Saturday, September 17, 2011

Crisis over Palestinian statehood bid is all Israel's fault

Leo Rennert

If you're looking for a classic textbook example of biased ''news'' coverage, look no farther than the Sept. 16 edition of the Washington Post, which features a front-page article on declining U.S. influence in the Middle East, as pointed up by the Palestinian bid for statehood at the U.N. ("U.N. vote could test U.S. role in Mideast -- Leaders Brush off White House warnings on Palestinian initiative") The article, by Joby Warrick and Scott Wilson, puts the entire blame on Israel for the refusal of the Palestinian Authority to heed Obama administration entreaties to skip the UN as the road to a peace settlement and instead resume direct negotiations with Israel. Yes, even though it's the PA that defies Obama, it's still Israel's fault. And only Israel's.

Here is how Warrick and Wilson manage to absolve Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas from any responsibility for the crisis with the U.S. and how they put the entire onus on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahua -- right up front, above the fold, in their lead paragraph:

"One week before a U.N. showdown over Palestinian statehood, the Obama administrtion is confronting the stark new limits of its influence in the Middle East, including with its chief ally in the region, Israel."

So, it's Israel -- not the PA -- that is undermining American influence. Never mind that U.S. envoys have been making repeated trips to Ramallah, practically begging Abbas to desist. The villain of the piece is Netanyahu.

In fact, Netanyahu is mentioned 11 times in the article as the uncompromising obstacle, while Mahmoud Abbas is never mentioned at all. The erasure of Abbas from their piece is the Warrick-Wilson way of bestowing absolution on the Paletinian leader. His skirts are kept entirely clean.

How do they manage that? Here's their second paragraph:

"U.S. officials have warned Israel's hawkish prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as Palestinian leaders, that the diplomatic clash over a U.N. vote to recognize a Palestinian state could further destabilize a region already in political tumult."

Thus, Netanyahu is cast, first and foremost, as the "hawkish" actor in this diplomatic drama ("hawkish" in Wash. Post parlance is synonymous with "anti-peace"), while Abbas is hidden from view, shielded by an innocuous mention of "Palestinian leaders." And no pejorative attached to those Palestinian leaders, God forbid.

The third paragraph similarly loads the dice against Israel:

"But those warnings have been ignored, not only by a Palestinian leadership that feels betrayed by the Obama administration, but also by an Israeli government that receives billions of dollars a year in U.S. military and other aid."

When it comes to ignoring U.S. pleas, the Palestinians have a right to do so because they've "been betrayed by the Obama administration" but Israel is denied any such excuse. Just the opposite, It's portrayed as an ungrateful ally pocketing billions of dollars in U.S. aid while giving the brush-off to Obama. No mention that Uncle Sam is also generous in its assistance to Abbas's PA, which receives $500 million a year from Washington. Ingratitude only attaches to Israel, not to Abbas and the PA.

The article goes downhill from there -- "Netanyahu is more afraid of a right-wing challenge at home than he is of an angry Obama,"

And Netanyahu won't let himself be pressured to apologize to Ankara for the killing of nine Turkish thugs on a Gaza-bound vessel last year when Israeli commandos were brutally attacked as they boarded the ship. But that's not how Warrick and Wilson see it. The ship, according to the article, was heading peacefully to Gaza, "which has been under the control of the armed Palestinian movement Hamas since 2007." No mention that under Hamas, a terrorist outfit, Israeli towns and communities in southern Israel have been bombarded by thousands of rockets and mortar shells from Gaza. According to Wilson and Warrick, Hamas is just a benign "armed movement." The fact that it's used arms against Israel -- again and again -- is kept secret from Post readers. So is any mention of the recent UN report that asserted Israel's right to blockade Gaza in view of Hamas's use of the territory as a launching pad for repeated attacks on civilians populations in Israel.

Since the article completely absolves Abbas and the PA from stoking regional tensions, why not also absolve Hamas of any fault or blame. Bibi remains the real target -- the only target.

If I were teaching Journalism 101, this is one that would rank high on my syllabus on perverted news coverage.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Palestinian statehood circus: Rage, rage against the dying of the light

Today, 15 September, kicks off an 8-day period in which socialists, radical leftists, Islamists, and Palestinian activists will rail at a world that is disappearing. The schedule includes the following:

15 September: Rallies for Palestine in New York and other cities in the US and Europe

16 September: Rally in Los Angeles to protest the US plan to veto the Palestinian statehood bid

17 September: Day of Rage for the radical left, with protests in major cities and the 50 state capitals, plus an “occupation” of Wall Street 22 September: Durban III conference to promote hysterical anti-Semitism at UN headquarters in New York (the US will not attend the conference, but it’s being held on our soil)

22 September: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad address to the UN

23 September: Palestinian delegation calls for a UN vote on Palestinian statehood

Most readers are aware of the issues surrounding the Palestinian statehood vote. Besides there being, at present, no valid basis for the creation of a state – the leadership is divided, the elected leaders in Gaza and the West Bank have both stayed on after their terms ended with no new elections, the prospective state has no border and no agreements with its neighbors – there are the matters of persistent terrorism from Gaza, and the breach of the Oslo Accords represented by a unilateral statehood bid. The US has excellent reasons for opposing the untimely call for a vote.

The Palestinian Authority vows it will request the vote anyway, in spite of intense US pressure to refrain. If it happens, the call for a vote will, of course, be an embarrassment to US diplomacy. But the statehood bid is untimely for a more important reason. It is behind the times, out of step with the disintegration of the old 20th-century paradigm: the narrative of political transformation that set “new statehood” in the context of the Western order.

According to that narrative, new statehood was two things at once: it was a process of giving deserving peoples a place in the international order, but it was also seen by many on the left as a blow against the order – much like the community organizer’s practice of ensuring that plenty of irresponsible people are awarded the responsibility of the vote, and that they use it.

The quantity assumed to be constant in this narrative was the order itself. The order was to be both railed at and battened on. In some hazy future it might be “triumphed over,” but for the time being, there was no concrete plan – no Lenin-like competing idea for organization and governance – to supersede it. Lenin’s idea collapsed from both the sword and its own cancerous inhumanity; it was discredited early on, and the world’s organized malcontents realized that, however emotionally satisfying Leninism was, their own aspirations needed the Western order to give them shape and meaning. For careers of resentment and negativism to be sustainable, there has to be a large population of the productive and positive.

Under that paradigm, it made sense for malcontents to raid, harangue, and guilt-trip the productive, without ever producing an organized, sustainable result of their own. In an analogy to the Western left’s posture, the hit-and-run guerrilla model of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas was the face of Islamism in the context of the 20th-century narrative. Radicals were antagonists, not protagonists. When radicals got in charge of a nation, as in North Korea or Cuba, Iran or Afghanistan, they were weird outliers; nobody wanted to be them. There was no viable, compelling model of either socialist utopia or Islamist statehood.

The new paradigm

The old paradigm is crumbling, however. The principal factor in that is the squishy geopolitical profile of the United States. It’s not just that the West is flailing and in debt over its head; it’s that there is today a rapidly declining expectation of order-keeping pushback from it. That changes geopolitical and security assumptions for everyone. It paves the way for a competing model of organization to arise. And, inconveniently for the aspirants to Palestinian statehood, the competing model that is emerging is that of state Islamism.

Iran has given state Islamism a bad reputation, but Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Turkey is – inch by inch – giving it a better one. For the Arab Spring nations, it is increasingly likely that state Islamism in some form will be the organizing principle of their futures. Islamism – political Islam – is making the shift right now between its old focus on a guerrilla and community-organizing profile against the West, and a new focus on gaining the tools and stature of state power. Al Qaeda – the perpetual antagonist – is out; state Islamism – the seat of the protagonist – is in.

This changes the whole context of Palestinian statehood, and not just for Palestinians or Muslims but for everyone in the Eastern hemisphere. According to the 20th-century narrative, Palestinian statehood was a blow against the Western order, a means of transforming it, and a way of giving “Palestine” a place in it. Under the new narrative – still tentative, still emerging – there is a strong probability that Palestinian statehood will be an emblem of victory for state Islamism. Regardless of whether it is intended so or not, circumstances have outrun the politics of the old paradigm.

Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood are competitors with Erdogan for leadership in the state-Islamism sweepstakes. There is no semblance of unity among Muslims, or even among Middle Easterners, in this regard, and hence no one appointed to be the main patron of Palestinian statehood and carry it as a victory banner. Unless someone is appointed to that role, a state of Palestine is likely to make the state of flux in the Middle East more intense and urgent.

