Saturday, March 26, 2011

You’re a “Foolish” Man, Charlie Brown

Norma Zager

As Charlie Brown runs toward the waiting football held aloft by Lucy, he lifts his leg anticipating a kick that will hurl the ball into space when suddenly, Lucy grabs the ball and regales with laughter as poor Charlie Brown once again falls flat on his face.

Watching terrorist events unfold in Israel leaves me with an unsettling feeling the United States is not far behind.

One often ponders the acceptance with which Israelis move ahead so quickly following murder and mayhem, and yet we are beginning to see the very same mindset embedding itself into US society.

Is this a bad thing? Absolutely. Will it weaken us as a nation? Most definitely. It obviously already has.

Them’s pretty strong words, Norma, some might say.

I stand by them and I have proof.

When Israel began its journey into nationhood, it was born out of dedication, blood and violence. The Arabs, like the British at Concord, refused to accept a new reality without shedding as much enemy blood as inhumanly possible.

I am not equating Israel with the United States, who fought against British rule and confiscated land from the Indians, the rightful owners.

Israel’s situation was unique in that its return to nationhood came after numerous claims and legitimate titles had been ignored and disregarded for centuries.

However, it is not the legitimacy of the state I am addressing, only the mindset.

As someone pointed out last evening in a lecture, when one battles for a cause, there must be a victorious agenda.

George Washington’s armies had no thought of surrender, only total victory and the demise of British rule. The goal was clear, their blood was boiling, their dedication unfaltering.

In 1948, statehood and death were the only two options Jews entertained. After the Arab League was formed and they chose as their first task war against the new state of Israel, the Jewish choice seemed predetermined, death or freedom.

Now both countries have become fat, lazy and cavalier about their own freedoms and history.

There is a difference of course in the fact Israel chooses to ignore its truth, and the United States is fervently rewriting ours. Our forefathers and their struggles are barely recognizable any longer.

In Israel, the words of former leaders are carefully buried and ignored as a new politico emerges. They have been worn down by constant attacks, murder and tragedy. Their former fighting spirit is dulled by the memory of atrocities against their children, bombs exploding constantly in their schoolyards and innocent victims blown to bits in public places or modes of transportation. This has been their legacy and it has exacted a great toll.

The ploy has worked brilliantly. Israelis care more for achieving peace, at any cost, than maintaining statehood and strength.

Israel is the abused wife who believes perhaps a good dinner will prevent a nightly beating from a brutal husband. But it isn’t about her. It isn’t about anything she can do or any meal she can fix.

It isn’t about Israel and any land they can give.

Land for peace is simply Charlie Brown kicking one more football held by Lucy.

She will always ensure Charlie lands on his tush, weakened and dispirited.

And now we have the United States slowly converting and morphing into a victim mentality.

The World Trade Towers, the Underwear Bomber, Fort Hood, multiple attempts we have seen fail and the unknown hundreds or thousands the government hides from view daily are evident in our new collective psyche. We have become a battered woman, seeking to appease our abuser.

The Muslim World has been battling for domination since its inception ions ago and they have learned one thing well. Wearing down an enemy will always work. Slowly and meticulously they are fighting us daily on numerous fronts. They are in no rush and exhibit enormous patience. Simply put, they are on a different timeline.

They use our courtrooms and our own government to distort our laws and destroy us. On the battlefields of the Middle East and in our own schoolrooms and college campuses liberalism enables their agenda. Eric Holder defends a Muslim woman who wants time off to visit Mecca; college campuses welcome programs like the Olive Tree Initiative that sends students to Palestine for brainwashing against Israel. Teachers in public schools push liberal agendas to young students against their will.

Observers would wonder at our stupidity to allow this war to rage unanswered. It is not that we are stupid; Israelis and Americans are far from stupid. It is that we are human beings and the enemy is not.

A man against a tiger is no match. Especially when that tiger is hungry for blood and sustenance. A prey, less or most tasty, must find safe haven, else he be devoured alive.

It is amusing at times as one watches in wonder at the absurdity of allowing an enemy so obvious and transparent to win battle after battle with no resistance.

Is it our leaders? Yes, that is much of the reason for the latest abundance of victories we witness. However, in the end, it is only “We the People” who must ultimately stand and fight.

For when they come for us, and they will come, there will be only ourselves standing between evil and our children.

The mistake Israelis make is in believing the enemy wants their land. It is their lives and the lives of their children for which evil is battling. And winning.

Americans are no less naïve.

Handing over the keys to a kingdom will only ensure death to the ruler.

King Louis and Marie Antoinette learned that lesson too late.

Ignoring a war does not nullify its consequences.

Israel will soon have to succumb and accept their options are exhausted.

The United States is not far behind. We have chosen a path that also leads toward destruction.

We must examine once again the words Hope and Change and ask ourselves, as though our lives depended on the answer, because it does: Hope for what and Change for whom?

There is no meal we can make that will stop the beatings. A victim must fight back, change the mindset from victim to victor, and attack the problem to bring about a change.

Have we suffered enough black eyes to get up off the floor, pick up a weapon and fight to win?

I wonder.

The series “Postcards from America—Postcards from Israel” by Ari Bussel and Norma Zager is a compilation of articles capturing the essence of life in America and Israel during the first two decades of the 21st Century.

The writers invite readers to view and experience an Israel and her politics through their eyes, Israel visitors rarely discover.

This point—and often—counter-point presentation is sprinkled with humor and sadness and attempts to tackle serious and relevant issues of the day. The series began in 2008, appears both in print in the USA and on numerous websites and is followed regularly by readership from around the world.

© “Postcards from America — Postcards from Israel,” March, 2011


Friday, March 25, 2011

Israeli settlements are more than legitimate

Critics may assail them on other grounds, but no one can deny that they are legal. In fact, the 1922 Mandate for Palestine encourages them.

By Eric Rozenman

President Obama asserts, seconded by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, that "America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements" in the West Bank. Both have praised the 10-month freeze on new residential building -- excluding eastern Jerusalem -- that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced late last month. Netanyahu now calls for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations or take the blame for lack of progress when the "one-time-only" freeze expires. Abbas' precondition -- adopted after Washington's pronouncements -- is that all Israeli construction, including in eastern Jerusalem, must cease permanently.

