Saturday, June 11, 2011

When Jewish Blood Spills; We all Must Bleed

Norma Zager

“There can only be one state of mind as you approach any profound test; total concentration, a spirit of togetherness, and strength.” Pat Riley

When the history of the Jewish people is recorded, it will point to present times as the last stop at the end of a once-great religion.

Why is this moment in time so pivotal? Jews have survived pogroms, holocausts, inquisitions, crusades and all other manners of murder and intolerance. Why now should anyone worry or assume they cannot endure one more difficult challenge?

The answer is a simple one, yet fraught with complications arising from years of abuse and neglect.

When a child is beaten, the repercussions from those beatings may manifest themselves in later years. So too, is now the time for the problems of the past to manifest and create a personality devoid of the ability to any longer exist and interact with humanity.

The Jewish people have lost their soul and their will to live, and now we will all watch as a great people publically self-destruct.

They have chosen their destroyer and are plying him with money and accolades, and joining in the death march as he leads.

More than other religions, Jewish people have been forced to watch as millions of their children were murdered.

In the death camps, adults were taken in one direction and the children led into the gas chambers. Only those children who looked strong enough to work or be used as guinea pigs in horrific scientific experiments by the evil Joseph Mengele were kept alive.

Most American Jews, safe and sound in their homes, were oblivious to the screams of babies as blood flowed from their fatal wounds.

European Jewry unsafe from Hitler’s wrath was herded into camps to be tortured and killed to fulfill Hitler’s Final Solution. Jewish life was cheap and easily accessed by the many enemies who gladly helped the cause.

Yet, many Gentiles hid Jewish people behind walls, in attics or in cellars and risked life and limb to save a fellow human being.


Why put life and limb at risk for a Jew, especially when fellow Jews slept well at night?

Jewish people cheered on and worshipped a President who turned the St. Louis, carrying innocent Jewish lives, around to return to Germany and be killed in the camps.

To this day Jewish people speak of Roosevelt, a man who caused the deaths of Jewish men, women and children, like a god. New books have been written to deny his role in the St. Louis and claim he was trying to help the Jews. Bottom line, he was the President of the United States and he said “no.” How do you excuse or rewrite that?

How stupid are we?

Yes, we are just that stupid.

And now, today, we are repeating the mistakes of the past.

We are supporting a President who is hell bent on the destruction of Israel to achieve his own political agenda.

A President who is so arrogant that even now, before his reelection bid when he will need Jewish money, he is not afraid to alienate the Jewish people by eroding Israel’s security.

He is that certain of our stupidity. That sure he can pull the wool over Jewish eyes. That certain, as he does with all others who get in the way of his goals, he can exclude Israel from his plans by simply eliminating it.

What does that say about us as a people?

I fear it speaks volumes.

I have seen the craziness of the last few weeks since Bibi Netanyahu stood up to a man who threw his country under the bus. In statesman-like fashion he told the world: Sorry, no deal. Israel has the right to exist, and we will not march willingly into the camps once again, Mr. President.

Bibi bleeds with Jewish blood and will see no more spilled.

And who are Obama’s greatest defenders? Jews.

I did not hear one word of support for Israel from a Jewish senator or congressman. Only the gentiles spoke up. The same ones who would be willing to hide a Jew while other Jews helped to out them.

In Netanyahu’s speech, he claimed history would not offer the Jewish people more chances. How right he was.

The difference this time is that it is the Jewish people themselves who will be the ultimate destroyers who will sacrifice Jewish blood knowingly and willingly to the enemy.

While the Hollywood Liberals write their generous campaign checks, Jewish peace groups push for appeasement and the Jewish guilt ridden masses continue to support a man who cares nothing for their welfare and places the safety of Jewish children far behind his own narcissistic desires, we will merely have to stand by and shake our heads in wonder at the total insanity of it all.

When the blood of one Jewish child is spilled, all Jews must bleed.

If we are callous to the suffering of our children, we have crossed the line from a pathetic, needy nation desperate for love and acceptance to a sociopathic and pathetic observer of evil.

Every Israeli soldier who dies must be on the mind and heart of other Jews.

Every drop of Jewish blood must fall upon us as a human stain. A reminder of what a failure we are as a people to allow our enemies to succeed.

As long as Gilad Shalit is a prisoner, so are we all.

What an oblivious group of fools we are as a nation, as a people.

Once again history will record the destruction and naïveté of the Jewish people.

Only this time it will be for all time.

Jewish people have always used their checkbook as a weapon. Now it is time to ensure its use to garner a positive result for not only Jews, but for America. Israel is not only important to the Jewish people; it is vital to the world.

How can defending the mindset of a government that promotes murder and killing of all Jews wherever they may be in their Charter, be right? How can defending any government that is built on hatred, murder and lies be defensible to good people?

I am amused by the way some Jewish people believe that money can appease a murderous ideology.

That if they stand up publically and say, “I side with the Palestinians,” they will rewrite a charter, an ideology that clearly states to kill all Jews everywhere. How does the US benefit from aligning itself with murderers?

I am reminded of conversations with Germans who, when asked why they ignored Hitler’s threats, answered, “We never believed he would do it.”

Well, after six million died, did you finally get the message? Believe him now?

Jewish people have always thought more of their enemy than their own people. Who cares if you disagree with your neighbor, if the Jewish people next door are a pain, if you are Reform and your cousin is Orthodox? Does anyone in his or her right mind believe the enemy will ask if you and your fellow Jews were in agreement before they kill you?

Are we that crazy? I guess we are.

Stop and think of a Jewish soldier lying bleeding at the hands of an enemy, a Jewish child lying by the road after a bombing, his young life oozing out, or the parents who will suffer and mourn him until their last breath.

Stop! Think! For once, care for the people with whom you share a heritage, a past of torment and inhumanity. Stop the murder of the children, now and forever before there is no one left to save.

No one but the Jewish people can save the Jewish people. Remember that truth next time you write a campaign check or support a philosophy that is detrimental to your very existence.

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,” June, 2011


Friday, June 10, 2011


Barry Rubin *

The gap between dominant Western perceptions of the Middle East and the region's reality is dangerously wide. While the "Arab Spring" is celebrated as an advance for moderation and democracy, in fact the advance is going to revolutionary Islamists. Developments in Turkey and Egypt especially threaten to plunge the Middle East back into an era of conflict, instability, and the worst threats to Western interests in decades. There are several things very much predictable about the future of the Middle East area during the next year. First, on June 12, 2011, Turkey will have an election. That election will probably be won by the government, whether or not it gets a two-thirds majority. The current rulers will interpret this as a signal to take a much tougher line toward Israel and the United States. It is possible that the extent of the increase of Turkey's enmity toward Israel after that election will astonish the world.

If the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) wins a two-thirds majority, this means it will have control of rewriting the Turkish constitution. They will try to create a presidential regime, Erdogan will run for president, and Turkey will move into an increasingly visible alliance with Iran, Syria, Hamas, and Hizballah. This is not alarmism, it is a serious analysis.

Second, the Palestinian effort at the UN to gain unilateral recognition for a Palestinian state will fail. The United States will veto this, but it will to be a mess, a mess created by the incompetence of the Obama administration, which could have prevented this.

Third, is in regards to Egypt. There is no doubt that the Egyptian revolution is just as significant and just as bad as Iran's 1979 Islamist revolution. That development so destabilized the region and promoted revolutionary Islamism that it helped lead to six wars (Iran-Iraq; Iraq's invasion of Kuwait; U.S.-led invasion of Iraq; U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan; Hizballah-Israel war; Hamas-Israel war) and September 11 as well as to various Islamist upheavals, terrorism, and civil wars elsewhere (including in Algeria and Egypt).