Russians, Greeks, and the other peoples of Southeastern Europe see this much more clearly than Americans or West Europeans do. Their security is directly affected by every new assumption of power, leadership, or influence in the Middle East. They have national memories of life with the Ottoman Empire as a neighbor. Whatever their sentiments were back in 1989, when many of them, secure within the US-dominated order, officially endorsed Palestinian statehood, they are not anxious today to see political victories for state Islamism (or, in a number of their cases, for nationalist insurgencies, of which these third-party nations have their share).

Reluctance for the transition?

What all this means is that quite a few of the nations in the UN – even Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Jordan; even nations that will vote for the unilateral Palestinian statehood initiative – are content to have the US to use our Security Council veto. They’re not necessarily ready for everything to change. With the Palestinian statehood question carrying new freight, and no clarity on who will benefit from it and whose ox it will most effectively gore, they may well prefer that the old paradigm linger just a bit longer. The muted and distracted diplomatic posture of these nations on the Palestinian statehood initiative is a quiet testament to their ambivalence about it in a changing world.

Happily for them, it is the US that will take the heat. Meanwhile, a small vignette in this over-stimulated drama is uniquely telling. It hinges on the theme of activists that there is a one-sided slaughter of Palestinian children by the tanks and warplanes of a cruel, occupying state of Israel.

New meets old

In the US this month, activists are seeking to present the theme at the Museum of Children’s Art (MOCHA) in Oakland, as a rebuke to the complacent citizens of a monolithic West. An anti-Israel group is sponsoring an exhibit of art supposedly executed by Palestinian children between the ages of 9 and 11 (see here as well). MOCHA recently decided not to host the exhibit because of its political content, but the exhibit’s sponsors have expressed determination to get it on display “either inside or outside of MOCHA” (their emphasis) by their target date of 24 September.

Contrast this old-paradigm use of the tanks-and-planes theme with the new-paradigm use of it in Gaza earlier this week. While Turkey’s Erdogan was making a high-profile visit to Egypt, Gazan children were arranged around a monument to the 2010 flotilla to invite Erdogan to visit Gaza. Their young spokesman emitted this statement:

Speaking on behalf of the children, a Palestinian child Ahmed Fahri said that Israeli soldiers kept killing children of Gaza by their tanks and planes, adding that only one person [i.e., Erdogan] stood against it.

Fahri said that Erdogan was defending the children of Gaza, and they loved Erdogan very much, thus, schools, shops and children were named after Erdogan.

Erdogan has competitors; he will not find a path to regional or Islamist leadership without obstacles. He may not be the one who achieves it. His brand of state Islamism is focused less on sharia radicalism and more on traditional geopolitics and a neo-Ottoman idea. But for now, he is riding the crest of the new paradigm – and we may be about to see that the old paradigm is not the one that “makes things happen” anymore..

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at Hot Air’s Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,” Patheos, and The Weekly Standard online.

Is Obama the new Carter for Jewish voters?

Richard Baehr

Try as they might, Democratic Party officials and liberal pundits will have trouble spinning the disastrous results for their Party in the two U.S House special electionson Tuesday in New York State and Nevada.

The results may also be the first bit of hard evidence that the President’s troubled relations with Israel may be costing him politically . n Nevada 2, in a contest for a seat that had been held by a Republican who was appointed to a vacant U.S. Senate seat , the GOP candidate Mark Amodei won by 22% in a district that Barack Obama had lost by only 1% in 2008. The district encompasses pretty much all of Nevada outside of Las Vegas. Nevada is a swing state in the presidential race, and has near 13% unemployment, the highest rate in the country. Suddenly the state’s six Electoral College votes, that seemed to lean towards Obama in 2012 (he won the state by 12% in 2008), seem far less secure for the Democrats. Nevada has one of the fastest growing Jewish populations in the country, centered in the Las Vegas area. A drop-off in Jewish support for the President in 2012 would hurt him in Nevada, as well as other tossup states, such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

The “Revenge of the Jews” as Matt Drudge called the results in New York 9 helped produce a stunning outcome there. The district was once represented by former Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro, later by Senator Chuck Schumer, and most recently by the disgraced sex tweeter Anthony Weiner, and has been in Democratic hands for nearly 90 years. The district with sections in Brooklyn and Queens, has the highest percentage of Jewish population of any of the 435 Congressional districts in the country, variously estimated at between 25% and 40%. The Jewish population in the district is somewhat different from the average high percentage Jewish Congressional district. New York 9 contains more Orthodox Jews and more Russian Jews, and as a result, has not historically been as lopsidedly liberal in its orientation and Democratic voting as other districts with large Jewish populations.

But even with that caveat, it appears that many voters, and many Jewish voters used the special election to register their unhappiness with President Obama, and in particular, on his policies towards Israel. The winning candidate, 70 year old Republican businessman Bob Turner, (the former producer of the Jerry Springer Show), appears to have captured a majority of the Jewish vote in the election. He won by 8% overall, and ran best in the Brooklyn areas, which are most heavily Jewish. The Democrat, David Weprin, an Orthodox Jew, campaigned as a strong supporter of Israel, as did Turner, and was critical of the President and his policies towards Israel. On this count, the two candidates were in agreement. But when Ed Koch, the former Democratic Mayor of New York City, and Dov Hikind, another Democratic elected official with strong ties to the Jewish community, endorsed Turner, and asked Jews to send a message to Washington, it was pretty clear who the recipient of that message was to be. In one poll conducted just before the election, among voters who considered Israel an important issue, they planned to vote for the Republican candidate by more than a 3 to 1 ratio.

One Jewish U.S House member, Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida said the district was not very friendly to Democrats. That statement was laughable. Weiner won his last race in 2010, a bad year for Democrats in general, by 22%. Obama carried the district by 11% in 2008. Registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans by 3 to 1.

California Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman, offered a nastier explanation:

"I think Jewish voters will be Democratic and be for Obama in 2012, especially if you get a Republican candidate like [Texas] Gov. [Rick] Perry," he said. "But there's no question the Jewish community is much more bipartisan than it has been in previous years. There are Jews who are trending toward the Republican Party, some of it because of their misunderstanding of Obama's policies in the Middle East, and some of it, quite frankly, for economic reasons. They feel they want to protect their wealth, which is why a lot of well-off voters vote for Republicans."

In one sentence, Waxman manages to offend his fellow Jews twice: accusing them of greed (not favoring Obama’s redistribution policies), and also not being bright enough to understand that Obama is really pro-Israel.

In the New York 9 race, Democrats outspent the Republicans in the run-up to the election on Tuesday by near 10 to 1. Union members were on the streets trying to pull Weprin to victory. The Democrats had the money and the ground game but it was all for naught.

For sure, Israel was not the only issue in the New York 9 race. The dismal state of the economy was a major factor. Obama’s overall approval level in the district was in the low 30% range. Weprin had alienated some members of the Orthodox Jewish community by supporting the gay marriage legislation that narrowly passed in New York this year.

But with many Jewish donors who contributed to Obama in 2008 refusing to do so for the 2012 campaign, and the shellacking the Democrats took Tuesday among Jewish voters, the possibility exists that 2012 may mark a watershed year for Jewish voters. A lot will depend on the GOP nominee. Some candidates will be acceptable fallbacks for Jewish Democrats angry with Obama; others may not be.

In 1980, Jimmy Carter became the first Democrat running for president who failed to receive more than 50% of the Jewish vote in the presidential election. He won 45%, Ronald Reagan won 39%, a third party candidate, John Anderson won 15%.

In both the substance and the atmospherics, Jews who care about Israel sense that Obama is not a friend of Israel, in the way George W. Bush and Bill Clinton were. He may try to pivot in the next year to try to win Jewish hearts, in the same way he is pretending to care about budget deficits, after running up the biggest ones in history year after year. There are increasing doubts after the results Tuesday that the sell job will work this time.

Richard Baehr is the co-founder and chief political correspondent for the American Thinker, and is a visiting fellow at the Jewish Policy Center.

The Palestinians’ illegitimate UN gambit


It was a mistake President Obama to distance himself from Israel and seek engagement with the hostile regimes in Syria and Iran.