Comment: It is first factually incorrect to say that Israeli towns and cities in Samaria and Judea are illegal. Anyone who persists in this mantra is intentionally misleading you and/or realize that you don't know history and therefore can be manipulated. Second, given these territories remain disputed, the percentage of area within these disputed areas is less than 5% of the entire area.Third, the current discussion about these areas and the possibility of "peace" are PC by multiple factions. Fourth, until the Israeli government finally stops playing into the political hands of the West and the Islamic countries and refers to this as Judea and Samaria, refers to the enclaves of people properly as towns and cities and finally calls them Israeli citizens, the ploy of using the "settlements against us will continue unabated.

Palestinians use R2P to call on international community to clamp down in Israel

Ed Lasky

I have been warning the last few days that Barack Obama's endorsement of the trendy Responsibility to Protect Doctrine (R2P) was opening a Pandora's Box and could be used by groups to attack Israel. Yesterday we had Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister calling on the world to bomb Israel to protect Palestinian civilians (since the UN, the Arab League, and Barack Obama have validated this approach to protect civilians in Libya). Today, R2P is now being used by the Palestinians to pressure Israel.


From the Los Angeles Times:

The Palestinian Authority asked for international protection Monday citing a sharp rise in Israeli settler violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank...

Ghassan Khatib, director of the Palestinian Authority media center, issued a statement holding the Israeli government responsible for what he called "serious and systematic escalation" in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, which Israel seized in the 1967 Middle East War.

Khatib called for "urgent international protection to prevent further crimes against the civilians."

Abbas said "there are daily crimes committed by Israeli settlers" against Palestinian civilians, yet no one seems to be talking about them. "Our villages are being attacked on a daily basis, and so our mosques and our homes and our olive trees are cut down," he said. "Israel and the international community should take note of that." While the Palestinians do not use the exact phrase "Responsibility to Protect" they are using the exact same idea behind that phrase - the international community has a responsibility to protect civilians. Since terrorists use civilians to hide behind, and plant themselves and their weapons in civilian areas, R2P can be used as one more manifestation of lawfare to prevent Israel from defending its citizens.

Obama ignored Congress when launching attacks on Libya (and was hypocritical in doing so , as pointed out in today's Boston Globe editorial ) and seemingly outsourced our foreign and defense policy to the Arab League and the United Nations. When he justified the attacks based on the R2P concept that had been floating around the diplomatic world for a few years (a concept supported by George Soros and Samantha Power whose antipathy towards Israel and adoration of the United Nations is well-known), he empowered anti-Israel advocates to use one more ploy to attack Israel.

Carried to its logical conclusion, that the International Community must protect civilians, it is only a matter of time before R2P is used to attack American actions in Iraq, Afghanistan..and perhaps, ironically, in Libya itself.

Obama has wittingly or unwittingly opened a Pandora's Box.

Page Printed from: at March 25, 2011 - 09:01:10 AM CDT

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Pro-Israel Rocker, Kiss’s Gene Simmons, Stands Up for Israel and Arab Democracy Movements


Gene Simmons, a cofounder of the rock band Kiss, recently returned to his native Israel, after a 52-year hiatus. Unlike other entertainers who have boycotted the Jewish state, such as Elvis Costello, the Pixies, and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters, Simmons expressed his support for Israel. “The countries they should be boycotting are the same countries that the populations are rebelling,” Simmons told the AP, suggesting that the entertainers who boycott Israel should place a more critical eye on other nations in Israel’s neighborhood. “People long to be free ... And they sure as hell don’t want somebody who’s a ruler who hasn’t been elected by them.” In supporting Israel, Simmons now joins the former lead singer of the Sex Pistols, punk rocker Johnny Rotten.

David Brinn of the Jerusalem Post reports:

Even though he hadn’t returned to Israel until this week, Simmons has always been an ardent supporter of the country, most recently sending a televised message to a IDF soldier (and Kiss fan) wounded during the 2006 war with Hezbollah in which he called him a “hero.” Although Kiss has never appeared in Israel, Simmons dismissed other entertainers who have chosen to boycott the country as “idiots.”

“As an American, there’s no choice but to be supportive of Israel,” he said. “This is the Holy Land, and it’s no secret that everybody in America perceives Israel as it’s only real friend in the Middle East – who else are you going to rely on?”

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simon’s Tomb and Jewish refugees

12/15/2010 (initial report)

The area witnessed the first flight of people who could not return after the War of Independence. These people were Jews.

The normally placid surroundings of the Tomb of Simon the Just have been shaken in recent months by regular protest in which moral fervor and strident self-righteousness take pride of place. The demonstrators ostensibly protest evictions – of Arab families in this case – although we may doubt their opposition to evictions in principle, since the notable personalities among them were absent from demonstrations five years ago against the eviction of 8,500 Jews from the Gaza Strip.

Be that as it may, whenever we see mass outpourings of emotion – love, anger, sentimentality, grief, hatred – we may wonder just what participants know of the cause for which they demonstrate. Simon’s Tomb and its surroundings merit being seen as a symbol of the struggle between Jews and Arabs, as well as interested foreign parties, that has flowed and ebbed for generations. The area of Simon’s Tomb witnessed the very beginning of the surge of violence, starting shortly after the UN General Assembly recommended partition on November 29, 1947.

It also witnessed the first flight of refugees who could not return after the War of Independence. It may surprise some that these first refugees who could not go home were Jews. Yet this is well-documented.

Simon the Just was a personality of Second Temple times who accomplished legendary exploits in Jewish tradition. He is identified with two high priests named Simon, one at the time of Seleucid Emperor Antiochus III, circa 200 BCE. Another, tradition holds, appeared in white garments before the conquering Alexander of Macedon (332 BCE), thus inducing him to leave the Jews in peace.

Simon’s Tomb is traditionally located in a cave just meters from the cave tomb complexes that are unquestionably of Second Temple times.

For those who doubt the tomb’s authenticity, we cannot prove that Simon is buried there, any more than anyone today can prove Jesus is buried in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Indeed, some Christians propose other locations. Yet this location as Simon’s tomb was attested in 1235.

It is depicted on illustrated charts of Jewish holy sites – a kind of Jewish folk art – as we see in an album published by the Israel Museum (Rachel Sarfati, ed, Offerings from Jerusalem: Portrayals of Holy Places by Jewish Artists).