Egypt will hold parliamentary elections in September 2011. As of now, the moderate democrats have not organized any serious party. The only serious parties organized are Islamist parties, not only the Muslim Brotherhood but others, and left-wing parties or radical nationalist ones.


To put it simply, what has happened in Egypt is not just the undoing of the "Mubarak regime" but the undoing of the "Sadat regime," that is, the revolution Anwar al-Sadat brought to Egypt in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Sadat changed Egypt's course from being a radical state seeking to destabilize other Arab countries, destroy Israel, and oppose U.S. interests. He deemphasized spreading revolution, made peace with Israel, and allied Egypt with the United States.

Now, with assistance from President Barack Obama, those processes have been undone. Egypt will return to the pre-Sadat era. The only question is the proportion of radical nationalism and Islamism in that mix.

It is not clear whether there will be an Islamist majority, but there will be a radical anti-American majority in parliament. There is no doubt of that. It literally cannot be any other way, so this will have to be covered in the media.

It will be interesting to try to predict what the headlines will look like in the New York Times the day after the election. How will they spin this? What will they say? What can they say about this? This is very, very serious. At that point, it should be clear that the Obama policy has been a catastrophe. He helped bring down the Egyptian regime and the result is a radical anti-American regime that is ready to go into conflict with Israel.

The opening of the Gaza border is one step in that direction. What then does it mean that they are opening the border, even if not now but when a new elected president and parliament take office? It means that weapons, terrorists, and money will flow freely into Gaza.

This in turn means that Hamas will become bolder, and at some point, perhaps in 2011-2012, it will attack Israel with rockets and mortars. Israel will then have to respond militarily. Though at that point, everyone will have to ask the question of what Egypt will do. What will the Egyptian government do? If Amr Moussa is president with a radical parliament or even an Islamist parliament, they could send troops. It could become an Egypt-Israel war.

There are, however, other possibilities. Perhaps they will simply let thousands of Egyptian volunteers go into Gaza to fight. Perhaps it will allow, or not be able to stop, or not try too hard to stop attacks across the Egypt-Israel border. Again, this is not some alarmist fantasy but realistic scenarios that one must be prepared for.

If Amr Moussa, who is not an Islamist or a supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, is elected president, will he be able to resist pressure from parliament and the masses in order to maintain a tough stance? Will he want to do so? Instead, won't he try to take advantage of this to promote his own interests and anti-Israel beliefs? This is especially true, as Egypt's terrible economic situation would not permit him to offer the masses a better life or even food at current prices.

Now, one can say not to worry, that they won't do anything because the Egyptian military wants to continue to receive American aid money. That is indeed an argument, but is that enough? Can the entire Middle East strategy be based on that hope?

There have been cases where countries and governments have been willing to give up American aid for political goals. Remember that the Iranian revolution threw away all the American aid and military sales. Thus merely to maintain that everything will be fine because of that money issue is not a satisfactory argument. Moreover, one must keep in mind that Egypt is going to face a major economic crisis for which there is no solution, and no amount of U.S. aid is going to resolve that problem. The price of food will continue to increase.

The Egyptians will not be able to build new housing. They will not be able to handle the problem of unemployment. They will not be able to create jobs. This is the reality. What then will happen when--as is fully predictable--Egypt's government is unable to deliver on its promises and the country goes into crisis?

This turn of events is completely predictable; and yes, they are being ignored in the media. Now the new line is that the Muslim Brotherhood are "good guys" and moderates, while the problem is the radical jihadi Salafi groups. The Muslim Brotherhood is good; jihadists are bad; but the Muslim Brotherhood is a jihadi group and is an alliance with these groups. It is thus ridiculous to make this distinction.

Thus, a series of totally predictable crises lie ahead, yet there has been no serious analysis of the problems--much less the solutions--by the U.S. government, media, experts, and the public debate generally. Moreover, even those three crises leave aside other issues. As of June 2011, the U.S. government has still not done anything at all on Syria. Sanctions on Iran are leaking, and the three main reasons for this...

"Words, Words, Words"

Arlene Kushner

And in the end, when we weed out grandstanding, innuendo, sensationalism and rumor, how much will matter?

Today's JPost carried the headline, "PA may delay UN bid, Palestinian official says." Oh Wow!

But wait a second. This requires a closer look. The PA leadership would consider postponing a UN move if there were international guarantees that Israel would refrain from "creating new facts on the ground" and "provocations" in the coming months.

So, what constitutes a "new fact" or a "provocation." It would seem that this is simply a different, slightly more subtle, way of demanding a total freeze. Hey, a kindergarten build in eastern Jerusalem, which the Arabs claim as theirs, would be called a "new fact on the ground." I wrote last about the possibility that Abbas is rethinking his UN bid, because he's come to understand that it may well not succeed. Now the JPost reports that the cited PA official said, "We are under pressure from the Americans and some Europeans to postpone the plan to ask for UN recognition in September."

In point of fact, this week Obama was quite direct with regard to the matter. He and visiting German Chancellor Angela, at a joint news conference, spoke out against Palestinian Arab efforts to seek recognition of a state at the UN.

So the PA leadership is recalibrating its position, or presenting the semblance of having done so. While assuming the role of "good guys" who are willing to compromise, they actually compromise on nothing.


Acting US Middle East envoy is due here in the next few days to further explore ways to "jumpstart the peace process."

No one in a leadership position, it seems, has the political capital or courage to cry, "The Emperor has no clothes!" There is no "peace process" possible.

Words, words, words...


I've written quite a bit lately about international law and implications of a Palestinian state.

Dr. Amichai Magen, in a piece called "Towards Responsible Sovereignty," written for BESA, addresses relevant issues and provides considerable broad-based insight:

We are dealing now, he tells us, with a situation of "failed states," so that the system that pertained internationally for 350 years now is breaking down.

"Conventional sovereignty, which [...become] the global standard, assumes a world of autonomous, internationally recognized and, most importantly, effectively governed states. Under this model, state-to-state relations are what count, and states are accountable for threats emanating from their territory.

"This world, however, no longer exists. Thus, conventional sovereignty no longer works.

"Today, there are between 30 and 45 failed states, and this number is growing. In the past, these entities would have been swallowed up by their neighbors or by powerful empires. But in today's world, the Darwinian mechanism has ceased to operate. States today are a little like diamonds – once formed they last forever. Unfortunately, unlike diamonds, not all states shine...

"One of the most striking aspects of the contemporary world is the extent to which domestic sovereignty has ceased to function in states that still enjoy international legal sovereignty, with all its benefits. Thus, states like Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen – entities that have ceased to function internally and have become breeding grounds for international threats – continue to enjoy...far reaching privileges and protections. Similarly, states like Iran, Syria and Pakistan retain their international legal sovereignty, instead of having it curtailed. Much more can and should be done to condition the benefits of sovereignty on responsible domestic and international behavior...

"For states in the making, adhering to responsible sovereignty will be particularly important. It is one thing to have to deal with the consequences of state failure in an already existing state; it is quite another to permit the establishment of a new state where there is no guarantee of effective, stable and peaceful statehood. Thus, at a time when the international community is struggling with the dire effects of state failure in the Middle East and Africa, it would be unconscionable – perhaps illegal – to aid and abet the establishment of a new failed state in the West Bank and Gaza." (emphasis added)


I would also like to share a very somber piece by Barry Rubin, on "What I Have Learned In My Long Visit to America."

