Month: April 2011






Jerusalem Post, April 28, 2011


“There will be no dialogue with these murderers,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said back in June 2007, referring to Hamas. “There will be no dialogue with the forces of darkness.” Abbas made these remarks shortly after Hamas, in a bloody coup, had seized control of the Gaza Strip. It was also a few months after an assassination attempt against him, which he said was engineered by Hamas. Now the same Hamas members whom he once correctly referred to as “murderous terrorists” are to become Abbas’s colleagues in a “national unity” government.

Abbas purports to expect Israel to cooperate with his volte face by entering into a negotiating partnership with this new government—a Palestinian leadership featuring a terrorist group whose members promulgate the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and vow, as a core of their religious conviction, to eradicate the Jewish state from what they insist is Muslim land.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has declared that such negotiations will not happen. The PA has to choose between a peace deal with Israel and one with Hamas, Netanyahu said on Wednesday. Israel would not accept Abbas’s hair-splitting distinctions between the PLO (to which Hamas does not belong), that would supposedly be responsible for handling negotiations, and the new unity government.

The New York Times’ Ethan Bronner predicted that Israel could be blamed for Abbas’s turn to Hamas. The reconciliation, wrote Bronner, “was sure to fuel debate on whether Mr. Netanyahu had done enough in his two years in power to forge a deal with the Palestinian Authority led by Mr. Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, widely considered the most moderate leaders the Palestinians have ever had.”

Presumably, according to this reasoning, if the government had only caved in to every Palestinian demand, even those that endanger Israel’s security, Abbas would never have followed that sizable proportion of his own people who already chose, at the ballot box five years ago, to entrust their future to a reactionary form of Islamic rule that blatantly discriminates against non-Muslims and champions suicide bombings.

As anyone not prejudiced against Israel and willing to credit Palestinians with making their own decisions knows, however, the real impetus behind the reconciliation, which enjoys massive grassroots support on the West Bank and in Gaza, is that many, if not most, Palestinians truly identify with many of the goals and aims of Hamas. Similarly, many, if not most Egyptians, Jordanians and Syrians support the goals and aims of the Muslim Brotherhood in their respective countries, none of which, by the way, are under Israeli “occupation.”

Yasser Arafat fostered the foul notion among his people that there was no historical basis and no modern legitimacy for Jewish sovereignty in this land. Abbas chose not to energetically challenge that mindset. The misnamed new “unity”—which Hamas will destroy at its convenience—is the latest consequence.

Abbas failed to present to his people a compelling vision of a Palestinian state without religious extremism and violence; a state that fosters reconciliation—not with Hamas but with Israel. Instead, his PA has continued to incite against Israel in its school curriculum and its official media and to glorify terrorists who kill Israelis. It has clung to “peace” positions that no Israeli government could accommodate, and chose not to seize upon the unprecedented terms that were offered by former prime minister Ehud Olmert.

Now Abbas is…entering a partnership with an organization that…uses its own people as human shields for its rocket attacks on Israel, that attempted to assassinate him, and whose vision of a Palestinian state is another fundamentalist Muslim regime patterned after Iran. (Tellingly, one of the few senior government officials to have come out in favor of the unity deal is Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi who called it a “blessed, positive move”).…

Rapprochement with Hamas should be counterproductive to the PA’s campaign to secure UN recognition in September for an independent state.… No morally minded country should recognize a Palestinian state led by a government whose members reject the Mideast Quartet’s principles of renouncing violence, accepting past agreements, and recognizing Israel’s right to exist. “Should,” however, is the operative word here.…

Eight months ago in Washington, Netanyahu called Abbas his “partner in peace.” He isn’t any more.


P. David Hornik
FrontPage, April 29, 2011



On Thursday, a day after Wednesday’s announcement of a Fatah-Hamas rapprochement in Cairo, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas said he would keep pursuing peace talks with Israel. Almost concurrently, top Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar said Hamas would stick to its stance of neither recognizing nor negotiating with Israel, but “if Fatah wants to negotiate with Israel over trivialities, they can.”

Notable here is that Abbas cannot “keep pursuing” talks with Israel because he has almost totally abandoned such talks since 2009. [Accordingly], his statement appears to reflect a strategy of retaining his image as a moderate despite the reconciliation with Hamas—and al-Zahar’s grudging agreement suggests Hamas is willing to play along with the game.

And at whom is the strategy aimed? Not at Israel, which, Abbas knows, would not negotiate in any case with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas.… Probably not at the U.S. either. Senior congressmen have already threatened to cut off aid to the PA if the deal with Hamas holds. The Obama administration—which has already come out against the PA’s push for a unilateral recognition of statehood at the UN in September—also reacted coolly. But if, as observers generally agree, the Fatah-Hamas deal aims to allow Abbas to present himself as the leader of a united “Palestine”—both the West Bank and Gaza—at the UN in September, thereby strengthening his pitch for statehood, and if the deal can’t reasonably be seen as an attempt to raise his stock with the U.S., then a likely target is Europe.

Abbas knows that merely getting the standard General Assembly bloc of Muslim and underdeveloped countries to recognize “Palestine” would have little impact. Europe—and especially the key countries Britain, France, and Germany—hasn’t yet taken a clear stance on the statehood push. Abbas knows he can’t have “peace”—that is, can’t get along—with both Hamas and Israel, or Hamas and the U.S. for that matter. But Abbas would like to get along with both Hamas and Europe. That is, he would like to have “unity” with Hamas and a ringing European endorsement of his state, too. Being able to claim he represents all of “Palestine”—while still professing readiness for nonexistent “peace talks” with Israel—could be a way of getting Europe on his side.

As for the UN itself, its Middle East envoy Robert Serry already blessed the Fatah-Hamas announcement on Thursday. And as for the EU, it stated on Thursday that, while it still needs to “study the details” of the deal, “We have consistently called for reconciliation and peace under the authority of Abbas as a way to end the division between the West Bank and Gaza.” In other words, while preferring that Fatah have the upper hand, the EU hardly rules out Hamas—even though it officially defines it as a terror organization.

Much depends—with many skeptical—on whether a Fatah-Hamas unity government will indeed be formed and, if so, will last till September. That would require less than five months; the previous, 2007 Fatah-Hamas unity government lasted only three months before dissolving into bloody strife in Gaza. But these are different times, and some believe Hamas was driven to the deal by alarm over the possible fall of its patron in Damascus.

Much will also depend—presumably—on what such a government would do between now and September. One point of the agreement reached Wednesday, for instance, is a mutual prisoner release. Hamas is supposed to release Fatah prisoners held in Gaza; Fatah, Hamas prisoners held in the West Bank. That would mean hundreds of Hamas terrorists roaming freely in the West Bank, where hundreds of thousands of Israelis live. No doubt the U.S. would react negatively, since those Hamas terrorists were imprisoned in the first place by U.S.-trained Fatah forces under the strategy of helping supposedly moderate Fatah suppress and defeat Hamas. But would Europe see such a move as part of “reconciliation and peace”?

On Thursday Israeli president Shimon Peres said: “The world cannot support the establishment of a state part of whose government is a terrorist organization in every respect.” But it remains to be seen. Seemingly, Fatah’s political melding with openly genocidal Hamas should remove its—and the Palestinians’ generally—last fig leaf of purported moderation. But if it’s Jews vs. (declared) genocidists, it’s again not clear which side Europe, and others, come down on.


Dore Gold

Foreign Policy, April 28, 2011


On Wednesday, representatives of Fatah and Hamas, the two main Palestinian factions, announced in Cairo that they had suddenly reached a reconciliation agreement. The emerging deal, which calls for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government to pave the way for elections within a year, has a lot to do with the Palestinians’ drive to gain the U.N. General Assembly’s backing this September for the establishment of an independent state.

But the world should not cheer this bargain. Although the agreement may solve some of the short-term problems of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s statehood drive, it will create larger problems that promise to doom the plan to irrelevancy.…

Abbas’s reconciliation with Hamas contains more risks than it does advantages. Hamas is designated as an international terrorist organization not only by Israel, but also by Canada, the European Union, and the United States. Moreover, it serves as a proxy force for Iran, which provides Hamas with funding, training, and weapons. So even though the Palestinians can always depend on the Non-Aligned Movement bloc for 120 or 130 General Assembly votes, these facts will imperil the Palestinians’ ability to gain the backing of major Western powers, including the EU countries.

Since coming to power in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections, Hamas has steadfastly refused to accept the conditionsof the Quartet—the Middle East contact group that includes the United States, the U.N., the EU, and Russia—for becoming part of the diplomatic process.… Mahmoud al-Zahar, the senior Hamas leader who participated in the Hamas-Fatah talks, clarified after the agreement was reached: “Our program does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it.” As recently as April 17, Hamas’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, reminded its supporters on its website: “We are going on the path of jihad.” Hamas’s intractability will no doubt jeopardize European diplomatic support for the Palestinian statehood drive, as well as financial assistance for any Palestinian government in which Hamas plays a role.

These concerns come on top of other serious European reservations. For example, the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, also known as Oslo II, clearly established: “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations.” The EU signed Oslo II as a witness. If the EU supports the Palestinian initiative at the U.N., it will be violating a core commitment of the peace process, which is that the territories’ fate should be determined only by direct negotiations between the parties.

The problems with including Hamas don’t stop there. Abbas’s hope is that a General Assembly resolution will reference the pre-1967 boundaries, which have assumed almost holy status among Palestinians. (Never mind that these were only armistice lines from the 1948 war, and were not regarded as final political borders.) In Jerusalem, the pre-1967 line will put the entire Old City, with its holy sites, like the Western Wall, under Palestinian control. Israelis will not agree to such a division of their capital in any case, but will European governments risk putting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre under a regime even partly controlled by Hamas? They know that many members of Gaza’s small Christian community have been seeking refuge abroad in order to flee Hamas rule.…

Abbas needs to choose his priority: working with Hamas, or working with Israel. Faced with the departure of his old regional ally, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’s parent organization, Abbas appears to be recalculating his interests.… The pathway to peace is open. But by reaching out to Hamas, Abbas has plainly moved even further away from it.


Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, January 29, 2011


Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority’s peace deal with Hamas would be funny if it weren’t tragic. Immediately after the news broke of the deal Netanyahu announced, “The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both.”

Netanyahu’s statement is funny because it is completely absurd. The PA has chosen.

The PA made the choice in 2000 when it rejected Israel’s offer of peace and Palestinian statehood and joined forces with Hamas to wage a terror war against Israel. The PA made the choice in 2005 again when it responded to Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza with a tenfold increase in the number of rockets and missiles it fired on Israeli civilian targets in the Negev. The Palestinians made the choice in 2006, when they elected Hamas to rule over them. They made the choice in March 2007 when Fatah and Hamas signed their first unity deal. The PA made the choice in 2008 when Abbas rejected then-prime minister Ehud Olmert’s offer of statehood and peace. The PA made the choice in 2010 when it refused to reinstate peace negotiations with Netanyahu; began peace negotiations with Hamas; and escalated its plan to establish an independent state without peace with Israel.

Now the PA has again made the choice by signing the newest peace deal with Hamas.

In a real sense, Netanyahu’s call for the PA to choose is the political equivalent of a man telling his wife she must choose between him and her lover, after she has left home, shacked up and had five children with her new man. It is a pathetic joke.

But worse than a pathetic joke, it is a national tragedy. It is a tragedy that after more than a decade of the PA choosing war with Israel and peace with Hamas, Israel’s leaders are still incapable of accepting reality and walking away. It is a tragedy that Israel’s leaders cannot find the courage to say the joke of the peace process is really a deadly serious war process whose end is Israel’s destruction, and that Israel is done with playing along.

There are many reasons that Netanyahu is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18-year policy nightmare in which Israel is an active partner in its own demise. One of the main reasons is that like his predecessors, Netanyahu has come to believe the myth that Israel’s international standing is totally dependent on its being perceived as trying to make peace with the Palestinians.… Irrespective of the nakedness of Palestinian bad faith, seven successive governments have adopted the view that the only thing that stands between Israel and international pariah status is its leaders’ ability to persuade the so-called international community that Israel is serious about appeasing the Palestinians.

For the past several months, this profoundly neurotic perception of Israel’s options has fed our leaders’ hysterical response to the Palestinians’ plan to unilaterally declare independence.

