Monday, September 27, 2010

"Tackling the Issues"

Arlene Kushner

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Various additional thoughts regarding the "settlements":

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

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

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

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


I would like to recommend a thoughtful and significant article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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