"...Recently, I have been involved in a number of exchanges in which I presented facts only to be told they are biased opinions. Interlocutors cited no evidence or even gave any specific examples of how what was said wasn’t accurate. They don’t have to do so any more since feeling has become truth and identity has become proof. To get them to understand that to make an argument one must have evidence, not just a personal feeling or can put a label on the person making the statement, is difficult. (emphasis added)

"...Here’s the bottom line: No matter how bad the economic situation, leadership, or policies might be, a country can recover if the people and elite are able to define the real problems and the real solutions. If the connection with reality is lost, all hope is gone. That is one of the Middle East’s central problems. Increasingly, it seems to be Europe and America’s problem, too.

"The way cults work is to isolate people from reality and bombard them with a single viewpoint. The victim is cut off from other influences by being told that they are evil and thus to be disregarded. In some ways, that is what’s been happening to America in recent years.

"One weakness of this structure is that the arguments it makes and the claims puts forward are so ridiculous that if exposed to articulate and reasoned responses — often, even for a mere sixty-second period — it quickly collapses logically. Its strength is that it has such strong defenses against such exposure..."

(With thanks to Don M. for calling this to my attention.)


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Palestinian distortion: "If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem" was Crusader expression usurped by Zionists

Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook

As part of the continuing Palestinian denial of Jewish history in Jerusalem, a Palestinian researcher and specialist on Jerusalem has claimed that the well-known verse of the Hebrew psalm, "If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill," is not a Jewish source at all. He said that the words were uttered by a Christian Crusader, and have only recently been "borrowed" by Jews and "falsified in the name of Zionism." The verse is in fact from Psalm 137 of the Hebrew Bible, which opens with the words: "By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion." The psalm mourns the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian army in 586 BCE, is part of Jewish tradition and liturgy and has appeared in Jewish sources for thousands of years.

Palestinian Media Watch has documented the Palestinian Authority policy of denying Israel's history as the basis for its denial of Israel's right to exist. The PA often denies the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem, calling it "the alleged Temple."

The following are the words of Palestinian researcher Dr. Hayel Sanduqa on PA TV, claiming that the Hebrew Bible's psalm was actually first said by a Crusader:

"[The Israelis] have acted to change Jerusalem's character. Even the expression (Psalm 137:5) 'If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember thee.'

This statement, said by the Frankish [Crusader] ruler of Acre shortly before he left, was borrowed by the Zionist movement, which falsified it in the name of Zionism."

[PA TV (Fatah), June 2, 2011]

Click here to see more examples from PMW's website of the Palestinian Authority's denial of Jewish history.

The following is the beginning of Psalm 137 of the Hebrew Bible:

"By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion.

Upon the willows in the midst thereof we hanged up our harps.

For there they that led us captive asked of us words of song, and our tormentors asked of us mirth: 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.'

How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?

If I forget thee, oh Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.

May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, if I do not remember thee, if I set not Jerusalem above my greatest joy."

The erosion of European Jewry

Isi Leibler

Even if the flag of Islam flies over Europe and most Jews assimilate or emigrate, enclaves of ultra-Orthodox Jews are likely to continue, especially in the main cities.

Only a few decades ago, analysts were predicting that anti-Semites were becoming extinct. Alas, the pendulum has swung to the other extreme and today, the future for European Jews appears increasingly bleak. The deepening anti-Semitic climate throughout the continent emanates not only from Muslim migrants, but also from the indigenous masses for whom the Holocaust has become a dim memory, and is frequently even inverted as an additional vehicle to demonize Israel. ndeed, if one weighs the impact of rampant anti-Israelism (which serves as a surrogate to traditional Jew baiting) combined with the revival of classical anti-Semitism, it is tempting to conclude that in terms of "populist anti-Semitism," the status of Jews in Europe today is even worse than during the heyday of Nazi propaganda. Then, the Left and liberals were highly vocal in their opposition to Jew baiting, whereas today they are, at best, silent observers, and frequently lead the pack in campaigns to vilify the Jewish people.

The pathological anti-Semitic hatred sweeping Europe is manifested by increasing street violence against Jews, desecrations of synagogues and cemeteries and daubing of graffiti. It is especially evident in the vituperative responses that appear in media talkbacks - a good barometer of populist prejudice - whenever an Israeli or Jewish-related issue is discussed.

The pathological anti-Semitic hatred sweeping Europe is manifested by increasing street violence against Jews, desecrations of synagogues and cemeteries and daubing of graffiti. It is especially evident in the vituperative responses that appear in media talkbacks - a good barometer of populist prejudice - whenever an Israeli or Jewish related issue is discussed Opinion polls demonstrate that hatred of Israel and the Jewish people is even more prevalent at the grassroots level than in the more subtle approach adopted by governments.

This even extends to Germany, which has a "special relationship" with the Jewish people and promotes intensive Holocaust educational initiatives. In a recent poll, 47.7 percent of German respondents endorsed the statement: "Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians."

Needless to say, portrayal of Israel as a Nazi state morally sanctions its destruction.

THESE BLEAK findings almost remind one of medieval anti-Semitic attitudes, which blamed Jews for being the source of all the evil, ranging from plagues to droughts to blood libels.

Today the Jewish homeland is perceived as the principal source of global instability, and attracts greater hostility than rogue states like Iran, North Korea and, until recently, Libya.

The indigenous anti-Jewish environment is intensified by increasing physical violence by Muslim immigrants, many of whose European imams and media would qualify for bouquets from the Nazis. A former European Commissioner, Frits Bolkestein, recently went so far as to recommend that practicing Jews in Holland emigrate to Israel because he doubted the government's ability to protect them from the increasing onslaughts of Islamic immigrants.

On the surface, the gravity of the situation is somewhat blurred because, ironically, Jews enjoy greater social mobility than ever. They intermarry freely, and are rarely discriminated against in their professional lives - as long as they remain "silent" Jews. Some also live within their own communities, so their relations with non-Jews tend to be limited primarily to business or professional activities.

Thus, in many communities Jewish leaders are in a state of denial, insisting that the level of anti-Semitism is wildly exaggerated, arguing that the principal issue is the Jewish state, and that one must distinguish between the demonization and delegitimization of Israel and Jew hatred Yet the pending Dutch legislation designed to outlaw shechita, and its possible extension to other European countries, suggests that even traditional Jewish practices are under siege. When the animal welfare lobby, ignorant about ritual slaughter, selectively concentrates on banning Jewish tradition in this manner, this is surely grounds for concern.

In addition, many parents of children who encounter anti-Semitism at schools or universities privately concede that they are deeply despondent about the future, and appreciate that in such a hostile environment, their offspring will be denied the opportunity of remaining proud Jews.

On the other hand, as a backlash to increasing Muslim extremism, a growing revulsion is emerging at a grassroots level against Islamic influence, even though the much-decried Islamophobia is still a marginal phenomenon.

Multiculturalism, which Jews had adopted as an ideal formula for maintaining Jewish life in the Diaspora while integrating into society, is now increasingly acknowledged as a failed experiment. While the concept was and remains noble, it fails in practice when confronted with immigrant minorities that seek to undermine the open host societies, refuse to integrate, and are willing to employ violence to further their aims, even breeding indigenous secondgeneration terrorists. The multicultural formula has been transformed into a Trojan horse that today undermines the very viability of democratic societies.

In this context, Jews are in a quandary. By supporting the containment of multiculturalism in order to stem Islamic aggression, many fear it may also lead to curtailment of Jewish cultural and religious autonomy.

NOT SURPRISINGLY, great confusion prevails. In some cases, Jews assume liberal stances and find themselves allied with anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish elements unlikely to display appreciation for their efforts.