Lag Ba’omer pilgrimages to the site long competed with pilgrimages to Shimon bar Yohai’s tomb in the Galilee, as it was easier to reach for Jerusalem’s Jews, already a majority in the city by the mid- 19th century.

IN 1876 the Ashkenazi and Sephardi communities joined to purchase the site from the Arab owner, who had until then charged Jews a fee to approach the tomb. Beside enhancing the tomb, homes for poor Jews were built on part of the site, while most of the 18-dunam plot was left undeveloped.

Jerusalem Jews called it the Shimon Hatzaddik Quarter, and it appears by that name in Dan Bahat’s Jerusalem historical atlas. It was adjacent to Sheikh Jarrah but not part of it – contrary to common usage today by thepress and protesters.

In 1947, among the first shots of the Arab war against Jewish independence were those fired at a Jewish bus on the Mount Scopus road adjacent to Shimon Hatzaddik.

Throughout December 1947, Jewish traffic was attacked on the Mount Scopus road, as were Shimon Hatzaddik and nearby Jewish quarters, Nahalat Shimon, Siebenbergen Houses, etc. After hours of intense attack on December 29, Jewish families fled the neighborhood, though some remained for several more days.

The Palestine Post reported on January 4, 1948 that Jews were fleeing Shimon Hatzaddik and other areas. British troops helped induce the exodus by disarming Jews in the quarter. Hence, Jews were the first war refugees in the country who could not go home after the war (Jews also fled in December 1947 from parts of Jaffa and south Tel Aviv, but could go back after the war).

From 1949 to 1967, while Jews could not visit Jewish holy sites under Jordanian rule – in violation of the 1949 armistice accord – the deserted Jewish homes in Shimon Hatzaddik were inhabited by Arab families, while homes for Arabs were built on undeveloped parts of the site around 1955.

After the Six Day War, Jews could again visit Simon’s Tomb, while Arabs remained in the once-Jewish homes on the site. However, in 1998, when an Arab tried to incorporate the synagogue into his own house, Jews moved back, first into the synagogue, which bore clear Hebrew inscriptions, despite claims made to me by an Arab spokesman that Jews never lived there.

More recently, courts ruled that Arab houses on the site belonged to the Jewish land owners. Talented authors Amos Oz and David Grossman have taken part in protests – in the name of peace and justice – against evictions ensuing from refusal of certain Arab tenants to pay rent, thus rejecting the exercise of Jewish property rights. Yet the moralpolitical stances of authors do not impress.

For example, before World War II equally or more talented French authors Jean Giono and Jean Giraudoux praised Hitler, demanding peace with Germany. Giono even described Hitler as “a poet in action.”

By their protests, Oz and Grossman now implicitly endorse the expulsions of Jews in the War of Independence, the first refugees in that war who could not go home afterward.

Furthermore, is a religious body entitled to maintain the area around its holy places? Do Christians want non-Christians living too close to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other Christian holy places? Are non- Muslims allowed into Mecca? Justice is based on truth, not inconsistent principles.

The writer is a researcher and translator living in Jerusalem. He has published in Nativ, Midstream, The Jerusalem Post and other publications.

Disproportionate Restraint

David Isaac

“Disproportionate force” is the accusation invariably hurled at Israel when she does anything beyond lie down in response to Arab attack. In Dec. 2008, for example, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in an effort to reduce Hamas rocket fire coming in from the Gaza Strip – 1,750 rockets and 1,528 mortar bombs were hurled at Israel that year alone. Less than a year passed before the UN Human Rights Council Commission on Gaza led by former South African Judge Richard Goldstone accused Israel of “a deliberate policy of disproportionate force aimed at the civilian population.”

But if Israel is guilty of anything it’s of disproportionate restraint.

We see this most recently in the government’s feeble reaction to the Fogel family murders, in which a mother, a father and their three children were stabbed to death. The youngest, a 3-month-old baby girl, had her throat slit to the point of decapitation. It appears that the terrorists, who are still at large, fled to a nearby Arab village.

“They murder. We build,” was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s remark to 12-year-old Tamar Fogel, the eldest daughter, who discovered the slaughter after returning home from an evening out with her youth group. The prime minister was referring to the government’s decision, in light of the attack, to approve the building of some 400 new apartments in places like Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel, Kiryat Sefer and Gush Etzion.

Notably absent from the list was Itamar, the town where the murders actually took place. Itamar has been the site of many Arab terror attacks – 15 Jews were murdered at the height of the post-Oslo “peace”. It especially behooves Israel’s government to build in Itamar as it bears some guilt for the attack, having failed to provide adequate defense for the community.

According to Arutz Sheva, “the IDF refused to fund essential security equipment around the Itamar fence because the government’s legal department claimed that the fence was illegal…. The army also refused to help fund technological upgrading and installation of advanced capabilities for the surveillance camera … The upgrading would have made it possible, through the use of thermal sensitive devices, to differentiate between an animal touching the fence and someone going over it.”

Those who have followed news of the murders may recall that a guard on the night of the grisly crime was alerted by a fence alarm at the point where the terrorists infiltrated. Inspecting the area, he saw that the fence hadn’t been cut (the terrorists had jumped over), so he assumed an animal had triggered the alarm and did not pursue the incident further.

The ‘they murder, we build’ approach has not gone over well with the residents of Judea and Samaria. “It was an insult, Yesha Council officials said this week,” according to a op-ed. “Linking construction to this murder is simply insulting. It felt like the PM was offering us a deal: Here, you deserve 500 housing units for this murder. And even that figure quickly turned into 400 homes. And then we discovered that some 200 of those are apartments already approved a month ago and earmarked for young haredi couples in Beitar Ilit.”

The Netanyahu government says that it will also pursue the murderers. It may very well catch them. But unless the perpetrators are killed while being taken, they will end up doing time in an Israeli prison, perhaps eventually to be released in return for the bodies of some Israeli soldiers, as happened in the case of Sami Kuntar, who in 1979 shot dead 28-year-old Danny Haran and then killed his 4-year-old daughter, Einat, by smashing her skull with a rifle butt. No one would have believed that such a monster would have been released but he was set free in 2008 to be feted by Lebanon, Syria and Iran. In an interview, he remarked, “God willing, I will get the chance to kill more Israelis.”