The Palestinian plan itself discredits the idea that they are interested in anything other than destroying Israel. The plan is to get the UN to recognize a Palestinian state in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza outside the framework of a peace treaty with Israel. The PA will first attempt to get the Security Council to endorse an independent “Palestine.” If the Obama administration vetoes the move, then the PA will ask the General Assembly to take action. Given the makeup of the General Assembly, it is all but certain that the Palestinians will get their resolution.

The question is, does this matter? Everyone from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to hard-left, post-Zionist retreads like Shulamit Aloni and Avrum Burg says it does. They tell us that if this passes, Israel will face international opprobrium if its citizens or military personnel so much as breathe in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem without Palestinian permission.

These prophets of doom warn that Israel has but one hope for saving itself from diplomatic death: Netanyahu must stand before the world and pledge to give Israel’s heartland and capital to the Palestinians.

And according to helpful Obama administration officials, everything revolves around Netanyahu’s ability to convince the EU-3—British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel—that he is serious about appeasing the Palestinians. If he doesn’t offer up Israel’s crown jewels in his speech before the US Congress next month, administration officials warn that the EU powers will go with the Palestinians.

And if they go with the Palestinians, well, things could get ugly for Israel.

Happily, these warnings are completely ridiculous. UN General Assembly resolutions have no legal weight. Even if every General Assembly member except Israel votes in favor of a resolution recognizing “Palestine,” all the Palestinians will have achieved is another non-binding resolution, with no force of law, asserting the same thing that thousands of UN resolutions already assert. Namely, it will claim falsely that Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and Gaza are Palestinian territory to which Israel has no right. Israel will be free to ignore this resolution, just as it has been free to ignore its predecessors.

The threat of international isolation is also wildly exaggerated. Today, Israel is more diplomatically isolated than it has been at any time in its 63-year history. With the Obama administration treating the construction of homes for Jews in Jerusalem as a greater affront to the cause of world peace than the wholesale massacre of hundreds of Iranian and Syrian protesters by regime goons, Israel has never faced a more hostile international climate. And yet, despite its frosty reception from the White House to Whitehall, life in Israel has never been better.

According to the latest data released by the Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel’s economy grew 7.8 percent in the last quarter of 2010. International trade is rising steeply. In the first quarter of 2011, exports rose 27.3%. They grew 19.9% in the final quarter of last year. Imports rose 34.7% between January and March, and 38.9% in the last quarter of 2010. The Israel-bashing EU remains Israel’s largest trading partner. And even as Turkey embraced Hamas and Iran as allies, its trade with Israel reached an all time high last year. These trade data expose a truth that the doom and gloomers are unwilling to notice: For the vast majority of Israelis the threat of international isolation is empty.

The same people telling us to commit suicide now lest we face the firing squad in September would also have us believe that the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement is the single greatest threat to the economy. But that lie was put paid this month with the demise of the Australian town of Marrickville’s BDS-inspired boycott.

Last December, the anti-Israel coalition running the town council voted to institute a trade, sports and academic boycott against Israel. Two weeks ago the council was forced to cancel its decision after it learned that it would cost $3.4 million to institute it. Cheaper Israeli products and services would have to be replaced with more expensive non-Israeli ones.

Both Israel’s booming foreign trade and the swift demise of the Marrickville boycott movement demonstrate that the specter of international isolation in the event that Israel extricates itself from the Palestinian peace process charade is nothing more than a bluff. The notion that Israel will be worse off it Netanyahu admits that Abbas has again chosen war against the Jews over peace with us has no credibility.

So what is preventing Netanyahu and his colleagues in the government from acknowledging this happy truth? Two factors are at play here. The first is our inability to understand power politics. Our leaders believe that the likes of Sarkozy, Cameron and Merkel are serious when they tell us that Israel needs to prove it is serious about peace in order to enable them to vote against a Palestinian statehood resolution at the UN. But they are not serious. Nothing that Israel does will have any impact on their votes.

When the Europeans forge their policies towards Israel they are moved by one thing only: the US.

Since 1967, the Europeans have consistently been more pro-Palestinian than the US. Now, with the Obama administration demonstrating unprecedented hostility towards Israel, there is no way that the Europeans will suddenly shift to Israel’s side. So when European leaders tell Israelis that we need to convince them we are serious about peace, they aren’t being serious. They are looking for an excuse to be even more hostile. If Israel offers the store to Abbas, then the likes of Cameron, Merkel and Sarkozy will not only recognize “Palestine” at the UN, (because after all, they cannot be expected to be more pro-Israel than the Israeli government that just surrendered), they will recognize Hamas. Because that’s the next step.

It would seem that Israel’s leaders should have gotten wise to this game years ago. And the fact that they haven’t can be blamed on the second factor keeping their sanity in check: the Israeli Left. The only group of Israelis directly impacted by the BDS movement is the Israeli Left. Its members—from university lecturers to anti-Zionist has-been politicians, artists, actors and hack writers—are the only members of Israeli society who have a personal stake in a decision by their leftist counterparts in the US or Europe or Australia or any other pretty vacation/sabbatical spots to boycott Israelis.

And because the movement threatens them, they have taken it upon themselves to scare the rest of us into taking this ridiculous charade seriously. So it was that last week a group of washed-up radicals gathered in Tel Aviv outside the hall where David Ben-Gurion proclaimed Israeli independence, and declared the independence of “Palestine.” They knew their followers in the media would make a big deal of their agitprop and use it as another means of demoralizing the public into believing we can do nothing but embrace our enemies’ cause against our country.

The time has come for the vast majority of Israelis who aren’t interested in the Nobel Prize for Literature or a sabbatical at Berkeley or the University of Trondheim to call a spade a spade. The BDS haters have no leverage. A degree from Bar-Ilan is more valuable than a degree from Oxford. And no matter how much these people hate Israel, they will continue to buy our technologies and contract our researchers, because Cambridge is no longer capable of producing the same quality of scholarship as the Technion.

And it is well past time for our leaders to stop playing this fool’s game. We don’t need anyone’s favors. Abbas has made his choice.

Now it is time for Netanyahu to choose.





Jpost.Com Staff & Reuters
Jerusalem Post, April 27, 2011


Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and its rival Hamas said on Wednesday they had resolved their deep divisions, opening the way for a unity government and national elections. The deal, which took many officials by surprise, was thrashed out in Egypt and followed a series of secret meetings.… The accord was first reported by Egypt’s intelligence service, which brokered the talks.…

Spokespeople for both Hamas and Fatah confirmed that “all differences” have been worked out between the long-feuding Palestinian political movements.…


Susan L. M. Goldberg
NewsRealBlog, April 28, 2011


It’s the Arab Spring and love is in the air. After a torrid on-and-off affair, rival terrorist political factions Hamas and Fatah are on again. According to mutual best-friend Egypt, things are red-hot.

On Wednesday, Hamas and Fatah engaged in forming an interim government while promising to decide on a date for general elections. According to Egyptian intelligence, “The consultations resulted in full understandings over all points of discussions,” including the color for the bridal party: blood red.

A traditional reception will follow the political nuptials, the highlight of which will be the “beginning anew of the Palestinian struggle,” hosted by Deputy Hamas politburo chief Abu Marzouk.

While details of the guest list have yet to be announced, Fatah Central Committee Member Azzam Ahmad declared that “non-partisan elements that will represent the Palestinian people” will be encouraged to attend. However, analysts speculate that one name will be notably absent from the list: Gilad Shalit, the Israeli Army soldier currently being held captive by Hamas for 1,767 days and counting.

Not surprisingly, the recently liberated Egyptian government played a strategic role in reuniting the former [allies]. Bored with their decades-old union with the Jewish state, the newer, fresher Egypt is seeking to re-brand its image; according to 54% of Egyptians, this means de-friending Israel.

Scoring mutual “Likes” in the process, the interim Egyptian military government and Hamas dictatorship used the opportunity to do a little bonding of their own; relationship-building that was initiated with the release of “scores” of Palestinian prisoners from Egyptian jails over the past few weeks. It is expected that Egypt will play best man to Hamas in the upcoming union. Planned pre-wedding activities include the re-opening of the Rafah border crossing between Sinai and the Gaza Strip, [as well as] a rumoured bachelor party promise: The establishment of Hamas’s “unofficial embassy” in Cairo.…

Speaking on behalf of Israel (the scorned woman in the scenario) Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a desperate plea for mediation, lest her already shaky union with Fatah truly comes to an end. “It’s either us, or Hamas; you can’t have us both!” the prime minister declared.…

[However], prospects for reconciliation between [Israel and Fatah] look dim. For example, Fatah has already declared a desire to dump the couple’s mediator: “An aide to Mr. Abbas stated recently he would sacrifice U.S. financial assistance if this was the price of unity.…” Israel, it would seem, is fooling herself if she thinks her mediator will step in to save the day.

According to…[journalist] Zvi Bar’el, “Even the United States will not be able to object to a united Palestinian government, in which Hamas is a partner. After all, it had agreed to accept and even support, economically and militarily, a Lebanese government in which Hezbollah was partner. Nor will the United States and Europe be able to object to general elections in the territories, or deny their results, when the West is demanding Arab leaders implement democratic reforms.” In short, “Israel could find itself isolated yet again if it objects to the reconciliation or the election.”

Could a Hamas-Fatah union reveal the true nature of [both movements] for the world to see? If so, would that make a difference to the 100 nations now on [their] side? Or will the international community continue to turn a blind eye to what has become the obvious truth in the melodrama: The violent, [newly-minted] partner[s] want [their] victim dead, for good.…

[O]nly one adage can offer any reassurance: “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned.”


Barry Rubin

Pajamas Media, April 27, 2011


Suddenly, after years of persistent failure, Fatah and Hamas—which means the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas—have signed a detailed reconciliation agreement. Why now?

It’s preparation for the [upcoming] UN [General Assembly, where the PA will undoubtedly] claim that it is sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinians. [This will greatly increase the probability that the UN will vote in September] to unilaterally create a Palestinian State.…

[And] why is Hamas going along with this? Because the deal gives it a lot, including the promise of elections in a year. Hamas won the last elections and presumably is confident—especially as it looks at electoral successes for Hezbollah in Lebanon and probably soon for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt—that it will win again.

But there’s also another reason. Hamas is probably quite happy with the idea that many countries—and perhaps the UN—will recognize an independent Palestinian state unconditionally. In other words, there will be a widely, or internationally, accepted Palestine without the need to make peace with Israel. No concessions need be made. The Palestinians will get everything and give up nothing. They will not be bound in any way by border changes or security guarantees. The struggle to wipe Israel off the map can continue.

It’s Hamas’s dream come true.

Anyone who thinks this helps the peace process is deluded. Hamas will never accept any peace agreement with Israel and will radicalize Fatah’s negotiating position out of competition between the two rivals to prove their militancy. The race to commit the most bloody terrorist acts w[ill] intensify.

Make no mistake. Whether or not this development has any direct effect on the ground, it’s another step toward the death of any real Israel-Palestinian peace process.

(Barry Rubin will be speaking at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s upcoming Gala, scheduled for June 15, 2011.)


Jackson Diehl
Washington Post, April 27, 2011


It’s not yet certain that a political deal announced Wednesday by the long-divided Palestinian Fatah and Hamas factions will stick—similar pacts have been proclaimed and then discarded several times in the last four years.

But one thing is sure: If Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas moves forward with the reconciliation with the Islamic Hamas movement, it will mean he has written off the Obama administration and the peace process it has tried to broker, once and for all.

Negotiations between Abbas and the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu have been dormant since last fall—as has the administration’s diplomacy (When was the last time George Mitchell was seen in public?) But lately the administration has seemed to be preparing for another push. At a conference in Washington this month Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton promised “a renewed pursuit of a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace by the administration” and said Obama would make a major speech on the subject. Obama himself told Jewish leaders at a White House meeting in March that he believed Abbas was ready to make peace with Israel. But now it seems the Palestinian leader was headed in another direction entirely.…

For Israel and the Obama administration, the reconciliation spells a disaster. According to reports Wednesday, it probably will mean the end of the West Bank administration headed by Salaam Fayyad, a technocrat highly respected by both Americans and Israelis. If so, Congress will almost certainly suspend $400 million in annual U.S. aid. It could mean the reorganization of Fatah’s U.S.-trained security forces, which have worked with Israel to keep the peace in the West Bank for the last several years, and their eventual integration with the cadres of the Iranian-backed Hamas.

The deal will also end any serious prospect of peace talks—since Hamas is most unlikely to accept longstanding Western demands that it accept Israel, renounce violence and abide by past Israeli-Palestinian agreements. In recent weeks Hamas’ fighters have returned to firing mortars and missiles from Gaza at Israeli cities—including one missile that was aimed at a yellow Israeli school bus.