Jews face an additional dilemma. The traditional parties of the radical Right - in some cases including former anti-Semites and fascists like the French Front National and the British National Party - are at the vanguard of the campaign against Islamic influence, and receive considerable support from sections of the Jewish community that would normally have no truck with them. Some have even emerged as supporters of Israel, which they view as an embattled enclave resisting Islam.

Some Jews simply bury their heads in the sand and support vicious anti-Israeli left wing pro-Islamic elements. A few endorse the former ultra-right wing parties, especially those which now go through the motions of condemning anti-Semitism. For others, assimilation or the adoption of an anti-Israeli chic is the answer.

But for those unwilling to live like pariahs or political marranos, and for whom a desire to remain proud Jews is important, there is only one solution. They enroll their children in (police-protected) Jewish day schools, which have undergone an enormous upsurge in recent years, and prepare to emigrate - a decision frequently accelerated when they observe the hostile atmosphere at many universities.

They thus represent a new reservoir for future aliya.

The question is whether this European sickness will spread to North America and Australia where, until now, Jews and Israel are still well regarded. The concern is that if future generations of American leaders absorb the hostile approach toward Israel that currently prevails on campus, even Jews in the goldene medina may have cause for anxiety.

This column was originally published in the Jerusalem Post

Obama Undermines Prospects for Middle East Peace

His approach to the Arab-Israel impasse has a lamentable consistency

By Mortimer B. Zuckerman

When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accepted an invitation to speak to a joint meeting of Congress last week, he could have had no idea that the Obama administration would attempt to take the ground from under him. A preemptive strike is about the only interpretation one can make of yet another Middle East speech by the president—a speech that represented a fundamental change in American policy toward Israel going back 44 years.

The president advocated that the borders before the Six-Day War should be a starting point for negotiations. That would mean Israel yielding all the land won in the war, including the Golan Heights, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza. If Israel wanted to keep land settled since the war, it could do so only by swapping it for parcels of land in pre-1967 Israel. U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, passed in November 1967, is the foundational document of postwar diplomacy in the Middle East. Its withdrawal clause deliberately did not demand or insist that Israel pull back completely to the lines before the 1967 war, but only called on Israel to withdraw from "territories," not from "all the territories" or from "the territories," a deliberate distinction. Furthermore, Israel was to withdraw to secure and recognized borders. That has always been interpreted as not being synonymous with the pre-1967 boundaries.

Resolution 242 has served as the reference for Arab-Israeli peace agreements including the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty and the 1993 Oslo agreements between Israel and the Palestinians, signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn. Neither of them stipulated that the final borders between Israel and the Palestinians would be the 1967 lines but only that these borders were to be a subject for future negotiations. [ Check out political cartoons about the Middle East uprisings ]

As Glenn Kessler pointed out in his Fact Checker blog at the Washington Post, this was supported by what President Lyndon Johnson said in 1968: "It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of 4 June 1967 will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognized borders." President Ronald Reagan said in September 1982: "In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely 10 miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel's population lived within artillery range of hostile Arab armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again." And his secretary of state, George Shultz, was equally unequivocal in September 1988: "Israel will never negotiate from or return to the 1967 borders." Citations from Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush made the same point.

Moreover, when Israel took the risk of leaving Gaza in 2005, Bush assured the Israelis that the United States would not expect Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders and that Israeli settlements would be reflected in Israel's right to secure, recognizable, and defensible borders. Both houses of Congress approved these assurances, which had been matched in letters by U.S. secretaries of state from Henry Kissinger to Warren Christopher. President Obama himself, when he was campaigning and appealing to the Jewish community, stated that any future agreement would reflect Israel's right to "secure, recognized, and defensible borders"—the term of art for not returning to the indefensible prewar lines.

These vital commitments now seem to be in the process of disavowal by the Obama administration, whose secretary of state went so far as to assert that President Bush's pledges did not become part of the official U.S. position.

One other consequence of the president's position is that the parties must negotiate a border that is different from 1967. Since the 1967 line runs through Jerusalem, it would mean that the Western Wall and even Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter are Palestinian—alien territory for which Israel must now negotiate.Furthermore, Obama's speech undermines the prospects of a negotiation. It removes the principal Israeli negotiating chip. The Israelis would have to persuade the Palestinians to accept Israel as a Jewish state and understand that the refugees whom the Arabs have made no effort to accommodate cannot be given a "right of return," which would swamp Israel. Indeed, Obama failed to include previous U.S. statements that the Palestinians will never see the right of return implemented through a return to Israel proper. It's an omission that leaves it open for Palestinians to pocket as a concession without having to withdraw their demand for a right of return for millions of Palestinians. [See photos of the Obamas abroad.]

There is a certain lamentable consistency to Obama's handling of the Israeli-Arab impasse. Two years ago he inserted settlements as the center of his Middle East strategy, which hamstrung the possibility of successful talks. His call for a freeze turned settlements from a dignified wish into a threshold demand that needed to be met in full. This made it impossible for the Palestinians to compromise, for as President Mahmoud Abbas stated, he could not be less Palestinian than the American president.

Now again, Obama has stymied talks by asking Israelis to give up their main negotiating card, without demanding that the Palestinians provide anything in return. No request to return to negotiations. No meeting. No envoy. No "quartet" session. That is simply a non-starter in a Middle East culture where you never give anything for nothing. The president has made it virtually impossible for the Palestinian leader to make the necessary compromises. Instead he was rewarding the Palestinians just weeks after they announced a reconciliation with Hamas, and amid talk that Abbas would wage a declaration of political war against Israel by asking the United Nations to recognize Palestine as a state. That would be a breach of the Palestine Liberation Organization's commitment in the Oslo agreement that "neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of permanent status negotiations."

The crux of the matter is what happened after the 1993 Oslo Accords. The Israelis had to endure a campaign of indiscriminate murder by hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombers who, with Arafat's complicity, crossed over from the West Bank to kill Israelis.

Since then another menacing element has emerged to make a mockery of the pledges of Oslo. Abbas for the PLO has agreed to a joint venture with Hamas in the government of the West Bank. Hamas is a proxy of Iran. The Hamas charter calls for the murder of every Jew and for Israel's destruction. Their chief, Khalid Meshal, has said that Hamas would never recognize Israel's right to exist nor abandon liberating all of Palestine. Yet Abbas, in commenting on Netanyahu's congressional speech, said: "Our goal is not to isolate Israel nor to challenge its legitimacy."

How can he even think of saying that when he has partnered with Hamas? Obama did at least acknowledge that it would be impossible for Israel to negotiate seriously with a party that includes Hamas. Nobody has thought what to do with Hamas if it is to have access to the billions of dollars of aid from the United States and Europe now given to the Palestinians, much of which would buy more rockets and other weaponry. [Read: Obama offers little new in Middle East speech.]

The 1967 borders, which gave Israel a width of about nine miles, half the diameter of the Washington beltway, were not boundaries of peace. They were boundaries of repeated wars, and the Israelis will simply not return to them, especially now that Abbas's party, Fatah, has joined with Hamas. Israelis will not forget that the last time Abbas received control of an area, namely Gaza, his forces ran away and left it to Hamas, which rained thousands of rockets on Israel. The risk is that the West Bank, with Hamas in control, will become yet another base for terrorism with access to the overlooks of the Jerusalem suburbs, Tel Aviv beaches, and the main airport.

Today Israeli counter-terrorism forces can reach every place in the West Bank, capture prohibited weapons, or intercept suicide bombers, an access that gives them high-quality, precise military intelligence along with the full freedom of operation to enter Palestinian city centers and villages to locate and destroy bomb-producing factories and terrorist cells. Palestinian-Israeli counter-terrorism coordination has made the West Bank secure (and it's prospering). That cannot be sustained if Hamas is in the government, since most of the terrorists are Hamas people.

