Saturday, September 03, 2011

Explaining double-speak to our friends

Isi Leibler

These are difficult times as we simultaneously confront threats from our Middle East neighbors and intensified pressures from every direction, including from the Obama administration.

The situation is aggravated by the upheavals in the Arab world, which have in all instances resulted in radical anti-Israeli Islamic elements either taking control or significantly increasing in influence. Even our peace treaty with Egypt is now in question. And at the same time, Hezbollah and Hamas have accumulated arsenals of deadly rockets, which in the event of a conflict would be directed toward all the major Israeli population centers. In this context, the enthusiastic bipartisan congressional support accorded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his Washington visit should not create excessive euphoria. It is the White House, in the main, that controls foreign affairs and, in view of the current economic meltdown, the pro-Israel Congress is more likely to be concentrating on urgent issues of domestic concern rather than confronting Obama over his Middle East policies. We also have legitimate grounds for unease that, should Obama be elected for a second term and no longer face election constraints and party pressures not to alienate Jewish support, he is likely to intensify his one-sided demands of us.

To this day, Obama has not diverged from his initial approach of appeasing Islamic states and making harsh demands on Israel. Yet the U.S. president is respected by neither friends nor foes. The manner in which he unhesitatingly abandoned his long-standing U.S. ally, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, while delaying calls for the ouster of Syrian President Bashar Assad, have encouraged the traditional Muslim allies of the U.S. to lose confidence in him. At the same time, his adversaries consider him a wimp, capitulating on every front. Even Israeli dove and former Labor Minister Yossi Beilin maintains that Obama "holds zero accountability for his presidency" and "waits for someone else to implement his grand plan."

We are confronted with a major challenge in September. Irrespective of whether or not the U.N. General Assembly endorses Palestinian statehood, there are likely to be concerted attempts to encourage tens of thousands of Palestinians to bypass roadblocks into Israeli territory. We will be obliged to exercise force to protect our security and sovereignty. Even taking maximum precautions, there will almost certainly be casualties and Israel is likely to yet again face global condemnation and demonization.

In the face of these imminent challenges, only idiots or those relying exclusively on divine intervention would dismiss the crucial importance of maintaining U.S. support. Aside from our essential defense requirements it is only the U.S. which is in a position to economically pressure the Egyptian military regime not to concede to the Islamic extremists baying for the annulment of the peace treaty with us. In addition, the absence of a U.S. diplomatic umbrella would leave us to the mercies of the Europeans who would have no compunction in abandoning us by supporting boycotts and sanctions at the U.N. in order to appease the Arab and Third World countries.

Politics is the art of the possible and we must therefore resist demagogic populist attitudes exhorting us to be “tough” and face the world alone. In this context, one would not envy the role of an Israeli prime minister. He is obliged to retain the critical support and friendship of the American people and Congress who can, at least substantially, limit the administration's efforts to pressure us. To achieve this in such a fake environment, an extraordinary diplomatic balancing act is required, in which he remains firm on essentials but must not be perceived as the obstacle to resolving the conflict.

It is in this context that one must assess the unconfirmed reports that Netanyahu has tentatively agreed to Obama’s "revised" formula of employing "1967 borders with swaps" as a benchmark for negotiations with the Palestinians. In return, Obama has allegedly decided to revert to the Bush commitments which recognize that demographic changes entitle Israel to retain the major settlement blocs and defensible borders. Netanyahu is said to have made this offer subject to a quid pro quo by the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. As this would imply a repudiation of the Arab refugee right of return – which the Palestinians would never endorse – this exercise remains an extension of the theatre of the absurd in which we are obliged to dance through meaningless motions in order to humor the Obama Administration.

Unfortunately, previous experience shows us that vague understandings are frequently selectively implemented to our detriment. An example is the total disregard of the clause in the Quartet Road Map stipulating that prior to any further Israeli concessions, the terrorist infrastructure would be dismantled.

An agreement along these lines with Obama may thus return to haunt us. In the absence of clear definitions of defensible borders and “major settlement blocs," these new undertakings could be exploited in future negotiations to pressure us into making territorial concessions to the Palestinians with potentially disastrous long-term security consequences.

The even more detrimental outcome of these theatrics is the confusion and bewilderment it sows amongst Diaspora Jews and our friends. On the one hand, we occasionally speak the truth and expose the Palestinians as a criminal society promoting a genocidal culture designed to destroy us. Then, to placate our western "allies" we relate to Abbas as a peace partner and babble on about negotiating for a settlement, fully aware that in the current climate this is simply delusional.

One day our prime minister has a confrontation with the U.S. president and the next day Defense Minister Ehud Barak proclaims that Obama is God’s gift to Israel. In contrast, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has a penchant for occasionally firing aggressive statements (often based on reality) which enthuse his supporters but embarrass the government and frequently detract from our international standing.

Of course, ideally, ministers of a government should speak with one voice. However the concept of cabinet responsibility in Israel has for many years been ignored, and individual ministers feel entitled to say what they like, even in stark opposition to the policy of their own government.

Nevertheless, within the constraints of the fantasy world in which our government must operate, a strategy must be devised to ensure that despite the "double-speak" in which those seeking to destroy us are portrayed as “peace partners," we ensure that Diaspora Jews and our friends are enabled to comprehend the reality of the situation.

Friday, September 02, 2011

"UN Issues"

Arlene Kushner

I want to concentrate today on the UN, and the up-coming Durban III. What's encouraging here is the enormous response against Durban III that is being mounted. While there is much ugliness in the world, there seems to be far less passivity with regard to it. This is a hopeful sign


Eye on the UN, the organization headed by Anne Bayefsky, has put out a short new video regarding "Durban III and the Perils of Global Intolerance": On this same page you can find backgrounders regarding Durban I and II.


The date for Durban III at the UN is September 22. At the same time, there will be a counter-conference sponsored by The Hudson Institute -- with which Bayefsky is associated -- and Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust at the Millennium UN Plaza Hotel.

What a line-up of speakers they will have, including: John Bolton, Mike Hukabee, Dore Gold, Ruth Wisse, Wafa Sultan, Khaled Abu Toameh, and Simon DengThere will be a live conference webcast and at the durbanwatch site above you can secure information for logging into that.


Perhaps even more important is "We Have a Dream: Global Summit Against Discrimination and Persecution.," sponsored by an international coalition of NGOs. This will be "a parallel summit to place urgent situations of discrimination and persecution on the international agenda, promote human rights and democracy, and give a voice to the voiceless."

The goal, quite simply, is to focus public attention on the genuine human rights atrocities taking place in the world, as counterpoint to the obscene and libelous UN charge that Israel is the greatest violator of human rights. At one and the same time it will put the lie to the Durban III charges and, as its PR indicates, "give a voice to the voiceless." It will call attention to genuine human suffering that is too often ignored.

The Summit will take place on September 21 and 22 on the UN Plaza across the street from the UN. And it will feature people such as a survivor of Tiananmen Square and president of Initiatives for China; one of the "lost boys of Sudan," as well as people connected to and fighting against human rights abuses in places such as Vietnam, Cuba, Burma, Rwanda, Sudan and Iran. There will be, for example, a spokesperson for the Uyghur people, a Chinese ethnic people that endures suffering at the hands of the Chinese government.

There will be a webcast of these proceedings as well, which you should be able to access at:


Lastly, and very significantly, there is this:

Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) -- who is a wise and forthright woman, and a great friend of Israel -- on August 30 introduced House Resolution 2829, which is now in committee. It is intended to promote transparency, accountability, and reform within the United Nations system, and would have an effect on how US donations to the UN are directed and when they may be withheld. Under this bill, the US -- instead of giving across the board funding -- would decide which programs to support. Funds to the ant-Israel Human Rights Council, for example, would stop immediately.

Significantly, the bill proposes immediately cutting America's financial contribution to any program or agency of the UN that supports Palestinian bid for recognition and membership.


The bill currently has 57 co-sponsors. I ask you most urgently to write to your Congresspersons and encourage them to sign on as co-sponsors, if they have not already done so.