Netanyahu has been working on a new peace initiative that he planned to unveil before the U.S. Congress next month, and that could have involved withdrawals of Israeli troops from parts of the West Bank. [However], the Palestinian [unity] deal will [undoubtedly force Netanyahu to] “slam on the brakes,” an Israeli official told me. “Any effort to move forward [on this front] would be completely stopped.”

Abbas apparently doesn’t mind. For some time he has been working on a different initiative: a plan to seek an endorsement of Palestinian statehood by the UN General Assembly at its meeting in September. The Obama administration has publicly opposed the idea, and Netanyahu has warned that Israel might respond with unilateral steps of its own.

But Abbas seems deeply disillusioned with Obama. He recently trashed the U.S. president in an interview with Newsweek, saying he had mismanaged the issue of Israeli settlements. And the Palestinian leader wrote Netanyahu off as soon as he took office two years ago.…

The Palestinian announcement took the Israelis by surprise; likely the Obama administration was also blindsided.… [Accordingly], the Obama administration will have to scramble to adjust to a radically new situation in yet another Middle Eastern land.


Daniel Greenfield
Daniel Greenfield Blog, April 26, 2011


The State of Israel spent the first 30 years of its modern existence reclaiming its territory, and the next 33 years negotiating the terms on which it would be returned to the neighboring countries which had made war on it, as well as an entirely new terrorist state created in the name of peace and maintained in the name of war.

Thirty-three years after the country’s first “hawkish” conservative PM allowed himself to be browbeaten by Jimmy Carter into turning over territory three times its own present size to an Egypt whose new leaders are now disavowing the accords—its current “hawkish” conservative PM is readying himself to offer a whole new raft of concessions in the hopes of preempting a unilateral solution by [U.S. president] Obama or [Palestinian Authority president] Abbas.

For all the furious New York Times articles, there is little to distinguish Israel’s hawks from its doves once they take up their residence in Beit Aghion on the corner of Lord Balfour’s street. Like their American counterparts, they rapidly trade in the rhetoric about an “Undivided Jerusalem” and “War on Terror” for the burden of realpolitik built on a copy of the Art of Appeasement.

The governing mandate of every Israeli PM since 1992 (and perhaps even earlier) has been to try and make a deal with the Palestinian Arabs work. The folly of this has been amply demonstrated time and time again, filling Israel’s cemeteries and hospitals, destroying its security and international standing, and dividing its people against themselves. And yet all these factors have only spurred on the perception that the deal must be somehow made to work. Somehow.

The doves have tried multilateral negotiations. The hawks tried unilateral concessions. The sum total of their efforts is the creation of two terrorist states, one recognized by the international community…and both at war with Israel inside its own borders.

The first state is run by the KGB trained funder of the Munich Massacre and backed by the international community. The second state is run by the local affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, and funded by the Muslim world. These two states, popularly known as the Palestinian Authority and Hamas run Gaza, differ only in their tactics, not their aims.…

Almost two decades of negotiations have led to nothing but eighteen years of terror. A state of affairs ignored by everyone except the people living on the firing line, their family sedans scarred by bullets, their kindergartens equipped with bomb shelters and their children equipped with emergency cell phones to check in after every attack.… Year after year, and leader after leader, the Israeli response has been to push forward in the hopes of finding light at the end of the tunnel. But the tunnel has only gotten darker and narrower. And it is growing obvious to even the dimmest observer that the tunnel of peace is really a dead end. Talk of a “breakthrough” keeps alive the hope that Israel can slim down enough to squeeze through a pinhole that simply doesn’t exist.

Israeli leaders are surrounded by technocrats and diplomats who favor retreating from territory, rather than from bad policies. So the land goes, the people die and the bad policies remain. Though Rabin had remained dubious about the…Oslo Accords, the inevitability of an agreement has been adopted by the entire [Israeli] political establishment. Even the “hawks” spend most of their time moving border lines on a map to find some acceptable formula for a Palestinian state. No one asks anymore whether there should be a Palestinian state. Only how big it should be. And how many Israelis should be evicted from their homes in the name of a lasting peace.

But few Israelis believe in a lasting peace anymore. Instead they expect that some form of negotiated separation will keep their sons at home and away from the firefights in Gaza and the West Bank. Never mind that such a separation is even more of an illusion. Barak’s unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon and Sharon’s unilateral pullout from Gaza put Hezbollah and Hamas into power and brought on the Second Lebanon War and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.…

Even fewer in Israel’s political establishment believe that terrorism will ever end. The obligatory Rabin festivals and video clips have taken on the air of a hippie festival, charmingly idealistic and completely unrealistic.… All it takes to make your own terrorist group is a dozen friends and a Dubai bank account. The Palestinian Authority and Hamas are umbrella groups supported by numberless militias, any of whom can form their own terrorist group at any time.…

Israeli leaders search for some magic formula that will either achieve a peace agreement or convince the world that the gangs of suit-decked Palestinian…terrorists are not serious about peace. This futile brand of alchemy, with the goal of turning hate into gold, is futilely perverse.…

The “1967 borders,” [for example], are as legally and demographically random as any other. The “Green Line” is nothing but a convenient talking point. [Even if] all the territory back to the 1967 borders [were transferred to] terrorist hands, their attention would [simply] turn to the territory beyond it. 1967 would give way to 1948. New terrorist attacks would be carried out in the name of claiming even more land for the “refugees”.… And the international community would demand new concessions. And eventually a One State Solution.…

The Israeli flag is the symbol of the House of David, a lad who built a nation by standing up to Goliath. To be worthy of the flag, is to be worthy of the act. Israel survived [the first thirty years of its existence] by standing up to the armies of Islam. Not willingly, but reluctantly, [and only after] all other options had been exhausted. Now, [ however], it faces a political war in which all the diplomatic options will never be exhausted, until its enemies overreach themselves with a full invasion.

And by then, Israel may no longer be capable of defending itself.




Please help us support ISRAEL & our students!

CIJR is a non-profit foundation entirely dependent
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Tax-Deductible Donations Support CIJR’s Key Work:

* Internationally-read email ISRANET Daily Briefing;renowned ISRAFAXquarterly; weekly French-language Communiqué Isranet; and monthly ISRAZINEwebzine

* Vital work with students, including the Student Israel-Advocacy Program(SIAP), the Baruch Cohen Research Internships, and Dateline: Middle East student magazine

* Indispensable online Israel & Middle East DataBank(

* Outstanding issues-related Seminars and Colloquia

To make a contribution, please phone us at (514) 486 5544
or email to

Thank you! Happy Passover.



Media-ocrity of the Week

For those who don’t know the word, treif is Yiddish for ‘not kosher,’ and these nostrils have been detecting a whiff of something distinctly un-kosher at the New York Times lately. For the past several weeks at least, the Gray Lady has run an inordinate number of feature and general interest articles…about the Jewish community.… As noted by studies done by such organizations as CAMERA and HonestReporting…[the Times] has long been heavily biased against Israel.… So, what are we to make of this recent spate of Jew-centered copy, this kissing up to the Jewish community?… The answer, my friends, lies, I suspect, in circulation numbers. I have heard and read of too many Jews cancelling the Times due to its anti-Israel biases.… Could it be that the sudden solicitousness is an attempt to woo back Jewish readers? If wooing back Jews is their goal, it isn’t working.…”—Excerpts from an American Thinker article, entitled Smelling ‘Treif’ at the New York Times, suggesting that the recent reversal of the Times’ anti-Israel bias is the result of a markedly declining Jewish readership. (American Thinker, April 26.)  



Weekly Quotes

In 1938, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany met in Munich to decide the fate of Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was not invited. The three conferees agreed to strip the targeted nation of the Sudetenland…and transfer that territory to German control. This deprived the victim state not simply of land but of those areas—mountainous, fortifiable—necessary for Czechoslovakia to defend itself. Today, the same three nations are doing the same vis-a-vis Israel. They are discarding UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed unanimously in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and since then the cornerstone for all Middle East negotiations. They are ignoring the language of the resolution and the explicit declarations of its authors that Israel should not be forced to return to the pre-1967 armistice lines; that those lines left defense of the country too precarious and should be replaced by ‘secure and recognized boundaries.…’ In the wake of the 1938 Munich agreement, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared, of course, that the parties had achieved ‘peace in our time.’ But Britain and France also offered solemn promises that, should Germany unexpectedly violate the agreement and move against what remained of Czechoslovakia, they would come to the rump nation’s defense. Less than six months after Munich, Hitler conquered the rest of Czechoslovakia. Britain and France did nothing.”—Excerpts from Kenneth Levin’s article, entitled The Munich Three Find Their Target: Israel, describing the parallels between Britain, France, and Germany’s unilateral decision in 1938 to strip Czechoslovakia of its Sudetenland and transfer it to German control, and the three countries’ present consideration to force Israel to withdraw to the “1967 borders” as part of a future peace agreement with the Palestinians. (FrontPage Blog, April 27.)


We’ll have to take care of our interests. We’ll have to take protect ourselves. If such a thing happens, I’m going to suggest to my government to extend out sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and over the highly-populated blocs we have in Judea and Samaria, just to start with.”—Israel’s Minister of National Infrastructure, Dr. Uzi Landau, warning that in the event of a unilateral United Nations declaration of a Palestinian state, he will call upon the Israeli government to annex the Jordan Valley and large, Jewish population blocs in the West Bank. Ideas about annexing parts of the West Bank have been gaining traction in the Knesset in recent weeks as the Palestinian Authority continues threatening to declare a state unilaterally in September.Discussing the possibility of annexing Israeli settlements Likud MK Danny Danon affirmed that “A Palestinian declaration of statehood would officially bury the Oslo Accords, which state that final borders will be decided via negotiations and that unilateral actions constitute violation of the accords. The Palestinians declaring a state would free us of all the diplomatic, security, and economic commitments we made in the Oslo Accords.”(Jerusalem Post, April 26.)


Washington’s stance on political change in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries has done little to alter overall views of the U.S. Nearly eight-in-ten Egyptians have an unfavorable opinion of the U.S.… Most continue to express negative views about President Obama, with more than six-in-ten saying they do not have confidence in him to do the right thing with regard to world affairs.… Egyptian views on relations with Israel are starker: A majority says the 1979 peace treaty that made Egypt the first Arab country to officially recognize Israel should be annulled.”—Excerpts from a Pew Research Center poll, entitled U.S. Wins No Friends, End of Treaty With Israel Sought, describing Egyptians’ unfavorable views towards (Pew Research Center, April 25.)


It is worth seeing at least a few seconds [of the video] to get a flavor of what is going on in Syria. What makes it truly wrenching is that the people are shouting ‘Salmiyeh,’ which…is Arabic for ‘peaceful.…’ But of course Bashar Assad’s goons don’t care about that. Imagine the kind of monsters who open fire on peaceful demonstrators. Given that the U.S. launched a military intervention in Libya to prevent such slaughter from occurring in Benghazi, what, I wonder, will we do about these atrocities in Syria where more than a hundred people have been killed this weekend alone? No one is advocating military intervention, but why aren’t we leading an international push to sanction the Assad regime, to freeze its assets, and to bring war crimes charges against its leaders? Why, at the very least, aren’t we recalling our ambassador from Damascus? How can President Obama champion the rights of Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans—and turn his back on the people of Syria who are in open revolt against one of the region’s most anti-American dictators? Perhaps if the president watches this video clip, he will be spurred into action.”—Excerpts from Max Boot’s Contentions article, describing a YouTube video which shows peaceful Syrian demonstrators being shot down by security forces loyal to president Bashar Asaad, and criticizing the Obama administration’s hypocritical Syria policy.


There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. If you go to the supermarket, there are products. There are restaurants and a nice beach.”—Mathilde Redmatn, deputy director of the Red Cross in the Gaza Strip, contrasting her present work in Gaza, in which there is no humanitarian crisis, with her previous experiences in impoverished Congo and Columbia. Discussing the Red Cross’ ongoing failure to obtain visitation rights to captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, Redmatn affirmed that “When a person’s freedom is taken away, he deserves at least contact with his family. We will continue to ask but we do not have the capability to force anything on Hamas.… Hamas is afraid of the IDF’s advanced technological capabilities and believes that allowing contact will lead to the location of Gilad.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 20.)


