Saturday, April 24, 2010

The time of testing is coming for Obama

Jim Stuart

In 1962, after nuclear missiles were discovered in Cuba, President John F. Kennedy faced down his Soviet Rival Nikita Khrushchev, almost precipitating a nuclear exchange. The principal reason JFK took a firm stand was to protect his image. In those days, with the Cold War in full swing, it was important to maintain a posture of strength and resolve. Each side was constantly testing the other for signs of weakness that could be exploited. Earlier in 1961, Kennedy had been humiliated at the Bay of Pigs, and Eisenhower had warned him that the Soviets would be emboldened as a result. So when the missiles were discovered, Kennedy's primary concern was not any strategic advantage they might pose (the US had offsetting nuclear missiles already installed in Italy and Turkey), but rather, that he not appear weak. Such was his concern for his image of strength and resolve that he was willing to risk a nuclear confrontation.

Fast forward to the year 2010. While the Cold War has ended and the Soviet Union exists no longer, there is no shortage of hostile regimes or groups facing off against the US. These - Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah, North Korea, Russia, China, and Al Qaeda who - while not as powerful militarily as was the USSR - are perhaps more aggressive and less predictable than the old foe. Certainly, there is little doubt that any one of them could wreak havoc if a major conflict were to break out.

From the perspective of our enemies, how is this administration shaping up in the area of strength and resolve? Under little or no pressure, Obama withdrew missile defenses in Eastern Europe. He has created deadlines and threatened sanctions against Iran which have been ignored without consequences. He has refused to confront Islamic jihad, treating the threat as a criminal issue, and been unwilling to address the theological roots of the conflict. When Russia orchestrated a coup in Kyrgyzstan, the Obama administration did not react. When China insisted that Obama not meet with the Dalai Lama, he backed down. When our military leaders recommended a surge in Afghanistan, Obama waffled for months, finally agreeing, but with the proviso that the troops be pulled out in 18 months. The 4th generation advanced fighter (Raptor) program was cancelled, as was our manned space program. Missile defense development has been curtailed. The primary military initiative of this administration has been political correctness with respect to Muslim extremists, the equal treatment of homosexuals in the army, and prosecuting Seals and CIA agents.

The administration has virtually and publically withdrawn its support for Israel, while Syria has been funneling large quantities of Iranian rockets and other weapons to Hezbollah, in violation of UN agreements. Recently, it was reported that these weapons included Scud missiles. Hardly a week goes by without an announcement by Iran that it is expanding and accelerating its uranium enrichment program, and will not reverse course under any circumstances. On the contrary, it has signed technology-sharing deals with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who, given the a little more time, will surely become a serious troublemaker himself. Lastly, but by no means least, a South Korean naval vessel was recently sunk by what is currently thought to have been a North Korean torpedo. What could possibly be North Korea's intent, by such an action, except to test South Korea and the US?

Most of us have been too fixated by the spectacle of our country being overturned by Marxist revolutionary zealots to pay much attention to external threats. But in the meantime, our enemies have been watching as the US shows no will to fight, and no inclination to oppose aggression with anything stronger than teleprompted words. Surely, they must think, - this situation will not last, and that now is the time for adventurism. I do not believe we have long to wait.

Page Printed from: at April 24, 2010 - 07:37:22 AM CDT

Haniyeh: US conditions remain obstacle to unity

Gaza – Ma'an – Egypt's refusal to re-open the unity file is based on
stubborn American conditions which ultimately prevent Palestinian unity and
weaken the national position, de facto government Prime Minister Ismail
Haniyeh said Thursday. The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah is clinging to the US conditions,
Haniyeh stated during an address to commemorate the death of poet and Muslim
Brotherhood member Abdul Rahman Baroud, who was killed in early April.

Haniyeh's statements come as US Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is
set to arrive in the region, in what officials say will be his latest
attempt to kickstart the peace process. Some analysts have said the trip
could include some succinct ultimatums for Israeli behavior over the issue,
though most remain skeptical.

"They are talking about the arrival of Mitchell to the region to activate
the negotiations and we wonder what negotiations they talking about,"
Haniyeh said. He wondered how talks could go forward "while the occupation
has issued three dangerous orders - the Judaization of Jerusalem, the
deportation of Gaza residents from the West Bank, and the tunnel digging
beneath the Al-Aqsa Mosque - and continues to fulfill them." Optimism in
Ramallah, Haniyeh said, only lends legitimacy to the occupation.

Comment: Until the Western world puts some pressure upon Gaza, the so-called West Bank there will be no movement toward talks. The West, similar to how mis-guided parents treat a spoiled child, have actually motivated the Arab-Palestinians to wait, do nothing but complain and blame everyone else for their behavior.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Israel is not a Typical Foreign Policy Issue for Most Americans
Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, "Second Thought," Jerusalem, Israel

Quinnipiac University Polling Institute

American voters approve 48 - 42 percent of the way Obama is handling foreign policy and approve 49 - 39 percent of the way he is handling the situation in Afghanistan. The U.S. is doing the right thing fighting in Afghanistan, voters say 56 - 36 percent, and eliminating the threat of terrorists operating from Afghanistan is a worthwhile goal for American troops to fight and possibly die for, voters say 61 - 31 percent. HOWEVER:

1. The one negative area in voter appraisal of Obama's foreign policy is that voters disapprove 44 - 35 percent of the way the President is handling the situation between Israel and the Palestinians.

2. Israel benefits, mostly, from non-Jewish voters!

3. Jewish voters, generally supportive of Obama on other issues, turn 67 - 28 percent thumbs down on his handling of Israel and the Palestinians.

4. While 50 percent of Jews see Obama as a strong supporter of Israel, only 23 percent of Protestants and 35 percent of Roman Catholics see it that way. One explanation may just be that the President's low overall approval among Protestants and Catholics contributes to this disparity.

5. American voters say 57 - 13 percent that their sympathies lie with Israel.

6. Americans say 66 - 19 percent that the President of the United States should be a strong supporter of Israel.

7. Voters say 42 - 34 percent that Obama is not a strong supporter of Israel.

8. Only 16 percent of Republicans and 33 percent of independents think the President is a strong supporter of Israel, while 53 percent of Democrats do. The wealthier and older the voter, the more likely they are to question Obama's support for Israel. And the racial gap is yawning: 31 percent of white voters, but 54 percent of black voters see him as a strong supporter of Israel.

9. Voters support 70 - 28 percent the U.S. and Russia working to eliminate all nuclear weapons in the world, but they say 87 - 11 percent that such a goal is not realistic. And voters say 25 - 18 percent that Obama's nuclear policy increases, rather than decreases, the chance of nuclear war, while 47 percent say the nuclear policy doesn't make a difference. "American voters like the dream of a world without nuclear weapons, but they believe it is just that - a dream," "But very few voters believe any of this makes the world any safer," Brown added.

10. Voters agree 79 - 17 percent that the biggest threat to U.S. security is the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon.

From April 14 - 19, Quinnipiac University surveyed 1,930 registered voters nationwide with a margin of error of +/- 2.2 percentage points.

12. Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling - the situation between Israel and the Palestinians?


Tot Rep Dem Ind Lib Mod Con PartyQ17

Approve 35% 15% 59% 33% 55% 41% 19% 10%

Disapprove 44 68 19 47 22 33 68 80

DK/NA 21 17 22 20 23 25 13 10



Men Wom Evngl Prot Cath Jew Wht Blk

Approve 37% 34% 21% 26% 34% 28% 30% 68%

Disapprove 48 40 58 54 44 67 49 20

DK/NA 15 26 21 20 22 6 22 12

Military NoColl Coll AGE IN YRS.......

Households Degree Degree 18-34 35-54 55+

Approve 30% 33% 41% 40% 36% 32%

Disapprove 54 44 42 38 44 46

DK/NA 16 23 17 22 20 22

TREND: Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the situation in Iran?

Apr 22 Oct 7

2010 2009

Approve 44 45

Disapprove 43 39

DK/NA 13 17


April 21, 2010 - Obama's Bounce Goes Flat

President Barack Obama's job approval, which bounced slightly to a 45 - 46 percent split March 25 in the wake of his health care victory, has flattened out at 44 - 46 percent, his lowest approval rating since his inauguration, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.

"President Barack Obama's approval rating hovers at an all-time low. The White House had predicted passage of the health care overhaul would boost his fortunes, but that has not been the case, and that legislation itself remains decidedly unpopular," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Congress, which gets a 71 - 20 percent disapproval

But they disapprove 53 - 39 percent of the federal health care overhaul that he recently signed into law.

Voters disapprove 55 - 40 percent of the way Obama is handling the economy and disapprove 55 - 40 percent of the way he is handling health care. By a narrow 42 - 39 percent margin voters trust Obama, rather than congressional Republicans to handle health care.

Why Is the L.A. Times Burying the Obama/Khalidi Tape?

Roger L Simon
Pajamas Media

Given the extraordinary sudden turnabout in US policy toward Israel under the Obama Administration, I have become obsessed by the repressed 2003 videotape of Rashid Khalidi and Barack Obama. That tape — or so we are told — is ensconced in a safe at the Los Angeles Times building. In the current situation, its release by the paper is more important and newsworthy than ever. The Khalidi tape could be of tremendous significance in revealing the provenance of Obama’s views on the Middle East and the degree to which the public was misled on those views during the presidential campaign.

I am writing to solicit the help and ideas of Pajamas Media readers for seeking the release of the tape to the public. But first a little background, if your memories are as foggy as mine can be.

Rashid Khalidi — a Palestinian-American historian known for his strong pro-Palestinian opinions — is currently the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia and director of that university’s Middle East Institute. After Khalidi received this Columbia appointment in 2003, a farewell dinner party was held in his honor in Chicago. A videotape was made of that party where many good things were said about the Palestinian cause and many bad things about Israel. Then Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama was in attendance, as were, some say, William Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn.