The US currently provides 22% of the UN's budget ($7.7 billion in 2010!!). Much of what is funded with this US donation works against US values and goals and is a waste of US tax dollars. It is on this basis that your Congresspersons should be urged to support House Resolution 2829. The US can ill-afford to waste money in this fashion.

Other arguments (with a nod to UCI):

- UN agencies are filled with representatives of the most tyrannical nations in the world, some of the worst abusers of human rights. Yet these nations continue to pass multiple resolutions condemning Israel while ignoring their own inhumanity.

- Financial corruption is rampant and investigation has documented billions of dollars funneled into private accounts of U.N. officials.

- Hamas is not listed as a terrorist entity by the UN. Via a process involving UNRWA, Hamas ends up as a beneficiary of UN largesse.

- The Palestinian refugees have been maintained by UNRWA for more than 60 years. They languish in deplorable conditions in "refugee camps" where they are indoctrinated in terrorism and hatred of Israel.

Additionally, please! write letters to the editor and op-eds regarding this issue.

Here is a place to make a difference. Please, don't put this off.


© 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.

Nowhere to run


There is a simple and inexplicable power to being home. It makes you no safer, and it may, in fact, make you a target. But choosing a home like that promotes clarity.

There’s nothing quite like staying in a lakeside cabin in Ontario for a few days to get the Middle East entirely out of your system.

Surrounded by nothing but trees, birds, water and a couple of wonderful friends, it all begins to melt away. The doctors’ strike, the omnipresent stinking piles of garbage on Jerusalem’s streets, the histrionic politics and the looming UN vote – it all fades with time. As there’s little to do there but hike, kayak and read, I brought Yair Lapid’s recent – and truly wonderful – autobiography of his father (no, that’s not a typo) for the vacation. The book opens with Tommy Lapid’s childhood in Nazioccupied Budapest. It’s a harrowing account, as most of them are, particularly when he notes following a narrow escape in a latrine that though he was alive, the danger had not passed. The Nazis and their collaborators were everywhere; there was simply no place to run.

Sobering, to put it mildly; but even Lapid’s exquisite writing couldn’t undo the placidity of the lake. The water was too calm, the forest too thick with the sounds of beavers and loons (real birds, not MKs) for those harrowing memories to undermine the calm. There’s no Internet in the cabin and hardly any 3G.

The world as we know it might as well have been a different planet. I felt I could have stayed there forever.

THERE WAS, though, one windowsill where you could leave your BlackBerry, where every now and then, a signal came through. So if you left the BB there overnight, chances were that in the morning, you could at least check your e-mail and not fall too far behind. A big mistake.

One morning I woke up and checked my e-mail. There wasn’t much, thankfully, but one from my brother caught my attention. “Is everyone OK?” was the subject line, with no text. But there didn’t need to be. An e-mail like that can mean only one thing. I got in the car, raced to town, bought a coffee I didn’t want so I could sit in the Wi-Fiequipped diner and read about what was unfolding on the southern border.

So much for calm that comes with falling asleep to the sound of crickets.

I spent most of the day by that windowsill, trying to coax my BlackBerry into getting the news. Details slowly emerged. Terrorists had infiltrated the Negev. Among others, two sisters, with their husbands on vacation, had been heading south when the border highway was blocked by gunmen who shot them each at point-blank range, an eyewitness said. The other stories were no less gruesome.

I spoke to someone reasonably high up in Intelligence, usually a bit too trusting of our “peace partners” for my taste, but very smart and always worth hearing out. Was this somehow connected to the upcoming September UN vote, I wondered? Not at all, he said. These attacks take months to plan. They launch them when they can.

“Then what’s the point?” I asked.

“What does this do for them?” He laughed. “What do you mean, ‘What’s the point’? They wanted to kill Jews.”

Tommy Lapid came to mind. Seventy years later, there’s really still no place to run. You can be on vacation near Eilat with your husband, your sister and your brother-in-law, not in the “territories,” not near any contested border. And they block the highway and shoot you pointblank anyway – because “they wanted to kill Jews.” A different century. A different continent. A different enemy. Plus ça change.

ON THE way home, I stopped in New York for two days of meetings, including one with one of America’s leading Jewish journalists. She, too, is extraordinarily smart, cares about Israel and is worried.

She’s worried about the building in the settlements and what it does to the peace process. She’s horrified that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu insulted US President Barack Obama during the grand exchange of speeches a few months ago, and in so doing, embarrassed many American Jews. She’s perplexed by Israel’s not taking the necessary steps towards peace.

But she did see one cause for optimism – the tent city on Rothschild Boulevard.

A pity that Israel didn’t make more of that in the international press, she said.

Even her daughter was finally ecstatic about Israel. “Mom,” she’d called home from Tel Aviv and said, “this is totally awesome.” What did I think would come of the protests, my interlocutor wanted to know.

“Nothing,” I told her. Bibi had been in a bit of domestic trouble, but he got a new lease on life with the recent attacks. The protests would dwindle and the country would be forced to think about what it’s always forced to think about – keeping Jews alive.

She looked a bit puzzled, and the room grew quiet. We were both struck, I think, by the radically different ways in which we see the world. She was saddened by the attacks, but they seemed to her to be incidents. To me, though, they weren’t incidents. They are a way of life – for us and for them – and bespeak an insatiable hatred that follows us wherever we go. She believes, honestly and wholeheartedly, that if we just make peace, the violence will stop.

I used to believe that, and wish I still could. She’s desperate for us to make peace so we can turn our attention to social justice. And I think we’re going to need to learn to focus on social justice even while at war, because I see no chance that either she or I will live to see this conflict settled.

I LEFT her office struck by how similar were our values and how different our worldviews. And I had a sudden awareness – I’d had enough vacation. It was time to go home.

On the subway, I opened Lapid’s book. A couple of pages later (page 89 of the Hebrew edition), I read this: “For 60 years, I lived in the State of Israel, and my identification with it was absolute.... [I knew] that I was in the only place in which a Jew can live, the only place that I could live.... The ghetto taught me that I needed a place I could go, but nothing prepared me for the power of having found that place.”

Not surprisingly, Lapid got it right again. There is a simple and inexplicable power to being home. It makes you no safer, and it may, in fact, make you a target. But choosing a home like that promotes clarity; it forces you to decide what you believe in that is more important than your own survival. You know that even when you’re home, there’s nowhere to run. And still, despite it all – or rather, because of it all – you know there’s no place you’d rather be.

The writer is president of the Shalem Foundation and senior fellow at the Shalem Center in Jerusalem. His latest book, Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War that May Never End (Wiley), won the 2009 National Jewish Book Award. He is now writing a book on the defense of Israel and the nation-state.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Construction in Judea and Samaria Up a Whopping 660%

David Lev

With the end of the building freeze, construction has started up in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) communities. In fact, said the Central Bureau of Statistics, building jumped 660% in Judea and Samaria during the first half of 2011, as compared to a year before.

While the statistic was certainly breathtaking, the actual numbers on the ground were less impressive: Construction started on 546 new homes in Yesha communities during the period. Still, it was a sharp improvement over the number of housing starts in the first half of 2010, when only 72 housing starts were announced. Officials of the Yesha Council said they were pleased with the increase, but that clearly many more new homes were needed. "We need at least 500 new homes a month, not just in half a year, in order to accomodate all the families who want to live in Yesha." Last week, Arutz Sheva reported on how dozens of American families who sought to buy or rent homes in Efrat were unable to do so becasue of the lack of housing there.
The jump in Yesha construction this year was part of a general trend in the rest of Israel. According to the CBS, housing starts rose 14.4% overall during the first half of 2011. But certain parts of the country are set to grow far more than that number implies; for example, there are now 7,950 homes under construction in southern Israel, a 55% increase over the 2,495 home starts in the first half of 2010.

In Asheklon alone, 1,576 new homes are currently under construction – the highest number for any city in Israel. Other cities where building jumped in the first half of 2011 included Kiryat Gat (a 607% increase in housing construction starts), Ramle (252%), Ganei Tikvah (451%), Rehovot (203%), and Yavne (165%). Even in the already ultra-expensive Tel Aviv and Jerusalem regions, construction was up 28% and 8% respectively. In the north, housing construction starts were up 11.2% during the period.