The historic friendship between the United States and Israel stretches from the founding of the Jewish state in 1948 to the present day. Our nations have developed vital economic and security relationships in an alliance based on shared democratic principles, deep cultural ties and common strategic interests. Historian T.R. Fehrenbach once observed that my home state of Texas and Israel share the experience of “civilized men and women thrown into new and harsh conditions, beset by enemies.”

Surrounded by unfriendly neighbors and terror organizations that aim to destroy it, life has never been easy for Israel. Today, the challenges are mounting. The Jewish state faces growing hostility from Turkey. Its three decade-old peace with Egypt hangs by a thread. Iran pursues nuclear weapons its leaders vow to use to annihilate Israel. Terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians from Hezbollah and Hamas continue. And now, the Palestinian leadership is intent on trashing the possibility of a negotiated settlement of the conflict with Israel in favor of unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state by the United Nations.

The Palestinian plan to win that one-sided endorsement from the UN this month in New York threatens Israel and insults the United States. The US and UN have long supported the idea that Israel and its neighbors should make peace through direct negotiations.

The Palestinian leadership has dealt directly with Israel since 1993, but has refused to do so since March 2010. They seem to prefer theatrics in New York to the hard work of negotiation and compromise that peace will require.

Unfortunate errors by the Obama administration have encouraged the Palestinians to take steps backward away from peace. It was a mistake to inject an Israeli construction freeze, including in Jerusalem, as an unprecedented precondition for talks. Indeed, the Palestinian leadership had been negotiating with Israel for years, notwithstanding settlement activity.

When the Obama administration demanded a settlement freeze, it led to a freeze in Palestinian negotiations.

It was a mistake to agree to the Palestinians’ demand for indirect negotiations conducted through the United States. And it was an even greater mistake for President Obama to distance himself from Israel and seek engagement with the hostile regimes in Syria and Iran.

Palestinian leaders have perceived this as a weakening of relations between Israel and the United States, and are trying to exploit it. In refusing to deal with the recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and taking this destabilizing action in the UN, the Palestinians are signaling that they have no interest in a two-state solution. The Palestinian leadership’s insistence on the so-called “right of return” of descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel’s sovereign territory, thereby making Jews an ethnic minority in their own state, is a disturbing sign that the ultimate Palestinian “solution” remains the destruction of the Jewish state.

The United States – and the United Nations – should do everything possible to discourage the Palestinian leadership from pursuing its current course.

The circumvention of serious negotiations by PA President Mahmoud Abbas demonstrates a basic failure of leadership and a betrayal of the true interests of the Palestinian people. The United States should oppose this measure by using our veto in the Security Council, as President Obama has pledged, and by doing everything we can to weaken support for the unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood in the General Assembly, even at this late date.

The United States must affirm that the precondition for any properly negotiated settlement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is the formal recognition of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state behind secure borders.

Since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, the US has provided more than $4 billion in aid to the Palestinian Authority. This year alone the Obama administration is seeking to secure $550 million in funding for Palestinians.

The United States has an interest in the development of Palestinian civil society and institutions.

We should encourage Palestinians who are more interested in building a prosperous future than in fueling the grievances of the past. Our aid is, and must remain, predicated on the commitment of the Palestinian leadership to engage honestly and directly with the Israelis in negotiating a peace settlement.

Their threatened unilateral action in the United Nations, combined with their declared intention to establish a unity government with the terrorist group Hamas, signals a failure to abide by this commitment.

The United States must not condone and legitimize through our assistance a regime whose actions are in direct opposition to a peace agreement with our ally Israel, and in direct opposition to our own vital interests.

The author is the governor of Texas.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Where is the Palestinian Ben-Gurion?

Efraim Karsh
The Jerusalem Post
September 15, 2011

Sixty-four years after partitioning Palestine into two independent states – one Jewish, the other Arab – the UN General Assembly is set again to vote on the same issue. While this time around Palestinian leaders appear to be preaching compromise, closer scrutiny reveals this to be a tactical rather than a strategic change of heart, stemming from the different circumstances of the two votes and aimed at disguising their lingering unwillingness (or perhaps inability) to live with a two-state solution.

In 1947, prior to the first UN General Assembly vote, Palestinian leaders rejected any form of Jewish self-determination in Palestine. Hajj Amin Husseini, their most prominent leader from the early 1920s to the late 1940s, upheld that "there is no place in Palestine for two races." All areas conquered by the Arabs during the 1948 war were cleansed of Jews.These days the Palestinians can hardly ask the UN to dismantle one of its longest standing member states and to expel its citizens.

Yet by seeking international recognition of their statehood and pressure for a complete Israeli withdrawal without a peace agreement, or, indeed, any quid pro quo, they are continuing their predecessors' rejection of a negotiated settlement and laying the diplomatic groundwork for the renewal of the assault on the Jewish state.

The PLO's hallowed National Covenant envisages the permanent departure of most Jews from Israel. PLO chairman Yasser Arafat's phased strategy of June 1974, which was never disowned, stipulates that any territory gained through diplomacy would merely be a springboard for the "complete liberation of Palestine." At the negotiating table during the Oslo years, the PLO's most adamant demand was for the subversion of Israel's demographic composition by forcing it to accept the so-called "right of return" and allow refugees of the 1948 war, and their descendants, to return to territory that is now part of the state of Israel. At the moment Jews presently constitute about 80 percent of Israel's seven million strong population; by 2020, nearly one in four Israelis will be Arab, owing to this sector's far higher birth rate. Were millions of Palestinians to be resettled within Israel, it would soon cease to be a majority Jewish state and everybody knows it.

TO PRESENT the "right of return" as a nonnegotiable demand is not to negotiate at all, particularly when Palestinian leaders themselves refuse to accept alien minorities as part of a peace settlement: In June, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas told the Arab League that the future Palestinian state should be free of Israelis (that is Jews, since virtually no other Israelis live in the West Bank). He reiterated this vision of a Judenrein Palestine last month, telling a delegation of visiting members of Congress that "I am seeking a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with Jerusalem as its capital, empty of settlements."

Like Husseini, Arafat was far more interested in destroying the Jewish national cause than in leading his own people to statehood. As far back as 1978, he told his close friend and collaborator, Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, that the Palestinians lacked the traditions, unity and discipline to have a successful state. He was right. It was the Palestinians' lack of communal solidarity – the willingness to subordinate personal interest to the collective good – that accounted for their collapse and dispersion during the 1948 war. The subsequent physical separation of the various parts of the Palestinian Diaspora and longstanding cleavages between West Bankers and Gazans prevented the crystallization of a cohesive national identity.

Sadly, Arafat had no intention of redressing this predicament. Given control of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza as part of the Oslo process, he made his bleak prognosis a self-fulfilling prophecy, establishing an oppressive and corrupt regime in the worst tradition of Arab dictatorships, while launching the most destructive confrontation between Israelis and Palestinians since the 1948 war.

In the process, he destroyed the fragile civil society and relatively productive economy that had developed in the interim.

Two years ago, in a bold departure from this destructive path, PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad embarked on the first state-building effort in Palestinian history, one that has had some successes. However, while he recently pronounced his initiative a mission accomplished amid the diplomatic buildup to the UN vote, he knows better. Abbas's presidency, and by extension Fayyad's own premiership, remain unconstitutional. Not only because Abbas defied Hamas's landslide victory in the January 2006 parliamentary elections by establishing an alternative government headed by Fayyad, but also because his own presidency expired in January 2009.

Fayyad barely challenged the corrupt and dysfunctional system established by Arafat.

The two groups dominating Palestinian life, the PLO and Hamas, remain armed groups (and active practitioners of terrorism) rather than political parties – an assured recipe for a failed state. (The Oslo Accords charged the PA with dismantling all armed groups in the West Bank and Gaza, but Arafat never bothered to comply.) Even if Abbas were to genuinely commit himself to reform after the attainment of statehood, his tenuous authority would continue to be defied by Hamas, which has not only transformed the Gaza Strip into a an Islamist micro-state but also wields considerable power and influence in the West Bank.

WHATEVER THE UN vote may achieve, it will not be a step toward Palestinian statehood.

Contrary to the received wisdom, Israel was established not by a UN General Assembly resolution but through the unwavering determination of the Zionist leadership, or rather David Ben-Gurion, shortly to become Israel's first prime minister, in the face of mounting international skepticism regarding partition (in March 1948 the US administration effectively backed down from the idea) and doubts about the new state's ability to fend off both Palestinian violence and a pan-Arab attempt to abort it at birth.