That tape, as Leon DeWinter [1] reminded us, was given at some point by an unknown person to Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times. Wallsten then reported on some of its contents in a brief LAT article of April 10, 2008 titled “Allies of Palestinians see a friend in Obama.” [2]

Perhaps because it was so attenuated, that article engendered a cry for the release of the full tape. What really happened at the party? What was said? How did Obama react? People wanted to know more details of the Middle East views of the presidential candidate. But the LAT was effectively mum and sequestered the tape in its safe.

In response to a charge of suppression of information [3] by the McCain campaign, the paper’s editor Russ Stanton said:

“The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it. The Times keeps its promises to sources.”

Was this an oral promise made by the paper or by the reporter? Or was there a written agreement, as would be more proper and normal in such circumstances? The Times has not told us, nor have they produced a written agreement of any sort, even without the source’s name. We don’t know either whether a transcription is proscribed.

They have told us almost nothing. We have to take this all on faith, just as we do this risible comment by the paper’s ‘readers’ representative’ Jamie Gold, quoted in the same article with Stanton:

“More than six months ago the Los Angeles Times published a detailed account of the events shown on the videotape. The Times is not suppressing anything. Just the opposite — the L.A. Times brought the matter to light.”

Detailed? Brought the matter to light? I am tempted to use the tired Internet acronym ROFLOL. But let’s examine Wellsten’s original article instead. It begins:

It was a celebration of Palestinian culture — a night of music, dancing and a dash of politics. Local Arab Americans were bidding farewell to Rashid Khalidi, an internationally known scholar, critic of Israel and advocate for Palestinian rights, who was leaving town for a job in New York.

A special tribute came from Khalidi’s friend and frequent dinner companion, the young state Sen. Barack Obama. Speaking to the crowd, Obama reminisced about meals prepared by Khalidi’s wife, Mona, and conversations that had challenged his thinking.

His many talks with the Khalidis, Obama said, had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases. . . . It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.”

And? Well, that’s about it. Wellsten doesn’t tell us much more from the videotape or the party other than:

“a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, “then you will never see a day of peace.”

One speaker likened “Zionist settlers on the West Bank” to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been “blinded by ideology.”

That’s it. No word of the details of how Obama reacted or what he really said, other than the short quote above.

Interestingly, that sole quote from Wallsten contains an ellipsis in the middle. After the then-state senator says the Khalidis had given him “consistent reminders to me of my own blinds sports and my own biases” comes a strategically placed dot-dot-dot. We don’t know what those blind spots and and biases were and what he might have thought of them. Or how he might have changed. That, in Wellsten’s or some Times editors’ judgement, was best left on the tape.

So what are we to think? We have an administration that not only ascribes most of the Middle East blame to Israel, but also has banned “Islamism” and all related words, even “Islam” and “jihad” from our national security documents [4]. They’re completely gone. Indeed, even the Fort Hood massacre, so clearly inspired by Islamic extremism, has now been shifted into the comfortable category of the lone, angry killer. Rashid Khalidi should be happy. And, in fact, he is [5].

Sometimes I want to yell and scream. What is wrong with the Los Angeles Times? Are they a news organization or the propaganda wing of some leftover unit of the IWW? No wonder subscribers are deserting them in droves.

But I won’t yell and scream. I want to be polite. I have old friends at the Times. And what I seek is the release of the tape. Even if there is a legitimate promise to the source, the public interest now overwhelms this. Few stopped to criticize when the Pentagon Papers were published by the New York Times. And they were stolen from the Department of Defense. Let’s get this done. If the tape exonerates Obama, they should be anxious to publish it. If it doesn’t, the Times has done a public service. That’s their job.

But failing that, I turn to you, dear reader. What is to be done? We can’t send a FOIA request to the Los Angeles Times. They’re a private company — or owned by one. There must be other means.

One way is to go to the original reporter Mr. Wallsten. He now works for the Wall Street Journal. I have put in a call to him. We shall see how, or if, he replies. Another way is to find and contact the person who gave Wellsten the tape. Deborah Schlussel [6] believes that person is Ali Abunimah of the Electronic Intifada and Arab American Action Network, an organization founded by the Khalidis. I don’t know if that is true, although I can speculate on the motives.

Whatever the case, the time to reveal the tape is now. Please make your suggestions for what to do. It will be an interesting experiment in citizen journalism to try to do it together. And, unlike the current administration, to do it transparently.

Washington Think Tank Predicts New Mideast War

Hana Levi
A7 News

A U.S.-based think tank has issued a report saying that a new Middle East war may be looming on the horizon. If hostilities do in fact break out, writes David Schenker of The Washington Institute, “fighting could take on a regional dimension not seen since 1973.” The prediction comes in response to reports that Syria has supplied the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization with advanced Russian-made 9K38 Igla-S anti-aircraft missiles. Transfer of the shoulder-fired ordnance to the terrorist group has previously been marked by Israeli officials as a “red line” issue.

Schenker also cited pronouncements posted in late February on the internet by the Lebanon-based Hizbullah terrorist organization hinting the group might renew its aggression against the Jewish State. The statement followed an unprecedented trilateral summit / dinner meeting on February 26 in Damascus between Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Syrian President Bashar Assad and Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah.

A new development

Meetings between the Syrian and Iranian presidents have become very common in the past several years; however, Nasrallah's presence at the table marked a new chapter in the development of the Evil Axis. Little was publicized about the discussion, other than what was later posted on the Hizbullah website, said Schenker, noting the account recounted “the escalating strategic response of the axis of the confrontationist, rejectionist, and resistance states” to the so-called U.S.-Israeli threat.

Schenker also noted Nasrallah's sabre-rattling earlier in February, during a speech delivered on Hizbullah's Martyred Leaders Day, in which the terrorist laid out the new strategy for reprisals against Israel:

“If you [meaning Israel -ed.] bomb Rafik Hariri International Airport in Beirut, we will bomb Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. If you bomb our docks, we will bomb your docks. If you bomb our oil refineries, we will bomb your oil refineries. If you bomb our factories, we will bomb your factories. And if you bomb our power plants, we will bomb your power plants,” Nasrallah declared.

Recent reports that Syria has provided the terrorist group with Scud missiles capable of reaching deep into Israel's central and southern regions have supported and underscored Nasrallah's threats. The U.S. State Department summoned the Syrian Ambassador, Imad Mustafa, to “inform his government about the level of danger if the missiles crossed the border” but did little more.

Syria 'broke the code'

The Institute has also concluded that “Damascus has finally broken the code to Europe, and appears to be on the verge of doing so with the Obama administration as well. Currently, Syria appears to be in a position where it can cultivate its ties with the West without sacrificing its support for terrorism.”

In addition, the report noted IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi's testimony in mid-March before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Hizbullah was “building up its forces north of the Litani [River].” Ashkenazi reported at the time that the northern border was secure and calm, but that “this can change.”

The fact that Hizbullah continues to stockpile weapons in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1701, the ceasefire agreement that ended the 2006 Second Lebanon War, and that Iran and Syria continue to provide the group with illegal arms, observed the Institute, has contributed to the deterioration of the security situation in the north.

“Hizbullah retaliation against Israel for the 2008 assassination of its military leader Imad Mughniyeh could spark a war,” writes Schenker. “So could Hizbullah firing missiles in retribution for an Israeli strike against Iranian nuclear facilities. The transfer of sensitive Syrian technology to [Hizbullah] could also prompt an Israeli strike. Regrettably, even if Israel continues to try and defuse tensions in the north, given the central role Tehran has in determining Hizbullah policy, a third Lebanon war may be inevitable.”

Netanyahu Reassures Public: No Freeze in Jerusalem

Gil Ronen
A7 News

In an interview with Channel 2 television news, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that there will not be a construction freeze in Jerusalem, and that there is “a full understanding that there must not be preconditions for negotiations.” Our policy on Jerusalem will not change,” he said, noting that his government's policy on the 3,000-year-old Jewish capital was the same as that of all Israeli governments in the last 43 years.

He tried to play down the perception that US President Barack Obama humiliated him in his recent visit to Washington. “He is not humiliating me,” he muttered in an undertone, then asserted: “The United States does not agree with us about everything. There are ups and downs. There are difficult things and there were some even more difficult things. But there is a very strong fabric of relations that lets us overcome these problems.”

The meaning of independence

When pressed by interviewer Yonit Levy on Jerusalem, Netanyahu asked: “Why should I give up in Jerusalem?” Turning from defense to offense, he asked her where she was born. She told him that she was originally from French Hill in Jerusalem. Netanyahu, who may have known the answer in advance, explained that the current argument is over parts of Jerusalem like French Hill, which were unpopulated when they were liberated in 1967.

The United States reportedly wants Israel to freeze construction in the sections of Jerusalem that were under Jordanian occupation from 1948 to 1967.

Asked whether he could trust the US to lead the campaign against Iran, Netanyahu said Israel preferred a scenario in which the Americans take the lead. He reminded viewers, however, that Israel had just celebrated Independence Day – and that Jewish independence meant “first and foremost a Jewish state, and the ability to defend ourselves. Israel will always retain the right of self-defense.”

Open letter to Israeli Academic Giora

Below is a copy of my open letter to Professor Giora. This letter together with BOYCOTT's letter to CRH may be viewed at and

An Open Letter to professor Rachel Giora from Maurice Ostroff

April 22, 2010

Dear Professor Giora,

I refer to the open letter to which you subscribed, addressed by BOYCOTT! (Supporting the Palestinian call for BDS from within), to the management of the Irish public limited company, CRH, urging it to divest from Israeli cement company Nesher.

Since you signed as a professor, I fear that the shallow unsubstantiated arguments presented in BOYCOTT's political appeal are unworthy of the rigorous academic standards one is entitled to expect of the university you represent. BOYCOTT's letter to CRH not only lacks rational argumentation, it employs highly emotive inaccurate language hardly appropriate from an academic. The title professor conveys a false sense in the mind of the reader that the material is authoritative, even though your field of linguistics is no guarantee of expertise in Middle East politics.

If the reader of your letter is expected to reach an informed opinion he/she ought to be informed that the $140 million investment in Nesher Ltd. is a very small part of CRH's acquisition program. By comparison, the Dublin based company, a leader in the global building materials market, spent EUR1 billion in a single year in building its international network of companies. Nesher, which supplies cement to the PA as well as to Israel and is a leader in advanced production technology was a natural target for acquisition by CRH, providing synergetic advantages to Ireland, Israel and the PA. It is with respect that I ask who would benefit and who would suffer if your effort to coerce CRH to divest from the Israeli company succeeds?