Another group of terrorists who will probably enjoy relatively cushy confinement courtesy of the Israeli taxpayer are the Hamas terrorists who carried out an attack in September, killing four residents of Beit Haggai, a Jewish town near Hebron. The Arabs ambushed the four when they stopped their car at an intersection, shot them and then pulled their bodies from the vehicle and shot them again at point-blank range. One of the murdered was a woman nine months pregnant.

Just as with the murders in Itamar, the Israeli authorities share some of the guilt. As Arutz Sheva reported back in September, “The Victims of Arab Terror organization said it had begun initial steps into suing the Government of Israel for ‘having taking away the gun of Yitzchak Imas [one of the four killed at Beit Haggai], which might have been able to save his life and that of the other victims.”

Successive Israeli governments have pursued an upside down policy, failing to defend its citizens, even depriving them of the means to defend themselves, while at the same time releasing terrorists who’ve committed the most heinous crimes. This suicidal approach is reminiscent of the policy pursued by the Jewish Agency during the years of the 1936 Arab Revolt in the Mandate period.

As Shmuel Katz wrote in "Days of Fire" (W.H. Allen, 1968):

After a very brief period of hesitation the Agency decided on a policy called havlaga (self-restraint). This did not mean passivity. The Haganah was active, maintaining a twenty-four-hour protective guard on institutions in the towns, and a constant lookout in the agricultural settlements, and ready at any moment to repel attackers. But havlaga forbade carrying the war back to the attackers. They drove the enemy off (if he attacked in mass) but they did not pursue him; they did not liquidate his bases, nor counterattack. …

Dr. Chaim Weizmann in his memoirs, published twelve years later, wrote: “Violence paid political dividends to the Arabs while Jewish havlaga was expected to be its own reward. It did not even win official recognition."

Even as late as 1947, with a full-scale Arab invasion imminent, the Haganah found it difficult to shed pre-conceived notions. As Katz wrote:

Accidents and bad luck, even inefficiency in execution, are understandable, even inevitable. What was disturbing throughout those weeks was the strangely unreal political aspects of all Haganah activity. They persisted in describing these reprisals as “punitive operations” – an empty phrase which emphasized their failure to recognize the fact that they were waging a war of life and death. But the Jewish Agency’s official policy was still “moderation and non-provocation." …

The Agency’s subservience to the British remained unchanged, although the latter were openly exerting themselves to arm the Arabs and to disarm the Jews. A number of police armories in Arab centers were “taken over” by the Arabs. Again and again British police patrols met Haganah units and demanded the surrender of their arms. Haganah soldiers, acting on standing orders, meekly complied.

Why did the Jewish Agency leadership adopt such a policy? Katz offers that:

They saw their pioneering efforts as the foundation on which Jewish political existence could be built. But with their gaze turned inward, they were not capable of making a realistic assessment of the forces ranged against Zionism. Confronted by a clear-sighted, purposeful antagonist determined to set bounds to Jewish regeneration, they did not even identify the antagonist, let alone pause to recognize his motives.

Moreover these settlers were under the spell of the illusion of British sympathy with Zionism, and persuaded themselves that this interest in Zionism was a moral one. They believed that their social revolution had endeared itself to the British people, and that the virtues they personified (if only they could be sufficiently publicized) would cement British friendship.

It’s unlikely Netanyahu is motivated by similar illusions regarding Obama’s friendship. What Netanyahu shares with the “elite” of the Jewish Agency is the folly of his approach. With murder to the left of him and murder to the right of him, he intends to propose a new peace initiative. This plan will include more concessions to the PA. His motive may be that he wishes to head off, in the words of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a “diplomatic tsunami” whereby the international community will recognize a Palestinian State, but as others in the cabinet say, such an approach is “delusional”.

Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon points out that even so-called moderates like PA head Mahmud Abbas want Israel wiped off the map. It has been documented ad infinitum how the PA incites violence, indoctrinates children and celebrates the murder of Jews. The PA says one thing in English and another in Arabic. In the case of the Beit Haggai attack, the PA captured the terrorists responsible only to release them a few months later. When Sami Kuntar was released, the PA made him an honorary citizen.

What is remarkable about the PA's reaction to the Fogel family murders is that it condemned them at all. In the end, the PA's official media made up for this uncharacteristic condemnation when in the next breath it held Israel ultimately responsible and suggested, according to MEMRI, “that the attack could have been perpetrated by an Israeli settler.”

The Jewish Agency chose subservience to resistance. Netanyahu does the same. But it was resistance (led by the Irgun and Lehi) that finally drove the British from Palestine. It is resistance – not pre-emptive surrender – that offers Israel its only chance to extricate itself from the hangman's noose.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Where Is the Outcry Against Arab Apartheid?

Khaled Abu Toameh

Mohammed Nabil Taha, an 11-year-old Palestinian boy, died this week at the entrance to a Lebanese hospital after doctors refused to help him because his family could not afford to pay for medical treatment.

The tragic case of Taha highlights the plight of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who live in impoverished refugee camps in Lebanon and who are the victims of an Apartheid system that denies them access to work, education and medical care. Ironically, the boy’s death at the entrance to the hospital coincided with Israel Apartheid Week, a festival of hatred and incitement organized by anti-Israel activists on university campuses in the US, Canada and other countries.

It is highly unlikely that the folks behind the festival have heard about the case of Taha. Judging from past experiences, it is also highly unlikely that they would publicize the case after they heard about it.

Why should anyone care about a Palestinian boy who is denied medical treatment by an Arab hospital? This is a story that does not have an anti-Israel angle to it.

Can anyone imagine what would have happened if an Israeli hospital had abandoned a boy to die in its parking lot because his father did not have $1,500 to pay for his treatment?

The UN Security Council would hold an emergency session and Israel would be strongly condemned and held responsible for the death of the boy.

All this is happening at a time when tens of thousands of Palestinian patients continue to benefit from treatments in Israeli hospitals.Last year alone, some 180,000 Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip entered Israel to receive medical treatment. Many were treated despite the fact that they did not have enough money to cover the bill. In Israel, even a suicide bomber who is — only! — wounded while trying to kill Jews is entitled to the finest medical treatment. And there have been many instances where Palestinians who were injured in attacks on Israel later ended up in some of Israel’s best hospitals.

Lebanon, by the way, is not the only Arab country that officially applies Apartheid laws against Palestinians, denying them the right to receive proper medical treatment and own property.

