Saturday, January 26, 2013

Kerry's Palestinian Fallacy

Leo Rennert

During his confirmation hearings for secretary of state, John Kerry advanced an ambitious plan for Mideast diplomacy that hardly got any ink from most media, yet portends a potentially grand failure for his tenure as America's top diplomat.
Kerry told lawmakers that it was his "prayer" to get Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table because the regional and even global stakes in achieving a peace settlement couldn't be greater. In other words, solve that conflict and the world will become a better, safer place.
Here is how he put it:
"So much of what we need to aspire to achieve and what we need globally -- all of this is tied to what can and doesn't happen with respect to Israel and Palestine."

Friday, January 25, 2013

Krauthammer: Obama unbound

, The Washington Post

The media herd is stunned to discover that Barack Obama is a man of the left. After 699 teleprompted presidential speeches, the commentariat was apparently still oblivious. Until Monday's inaugural address, that is.Where has everyone been these four years? The only surprise is that Obama chose his second inaugural, generally an occasion for "malice toward none" ecumenism, to unveil so uncompromising a left-liberal manifesto.
But the substance was no surprise. After all, Obama had unveiled his transformational agenda in his very first address to Congress, four years ago (Feb. 24, 2009). It was, I wrote at the time, "the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president."

Urgent Appeal: Stop Plan to Give Negev Land to Bedouin

Maayana Miskin

The Regavim organization filed an urgent appeal to the Supreme Court on Friday over a government decision regarding Negev land that is expected to be made official on Sunday.

According to Regavim, outgoing minister Benny Begin is heading a last-minute plan to give away huge swaths of Negev land to Bedouin tribes in the area.

The government announced a large scale plan in 2011 to deal with illegal Bedouin communities in the Negev. The plan includes relocating tens of thousands of Bedouin and giving them land for new communities and money to build. Other communities will be retroactively approved.

Begin now plans to increase the alternate land given to the Bedouin from 50% of the land they have appropriated to 63%, adding more than 30,000 dunams (30 square kilometers) to the land offer, Regavim explained. The land will be registered under Bedouin clan members’ names.

Obama’s Call for “Peace in Our Time”: Some Aids to Reflection

In the context of his usual call for “engagement” (rather than war) with nations who harbor “suspicion and fear” of America, President Obama in his inaugural speech of January 21 called for “peace in our time.”
Since it is hard to believe that any literate person, with or without Ivy League degrees, can fail to recognize the irony that has surrounded these words ever since Neville Chamberlain uttered them in September 1938 after signing the Munich Agreement with Hitler, just what did the president intend by them? Is it possible, even in these dark times, that neither the president nor anybody around him in his large cadre of speech writers and advisers, reviewing the speech before its delivery on such an occasion, took notice of them? With the single exception of Jennifer Rubin in the Washington Post, no prominent representative of the chattering classes noticed them either. Not even the normally astute Charles Krauthammer, who is not only a relentless critic of the president but a certified psychiatrist conversant with and presumably on the lookout for, “Freudian slips,” thought to ask whether Obama had here committed a grievous error in speech and memory because of some unconscious, subdued wish or train of thought.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Daunting Challenges facing Netanyahu

Isi Leibler
January 24, 2013

The unexpected election results have created daunting challenges for Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Many Israelis dislike Netanyahu. He has personality deficiencies and, like every Israeli leader since Ben-Gurion, has made major mistakes.
But to his credit, over the past four years he has moved Likud to the center and achieved a national consensus. He succeeded in resisting concerted global pressures which would have undermined our security and has created an international awareness of the dangers of a nuclear Iran. He also made crucial strategic decisions that proved to be highly beneficial and undoubtedly provided greater security to the nation than his predecessors.

Why I Voted for Yair Lapid

The centrist’s simple but emotionally profound Zionism could lead to an Israel less at war with itself

By Yossi Klein Halevi | January 23, 2013
When Yair Lapid’s father, the well-known journalist and politician Tommy Lapid, was on his deathbed, he said to his son: I’m leaving you the state of Israel.
Tommy, a Holocaust survivor, meant that metaphorically; the generation of survivors was entrusting the gift of a Jewish state to its children. But with the rise of Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid (There Is a Future), which emerged from nowhere to become Israel’s second-largest party in yesterday’s election, Yair’s “inheritence” could become literal. More than any other politician aside from Prime Minister Netanyahu himself, Yair may now determine the next phase of Israeli politics.