I ask too, whether you are consistent in making judgments. Does BOYCOTT! apply the same standards to Palestinian suppliers of cement for the security barrier and for construction in settlements? According to Pravda, the Al-Quds Cement Company, a firm owned by the family of Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala), provides materials to help build Israel's security barrier and constructing houses in settlements.

And on the subject of being consistent, surely you will agree that if Boycott Divestment and Sanctions are to be realistic, boycotters will have to live without Israeli input into anti-virus program, computers, cellular phones, voice over the internet, instant messaging and life-saving drugs and devices like stents,.

Most importantly, I ask whether as an intellectually honest academic, you checked the validity of the statement to which you subscribed that Israeli settlements are illegal by international law and I suggest that you owe it to your audience to familiarize them with the conclusions of the Late Eugene W. Rostow who played a leading role in producing resolution 242 and who stated unambiguously that the Jewish right of settlement in the West Bank is not illegal.

For anyone who is conscientiously interested in gaining a balanced perspective on the legalities of the settlements, the authoritative views of authorities like Rostow and the late Professor Julius Stone, one of the world's leading experts on the Law of nations should be compulsory reading. They may be viewed at and

I also believe that as an academic scholar, you cannot afford to ignore the work of Canadian Lawyer Dr. Jacques Gauthier, who spent twenty years of research on the legal status of Jerusalem. His dissertation comprises some 1,300 pages with 3,000 footnotes. You may hear an interview with him at

This open letter is being made public and I would very much appreciate a considered response from you, which will be similarly publicized.


Maurice Ostroff

PMW to Run TV Ad on Palestinian Leaders Abbas and Fayyad‏

Palestinian Media Watch to Run Ad More Than 1000 Times in Washington About Palestinian Leaders Abbas and Fayyad
Ad Highlights Glorification of Terror as an Obstacle to Peace

Jerusalem, Israel – Palestinian Media Watch, a nonprofit research institute, will launch a TV ad campaign in Washington to highlight the need for peace education to help bring peace to the Middle East. PMW focuses on the messages that the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas send to the population through the broad range of institutions and infrastructures they control. PMW studies Palestinian society from a variety of perspectives, including monitoring and analyzing the Palestinian Authority through its media and schoolbooks. PMW founder and director Itamar Marcus commented: “Finding a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not going to be easy. But one thing is certain: As long as terrorist attacks are glorified by the Palestinian Authority and media, a peaceful solution will be much harder to find. It is time that the PA truly prepares its people for peace.”

The television ad will run nearly 1,000 times on CNN, FOXNews, MSNBC and Headline News in the Washington area over the next month, and will shine a spotlight on some of the Palestinian Authority’s most recent actions to glorify terrorists. Itamar Marcus will be in Jerusalem, New York City and Washington, D.C., May 3-7, and is available for interviews. To set up a meeting with Mr. Marcus in Israel, please contact, Charley J. Levine at To set up a meeting with Mr. Marcus in New York City or Washington, D.C., please contact, Marty Irom at (516) 567-4348 or

The script states:

To view the ad click here.
The Obama Administration has strongly condemned Palestinian glorification of terrorists and says it imperils peace.

But Palestinian President Abbas recently promoted a terrorist who planned the killing of three Americans, and supported naming a city square after the leader of an attack that killed 37 civilians.

And Prime Minister Fayyad just sponsored a sports tournament for teens named after terror-mastermind Abu Jihad.

If terrorists are glorified, how can there be peace?

The ad comes at a time when the Obama administration has strongly and publicly condemned Palestinian glorification of terrorists as an impediment to peace. Secretary of State Clinton said in a recent address in Washington in reference to a public square in the West Bank, “... municipality glorifies violence and renames a square after a terrorist who murdered innocent Israelis, it insults the families on both sides who have lost loves ones over the years in this conflict. And when instigators deliberately mischaracterize the rededication of a synagogue in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem's old city and call upon their brethren to ‘defend’ nearby Muslim holy sites from so-called ‘attacks,’ it is purely and simply an act of incitement. These provocations are wrong and must be condemned for needlessly inflaming tensions and imperiling prospects for a comprehensive peace.”

Additionally, Phillip Crowley, Assistant Secretary at the State Department, commented, “Regarding the Middle East, we are disturbed by comments of Palestinian Authority officials regarding reconstruction and refurbishing of Jewish sites in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City. Remarks by the Palestinian ministry of information denying Jewish heritage in and links to Jerusalem undermine the trust and confidence needed for substantive and productive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. We also strongly condemn the glorification of terrorists. Honoring terrorists who have murdered innocent civilians, either by official statements or by the dedication of public places, hurts peace efforts and must end. We will continue to hold Palestinian leaders accountable for incitement.”

PMW has published many reports and studies on Palestinian summer camps, poetry, schoolbooks, crossword puzzles, religious ideology, women and mothers, children's music videos and the PA’s indoctrination of adults and children to seek Shahada (Martyrdom). PMW has presented its findings before members of the US Congress and to members of Parliament in numerous countries, including the European Union, Britain, France, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada and Australia, and has lectured at universities and conferences around the world.

PMW material has been presented before the Foreign Affairs Committee in the US Congress and the US Senate Committee on Allocations. In addition, PMW reports regularly on how foreign aid is misused by the PA for terror promotion. These reports have led to changes in legislation and funding procedures.

On Palestinian Media Watch:

“It is my privilege once again to join Palestinian Media Watch for this press conference, and for the latest report that they have compiled about the Palestinian textbooks. Director Itamar Marcus, who has been a steadfast leader, has helped to deliver this message which we repeat again today - we must stop the propaganda to which Palestinian children are being exposed. That must be a priority for all people who care about children, who care about the kind of peace, stability, safety and security that Israel deserves to be guaranteed. And it should be a priority for everyone who cares about the future of the Palestinian people.”
–Senator Hillary Clinton, February 8, 2007

"The violence and hatred being promoted to children by the Palestinian Authority through its media and schoolbooks is made dismayingly clear by PMW's invaluable report. Most painful for those who desire and end to bloodshed in the Holy Land is that is becomes all but impossible to conceive of a negotiated peace with people who either teach this evil or who are raised on it."
–Senator Sam Brownback, March 2007

About Itamar Marcus, Director of Palestinian Media Watch

Itamar Marcus, Founder and Director of Palestinian Media Watch, is one of the foremost authorities on Palestinian ideology and policy. Mr. Marcus was appointed by the Israel Government to represent Israel in negotiations with the Palestinian Authority on Incitement. He has presented analyses of Palestinian ideologies in academic, cultural and government frameworks, including hearings, lectures and briefings to members of US Congress and Senate, the Canadian, British, French, German, Norwegian, Swiss and Australian Parliaments, and members of European Parliament. He has lectured at conferences and at universities and to senior security officials world wide. He gives analysis on CNN, FOX News, BBC, and the full range of world TV news.


Arlene Kushner

Or, possibly, less than half-way. Not a total cave from our prime minister. He's taken one good stand, on one very important issue. But for the rest?

It's official from the prime minister's office: the US gov't has been told that we will not be freezing construction in Jerusalem. This follows several public statements the prime minister has made lately regarding the fact that there would be no freeze in Jerusalem.
However, there apparently have been concessions on other issues "demanded" by Obama. These are not being reported by the officials in the prime minister's office -- who seem to have restricted themselves to the good news. What I'm reading comes from US sources and should probably be considered fairly accurate. But none of this is official.

What bothers me the most (although it all bothers me) is that US sources are saying we've agreed to delay construction in Ramat Shlomo for two years. This, if true, would be a sop to the Obama administration for the "embarrassment" caused by an announcement of planned construction there while Biden was visiting. Obama extracting his due, or something. Blood-boiling, for we had and have a right to build there. Young couples who need housing will be paying the price.


Then, according to the Wall Street Journal, Netanyahu agreed to several other things, including: "the release of Palestinian prisoners, easing the flow of goods into Gaza, and the removal of more roadblocks in the West Bank. Israel also said it would expand the area of responsibility for Palestinian security forces in the West Bank."

We need to wait for official confirmation of all of this. Prisoners to be released? How many? Only without blood on their hands? With how much of their sentences remaining? Roadblocks removed? Which ones? And so on...


But I would like to address one issue now, and that is the expansion of area of responsibility for Palestinian security forces.

It made the news yesterday that the IDF has drafted plans for a "pullback to pre-intifada lines," should our government agree to this.

In the heady days of Oslo, when we were supposed to be giving the PA latitude to manage its own affairs, we pulled out of major PA cities in Judea and Samaria. But then the second intifada saw horrendous terrorist attacks emanating from the areas where we were no longer in control. And so we launched Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 and went back in. It did the trick. And since then we've maintained the right to go in for security reasons. Nightly, we do operations that keep matters in check.

Of late, there is supposed to be an improvement in the capabilities and professionalism of these PA security forces, as they are being trained on the US dollar, under the supervision of Gen. Keith Dayton. What you've been hearing from me, and will continue to hear from me, is that these forces do not cut it. They will not consistently and reliably take out terrorists.

And here we have it as part of the news report from the JPost yesterday:

"The Post has learned that the IDF brass, particularly the Central Command, have recommended not carrying out such a withdrawal.

"'The IDF's freedom to operate everywhere is extremely important in keeping terrorism down to a minimum,' the senior defense official said. (emphasis added)

"As proof, the official referred to a recent IDF operation in Jenin, during which troops arrested two top Islamic Jihad operatives. Operations in Jenin are still carried out, the official said, despite the 'Jenin Model' program that saw the deployment of US-trained PA forces in the city and Israel's decision to scale back its operations.

"'We still operate there whenever we believe there is a threat,' the official said."

One would not know this from certain reports that extol the excellent performance of the PA troops. But it's exceedingly significant information.


Now, I do not believe that the current concession with regard to IDF pullbacks (if there is such a concession) would return us to the "pre-intifada lines." It would be more modest than this. And yet...