Just last week it was announced that a medical center in Jordan has decided to stop treating Palestinian cancer patients because the Palestinian Authority has failed to pay its debts to the center.

Other Arab countries have also been giving the Palestinians a very hard time when it comes to receiving medical treatment.

It is disgraceful that while Israel admits Palestinian patients to its hospitals, Arab hospitals are denying them medical treatment for various reasons, including money. But then one is reminded that Arab dictators do not care about their own people, so why should they pay attention to an 11-year-old boy who is dying at the entrance to a hospital because his father was not carrying $1,500?

But as the death took place in an Arab country – and as the victim is an Arab – why should anyone care about him? Where is the outcry against Arab Apartheid?

The Holocaust "for more than 60 years has aroused... controversy and fabrication," writes PA daily

PA media reports opposition
to Holocaust education for Palestinian children

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

Rumors are circulating in the Palestinian areas that UNRWA (The United Nations Relief and Works Agency) is planning to introduce Holocaust education into the Palestinian UNRWA-run schools. Following these rumors, two Palestinian dailies have publicized strong opposition to teaching Palestinian children about the Holocaust: Daily columnist in official PA daily:

"The Jewish Holocaust is a story about which there is great controversy... a subject that for more than 60 years has aroused a great amount of controversy and fabrication."

"UNRWA... is absolutely prohibited from dealing with political issues."

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 4, 2011]

Muhammad Abu Bakr, deputy head of PLO Department for Refugees:

"[If] UNRWA has introduced studies on the Holocaust, or what is known by that name... it would be a deviation by UNRWA from its commitments and the understandings between itself and the host countries, and this would be a precedent which cannot be ignored... It is unthinkable that we would lead our refugee children in opposing directions."

[Al Quds, March 1, 2011]

Nabila Al-Salah, member of Committee for Defense of the Right of Return of Palestinian Refugees in Jordan:

"Study of the Holocaust in UNRWA schools is disgraceful."

[Al Quds, March 1, 2011]

Zakaria al-Agha, Head of [PLO's] Department for Refugee Issues:

"[objected] to teaching the subject of the Holocaust in UNRWA's schools."

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 21, 2011]

Holocaust denial and distortion have been part of the Palestinian discourse for many years. Clearly, a decision was made not to include it in Palestinian education, where is has never been mentions. None of the Palestinian schoolbooks, which are produced by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education, mention the Holocaust or the Nazi persecution of Jews. For example, a new 12th grade Palestinian history book goes into great detail about the Second World War. It even has sections on the Nazi racist ideology and the Nuremberg trials, yet it does not mention that Jews were the target of the Nazi racism.

For PMW's report on the lack of Holocaust education in PA schoolbooks, click here.
For PMW's latest report on Palestinian schoolbooks, click here.

In 2009, when the issue of teaching the Holocaust in Palestinian UNRWA-run schools was discussed, UNRWA "strongly denied rumors" that it planned to teach the Holocaust material in its human rights curriculum:

"UNRWA Commissioner-General, Karen Abu Zayd, strongly denied rumors that UNRWA will be teaching the subject of the Holocaust as part of its curriculum. At a press conference held in Gaza today, she stated that the human rights curriculum will not be altered. Abu Zayd, who accompanied Christian Berger, the European Commission Representative, on a tour of the fishing harbor in Gaza, said that UNRWA is developing the human rights curriculum [in its institutions] and is developing study material dealing with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights."

[PA TV (Fatah), Sept. 1, 2009]

The following are the current reports about the rumors and the opposition to Holocaust education, as reported in two Palestinian dailies.
Examples from the PMW archives of Palestinian Holocaust denial and distortion follow the current news items below.

Yihya Rabah, daily column in official PA daily:

"In recent days several reports have been leaked indicating that UNRWA is planning to introduce material on the Jewish Holocaust into the mandatory curriculum for its schools in Palestine and in all the countries hosting Palestinian refugees under UNRWA supervision...

I sincerely hope that this plan will not succeed, for several reasons:

First, UNRWA at present, by virtue of its function and its authority, always says that it is absolutely prohibited from dealing with political issues, and that it zealously protects its neutrality and professionalism...

Second, everyone knows that the story of the Jewish Holocaust is a story about which there is great controversy, and in the heart of Europe - even in the heart of the Jewish communities themselves- there are people who do not accept the Israeli narrative concerning the Holocaust. Why should UNRWA push itself into a subject that for more than 60 years has aroused a great amount of controversy and fabrication, especially since hundreds of millions of people in the world suffered the tragedies of the Second World War...

The Palestinian people does not want UNRWA to succumb to any kind of pressure, nor for it to be the tool for carrying out a mistaken policy, such as this plan."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 4, 2011]

"In an interview with Al-Quds, [Deputy head of the PLO Department for Refugees, Muhammad] Abu Bakr responded to reports that UNRWA has introduced studies on the Holocaust, or what is known by that name, in its schools. He noted that there is no exact information as to the truth of these reports, but if this happens, it would be a deviation by UNRWA from its commitments and the understandings between itself and the host countries, and this would be a precedent which cannot be ignored...

He added: 'We support any measure which will lead to enrichment of the study curriculum with information and innovations in the spheres of science, culture, human rights and history, on the basis of conformity with the prevailing reality in the learning environment of the circles within which the Palestinian refugees study - which is obviously their natural environment. It is unthinkable that we would lead our refugee children in opposing directions, whether by means of study curricula or by other means...'

Nabila Al-Salah, a member of the Committee for Defense of the Right of Return of Palestinian Refugees in Jordan, said that study of the Holocaust in UNRWA schools is disgraceful, and opposed to UNRWA's educational goals. She noted that study of the Holocaust serve the Zionist narrative at the expense of the refugee issue and the issue of the Palestinian people."
[Al-Quds, March 1, 2011]

"Head of [PLO's] Department for Refugee Issues, Zakaria al-Agha... emphasized his objection to teaching the subject of the Holocaust in UNRWA's schools."

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, March 21, 2011]

The following are examples of Palestinian Holocaust denial, distortion and opposition to educating youth about the Holocaust from the PMW archives:

Headline: "Gaza: Activists accuse UNRWA of attempting to teach about Jewish Holocaust in curriculum for human rights"

"Director of the Education Department of the Aid Agency [UNRWA], Mahmoud Al-Hamdiat, denied that there was any intention on the part of the agency to teach material on the subject of the Holocaust...

