peace. (Applause)
And, to ensure peace we don?t want them to bring in missiles or rockets or have an army, or control of airspace, or make treaties with countries like Iran, or Hizbullah. There is broad agreement on this in Israel. We cannot be expected to agree to a Palestinian state without ensuring that it is demilitarized. This is crucial to the existence of Israel ? we must provide for our security needs.

This is why we are now asking our friends in the international community, headed by the USA, for what is necessary for our security, that in any peace agreement, the Palestinian area must be demilitarized. No army, no control of air space. Real effective measures to prevent arms coming in, not what?s going on now in Gaza. The Palestinians cannot make military treaties.

Without this, sooner or later, we will have another Hamastan. We can?t agree to this. Israel must govern its own fate and security. I told President Obama in Washington, if we get a guarantee of demilitarization, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, we are ready to agree to a real peace agreement, a demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state. (Applause)

Whenever we discuss a permanent arrangement, Israel needs defensible borders with Jerusalem remaining the united capital of Israel. (Applause)

The territorial issues will be discussed in a permanent agreement. Till then we have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements. But there is a need to have people live normal lives and let mothers and fathers raise their children like everyone in the world. The settlers are not enemies of peace. They are our brothers and sisters. (Applause)

Friends, unity among us is, to my view, vital, and unity will help with reconciliation with our neighbors. Reconciliation must begin now. A strong Palestinian government will strengthen peace. If they truly want peace, and educate their children for peace and stop incitement, we for our part will make every effort, allow them freedom of movement and accessibility, making their lives easier and this will help bring peace.
But above all, they must decide: the Palestinians must decide between path of peace and path of Hamas. They must overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit down at conference table with terrorist who seek to destroy it. (Applause)

Hamas are not willing to even let the Red Cross visit our abducted soldier Gilad Shalit who has been in captivity three years, cut off from his family and his country. We want to bring him back whole and well.
With help of the international community, there is no reason why we can?t have peace. With help of USA, we can do we can do the unbelievable. In 61 years, with constant threats to our existence we have achieved so much. Our microchips power the worlds computers unbelievable, we have found cures for incurable diseases. Israeli drip irrigation waters barren lands throughout the world. Israeli researchers are making worldwide breakthroughs. If our neighbors only work for peace, we can achieve peace. (Applause)

I call upon Arab leaders and Palestinian leaders: Let?s go in the path of Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let?s go in the path of Prophet Isaiah, who spoke thousands of years ago, they shall beat their swords into plowshares and know war no more.
Let us know war no more. Let us know peace


Melanie Phillips


The essence of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech a few hours ago, which you can read in full here, was simply this:

Israel wants peace with the Palestinians. The cause of the conflict remains, as it ever was, the Arabs' refusal to recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in their historic homeland of Israel, which (contrary to Obama's claim) predated the Nazi Holocaust by several thousand years. Those (like Obama) who think the cause is the Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza are confusing cause and effect. The fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is therefore a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. Far from Israel occupying Palestinian land in Judea and Samaria, it is the Palestinians who are living within the ancient Jewish homeland. Israel does not wish to rule them and they can have a state of their own, provided they accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state, and provided a Palestinian state is demilitarised so that it does not possess the means to destroy Israel.

To this statement of historical truth and the most elementary requirements of morality and justice, the Palestinians' reply was unequivocal. The BBC reports:

Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, said the Israeli leader's speech 'torpedoes all peace initiatives in the region'. Another Abbas aide, Yasser Abed Rabbo, told the AFP news agency that recognition of Israel's Jewish character was a demand for Palestinians 'to become part of the global Zionist movement'. The militant Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, said the speech reflected Mr Netanyahu's 'racist and extremist ideology'.

Well, all that rather seems to make Netanyahu's point for him. How can there be a 'two state solution' when the Palestinians refuse to accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state? Quite obviously, such a solution is off the table as far as the Palestinians are concerned.

So now the situation is clear for even the most blinkered to see. It's not the wretched settlements but the very existence of a Jewish state that is total anathema to the Palestinians. Yet as far as Obama is concerned, it is not the Palestinians who are the problem but Israel, which must now be forced to surrender its security to them - even while the so-called moderates of Fatah threaten to resume open warfare because of Netanyahu's temerity in stating the truth of the Jews' right to their own land and with Jerusalem its historic and undivided capital.

Thus the veteran Palestinian negotiator Saeeb Erekat, who said that Netanyahu

will have to wait 1,000 years before he finds one Palestinian who will go along with him with this feeble state...

instantly threatened a resumption of violence:

'President Obama, the ball is in your court tonight,' Erekat said. 'You have the choice tonight. You can treat Netanyahu as a prime minister above the law and ... close off the path of peace tonight and set the whole region on the path of violence, chaos, extremism and bloodletting.

As the Jerusalem Post noted, however, Netanyahu espoused the vision of a Palestinian state living at peace alongside Israel, and reaffirmed that Israel would build no new settlements and take control of no more West Bank land. Just as Obama wanted.

So now will Obama pick up that ball and ask the Palestinians very nicely if they could possibly accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state? After all, what could be more reasonable than that?