Egypt will never allow that the relations between Tehran and Cairo and also its internal affairs come under the influence or pressure of a foreign side. Egypt will open a new chapter in its relations with all the world countries, including Iran, based on mutual interests and will never be restricted to the limitations imposed by the former regime.”—Egyptian Government Spokesman Ahmed Al Saman, confirming that Egypt is planning to resume relations with Iran, and stressing that no external sources can pressure Cairo into changing the decision. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 25.)


Instead of marching as a contingent in the parade this year, QuAIA will focus its Pride Week activities on hosting a community event to raise awareness of Israeli apartheid.”—Excerpt from a statement released by the Toronto chapter of Queers Against Israeli Apartheid (QuAIA.), confirming the anti-Israel group’s decision not to partake in this year’s Toronto Gay Pride Parade, yet reinforcing its commitment to “pressure the Israeli government to comply with international law through the campaign for boycotts, divestments and sanctions.” The statement comes after Toronto Mayor Rob Ford announced that his administration would slash more than $100,000 in city funds for Toronto Gay Pride Week events if the QuAIA was involved. “Taxpayers dollars should not go toward funding hate speech,” Ford said. “If they don’t march in the parade, they get their money. If they do march, they won’t get their money. That’s what [city] council [has] agreed to.” (Jerusalem Post, April 26.)


In Libya, the problem is accentuated by the fact that it’s anybody’s guess who will be running the country after Colonel Qaddafi is gone. Thus the huge resistance in the Pentagon to giving any kind of lethal weaponry to the rebels, at least until someone can figure out who they are.… So far, the United States is providing uniforms and canteens to the rebels, [U.S. Secretary of Defense] Mr. Gates said last week, adding with a knowing smile, ‘I’m not worried about our canteen technology falling into the wrong hands.’”—Excerpts from David E. Sanger’s NY Times editorial, entitled Letting Others Lead in Libya, attributing U.S. president Barack Obama’s “lack of commitment” to the war in Libya to the administration’s unfamiliarity with Libyan rebel forces, and its failure to outline a strategic goal prior to “half-heartedly” entering the conflict.” (NY Times, April 23.)


The continued existence of Lebanese…militias undermines the rights of every Lebanese citizen to live without fear of physical harm and the consolidation of Lebanon as a democratic state and the stability of the country and the region. It is also incompatible with the objective of strengthening Lebanon’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, unity and political independence.”—UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in his annual report on Lebanon, denouncing Hezbollah’s ongoing refusal to denounce terrorism itself, and reinforcing the need to implement Security Council Resolution 1559, which calls for “the disbanding and disarming” of all non-state factions in Lebanon. Hezbollah has repeatedly refused to turn over its arms, claiming they are used for “defensive purposes against Israel.” (Jerusalem Post, April 22.)

Short Takes

FATAH AND HAMAS REACH DEAL TO END SCHISM—(Jerusalem) According to Egyptian and Palestinian officials, Fatah and Hamas have reached understandings to end the years-long internal Palestinian division. The official Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that delegations led by Azzam al-Ahmed of Fatah and Moussa Abu Marzouk of Hamas agreed in Cairo on issues including the formation of a temporary unity government, and the holding of Palestinian elections. Relations between Fatah and Hamas ruptured in 2007 when Hamas seized full control of Gaza. (NY Times, April 27.)


PLO DENOUNCES US CONGRESS BILL ON GOLDSTONE REPORT—(Ramallah) The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has denounced the unanimous passing of a U.S. Congress bill, which calls on the United Nations to cancel the Goldstone Report. The bill was introduced days after Judge Richard Goldstone admitted that Israel had not deliberately targeted civilians during Operation Cast Lead. The Congressional bill also calls on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to make changes to the current structure of the Human Rights Council, to neutralize the body’s blatant anti-Israel bias. The PLO is arguing that the bill legitimizes the killing of Palestinian civilians. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 19.)


HUNDREDS RALLY OUTSIDE ISRAELI CONSULATE IN ALEXANDRIA—(Jerusalem) Hundreds of Egyptians have staged a rally in front of the Israeli consulate in Alexandria, demanding that the Israeli ambassador be expelled. According to Arab newspapers, the “democracy-seeking” protestors burned Israeli flags, and handed out fliers calling for third intifada to be held on May 15. Demonstrators also held signs reading “Gaza, my only love”, and  “Millions of martyrs are marching to Jerusalem”. According to Revolution Youth Coalition member Muhammad Wafani, the “activists” came together to denounce the “racist” removal of a Facebook page supporting the Palestinian intifada. (Ynet News, April 15.)


EGYPTIAN PANEL LIFTS DEATH TOLL IN PROTESTS—(Cairo) According to an Egyptian fact-finding committee, 846 Egyptians were killed during the 18 days of protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in February. In its report, the committee of judges, legal experts and human-rights activists leveled ultimate responsibility for the killings on Mr. Mubarak and his deputies in Egypt’s Ministry of Interior. The committee serves only in an advisory capacity and does not have legal authority to make arrests. (Wall Street Journal, April 20.)


IRAN DISCOVERS 2ND CYBER ATTACK—(Tehran) According to Iran’s commander of civil defense, the country has been targeted by a second computer virus. Gholamreza Jalali told the semi-official Mehr news agency that the new virus, called “Stars”, was being investigated by experts, but did not specify the target of Stars or its intended impact. Last year, Iran revealed that its computers becameinfected by the Stuxnet worm, which is widely believed to have slowed its nuclear progress. Jalali is urging Tehran to take action against the enemies waging cyber war on Iran. (Reuters, April 25.)


US: ASSAD NO LONGER POTENTIAL PEACE PARTNER FOR ISRAEL—(Washington) After two years of pushing Israel to reach an agreement with Syria, a top U.S. State Department official has confirmed that the Obama administration no longer considers Syrian President Bashar Assad as a potential peace partner. Jacob Sullivan, director of policy planning at the State Department, also indicated that the U.S. is considering imposing sanctions on Syrian leaders to halt the government’s bloody crackdown on protestors, which has reportedly killed more than four hundred people. Despite ongoing attacks on civilians by government forces, Sullivan said that the U.S. would not withdraw its newly installed Ambassador to Syria, and stressed the importance of continuing to “engage” with Syria. (Jerusalem Post, April 27.)


HEZBOLLAH TERROR ATTACK ON ISRAELIS ABROAD ‘IS IMMINENT’—(Jerusalem) According to Israeli security sources, Hezbollah is planning a terrorist attack against Israelis abroad within days, to avenge the 2008 assassination of its field commander, Imad Mughniyeh. Hezbollah has repeatedly vowed revenge since Mughniyeh was killed, and has reportedly attempted to carry out attacks in Azerbaijan, Thailand, Sinai and Turkey. In February, the Israeli Counter-Terrorism Bureau warned against traveling to these locations, in addition to Georgia, Armenia, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania and Venezuela. The latest warning of an imminent attack did not include mention of potential locations. (Jerusalem Post, April 21.)


IRAQ TROOP TALKS FALTER—(Washington) According to reports, senior U.S. and Iraqi military officials are negotiating the possibility of keeping some 10,000 American troops in Iraq beyond the scheduled withdrawal of all U.S. forces at year’s end. Top U.S. military officials believe that leaving a sizeable force in Iraq could bolster stability in the country, and U.S. allies Saudi Arabia and Israel have voiced the concern that a total U.S. pull out could allow Iran to extend its regional influence. The troop discussions have faltered in recent weeks due to Iraqi worries that a continued U.S. military presence could fuel sectarian tension and lead to protests similar to those sweeping other Arab countries. (Wall Street Journal, April 22.)


U.S. SENDS DRONES TO LIBYA, BATTLE RAGES FOR MISRATA—(Misrata) The United States has started using armed drones against Muammar Gaddafi’s troops in Libya, amidst an intensifying battle for the city Misrata, the rebels’ last major bastion in the West of the country. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed that Gaddafi’s forces were carrying out “vicious attacks” on Misrata and might have used cluster bombs against civilians; hundreds are believed to have died during the city’s siege. Rebel fighters, who have voiced frustration with an international military operation they view as too cautious, welcomed the deployment of U.S. unmanned aircraft. The U.S. plans to maintain two patrols of armed Predators above Libya at any given time. (Reuters, April 21.)


DONOR STATES TO PA CONDEMN PROVOCATIVE FLOTILLAS TO GAZA—(Jerusalem) The donor states to the Palestinian Authority have condemned all attempts to send uncoordinated aid flotillas to Gaza, and has called on the international community to use land terminals to the Strip to avoid provoking Israel. The statement comes amidst increasing concern in Israel regarding plans to send another large flotilla to Gaza in late May, to mark one year since the IDF raided the Turkish Mavi Marmara, which resulted in the death of nine people. The conference statement also praised Israel for easing the process of allowing goods into Gaza. (Haaretz, April 17.)


CORFU JEWS MOURN LOSS OF TORAH SCROLLS IN WAKE OF ATTACK—(Jerusalem) Arsonists have broken into Corfu’s lone synagogue, and set fire to prayer books and Torah scrolls, some of which were hundreds of years old. “It’s very difficult for us,” said Rabbi Shlomo Naftali, an Israeli rabbi who was flown to Greece to conduct Passover ceremonies. “We stood around the books and cried.” Most members of the Jewish community of Corfu, whose history dates back to antiquity, were murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Today, there are fewer than 100 Jews left on the Greek island. (Jerusalem Post, April 20.)


EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT TO REQUIRE KOSHER MEAT LABELING—(New York) A European Parliament committee has approved a bill that would require meat that was not stunned before slaughter to be labeled as such. The amendment to the new European Union food labeling bill passed by a vote of 34 to 28. Animals being slaughtered for kosher consumption cannot be pre-stunned, which goes against the laws of shechita, or kosher slaughter. The organization Shechita UK claims that the price of kosher meat could skyrocket because the non-kosher market, which purchases 70 percent of kosher meat, might stop buying it because of the labeling. The food information bill will come before the entire European Parliament for a second reading and vote in July.  (JTA, April 24.)


WOMAN MAKES ALIYA AT AGE 100—(Jerusalem) At the sprightly age of 100, Judith Brodkin is the oldest person ever to immigrate to Israel. Brodkin turned 100 last September, a full five years beyond the next oldest immigrant, 95-year-old Zelda Weiner, who made aliya last July. Asked whether she was proud to be an Israeli citizen after all these years, she remarked “Absolutely. I did it because I wanted to do it. That’s it.” (Jerusalem Post, April 21.)





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Barak Ravid
Haaretz, April 12, 2011


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing a withdrawal of Israel Defense Forces troops from the West Bank…to block the “diplomatic tsunami” that may follow international recognition of a Palestinian state within the “1967 borders” at the United Nations General Assembly in September.…

Conversations with two Israeli sources with ties to Netanyahu’s bureau led to the conclusion that [a] withdrawal in the West Bank…would see the IDF forces redeploy and security responsibility handed over to the Palestinian Authority. This would mean that in Area B—[as defined in the Oslo Accords]—where Israel has security responsibility and the Palestinians civilian policing functions, full control would be ceded to the PA. In addition, some parts of Area C, where Israel has complete control, will become Area B.…

Netanyahu is still uncertain to what extent the withdrawal would be.…


Michael Omer-Man
Jerusalem Post, April 22, 2011


On April 23, 1982, just over three years after then-Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian president Anwar Sadat signed a peace treaty between their two countries, Israel painfully evacuated the last of its settlements in the Sinai Peninsula—Yamit.

As stipulated in the 1979 peace treaty, Israel was required—within three years—to withdraw all of its 2,500 civilians and thousands of military personnel from the Sinai, which it had captured in the 1967 Six Day War. With three years notice as well as economic and relocation compensation packages provided by the government, most of the Israeli residents of Sinai had long departed before the April 1982 deadline approached.…

Ideologically opposed to the withdrawal, however, dozens of religious and some secular Israelis descended on the remaining settlements in the Sinai, intent on using their bodies to oppose the evacuation. Bypassing army checkpoints erected to prevent objectors from reaching the soon-to-be-demolished Sinai settlements, dozens of religious Zionist youths sailed south past the Gaza Strip and entered the coastal settlement of Yamit.

Some of the youths…barricaded themselves in the basement of a building in Yamit with explosives, threatening to blow themselves up in an act of collective suicide rather than allow the army to forcefully evacuate them.… [B]oth chief rabbis of Israel at the time, including Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, traveled to Yamit and attempted to talk down the suicidal yeshiva students through a ventilation pipe. [Eventually], they agreed to disassemble their explosives, though they remained holed up in their underground bunker refusing to be evacuated.