Activists protecting the rights of Palestinian refugees accused UNRWA of an attempt to teach about the Jewish Holocaust in the human rights curriculum. The activists, representing the Hamas people's committees of the various districts of the Gaza Strip, expressed their anger in the face of this development. They demanded the removal of this material from the 8th grade human rights curriculum.

Coordinator of the people's committees in the Gaza Strip, Hussam Ahmad, told Al-Ayyam that the scientific material included in the curriculum was formulated in a manner favorable towards the Jews... Ahmad warned of a trend towards creating a generation that shows sympathy towards the Jews and towards [concerning] the Holocaust. He stated that the refugees' committees would continue to carry out various activities to deter the agency from its decision.

It should be noted that the peoples' committees of the refugees in the Gaza Strip sent a memorandum to [director of UNRWA operations, John] Ging, demanding the deletion of the subject of the Jewish Holocaust from the human rights study material for 8th grade."
[Al-Ayyam, Aug. 31, 2009]

Abd Al-Rahman Abbad, Secretary General of the [Palestinian] Organization of Clerics and Disseminators of Islam:

"[The Israeli separation fence is a symptom of] the Jewish mindset, a mindset controlled by the [idea of the] ghetto. The ghetto means living in an isolated neighborhood only for Jews. That's why they cannot live with other groups because they believe that their culture and religion obligate them to have contacts only among themselves, based on an attitude of superiority towards others. That's why they did not live, for example, in the West, in separate neighborhoods, but lived in what is called 'a ghetto.' The ghetto was not forced upon them, as is thought, rather, they were the ones who forced it upon themselves. This [separation] fence is not just one fence, there are many fences. Look at the [Israeli] city Lod, for example, or Ramle. There is no mixing between different population groups who are all Israeli citizens. There is separation. The reason for this is the Israeli mentality, the ghetto mentality, the mentality of rejection of 'the other,' and refusal to coexist with him...

[Jews] exaggerate every action that other [nations] do against any Jew in the world. In this context is the Holocaust issue, which the whole world still [deals with]. There is a place [in Israel] called 'Memorial for Holocaust and Heroism,' which tells of the killing of 6 million Jews, but it is known that in all of Europe there weren't 6 million Jews."

[PA TV (Fatah), July 17, 2009]

[Note: The Organization of Clerics and Disseminators of Islam is headed by Ikrima Sabri, former Palestinian Authority Mufti of Jerusalem under Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas.]
Click here to view

"Various groups in Israel expressed their disappointment at the speech delivered yesterday by Pope Benedict XVI at the Yad Vashem Institute for the commemoration of the so-called memory of those who died in the Nazi Holocaust."

[PA TV (Fatah), May 12, 2009]

Najat Abu-Bakr, Fatah member of PA Parliament:

"This enemy [Israel] constantly commits new holocausts, everywhere and at all times."

[PA TV (Fatah), March 3, 2008]
Click here to view

Narrator: "'The disabled and handicapped are a heavy burden on the state,' said the terrorist leader, Ben Gurion [Israel's first PM]. The Satanic Jews thought up an evil plot [the Holocaust] to be rid of the burden of the disabled and handicapped, in twisted criminal ways. While they accuse the Nazis or others so that the Jews would seem persecuted, and try to benefit from international sympathy, they were the first to invent the methods of evil and oppression."

Amin Dabur, head of the Palestinian "Center for Strategic Research":

"About the Israeli Holocaust - the whole thing was a joke, and part of the perfect show that Ben Gurion put on, focusing on [bringing] strong and energetic youth [to Israel], while the rest - the disabled, the handicapped, and people with special needs - they were sent [to die]... if it can be proven historically. They were sent [to die] so there would be a Holocaust, so Israel could 'play' it for world sympathy."

Narrator: "The alleged numbers of Jews [killed in the Holocaust] were merely for propaganda."

[Al-Aqsa TV (Hamas), April 18, 2008]
Click here to view

Ibrahim Mudayris, Official, PA Ministry of Religious Trusts and Religious Affairs:

"In the Nazi war, possibly some [Jews] were killed, possibly some were burned, but they're exaggerating [the Holocaust] in order to win over world media, and world sympathy."

[PA TV (Fatah), May 13, 2005]

Monday, March 21, 2011

Surrendering to Anti-Israelism

Richard Baehr On March 21, 2011

Pressure from the political left has shaken the pro-Israel consensus that has historically existed within the American Jewish community. This consensus has been attacked by such “luminaries” as former New Republic editor Peter Beinart for requiring progressive Jews, especially younger and generally less affiliated Jews, to “check their values at the door” when it comes to Israel. At the same time, the pro-Israel consensus has also had to confront the assault from Jewish or Jewish-affiliated activist groups from the burgeoning BDS (boycotts, divestment, and sanctions) movement against Israel. In essence, the pro-Israel consensus has come under attack from both the soft and hard left. The soft left is unhappy with Jewish settlements in the West Bank and considers them to be an obstacle to peace with the Palestinian Authority, which they maintain would be easily realizable if only Israel would agree to withdraw from most of the settlements. While 60-plus years of history argues against this, the proponents of the “settlements are the real problem” view maintain they want to end Israel’s international isolation, and achieve the peace and security the nation and its citizens have always wanted. An equally, if not more important, side benefit is that a resolution to the conflict would make Israel less of a lightning rod in the salons that the soft left calls home.

The hard left believes Israel is an apartheid state (much like the former South Africa), born in original sin in 1948-1949, with hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees who were supposedly “driven out” during the war that accompanied the creation of the Jewish State. Additionally, Palestinians are now suffering through a “brutal occupation” (the words always go together) of the West Bank, now in its fifth decade, which was instituted following the Six Day War.

Recently, the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America, convening in New Orleans last October, established a new initiative to fight the BDS movement. It created the Israel Action Network. Martin Raffel, the senior vice president of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs, and the new director of the IAN, described the initiative:

The project, which I am directing, will work alongside Israel and key organizational partners in the US and Canada, not only to stand up against anti-Israel initiatives, but also to anticipate and prepare for future challenges and actively promote a fair and balanced picture of the Middle East among key constituencies.

The General Assembly reportedly allocated $6 million to the IAN effort, not an inconsiderable sum, given the funding issues described earlier.