Altogether, construction began on some 22,000 new homes. The CBS said that by the end of 2011, taking into consideration construction that was started in 2010, there will be some 75,000 new apartments under construction. Those apartments are expected to come “on-line” between the end of 2012 and during 2013, helping to satisfy the high demand for housing, hopefully at more reasonable prices.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Housing Minister Ariel Attias both expressed great satisfaction at the CBS announcement. “The increasing trend in housing starts reflects the increased successful activity by the government, which we began undertaking as soon as we took power,” Netanyahu said. “The steps we took in the real estate market, including the institution of the Housing Committees Law and the reforms we recently instituted in the Israel Lands Administration, have contributed, and will continue to contribute, to the increased availability of housing – and, as a result, a lowering of prices.”

The Jordan opportunity

Yoel Meltzer
Israel Opinion

Should the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN fail to produce any tangible results, current events in Syria may have the unexpected effect of presenting Israel and the region with a very rare opportunity.

In addition to Hezbollah possibly losing support from Syria should Assad fall, the ouster of the Syrian dictator could have serious ramifications for the Hashemite regime in Jordan.

Although not considered a ruthless dictator like Assad, King Abdullah is similar in that he represents a very small ruling minority - in Syria we have the Alawites while in Jordan it is the Hashemites. Moreover, with most power concentrated in the hands of the Hashemites and their assorted Bedouin allies, much of the roughly 70% Palestinian majority feels alienated or oppressed; indeed, Jordan’s Palestinians would welcome a real change. While the protests in Jordan have not reached the level of intensity as in other Arab countries, they are nevertheless constant and accompanied by repeated calls for change. Moreover, attempts by the king to placate his critics by offering to implement various reforms have been rejected, as they would still allow the king to preserve most of his absolute powers.

With the pressure mounting, the king is surely looking at events in Syria with a very watchful eye. If such a ruthless and feared dictator as Assad, not to mention long time Arab rulers like Mubarak or Gaddafi, can be toppled and removed from power, then the relatively weaker King Abdullah may realize that his days as the leader of Jordan are numbered. The tsunami of change sweeping the region simply cannot be stopped.
Don’t wait for chaos
This being the case, Israel and its supporters should start planning now for the "day after" in Jordan, rather than waiting for chaos to grip our eastern neighbor. Moreover, the incentive should not only be to preserve stability on the border, itself an important aspect, but rather the understanding that the region may be presented with a historic opportunity to finally settle the Palestinian issue.

September events at the UN aside, it is clear that the Oslo two-state approach is a proven failure and that further territorial concessions by Israel will only lead to further warfare. As Einstein said "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." In such an environment, the paradigm for settling the dispute must be changed.

For this reason Israel and its supporters would be wise to discreetly begin hooking up with alternative opposition leaders in Jordan. One such thinker is Mudar Zahran, a former Jordanian political insider turned dissident, who is openly promoting the "Jordan is Palestine" option as the only solution capable of bringing real peace and stability to the region.

Moreover, his calls for the establishment of a Jordanian democracy state that will enjoy peaceful ties with Israel and focus on the development of a thriving economy in order to encourage Palestinians from around the world - including from Judea and Samaria - to opt for a life in Jordan, is something that should be welcomed by anyone who truly cares about the region. Such option would be the only realistic way to end a decades-long humanitarian crisis.

Should Israel and its supporters fail to seize the opportunity to finally settle the Palestinian issue, the eventual fall of King Abdullah will create the usual vacuum that in all likelihood will be filled by various anti-Israel and anti-American forces.

Yoel Meltzer is a freelance writer living in Jerusalem. His personal blog is

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"A Time of Turmoil"

Arlene Kushner

Well, Kaitana Savta (Grandma Camp), which was great, is over. I am back to normal -- whatever that means -- and prepared to resume more frequent postings. The questions then are where to begin and what to focus on during this upside-down time.


Of primary importance is terrorism, attempted terrorism, and the threat of even more terrorism.

Late Sunday, Israel received concrete intelligence regarding Islamic Jihad plans for a second attack involving infiltration from Gaza into southern Israel via the Sinai; the plans reportedly are for the attack to be executed (once more!) along one of the roads running near the border with Sinai and to involve abduction of Israelis. More than 10 terrorists were said to be already in Sinai, preparing.

Several actions were then taken:

Chief of Staff Benny Gantz ordered a sizeable deployment of infantry forces to the area. Two major roads near the border (#10 and #12) were closed, while Israelis with high security clearance were forbidden to drive on roads in the area.

Two large Israeli Navy corvettes (war ships) were docked in Eilat.

And the possibility of the attack was made public.


On orders from General Gantz, the Egyptians were informed of IDF plans to deploy along the Sinai border. Because of the tenuous relationship with the Egyptian military, it was decided that there would be no IDF incursion into the Sinai in pursuit of the terrorists.

The Egyptians, for their part -- fearing an upswing in violence at the end of Ramadan (Aid el-Fitr), which was yesterday -- are in process of a military operation to hunt down jihadi groups in the northern Sinai. Launched on Monday with Israeli approval, the operation involves some 1,500 soldiers and police, utilizing tanks and armored vehicles, who have been operating in Al-Arish, Sheikh Zuwayed, and Rafah, near the Gaza border.


There is considerable sentiment inside of Egypt for a re-writing of the peace treaty with Israel, in particular with regard to the demilitarization of the Sinai.

Last week, in the course of Egyptian demonstrations outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, the Israeli flag was torn down from the roof of the building.

While the flog has been re-instated (this time in a safer locale on a balcony) on instructions from Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the man who tore down that flag has become something of a national hero.


I add here that while Defense Minister Barak was gung-ho to permit large scale Egyptian troops into the Sinai (well beyond what has been approved for the specific operation mentioned above), three days ago Prime Minister Netanyahu expressed quite a different opinion. This is "not something that we have to rush into," he said at a meeting with Likud ministers. Furthermore, he indicated that a Cabinet vote would be required for a change in the treaty with Egypt.

Additionally, MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), Chair of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, was making noise about the need for his committee to pass on this as well.


On Monday, a terrorist, thought to be acting alone, entered Israel illegally from Nablus with intention of striking at a Tel Aviv nightclub filled with young people enjoying an end-of-summer party. Earlier in the evening, the police had made a decision to bolster their presence outside major venues in the city, and thus it was that an attack was adverted. He ran his vehicle into a police roadblock, injuring some officers and yelling "Allahu Akbar."


That Palestinian Arab state and the UN:

I think it's reasonably clear at this point, in spite of occasional media reports to the contrary, that nothing will change on the ground for Israel after the PA goes to the UN in September -- something Mahmoud Abbas continues to insist he will do unless Israel caves on his major demands.

What he is seeking to do is secure his state without committing to end of conflict. He, in fact, made it clear just recently that he would still push for "right of return" even after the founding of a Palestinian state (although he may run into difficulty on this -- see below).

Israeli concerns about outcome focus on a possible increase in violence by the Palestinian Arabs -- perhaps with large numbers at the borders attempting to enter Israel -- and greater international legitimacy for the PA. This might give it leverage with regard to bringing charges against Israelis in the International Criminal Court and against Israel in the International Court of Justice.


On Sunday night, here in Jerusalem, I attended the first part of a conference on "The Palestinian Statehood Initiative," jointly sponsored by the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel, and Hadar Israel (a grassroots civic organization).

Michla Pomerance, Professor of International Law, Hebrew University, spoke about the enormous confusion with regard to the whole issue of "UN law," which is very problematic. Traditional international law is not imposed by a central authority but is rooted in reciprocity -- it derives from the consent of states.

The Security Council is not an enforcer of international law, and may not order transfer of/or concessions on territory. It has no power to abrogate sovereignty.

The General Assembly does not have authority to recognize states. Its authority is only with regard to admitting and suspending members, pending SC approval.

Only states already in existence can be admitted to the UN. They are required to be peace-loving, and able and willing to carry out their obligations under the UN charter. There is no admission of a state granted with the intention of eliminating another state.

Within international law, there is no universal right of self-determination recognized.

With regard to a Palestinian state, self-determination would require a defined population. But as there is a question of boundaries, there is no defined population.