Were the West Bank to become a failed Palestinian state, it would threaten the very viability of Israel. The high ridge line of the West Bank overlooks so much of the heartland of Israel that even a Palestinian teenager with the most simple weaponry such as a portable Qassam rocket could hit Israel's main airport and major cities. This land is a mere eight to 12 miles from the Mediterranean—a lethal proximity Europeans and Americans cannot fully appreciate unless they have been there.

For its part, Israel also remembers what happened when it withdrew from Lebanon. The world community, having pressed for that, immediately lost interest, but while its eyes were closed, Hez­bollah took over, re-armed, and accumulated more than 60,000 rockets and missiles. U.N. forces fled their positions as soon as internal fighting heated up, and monitors themselves fell victim to local Palestinian kidnapping. So Israel cannot rely on international forces to keep the peace. Abba Eban had it right about international forces in the Middle East when he compared them to an umbrella that is folded up when it rains. That is why an Israeli security presence in the Jordan Valley is critical to prevent terrorists and weapons coming in through Jordan. That is why Obama's implied opposition to an open-ended Israeli presence along the Jordan River would present yet another security issue.

What the Israelis know and understand and what the rest of the world doesn't is that the Palestinian discourse in Arabic is much more hostile than what the English-speaking world hears. The Palestinian propaganda in all the controlled media and in the schools portrays Israel as an illegitimate invader that must be destroyed. Just a few weeks ago, a member of the Palestinian parliament, Yunis al-Astal, spoke out on Hamas Al-Aqsa TV and asserted that the Jews being brought to Palestine is a divine plan that will give the Arabs the honor of annihilating them. Every day terrorists are honored as devoted brothers and sisters, even the late cleric Muhammad Fadlallah, seen by some as the mastermind of the 1983 Hezbollah bombing that claimed the lives of 241 U.S. servicemen in Lebanon.

A campaign to delegitimize Israel is waged every day along with incitement to violence. A Pew poll showed that 68 percent of Palestinian Muslims support suicide bombing. Polls also suggest that 85 percent of the Palestinians don't want peace if it means any compromise on borders, settlements, or Jerusalem, or any restraints on their wishes to move into Israel proper, what they call the right of return. The Palestinians and Syrians who rushed Israel's borders recently were not "protesters"; they did not come to negotiate. They assaulted Israel's borders on the anniversary of Israel's founding in 1948. They came to destroy, and more such mass efforts are being planned.

The Israeli position is misrepresented throughout the Middle East and to a large extent in Europe. Prime Minister Netanyahu is not the "no" robot of the anti-Israel propaganda. He has demonstrated his willingness to take risks for peace. He overcame the resistance of his Likud party to a two-state solution; he agreed to a temporary 10-month moratorium on new settlement construction, which no previous government was even willing to consider; he authorized the release of dozens of Palestinian prisoners; he dramatically reduced checkpoints and blockades in the West Bank even though this would increase the security risk to Is­raelis; he gave free passes without further review to hundreds of Palestinians to move between Israel and the West Bank for economic reasons; and he authorized new security arrangements that were in effect a modified form of amnesty to help former terrorists join the Palestinians as peaceful civilians.

In his most recent speech to the Knesset, he made it clear that Israel would insist on retaining the large settlement blocks near the 1967 borders—the position of every prime minister going back to Yitzhak Rabin—but by inference he excluded the smaller isolated settlements. In his speech to Congress, he stated he would be very generous with respect to territory. His proposal for a military presence along the Jordan River did not include seeking to retain settlements there. As he told Congress, he is prepared to cede territory that is at the heart of the Jewish nation, territory legitimately won in a war of defense against Arab attempts to destroy Israel. Quite simply, in Israeli domestic politics, Netanyahu has drawn a clear line between his position and the security-minded conservatives led by Likud, and the more hard-line religious right of the settlement movement that rejects territorial compromise under any circumstances.

Israel still retains the burden of putting forth its own peace initiative. But it will hardly feel encouraged to do that without the certain knowledge and confidence that the United States remains its main ally, not just in words but in deeds.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was right in a speech he gave last week after the Obama address. "The place where negotiating will happen," he said, "must be the negotiating table—and nowhere else. Those negotiations will not happen, and their terms will not be set, through speeches, or in the streets, or in the media. No one should set premature parameters about borders, about building, or about anything else."

He added: "A fair beginning to good-faith talks means that Israel cannot be asked to agree to confines that would compromise its own security." Amen to all of that!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Bad for the Jews

Roger L Simon

When my grandmother was still alive, when some domestic or international conflict came to her attention, she would ask, “Is it good for the Jews?”

Many friends have told me they heard the same thing from their grandmothers, because this was a natural reaction for people of that generation after years and years of pogroms and finally the Holocaust.

So somewhere in the subconscious of almost all Jews there is that inner grandmother talking to us. And what those bubbes are saying now is not good, not by a long shot. Many of us have thought the following I am sure, but I have not yet seen anyone say it print. So being the fool that I am, I’m going to bite the proverbial bullet and be the one to do it now. Maybe it will be cathartic.

This last year or two has been — bad for the Jews.

No, I’m not talking about the increasingly-tenuous struggle for Israel’s survival and and the controversy surrounding Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech in front of Congress. I am proud more than ever of the Israelis’ courage and of their prime minister.

I am thinking of something much more personal. I am thinking of three infamous people at the top of the world’s news in recent times all of whom, unfortunately, happen to be Jews…

Bernard Madoff, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and now Anthony Weiner.

In varying degrees there is something quite wrong, veering toward the sociopathic, with all of those men. My grandmother would definitely conclude that they are not “good for the Jews.” And I suspect I speak for most or our tribe when I say that I cringe when I see their (yes, Jewish) names in print or their visages on television. This is true notwithstanding that I don’t know of any of these men personally, nor have I even met them. Like everyone reading this article, I know bloody well who they are.

Yes, I know nobody said we were supposed to be perfect, yet I feel branded by these men and their behavior. Anthony Weiner looks like somebody in my family and I wish he would go away. Ditto Madoff and Strauss-Kahn. Yet here they are — in my face, day after day.

So I guess you can call me a “guilty Jew,” though my guilt has not lead me into pacifism or back into the liberal fold that I left a decade ago. Far from it. Indeed, in this case it has made me angry. Agnostic though I may be, I want to follow in the best tradition of my people and see these men punished — punished to the limits of the law or, if they have not strictly broken a law, be subject to a more transcendent retribution that knows no bounds.

As these people disgrace us, I will redouble my efforts in the support of Israel. I will continue to be proud of my heritage. And I will continue to fight for America.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Tonight begins Shavuot

Arlene Kushner

Tonight begins Shavuot -- the celebration of the Jewish people having received the Torah at Sinai 50 days after Pesach.

It lasts for one day here, and two days outside of the Land. Because of its association with Torah, the night of Shavuot is spent in study. I usually make it to about 3 AM. And here is where we can see one of the special joys of living in Yerushalayim: I've been in a quandary as to which shiurim (study sessions) to attend because there is so much available. Such problems! Such blessings!

Traditionally, as well, dairy foods are eaten on Shavuot. Not a bad combination: religious study and cheesecake. At the end of the day, on Sunday, at the Syrian border in the Golan -- across from the Druse village of Majdal Shams and at the abandoned Syrian town of Kuneitra -- the IDF held off those hundreds attempting to breach our border. Lessons had been learned from May and effective techniques were in place; high level commanders were on the scene, as well.