In doing so, Ben-Gurion could rely on an extraordinarily resilient and vibrant national community, armed with an unwavering sense of purpose and an extensive network of political, social and economic institutions built over decades of pre-state national development.

In this respect, eighteen years after being given the chance to establish their own state free of Israel's occupation, and despite the billions of dollars in international aid poured into this effort, the Palestinians have barely made it out of the gate. One can only hope that the international community will at long last pressure Palestinian leaders to own up to their obligations and opt for a true build-up of civil society that will ensure their constituents a decent and peaceful existence, rather than seek illusionary shortcuts and intensified conflict with Israel.

Efraim Karsh is research professor of Middle East and Mediterranean Studies at King's College London, director of the Middle East Forum (Philadelphia ) and author, most recently, of Palestine Betrayed.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

PalArab statehood bid unilateral - even within the PLO!

Elder of Ziyon

A quick rundown of Palestinian Arab politics:

The Palestinian Authority is the supposedly democratic institution that has administrative and some security responsibilities over sections of the West Bank.
Fatah is the terror group/ political party that dominates the PA.
Hamas is the terror group/political party that controls Gaza.
In the last election, Hamas took over the PA but then the PA's president gave the power back to Fatah.
The PA's president, Mahmoud Abbas, is also the leader of Fatah and of the PLO. Abbas has been president of the PA well past the date that elections were due to be held. Hamas does not recognize him as president of the PA.
The PA works for the PLO. It is not independent at all.
The PA has no ability to engage in international diplomacy, only the PLO speaks to the international community concerning "Palestine."
Hamas, which controls some 40% of the Arabs in the territories, opposes the bid.
The PLO has a Palestinian National Council that is supposedly its main legislative body. It has not met since 2009.
The PNC chooses the PLO Executive Committee which is the main executive branch of the PLO.
The two groups are somewhat incestuous, as the Executive Committee is the main group that nominates candidates for the PNC and the Executive Committee is elected by the PNC.
The PLO is supposedly the party that is bringing the unilateral statehood bid to the UN.

All of this is necessary to understand the irony of this news story:

PLO central council member Nabil Amr said Tuesday that the Palestinian request for full UN membership is not a "bid" but rather a diplomatic activity.

The former ambassador to Egypt expressed reservations over the plan to seek state membership of the United Nations at the annual General Assembly meeting in New York, which opens on Monday.

...Regarding the PLO, Amr said members of the PLO executive committee "knew nothing" about what the Palestinian leadership was doing and had "no real, effective role."

If this is true, it means that the UN bid is not legal according to the PLO's own rules. The PNC never voted to approve the UN bid, and it is supposed to make all policy decisions.

The only conclusion?

Mahmoud Abbas is a totalitarian dictator, and the current UN bid is being led by someone who cannot even abide by the rules of the organizations he heads.

Will the President and the Congress Send a Message to Turkey and Egypt That An Attack Upon Israel Will Be Viewed As An Attack Upon the U.S.?

Ed Koch, JWR

Israel is now surrounded by Arab and other Muslim nations who believe this is the moment when they can finally destroy the Jewish state. They tried and failed to conquer Israel in five different wars since 1948. They are still trying.

Since the “Arab Spring” revolts in the Arab heartland of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Syria, opinion-makers in the Western world have sought to glamorize those revolutions by comparing them to those by which eastern European countries freed themselves from Communist regimes imposed on them by the Soviet Union.

So when the uprisings took place against the existing repressive Arab governments, the media labeled the various revolutions the “Arab Spring.” That title was intended to convey that finally, the Arabs, heretofore stuck in medieval times, had come out of those dark ages and were now to be applauded and welcomed to the western world.
Some observers, including myself, have voiced great concern about the blind support in the west, particularly in our government, for the Arab revolutionary movements everywhere. n my view, it was harmful to our own – the U.S. – national security needs to throw the President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak under the bus by demanding his removal as President Obama did. Yes, he was a despot, described as an authoritarian in a world of Muslim dictatorships, but he believed in keeping good relations with the U.S. and keeping the peace with Israel established back in 1978 by Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin at Camp David. Those who overthrew him have made clear that their intention is to end that peace. The forces that are dominant in Egypt today are the military, the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists.

The goal of the military is to preserve their special niche as the principal governing power. The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist factions are the strongest politically and most organized of all the civilian groups vying for power in the next presidential election.

As a result of the recent occupation and sacking of the Israeli embassy in Cairo while Egyptian police and army stood by, we know that the current interim Egyptian government has decided to cast aside peace with Israel and go with the Islamists. The Times of September 11th reported, “Egyptian military and security police officers largely stood by without interfering with the demolition.

Instead, they clustered at the entrance to the embassy to keep protesters out. The security forces had pulled back from Tahrir Square and other areas before the start of the day to avoid clashes with the protesters, although the military had issued a stern warning on its Facebook page against property destruction.” The Israeli ambassador, his family and other Israeli officials were forced to flee the embassy in fear of their lives. Because of the entreaties of President Obama to the Egyptian government, they were saved from violence and permitted to board Israeli jets to go home to Israel.

And what of the situation with Turkey? Once a friend of Israel, it now has an Islamist government led by its prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has issued a statement tantamount to a declaration of war. The Times reported on September 10th, “The prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told Al Jazeera, the pan-Arab network, that he would use his warships to prevent Israeli commandos from again boarding a Gaza-bound ship as they did last year, killing nine passengers, and from letting Israel exploit natural gas resources at sea.”

While the United Nations, not normally a defender of Israel, recently issued a report that Israel had a right to blockade Gaza so as to prevent weapons from being brought into the Gaza Strip, now governed by Hamas, Turkey has rejected the report, and expelled the Israeli ambassador. Hamas has declared that it is at war with Israel, and that if it is ever in a position to do so, it will expel every Jew living in Israel who came to Palestine after 1917, and will use violence to achieve its goals. It has intentionally killed innocent civilians, sending thousands of rockets into southern Israel or allowing other terrorist groups to do so.

In addition to Hamas on its southern border, Israel is now facing an increasingly hostile Egypt, with an army of nearly one million and a population of 81 million. To Israel’s north is not only hostile Lebanon and Syria, but now Turkey with an army of one million and a population of 73 million.

It is also disturbing that there is a rising tide of Jew-hatred in Great Britain and in France. In Great Britain, that hatred was recently demonstrated by those who called themselves artists, who disrupted a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Zubin Mehta in London on September 1st. The police arrested no one who for a time prevented the audience of 5,000 from enjoying the evening. No speaker supporting Israel is permitted to speak at British universities. They are not invited or hooted down if invited.
France is working with the Palestinians to achieve their admission to the United Nations General Assembly. Israel’s only apparent defender on the European continent is Germany because of the continuous ongoing support of Israel by Chancellor Angela Merkel. I met and heard Chancellor Merkel in 2004 when I attended in Berlin the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) conference on rising anti-Semitism, when I served as chairman of the U.S. delegation. I was impressed by the depths of her sincerity in denouncing anti-Semitism and recognizing the depravity of the German nation under Hitler in its efforts to exterminate world Jewry.

The Muslim nations are undoubtedly licking their chops at what they would do if they were ever to be successful in defeating Israel on the battlefield or at the U.N. which is prepared to serve as the site of today’s Munich. If Assad of Syria is willing to kill innocent men, women and children in the streets and cities in Syria, what do you think he would do if his soldiers patrolled Tel Aviv?

The Arab countries’ threats to destroy Israel, a nation with a total population of 7.7 million, including 1.2 million Muslims, is not receiving front page coverage or denunciations from NATO nation leaders. The revolutionaries making up the “Arab Spring” are lauded by the opinion-makers here in the U.S. and even more so in Europe.
This past Sunday, we commemorated in New York City, Washington, D.C. and Shanksville, Pennsylvania the deaths of more than 3,000 innocent civilians on 9/11, committed by Islamic terrorists whose supporters run into the millions and are now located in at least 62 countries.

Our NATO allies never supported the U.S. to the extent they promised when we invaded Afghanistan to punish the Afghan government for providing a refuge for al-Qaeda, which perpetrated the 9/11 atrocities and many others. In my judgment, as harsh as it sounds, many of those NATO countries, including Britain and France, would deliver the Jewish nation into the hands of their putative murderers if it gave them “peace in our time,” just as Chamberlain gave Czechoslovakia to the Nazis. Are we willing here in the U.S. to continue to fight for our precious liberties and support countries like Israel having the same moral and cultural values?