Decisions such as this are made by political and not military leaders -- the civilian government decides how the army will operate. That's how a democracy functions. However, in our particular situation there is a very precarious balance -- one that I've been watching with enormous unease and considerable anger for years: What plays well politically or diplomatically -- let me rephrase this: that a particular government may perceive as playing well politically or diplomatically -- may not be what is in the best interests of the security of the Israeli populace.

We hear meaningless platitudes about balancing the "legitimate security needs" of Israel with the "legitimate desires of the Palestinian people for a state." To "advance peace," innocent lives are put at risk, and sometimes lost. And who cares?

We should watch this situation closely, and scream loudly when necessary.


I do not minimize the horrendous pressure being put on Netanyahu by an American regime that is either hostile or indifferent to our legitimate interests. I would have preferred a blanket "no" across the board from our prime minister, but I knew that wasn't going to happen: it's a question of seeing how much has been conceded.

Left still up in the air is the very important issue of whether Netanyahu will accede to Obama's demand that the freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria be extended beyond its original 10 months (which brings us to September). Netanyahu has promised faithfully again and again that there would be no extension. I'm uneasy that there is no word on this yet. There will be hell to pay here if it is extended.


Also to be watched is reference I've picked up in some quarters to discussions about permitting PA institutions to operate in eastern Jerusalem. That would be a horrendous, for it would de facto would give the PA a foot in our city. But I have no confirmation of anything with regard to this.


And one proviso here, which I share with a modicum of reluctance: Akiva Eldar has a piece in Haaretz that says Netanyahu is only pretending to refuse to freeze building in Jerusalem, while he will in fact stop all tenders for new construction unofficially. According to Eldar, the US is privy to this, and the PA will accept it.

I find it hard to believe this on several accounts. One being that the PA would not have sufficient "face" satisfaction with such an arrangement (i.e., it wouldn't be clear to the world that we had backed down). Then there is the fact that Elder, far to the left, may promote the story that fits his perception of how it "should" be. But this is not the first time we've heard this. For whatever it is or is not worth.


The bottom line here, when all is said and done, is the refrain repeated regularly by US officials that if there are going to be much needed "peace negotiations," it's up to us to give more. And more. And more. A one-sided and unreasonable demand that doesn't acknowledge what we've done.

Consider this from National Security Advisor Jim Jones:

"It is time to begin those negotiations and to put an end to excuses. It is time for all leaders in the region-Israeli, Palestinian, and Arab-to support efforts for peace."

Excuse me? Who is it that is refusing to come to the table? Why the false equivalence?

High level diplomats from Israel and the US have been huddling to work out details of various matters, and Envoy George Mitchell is due here this evening.


Sometimes, I review the news, and in response to one item after another I have an impulse to say, "Nah, this can't be. Would you mind repeating that?"

Take, for example, the information that came out yesterday that, at least for the "near future," a military strike is "off the table" for the US. Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy said during a press briefing, "Right now the focus is a combination of engagement and pressure in the form of sanctions."

Nah, she couldn't have said that. But, alas, she did. Engagement? After everything, she mentions this again? And the foolishness of telling Iran that military action is not a possibility, even if it's true. The foolishness of not letting them worry and wonder.


But this business of engagement is really big with the Obama administration. Today, Secretary of State Clinton again defended the decision to send an ambassador to Damascus in spite of the "deeply disturbing" reports about Syria supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles. Said she:

"We have a long list of areas that we have discussed with the Syrians and we intend to continue pushing our concerns, and we think having an ambassador there adds to the ability to convey that message strongly and hopefully influence behavior in Syria."

Influence behavior in Syria? You think she'd mind repeating that again?


But hey, this is good compared to some of the things Clinton says. The statement of hers, below, made at an event recently, could take your breath away. I believe she actually said this with a straight face:

"...and I sometimes look at the President when I’m with him and talking about some issue or another, and think about a grandfather [Obama's] who marched in Patton’s Army and a great-uncle [Obama's] who helped to liberate Buchenwald. And I know how rock solid and unwavering his commitment is to Israel’s security and Israel’s future."

This folks, constitutes my joke for the day. This is a "laugh so I don't cry" situation.From the Obama administration and friends I'm picking up three main themes with regard to what's happening now. One is a solemn declaration of devotion to Israel's security. Thus, for example, there is a letter that Obama just wrote to Alan Solow, Chair, Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, in which he speaks about "[America's] special relationship with Israel that will not change," and the intertwining of American and Israeli security issues.

The second is the acknowledgement that only the parties can make peace, and that the US cannot impose it. Even Obama advisor Rahm Emanuel has come out with a statement about this not being the right time to advance a plan.

However, there is another thrust that simply will not go away: And that's the linkage of peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs, and the ability to stop Iran. That logic has it that the Arab states are so upset that the Palestinians don't have a state that they won't help stop Iran. An Iran that terrifies them, it should be noted. And Palestinian Arabs for whom they care not a fig.

Thus does Jim Jones say:

"One of the ways that Iran exerts influence in the Middle East is by exploiting the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict. Iran uses the conflict to keep others in the region on the defensive and to try to limit its own isolation. Ending this conflict, achieving peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and establishing a sovereign Palestinian state would therefore take such an evocative issue away from Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas."

It's a crock. And he's got it backwards: If Iran is taken down, the power of Hezbollah and Hamas to do damage will be reduced.


From several quarters I'm picking up an interesting analysis of Secretary of State Robert Gate's secret memo, exposed by the NYTimes this week, stating that the administration has no real plan B on Iran. This memo was originally described as a "wake up call" to the government.

But no, say some, this is an attempt by Gates to set the record straight for history with regard to his position on Iran -- a cover-his-rear tactic that will likely be followed by his resignation.

See a video clip with John Bolton on this:
see my website

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Round 2: Lauder vs. Obama

Netanyahu's close associate Ron Lauder again publicly criticizes American president, says US policies toward Israel are 'disproportionate'


A week after publishing an open letter in which he criticized US President Barack Obama, Ron Lauder on Wednesday continued to slam the American president and his Middle East policies. In an interview with the German Der Spiegel, Lauder - who serves as president of the World Jewish Congress and is considered a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu - said that Washington's criticism of Israel was "disproportionate."

"The Obama administration is blaming Israel for the stalling peace process, but it is in fact the Palestinians which are opposed to negotiations," he said.

When asked whether the Israeli government can also be blamed for the recent deterioration between the two countries, following its announcement of a plan to build 1,600 new housing units in east Jerusalem during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel, Lauder noted the "bad timing."

However, he said that the Israeli government has made extraordinary concessions: "It has accepted the idea of a Palestinian state, a moratorium on settlement building, and it has removed over a hundred roadblocks in the West Bank."

Lauder stressed that despite his close relationship with the prime minister, he does not act as his spokesman.

"I don't represent my friend, but Jews worldwide. I would have written the same letter if someone else were prime minister in Jerusalem. Over his attempts to engage the Muslim world, Obama has strongly neglected the relationship with Israel," he said.

During the interview, Lauder rejected claims that the conflict in the Middle East was harming American national security and said that Washington's "main concern should be Iran. The regime in Tehran is threatening Israel and the entire Western world with its plans to build a nuclear bomb. That is why Obama should end his feud with Israel."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Ex-US Envoy Indyk: Bibi’s Refusal to Obama ‘Threatens Alliance’

Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu Indyk: Bibi Risks US Alliance

Martin Indyk, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, castigated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in The New York Times and on Israel’s IDF Army Radio, saying the prime minister prefers a nationalist government over being friends with the United States. “Netanyahu must make a choice: take on the president of the United States, or take on his right wing,” Indyk wrote in the Times. If he continues to defer to those ministers in his cabinet who oppose peacemaking, the consequences for U.S.-Israel relations could be dire.”

National Union chairman and Knesset Member Yaakov (Ketzaleh) Katz sharply criticized Indyk, stating that the “Diaspora has succeeded in creating a Jew like Indyk who is prepared to see the destruction of his people on the sacrificial altar of the masters whom he serves.”

“We survived Pharaoh, and we will survive Indyk.”

MK Katz charged that the former ambassador is “totally disconnected from the U.S. Congressional majority that [acknowledges] Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and has the democratic right to build in all of its neighborhoods.”

Indyk had previously called for the de facto recognition of Palestinian Authority sovereignty in Jerusalem, which Israel fears would be the effect of the American demand for a freeze on building for Jews in areas of the capital.

Under the headline “When Your Best Friend Gets Angry,” Indyk charged in the Times that “one suspects” that Prime Minister Netanyahu stayed away from U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent “nuclear summit” because “he does not have an answer to President Obama’s demand that he freeze new building announcements” in united Jerusalem.

Indyk repeated his reasoning on IDF Army Radio Wednesday morning, saying that if Israel needs aid from the United States, it needs “to take into account America's interests” and distance itself from the government’s largely nationalist coalition.

In both the article and interview, Indyk tried to link an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, based primarily on demands of the Arab world, with solving the Iranian nuclear threat and the American-led counter terrorist war in what he called the “greater Middle East.” He pointed out that the United States has committed 200,000 American troops to fighting terrorism while Prime Minister Netanyahu allegedly ignores American policy that the Arab-Israeli struggle is a problem for American security.

Indyk wrote that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s absence from the nuclear summit left President Obama holding the bag to take on the task of trying to stop the Iranian nuclear program that Israel says threatens its very existence. The former ambassador claimed that President Obama succeeded in “persuading China to join in a new round of U.N. sanctions against Iran,” although he did not refer to China’s outright rejection of harsh sanctions, particularly in the energy sector.

“The inability to make progress on the Palestinian [Authority] issue…gives Iran the opportunity to use Hamas and Hizbullah as proxies to provoke conflict with Israel, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad seen as the hero,” according to Indyk.

The former envoy also reasoned, “Nothing could better help Obama to isolate Iran than for Netanyahu to offer to cede the Golan [Heights]. Given Israel’s dependence on the United States to counter the threat from Iran and to prevent its own international isolation, an Israeli prime minister would surely want to bridge the growing divide."