Dr. Tal Becker, International Associate, Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former Israeli negotiator, believes that Abbas is proceeding as he is because of the "Arab Spring" -- fear that street anger will be channeled against his government if he doesn't act; expectations that have been created by Obama and Fayyad; and a desire to secure his legacy.

He cautions that if the PA does go to the UN, it is likely a committee will be created to begin a slow process: there will not be speedy results.


General (Res.) Yossie Kuperwasser, Director General, Ministry of Strategic Affairs, addressed security concerns.

The PA, he says, cannot accept Israel as a Jewish state because of the issue of the refugees; because of the Arab population inside of Israel (which would be utilized for demands for a "state of all its citizens" in the second stage of their plans); and because it would require adjusting the narrative.

The bottom line is that the PA goal is to destroy Israel. It is essential that it accept Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. But the Arabs are seeking to end historical claims.

Absent PA acknowledgement that Israel is the Jewish state, Israel may have to begin to think in terms of managing the conflict rather than resolving it.

There are security dangers for the PA, as well. The entire process will be an embarrassment for the PA, and Hamas may end up the winner -- with escalation of violence against the PA.


For other takes on the PA initiative:

Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, in an exclusive interview, said yesterday that if the PA proceeds with its plans, all agreements between the PA and Israel might become null and void:

"We have a lot of agreements with the Palestinian Authority, we have no agreements with a ‘Government of Palestine,' It's just a fact, we have no agreements with a ‘Government of Palestine.' It puts us in a different realm."

Oren was referring, he said, to agreements that cover such matters as import-export, water sharing, and Israel-Palestinian security forces cooperation.

"It's not just our agreements with the Palestinian Authority, it's America's agreements with the Palestinian Authority (that are at risk)," he further explained. "America is a cosignatory to the Oslo Accord and this would seriously undermine it.... Unilateral steps would have legal, economic, and political ramifications for us and for America as a cosignatory."

Jordan has just urged the PA to reconsider its move to pursue bid for UN recognition King Abdullah considers the move dangerous because it may compromise the "right of return.",7340,L-4115922,00.html

Jordan, of course, worries that without a "return" of refugees to Israel, there might be a push to make Jordan the Palestinian state officially (while it is now de facto, with a majority Palestinian population).


Last week similar discouragement with regard to the PA bid in the UN came from the Arab League:

Said Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby, "The unilateral appeal to the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly could be a very dangerous move for the Palestinians during this period and I propose that Abbas reconsider the handling of the matter."

Elaraby is concerned because the PA is not in control in Gaza.


The PA team -- headed by Saeb Erekat -- that is preparing the UN initiative has received an independent legal opinion -- from by Guy Goodwin-Gill, a professor of public international law at Oxford University who has long advised the PA on legal matters -- that the initiative could jeopardize the rights of the Palestinian people.

Since 1975, the PLO has been recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, and in fact has observer status at the UN. The PA is seeking to replace PLO representation at the UN with a state sitting in the UN. But then there would no longer be an agency that "can represent the inalienable rights of the entire Palestinian people." Palestinians "outside the homeland" would no longer have representation and would be disenfranchised with regard to such matters as "right of return."

This comes from the PLO news agency, Ma'an.


Elliott Abrams, Senor Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, asks "Whose Brilliant Idea Was That UN Vote?" He looks in greater depth at the Goodwin-Gill concerns, and at additional legal/diplomatic issues as well.


And we're worried about the UN initiative? I wonder how much sleep Mahmoud Abbas is getting these days.


© 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.

An Open and Wide Tent


For years now, Israel has been under attack by the anti-Semitic BDS movement, their affiliate organizations, their supporters in the Palestinian Authority, and unfortunately their Jewish and Israeli radical left-wing supporters (not to mention those who pretend they are Jewish for the effect). The calls have been to boycott Israeli books, to boycott Israeli academic institutions, to boycott products from the settlements (even those whose companies support hundred and thousands of Arab families), to boycott Israeli investments, and even to boycott companies doing business with Israel.

Israel and the Jews have a terrible habit of not reacting or responding to these attacks. The underlying reasons stem from trying to not rock the boat, hoping the problem will go away, fear, indecision, confused ethics, and often no idea how to even respond – to name just a few explanations

But much of the Jewish people still have an instinctual community self-defense mechanism. They recognize when something has gone too far, when something has crossed the line between being within the tent or without, when an attack has reached a level where if it isn’t responded to it will expand to a level beyond reversal.
The Scottish Whisky Counter-boycott initiated by the Muqata was one such example. That Scottish boycott of Israel was expanding, driven by anti-Semitism, and quite probably part of a larger, more organized attack.

The response to the Scottish boycott among Jewish laymen (though not all Orthodox Jewish leadership I'm embarrassed to say) indicated that they internally felt and understood the threat, and in this case there was a clear action that could be taken in response. And as a result, the Scottish boycott, while not killed, has at least been contained and perhaps even blocked from future expansion.

Boycotts are a tricky thing. The Left loves to call for them against Israel, I would even say that some of our radical Leftists in Israel are the standard-bearers for some of those calls to boycott, but sometimes they bite back and you find yourself on the receiving end.

The Jerusalem Post made a business decision when they decided that keeping Larry Derfner on staff was hurting their bottom line rather than helping it (or even keeping it neutral). While unpopular for a while among certain circles, his expressed opinions weren’t far enough along, until now, to “provoke” a wholesale instinctual community self-defense reaction.

This time, Jerusalem Post subscribers felt that Derfner had stepped outside the very open and wide tent that is within acceptable Jewish opinion and debate, going to a place many Jerusalem Post’s subscriber’s apparently consider as being on the enemy’s side.

I’m not going to discuss which part caused this community response, his statement that he believed that Palestinian terror is “justified”, or the inherent disclosure of his internal narrative where he sees Israel as so evil that it actually led him to this incredible conclusion.

Personally, I see nothing surprising about his statements. It’s clear that this has been his belief for a while. But I would assume that expressing it so openly – despite whatever caveats and stipulations he tried to wrap around it “provoked” many to instinctually respond and demand he be placed outside the camp.

But this whole story raises and creates a number of interesting questions.

One might ask, where are the limits of free speech? But then, no one has actually taken Derfner’s free speech away. He has merely been removed from standing up on someone else’s private soapbox.

One might ask, how far is outside the camp? And that is an interesting question, as Derfner wrote nothing different than what’s regularly written in Haaretz. Though admittedly, most of Haaretz readers outside of Israel don’t identify with the mainstream Israeli narrative (you know what I’m trying to say here) and their readership in Israel is relatively fringe compared to the mainstream Israeli papers (I believe that even the Jerusalem Post prints more copies of their paper than Haaretz). So his views (and Haaretz's) place him (and them) at the same distance as Neturei Karta in so many similar ways.

One might ask, why are some on the radical Left so upset? After all, some of them are the same exact people that support (and introduce) some of these calls to boycott Israel and/or the settlements. Isn’t this how the game works? Or is it only good when it’s going one way? And furthermore, this wasn’t an organized attack like what one sees around the BDS movement and friends, but a natural grass-roots response by the people.

I will leave you with this thought. Boycotts like these are a dangerous game. Yes, this time it was a Leftist who expressed solidarity (or at least understanding) with terrorists and mass murderers, and quite possibly broke various Israeli laws in the process – not that the system will ever investigate him.

But perhaps there is a lesson here.

Perhaps the radical Left in Israel should stop supporting, aiding and demanding boycotts of any parts of Israel or the Jewish people (including calls for no religious Jews in Yafo, for instance). It should obvious to them now that it’s not enjoyable to be on the receiving end of these boycotts, and apparently, when the good Jewish people manage to stand together in solidarity, it’s not on the side of the radical Left.

So how about we call a truce (and not the Gazan version of a cease fire). Stop aiding and abetting in any way, manner, and form the various boycotts and attacks against Israel and your fellow Jews, and perhaps the majority of Jews will see to invite you back into their open and wide tent.