We in America, led by President Obama and Congress, must make it absolutely clear to the Islamist terrorists that we will never surrender. We will hunt them down as we did their leader, Osama bin Laden, and kill them.

The U.S. is Israel’s only friend and ally. It is not foolish or premature to ask what will the U.S. do when and if the Muslim nations surrounding Israel, this time led by Egypt and Turkey, supported by others, assault the Jewish nation? Will the President and the Congress come to its aid? Shouldn’t Israel know now? Shouldn’t the Muslim nations know?

I urge the President and the Congress to do for Israel what President Kennedy did during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. President Kennedy said “It shall be the policy of this nation to regard any nuclear missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere as an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full retaliatory response upon the Soviet Union.”
Thanks Ted Belman

Hamas May Resume Suicide Bombings

Gavriel Queenann

A senior counter-terrorism expert warned Tuesday that Hamas is weighing a resumption of suicide bomb attacks against Israeli civilians.

Col. Jonathan Fighel (Ret.), a researcher with the Interdisciplinary Center's Institute for Counter-Terrorism, spoke at the Institute's eleventh annual terrorism conference. "We're seeing more and more Hamas flags in Hebron. The public atmosphere to Hamas is much more lenient. This allows the creation of operational terror cells. Hamas is taking into consideration the renewal of suicide bomb attacks," Fighel said.

Fighel, who served in various operational and field posts of intelligence and research at the IDF Intelligence Corps, and who has held several command positions in Judea and Samaria, added that Hamas is "gaining influence in the West Bank and acting more freely. "

Hamas was using the so-called Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement as a vehicle to raise its profile in the West Bank, he added.

"Hamas's strategy is to replace the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people," Fighel said.

The Hamas regime in Gaza is also "looking for duality, to govern while keeping its charter. This is the flexibility it enjoys," it added.

Fighel said Hamas was not deterred by Israel, adding that Israeli government and public opinion had become accustomed to Hamas' shelling of more and more cities with rockets.

At the same time, he noted, Hamas suffered a resounding failure when it tried to cause the Palestinians to enter a third intifada in recent months.

Col. Ronen Cohen, a research associate with the ICT, and a former head of the Terrorism Section of IDF Military Intelligence, said the main goal of Hamas and Hizbullah now is ensuring their own survivability amid regional turbulence.

To that end, both have developed arsenals of rockets to pound the Israeli home front, and defensive asymmetrical fighting forces to target IDF forces, he added.

But analysts note tactical flexibility does not indicate strategic or ideological flexibility – or a change in either organization’s long-term agenda.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Eric Trager

New Republic
September 13, 2011


The diplomatic documents had barely stopped drifting down from the Israeli Embassy in Egypt when New York Times columnist Nick Kristof referenced the root causes of the attack, as he saw them: "Attacking the Israeli embassy doesn't help Gazans, doesn't bring back the dead," he tweeted. "Instead it helps Israeli hardliners." It was the standard response of an armchair analyst, for whom all Middle Eastern current events -- and particularly the most outrageous ones -- are inextricably linked to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But to assume that the Egyptian protesters who attacked the Israeli Embassy in Cairo last Friday, tearing down a protective wall and ransacking the premises, were motivated by cosmopolitan, pro-Palestinian concerns is to completely ignore the sad truth that Egyptians overwhelmingly hate Israel for wholly Egyptian reasons: Despite 32 years of peace under the Camp David Accords, Egyptian national pride remains tied to the country's previous wars with the Jewish state. It's therefore all too predictable that the groundswell in Egyptian nationalism that ousted Hosni Mubarak this spring has been accompanied by an equally powerful surge in anti-Israeli sentiment.

The valorization of war with Israel is something that millions of Egyptians experience everyday as they drive over the 6th of October Bridge, one of Cairo's busiest thoroughfares that was named for the date on which Egypt attacked Israel to launch the 1973 war. Meanwhile, approximately 500,000 Egyptians have left the congestion of Cairo for October 6th City to the southwest, which is home to October 6th University, and an additional 140,000 Egyptians now live in 10th of Ramadan City, which is named for the equivalent date on the Islamic calendar and houses the 10th of Ramadan University. Cairene schoolchildren, for their part, visit the October War Panorama, where they are taught that Egyptian forces defeated the "enemy" in the 1973 war, without any mention of the Israeli tanks that were rolling towards Cairo as the war ended. And while the anniversary of the Camp David Accords routinely goes unrecognized, Egyptians commemorate April 25, when Israel completed its withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, and October 6 as national holidays.

Against this backdrop, Friday's attack on the Israeli Embassy was practically inevitable: The early success of Egypt's January revolt in forcing Hosni Mubarak's ouster unleashed an unprecedented wave of Nasserist-infused nationalism, inspiring calls from across the Egyptian political spectrum for the reconsideration of the Camp David Accords. Egyptians bristled, in particular, at the Camp David clauses limiting the number of Egyptian troops in the Sinai Peninsula, and they viewed the amending of these clauses as the next step towards restoring national dignity after toppling their dictator. But Israel's retaliation for a cross-border terrorist attack on August 18, in which it accidentally killed six Egyptian soldiers while chasing Palestinian terrorists who infiltrated Israel via Sinai and killed eight Israelis, was the spark that ignited Egypt's tinderbox. In its immediate aftermath, a coalition of liberal, leftist, and Islamist parties protested in front of the Israeli Embassy, demanding that Egypt expel the Israeli ambassador, ban Israeli naval forces from the Suez Canal, and increase Egypt's military presence in the Sinai Peninsula -- actions that would constitute severe violations of the two countries' peace treaty.

When Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) ignored these demands, the protesters viewed it as deeply unpatriotic. "I'm angry at SCAF," one prominent protester, who asked that her name be withheld for fear of retribution, told me. "Soldiers died, and they didn't do anything about it." For those protesting outside of the Israeli Embassy, Egypt's response to the killing of its soldiers paled in comparison to that of Turkey, which banished Israel's ambassador as retribution for the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident. "What Turkey did for the flotilla showed Egypt that a government can actually do something [regarding Israel]," the protester added.

Egypt's activists therefore began looking for alternative patriotic standard bearers against Israel. They settled on 23-year-old Ahmed Shahat, who became a national hero when, on August 21, he scaled the outside walls of the apartment building in which the Israeli Embassy is housed and removed the Israeli flag from the thirteenth floor. The Egyptian Twitter verse dubbed him "Flagman" and, perhaps sensing the growing public frustration, the Egyptian government followed suit: Shahat was rewarded for his anti-Israel feat with a government job, a new apartment, and a meeting with the prime minister. "Other people went to the Israeli Embassy trying to do the same thing, thinking that this is a heroic thing to do, because it was awarded by the transitional government," said liberal Ghad party leader Shadi Taha.

After protesters aided a man who fired shots at the embassy in escaping capture on August 26, however, the Egyptian government reversed course, erecting a concrete barrier around the building. But the new barrier, which loosely resembled the structure that Israel has built in the West Bank, became an instant target for activists, who called on their followers to dismantle it during Friday's protests. "Rather than dealing with our political demands, the SCAF built a wall," Shady el-Ghazaly Harb, a leader in the Coalition of Revolutionary Youth, told me. "So the people can't accept this anymore, and they took down the wall, and I understand this. But breaking down the embassy, I have hundreds of question marks."

Like other activists, Harb believes that the Egyptian military permitted the attack on the Israeli Embassy to occur so that it could justify cracking down on the protests. "They knew the pizza was coming, and they left the door wide open," he said. Indeed, soldiers didn't immediately intervene to stop the assault on the embassy and, shortly thereafter, the Supreme Council used the attack as a pretext for a variety of autocratic moves, including expanding Egypt's draconian emergency laws, reviewing satellite television licenses, and raiding the offices of Al-Jazeera Mubasher, which often broadcasts Egyptian protests. Harb fears that, given the domestic anxiety that the embassy attack has catalyzed, the public will rally around the Supreme Council's new measures. "The people will accept them," he said. "And, well, they have the right, because they're not happy with the chaos that they're suffering from, though this is a deliberate chaos that the SCAF does not want to stop."

If attacks on the Israeli Embassy are so harmful to your cause, I asked Harb, isn't there something that you can do to stop or discourage them? "Nothing," he replied. "How can we stop thugs from attacking the Embassy?" Indeed, the anti-Israel hatred ingrained in Egypt's nationalist ideology may well be the downfall of Egypt's revolt.