Now comes word that the IAN has made a decision as to the organizations that fit under the umbrella of its anti-BDS movement efforts. In a statement late last week, Raffel offered the following:

In my judgment, those groups that are unwilling to support the Jewish people’s right to build a national homeland in Israel — i.e., recognition of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state — place themselves outside the Jewish mainstream and cannot reasonably be seen as allies in our effort to counter the growing assault on Israel’s legitimacy.

But what to think about Zionists on the political left who have demonstrated consistent concern for Israel’s security, support Israel’s inalienable right to exist as a Jewish democratic state, and consider Israel to be the eternal home of the Jewish people — but have decided to express their opposition to specific policies of the Israeli government by refraining from participating in events taking place in the West Bank or purchasing goods produced there? I vigorously would argue that such actions are counter-productive in advancing the cause of peace based on two states that they espouse, a goal that we share. But this is not sufficient cause to place them outside the tent.

As the Reut Institute report on delegitimization stresses, it is these activists from the Zionist left who are best positioned to advocate to their liberal friends, who by all rights should be supportive of Israel as the region’s most democratic and most supportive society of women’s, LGBT, labor, and minority rights[.]

In essence, the Raffel statement acknowledged that there are two classes of BDS supporters — “good” boycotters and “bad” boycotters. The good boycotters need to be welcomed within the community’s big tent, since they share the broader Jewish community’s consensus view of Israel — i.e., good boycotters supposedly have “demonstrated consistent concern for Israel’s security, support Israel’s inalienable right to exist as a Jewish democratic state, and consider Israel to be the eternal home of the Jewish people.” If such boycotters exist as Raffel articulates, I have yet to find them or hear from them. In fact, the category of “good boycotters” is relatively indistinguishable from the “bad boycotters” when it comes to events and campaigns targeting Israel.

Raffel also argues that these acceptable boycotters are needed within the big community tent in order to help persuade the more hardline leftists that Israel deserves their support (for example, because of women’s rights, LGBT issues, labor, and minority rights). Presumably, if the bad boycotters (the delegitimizers of Israel) were educated by other progressives about all the progressive features of Israel’s society, then the bad boycotters could be persuaded to move along the political continuum, maybe even becoming good boycotters themselves.

That the organized Jewish community has come to such a state of incoherence brings to mind the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s article from 1993 about “defining deviancy down,” which analyzed how communities react to increases in deviant criminal behavior.

Moynihan argued that as the amount of deviant behavior increases, the community becomes incapable of recognizing all of it, and adjusts to the new reality by lowering its standards. So, behavior once thought deviant (but not the most deviant of all criminal behavior), is no longer considered so.

Could a better description be offered for Raffel’s recent comment? The evidence abounds: Hillel chapters, in large part funded by Jewish Federations, are wrestling with whether to accept bad boycotters, who oppose the Jewish state of Israel (e.g. Jewish Voices for Peace). Jewish Federations in New York and Washington, D.C. are being challenged for funding theatres or other groups whose purpose seems to be to undermine the Jewish State.

J-Street, an organization which repeatedly and falsely proclaims that it is pro-Israel, pro-peace, has become part of the Jewish mainstream, with its conferences addressed by Israeli leaders, members of Congress, and Obama administration officials. Its leader is a frequent visitor to the White House and an invited guest to the president’s briefings to Jewish leaders. The organized Jewish community sees the enemy, and by and large, seems to be ready to surrender and call the enemy a friend – all in an ill-advised effort to expand or maintain the semblance of a broad communal tent.

The problem for the organized Jewish community world is, unfortunately, far bigger than figuring out how to deal with boycotts. The sharp rise in intermarriage and the triumph of secular humanism among recent generations of increasingly prosperous and comfortable suburban Jewish Americans, have weakened ties between Jews and Israel, between Jews and synagogues, and between Jews and the organized Jewish community. Unlike prior generations, the new generation of Jews have not experienced the Holocaust, and do not understand the fear for Israel’s survival felt among older Jews.

The Jewish community is comfortably at home on the left. Young Jews remain politically active, but for many, Israel is no longer a core concern. Saving the planet, protecting abortion rights, saving Darfur, all draw a stronger response than supporting Israel. Until 1967, many of those on the left supported Israel as the weaker party, facing a vast Arab world bent on Israel’s destruction. The 1967 war changed the moral valence for the left — Israel became the occupier, the colonialist power. The Palestinians replaced the broader Arab world as the second party to the conflict, and were seen as the weaker party, deserving of the left’s sympathy and concern. The common causes shared between the far- and soft left on every other issue have made it easier for the former to join with those who oppose Israel. Furthermore, the large Jewish presence in the anti-Israel cause provides cover for the hard left, allowing it to appear, not anti-Semitic, but just anti-Israel or anti-Zionist.

The Jewish communal world seems to have chosen a fake consensus on Israel in lieu of unity among those who actually care about the country’s fate. Making nuanced arguments for good boycotters as opposed to bad ones is an absurdly weak posture for a pro-Israel community facing passionate opposition. It will inevitably serve to weaken the battle against the BDS movement, rather than expand the ranks of those fighting it. This is nothing less than defining anti-Israel deviancy down.

PA TV attacks PMW PMW accused of "incitement" against the PA

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

PA TV News recently devoted a full story to Palestinian Media Watch. It said that PMW "monitors everything large and small in the Palestinian media" and attacked PMW, defining its website as "incitement."
PA TV news:

"The main Israeli source which has been monitoring this issue is PMW's website that monitors everything large and small in the Palestinian media. This site's directors claim that they monitor and document the incitement in the Palestinian media. But when you enter the site and read a little, you find out who is inciting against whom."

PMW documents the Palestinian Authority's messages to its own people through the communication and educational structures it controls, and through its activities and events. PMW's website displays thousands of examples, including quotes from Palestinian leaders, excerpts from PA newspapers, analysis of PA school books and hundreds of videos from PA and Hamas TV.

To illustrate its criticism of PMW, PA TV showed pictures of PMW's website, named the website's categories, and focused on items related to Mahmoud Abbas.

PA TV news:

"For example, President Mahmoud Abbas - according to the [PMW] website - does not recognize Israel, glorifies violence, and he is directly responsible for terror."

PMW in fact does make these assertions about Mahmoud Abbas, quoting Abbas's own statements on these issues.

The following is the transcript of PA TV's report on PMW:

PA TV newsreader: "Israeli incitement against the Palestinian leadership and institutions takes many forms.