Another…group of objectors who made their way down to Yamit in order to physically protest its evacuation—secular students intent on showing that the struggle was not only a religious one—was led by Tzahi Hanegbi, son of legendary Lehi fighter and MK Geula Cohen.… Revisiting those times in an interview with The Jerusalem Post over 20 years later, Hanegbi described how he and members of his group of students chained themselves to the top of a 28-meter monument but decided not to physically struggle against the soldiers sent to evacuate them. “We just stood there, sang Hatikva, chained ourselves and were taken down [via a ladder],” he recalled.

The traumatic scenes most widely remembered by the Israeli public, however, were not those described by Hanegbi. Disturbing images of club wielding holdouts on rooftops, attempting to keep the inevitable siege of IDF soldiers at bay, were etched into the national collective memory. Similarly, pictures of soldiers dragging children from their homes momentarily shattered the purity of the inseparable relationship between the IDF and Israel’s citizens. Twenty-three years later, nearly identical images would have a similar effect when the army was charged with evacuating Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip.

In a twist of fate, the general charged with carrying out the final evacuation of Yamit was none other the man who decades later would order the largest-ever evacuation of Jewish settlers, then-defense minister Ariel Sharon.

On the morning of the evacuation, hundreds of IDF troops were sent to [Yamit]. While groups such as those led by Hanegbi put up symbolic resistance to the evacuation orders, others put a more determined and physical fight. No serious injuries took place either among the holdouts or the soldiers sent to remove them, but the scene nonetheless turned ugly.

Just one day later, acting on orders from Sharon and Begin, the IDF blasted Yamit into a massive pile of rubble. The logic behind the dramatic demolition was to prevent a large Egyptian population center from sprouting on the newly delineated border. Although the peace treaty was expected to hold…there was a fear of encroachment.

The evacuation of Yamit represented two major events in the Israeli collective memory. In a historical context, it was the last action taken before Israel’s first peace treaty with an Arab state formally came into effect.… On an emotional level…the day was remembered as the first time an Israeli government uprooted its own citizens from towns it had asked and encouraged them to populate, an experience that would be traumatically repeated 23 years later.


Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, February 14, 2011


One of the first casualties of the Egyptian revolution may very well be Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel. The Egyptian public’s overwhelming animus towards Jews renders it politically impossible for any Egyptian leader to come out in support of the treaty. Over the weekend, the junta now ruling Egypt refused to explicitly commit itself to maintaining the treaty.…

Ayman Nour, the head of the oppositionist Ghad Party and the man heralded as the liberal democratic alternative to Mubarak by Washington neo-conservatives has called for the peace treaty to be abrogated. In an interview with an Egyptian radio station he said, “The Camp David Accords are finished. Egypt has to at least conduct negotiations over conditions of the agreement.”

The Muslim Brotherhood has been outspoken in its call to end the treaty since it was signed 32 years ago.

Whatever ends up happening, it is clear that Israel is entering a new era in its relations with Egypt. And before we can begin contending with its challenges, we must first consider the legacy of the peace treaty that then prime minister Menachem Begin signed with then Egyptian president Anwar Sadat on March 26, 1979.…

The peace treaty contains an entire annex devoted to specific commitments to cultivate every sort of cultural, social and economic tie imaginable. But both Sadat and his successor Mubarak breached every one of them. As the intervening 32 years since the treaty was signed have shown, in essence, the deal was nothing more than a ceasefire. Israel surrendered the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt and in exchange, Egypt has not staged a military attack against Israel from its territory.

The peace treaty’s critics maintain that the price Israel paid was too high and so the treaty was unjustified. They also argue that Israel set a horrible precedent for future negotiations with its neighbors by ceding the entire Sinai in exchange for the treaty. Moreover, the Palestinian autonomy agreement in the treaty was a terrible deal. And it set the framework for the disastrous Oslo peace process with the Palestinian Authority 15 years later.…

Since Israel withdrew from the Sinai in 1981, it has been the state’s consistent policy to ignore Egypt’s bad faith. This 30- year refusal of Israel’s leadership to contend with the true nature of the deal this country achieved with Egypt has had a debilitating impact both on Israel’s internal strategic discourse as well as on its international behavior.

As the US-backed demonstrators in Tahrir Square gained momentum, and the prospect that Mubarak’s regime would indeed be overthrown became increasingly likely, IDF sources began noting that the IDF and the Mossad will need to build intelligence gathering capabilities towards Egypt after 30 years of neglect. These statements make clear the debilitating impact of Israel’s self-induced strategic blindness to our neighbor in the south.…

On the international stage, our leadership’s refusal to acknowledge that Egypt had not abandoned its belligerent attitude against Israel was translated into an abject refusal to admit or deal with the fact that Egypt leads the international political war against Israel. Rather than fight back when Egyptian diplomats at the UN initiate anti-Israel resolution after anti-Israel resolution, Israeli diplomats have pretended that there is no reason for concern.…

Israel failed to consider the implications of signing a deal with a military dictator on the prospects for the deal’s longevity. In an interview with Der Spiegel last week, the Muslim Brotherhood’s puppet Mohamed ElBaradei explained those implications. As he put it, Israel has “a peace treaty with Mubarak, but not one with the Egyptian people.…”


Asaf Romirowsky & Avi Jorisch
National Interest, April 21, 2011


Hezbollah and Israel are once again facing the void, and both parties appear to be preparing for another confrontation. According to press reports, since its 2006 hostilities with Israel, Hezbollah has amassed more than forty thousand weapons, spread out over one thousand facilities across southern Lebanon. Once again, these strongholds are reportedly situated in civilian areas.… Policymakers and analysts alike in Washington, Paris, London, Beirut, and Jerusalem are beginning to brace themselves for the spark that will light up the eastern Mediterranean.

Israel pulled out of Lebanon in May 2000…not as a result of a peace agreement, cease-fire, or informal understanding on the status of forces on the border, but as a unilateral move. Hezbollah and its supporters interpreted the withdrawal as a milestone in the organization’s development as a military and political force in Lebanon, and as a resounding victory in its struggle against the “Zionist entity.” The withdrawal was depicted as a great defeat for Israel, a sentiment shared by many Israelis. As Hezbollah often claims…this was the “first Arab victory in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The summer of 2006 paid off for Hezbollah—and other sub-state actors across the region. Palestinians have adopted Hezbollah’s military tactics [believing they can get Israel to withdraw from the West Bank, as it did from Gaza], including the use of short-range missiles and hit-and-run operations designed to draw the IDF into combat in populated areas. This has gradually forced the IDF…to change their way of dealing with terrorist organizations.…

Hezbollah still maintains (though in muted tones) that it wishes to implement a mullatocracy modeled on the Islamic Republic of Iran.… For its part, Hamas has established the Islamist Republic of Gaza and runs it based on its founding charter, which calls for “the reinstitution of the Muslim state.… Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur’an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the ca[u]se of Allah its most sublime belief.” [Hezbollah leader Hassan] Nasrallah has repeatedly used his group’s willingness to die as a strategic bulwark: “The Jews love life, so that is what we shall take away from them. We are going to win, because they love life and we love death.…”

Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Gaza have effectively become the front lines of…the Arab-Israeli conflict.… We should be prepared for the battle to continue as both Hezbollah and Israel gear up for more hostilities.


Neil Snyder
American Thinker, April 15, 2011


On Thursday, April 7, an anti-tank missile fired from the Gaza Strip by a Hamas terrorist slammed into an Israeli school bus loaded with children and exploded. [One teenager] was killed, [and] the message was clear: Israeli citizens, even little children, aren’t safe anywhere. Immediately following the attack, a barrage of mortar fire from Gaza hit near Israeli towns in the Negev. Israel responded with helicopter gunships, and in short order Hamas announced that a ceasefire would go into effect.… Two days later, Hamas resumed firing rockets and mortar shells at Israel. That’s a ceasefire Hamas-style.

If you follow events in Israel closely, you recognize the routine. First Hamas engages in indiscriminate attacks on innocent Israeli civilians. Next Israel responds. Then Hamas announces a unilateral ceasefire. Soon thereafter, the attacks resume, and Israel responds. Eventually, a full-scale war breaks out. It’s as predictable as clockwork. That’s how the Gaza War of 2008-2009 began, and that’s how the next Gaza war will start—only the next Gaza war will be markedly different.

Since the end of the last Gaza War, we’ve witnessed a flurry of activity to rearm Hamas and Hezbollah. For example, in November 2009, Israel seized a ship carrying Iranian arms bound for Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border. According to Israel’s deputy naval commander, Rani Ben Yehuda, the cargo included “dozens of containers with hundreds of tons of arms.” Later reports revealed that the shipment contained more than 500 tons of weapons.

Just last week, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad admitted that he has allowed Iranian weapons to flow through Syria to Hezbollah, and Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has made it clear repeatedly that Hezbollah will cooperate with Hamas if another Gaza war breaks out. Those weapons are needed for an attack on Israel.…

In February 2011, the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to emerge from the shadows and engage openly in political activity for the first time in 57 years. Following Mubarak’s resignation, Muhammad Ghannem, a leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, told the Iranian news network Al-Alam that the Egyptian people need to prepare for war with Israel. Supplying weapons to Hamas is a step in that direction. Mubarak worked with Israel to prevent weapons from flowing into Gaza though the Sinai Peninsula, but the Brotherhood’s lust for Israeli blood raises serious doubts about that arrangement as we look to the future. Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries to have made peace with Israel.… As the Muslim Brotherhood gains political strength in Egypt, you can bet that it will change.

In March 2011, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reached an agreement with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to build an Iranian naval base in Latakia, Syria’s largest port, from which Iran can operate freely in the Mediterranean Sea. Within days of the announcement, Israel intercepted a Gaza-bound ship leaving Latakia carrying Iranian weapons to Gaza. Syria is on Israel’s northeast border, and the two countries have been sparring over the Golan Heights since the end of the 1967 Six Day War. Under the dictatorial regimes of Hafez al-Assad and his son Bashar, Syria has served as field headquarters for Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and a host of other Islamist terrorist organizations brazenly committed to Israel’s annihilation. Will they take part in the next Gaza war? With Assad’s power diminishing and Islamist groups in Syria increasing their strength, the answer is probably “yes”—if not directly as combatants, then as guerrilla fighters.…

Iran’s attempts to change the balance of power in the Middle East and North Africa by picking off one country after another is evident in Iraq, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and Saudi Arabia as well. President Obama’s missteps in response to Iran’s gains caused Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to reexamine the United States’ role in the region. Rather than deferring to the U.S., Abdullah sent Saudi troops into Bahrain to help quell violence there, and, according to Martin Indyk, former special assistant to President Bill Clinton and former U.S. ambassador to Israel, the King “views President Obama as a threat to his internal security.” Moderate Arab leaders feel the same way. They have every reason to believe that President Obama will not come to their aid if they need help, but Iran stands ready to assist Islamist elements throughout the region.

We’re witnessing the fruition of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s plan to destroy Israel. His first step was to announce his intention to the world. Some mocked him, but he meant business. Next, he worked to undermine political regimes in every country in the region and to strengthen Islamist elements beholden to him. All the while, he has worked feverishly to develop Iran’s nuclear capability. Today, Israel is surrounded: Hamas in Gaza on the west, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt on the south and southwest, Hezbollah in Lebanon on the north, a host of emerging Islamist terrorist organizations in Syria on the northeast, and on the east, a weakened monarch in Jordan attempting to restrain radical Islamists. With Ahmadinejad’s unswerving support, the only step remaining is a coordinated attack on Israel.

Given its proximity to the Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Israel’s most populous region, Gaza is the logical place for the war to begin. From southern Lebanon, Hezbollah has promised to join the fight, probably with an attack on Haifa, Israel’s third-largest metropolitan area. Syria, Egypt, and Jordan may join the fight as well, and Israel could end up fighting a war for survival on all sides, much like the Six Day War. But things have changed markedly since 1967. The U.S. is weaker in the Middle East than it has been in decades, and Islamist groups are stronger than they have ever been. There should be no doubt that the next Gaza war won’t resemble the 2008-2009 war, and it could start at any time.

(Neil Snyder taught leadership and strategy at the University of Virginia for 25 years.)


Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, March 18, 2011


Over the past several years, a growing number of patriotic Israelis have begun to despair. We can’t stand up to the whole world, they say. At the end of the day, we will have to give in and surrender most of the land or all of the land we took control over in the 1967 Six Day War. The world won’t accept anything less.… [However], the notion that Israel has no choice but to surrender Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem to the Palestinians is wrong and dangerous.…

The first problem with this view is that it confuses the focus of Palestinian and international attacks on Israel with the rationale behind those attacks. This is a mistake Israelis have made repeatedly since the establishment of the Fatah-led PA in 1994.

Immediately after the PA was set up and IDF forces transferred security control over Palestinian cities and towns in Judea and Samaria to Yasser Arafat’s armies, Palestinian terrorists began attacking Israeli motorists driving through PA-controlled areas with rocks, pipe bombs and bullets.

Then-prime minister and defense minister Yitzhak Rabin blamed the attacks on “friction.” If the Palestinians didn’t have contact with Israeli motorists, then they wouldn’t attack them. So Israel built the bypass roads around the Palestinian towns and cities to prevent friction.

For its efforts, the Palestinians and the international community accused Israel of building “Jews-only, apartheid roads.” Moreover, Palestinian terrorists left their towns and cities and stoned, bombed and shot at Israeli motorists on the bypass roads.

Then there was Gaza. When in 2001 Palestinians first began shelling the Israeli communities in Gaza and the Western Negev with mortars and rockets, we were told they were attacking because of Israel’s presence in Gaza. When the IDF took action to defend the country from mortar and rocket attacks, Israel was accused of committing war crimes.

[Many] said then that if Israel left Gaza, the Palestinian attacks would stop. They said that if they didn’t stop and the IDF was forced to take action, the world would support Israel.… After Israel expelled every last so-called settler and removed every last soldier from Gaza in August 2005, Palestinian rocket attacks increased tenfold. The first Katyusha was fired at Ashkelon seven months after Israel withdrew. Hamas won the elections and Gaza became an Iranian proxy. Now it has missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv.

As for the international community, not only did it continue blaming Israel for Palestinian terrorism, it refused to accept that Israel had ended its so-called occupation of Gaza. It has condemned every step Israel has taken to defend itself from Palestinian aggression since the withdrawal.…

The lesson of these experiences is that Israeli towns and villages in Judea and Samaria are not castigated as “illegitimate” because there is anything inherently illegitimate about them. Like the bypass roads and the Israeli presence in Gaza, they are singled out because those interested in attacking Israel militarily or politically [consider them] an easy target.

The Arabs, the UN, the Obama administration, the EU, anti-Israel American and Israeli Jews, university professors and the legions of self-proclaimed human rights organizations in Israel and throughout the world allege these Israeli communities are illegitimate because by doing so they weaken Israel as a whole. [And even if] Israel…bow[ed] to these people’s demands, they will not be appeased. They will simply move on to the next easy target. Israeli Jewish communities in the Galilee and the Negev, Jaffa and Lod will be deemed illegitimate.…

So what can Israel do?

The first thing we must do is recognize that legitimacy is indivisible. In the eyes of Israel’s enemies there is no difference between Itamar and Ma’aleh Adumim on the one hand and Ramle and Tel Aviv on the other hand. And so we must make no distinction between them. Just as law abiding citizens are permitted to build homes in Ramle and Tel Aviv, so they must be permitted to build in Itamar and Ma’aleh Adumim. If Israel’s assertion of its sovereignty is legitimate in Tel Aviv, then it is legitimate in Judea and Samaria. We cannot accept that one has a different status from the other.…

Once we understand that Israel’s legitimacy is indivisible, we need to take actions that will put the Palestinians and their international supporters on the defensive.… It is hard to stand up to the massive pressure being brought to bear against Israel every day. But it is possible. And whether defying our foes is hard or easy, it is our only chance at survival. Either all of Israel is legitimate, or none of it is.





Weekly Quotes

As expected, the conference held today in Brussels for donors to the Palestinian Authority, endorsed the idea that the PA ‘is above the threshold of a functioning state.’ This statement echoed the opinion rendered by the International Monetary Fund…and the United Nations.… According to Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad, this all amounts to a ‘birth certificate’ for a Palestinian state.… The assertion that the PA could actually run a ‘functioning state’ ignores a fundamental truth about Fayyad’s regime. It is not merely dependent on massive foreign aid. It also could not function or survive without the protection afforded by Israel’s military presence in the West Bank, the very thing that Fayyad claims he wishes to eliminate.… An Israeli withdrawal would mean that the terror groups who constitute the real power in Palestinian society might obtain the ability to transform this territory into another terrorist launching pad like Gaza.…”—Excerpts from Jonathan S. Tobin’s article, Palestinians Get Donor “Birth Certificate”, denouncing the erroneous notion that Palestinian prime minister Salaam Fayyad has adequately prepared the Palestinians for statehood, by “somehow miraculously transform[ing the] Palestinian political culture,” which is still largely influenced by terrorist organizations. (Contentions, April 13.)


Passover brings up the Ten Plagues of Egypt, which compelled the Egyptians to liberate the Hebrews from bondage. One of the questions that is not asked at the Seder, however, is why Egypt got ten plagues while Israel got Palestinians as neighbors. The answer is that Pharaoh had first choice:

(1) Water turned to blood. Given the Palestinian propensity for mindless violence toward one another as well as so-called infidels, nearby bodies of water tend to fill with blood as well.

(2) Frogs just croak, but Palestinians croak Israeli athletes at Munich, school children at Ma’alot, and senior citizens on the Achille Lauro.

(3) Lice or gnats are annoying but not deadly, unlike Qassam and other rockets

(4) Flies tend to gather on the bodies of Palestinian lynching victims.

(5) Disease of livestock is preferable to Palestinians who just kill every living thing in sight.

(6) Boils are definitely preferable to the injuries caused by Palestinian nail bombs, some of which are poisoned.

(7) Hail mixed with fire: there go those Qassam rockets again.

(8) Locusts destroy only what they eat, while Palestinians destroy even what they don’t eat. The ones in Gaza demolished synagogues that they could have used for housing or even mosques, along with greenhouses they could have used to raise food.

(9) Darkness. Candles or modern electric lights will fix that, but the darkness of ignorance that Palestinian schools deliberately propagate is a lot worse. While children around the world, even those in poor countries, learn reading, writing, and other skills that will help them in life, Palestinian children learn only irrational hatred of infidels and especially Jews. Role models like Farfur the Rat Imam teach violence and hatred, as opposed to simple math and reading skills that they might acquire from Sesame Street characters.

(10) Death of the first-born. Palestinian parents and teachers encourage all children, not just the first born, to be suicide bombers. Palestinian parents often celebrate when their sons and daughters blow themselves up, in contrast to Egyptian parents who mourned the deaths of their children.

In summary…it might in fact be reasonable to conclude that, if one’s country must ever choose between the ten plagues of Egypt and Palestinians, take the ten plagues.”—Israeli political analyst Bill Levinson, describing the ten plagues of “Palestine.” (Israpundit, April 19.)


Iran’smilitary power today is unparalleled to anything in the past. Our armed forces have in their possession the most advanced military and defensive equipment, thanks to Iranian experts and scientists. There is no enemy nowadays that can attack Iran; it would be like committing suicide.”—Commander of the Iranian Army’s Ground Forces, Brigadier-General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, speaking at a military conference in honor of Iran’s National Armed Forces Day, declaring that a military offensive against the Islamic Republic would be “suicidal.”At the main ceremony of the day, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad affirmed that the Islamic Republic’s army was one of the world’s most powerful forces, adding that “the age of Zionism has passed.” (Ynet News, April 20.)


Just as the original report was celebrated by Arab cartoonists as ‘proof’ of the evil nature of Israel and Jews, so too has the decision by Judge Richard Goldstone to reconsider his findings inspired another round of hateful caricatures and stereotypes in the Arab Media. Newspapers across the Arab world have responded to the Goldstone developments with a series of hideous caricatures, many of them viciously anti-Semitic.”—Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-defamation League (ADL), describing the dramatic increase of anti-semitic cartoons in Arab publications following Richard Goldstone’s admission that Israel did not commit war crimes during the Gaza war. According to the ADL, one of the cartoon included a stereotypical Jew—with a large nose, beard and black hat and labeled “The Jewish Lobby”—holding a pair of scissors to Goldstone’s tongue (labeled the “Goldstone Report”). A sampling of the cartoons is available on the League’s website. (Ynet News, April 21.)


If the United States had acted quickly and forcefully in the early days of the uprising, it’s quite likely that Qaddafi could have been removed from power, which would have been a good thing. But President Obama delayed, sent conflicting signals and then decided to intervene only at the 11th hour. That was bad enough; that Obama did so in a way that was irresolute and radiated weakness made things worse. And now we are where we are. Obama himself has conceded we now ‘have a stalemate on the ground militarily.…’ Right now, Qaddafi is humbling America and NATO, both of which look impotent. It turns out a community organizer [Obama] leaves something to be desired as commander-in-chief. Who knew?”—Excerpts from Peter Wehner’s article, It’s Obama’s Stalemate, describing U.S. President Barack Obama’s gross mishandling of the intervention in Libya “in almost every way imaginable.” U.S. officials recently confirmed that some of their assumptions regarding the Libyan conflict were “faulty.” Among them was “(a) the notion that air power alone would degrade Muammar Qaddafi’s military to the point where he would be forced to halt his attacks and (b) the U.S. could leave the airstrikes primarily to warplanes from Britain, France, and other European countries.” (Contentions, April 21.)


Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. Water for hundreds of thousands of people was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques were destroyed and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. This is about Libya, but you would say the same logic should be applied to Gaza. Unfortunately, it is not. Revolutions are shaking the Middle East, and one big loser is Israel.… The Palestinian-led BDS movement is calling Israel an apartheid state, and the main refutation of this is that Israel allows Palestinians to vote. Apartheid is not defined according to whims of this or that scholar.… Israel is losing the battle for hearts and minds at the grassroots level… [and] competes with Iran and North Korea as the most hated countries in the world..”—Omar Barghouti, founder of the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement,at the “Busboys and Poets” event in Washington D.C., comparing NATO’s intervention in Libya to Israel’s ongoing attempt to suppress terrorism in Gaza, and calling Israel an apartheid state, despite his acknowledgment that Palestinians have equal rights under Israeli law. Barghouti concluded his rant by recommending that everyone, including “Zionists,” read his new book. (Haaretz, April 17.)


“Turkey’s Hurriyet Daily News is reporting that Turkey’s Jewish population is starting to decline: ‘Migration to Israel and a death rate twice that of new births are causing a decrease in the size of the Jewish community in Turkey, according to its representatives. Economic considerations are the main driver behind migration.…’ Curiously, the paper does not name the representatives with whom it spoke. Also strange is that Turkey’s economy is booming. That Turkey’s Jews stayed during recession, but flee during an economic boom suggests that perhaps economic motivations are not to blame. A much more plausible explanation—and one to which Turkish Jews attest privately—is that Turkey’s Jewish community is fleeing because of the flames of hatred fanned by Recep Tayyip Erdogan.… Alas, for Turkey’s Jews, ‘Next Year in Jerusalem’ may no longer be a declaration at the end of their Seder, but increasingly could become a plan for self-preservation.”—Excerpts fromaMichael Rubin article, describing the reversal of more than 600-years of Turkish tolerance towards Jews, and blaming Turkey’s “Islamist and fiercely anti-Semitic prime minister” for he ongoing mass exodus of Jews from the country (Contentions, April 19.)

Short Takes

ISRAEL CAPTURES FOGEL MURDERERS—(Jerusalem) One month after five members of the Fogel family were brutally murdered at their home in Itamar, the IDF has caught two of the killers in the nearby Palestinian village of Awarta. Hakim Maazan Niyad Awad, and Amjad Muhammad Fawzi Awad, high school students affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), have been arrested and charged. According to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, at least 5 accomplices have also been detained. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 17.)


SYRIA: ‘DON’T KILL MORE THAN 20 PROTESTERS IN ONE DAY’—(Jerusalem) A document allegedly drafted by top Syrian intelligence officers, which details strict guidelines for carrying out rebel assassinations, infiltrating anti-regime organizations and distributing propaganda sound bites and images, has been published on Facebook. Among the instructions handed down to security forces was an order to limit the number of protesters killed in one day to 20 people. The limited killing, the document says, was necessary in order to control international anger about the Assad regime’s use of force against civilians. The document also calls for anti-rebel forces to create links between government protesters and the U.S. and Israel. (Jerusalem Post, April 14.)