Eric Trager, the Ira Weiner fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is a doctoral candidate in political science at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is writing his dissertation on Egyptian opposition parties.


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Abuse Excuse on Steroids with Fish and Chips

Norma Zager

“Why did they kill little Bobby Franks? Not for money, not for spite, not for hate. They killed him as they might kill a spider or a fly, for the experience. They killed him because they were made that way. Because somewhere in the infinite processes that go to the making up of the boy or the man something slipped, and those unfortunate lads sit here hated, despised, outcasts, with the community shouting for their blood.” Clarence Darrow at the Leopold and Loeb trial.

Well thank you Clarence Darrow. our highly creative abuse-excuse defense ploy to save the lives of two cold-blooded murderers in 1924 has come full circle, and now justifies the most heinous of crimes against decent people in our modern and quite careworn civilization.

Its common usage is a testament to its effectiveness. From Casey Anthony to the killing of innocent Jewish children, it is being employed with great success on every level, on a daily basis.

Today, however, I shall focus my disgust on the British media that has cultivated the use of abuse excuse whenever reporting any story about murderous atrocities in Israel. It has literally raised this repugnant practice to an art form.

Children are butchered in their sleep?

BBC implies, “Those crazy Jews! They brought it on themselves.”

Hamas attacks busses of innocent schoolchildren and kills one teenager.

“Those Israelis, there they go again, starting trouble. When will they learn?”

More to the question is, when will the world learn? More specific, when will the Brits learn? For such a beautiful country they act appallingly on a moral level.

Evil needs no excuse, nor is there any justification for its behavior.

How’s that working out for Great Britain? They have always sided with Israel’s enemies. Their motto has always been, “Got something bad to say about the Jews, just tell us.”

Now their country is under attack as well.

Well, all I can say is, “Oh those Brits. There they go starting trouble again.”

So how does it feel, oh Britannia? How much fun is it to be the target of evil and misplaced anger?

Having some fun now?

Enjoying the riots, the bombings, the fires and the threats?

Hmmm, 38 dead July 7, 2005, plus more recently numerous incidents thwarted by authorities and on and on.

But these are your friends, why are they targeting you?

According to your philosophy, you must have done something to egg them on. Come on, confess. After all, these fine, upstanding terrorists don’t kill and maim for no good reason. Isn’t that what you say every day on BBC?

Isn’t that what you claim every time a Jewish child is murdered in his sleep?

Fess up now, Mates, they hate you for a reason, don’t they?

No one is just a murderous butcher for nothing.

I’ll bet if Jack the Ripper were schlepping through London’s streets today, you would be blaming his victims for being in the wrong place at the right time. After all, he was nice guy until someone forced him into a life of slicing up women, right?

Blimey! I’ll bet you would even find a way to blame his murders on Israel.

Perhaps he wanted a bagel and the deli guy didn’t schmear enough cream cheese beneath the lox and tomato. That might have been what set him off on that pesky crime spree.

If only people understood how these little Jewish offenses can turn good, kind, decent people into evil terrorists and killers. It’s a good thing the BBC is on the case. You explain the cause and effects so well, don’t you?

When Hitler was bombing the life out of British cities, there was no State of Israel to blame. Must have been difficult for the BBC to justify Germany’s behavior. Guess the black boot was on the other foot then.

And yet, they still just don’t get it somehow.

I have noticed that Heathrow Airport is a fortress. Seems to me, Bloke, there is more firepower there than in a shipment of U.S. guns to the Mexican drug cartels.

Why would you need all that ammo if the terrorists really like you? After all, the Brits are so kind, so understanding, and so terribly sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. Why so many guns? So much intelligence? So many new MI6 recruits?

You are their friend, now can’t they just see that?

Must be Israel’s fault, somehow, somewhere? Don’t worry you’ll find a way to connect those dots, won’t you?

Recently my friends were in London and warned to stay inside their hotels due to riots in the streets.

Was that the fault of those pesky Jews, running through London lobbing bialys and packages of Philly cream cheese at tourists?

Couldn’t have been Palestinians or terrorists inciting those problems. Or even the failure of the British government to address the problems of their people. The world’s crazies feel the love radiating from the BBC and British government toward their issues.

Here’s a thought or few for you to ponder over your next pint at the pub.

When we enable evil, we join their party.

When we create excuses for the wrongs of the world, we become evil’s advocate.

When we stand on the sidelines and cheer on Satan’s minions, we become awash with the blood of his innocent victims.

Too long the world has stood aside and used the abuse excuse to malign Israel.

Instead of applauding the tenacity of a tiny country to stand as a beacon of democracy in a region knee deep in evil dictators and radical Islamic regimes, they join the battle to destroy the one ray of hope in that part of the world.

Perhaps I might remind the Brits of this quote from their most famous detective, Sherlock Holmes.

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before you have all the evidence. It biases the judgment.”

Perhaps they should remember his words before blaming Israel for the evils of the world.

So Mates, take that bit of vinegar and pour it over your fish and chips!

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 and Israelis often ignore.

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,” September, 2011


Monday, September 12, 2011

Are President Obama’s Actions Hostile to Jews and Israel?

Morton A. Klein and Dr. Daniel Mandel

Sep 12th, 2011

Is President Obama hostile to Jews and Israel? Let’s look at the evidence.

Last week, the Obama Administration issued talking points for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, where it referred to those struck by terrorism “whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London.” Conspicuously absent was the name of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or Sderot, which have been hit by terrorists, not once, but numerous times.

As a single instance, this omission might be unremarkable. In fact, however, omitting mention of Israel fits a pattern. When running for President, then-Senator Obama​ referred in his July 2008 Berlin speech to the need to “dismantle the [terrorist] networks that have struck in Madrid and Amman; in London and Bali; in Washington and New York.” Again, no Israel. It seems hard to believe that these omissions could be anything other than intentional. After all, Israel has been a primary target of terrorists throughout the past decade. Almost 2,000 Israelis have been murdered by terrorists in this period and over 10,000 maimed or disfigured. In per capita terms, far more Israelis have been murdered by terrorists than Americans were murdered in 9/11.

Obama also omits Israel in other contexts. Thus, when Haiti was struck by a calamitous earthquake in January 2010, Israel’s relief efforts were exceptional, only matched by those of the United States, and were singled out for praise by former President Clinton​. However, in praising these relief efforts, Obama omitted any mention of Israel, saying only that “help continues to flow in, not just from the United States but from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, France, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, among others.”

While Obama has more or less consistently failed to hold accountable or penalize the PA for incitement to violence against Israel, he has been emphatic and repetitive attacking Jewish housing projects in eastern Jerusalem as an obstacle to peace. His Administration has used the terms “condemn,” an “insult” and an “affront” when expressing disagreement with Israel on this issue, terms never used about other allies.

That Obama blames Israel, not the Palestinians, for the absence of peace is obvious. In a January 2010 interview, despite Israel’s acceptance in-principle of a Palestinian state, readiness to negotiate and instituting an unprecedented 10-month Jewish construction freeze in Judea and Samaria, Obama said Israel had made no “bold gestures.”
In a March 2011 meeting with Jewish leaders, Obama contended that “Israel’s [Palestinian] partner is sincere in wanting a peaceful settlement,” while asking his Jewish interlocutors to “speak to your Israeli friends and relatives and search your souls to determine how badly do you really want peace … Israelis think this peace process is overrated.”

Note also the contrast between his holiday messages to Jews and to Muslims.

In his Rosh Hashanah message last year, Obama only once referred to ‘Jews,’ not once to ‘Judaism,’ promoted a Palestinian state, and never mentioned the extraordinary contributions of Jews to the U.S.

In contrast, in his August 2010 Ramadan Message, Obama referred to ‘Muslims’ six times and to ‘Islam’ twice, stated that “American Muslims have made extraordinary contributions to our country,” and praised “Islam’s role in advancing justice, progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings … a faith known for great diversity and racial equality.” Here, Obama, made no reference to what Muslims must do to achieve peace with Israel.

There are many other indicators of Obama evincing discomfort around Jewish matters. When, in May 2010, Obama signed the Daniel Pearl​ Press Freedom Act, he did not mention that Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, was beheaded by Islamist terrorists because he was a Jew and that he was forced to state in the video recorded of his gruesome murder that he was an American Jew. Instead, Obama merely referred to Pearl’s “loss.”