Indyk referred to Israel’s refusal to halt building for Jews in parts of Jerusalem that the United States does not recognize as under Israeli sovereignty. He called on Prime Minister Netanyahu to follow the steps of former prime ministers Menachem Begin and Ariel Sharon, who surrendered the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and a Jewish civilian and military presence in the Gaza region.

According to Indyk, Begin and Sharon acted in order to maintain friendship with the Carter and Bush administrations and Netanyahu should do the same.

He also recalled favorably the famous handshake between former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, orchestrated by Rahm Emanuel, who now is President Obama's White House Chief of Staff. The handshake heralded the Oslo Accords, which were followed by dozens of Arab suicide bombings that killed hundreds of Israeli civilians and wounded thousands of others.

The former ambassador also made no reference to the cold peace with Egypt, whose President Hosni Mubarak has refused to visit Jerusalem except for the funeral of Rabin. In his article, Indyk did not mention the thousands of rockets and mortar shells that rained down on Israel following the expulsion of Jews and withdrawal of troops from Gaza, as well as from the smuggling border with Egypt.

Comment: Again, another character actor enters this play-as if on cue, he steps forward to launch a tirade at our PM-please be advised he knows better but his "loyalty" to the cause overrides anything that is still decent within!!

Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon's Message for Diaspora Jews
by Arutz Sheva staff

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon addressed Diaspora Jews in honor of Israel's Independence Day and recalled the many sacrifices Jews made in order to create the State of Israel, as well as

Ayalon's message follows:

This year we celebrate 62 years since the re-establishment of the State of Israel and 150 years since the birth of the Zionist visionary Theodore (Binyamin Ze'ev) Herzl. We can look around our nation and take enormous pride in what we have achieved in the short few decades since Jewish sovereignty returned to the land of our fathers. Herzl famously wrote "If you will it, it is no dream" over 100 years ago, but unfortunately he died only a few years later. His dream, a Jewish State, would, against all the odds, be recreated in its ancient land, as he prophetically stated, less than five decades later.

Today, most of us do not know a time without the State of Israel. Few alive remember the battles, the struggles and sacrifice that the early Zionists and even early Israelis had to endure to ensure that Herzl's vision would not remain a dream. Too many take the presence of Israel for granted and it has allowed us to become complacent about its role and its future. We must never forget that we are a reborn nation surrounded by many enemies intent on our destruction through various means.

When David Ben-Gurion read aloud the Declaration of Independence at the Tel Aviv Museum in 1948, the ink had barely dried before five Arab armies invaded our infant state to destroy us militarily. For many decades afterwards, Arab armies would attempt to destroy Israel on the conventional battlefield, but none were successful. Today, we can claim with pride that we have the strongest military in the region, and those hostile to us learnt that they can not defeat us this way.

Next, our enemies tried to defeat us economically. The Arab League initiated a boycott against our state when we were welcoming hundreds of thousands of our brothers and sisters from across the globe. They gave ultimatums to every company in the world, telling them that if they conduct business with the Jewish State, they will not be able to conduct business with any of the Arab states. This was extremely difficult for the new state, but fast forward today we have one of the strongest economies worldwide and we are about to join the OECD, the forum of the most powerful global economies.

After this too failed, our enemies began an unconventional and terrorist war against Israel. Israelis and Jews have been butchered in their thousands by extremists who chose their death over our life. Although no one can argue that the threat is 100 percent extinguished, we have once again managed to beat this scourge and today far fewer innocent people are being killed by terrorists, even though there are daily attempts.

Having failed on so many occasions and learning the lessons, our enemies have sought a new attempt to defeat us. This is through the current delegitimization campaign and so-called ‘Lawfare'. This may become our toughest battle yet. Our enemies know that they have distinct advantages over us that are difficult to contend with. They have an automatic majority in international institutions and have created a systematic and orchestrated system to tar the Jewish State as akin to the Nazis or the racist Apartheid regime. They prevent us from speaking on campuses, having our voice heard in forums and deny our freedom of speech because they know that if our voice is heard loud and clear then our enemies' flawed narrative will collapse.

Although few know it, or report on it, the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) clearly stated on a number of occasions that they initiated the Goldstone Commission. How many of those who scream about Israeli war crimes know that they are the mouthpiece of ugly autocratic oppressive regimes? How many of those who read about the attempted arrest of Israeli officials in Europe realize that these attempts are initiated, supported and funded by those in our region who will not allow a woman to vote and oppress their own people?
However, the verbal terrorism and attacks on our legitimacy will fail just as every other tactic before it. Nevertheless, to win this battle we must reinforce education and understanding of our history and purpose. We need to further the understanding of our historical, religious, moral and legal rights. Too few of our people understand that our modern legal national rights are not based on history, religion or the Holocaust, as important as each of these are, but because the international community came together in 1920 as rarely seen before and conferred national rights in Eretz Yisrael to the Jewish people.

Less than a week after we celebrate Israel's Independence Day, we will commemorate 90 years since the San Remo Conference. Few nations in the world can show such a determined and unified statement of intent for their national aspirations. When we add this to the corpus of international statements, resolutions and treaties, we will find that although we are perhaps the only member of the United Nations whose legitimacy is regularly questioned, few nations on earth have such modern legal instruments as the Jewish State to cement our legitimacy. We need to learn these facts and to teach them to others.

On this, Israel's Independence Day, many see the glass as half-empty. We have so many challenges and obstacles to overcome. However, we should remember our achievements. In a time when intellectual property will become the greatest resource of the 21st century, Israel stands at the forefront of innovation and technology. Israel's inventions and technological knowledge are making the deserts bloom in Africa, saving millions of lives through its medicinal innovations, creating alternative energies and securing the future of many people around the world.

We have continued Herzl's vision, even after our independence, and we are dreaming of bigger and better things to come. This is why we have a bright future, and with your help we can make it even brighter, not only for Israel, but also for all the people who are inspired, assisted and supported by Israel. We hope to see you here during Israel's 63rd year since our reestablishment and help celebrate the dream of the Zionist visionary that was born 150 years ago. (

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Bill Clinton Explains How Middle East Utopia is Just Around the Corner, Just Tell Israel and Palestinians How to Make Peace

Barry Rubin

It’s truly amazing what some people say about the Middle East without anyone noticing the inaccuracies and contradictions. An interview former President Bill Clinton gave to the ABC news’ program “This Week” is a wonderful example of this situation.

As a friend of mine who's a policy analyst just put it in evaluating another, roughly similar article: "Everyone should have views that approximate reality. There's still plenty of room for argument within that space." I will now show, point by point, how almost everything Clinton said, however, is outside that space. Still, Clinton—who was an okay president—is savvy enough to make one terrific argument which shows he really does understand the shortcomings of Obama Administration policy.

Of course, as a fellow former president, a Democrat, and husband of a certain secretary of state, Clinton isn’t going to trash the current government’s stances. But his statements force him into saying some very silly things. I will give you one point for each of them you spot. Read each paragraph, think of one or more major problems with it, and then read my analysis.

"If [Obama] decides to [issue his own peace plan], I will support it,” said Clinton, suggesting that such an action would be like what he did at the Camp David meeting and later in the Clinton peace plan, both in 2000.

What’s wrong with this?

Answer: Clinton did not really present his own peace plan in either case. On both occasions, he was presenting a plan which he had cleared with Israel’s prime minister. This was appropriate since the Israeli government had agreed to make some major concessions if it received certain things in return. In sharp contrast, however, Obama would be proposing a plan demanding Israeli concessions which not only hasn’t been approved by Israel’s government but which the president knows it would oppose.

Incidentally, as we will see in a moment Clinton knows—despite his support—that this is a serious mistake. If the president puts forward a plan both sides will reject he does no good and ends up looking very foolish. Moreover, what about Clinton's own experience: offering a great deal to the Palestinian Authority (PA) and watching them turn it down. Shouldn't he be warning Obama--and his spouse--more about how the PA is unwilling or unable to make peace?

Next, what’s wrong with this:

“We need to do something to deprive both sides of any excuse not to engage in serious negotiations."

Answer: If the goal is to get talks going, the way to do so is not to propose a comprehensive peace plan which both sides will certainly reject but to start with small things on which they can agree. To put forward such a plan would be the best “excuse not to engage in serious negotiations” of all!

But, by the way, might it be relevant that the PA has refused to talk for 15 months while Israel's government has been ready to meet during this entire period? So Clinton knows Israel is not looking for any excuse not to engage in serious negotiations. The PA is. But to be "even -handed," Clinton is covering up for PA intransigence. And who should know better about PA intransigence then the man who was humiliated by Yasir Arafat's refusal to make peace in 2000?

At this point, Clinton does give some good advice: “The current Israeli government, with its current coalition, almost certainly would reject it. And the argument is that that makes us look weak." Right. Why put forward a plan that’s going to be rejected. The Obama Administration already looks dangerously weak. Once both sides reject its plan, things will really be at a dead end.

But soon we are back in fantasyland. So what’s wrong with this:

Clinton said that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would vastly reduce the level of terrorism in the region: “Half of the energy coming out of all this organization and money-raising for terror comes out of the allegations around the unresolved Palestinian issue."

What’s wrong with this?

Answer: Suppose you are the kind of Arab who supports terrorist groups politically and gives them money. Would a two-state compromise agreement make you stop doing that? Of course not, you would say that the Palestinian Authority had betrayed the Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims, while the United States was a horrible enemy that had destroyed the chance for destroying Israel and creating a Palestinian Muslim Arab state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.

Consider Hamas. If an agreement was made leaving it aside, would it fold up? Stop terrorism? Cease receiving money? Lose all popular support? Forfeit the backing of Iran, Syria, and the Muslim Brotherhoods? And how in Hades are you going to have and implement such a solution without the Gaza Strip?

See if you can spot the pattern: King Abdallah of Jordan made a deal with Israel and was assassinated. President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt made a deal with Israel and was assassinated. President Bashar Gemayel of Lebanon made a deal with Israel and was assassinated. Ah, "President" Mahmoud Abbas, please just sign right here and terrorism will just disappear. Nothing to worry about!