The Syrians are claiming 20 dead, Israel is saying it was fewer but I don't have an official number -- the Northern Command is saying eight to 10. At any rate, Israel is holding Syria, which encouraged the rioters for its own purposes, responsible for deaths. Whether there were 20 dead or eight, the number pales in comparison with the number of protesters killed by the Assad regime inside of Syria.

The point is being made by multiple commentators that the Syrians are using the Palestinian Arabs as ploys to their own end. And the question is how long Palestinian Arabs will consent to play this role.


But by no means does the relative IDF success on Sunday signal that we are home free. What we've dealt with until now is merely the beginning. Sunday marked the start of the Six Day War in 1967. Friday marks the day on which Jerusalem was reunited in the course of that war. Calling it Al-Quds day, the Arabs are planning riots at our borders and in Judea and Samaria. Needless to say, Israel is preparing diligently.


Netanyahu envoy Yitzhak Molcho and PA negotiator Saeb Erekat have reportedly both been in the US in the last couple of days for separate secret consultations -- in the case of Erekat, at least, with David Hale, acting US Middle East envoy (acting, now that Mitchell has resigned).

The goal, clearly enunciated by a State Department official, was "to work on getting both sides back to the table." Obama wants to "jump start" negotiations to preclude that UN vote in September. The betting is that he will veto anything that comes before the Security Council with regard to a Palestinian state. But he will do it most reluctantly, as this places him in opposition to Arab or Muslim elements that he regularly courts and allies him publicly with Israel. And so, if there's a way around it, by bringing the parties to the table (in which case Abbas will withdraw efforts at the UN), he's all for it.

The fact that it is an impossible situation, and that "negotiations" cannot possible lead to a peace agreement is irrelevant. This is about politics, and the Obama image, not about peace.


It is imperative, of course, that Netanyahu hold that tough line in consultations with the US now. No being a "nice guy" and making it easier for Obama by conceding on certain issues in order to bring Abbas back to the table.


As to Abbas, I offer a purely speculative thought. A couple of reports have surfaced lately regarding the fact that Abbas really knows that the UN ploy is not going to succeeded in bringing a Palestinian state into existence. With this recognition, if indeed it exists, might come a restructuring of Abbas tactics.

He had been courting Hamas for a unity government in order to be able to go to the UN and say that the PA represented all Palestinian Arabs who would constitute the population of the state. But now it is the PA/Fatah that is the stumbling block to the formation of that unity government, which was supposed to have been in place by now. Abbas is holding tight to his promotion of Fayyad as prime minister, in the face of furious Hamas objections, and the PA is still holding Hamas prisoners in Judea and Samaria. Is Abbas sabotaging the unity agreement? Is he back to playing both ends against the middle? Hoping to mollify Obama sufficiently so that the president might lean harder on Israel?

I don't have answers, only questions.


What I will say is that secret negotiations on what each side will do to re-start peace talks makes me nervous. I find this potentially more unsettling than that UN vote. Although I still strongly suspect that at the end of the day Abbas's demands will make it impossible to proceed.

No, let me alter that comment: It is Obama's proposals (I won't call them "demands" although they sure come close) that may make it impossible. According to Haaretz (which may be seriously inaccurate, as it promotes a decidedly leftist position) the US is trying to get both parties to agree to come to the table based on the Obama outlines from his recent State Department and AIPAC speeches. After what Netanyahu said in his press conference with the president and then in Congress? Could this be?

No worry, if it is the case. Netanyahu is not about to agree to start negotiations with pre-'67 lines as the starting point, and issues such as Jerusalem and refugees to be tabled until we've conceded Judea and Samaria.


The Freedom and Justice Party, created by the Muslim Brotherhood, and chaired by Mohamed Morsi, has been officially approved by the Egyptian Committee of Parties' Affairs. It is the first party to officially declare since Mubarak's fall. Not a good sign.

Carolyn Glick wrote about "The Real Egyptian Revolution" the other day:

"...As for the military, its actions to date make clear that its commanders do not see themselves as guardians of secular rule in Egypt. Instead, they see themselves as engines for a transition from Mubarak’s authoritarian secularism to the Brotherhood’s populist Islamism.

"Since forcing Mubarak to resign, the military junta has embraced Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. They engineered the Palestinian unity government which will pave the way for Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian Authority’s legislative and presidential elections scheduled for the fall.

"Then there is Sinai. Since the revolution, the military has allowed Sinai to become a major base not only for Hamas but for the global jihad. As Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned on Monday, Egyptian authorities are not asserting their sovereignty in Sinai and jihadists from Hamas, al-Qaida and other groups are inundating the peninsula.

"Last week’s move to open Egypt’s border with Gaza at the Rafah passage is further proof that the military has made its peace with the Islamic takeover of Egypt..."


Not a good scene: According to the Iranian news agency FARS, Iranian submarines, accompanied by Iranian warships, are in international waters in the Red Sea, on an intelligence gathering mission.


I'll end today with a link to a video with Andrew Klavan, on a solution to the crisis in the Middle East. A bit different from what I usually share: brilliant and funny.


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

Monday, June 06, 2011

"Strength in Unity"

Arlene Kushner

At the end of the day, it's not our enemies, who certainly threaten us (see below), who are our biggest problem: It's a lack of internal unity: Unity among Jews here in Israel, and unity among Jews outside Israel with regard to standing with Israel. That unity is our greatest strength, and it is what I wish to address today.

I was sent the following by a reader (thanks, Helaine!). It is a quote from Rabbi Lazer Brody, who teaches on issues of faith:

"Jerusalem is the heart of all the Jewish people. If you cull other Jews or cut yourself off from any group... then you cut yourself off from a part of Jerusalem. No wonder Jerusalem is under the threat of being split! It's all the result of infighting and hate, no matter how seemingly justified it may be. The Chafetz Chaim says that Hashem doesn't want hate or contention in any form, even if you think it's a mitzvah [e.g., to oppose people who are not observant]. So, if you care about Jerusalem remaining unified, love every Jew. You don't have to agree with his ideology or lifestyle, but you are commanded to love him like yourself. "By the same token, every Jew has a portion of the Land of Israel.
"Large segments of our homeland are in danger, measure for measure with our actions: we cut ourselves off from other Jews, and we get part of our homeland cut away from is. Think about it, for I know it's true.

"The unity of the Land of Israel depends on Jewish unity - this should be our goal, now more than ever."

This is solidly in sync with traditional Jewish teaching: We are told that we lost the Second Temple because of baseless hatred (sinat chinam) among Jews.


Another reader (for this, thanks Cheryl H.!) sent a video -- the "Rabbi and the Paratroopers" -- that models for us how we should all act. It's five years old -- dating to the time of the Lebanon War. Is it a coincidence that it came to me now?

See it, please. An Orthodox rabbi, with a long white flowing beard, embracing secular soldiers with a pure love that he expresses in action. It will warm your heart and just may bring tears to your eyes, as it did to mine.


And then, an article that addresses division -- division sufficient to bring a different kind of tears to one's eyes. This is a situation of great seriousness that must be addressed.

Daniel Gordis -- Senior Vice President of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem -- has written stunningly on the question, "Are Young Rabbis Turning on Israel?"

Gordis, musing on the powerful feelings evoked in Israel during Yom HaZikaron (Israeli memorial day), writes:

"I read a recent message sent to students at the interdenominational rabbinical school at Boston’s Hebrew College, asking them to prepare themselves for Yom Ha-Zikaron by musing on the following paragraph: 'For Yom Ha-Zikaron, our kavanah [intention] is to open up our communal remembrance to include losses on all sides of the conflict in Israel/Palestine. In this spirit, our framing question for Yom Ha-Zikaron is this: On this day, what do you remember and for whom do you grieve?'