And let’s not forget Obama’s June 2009 Cairo speech, in which he compared the circumstances of Palestinians under Israeli rule to Jews under the Nazis and blacks under Apartheid. Nor his September 2009 UN speech, in which Obama “couple[d] unwavering commitment to Israel” with Israel “respecting the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians.”

These incidents, some important, some less so, have assumed a troubling pattern. They suggest that President Obama has a distaste or even hostility towards Jews and Israel. But should we be surprised? He spent twenty years absorbing the anti-Israel sermons of Pastor Jeremiah Wright, whom Obama has called a “great man,” his “friend” and “mentor.”

Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy.

Why Is Iran’s Influence in the Arab World Declining? What is The New Regional Line-Up?

Barry Rubin

Often, coverage of the Middle East in the mainstream media is beyond belief. Even when the article has good information it often misses the main point. Such is the case with an article in the Wall Street Journal, “Arab Spring Turns Up Heat on Iran.” The article correctly reports that Iran is losing popularity in much of the Arab world:

In Egypt, favorable views of Iran declined from 89 percent in 2006 to 37 percent today. In Saudi Arabia those holding such beliefs declined from 85 percent to 6 percent; and in Jordan from 75 percent to 23 percent. That’s an incredibly steep decline. Incidentally, in these countries, attitudes toward the United States remained highly unfavorable and only got worse under President Obama. A reader who doesn’t have any understanding of the region–a category probably including most Western leaders, academic “experts,” and journalists–would think: Aha! Democracy is triumphing over radical Islamism. Iran is no longer much of a threat These are great things! This is how the media is presenting this development and no doubt that’s what Western policymakers think.

Such an analysis, however, is ridiculous so I’m glad you are reading this article. Don’t stop now. Here comes the good and original part.

So Egyptians, Jordanians, and Saudis are turning away from Iran. Now what do these three countries have in common? Answer: they all have big Sunni majorities, 90 percent in Saudi Arabia, 100 percent in Jordan, and 100 percent of the Muslims–who form about 90 percent of the whole population–in Egypt.

So where is Iran losing popularity? Among Sunni Muslim Arabs. Why? Because now they have their own Sunni Muslim Arab Islamists and don’t need Iran’s Shia Persians to be their patrons, leaders, or hope for the triumph of Islamism. Thus, this development shows the deepening schism between Sunni and Shia Muslims and Islamists, not declining support for radical, anti-Western, and Islamist politics.

Read this paragraph from the article:

“Iran and Syria—together with Shiite political and militant group Hezbollah and Palestinian Hamas—have for years banked on their anti-Israeli, anti-American posture as a guarantee for popular support in the Arab street as well as a shield against domestic unrest. Iran saw itself as the leader of this resistance group.”

Notice that only Hizballah is identified as Shia Muslim. Actually, the sentence is so poorly constructed one might well think that Hamas is Shia, too, which it isn’t!

True, the article notes in passing: “Its allies supported Iran’s growing influence while rival Sunni Arab countries including Saudi Arabia viewed it as a threat.” But that’s hardly making the point clear.

There’s one more complicating factor: a deep split in the Sunni camp, though, since a radical nationalist and semi-Islamist Egypt headed by Amr Moussa (and aligned with Hamas) is the Saudis worse nightmare. Moreover, Sunni states will not give strong backing to the Palestinian Authority because they’re angry due to its past behavior, despite their general backing for the “Palestinian cause” (including unanimous support for a Palesitinian unilateral declaration of independence).

So here’s the likely line-up:


–Radicals: Iran, Hizballah, Syria, Bahrain opposition radical faction

–Moderates: Iranian opposition, Iraqi government; Bahrain opposition moderate faction.


–Radicals: Egypt, Hamas, Libya?, Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and Jordan, Sudan, Turkish regime.

–Moderates: Algeria, Jordan, Lebanese, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, moderate forces in Syrian opposition, Tunisia, Turkish opposition.

This line-up tells us precisely what needs to be done. The United States should take leadership and work with Europe, Israel, and the moderates of both the Sunni and Shia variety. As for the radicals, none of them are “good guys” who can be allies in the battle against revolutionary Islamism.

A good strategy would not side with Sunni against Shia or vice-versa, nor would it have any illusion about moderating the radicals through appeasement, flattery, or concessions.

What is worrisome is that few Western leaders understand any of these points.

A final note, I didn’t mention the Palestinian Authority (PA). That is partly due to the fact that it isn’t very important in regional politics. While it is Sunni, it doesn’t get real support from either the radicals or the moderates in that camp. The radicals prefer their fellow Islamists in Hamas; the moderates are mostly angry at past backstabbings by the PA leadership. Everyone pretends to love the Palestinians and they will all vote for unilateral Palestinian independence at the UN, badmouth Israel, and compete for control over the Palestinian card. Yet in terms of genuine material support or patronage, the PA is very isolated while Hamas is in a much more favorable position regionally.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Why do they hate us?

Delayed reforms, soaring unemployment, and constant search for scapegoat led young generation 'that has never known war' to turn its frustration toward State of Israel

Tomer Velmer
09.11.11, 00:28 / Israel News

During the 32-year peace treaty with Egypt, the relations between Jerusalem and Cairo have seen their ups and downs. What used to be called "cold peace" turned extremely hot over the weekend, when hundreds of Egyptian protesters stormed the Israeli Embassy in Cairo, demolishing the security wall and replacing the Israeli flag with an Egyptian one.

Though the crisis ended fairly well, Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior research fellow at the Begin- Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University explains that these are the sort of events that happen when peace is forged between governments, not people. "The peace between Israel and Egypt was illegitimate to begin with in the eyes of the Egyptian people. It was an agreement with the Zionists, and the majority of the Egyptian population is religious, and does not believe the State of Israel has the right to exist," Dr. Kedar noted.

"Anwar Sadat, who was a dictator, decided to act against the will of his people when he signed the peace treaty, and was assassinated as a result," Kedar said, adding that "now, when the Mubarak regime is also out of the way, they believe the peace treaty can finally be canceled."

'Peace treaty against will of the people.' Cairo, on Friday (Photo: Reuters)
'Peace treaty against will of the people.' Cairo, on Friday (Photo: Reuters)

More importantly, Mubarak's ousting has yet to bring about the desired outcome. "When the Egyptians look at the results of the revolution, they realize that its goals have not been achieved.

"Since Mubarak was deposed, the unemployment has doubled, and so has the frustration among Egyptians, who are desperately looking for a scapegoat," Dr. Kedar noted.

Riots fueled by frustration (Photo: AP)
Riots fueled by frustration (Photo: AP)

"The tourism industry suffered a great loss, and the Egyptian economy has plummeted. We are looking at an anarchic situation, and so the Egyptian public turns its anger toward Israel; however, it may soon redirect its frustration toward the military, which has failed to provide socioeconomic solutions," he added.

'Military clash unlikely'

Professor Eyal Zisser from the Middle East Department at Tel Aviv University explains that the new generation in Egypt has also played a role in the radicalization of the public.

"The peace treaty was signed in the 70s, when Egypt was recuperating from the Yom Kippur War. Unlike today's generation, the older generation suffered many wars, and therefore supported the peace process," he said.

Despite the hatred toward Israel, Prof. Zisser doesn’t foresee a military clash with Egypt, even if public pressure continues to grow.

"We are heading toward a future of uncertainty, until the army succeeds in stabilizing the country and establishing a regime. The Egyptian army is too preoccupied with instilling order, and has no time or willingness to prepare for war," he said.

Facing Unpleasant Facts in the Middle East

Steven Plaut

The world is now well into the Post-Oslo era, in which the delusions and denials of reality that were the foundations of the "Oslo peace process" are being acknowledged for what they were. For those returning to the planet Earth from Fantasy land in the "Oslo" parallel universe, it behooves them and us all to bear in mind some of the unpleasant facts of life about the Middle East.

1. The Arab world has never come to terms with Israel's existence within ANY set of borders whatsoever and is still seeking the destruction of Israel and its population.

2. ANY Palestinian state, regardless of who rules it, will produce escalated violence, terror and warfare in the Middle East, and not stability nor peaceful relations. It will seek warfare with Israel and not solutions to the economic and social problems of its citizens. 3. The only reason Arafat and the PLO ever wanted control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was to use them as bases for attacks on Israel. This is the only real use to which they will be put by any future Palestinian state.