Israel's Election: A Preliminary Analysis

As expected, Israel has once again made Benjamin Netanyahu its prime minister. The results were not as positive for him as they might have been but are good enough to reelect him.

While some might find this paradoxical, the results show that Israelis have a basic consensus and yet have very different ways of  expressing their political positions. This isn’t surprising given the fact that 32 parties were on the ballot.

First, though, a myth that has at times become a propaganda campaign should be exposed. There were numerous reports in the Western media that the Israeli electorate was going far to the right, didn’t want peace, and that Israeli democracy was in jeopardy. None of this had any real basis in fact and the election results show these claims to be false.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

All the kingmaker’s men, and women

Besides Yair Lapid, Yesh Atid’s diverse list includes academics, mayors, journalists, a former Shin Bet head and an Olympic athlete

Yair Lapid’s neophyte Yesh Atid party shocked the country with its strong showing in Tuesday’s general election. But although Lapid is a well-known personality, those composing his party’s list are much less so. A crew of 19 diverse Knesset members, half of whom are women and none of whom have served in Knesset, Yesh Atid’s faction is poised to wield powerful influence:
1. Yair Lapid, 49, was a celebrity journalist and author before forming Yesh Atid in January 2012. A household name in Israel, Lapid is the son of Tommy Lapid — a former MK, cabinet minister and head of the now-defunct Shinui (Change) party, a centrist faction and an ideological precursor of sorts to Yesh Atid. Lapid, who lives in Ramat Aviv, is married to novelist Lihi Lapid and has three children, also has a background in the arts: he worked as an actor in his 20s and has authored several novels and plays.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Palestinians left out of Obama's swearing-in over 'address mix-up'

Jan 22, 2013 

WASHINGTON // Scores of foreign dignitaries and diplomats were among the hundreds of high-profile guests seated near Barack Obama on the western steps of the Capitol yesterday as he promised to "preserve, protect and defend" the Constitution of the United States.
With its pomp and ceremony, a US presidential inauguration is frequently touted here as an inspiring example for less fortunate countries of peaceful and orderly transitions of power.
But one diplomat from a people long denied statehood, in some ways as a direct result of US policy, had no seat at the festivities yesterday.
"You know it's a funny thing," said Maen Rashid Areikat, the Palestinian envoy to Washington, about not receiving an invitation to Mr Obama's swearing-in. "Technically we are not on their diplomatic list because we are not recognised as a full-fledged state.

Jodi Ruderon and the "Palestinians"

My Right Word

When you are imprecise with your political terminology, the results can be catastrophic.

For example, here is a comment I left at the NYTimes' Jodi Ruderon's Facebook page where she wrote of "Palestinian citizens of Israel":

Monday, January 21, 2013

Is Sheikh Jarrah Actually Nob?

 My Right Word

As I have published before, the campaign of solidarity with the Arab residents of Sheikh Jarrah (has it fizzled out?) is one big cheat on Jewish history, Jewish property rights on the one hand, while, on the other, a cover-up for Arab ethnic cleansing and theft of identity.

I have now found a recent article which adds one more quite interesting element to the affair.

It's by Professor Boaz Zissu, and appeared in the IEJ 62 (2012), pp. 54–70:-

The article discusses the possibility of the identification of a conjectured residency location with biblical Nob and situating it in the higher areas of the American Colony or of the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood.

UN Handing Assad $519M in ‘Humanitarian Aid’

The more than 60,000 deaths during the Syrian Civil War, are referred to in UN-speak as "the events in Syria since March, 2011," or, sometimes, as "the current events."
A Street scene in Aleppo, Syria.
A Street scene in Aleppo, Syria.

There’s no doubt about it, with grinding poverty and homelessness, medical needs soaring and the sheer cost of having to bury tens of thousands of people who’ve been slaughtered make Syria an obvious candidate for humanitarian aid.
Does it really make sense to transfer more than $519,000,000 worth of international aid to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, when nearly every major world leader has predicted the imminent dismemberment of the Assad regime, if not the man himself?