What planet is Bill Clinton living on if he believes this? Well, he probably doesn't believe it.


"If there were a Palestinian state working in would be a whole different world. All the Arabs would identify with Israel. They'd have a political and economic partnership. The whole economic basis in the Middle East would shift from oil to ideas."

What’s wrong with this? (This is an easy one.)

Answer: First, it assumes a Palestinian state would be at total peace with Israel and would want to cooperate with it. This ignores Palestinian politics, public opinion, the composition of the Fatah leadership, and the large minority of those supporting Hamas and other radical groups (25 percent in the West Bank at minimum) who'd reject any such thing. It is quite possible (and that's putting it conservatively) that the Palestinian government would support (or even sponsor) continuous incitement to destroy Israel and view it as an enemy; cross-border raids; and requests for foreign Arab military aid. To analyze an Israel-Palestinian agreement as operating perfectly is a leap of faith far beyond any Olympic record.

Then there is the equally awesome assumption that a bilateral agreement would make all that cultural-economic mistrust and hatred disappear overnight in Arab states. Egypt has been at peace with Israel for more than three decades with attitudes not changing. What about Muslim hatred of a Jewish state in the region and Arab nationalist horror at the idea of Israel’s continued existence? Arab states would still fear Israeli strategic and economic domination. The naïve idea of a Middle East shifting from oil to ideas, of the Arab rulers or masses "identifying" with Israel is not something that a former president should suggest as serious. It's not something any rational adult should predict.

Here’s another one:

"Look at what the Saudi Arabians are doing -- building six new towns. The UAE wins the international competition for the clean energy agency, and they're going to build a carbon-neutral city in the UAE. And nobody thinks about this. Dubai is the only country, with huge amounts of imported workers, that's actually passed legislation to give these immigrant workers a better deal in the Middle East. And they've got women in the government; they have a joint public-private decision-making process. Nobody knows anything about it. Why? Because of the Palestinian-Israeli thing."

What’s wrong with this?

Answer: Before saying anything else, it should be noted that Clinton has reportedly received a lot of money from Dubai, including millions for helping the ruler make investments and advising Dubai on its controversial attempt to buy a company managing U.S. ports. Isn't that a bit of a conflict of interests for him to talk about how great that place is and not even mentioning its recent financial collapse?

But back to the political issues. Well, of course people do know about events in the Gulf. But these are wealthy states rolling in oil dough. There's a lot of poverty in other Arab countries and developments in the Israel-Palestinian issue will have no effect on that. Equally, there's a lot of dictatorial regimes holding down populations which are not ready--to cite the words of a Jordanian king decades ago--to act like the Swiss. And in each country there's a life-and-death battle between regimes and revolutionary Islamists.

If anything, an unpopular peace agreement--and that's what it would be--is going to inflame these internal conflicts rather than soothe them. Indeed, if we see how Arab regimes use the conflict to distract passion and attention from getting rid of themselves, removing the conflict would increase instability in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other places.

No, the Israel-Palestinian conflict is not the only problem, nor is the idea that if Arabs read more about how great Dubai is they would want to spend their time building nice environmentally cool cities instead of engaging in radical rhetoric or activities.

So what is Clinton talking about when he says, “Nobody knows anything” about this stuff? Is he implying that the Israel-Palestinian conflict will go away and millions of Arabs are going to say: Wow! Now I get it! Let’s have democracy, moderation, and equality for women!

But what about the Islamism thing, and the dictatorship thing, and the nationalist thing, and the Sunni-Shia thing, and all those other little things? Is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the only factor keeping the region from being a utopia? Clinton suggests that it is.

Another one: If there was an Israeli-Palestinian agreement, “How could the Syrians stay out there alone—cooperating with the Iranians, and letting Hizballah people travel through Syria, and doing all the things they do?”

What’s wrong with that?

Answer: Where to begin! There's no real reason that the Syrians can't "stay out there alone." One reason is that they've been doing so for decades, regarding their siding with Iran against other Arab states. Another reason is that they won't be alone even among Arab states and political forces. They have Iran on their side, the strongest single Muslim-majority state in the region and soon to be a nuclear power. They have Hamas (which rules the Gaza Strip) and Hizballah (which runs much of Lebanon and has veto power over the government) and many other allies in that country. They sponsor the Sunni Iraqi insurgents and can depend on a huge slice of Arab and Muslim opinion. They also would have Qatar, Yemen, and Libya, while the Egyptian and Jordanian Muslim Brotherhoods would join forces with them, too.

The Iranians, Syrians, and many others would all denounce the agreement as treason. Oppositionists would try to assassinate any Arab leader who went along with it. There would be riots in every Arab capital.

Clinton seems to speak here as if he has no idea what makes Arab politics different from those in Western Europe.

If you think six of Clinton’s statements were right you can be a high-level Western policymaker; five right, a leading mainstream media pundit; four right, a professor of Middle East studies.

If, however, you understand why the six points made by Clinton which I highlighted were wrong you can write a blog just like this one, have no influence, and receive no honors whatsoever. None of the points you make will be repeated on television or in the most prestigious newspapers.

But there’s a consolation prize: History will prove you to be right.

Optional note: Please understand that there is absolutely nothing about any of the above arguments that is liberal or conservative, left or right. It is all sheer analysis of regional politics and political culture. These are conclusions that everyone should be able to reach no matter what their personal viewpoint, party affiliations, or nationality. There is no greater disservice one can do to one's people (or audience) than to feed them nonsense which will lead to serious strategic indigestion later.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

The Palestinians’ Dirty War
by Khaled Abu Toameh

Were it not for Israel’s presence between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Fatah and Hamas would most likely be dispatching suicide bombers and rockets at each other.

And they would perhaps still be throwing each other’s supporters from the fifteenth and sixteenth floors of tall buildings had not Israel, in the summer of 2007, helped Fatah members and their families run away from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank.

This is not a conflict over which side will bring democracy and good government to the Palestinians so much as it is a power struggle over money and power. The fight between Hamas and Fatah is not a power struggle between good guys and bad guys: it is a rivalry between bad guys and bad guys.

Fatah leaders hate Hamas to a point where they are even prepared to ally themselves with the “Israeli enemy” to achieve their goal of overthrowing the Hamas government. During Israel’s last massive military operation in the Gaza Strip over a year ago, Fatah officials provided Israel with valuable intelligence that resulted in the killing of many Hamas operatives.

A state is not something that Palestinians should expect Binyamin Netanyahu or Ehud Olmert or Shimon Peres to give them on a silver platter. A state is something that the people earn by standing united and establishing good government and proper institutions and infrastructure, as well as democracy and a strong economy.

The only way to make progress towards peace is by insisting that the Palestinians first get their act together.

What is the point in signing any agreement with Mahmoud Abbas or Salam Fayyad when we all know that the two men have no control over the Gaza Strip?

And who said that Abbas or Fayyad, who are regarded by a large number of Palestinians as “puppets” in the hands of the Israelis and Americans, would ever be able to sell a peace deal with Israel to a majority of Arabs and Muslims?

While Fatah has been seeking the help of the Israelis, Americans and Europeans to get rid of Hamas, the Islamic movement continues to rely on Iran, Syria and Qatar to undermine and discredit its rivals in the West Bank.

The power struggle began almost immediately after Hamas came to power in January 2006. Backed by the US and some European countries, Fatah, which never came to terms with its humiliating defeat in the election, set as its main goal the task of overthrowing Hamas.

Instead of drawing the conclusions from its defeat and putting its house in order, Fatah chose to do its utmost to return to power by any means. Attempts at that time to topple the Hamas regime backfired and triggered a mini civil war that resulted in the entire collapse of the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority in the Gaza Strip.

When the war ended without the removal of Hamas from power, a number of senior Fatah officials expressed disappointment that Israel had not “finished the job.”

The biggest mistake the Americans and Europeans made back then was to allow Hamas to participate in the election unconditionally. Hamas should have been told that if it wished to contest the vote, it must accept three conditions: renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist and honor all previous agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel.

The international community finally did wake up and present Hamas with these three conditions. But then it was too late because the Islamic movement had already won in a free and democratic election that was even supervised by former US President Jimmy Carter.

Now, the two rival Palestinian parties, which have been at war with one another since the former US Administration and many European governments drove the Palestinians into a parliamentary election in 2006, seem determined to pursue the fight to the last Palestinian.

This dirty civil war has thus far claimed the lives of nearly 2,000 Palestinians, most of them innocent civilians, while thousands of others have been injured.

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas is reported to have killed or imprisoned many Fatah loyalists over the past three years. Human rights organizations recently expressed concern over the Hamas government’s intention to start executing “collaborators” - many of whom are believed to be Fatah men.

In the West Bank, hundreds of Hamas members and supporters are being held in Fatah-run prisons without trial. Dozens of Hamas-affiliated charities and educational institutions have been closed. Thousands of civil servants suspected of being Hamas supporters have been fired by the Palestinian Authority government.

In this war, Hamas and Fatah have been using various “weapons.” This war is taking place not only on the ground, but also in the media. The two sides have established countless Web sites that are almost entirely dedicated to attacking one another.

It is hard to see how the “peace process” could ever move forward when the Palestinians are too busy fighting each other. The gap between the two Palestinian entities is so wide that they could not even reach agreement on weekend holidays. And last week hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip were left in the dark for a few days because the government in the West Bank did not pay the bill for fuel that keeps the local electricity company operating.

The Hamas-Fatah dispute is an internal Palestinian affair that should be solved by the Palestinians and not the Saudis, Egyptians, Israelis or Americans.

Outside meddling in Palestinians affairs will only exacerbate the crisis.

Monday, April 19, 2010

"Celebrating the Jewish State"

Arlene Kkushner

This is being written hours before Yom Ha'Atzmaut -- Israeli Independence Day-- will begin. Regularly I mention this: There is a siren sounded as Yom HaZikaron fades into darkness, and we, as a nation, go from mourning the dead to celebrating the nation. Some are discomfited by this, but I find the transition moving and quintessentially Jewish, for we as a people live with pain and joy, side by side. Sharing two videos. First, a prayer for the Israeli Defense Forces:

And then, an accounting of some of our incredible achievements:

In addition, I have placed on my website a brief description of our rights to eastern Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Please, read it, share it with others, and bookmark it for future reference. It contains basic information that everyone should have, and which all too many are not aware of.


Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon has given a major interview to the JPost.

Here I provide a couple of significant quotes:

"Those who want to continue the Oslo process, who want us to continue to give and give and give, without a Palestinian willingness to recognize our right to a national home, are cooperating with the phased plans for Israel's destruction."

"If we are seen as standing firm against the Jihadists, against Hamas and Hezbollah, that serves the US interests. And if we are seen as weak, whether in Lebanon, Gaza or in Judea and Samaria, that harms US interests."


"The phased plans for Israel's destruction"? Something else everyone needs to be aware of:

After the Yom Kippur war, after the Arabs had tried again and again to defeat Israel militarily and had found it impossible, a new approach was decided upon. The PLO instituted something called the "Strategy of Stages." (It's documented.) This means taking Israel down one step at a time by weakening her, including via diplomatic means.

THIS is what we are witness to today. For example, the insistence that we accept the Arab "Peace Initiative" is part of this. It's not about truly making peace with Israel, but rather trying to shove us back to the non-defensible '67 lines and to force us to accept millions of so-called refugees who would further destabilize us from within.

Various demands made of us by the Arabs need to be examined with a jaundiced eye: What is real movement for peace and what is motivated by intention to weaken us as a step towards our eventual destruction? When this yardstick is utilized, a great deal becomes apparent.


Because keeping Israel strong is an imperative, I turn, with considerable reluctance, to a major scandal that has made press here and abroad. This scandal deserves analysis because of two major issues:

One is the readiness of a left wing inside of Israel not to stand strong with us, but to take positions that are destructive to us. This, more than all the attacks from the outside, is a source of grief.

And then, a readiness on the part of the left -- here and elsewhere equally -- to always judge Israel harshly and to demonstrate an inordinate concern for Palestinian Arabs, including those who are terrorists. This needs to be addressed, particularly when crimes are committed and distortions advanced in the name of this "higher" concern.


The scandal, which most are undoubtedly familiar with, concerns the theft of classified documents by Anat Kamm, when she was working as a soldier assigned to IDF Central Command. (She had passed security clearance but the check was obviously insufficient.)

Certain media sources particularly within the States made a heroine of her, because, according to her version of matters, "I didn't succeed in changing enough things that it was important to me to change during my army service, and I thought that I would bring about that change by exposing them. That's why it was important to me to inform the public about the IDF's policies in the territories."

Well, bravo for her. She lifted 2,000 documents -- downloading them to CDs and then uploading them to her own computer -- more than two years ago. Documents that would put our soldiers and civilians in jeopardy were they to fall into the wrong hands. Documents that included top-secret information about IDF units and armaments, and operational plans.

Part of what was claimed in her defense -- in particular by Judith Miller on "The Daily Beast" website -- was that Kamm was a journalist, and Israel, in actions reprehensible for a democracy, was denying her journalistic freedoms. The fact is that Kamm didn't become a journalist (of sorts) until after she had stolen the documents -- and had left the army and started working for the Walla Web portal. She stands accused of espionage.


Kamm, after her military discharge, gave the documents to Uri Blau, a reporter at Haaretz (which has behaved reprehensibly in the course of this incident).

Blau based at least one 2008 story on this material, which tipped off the Shin Bet. Israeli security put a gag order on this incident so that Israeli media could not carry the story. As I understand it, negotiations ensued with Blau who agreed to return the material as long as he wasn't required to reveal his source.

Ultimately, Shin Bet discovered it was Kamm who had lifted the documents and recently she was placed under house arrest (angering Kamm, who was attempting to protect her). Meanwhile, it turned out that Blau had returned some but not all of the documents, and he fled to London, refusing to return. The Shin Bet, which had been using soft techniques to bring Blau around is approaching this with more vigor at this point.

To the best of my knowledge, Blau has not returned and there are still documents in his possession. What is more, Kamm claimed to have "lost" one CD, so that some information is floating in an indetermination location.


Just recently, while the gag order (which has since been lifted) was still in effect, the story was broken by the NYTimes, which made Kamm a heroine.

The Times article describes what Blau had written about:

"The article by Mr. Blau at the center of the storm...focused on an episode in June 2007 in which two Palestinian militants belonging to the Islamic Jihad group were killed by Israeli security forces in the West Bank. The military said at the time that the two were killed in an exchange of fire with Israeli forces.

"Mr. Blau noted that months before, one of the militants, Ziad Subhi Muhammad Malaisha, had been marked as a target for assassination by the Israeli Army’s Central Command, which is responsible for the West Bank.

"Mr. Blau’s article suggested that Mr. Malaisha’s killing contravened an Israeli Supreme Court ruling from December 2006 that strictly limited the circumstances in which the military can to carry out pre-emptive strikes. Haaretz printed copies of Central Command documents stating that Mr. Malaisha and two other Islamic Jihad leaders were eligible targets alongside the report."

We will leave aside for a moment the question of whether the Court has proper jurisdiction to decide how the IDF operates with regard to known terrorists. What the Court had said was that terrorists can be shot only if they cannot be arrested and if there are no others who are not targeted in range. The charge is that this ruling is circumvented by the IDF.

Blau cited the head of Central Command who said: "If the guy [who they've identified as a terrorist who's wanted] doesn't put his hands up we don't ask questions, we immediately establish contact. I don't want to have people hurt for no reason. If I know that the guy is armed and is a ticking bomb, then I want him to be hit immediately without fooling around."

Blau offered this as a condemnation of the IDF, but it depends on perspective. A ticking bomb who is armed... do you risk IDF personnel attempting to arrest him?


This, then was the "crime" of which the IDF stood accused by Blau. And it is this issue that resulted in seriously negative PR for Israel, once again.

For me it is not only an issue of a soldier breaking the law and a journalist who lied to Israeli Security. For me it also about priorities that are badly skewed and a continued attempt to malign Israel.
We're talking about terrorists here, just any Palestinian Arab on the street. Terrorists who either have already been involved in the death of innocent Israelis or are enmeshed in a system that plans such deaths. And we are in a war with them, no matter that most do not recognize that war.

This is of a piece with the accusations made against Israel in the Goldstone Report. In the course of defending ourselves, and in spite of care taken with regard to operations, we stand forever accused of improper behavior.

For those learning of such accusations in the media, the lesson is that there should be no rush to judge Israel.


Shifting the Paradigm for Palestine: From the Political to the Humanitarian

Martin Sherman

Professor Martin Sherman is the 2009-2010 Hebrew Union College/University of Southern California Schusterman Visiting Israeli Professor of Security Studies and International Policy.

Professor Sherman is the academic director of the Jerusalem Summit and a research fellow in the Security Studies Program at Tel Aviv University. He is also a research fellow at the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) and was an academic advisor to the Herzliya Conference. Professor Sherman served for several years in operational capacities in the Israeli intelligence community and has held the post of ministerial advisor to the Israeli government. Professor Sherman's books include The Politics of Water in the Middle East, (1999) and Despots, Democrats and the Determinants of International Conflict, (1998). He has been published widely in journals and has edited books and policy papers on a range of strategic and foreign policy issues. His latest work focuses on Israel's developing ties with India. Professor Sherman is a frequent television and radio commentator on foreign and security policy topics in Hebrew and English.

The following is an alternative proposal for a non-coercive resolution or, rather, dissolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict­ - to replace the disastrously failed "two-state/land-for-peace" paradigm.

Clearly, within the restricted limits of a single "Briefing" it is not possible to provide either a comprehensive presentation of any far-reaching departure from conventional wisdom, or persuasive argumentation to justify each of its component elements. The most that can be achieved under such severe constraints is to sketch the outlines of the proposal, to list briefly its major components and to hope that it will spark a wider, more detailed debate of the proposal's feasibility, economic costs, international acceptability and, of course, its relative merits and demerits compared to other alternatives currently "on the table."

In formulating an alternative paradigmatic approach to the Palestinian issue, a few simple, but starkly significant factors should be kept firmly in mind:

Firstly, to survive as the nation-state of the Jews, Israel must successfully address two imperatives, one demographic and the other geographic.

Secondly, in contending with these imperatives, Israel must face two dangers, one of the two-state solution, which does not adequately address the "geographic imperative" and the other of the emerging (and arguably more severe) danger of the one-state solution, which does not adequately address the "demographic imperative."

Addressing Both Geographic and Demographic Imperatives

Accordingly, any comprehensive alternative, whose underlying strategic goal is the permanent preservation of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, must address both the geographic and the demographic imperatives and contend with the dangers that both the two-state and the one-state approaches entail.

Moreover, any realistic policy approach cannot be oblivious to the enduring failure of the Palestinians to function as an effective, coherent national entity. In spite of the fact that they have had arguably the most conducive conditions ever enjoyed by any post World War I national independence moment, they have proven to be totally incapable of establishing any semblance of a stable, productive civil society.

Indeed during the last Half Century, the Palestinians have had the benefit of:


The unmitigated superpower (Soviet) support during the decades of the Cold War;

Wall-to-wall international endorsement of their claims;

Highly favorable coverage by the international media;

Huge financial aid-until recently, the world's highest on a per capita basis;

Almost two decades of Israeli administrations that not only explicitly acknowledged their demands, but in some cases actually identified with them. In fact, even fashioning their domestic political platform on the basis of that identification.

Yet despite this glut of advantages, in the two decades since the Oslo Agreement thrust the opportunity of statehood upon them, all the Palestinians have managed to produce is:


A corrupt kleptocracy under Fatah,

A tyrannical theocracy under Hamas; and

A chronic chaos under both.

Accordingly, an increasingly plausible claim can be made that, as a national entity, the Palestinians have failed the test of history. This is a position strongly endorsed by Azmi Bishara, a self-proclaimed "Palestinian," who served as a member of the Knesset, representing Balad, an anti-Zionist Arab party, until forced to flee because of allegations of treason for aiding Hezbollah in the 2006 War in Lebanon.