SYRIAN FORCES FIRE ON PROTESTERS AS CRACKDOWN INTENSIFIES—(Beirut) Despite lifting decades-old emergency laws in an attempt to quell intensifying demonstrations, the Syrian government has continued its violent crackdown on protestors. In the wake of the boldest rally in the month-long uprising demanding an end to the Assad family’s 40-year rule, government forces opened fire at hundreds of dissenters in the city of Homs, killing at least four. According to human rights groups, more than 200 people have been killed since the uprising began.  (Washington Post, April 19)


EGYPT AND IRAN FOSTERING RELATIONS—(Cairo) Iran has appointed an ambassador to Egypt for the first time since the two sides froze diplomatic relations more than three decades ago, worrying the U.S., Israel and Saudi Arabia that renewed relations between the two countries could empower Iran and further upset the Mideast’s balance of power. The announcement followed a rare meeting earlier this month between a high-level Iranian diplomat and Egypt’s new foreign minister Nabil Elaraby, after which Elaraby told reporters that Egypt has “opened a new page” with Iran. (Wall Street Journal, April 19.)


MUBARAK’S SONS SENT TO PRISON—(Cairo) Deposed president Hosni Mubarak’s two sons, Gamal and Alaa, have been imprisoned for at least 15 days, during which time they will be questioned regarding accusations of corruption. Along with Mubarak’s two sons, Tora prison now houses Mubarak’s ex-prime minister, Ahmed Nazif; his longtime chief of staff, Zakariya Azmi; his interior minister, Habib el-Adly; the chairman of his National Democratic Party (NDP), Safwat el-Sherif, and former parliament speaker Fathi Surour. The military also announced that Mubarak himself has been detained in a military hospital, due to his poor health. (Seattle Times, April 13.)


EGYPT TO RAISE PRICE OF GAS FOR ISRAEL—(Jerusalem) Egypt General Petroleum Corp. has reached an understanding with the East Mediterranean Gas Co. Ltd. to raise the price of Egyptian natural gas sold to Israel. Egypt and Israel signed an agreement in 2005, for the supply of 1.7 billion cubic meters a year over 20 years; gas started flowing to Israel in May 2008. According to reports, the agreement is retroactive to 2008 and therefore requires the approval of the Egyptian Supreme Court. (Globes, April 13.)


EGYPT: MUSLIMS RIOT OVER APPOINTMENT OF CHRISTIAN GOVERNOR—(Cairo) Thousands of Muslims have staged three days of protests in Qena, demanding that the appointment of a Christian governor be reversed. Egypt’s interim military rulers selected Emad Mikhail last week as one of several new appointments to replace officials associated with Mubarak’s autocratic regime. According to officials, the demonstrations became aggressive when Salafi Islamists in the crowd began chanting, “we want it Islamic.” Some radicals threatened to kill Mikhail if he came to his office. (Reuters, April 17.)


COALITION FORCES TO SEND MILITARY OFFICERS TO LIBYA—(Paris) France, Italy and Britain have confirmed they are sending “liaison officers” to Libya, to advise and train Libyan opposition rebels. Asked about the decision to send military “advisers” into Libya, White House spokesman Jay Carney said U.S. President Barack Obama “believes it will help the opposition.” But, Mr. Carney added, “it does not at all change our—the president’s—policy on no boots on the ground for American troops.” NATO officials say the mission in Libya will continue until Col. Gadhafi’s forces are no longer a danger to civilians. (Wall Street Journal, April 20.)


ISRAEL TO ARM COMBAT SOLDIERS WITH CAMERAS—(Jerusalem) The Israeli military is considering equipping its combat soldiers with cameras, in order to document the IDF’s strict adherence to international law during times of war. The pictures, taken by embedded cameramen, would also be used to disprove and discredit those who charge Israel with committing war crimes. According military sources, soldiers from different units would take a two-week course to teach them photography and the international media. (Associated Press, April 11.)


PMO: HAMAS HASN’T ANSWERED SCHALIT OFFER FOR OVER A YEAR—(Jerusalem) According to a statement released by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Office, Hamas has not responded to Israel’s most recent offer for a prisoner exchange deal to free captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit for over a year. The statement stressed that while efforts to secure the soldier’s release are continuing, Hamas’s failure to respond to Israeli offers proves that the terror group does not intend to make a deal. No information regarding the captured soldier had been released by Hamas since a September 2009 video tape. (Jerusalem Post, April 21.)


TUNISIAN POLICEWOMAN ACCUSED OF SLAPPING FRUIT VENDOR FREED—(Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia) A Tunisian court has freed the policewoman accused of slapping a young fruit seller, Mohamed Bouazizi, who triggered the revolutions across the Arab world by setting himself on fire. Bouazizi’s act of defiance sparked mass demonstrations in Tunisia, which resulted in the ouster of president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Before he fled, however, Mr. Ben Ali tried to quell public anger by ordering the arrest of policewoman Fadia Hamdi. Tunisia’s caretaker authorities have since renamed the main square in Tunis after Mr. Bouazizi. (Globe & Mail, April 19.)


SETTLEMENT’ WORKERS PAID DOUBLE AVERAGE WAGE—(Ramallah) According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS), Palestinians who work in Israeli “settlements” earn nearly double the average rate of their peers in the West Bank and Gaza. The PCBS report found that the average daily wage for settlement workers is 150 shekels (approx. $44), compared to 76.9 in the West Bank, and 46.2 in Gaza. The PCBS research is likely to concern Palestinian Authority leaders, who plan to outlaw Palestinians from working in Israeli businesses located across the Green Line by 2012. (Ma’an News Agency, April 21.)


SWISS COURT: BAN ON ANTI-ISRAEL SIGNS VIOLATES FREE SPEECH—(Jerusalem) A Swiss court has ordered the state’s national train service to allow members of the Palestine Solidarity Action group to hang anti-Israel posters in Zurich’s central station. The posters convey messages such as: “Sixty-one years of Israel, 61 years of injustice,” and “Israel was established with violence on Palestinian land.” The Swiss train service argued in court that its policy prohibits the distribution of materials on sensitive foreign affairs issues. The court rejected the claim, stating that a train station is a public place and as such, it is a place for the exchange of opinions. (Ynet News, April 13.)

Obama’s Libyan War And Israel


Finally—after weeks of indecisive hesitation, and with Col. Khaddafi’s forces about to conquer Benghazi, the Libyan rebels’ last strong-hold—les jeux sont faits, the game, as the French say, is up. Under French and British pressure, American President Barack Obama (supposedly sandbagged by three female Cabinet advisers, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and National Security Council member Samantha Powers) finally agreed, at the last minute, to support a Libyan intervention. 
In a hurried press conference, before ostentatiously leaving in mid-crisis for Brazil (which had just abstained on intervention in the Security Council) Obama—who weeks earlier had dramati- cally said Khaddafi “had to go”—informed the world that Amer- ica would be part of a UN coalition imposing a “no fly” zone on Libya. 
But, as he quickly added, the allies, not the U.S., would lead, there would never be American “boots” on the ground, and the venture, Obama proudly added, even had the solid support of the Arab League (which soon turned wobbly when the bombs began to fall). There was now, however, no reference to the Libyan colonel’s departure. 
Yet despite the transparent, and telling, cloaking of the move in internationalist bafflegab, America’s key military role (begun on the very day marking the beginning of the Iraq war’s ninth year), soon became clear. So too did the confusion issuing from the President’s weak leadership and incoherent policy—what was initially touted as only a “no fly” zone to protect “civilians” morphed, on day one, into a direct assault on Khaddafi’s military forces, including a (failed) attempt to assassinate him by bomb- ing his presidential palace in Tripoli.
Khaddafi, of course, is far from defeated. His anti-colonial (and anti-“Christian/infidel” hype) has evidently already divided the Arab support Obama initially trumpeted. He can also hope for internal divisions among the weak Western allies (already blaming Sarkozy and the French for being too self-seekingly aggressive, and arguing about who or what will head the mission should the U.S. make good on Obama’s threat to cease its current leadership). The Colonel may be counting, too, on Obama’s los- ing his nerve under public and Congressional criticism (already being expressed by a united Republican front and an already neg- ative Democratic-left “base”). 
The Libyan intervention may well prove a partial, if not unmitigated, disaster. Obama has repeatedly framed it as lasting days, not months; but it may well (like Iraq and Afghanistan) turn into years. Libya may be functionally partitioned, largely along tribal lines, with Khaddafi king of Tripoli and points west, while the weak rebels (with open-ended Western support) domi- nate the east. 
The “rebels” themselves, an amorphous, heterogeneous group with no clear leadership, may themselves splinter; and even if Obama does succeed in killing Khaddafi (his and Hillary Clin- ton’s euphemism is “make him go away”), his sons may well continue on. Indeed, a cornered Khaddafi could, as he has threat- ened, blow up his oil fields (which supply Italy, France and Ger- many), or launch a series of terrorist strikes against Europe and the U.S. (we should never forget that Libya provided the bulk of the foreign Sunni terrorists in Iraq, and that Khaddafi’s repeated invocation of his opposition to al-Qaeda is not empty rhetoric). 
So, what does “Obama’s war” have to do with Israel? First, Obama’s initial hesitations about confronting Khaddafi, a real Arab murderer and thug, throw light on the political values revealed by his consistently hostile stance towards democratic Israel on the Palestinian issue. Secondly, in regard to his  pro forma verbal assurances about defending Israel, we should recall his rapid jettisoning of Hosni Mubarak, America’s firmest, and oldest, Middle East Arab ally, at the beginning of the Egyptian “revolution”, and his dangerous vacillation in regard to another old ally still facing “protesters”, the king of strategically-crucial Bahrain.
The Egyptian “revolution” is now safely in the hands of the military, which evicted the “protesters” from Tahrir Square, and is controlling a constitution-making process marked by an ever stronger Moslem Brotherhood (as witnessed in the recent constitutional amendments vote). The Saudis, well-aware of their own security interests and explicitly rejecting Obama’s imprecations, have invaded Bahrain and put down the revolutionary pro-Iranian Shi’ite “protesters” there. (Another American ally, the antial Qaeda ruler of Yemen, President Saleh, also facing growing opposition, is being allowed to twist slowly in the revolutionary wind by an indecisive Obama. 
And now—mirabile dictu!—sudden popular protests have broken out even in Syria, only to be bloodily suppressed, and this despite the presence of the recently-returned American ambassador, put there without Congressional approval by Obama notwithstanding Assad’s literally murderous anti-U.S. role in Iraq and Lebanon. 
In short, Barack Obama and his Administration are a foreign policy disaster. Marked by a leftist-anti-“colonialist” mentality (read the Cairo Speech), a weakness for “re-setting” relations with dictatorships (Russia, China, Iran, Syria), and facing a severe domestic social and economic crisis, Obama’s neo-isolationist tendency is, especially in the Middle East, increasingly evident. 
His brief two years in office have seen the reversal of long standing American Middle East and Persian Gulf policy, and the collapse, actual or imminent, of traditional American allies. And as the brief hope of a truly democratic “Arab Revolution” dims, what looms ominously in its stead is prolonged chaos and reinforcement of Islamist movements (from the Moslem Brothers in Egypt and Gaza to Al Qaeda in Yemen and, possibly Libya), and growing Iranian Shiite influence (in Bahrain, and with Hezbollah in Lebanon.) 
Under such dangerous and unstable circumstances, Israel must look to its own basic security. The Obama Administration’s illusory, and dangerous, “peace process” pressures (which may well increase precisely as Obama is defeated elsewhere) must be resolutely resisted. Given this, we here in North America, the last redoubt of public support for the Jewish state, must remain united and committed to ensuring continuing, strong public and governmental backing… 
(Prof. Krantz is Director of the Canadian Institute
for Jewish Research, and Editor of the Isranet Daily Briefing)





Daniel Doron
Jerusalem Post, April 17, 2011


In his “insecure nationalists” (Ha’aretz, April 6th) Tel Aviv University Law Prof. Meni (Menachem) Mautner criticizes the Knesset for enacting a law that will deny funding to bodies “that recognize [Israel’s] Independence Day…as a day of mourning.”