"It is the rare e-mail that leaves me speechless. Here, at a reputable institution training future rabbis who will shape a generation of American Jews and their attitudes to Israel, the parties were treated with equal weight and honor in the run-up to Yom Ha-Zikaron. What the students were essentially being asked was whether the losses on Israel’s side touched them any more deeply than the losses on the side of Israel’s enemies.

"...That is a stunning question...There is, perhaps, a place for such memories [of the death of enemies]. That time is when the conflict has abated, when weapons are set aside, when healing has begun. That time...has not yet come to Israel.

"...The heartbreaking point was this: in the case of these rabbinical students, there is not an instinct that should be innate—the instinct to protect their own people first, or to mourn our losses first. Their instinct, instead, is to 'engage.' But 'engagement' is a value-free endeavor. It means setting instinctive dispositions utterly aside. And that is precisely what this emerging generation of American Jewish leaders believes it ought to do.

"...This kavanah to rabbinical students was not my first brush with this worrisome phenomenon among those training to be the religious leadership of American Jews. In April, before I learned about this Yom Ha-Zikaron incident, I wrote a column in the Jerusalem Post pointing to the problem of rabbinical students who are increasingly distanced from Israel. I noted an example of an American rabbinical student who had elected to celebrate his birthday in Ramallah, and another who was looking to buy a new prayer shawl and sent out an e-mail asking for advice about where to buy one—with the proviso that the tallith could not have been made in Israel. I said nothing about how widespread the phenomenon is, because we do not know. But it was time to acknowledge the situation, I argued, so that we might begin to address it."

What Gordis says he encountered was a great deal of defensivenss: "It's not us."

"...But there was another reaction, too, and it came not from the deans, but from students at these schools, as well as from communal professionals and even rabbis out in the field...A communal Jewish professional in the South wrote, 'Just yesterday I had a conversation with a synagogue that is interviewing recent graduates of [two rabbinical schools from different movements]. Students from both these schools have expressed opinions that are nothing short of hostile to Israel.'

"Then, a rabbi in the field wrote me:

'Interesting column. Unfortunately, not an entirely new phenomenon. [Some years] ago, one of the rabbis of [a major New York synagogue] refused to shake my hand when I was introduced as a major in the IDF. And a few years back, [an] avowed Zionist [dean of one of the schools in question] told a group of rabbinical students that if he were around at the time, and had a say, he would have voted against the establishment of the State of Israel.'

"Students in Jerusalem and in the States asked to meet with me, and on almost every occasion, they spoke about how lonely it can be for an unapologetically pro-Israel student at some of today’s rabbinical schools. (This phenomenon is, not surprisingly, almost entirely absent on Orthodox campuses, although, alarmingly, it is becoming an issue on the left end of Orthodoxy, too.)

"The number of vocally anti-Israel students is probably small, but their collective impact is far from marginal. These students are shaping the discourse about Israel in America’s rabbinical schools. And worse, because Israel-related conversations are becoming highly charged and many campuses seek to avoid friction at virtually all costs, these vocal students are effectively shutting down serious discourse about Israel. (One campus dean actually instructed students to cease all e-mail discussion of Israel, while every other political topic remained fair game.)


Gordis, in attempting to understand how this could be happening, focuses on a few key issues.

"Memory is the first factor. As I have chatted with these students over the past months, it has become clear that the profound differences in our instincts and loyalties can be traced, in part, to the differences in our formative experiences."

People who remember from their formative years the threats to Israel respond differently from those whose image of Israel during their growing up was of a strong nation -- strong either in a positive sense, or in a negative sense as the TV has focused on tough IDF soldiers.

"Those differences in memory lead to the second major divide: students today cannot imagine a world without a Jewish state. Despite the ongoing conflict, the fundamental goal of political Zionism—the dream of creating a sovereign, secure Jewish state—has been so utterly successful that these students cannot imagine that Israel is actually at risk. After a meeting with a group of rabbinical students in Jerusalem, one of the participants wrote to me: 'my classmates shared with me that they had never imagined that Israel could be so fragile as to be fighting for her very existence. Your angle really seemed to hit them hard.' It had never occurred to me, when I reminded these graduate students of Israel’s ongoing vulnerability, that I was saying anything that wasn’t utterly obvious.
"Beyond what I believe to be their naïveté about Israel’s security, however, these rabbinical students also have no sense of how utterly different American Jewish life is from what it would have been without a Jewish state...these students have little sense of how the very existence of a Jewish state contributed to this utter transformation of American Jewish life [from timidity during the Holocaust to outspoken self-assurance now]. Ironically, the very sense of comfort that enables some of these students to work to marginalize Israel is a direct result of the Jewish state itself.

"In conversation with these students, there’s one word in particular that makes them squirm with discomfort, and it represents the third way in which their generation differs. That word is 'enemy.' There is something hard and non-malleable about the term 'enemy,' and today’s students are loath to use it. They are disturbed by the intractability of the conflict in Israel, but they refuse to draw any conclusions from Palestinian recalcitrance. Dan Kaiman, the student who celebrated his birthday in Ramallah, wrote a piece in the Jerusalem Post in response to my column, explaining that

"'I chose to have one of my birthday celebrations in Ramallah to honor, respect, and value the relationships I have built with a people and place I care deeply about. I also celebrated my birthday here in Jerusalem for the same reasons. I believe in a Zionism that desires peace, safety, and cooperation among Jews and Arabs...'

Gordis then described the communication from one California rabbi:

"..'We are not the generation of rabbis hoping to abandon Israel. We are the generation of rabbis who hope that God will give us the merit to be peacemakers.' How a rabbi holding a pulpit in West Los Angeles is going to become a peacemaker in the Middle East is never explained. But one thing is clear from [this] article: peacemaking, this generation believes, requires imagining that we do not have enemies. Neville Chamberlain would have appreciated the company.

"And while one can surely forge meaningful relations with people in Ramallah, it requires a stunning suspension of the particular for Kaiman to call Ramallah a 'place I care deeply about' and to say that one cares about Jerusalem 'for the same reasons.' ...Does the fact that there were PLO posters in the bar where the birthday party was held not make it difficult for a future rabbi to have a beer there? For this, too, Kaiman had an explanation:

"'I am aware of the [posters] on the walls and the incredible complexity of this conflict….There are also many places in Israel where I feel uncomfortable as a liberal Jew, a Zionist, and an American. Feeling uncomfortable is not an invitation to disengage, close myself off, or stop listening (or, in my specific case, celebrating). I find that by engaging those with whom I may not agree, I am provided with opportunities to learn about myself and others, and begin to transform discomfort into opportunity.'

"'Engagement' is a gloriously vague notion, so evanescent in its purposes and intentions that it casts a fog over the clarity provided by genuine commitment: to loyalty, or heritage, or love, or sanctity, or duty. It is the sort of benign interaction that one can have even with enemies. Engagement is particularly easy if you refuse to acknowledge that the people who continue to celebrate those who have killed you are your enemies.