Palestinian strategy document

Akiva Eldar, HAARETZ

This version will make it difficult for the United States and the Marshall Islands, and even for Israel, to explain their votes against the proposal. Instead of recognizing Palestine within the 1967 borders, it will state that the permanent borders will be determined in negotiations with Israel based on the borders of June 4, 1967. This approach made it possible to enlist the support of leading moderates in Hamas, who claim that recognition of the 1967 borders before the signing of a final-status deal means waiving the claim to the right of return.

Several of those people are signatories to a new strategic position paper, drafted by more than 50 Palestinian government officials, researchers and advisers ? members of the Palestine Strategy Group. This is the forum that in 2008 composed a document recommending that the leadership transfer the conflict to the United Nations.

The new document presents the Palestinian strategy both before and after the UN vote. [..]
Already in the preface, the authors stress that “strategic unity,” now greatly enhanced by the reconciliation process, is a key condition for putting together an effective strategy. The document’s starting point: Given the Israeli government’s intransigence, the option of settling the conflict via bilateral negotiations ? the path pursued by the Palestinian leadership for 20 years ? is no longer available.

Most of the document’s authors support the option of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital and a fair arrangement that will fulfill the right of return and the compensation of the Palestinian refugees. The document rejects the possibility of continuing the status quo, maintaining that the endless negotiations provide cover for expanding the settlements and consolidating the occupation. The authors also erase from the agenda the option of a Palestinian state with temporary borders and limited sovereignty, under effective Israeli control.

If the strategy of a diplomatic struggle for Palestinian independence ? including sanctions, turning to the International Criminal Court and nonviolent resistance as in Egypt and Tunisia ? does not change the situation, the group recommends switching to what the document calls Plan B: dismantling the Palestinian Authority and restoring responsibility for the West Bank’s inhabitants to Israel. The authors are not ignoring the price their public would pay for that, but wonder what honorable option would remain.

If it turns out that this option is unattainable, the authors recommend working toward a model of a binational state or democratic state without distinction between Israel and Palestinian citizens. Another possibility is a confederation between Jordan and the Palestinian state.

No armed struggle

The authors recommend explaining to the Israelis that they must forget the plan for unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank, with restrictions on the movement of Palestinians, and the dream of annexing Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan.

They hope their neighbors will understand that the realistic alternatives to a genuine negotiated settlement will be far worse for Israel’s security.

Most participants in the workshops rejected an armed struggle against a foreign occupation and especially the use of violence against civilians. But the authors warn that a change in strategy from an attempt to achieve political independence to a conflict like the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa will play into the hands of extremists in the region.

“Should this happen, not just Israel’s legitimacy will be under threat, but its very existence, ” they conclude. “And this will have been brought about by Israel itself.”

Israel's flag back over Cairo Embassy not fit to print in NY Times

Leo Rennert

In its Aug. 30 edition, the New York Times runs a lengthy article about what happened in Cairo since anti-Israel demonstrators pulled down and desecrated the Israeli flag flown over the Israeli Embassy a week ago. But leave it to the Times to omit the most important development -- of which more later ("In Egypt, An Act of Boldness Is Disputed" page A4). The article, reported by no fewer than two Times correspondents in the Egyptian capital -- Heba Afify and Stephen Farrell -- runs the full length of a column on the main international-news page.

It starts off by recounting in great detail the feat of a Spiderman-like protester, who climbed up the side of the Embassy building, ripped away the flag and tossed it down, thus becoming an instant hero. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter took it from there.

"His rebellious ascent thrilled the crowd and many across the nation," Afify and Farrell write. "To them, it seemed to epitomize a new Egyptian boldness." But the jubilation didn't last long. A rival soon emerged claiming to be the real Flagman. He insisted that it was he who got to the flag and tossed it to the other guy a few stories below, who then proceeded to reach bottom first and to falsely claim his moment of glory.

So for the next few days, Egyptian media served up the "Battle of the Flagmen." And now the Times obliges.

But in its fascination with and emphasis on the anti-Israel mood in Cairo, the Times omits an important final act in this bit of political theater -- as of Aug. 29, the day before the Times' went to press with its story, the Israeli flag proudly flew again outside the Cairo Embassy. This was understandably news in both the Egyptian and Israeli media -- but not for the Times and its Cairo correspondents .

An example of Israeli resilience in the face of adversity just doesn't comport with the paper's anti-Israel bent. The Times, which boasts on its front-page masthead that it provides "all the news that's fit to print" did not see fit to print the most recent and most newsworthy development about the Israeli flag proudly fluttering again at the Embassy of the Jewish state in the capital of Egypt.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Israel Walking to the Gallows

Ari Bussel

We sit at a Jewish or Arab film festival, or at a "pro-Israel, pro-peace" or "free Palestine, end the Occupation" event and watch a full feature film about the Occupation Army, the 21st Century manifestation of Nazis (i.e. Israelis). They are building a wall around Palestinians towns, uprooting their olive tree groves, purposely detaining them and denying them movement, treating them as sub-humans while catching their young males to harvest their organs.

A future screening will be of a film titled "Picasso coming to Palestine."

For a Westerner living in a democracy, going to a museum or an art show or other cultural event is part of our lives. Some of us would aspire to visit a major museum in one of the world’s capitals or to have a chance to experience a particular once-in-a-lifetime performance. I remember seeing Jascha Heifetz at UCLA, when I was a student there, and missing one of the very last performances by Yul Brynner because I was a stubborn adolescent and refused to go with the family. Thus, we can easily relate when we hear of a very famous painting being loaned to a local exhibit for a short period of time. Many foundations in the USA loan their collections so the public at large will have access, like the modern art collection of the Frederick Weisman Art Foundation.

Something in a Picasso on loan to Palestinian Authority is so extraordinary that it captured the imagination of a filmmaker and will soon capture our hearts. It is so vile that we must quash the very image while still in its infancy, before I have to sit alongside well-intentioned audiences and deceitful enemies of Israel and the West and suffer through yet another screening that has one aim, and one only: demonize the Jews, delegitimize the Jewish State.

It is in this movie that we will see the craving of the innocent, subjugated Palestinians to have a sense of normalcy, art, culture and some color in their lives.

We will be reminded vividly of a single butterfly in the Ghetto or the child in a red dress against the black and white background in Spielberg's movie Schindler’s List.

It is the Journey of Picasso that will show us how evil the Israelis are. Oh, how easily we will ignore the incitement for terrorism throughout every fiber of the Palestinian existence and turn the most vicious and hideous terrorists into peace-loving angels or Michelangelo’s David.

Mistake not, “Palestinians” are no David. They are the Goliath that wants to destroy Israel and who is using our very system, ideals, morals, history and institutions to fight our modern-day, Western existence.

Rather than bringing a Picasso, possibly it would be more helpful to stop teaching children to hate an Israeli or Jew just because they are Jewish?

Maybe in the quest to inspire peace, it would make more sense to stop promoting the propaganda that every square inch of Israel is an occupied land stolen from the Palestinians?

Peace will arrive neither with Picasso nor with aspirations to annihilate Israel. The mere presence of the painting does not make savages into cultured people or a beast into a beauty.

Last week, the Civil Administration coordinated the return shipment of Pablo Picasso’s famous oil painting “Buste de Femme” (1943) from Ramallah to the Van Abbemuseum in the Netherlands.

From June 24th to July 21st, the International Academy of Art Palestine (IAAP) in Ramallah exhibited the $4.3 million painting, allowing Palestinians to experience the most valuable work of modern art to have ever been exhibited in the West Bank. [Priceless art, historical and archeological sites are available throughout Judea and Samaria, practically for free.] As part of a larger project, IAAP documented its experience in requesting, transferring, exhibiting and returning the famous work of art.

In a press announcement by the Israel Defense Forces, the Civil Administration said it “was pleased to contribute to this endeavor and will continue to assist in all future artistic and cultural efforts.”

When will Israel stop facilitating her own downfall? Anyone who imagines two states living side-by-side with good neighborly relations would have expected nothing less than a traveling exhibit. As an example, I was promoting a Jordanian movie, Captain Abu Raed. However, Israelis (Jews) are not invited, in fact not permitted and realistically may be murdered if they find themselves in PA-controlled areas.

The Palestinians do not welcome Jews in their midst. Jews (aka Israelis) are unwelcome guests, filth prohibited from defiling the holy Palestinian land.