4. There is no alternative that will stop the bloodshed and war in the Middle East other than the adoption by Israel of an unambiguous policy of R&D, that is, of Re-Occupation and Denazification of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Every other alternative proposal for stabilization and pacification is delusional.

5. Denazification of the West Bank and Gaza Strip must be based partly on the programs of Denazification imposed on Germany and Japan by the Allies after World War II, but in part must be different. Such Denazification policies will have to stay in place for decades. There is no other way in which Israel can prevent the daily massacre of its civilians by the Palestinian terrorists.

6. The bulk of Palestinians have lived outside Israeli "occupation" for years, and their "liberation" from Israeli "occupation" only produced Nazification, terrorism, mass murders, and radicalization. Their pacification requires re-imposing of martial rule by Israel.

7. The instability of the Middle East is not caused by Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands but by PLO-Hamas occupation of Israeli lands.

8. There was never in history an Arab Palestinian state.

9. The Palestinians have no legitimate claim to the right to set up their own state. It is doubtful whether they ever did have such a right, but even if they did - they forfeited it thanks to decades of terrorism, savagery, mass murders and barbarism. Like the Sudeten Germans.

10. Palestinians are Arabs. The Arabs already rule 22 states. There is no reason why they should be entitled to a 23rd, and creation of such a 23rd Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza will escalate Middle East violence and world terrorism.

11. The Palestinians are not and never were a "nation". They are not even a tribe. They are a branch of Arabs with only minor secondary cultural differences that distinguish them from Syrians, Lebanese or Jordanians.

12. The Middle East conflict cannot be resolved through endless exhibitions of niceness and restraint by Israel. Israeli niceness, restraint, and goodwill gestures are interpreted by the Arab world as weakness and as signs that the Jews, like Paul McCartney's Band, are on the run.

13. The Palestinians are not "mistreated" by Israel, but ARE poorly treated by the PLO and Hamas.

14. The only Arabs in the Middle East with any semblance of civil rights are those who live under Israeli rule.

15. Israeli Arabs are the best-treated minority in the Middle East and are treated far better than are Arabs living in Arab states. If the intifada "uprising" were in fact a product of oppression and mistreatment of Arabs by a government, then Israel should be the only country in the Middle East that does NOT have an intifada.

16. Oslo has radicalized and Nazified most Israeli Arabs, who now identify with and openly support Arab parties and politicians who call openly for violence against Jews and the destruction of Israel.

17. There exists no set of concessions by Israel that would result in the Arab states coming to terms with Israel's existence.

18. There are no Arab democracies and no support for democracy among significant minorities within the Arab world.

19. Israeli assassination of Palestinian terrorists is in fact a substitute for retaliation in kind against the Palestinians for bombings of Israeli children and other civilians. The alternative to such assassinations is bombings of Palestinian civilians.

20. Israeli settlements are the "mine canaries" of the Arab world. There is no reason why Jewish civilians should not be free to live in peace within Arab countries truly seeking peace with Israel, just as Arabs live at peace within Israel and within the United States. The attitude of the Arab world in general and of the PLO in particular towards such "settlements" is indicative of their attitudes towards Israel and Jews in general. If the Palestinians are NOT seeking peace with the Jews, and they are not, then the real problem is that Israel has built too few settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

21. Today it is the purpose of Israeli settlements to prevent replication of Gaza in the West Bank. To do so, Israel needs to build MORE settlements!

22. Israel is the only country in the Middle East that does NOT deal with Islamist terror through wholesale massacres of the people in whose midst the terrorists operate.

23. There is an inverse relationship between the material comfort of Arabs living under Israeli rule and political moderation. The better off they are in a material sense, the more violent and radical they are. More generally, Arab radicalism and terror are positively correlated with comfort and education and wealth. Bin Laden and his people were filthy rich. There have been no undernourished Palestinian suicide bombers.

24. Palestinians endorse terrorism and violence against Jews by near-universal majorities.

25. Israeli Arabs endorse terror and violence against Jews by large majorities. They also support al-Qaeda.

26. There are no visible Palestinian public figures who oppose violence, terror and Islamist fascism.

27. There is not and never has been a Palestinian "peace movement".

28. The PLO is itself very much a manifestation of Islamist fascism and was founded by Islamist fundamentalists.

29. Peace cannot be achieved through pretending that war does not exist.

30. The Israeli Left is responsible for the bloodshed in Israel. The Israeli Left rescued the PLO from oblivion in the early 1990s, armed it, and allowed it to become entrenched in the suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The Israeli Left is as wacky as is the pro-Taliban campus Left in the United States.

31. The only peaceful terrorist is a dead terrorist.

32. Israel cannot restore the credibility of its military prowess through "signaling," but rather only through using that prowess and putting its military might to actual use.

So You Think You know the Terror Stats?

Haifa Diary

In August 2011, there were 178 terrorist attacks carried out against Israel - a significant increase from the 53 that occurred in July.

The data was published in a monthly report released by the Israel Security Agency.
134 of the terrorist events were rocket or mortar attacks.
The main source of the increase was from the Gaza Strip, from which 135 attacks originated in August, compared to 20 in July.

The most noteworthy terrorist attack that occurred last month took place on August 18 on the Israel-Egypt border north of Eilat. Eight Israelis (six civilians and two security forces members) were killed in that attack and 29 were wounded. An increase in terrorist attacks also occurred in Judea and Samaria, where 30 attacks occurred in August, compared to 25 in July.

In Jerusalem, there was a slight decrease, with six attacks in August, compared to eight in July.

On August 29, a Palestinian seized control of a taxi cab in Tel Aviv and ran into a number of people. He also stabbed people before being arrested.
One Israeli was killed when a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in Be'er Sheva on August 20.

Overall, nine Israelis were killed and 55 wounded in terrorist attacks in August.

During August, 145 rockets and 46 mortars were fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, compared to 20 rockets and two mortars in July.

Listen to Facts Not to Polemics
Time after time, I am asked to comment on an article from a newspaper, a lecture, a statement or action undertaken by those with agendas against the existence of the Jewish State of Israel.

So often, the comments made have NO basis in fact but provide an emotional message to the uninformed. Recently, the students of Edinburgh University "decided" to boycott all things Israel. Again the students are throwing out words like "Nazism" and "Apartheid", which goes to show just how ignorant they are of the facts. More worryingly is that if these arew the thoughts processes of the leaders of future, heaven help the rest of the population.

An alumni of the University, a non Jew and an accredited expert inn Middle Eastern affairs has written an open letter to the students which has messages not just for the students but for the world at large.
He writes "University is supposed to be about learning to use your brain, to think rationally, to examine evidence, to reach conclusions based on solid evidence, to compare sources, to weigh up one view against one or more others. If the best Edinburgh can now produce are students who have no idea how to do any of these things, then the future is bleak. I do not object to well documented criticism of Israel. I do object when supposedly intelligent people single the Jewish state out above states that are horrific in their treatment of their populations. We are going through the biggest upheaval in the Middle East since the 7th and 8th centuries, and it's clear that Arabs and Iranians are rebelling against terrifying regimes that fight back by killing their own citizens. Israel citizens, Jews and Arabs alike, do not rebel (though they are free to protest).

Yet Edinburgh students mount no demonstrations and call for no boycotts against Libya, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and Iran. They prefer to make false accusations against one of the world's freest countries, the only country in the Middle East that has taken in Darfur refugees, the only country in the Middle East that gives refuge to gay men and women, the only country in the Middle East that protects the Baha'is.... Need I go on? The imbalance is perceptible, and it sheds no credit on anyone who voted for this boycott.

I ask you to show some common sense. Get information from the Israeli embassy. Ask for some speakers. Listen to more than one side. Do not make your minds up until you have given a fair hearing to both parties. You have a duty to your students, and that is to protect them from one-sided argument. They are not at university to be propagandized. And they are certainly not there to be tricked into anti-Semitism by punishing one country among all the countries of the world, which happens to be the only Jewish state. If there had been a single Jewish state in the 1930s (which, sadly, there was not), don't you think Adolf Hitler would have decided to boycott it? Of course he would, and he would not have stopped there. Your generation has a duty to ensure that the perennial racism of anti-Semitism never sets down roots among you. Today, however, there are clear signs that it has done so and is putting down more. You have a chance to avert a very great evil, simply by using reason and a sense of fair play. Please tell me that this makes sense. I have given you some of the evidence. It's up to you to find out more. "