Netanyahu Coalition Forming Dilemmas

Joseph Puder On January 21, 2013

The question Israeli political pundits ask regarding the upcoming January 22, 2013 Knesset (parliamentary) elections is not what party will be asked by President Shimon Peres to form the next government,  nor are they asking who will be the next Prime Minister of Israel.  All public opinion polls predict that Likud-Beitenu would emerge as the largest party, and that Benjamin Netanyahu will continue to serve as Israel’s Prime Minister.  The operative question is which parties will join Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu to form the next coalition government.  The  answer to that will determine the direction and the likely policies of the next Netanyahu government.

Averaged polls shows Likud-Beitenu with more than double the number of Knesset seats (35) than the next party (Labor) with 16, headed by Shelly Yachimovich.  Recent indicators point out that Likud-Beitenu is losing votes to the Bayit Yehudi party (Jewish Home), led by Naftali Bennett, which is emerging as the third largest party with 14 seats.  Ariyeh Deri and Eli Ishai leading Shas, the Orthodox Sephardic party comes out in fourth place with 11 seats.  Torah Judaism, the Ashkenazi Orthodox party, is expected to get 6 seats and the Shas breakaway candidate Haim Amsalem and his Am Shalem party is projected to receive 2 seats.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

"Election Countdown"

Ron Nachman was a founder of the city of Ariel in 1978, when a group of dedicated pioneers, with the blessing of the government, set up the first tents.  A member of Likud, he later gave up a career in the Knesset to become Ariel's first mayor, and held that title until last week, when he passed away after a long battle with cancer.  His funeral was today.
Credit: AP:/Moti Milrod
Nachman's dedication to developing the land of Samaria -- and to the city of Ariel -- was well known in Israel.  He is being mourned by many.  The Yesha Council today saluted him as: "a Zionist settlement pioneer in his body and soul and an unstoppable builder of the Land of Israel."
Well, two more days until Israel's election. Wish I had something really intelligent to say by way of analysis.  But unfortunately, this campaign has not lent itself to this, as it has focused as much on personalities as on the genuine issues of the day.

Harris Zafar's Islamic Intellectual Incoherence

Andrew E. Harrod

Harris Zafar, national spokesperson for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community USA, posted recently at the Washington Post's online Guest Voices blog the article "Making Islamic Sense of Free Speech." Review of Zafar's analysis shows that he makes no sense, Islamic or otherwise, at all with respect to free speech. If anything, Zafar deceptively offers justification for censorship all the while proclaiming respect for intellectual freedom.

Will the real Moderate Palestinians Please Stand Up?

Michael Curtis

The Western media has been eager to proclaim that Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, and Saeb Erekat, the chief negotiator of the PLO, can be regarded as Palestinian moderates and believe in genuine peace with Israel. Indeed, Erekat did write recently that a two-state solution is the best for all concerned, though he added that the Israeli government does not admit it.
Yet, it is right to be wary of this characterization of moderation. Are there indeed Palestinian leaders whose position is more moderate than that of the acknowledged extremists? One must also ask the question about those Arab leaders who, according to mainstream media, may be pursuing policies of political moderation, given the revelations in recent days of the horrific extreme bigoted comments made by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi about Jews and Zionists, "bloodsuckers who attack Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs."

The stance of Hamas, and its leader Khaled Meshal, is clear to all except the majority bloc in the United Nations General Assembly which consistently proposes and votes for anti-Israeli resolutions. Not surprisingly, Meshal expressed delight when shells fired from the Gaza Strip reached Tel Aviv. He remains committed to violence as the way to victory and liberation. No one can misconstrue his words, "The West Bank is inseparable from Gaza, and they are both inseparable from Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheva, and Safed... Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, is our land, our right, and our homeland." 

Hagel and Shultz

One of the major reasons that pro-Israel groups are upset over the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense is his mention of the "Jewish Lobby" in the context that he, unlike his fellow senators at the time, was not beholden to those pesky Jews.

One of the best essays written that demolishes the idea of an all-powerful Israel lobby was written by George Shultz, former secretary of state in the Reagan administration, in 2007:
Israel is a free, democratic, open, and relentlessly self-analytical place. To hear harsh criticism of Israel's policies and leaders, listen to the Israelis. So questioning Israel for its actions is legitimate, but lies are something else. Throughout human history, they have been used not only to vilify but to establish a basis for cruel and inhuman acts. The catalog of lies about Jews is long and astonishingly crude, matched only by the suffering that has followed their promulgation.