The Palestinians aspire to have a state of their own and to eliminate their Israeli neighbors. There is no space in the Middle East for a Jewish State or for Jews. The first is a racist idea, the latter an abomination of the good order of the world according to the Quran.

Even from a mere practical approach, they want their own “free and independent Palestine” while millions of their brethren will be able, by law (i.e. a peace agreement by which Israel capitulates to their demands), to immigrate to the Jewish State. Then the notion of Apartheid and Racism will indeed apply, and Israel will have to be erased, once and for all; a blight removed for all eternity from this earth.

So what are Israeli authorities doing? They facilitate normal life and assist the very propaganda machine against Israel. I can only envision the movie about a cultural icon like a Picasso painting being shipped to Ramallah. All the obstacles along the way, juxtaposed for the convenience of the viewer. Road Blocks. Zionist-Nazi-like Soldiers. Ghettos. Walls. Vicious dogs patrolling the open air prison. Chimneys spewing ashes into the air 24 hours a day, black during the day, fire during the night. And a sign (instead of “work is liberating”) reading “Zionist Propaganda: Israel permits a painting for a short visitation.”

How characteristic that the colors of the chosen Picasso’s painting match so very closely those of the Nazi Concentration Camps.

Has no one in Israel sat in or possibly read a report about an event in any major city around the world where such acts of kindness are twisted and presented as the most sophisticated cover-up of the Zionist-Colonialist-Imperialist-Occupier evil deeds?

Imagine a chessboard. There are two armies ready to battle, one white and the other black. One prepared to fight in spirit and in body. The other engaged in a pleasant afternoon high tea dressed in pink.

Picasso, my friends, was used to fight Israel, and Israel is plowing the path to her own demise. Apparently, we once marched like sheep to the slaughter and nothing has changed. Israel will also dig the trench in which she will later be shot and thrown into, but for now she is oblivious. So used is she to insanity and so deeply she craves normalcy, that she refuses to see the obvious and deliberately ignores what is unfolding in front of her very eyes.

Once shot, as the last whisper or silent shout escapes her lips, it will be too late. She will ascend to heaven with an image of Picasso’s painting, reminiscent of Chagall’s goat.

If anything, the gates of Heaven will remain locked, for stupidity must not be excused, not even for God’s Chosen People.

The Director of the International Art Academy in Ramallah, Khaled Hourani, first saw the painting in 2008. The project was more than two years in the making. Hourani says: “This started off as a crazy idea to bring a European masterpiece to a war-zone, but I was only half-joking.”

The Palestinians define the area correctly as a WAR ZONE. What will it take for Israel to recognize the same and behave accordingly?

Until such time, Israel continues to engage in the frivolities of high tea all day long while her enemies have amassed the most magnificent arsenal of conventional and other methods of destruction.

See how efficient their propaganda machine, constantly reaching new heights. Charles Esche, Van Abbemuseum’s director said: “Our Picasso will be changed by its journey to Ramallah. It will take on extra meaning and the story will remain a part of the history of the painting from this moment on.”

Only in the land of a thousand and one Arabian nights can one be so creative as to turn good into evil and make evil seem so innocent.

May Israelis be spared a prolonged destruction, may they suffer little when the day comes. May we all.

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,” July, 2011


Dan Margalit

During a televised debate Sunday with MK Miri Regev (Likud), MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) revealed an interesting piece of information. Plesner had helped Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Shaul Mofaz draft a report on Israel's preparedness for the upcoming U.N. showdown over Palestinian statehood. Plesner claimed that National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror had worked hard to block publication of the report. The Knesset's ruling coalition followed his example and decided to shelve the report. he report is based on military intelligence and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) assessments, but also on position papers by academics who oppose the current government. While the report is the serious product of 30 meetings, one can't help thinking its conclusions were intended to help Mofaz in his Kadima primaries bid.

At the heart of the report lies the claim that had we engaged in talks with the Palestinians, they would not have launched a statehood bid at the Security Council (where it is destined to fail) or in the General Assembly (where it is guaranteed success). This claim is strengthened by a leaked diplomatic cable obtained by Barak Ravid of Haaretz. In the cable, Israeli U.N. Ambassador Ron Prosor says that Israel's efforts to thwart the Palestinian campaign have no chance of success.

But the Palestinians' expected gains must be broken down and examined more closely. One possible resolution would recognize Palestine along the 1967 borders and with East Jerusalem as its capital. It would win a smaller majority than a resolution that leaves room to negotiate the details, which could even garner support from some of Israel's friends. Israel's political opposition has been critical of the government for failing to negotiate. While this argument is valid, it remains unconvincing.

The Palestinians made a strategic choice to avoid talks with Israel while blaming Israel for the diplomatic failure. Recall that they twice rejected Israel's outstretched hand. They turned down Prime Minister Ehud Barak in 2000 and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2009.

Recall also that when then Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would not accept the Palestinian “right of return,” negotiator Ahmed Qurei (Abu Ala) refused to continue talking to her.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government shares some blame for Israel's problematic circumstances, because he refused to articulate moderate proposals that would have sounded good to Israel's friends and proved to the world who the “bad guy” really was. But now Israel has been labeled the bad guy even though the title is undeserved. Such moderate proposals would have sounded a lot worse than they actually were. A missed Israeli opportunity.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Trying to Manage the Post-Qadhafi Libya While Qadhafi is Still Around

NBC Executive: What’s the premise [of your proposed television show]?
GEORGE: “…Nothing happens on the show….”
NBC executive: “Well, why am I watching it?”
GEORGE: “Because it’s on TV.”
NBC executive: (Threatening) “Not yet.”
–”Seinfeld,” The Pitch episode

By Barry Rubin

The United States has recognized the Transitional National Council (TNC) of Libya as the provisional government of that country. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns addressed the Libyan Contact Group meeting–where else?–in Turkey, the Obama Administration’s favorite Middle East mediator despite that regime being a pro-Iran Islamist government that is turning Turkey into a police state. Turkey as a role model for the Arab world, anyone?

Burns said:

“It is critical that the TNC continue to engage with stakeholders across Libya, including those who have served in the government in Tripoli, to form a new, inclusive interim authority that can ensure civil order, respect human rights, provide essential services to the people, and pave the way for a full democratic transition….

“This new authority must represent all Libyans, from all tribes, regions, and minorities of the country. This demands a true commitment by all parties to national reconciliation—-revenge attacks and reprisals must have no part in the new Libya. Libya’s future will be peaceful only if the leaders and people of Libya reach out to each other to make peace.” Precisely because Burns, a serious professional diplomat, has stated the problems so well, I’m skeptical. For rebel commanders, the TNC is a bunch of corrupt guys with expensive suits, many of whom worked with the dictator, Muammar al-Qadhafi, in an oppressive dictatorship, and lived luxuriously abroad while the rebels were fighting and dying (and looting and burning, too). The rebels are undisciplined; there’s no chain of command; and the tribes in many cases hate each other. Burns describes a utopian situation that I think has very little to do with the reality of Libya.

The Islamists are already calling for the TNC’s overthrow since they–rightly–suspect it from their standpoint of wanting to create a pro-Western government. Let’s see if I am right but I cannot conceive this is going to produce a stable Libya where everyone loves everyone else.

At any rate, Qadhafi is not yet dead or gone. The incompetence of the NATO-supported but not trained rebels; the fact that Qadhafi’s forces know they are fighting to the death; the dictator’s ruthlessness; and his option of retreating to his tribal stronghold has so far shown that reports of his demise have been greatly exaggerated. Of course, it might well happen but the story of repression and violence in Libya is far from over.

Meanwhile, however, the Libya issue gives us still another example of what the high-rankers in the West don’t understand about the Middle East. The Western conception assumes order, hierarchy, stability, and moderation are normal. It expects that guys in nice suits and ties will walk in and become Libya’s government because it knows their names, they have severed in high positions previously, and the West recognizes them as the rulers. In addition, the theory is, they will be able to win support with money (through control of the oilfields) and a monopoly on weapons.