"...the discomfort with the idea of 'the enemy' and the intolerability of being in a drawn-out conflict has led these students to the conviction that Israel must solve the conflict. The Palestinian position is not going to shift; that much they intuit. But having enemies, and being in interminable conflict, is unbearably painful for them. So Israel must change. And if it will not, or cannot, then it is Israel that is at fault. In which case, it makes perfectly good sense for these future Jewish leaders to refuse to purchase prayer shawls manufactured in Israel and to insist on demonstratively remaining seated as the prayer for Israeli soldiers is recited in their rabbinical-school communities. They will do virtually anything in order to avoid confronting the fact that the Jewish people has intractable enemies. Their universalist worldview does not have a place for enemies. (emphasis added)

"The final difference between these young Jewish leaders and those who preceded them is perhaps the most disturbing. This new tone in discussions about Israel is so 'fair,' so 'balanced,' so 'even-handed' that what is entirely gone is an instinct of belonging—the visceral sense on the part of these students that they are part of a people, that the blood and the losses that were required to create the state of Israel is their blood and their loss. (emphasis added)

"...All this is simply a reflection of the decreased role of 'peoplehood' in Judaism. What we are witnessing is a Protestantization of American Jewish life. By and large, today’s rabbinical students did not grow up in homes that were richly Jewish. More often than not, these students came to their Jewish commitments as a result of individual journeys on which they embarked. They sought meaning, and found it. They sought prayer, and learned it. Their Jewish experience is roughly analogous to a Protestant religious awakening. The Protestant religious experience is a deeply personal one, not a communal one. Worship in the Protestant tradition is about reaching for the divine, while in the Jewish tradition, it is no less about creating a bond with other Jews. In Protestant liturgy, history is almost absent, while in the Jewish prayer book, it is omnipresent. The replacement of communal faith by personal journey among today’s young Jews is a profound reflection of the degree to which Christianity has colored their sense of what Judaism at its very core is all about."


There is more. Read the entire article, please:

And then, if you are terrified, as indeed you might be, think long and hard please, about what you -- if you are an American Jew and particularly an affiliated American Jew -- can do about this situation.


As I write, the IDF and other Israeli forces are engaging with those trying to cross the border in the north via Syria, in the Golan Heights, or rioting in Palestinian Arab areas here.

Photo: AFP Palestinians breaking through syria border - Yaron Kaminsky

They are calling this "Naksa" Day -- a commemoration of the tragedy of the war in 1967, when we acquired all of Judea and Samaria, and Gaza. Abbas called this the new "nuclear weapon" for Palestinians: They feel they have a new way to get us, and it is not going to be easy. How do you win against people who say they'll reach their "homes" in Israel or die as martyrs trying? How do you convince the world that those who come "unarmed" sometimes throw chunks of concrete at the heads of soldiers? They have attempted to structure the situation so that the world sees them as "innocents" and Israel as the big bad Goliath.

And yet, they cannot be permitted to breach our borders.

The IDF has non-lethal means such as tear gas at its disposal, and uses crowd control methods -- including warnings by loudspeaker in Arabic -- when possible, but sometimes finds it necessary to use live fire as well. When shooting is necessary, shots are aimed at the lower parts of the body. At one point a Molotov cocktail that was thrown by demonstrators caused the explosion of four mines on the Syrian side of the border. Reports on casualties vary.

Some of the best video footage I've located yet is here:,7340,L-4078644,00.html

Scroll down the page part way.

The IDF is expressing general satisfaction with its ability to keep the situation under control.

I will have more complete information on this tomorrow.


Acknowledging that Israel has a right to defend herself, the State Department none-the-less declared itself "deeply troubled" by the situation at our border with Syria. The call was for "restraint" by "both sides." I love these even-handed statements.


In Judea and Samaria:

-- A border policeman was lightly injured by rocks thrown at the Kalandia checkpoint, which was then shut down. In additional to rocks, Molotov cocktails were thrown at security forces and burning tired were hurled into the air.

-- Their was a violent disturbance near Elon Moreh and crowds were dispersed.

-- Worst of all, in my mind: rocks were thrown at a kindergarten in the Beit Hadassah region.


Hakim Awad and Amjad Awad of Awarta have now been formally charged in military court with the murder of five members of the Fogel family, in Itamar.

Amjad said: "I am proud of what I did and will accept any punishment I receive, because I did it all for Palestine...I would do it again."

Proud of stabbing a baby to death. I am not a violent person, normally, but...


France has made an offer to host a parlay at which there would be an attempt to restart the "peace negotiations."

Abbas has said he'll be glad to attend if Israel first stops all construction and agrees to negotiate according to the '67 lines. Apparently there was tension between Fatah and Hamas with regard to how to respond to this proposal.

Netanyahu, while expressing interest, says Israel will not negotiate with a unity government of which Hamas is a constituent part.


Khaled Abu Toameh, writing in the JPost, reports that: "One month after the Egyptian-brokered Hamas-Fatah reconciliation accord was announced in Cairo, the two parties are continuing to squabble over the establishment of a unity government."

The new government was supposed to be announced this week, but there is a major stumbling block with regard to selection of prime minister. Hamas is fiercely opposed to the selection of the incumbent, Salam Fayyad, while Abbas continues to push for him.

Additionally, the PA continues to clamp down on Hamas in Judea and Samaria.


It was clear from the beginning that the movement towards that unity government was motivated by some very pragmatic concerns -- such as presenting a united front at the UN -- and not because of a deep and genuine reconciliation between the parties. Should the unity government fail to be forged, or should it immediately and precipitously fall apart, there would be multiple political/diplomatic implications.


A small correction: I wrote the other day about countries to be approached by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, with regard to not supporting a unilaterally declared Palestinian state. One of those countries is Colombia, which I erroneously spelled Columbia. (thanks, Marta)


© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Security forces on high alert

IDF, police deploy in all sectors ahead of 'Naksa Day' despite reports of canceled border marches. 'We won't let anyone infiltrate Israel, and if need be will use live ammunition,' military source says

Hanan Greenberg
Israel News

The Israel Defense Forces and Police are on high alert ahead of 'Naksa Day' marking 44 years since the break out of the Six Day War.

Security forces are gearing up for protests and marches in borders and all sectors, similar to those held three weeks ago on the deadly 'Nakba Day.' The IDF vowed to prevent any infiltration into Israel and is threatening the use of live fire.

Despite reports of a canceled march in Syria, it appears the main focus will be on the northern border where dozens of people infiltrated Israel on 'Nakba Day'. Several were shot to death. The fences have been fortified and forces have been deployed.

Soldiers have been ordered to avoid hurting civilians wherever possible, however senior officers in the field will be allowed to order the use of live fire. "We have no intention of letting anyone in Israel. We shall use our discretion as well as a variety of means and if needed live ammunition will be employed too," a military source said.

The IDF has equipped all forces in the field with crowd-dispersal means and non-lethal weapons.

The army is hoping to prevent protests by leftists or other elements which may create riots and disrupt security forces' activity in case foreign citizens approach the borders. Several roadblocks have been deployed in the northern Golan Heights.

The army is also bracing for rallies near the Lebanese border despite the cancellation of the march to the border. It is nevertheless feared that citizens inspired by Iranian elements will be sent to the border.

'Waiting for out mistake'

Alert level has also been raised across the West Bank. The Central Command has estimated that excluding minor incidents 'Naksa Day' will go over peacefully in the region.

The IDF also fears protestors may reach the fence in the Gaza Strip.

"The common element in all the sectors is that they're waiting for us to make a mistake," the military source said.

"Fatalities on the other side serve a purpose, it complicates matters for Israel on the PR level and gives others ammunition with which to slam us. We shall use discretion but will not allow a violation of sovereignty, unnecessary conflict or damage to infrastructure. That's a red line as far as we're concerned."

Police estimate Sunday's events will go over with relative calm and no specific alerts warning of terrorist attacks were received. Nevertheless, police will raise its alert level to the second highest level.

Hagai Einav, Hassan Shaalan, Yair Altman, Omri Efraim and Roee Nahmias contributed to this report