(Visual of Israeli TV reporting on Palestinian Media Watch report)

PA TV reporter: "The Israeli media has been following the Palestinian information campaign calling for a boycott of Israeli goods. The latest example is this ad, funded by the Spanish government."

(Visual of PA TV ad promoting boycott that was exposed by PMW, as broadcast on Israeli Channel 2 News.)

PA TV reporter: "...The main Israeli source which has been monitoring this issue is PMW's website that monitors everything large and small in the Palestinian media. This site's directors claim that they monitor and document the incitement in the Palestinian media. But when you enter the site and read a little, you find out who is inciting against whom. For example, President Mahmoud Abbas - according to the website - does not recognize Israel, glorifies violence, and he is directly responsible for terror. This is one small example of what the website is marketing to its visitors."

[PA TV (Fatah), Jan. 12, 2011]

Sunday, March 20, 2011

And There Is Incitement in Jaffa


Over the past 2-3 years, a major incitement campaign has been underway - no, not instigated by the Palestinian Authority against Jewish revenants in Judea and Samaria - but by Jews and Arabs against Jewish residents in Jaffa.


“We have no problem living peacefully with Jewish neighbours,” said Omar Siksik, an Arab councillor representing Jaffa in Tel Aviv’s municipality. “But these Jews are coming here as settlers.

“Like in Hebron, their policy is to weaken us as a population and eventually push us out of our homes,” he said, referring to a West Bank city where an enclave of a few dozen settlers has severely disrupted life for tens of thousands of Palestinians. And

"If they come, the community will be polarised," local historian and political activist Sami Abu Shehadeh told the Observer. "Those people that say Jaffa is a model of coexistence will be silenced." Their objective, he claims, is to "Judaise" a mainly Arab neighbourhood.

More background.

And the result?


An Israel Defense Forces soldier was lightly to moderately wounded in a Jaffa stabbing attack on Sunday, in what police say may have been being an attempt to snatch his rifle.

The IDF soldier was approaching Jaffa's Yerushalaim Blvd. during the busy morning hours, when an unknown masked assailant pushed him over and attempted to take away his weapon.

A struggle ensued, which culminated with the assailant stabbing the soldier in the shoulder with an ice pick and running away with the rifle.

The suspect fled the scene, only to quickly dispose of the stolen weapon as soon as civilians began to chase him down the street; the soldier was evacuated to Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital in what was defined as moderate to light wounds.

This happened previously:

A group of five Jews was attacked in Jaffa (Yafo) on Saturday night near an ice cream shop. The five, four women and one man, are all IDF soldiers, but they were not wearing their uniforms or carrying weapons. They stopped for ice cream after a day at the beach, they said, and were set upon by ten Arab youths with sticks.

The Arabs began hitting the front windshield of their car and attempted to forcibly drag one person from the car. The Jewish victims managed to drive away, but not before their vehicle sustained damage from the attack.

So it wasn't Israel


In the great Middle East who dunit, the verdict is in: The Jews are innocent. They aren't responsible for the violence, extremism, backwardness, discontent or predatory government of their Arab neighbors.

The last few months should have finally shattered the persistent illusion that the Israeli-Palestinian question determines all in the Middle East.

In an essay in Foreign Policy magazine titled "The False Religion of Mideast Peace," ex-diplomat Aaron David Miller

recounts the conventional wisdom running back through the Cold War: "An unresolved Arab-Israeli conflict would trigger ruinous war, increase Soviet influence, weaken Arab moderates, strengthen Arab radicals, jeopardize access to Middle East oil, and generally undermine US influence from Rabat to Karachi." Behind these assumptions has long stood a deeply simplistic understanding of the Arabs. Professional naif Jimmy Carter insists, "There is no doubt: The heart and mind of every Muslim is affected by whether or not the Israeli-Palestinian issue is dealt with fairly."

This is reductive to the point of insult. Carter thinks that Muslims have no interior lives of their own, but are all defined by a foreign-policy dispute that is unlikely to affect most of them directly in the least. He mistakes real people for participants in an endless Council on Foreign Relations seminar.

The Israeli-Palestinian issue certainly has great emotional charge, and most Arabs would prefer a world blissfully free of the Zionist entity. But the Israelis can't be blamed -- though cynical Arab governments certainly try -- for unemployment and repression in Arab countries.

Monumental events in recent decades -- the Iranian revolution, the Iran-Iraq War and the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait -- were driven by internal Muslim confessional, ideological and geo-political differences. Israel has nothing to do with the Sunnis hating the Shia, or the Saudis hating the Iranians, or everyone hating Moammar Khadafy.

Adam Garfinkle muses in his book "Jewcentricity": "Imagine, if you can, that one day Israelis decided to pack their bags and move away, giving the country to the Palestinians with a check for sixty years' rent. Would the Arabs suddenly stop competing among themselves, and would America and the Arab world suddenly fall in love with each other?"

Yet the pull of the illusion is so powerful that even those who don't profess to believe in it, like George W. Bush, eventually get sucked in. Barack Obama came into office ready to deploy his charm and fulfill the millennial promise of the peace process once and for all. He couldn't even get the Palestinians to sit down to negotiate with the Israelis, in an unintended "reset" to the situation decades ago.

According to the illusion, the region should have exploded in rage at Jewish perfidy and American ineffectualness. It exploded for altogether different reasons.

We witnessed revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt without a hint of upset at the Israeli settlements or America's continued failure as a broker of peace. We've seen the Arab League petition the United States -- whose sole function is supposed to be monitoring Israeli housing developments and paving the way for a Palestinian state -- to undertake a military operation against another (recently suspended) member of the Arab League, Libya.

It'd be easier if the key to the Middle East really were sitting around a negotiating table with a couple of bottles of Evian, poring over a map adjudicating a dispute so familiar that people have built diplomatic, academic and journalistic careers on it.

The current terrain of the Middle East as it exists -- not as we assume it should be -- is hellishly disorienting by comparison: What to do when an ally invades another ally to knock around protesters in violation of our values? When a tin-pot dictator thumbs his nose at us and the rest of West and crushes his opponents with alacrity despite our earnest protestations? When popular uprisings threaten our allies more than our enemies?

It makes the old peace process seem alluringly comfortable and manageable. No, the illusion will never die.

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