But wait a minute! As I said a moment ago (presuming you are reading this article reasonably quickly) The fact that they’ve held high posts previously–under Qadhafi–makes them less trustworthy to the rebels. The fact that they have Western backing makes the rebels more suspicious, as does the fact that these politicians are wearing suits and ties rather than military fatigues. Where were these guys, rebel leaders can well ask, when we were shooting it out? At five-star hotels abroad living it up at the bouffet tables?

As for control of the oilfields, not even the rebels have that yet. And as for a monopoly of violence, well, who’s carrying the AK-47s anyway?

A diplomat asked me, “Who’s the most important leader in Libya? The head of the TNC?”

I started laughing.

Libya is a country badly divided betwee east and west; Arab and Berber; ideology and factions and tribes. It has not had a real political life or any tiny fragment of pluralism for more than four decades. Tunisia has a real chance of democracy; Egypt has a real chance of democratically electing anti-democratic radicals; and Libya is the World West of the Middle East.

I Stand with Glenn Beck

Emmanuel Navon

The UN and the so-called human rights NGOs “have become bullies and grotesque parodies of the principles they pretend to represent. They criticize free nations and spare the unfree. They denounce nations like Israel and America, who have high standards for freedom, and leave alone nations that have no freedom at all. They are nearly comical in their double-standards. Whatever moral force they once had is spent.”

If those words of truth and common sense had been pronounced by Tzipi Livni, Israel’s mainstream media would be applauding. But since those words were pronounced by Glenn Beck near the Temple Mount during his “Restoring Courage” event last week, we are told that they reflect insanity and constitute an obstacle to peace.
The American NGO “Media Matters for America,” whose declared purpose is to “correct conservative misinformation in the U.S. media,” has consistently been on Glenn Beck’s case. Among Media Matters’ backers is George Soros who, incidentally, also gives money to J-Street. Media Matters has been instrumental in getting Beck fired from Fox News.

In the US, the likes of Georges Soros are trying to silence Glenn Beck. In Israel, most journalists are at pains to describe him as a wacko who should be ignored.

Jonathan Lis from Ha’aretz called Beck’s event in Jerusalem last week a “circus” and he couldn’t hide his dismay at Beck’s decision to honor Rami Levy and the Mayor of Itamar. Rami Levy was honored because his recently-opened supermarket in Gush Etzion provides a model of coexistence between Jews and Arabs, and because he donates food both to the orphans of the Fogel family and to Muslims during Ramadan. As for the Mayor of Itamar, he was honored because it is in his town that the Fogel family was savagely murdered this past March. But since both Rami Levy’s model of coexistence and generosity and the tragedy of the Fogel family are beyond the “green line,” Ha’aretz has to treat them with scorn.

As for Tal Schneider from Israel’s business daily Globes, he called Beck an “extremist” because Beck opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state as well as the division of Jerusalem, and because he blames radical Islam for many of the world’s ills. Most Israelis oppose the division of Jerusalem. Are they also “extremists”? And was Samuel Huntington an extremist for stating that “Islam has bloody borders”?

Jonthan Lis and Tal Schneider used similar words to express their distaste of Glenn Beck. Lis wrote that “an Israeli crowd would not have identified with Beck’s messages.” As for Schneider, he wrote that “Israelis, even when they tend to be right-wing, are deterred by the extremist messages of a foreign Christian.” What Lis and Schneider mean by “Israeli” is the small social fringe that they represent: liberal, urban, and secular. But most Israelis are not WASPs (White Ashkenazi Sabra Paratroopers), and many of them actually do identify with Beck’s message. Tal Schneider has no problem with “the extremist messages of a foreign Christian” when the latter is named Jimmy Carter.

Jonathan Lis and Tal Schneider are not Glenn Beck’s only Israeli foes, of course. Those foes include strange bedfellows, such as Rabbi Yosef Shalom Eliashiv (the recognized leader of Ultra-Orthodox Lithuanian Judaism), and Yariv Oppenheimer (Director of the left-wing “Peace Now” movement). While Rabbi Eliashiv publicly expressed his opposition to Glenn Beck, Yariv Oppenheimer organized a small demonstration against him. By contrast, Rabbi Shlomo Riskin opened Beck’s event with a blessing. Rabbi Riskin’s message was, in substance, the following: Zionism is the realization of God’s promise to the Jewish people and we should welcome Glenn Beck for proclaiming this truth to the world.

And this is precisely why both Rabbi Eliashiv and Yariv Oppenheimer can’t stand Glenn Beck: they don’t believe, and they don’t want to hear, that Zionism has a religious meaning. For Eliashiv, Zionism is a revolt against God. For Oppenheimer, Zionism is worthy of support only if it has nothing to do with God.

For here is what Glenn Beck said: “My Israeli friends, I have a message: You must not lose hope. You must not lose confidence. You must have courage. And you must draw courage from the knowledge that you were led to this land by God. Not by the hand of any man, whether his name is Balfour or Truman, does Israel exist. Israel is here because the God of Abraham keeps His covenants.”

Except for the references to Balfour and Truman, this is, in substance, what Rashi says in his comment of Genesis’ first verse: that when the nations claim that the Jews stole the Land of Israel, the Jew’s only justification, ultimately, is that God created the world and granted the Land of Israel to the Jewish people. This is the bottom line, this is what Glenn Beck said, and this is what really infuriates those who reject this vision.

“Condemn me. Target me” said Beck. “I will stand with Israel.” These are words of courage, which have cost Beck, and continue to cost him, dearly. Standing with Glenn Beck, in Israel, can be costly as well. This is why so many Israeli journalists and academics, out of concern for their reputation and media approval, have been at pains to distance themselves from Beck. I am not judging them, but let me make this clear: I stand with Glenn Beck.
Emmanuel Navon, 28 August 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Nationalist MK Suspects Cover-Up of Eilat Terror Attacks

MK Aryeh Eldad asks why witnesses have not been questioned about Egyptian soldiers' alleged involvement in murders.

by Gil Ronen

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) has filed a parliamentary query in which he asks Defense Minister Ehud Barak why the IDF is ignoring testimony about Egyptian soldiers' involvement in the murderous terror attacks near Eilat.

Several civilian eyewitnesses have said in press interviews that Egyptian soldiers were involved in the attacks. They said that they saw people in military fatigues shooting at them from within the Egyptian military positions, or right next to them. "I would like to know why the IDF has refrained from questioning the civilians," the former IDF Chief Medical Officer wrote, "and whether it is possible that the investigation is being whitewashed and the public is being denied the truth, because of concern over exposing the truth about Egyptian involvement."

One eyewitness said that the terrorists took care to fire at the wheels of the vehicles before they approached them. The terrorists followed this pattern with the vehicle that contained two couples on holiday before shooting them dead at close range, he said. His conclusion was that they wanted to abduct a soldier -- and murdered the four Israelis when they saw that they were civilians in their 50s, for whom they had no use.

The IDF published Friday the results of its investigation of the terror attacks. It found that First Sergeant Moshe Naftali was killed by "friendly fire" from IDF soldiers and not by terrorists.
Yossi, Moshe's father, said the family has no anger toward whoever mistakenly fired the shots that killed his son. "Our son is a hero who fought for the Nation of Israel and the Land of Israel," he said.

The Lies of Saeb Erekat


Saeb Erekat, where have you been? We have missed your jovial, suntanned, American-accented appearances on TV. Was your finest hour not during the second intifada, when you claimed that 500 Palestinians had been massacred in the Israeli assault on Jenin in 2002? It was then you cemented your reputation for being 'economical with the truth'. So welcome back, Saeb. I see your latest article for CiF, on Dec. 10th, marks the 62nd anniversary of the passing of UN Resolution 194, which you misinterpret as promoting the 'right' of return of the Palestinian Arabs displaced during Israel's war of independence. There is no such right. True to form, you are back with a whole new set of half-truths and omissions.

UN General Assembly resolution 194 calls for Palestinians to return to their homes. This General Assembly resolution was non-binding, unlike Security Council resolutions such as UN resolution 242. In fact all 15 paragraphs were a blueprint for a truce. Only article 11 of Resolution 194 deals with refugees, and does not specify 'Palestinian' refugees. The resolution was equally designed to apply to the Jews expelled from their homes in Jerusalem, Gush Etzion and other regions overrun by the Jordanian Arab Legion in the course of the war. It could also have applied to the thousands of Jews already fleeing pogroms in Arab countries. More about these later.