In 2002, Bishara declared,"... I don't think there is a Palestinian nation at all. I think there is an Arab nation. When were there any Palestinians? Where did it come from? ... until the end of the 19th century, Palestine was the south of Greater Syria."

Indeed, what seems to be emerging is that the Palestinian behavior is motivated far more by a desire to dismantle the Jewish state than to establish a Palestinian one. This is reflected in numerous declarations by Palestinian leaders, one of the more explicit ones by Zuheir Muhsin, the former head of the PLO's Military Department and member of its Executive Council: "...the existence of a separate Palestinian identity serves only tactical purposes. The founding of a Palestinian state is a new tool in the continuing battle against Israel."

It should be clear, therefore, that the conventional wisdom approach of "land-for-peace/two-state-solution" is futile, fraudulent and fraught with peril. As former (far-left) Meretz Party Education Minister and Israel Prize Laureate Prof. Amnon Rubinstein once wrote in Ha'aretz: "Since the time of [Nazi propaganda chief] Dr. Goebbels there has never been a case in which continual repetition of a lie has borne such great fruits... Of all the Palestinian lies there is no greater or more crushing lie than that which calls for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the West Bank..."

Moving Beyond a Palestinian State, A Focus on the Humanitarian Needs

Accordingly, both political prudence and intellectual integrity dictate that the issues of a Palestinian state be removed from the international agenda. This, of course, is easier said than done, as the issue has become deeply ingrained into the culture of the international political discourse. It will require a huge public diplomacy (PD) offensive, way beyond the pathetically puny efforts presently devoted to this field by Israel. (Despite its crucial importance, the scope and substance of such a PD offensive, is beyond the scope of this essay).

Even if the issue of Palestinian statehood is removed from the international debate as an appropriate objective to be aspired to, however, this will not remove the genuine humanitarian plight of the Palestinians both under Israeli administration-and even more so under Arab administration. It is this plight that needs to be addressed both by Israel and by international community, and it is the focus on the humanitarian rather than the political that constitutes the core of this proposal.

There is little doubt that the ensuing proposal will, at least initially, provoke a fierce partisan debate as to its feasibility. There can, however, also be little doubt that if implemented, it will indeed address both the demographic and geographic imperatives and contend with dangers inherent in both the one-state and the two-state approaches.

Moreover, several opinion polls, conducted by both Israeli and Palestinians, indicated that there would be widespread support for its implementation, on both sides. And despite any controversy the proposal may raise, there can be little dispute at to the irrefutable libertarian nature of its components. These comprise:


Eliminating the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) anomaly that exacerbates the Palestinian "refugee" problem and perpetuates their culture of dependency.

Eliminating ethnic discrimination against Palestinians resident in the Arab world.

Facilitating the exercise of free will by individual Palestinians in determining their future.

The proposal diverges from the current attempts at resolving the conflict, in both methodology and substance, and advocates:


Abandoning the political paradigm and adopting a humanitarian one.

Abandoning a quest for a solution to the problem and focusing on its dissolution (i.e. its dispersion).

De-politicizing the conceptual discourse and dealing with individuals directly through practical policy measures.

Addressing the Palestinians not as a coherent collective but as discrete individual human beings.

Moreover and arguably most important, it can be implemented without having to secure any agreement with any Arab collective entity-whether a state or an organization.

UNRWA Perpetuates the Palestinian Refugee Problem, UNHCR Could Solve It

A brutally condensed tour de raison of the substantive elements of the proposal begins with UNRWA and the refugee issue. There is a growing awareness that UNRWA is one of the principal stumbling blocks to a resolution of the Palestinian predicament, as demonstrated by the increasing number of publications focusing on the dysfunctional nature of the organization. While a detailed account of the pernicious and obstructive role UNRWA plays is well beyond the possible scope of this piece, it must be stressed that UNRWA is a highly anomalous organization.

All the refugees on the face of the globe are under the auspices of the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) except for the Palestinians. For them, a separate special institution exists, UNRWA. These two bodies even have different definitions of the term "refugee" and different mandates for dealing with them-a factor that has immense political and practical implications. For example, the UNHCR with a staff of about 5,000 deals with an annual "client population" of 30 million refugees, typically finding permanent solutions for them in less than two generations. By contrast, UNRWA, with a staff five times larger (25,000), has not managed to solve the problem for a client population five times smaller (of allegedly 4.5 million) in over six decades. As the late Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), ranking Democratic member of the House International Relations Committee once remarked:

... I am frankly baffled as to why, more than 50 years after the founding of the State of Israel, there continues to exist a UN agency focused solely on Palestinian refugees. Why has an agency that was established on a temporary basis evolved into a permanent institution that is outside the administrative and policy jurisdiction of the other UN voluntary agencies? Why have UNRWA's responsibilities not been folded into the operations of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees? ...No other refugee problem in the world has been treated in this privileged and prolonged manner.

A more comprehensive analysis of the far-reaching significance of Lantos' observation must be delayed for another occasion. Suffice it to say, however, that if the universally accepted UNHCR criteria for refugees were applied to the Palestinian case, the number of "refugees" would shrink dramatically-from close to 5 million to around 200,000. These figures starkly underline that both the scale and the durability of the Palestinian refugee problem fueled by the anomalous and distorted parameters of it definition.

Folding UNRWA into the framework of UNHCR would, of course, have significant ramifications for large Palestinian populations resident in the Arab countries, who would no longer receive the anomalous handouts paid to them by the organization and which perpetuate the culture of dependency that prevails among them. This leads to the second element of the proposal: the intense ethnic discrimination against the Palestinians resident in the Arab world where Palestinians have severe restrictions imposed on their freedom of movement, employment opportunities, and property ownership. But most significantly, they are denied citizenship of the countries in which they have lived for decades.

The acquisition of citizenship of the countries of their long-standing residency is something overwhelming desired by the Palestinians as numerous opinion surveys indicate. Indeed, the prominent Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki had his office trashed because his poll results showed that refugees were less interested in being nationalist standard-bearers than in living fuller lives in their current abodes (New York Times, 7-13-2003). Significantly, Mahmoud Abbas, PLO chairman and Palestinian National Authority president, endorsed this view when he "requested that the Arab states grant citizenship certificates to the Palestinians living within their borders." (Ha'aretz, Aug. 21, 2005).

Arab League Continues to Use Palestinians as Pawns

Should any doubt prevail as to whether the Palestinians are being held in a state of "suspended animation" as a political pawn by the by their Arab brethren, the words of the Hisham Youssef, spokesman for the 22-nation Arab League should speedily dispel them. Youssef conceded that in the Arab world Palestinians live "in very bad conditions," but claimed this policy is meant "to preserve their Palestinian identity, explaining that, "If every Palestinian who sought refuge in a certain country was integrated and accommodated into that country, there won't be any reason for them to return to Palestine [sic]." (Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2004) In fact, there is every reason for them not to return-for even fervent supporters of a Palestinian state acknowledge that an influx of millions from the Palestinian Diaspora would be burden too onerous for it to bear.

Accordingly, with the abolition of UNWRA and the accompanying changes in scope of the population eligible for refugee aid, an assertive diplomatic drive must be undertaken to mobilize international pressure on Arab governments to end their ethnic discrimination against the Palestinians; to desist from the perpetuating the stateless status of their Palestinian residents and allow them to acquire the citizenship of countries in which they have resided for decades.

Even if not entirely successful, such a drive would, at minimum, underscore the callous cynicism with which the Arab regimes exploit their Palestinian kin-folk and serve to deflect pressure currently exerted on Israel.

Offering Palestinians Under Israeli Administration a Choice

This brings us to the third and final element of the proposal: Allowing individual Palestinians under Israeli administration the exercise of free will in determining their destiny.

If the first two elements of the proposed solution are directed toward easing the plight of the Palestinians in the Arab world, this measure is aimed at those inside the Israeli administered areas.

In essence it involves permitting individual Palestinians free choice as to how to chart their future and that of their families. The major thrust of these efforts should comprise two major elements:

(a) Generous monetary compensation to affect the relocation and rehabilitation of the Palestinian residents in territories across the 1967 "Green Line", elsewhere in world, preferably but not necessarily in the Arab/Muslim countries.

(b) Individualization of the implementation by making the offer of compensation and relocation directly to breadwinners and heads of families, and not through any Palestinian organizational entity which may well have a vested interest in foiling the scheme.

Although many skeptics may raise an eyebrow as to the acceptability of the proposal to the Palestinians and its feasibility in terms of economic cost, two points should be underscored.

Firstly, substantial statistical data exist that indicate that such a measure would be enthusiastically embraced by a very large portion of the Palestinian population. According to one poll, only 15 percent would refuse any a financial offer that allows them to seek a better life elsewhere, while over 70 percent would accept it. Indeed, given the choices of a life either under the rigors of Israeli control or worse, under the regressive and repressive regime that the Palestinians have hitherto provided, who could blame them?

As for that overall economic cost, it is easy to show that the implementation of the proposed plan would be comparable-indeed, probably less costly-than other alternatives currently under discussion, involving the establishment of a new state, developing its infrastructures and presumably absorbing a large portion of the Palestinian Diaspora within its constricted frontiers.

Finally, it should be remembered that for the prospective host nations, the scheme has distinct economic upside. Given the scale of the envisioned compensation, the Palestinian immigrants would not be arriving as destitute refugees, but as relatively wealthy families in terms of average world GNP per capita. Accordingly, their absorption would entail significant capital inflows into the host economies-probably around half a billion dollars for the absorption of every two- to three-thousand family units.

Summary - A New Humanitarian Initiative

The time has come for imaginative new initiatives to defuse and disperse one of the global community's most volatile problems for which remedies hitherto attempted are evidently inappropriate. Accordingly, there seems ample reason to seriously address an alternative proposal, which at least, prima facie, suggests measures to


Improve dramatically the lot of individual Palestinians.

Defuse the Palestinian humanitarian predicament.

Ensure the continued survival of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.

Inject billions of dollars of funds in to the economies of host nations.

Israel, the Palestinians and the international community can ill afford to dismiss it without a serious debate of its potential payoffs as well as its possible pitfalls.