Erekat omits one other crucial piece of wording: Those refugees wishing to return to their homes must agree to 'live in peace with their neighbors': one surmises that even the drafters of UN resolution 194 would balk at the re-admission of a hostile irredentist population. Article 11 also states that those who do not wish to return would receive compensation from governments and authorities. The plural wording includes Arab governments.

Sixty two years will have passed without this historic resolution being implemented despite being upheld by the UN with nearly universal consensus.

It would surely embarrass our friend Erekat to admit that the resolution fell short of universal consensus because Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iraqi, Saudi Arabia and Yemen themselves voted against UN resolution 194. Those Jews driven out of the prospective Palestinian Arab state and from Jerusalem were also deemed refugees, worthy of compensation. The Arabs did not relish their burden of responsibility for them. The Arab states also feared that voting in favour of the UN resolution would confer recognition on Israel as a Jewish state. Not a lot seems to have changed in sixty-two years. Last week on November 27, the Fatah Revolutionary Council (remember, they are the moderate Palestinians) concluded its fifth convention with a declaration refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Palestinian displacement continues to this day. It is not politic for Erekat to mention that Israel did make a substantial repatriation offer during the 1948 negotiations. The government said it would accept 100,000 refugees in a general settlement. This offer the Arab states rejected.

Israel bears responsibility for the creation of the Arab refugees. A moot point, at best. The Arabs rejected the plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state - UN Resolution 181 of 29 November 1947. The Arab refugees were a by-product of the Arab decision to go to war: five Arab armies invaded the newborn state of Israel as soon as it was declared. The Naqba is the catastrophic failure to win that war. The Zionists did not require the expulsion of the Arabs, as the Jewish state allocated by the Partition Plan would already have had a slight Jewish majority. The war saw only a few proven cases of expulsion, notably in Lydda. Most of the land which was to become Israel was state or miri land. The Palestinians did not own '90 percent ' of the land.

Today Palestinian refugees number more than 7 million people. It is a curious phenomenon that a baby born in a 'Palestinian refugee camp' (actually a permanent township) in Lebanon is entitled to call himself a refugee without ever having been to Palestine. Unique among refugees, four generations of Palestinians have been living off international largess as clients of the UN agency dedicated exclusively to their needs, UNWRA.

After a succession of little lies, Erekat's biggest lie is by omission: More Jews were driven out of Arab countries than the original 700,000 Palestinians who left Israel. They lost fifty percent more in assets.

By December 1947, a year before the passing of resolution 194, crowds in Bahrain began looting Jewish homes and shops and destroyed the synagogue. Two were killed. In Aleppo, Syria, the Jewish community was devastated by rioting: at least 150 homes, 50 shops, all 18 synagogues, five schools, an orphanage and a youth club were destroyed. Many Jews were killed, although the exact figure is not known. Over half the city's 10,000 Jews fled. In riots in Aden, 82 Jews were killed and hundreds of Jewish-owned shops destroyed. In Libya, 4,000 Jews had been made homeless by rioting two years earlier in which 130 Jews were murdered. In the summer of 1948, hundreds of Jewish civilians were murdered in Egypt and 48 in Morocco.

Before a single Palestinian had been made a refugee the same Arab states which embarked on war against Israel had declared a war against their own innocent Jewish citizens living hundreds of miles away from the battlefield. Even The Guardian (yes, you read that right), in an editorial in December 1947 entitled 'Hostages', deplored inflammatory statements made by Arab leaders and threats against their Jewish minorities.

Without playing down the suffering of Palestinian refugees, it is important to note that they were, unlike Jews in Arab lands, victims of war, not ethnic cleansing. The proof is that 160,000 Arabs remained in Israel, and over a million live there today, while 0.5 percent of the 1948 Jewish population remain in Arab countries. The Palestine Post of 22 December 1947 carried a report about harsh measures that the Arab League was planning against Jews in Arab lands. These Nuremberg-style measures, aspects of which were adopted by individual states, would first denaturalise the Jews, confiscate their property, freeze their bank accounts and treat them as enemy aliens. " It is significant and tragic that such a document should have been drafted," the editorial lamented. "It is easy for them to play the bully and to keep a sword hanging over the heads of many hundreds of thousands of Jews who are at their mercy."

As soon as they could, three-quarters of the million Jews living in Arab countries sought refuge in Israel, which absorbed them at great cost. A number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries roughly equal to the Palestinian refugees (two-thirds of whom were internally displaced within historic Palestine) exchanged places. Such exchanges of populations occurred after the wars between Greece and Turkey and India and Pakistan.

To achieve a lasting peace settlement based on justice, one cannot acknowledge a one-sided 'right of return' for Arab refugees to Israel if a similar right is not granted to Jewish refugees from Arab countries.

There's the rub. The Jews, now fully fledged citizens living in freedom in Israel and the West, do not want to return to the countries which persecuted and ethnically cleansed them. They want only compensation for lost property and human rights abuses. Whatever Erekat may say, there is no precedent for a return of refugees of any sort after sixty-two years. Far better to admit the de-facto exchange of refugee populations; far more humanitarian for the Palestinian refugees in the Arab world to be granted compensation for their losses and the civil rights their host Arab countries currently deny them.

Saeb Erekat's argument, echoed by Mahmoud Abbas, makes it plain as day that in spite of western and Obaman efforts to blame settlements or the absence of a Palestinian state for the absence of peace, the Palestinians will not end the conflict unless Israel consents to become a 23rd Arab-Muslim state by opening the floodgates to seven million so-called refugees. Sixty-two years on, the Arabs still view the ideological crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict as the 'right of return' of the Arab refugees. On this matter at least, we should commend Saeb Erekat and the Palestinian leadership for their candour.

Lauren Booth: “Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt must liberate Jerusalem”.

Richard Millet's Blog

“It is time, Brothers and Sisters, for Al Quds to be liberated. For Islam and people of the world who wish to pray there to the one God. And we say here today to you Israel, we see your crimes and we loathe your crimes. And to us your nation does not exist, because it is a criminal injustice against humanity. We want to see Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt go to the borders and stop this now. Liberate Al Quds! March to Al Quds!”

These were the words spoken by Lauren Booth (Tony Blair’s half-sister-in-law) at the Al Quds Day terror rally organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London’s Trafalgar Square yesterday. She had just pledged her support for Hamas. See clip: “You can’t take an army, which is a nation’s army, a terrorist nation’s army, and defeat it with sincere small fighters. It needs some of those states around to release their armies to burn that land and then that region will see peace like it had in the past. Because the only time that land has seen peace between Muslim, Christian and Jew living side by side was when sincere Islamic rulers ruled with justice.”

Here’s the clip:
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011:
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011:

Al Quds Day was creatively subtitled “End the Siege, End the Occupation, End the Israeli Apartheid”, but for brevity they might just have subtitled it “End Israel”.

Placards, see below, were held up which read:

Israel Your Days are Numbered
Death to Israel
Down down Israel
For World Peace Israel Must Be Destroyed
The World Stopped Nazism, The World Must Stop Zionism
We Are All Hizbollah

Yellow Hezbollah flags were everywhere with the flag’s usual gun emblem, which is especially menacing considering that the head of Hizbollah has said that Jews are descended from pigs and apes and that if all the Jews in the world gathered in Israel it would save Hizbollah the trouble of going after them elsewhere.

I felt that the rhetoric and placards were nothing short of incitement to racial hatred and violence, not just against Israel and its citizens, but against the many Israeli tourists and residents in the UK as well as British Jews, and non-Jews, who wish to express support for Israel.

Had similar threats been made against Britain the police would have acted. They can still act as they were recording footage.

But there is no point filming and doing nothing. When will we start to see arrests for incitement?

More photos from yesterday:
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011
Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011

Trafalgar Square, London, 21st August 2011


Posted in anti-Semitism, Israel, Jews, UK

Tagged Al Quds Day, Hizbullah, Israel, lauren booth, palestine, Trafalgar Square, zionism

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