Mautner attacks the “aberrant approach” of Zionists who present the conflict between Arabs and Jews from a “one-dimensional” Jewish angle, denying the Palestinian Arabs’ tragedy. Forbidding the teaching of an “Arab narrative” in our schools because it considers the establishment of Israel a disaster is unfair and counterproductive, he avers. “The founding of the state entailed the destruction of Arab society in this country.…”

In his “Politics and the English Language” George Orwell lamented the politicians’ habit of perverting language by using “newspeak,”—insinuating subversive meanings into seemingly innocuous words. “A simple truth [is] mistaken for simplicity” Shakespeare called it.

By demanding that we embrace the Arab “narrative” to show empathy toward the Arabs, Mautner in effect asks that we endorse Arab lies about the nature and consequences of the Arab-Jewish conflict.

Mautner is no innocent; he is a learned man. He must know that the Arab claim that Jews stole “Palestinian lands”…[is] sheer fabrication. The land which the Palestinian Arabs tried to grab in 1948 was land given by The League of Nations in 1921 to the British as a mandate over Palestine (including what is now Jordan) for the express purpose of building a Jewish National Home.

In 1947 the UN recommended the partition of Palestine subject to agreement between the Jews and Arabs. When the Arabs rejected the partition recommendation it became null and void, and the primary legal claim to the land reverted to the Jews, as it was under the Mandate.

Most of the land in the British Palestine Mandate was barren government land taken over from the Ottoman Empire that had ruled it for centuries. This is why it could be given by The League of Nations as a national home for the Jews. It was given with Arab consent. A deal was struck with Emir Feisal, who represented the Arabs at the 1922 San Remo Peace Conference. In compensation for relinquishing a putative right to Palestine, the Arabs were given over 99 percent of the former Ottoman lands in The Middle East and North Africa.

Then they demanded the rest.

But “Palestine” was never legally Palestinian. There were no Palestinians then, in fact, and those who later became such held title to very little of the land, at most 5%.

The 7% of the mandatory land that was privately owned was either occupied by cities and villages or belonged mostly to absentee (non-“Palestinian”) landowners. They exploited dirt-poor Arab tenants to work the land, and sold to Jews the barren, worthless parts of this depopulated and empty country that Mark Twain described as “a prince of desolation.”

The Jews charmed it back to life. The revival of Palestine by the Jews attracted waves of immigrants from neighboring Arab countries. Most Palestinians are their descendants When the Arab assault on the Jewish community in 1948 failed to destroy the nascent state and kill its inhabitants, they lost marginal Arab-owned lands on the periphery of their habitat. But they claimed to have “lost” large chunks of Mandatory government-owned land designated for a Jewish National Home, which they had grabbed by force. It was not land they legally owned, privately or communally. It was not their property, so no-one could “steal” it from them.

So much for the Big Lie that Jews stole “Palestinian lands.”

As for the destruction of Arab society: During British rule, Palestinian Arabs mostly expanded their settlement along the spine of the Judean Hills from Nablus to Hebron. Protected by Arab armies and “volunteers” from Jordan, Egypt, Syria and even Iraq and Saudi Arabia, it was barely touched in the 1948 war.

The war raged at the Western fringes of these areas, around the smaller cities of the plain like Ramle and Lod; and in the then-empty Negev and sparsely populated Galilee, where the 1949 armistice lines were eventually drawn. It was not at the heart of Arab habitation. Therefore, despite massive flight from Haifa and Jaffa, and from smaller cities and villages like Acre, Ashdod, Ashkelon and BeerSheba, most Arab society was in fact not physically affected by Israel’s Independence.

At the same time—it is too often forgotten—hundreds of Jewish communities in The Middle East, around the Persian Gulf and in North Africa were assaulted by their Arab neighbors without provocation. They were brutalized, murdered and evicted—more than a million souls, whose forefathers had inhabited these countries for centuries before the advent of Islam.

When bemoaning the Arab “tragedy,” should not Prof. Mautner have mentioned that it also “entailed” an attempt by these Palestinian Arabs, assisted by seven Arab armies, to destroy the fledgling Jewish state and kill its citizens just because they were Jews? Should he not have mentioned that this unprovoked attack was a major cause of “the Arab tragedy”? The apparent hopelessness of achieving their “peace now” fantasy has done something peculiar to the moral compass of Israel’s self-styled “liberals.” Otherwise, how could a top academic ask for empathy for Arabs shortly after Arab terrorists butchered children in Itamar? How could he castigate Jews for lack of empathy at the very hour when Arabs, their leaders and their institutions revealed the depth of their depravity by not really condemning the Itamar slaughter? How can one explain Prof. Mautner’s insistence that we teach the lie that “the creation of Israel was responsible for the destruction of Arab society…” when in fact the major reason Arab society is being destroyed is the rule of oppression, terror and corruption imposed on it since the 1930s by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini and his heirs, Yasser Arafat, Abu Mazen and their followers?…

But [left-leaning organizations such] as “The Council for Peace and Security” [continue to] ignore “the dark side” in the Arab camp, the murderous Arab intent, the wish to destroy Israel. They keep demanding that Israel make more and more territorial concessions in order to secure a questionable paper peace. They do not explain why…we must believe that after the failure of Oslo and of the retreat from Gaza, which they fervently supported, more territorial concession will not result merely in the irredentist use of these territories as a base for inciting Arabs to murder Jews, and eventually for attacking Israel.

Lenin called Western liberals “useful idiots” because they supported the communist tyranny—as some [Israelis] support an oppressive corrupt Palestinian “authority”—because of their illusionary belief that dictatorships can deliver freedom.

Celebrating a revolt against dictatorship on Passover is a caution against such illusions. It is also a time to cleanse minds from the crusts of misinformation and outdated notions that prevent us from looking reality in the face, from realizing that Exodus from slavery to freedom was never easy or cost-free; you cannot cross the red sea of conflict on bridges made of lies and paper agreements.

(Daniel Doron is director of the Israel Center for Social and Economic Progress.)


Jerold S. Auerbach

American Thinker, April 17, 2011


Passover, 1968: several dozen Jewish families returned to Hebron to celebrate the holiday of Jewish memory. They remembered slavery in Egypt, the exodus to freedom, and the journey to the promised land. But they also remembered the unique place of Hebron in Jewish history and they intended to restore a Jewish community in the most ancient Jewish city in the world.

In Hebron (according to the Biblical narrative), Sarah was buried on land purchased by Abraham from Ephron the Hittite. Rejecting the generous offer of a gift, Abraham paid Ephron’s full asking price—400 silver shekels—to assure the indisputable legitimacy of title. It was the first land holding of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel.

Abraham, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Leah were also buried there. From Hebron, King David reigned for seven years before relocating his throne to Jerusalem. Over the ancestral burial site King Herod built the magnificent edifice that is still intact two thousand years later, known to Jews as Ma’arat Hamachpela.

With the Muslim conquest the Machpelah shrine was converted into a mosque which, for seven centuries, Jews were prohibited from entering. During the Arab massacres of 1929 that swept through Palestine, sixty-seven Hebron Jews were brutally murdered. British authorities removed terrified survivors from the city and Hebron became Judenrein for nearly forty years. When Israelis entered Hebron after the Six-Day War they discovered the abandoned Jewish Quarter in ruins, synagogues destroyed, and the ancient cemetery desecrated.

Now seven hundred Jews live in Hebron, two hundred yeshiva students study there, and seven thousand Israelis live in nearby Kiryat Arba. It has been a precarious existence, repeatedly punctuated by Palestinian terrorist attacks. Six Jews were killed outside Beit Hadassah, the restored medical clinic. A yeshiva student had his throat slit in the market; another was murdered on his way to evening prayers at Machpelah. Two Soviet refuseniks were killed at the entrance to Kiryat Arba. A rabbi was stabbed to death in his trailer home on Tel Rumeida, the site of ancient Hebron. A ten-month-old girl was shot in the head by a sniper. A dozen Israeli soldiers and security guards were ambushed and murdered by Palestinian members of Islamic Jihad.

Each terrorist attack spurred renewed attempts to build the community. The major obstacle, for nearly forty-five years, has been the government of the State of Israel. Regardless of the party in power, prime ministers from Levi Eshkol in 1967 to Benjamin Netanyahu in 2011 have thwarted the growth of the Hebron Jewish community.

The government has made it virtually impossible for Jews to buy property from willing Arab sellers, or build new homes on Jewish-owned land (including property purchased in 1807). The Supreme Court has ruled that for “security” reasons there is no obligation to return property to its original Jewish owners, thereby leaving Hebron residents even less secure.

Little more than a year ago eight families were forcibly evicted from a building purchased for the community by a New York businessman whose parents and grandparents had lived in Hebron. A community representative noted bitterly that when Abraham purchased Machpelah “there was no Supreme Court, Attorney General or government to take it from him.”

When Prime Minister Netanyahu recently announced his intention to “refurbish Israeli heritage sites,” Hebron was conspicuously omitted. (Imagine a list of American heritage sites that excluded Plymouth or Gettysburg.) Under intense political pressure, he relented and added the Machpelah shrine.

But the struggle over Hebron…continues. Foreign countries and the European Union have provided millions of dollars for Arab housing that will flank the only road linking Hebron and Kiryat Arba, posing a severe security danger to Jewish residents of both communities. But the Israeli government has declined even to replace a shredded tarpaulin covering the main courtyard of Machpelah, a Jewish prayer site, with a permanent roof lest Muslims take offense.

Whenever there is discussion about which settlements will remain part of Israel in any peace agreement Hebron is omitted. Why? Because it is the flash point for the continuing struggle over Zionist legitimacy. Hebron Jews are routinely demonized as Jewish “fanatics” or “zealots” by their fanatical and zealous secular opponents.

Should Hebron once again become Judenrein, religious Zionists—and the Jewish people—will lose a vital living source of memory and identity. That is sufficient reason for secular Zionists to want to excise it from the Jewish state.

Not long before his incapacitating stroke in 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked a journalist: “Can you conceive that one day Jews will not live in Hebron?… If we were a normal nation, when a visitor arrived here we would take him not to Yad Vashem but, rather, to Hebron. We’d take him to where our roots are.… No other people has anything like it.”

Settling the Land of Israel—in Hebron no less than Tel Aviv—has always defined Zionism. But a nation that forgets its heritage relinquishes its primary source of spiritual sustenance. Indeed, according to the Baal Shem Tov, the 18th century founder of Hassidism, forgetfulness “leads to exile.” That is why, every Passover, Jews remember their liberation from slavery. Hebron is the most tenacious community of Jewish memory in Israel. Should it be abandoned, Zionism itself would slide into Jewish exile.

(Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Hebron Jews:
Memory and Conflict in the Land of Israel[200]).)


Conrad Black
National Post, April 16, 2011


There is something faintly nostalgic about former U.S. national security advisor Brent Scowcroft’s Financial Times op-ed…calling for Barack Obama to “broker a new Mideast Peace.” The man, the media and the message are all, as Hillary Clinton would say, “so yesterday.” It’s a little like watching vintage films from the era when American leaders were first “brokering peace” in the Mideast, such as American Graffiti or The Graduate.

Brent Scowcroft was the U.S. national security advisor to President Gerald Ford, and he returned to the post under President George H.W. Bush. He is a distinguished foreign-policy and strategic-policy specialist, but has never been considered overly original, a reputation that will not be shaken by his new suggestion.

The Financial Times is a justly respected newspaper, but its editorial line is always the urbane, gentlemanly, British impulse to speak softly, move in increments, generally advance the conventional wisdom; and don’t stretch the imagination, catch a cold thinking outside the box, or get seriously riled up over anything short of a genuine outrage. In this case, however, the conventional wisdom is nonsense. The counsel for President Obama to “broker peace” is on par with Pakistani President Musharraf ‘s advice to Tony Blair to “do Palestine.” The Palestinians could have peace with Israel tomorrow if they wanted it.

In any event, Barack Obama is not trusted by Israel. His chief initiative in the area to date has been to deny the existence of the agreement George W. Bush made with Ariel Sharon, whereby Israel would vacate Gaza, would dismantle some West Bank settlements, and would confine extensions of other settlements in contested areas to natural population growth. (The world’s obsession with settlement abandonment as the key to peace—which Obama seems to share—is foolish: If Israel dismantled every settlement, or even turned them over for occupation by returning Palestinians, a new pretext to keep the pot boiling would be devised.…)

Always, it is claimed that a return to the 1967 borders is the basis of peace, although those borders would leave Israel nine miles wide on its Mediterranean shore, and the West Bank and Gaza sections of Palestine separated by 50 miles. The Arabs effectively had those borders, under the control of Jordan and Egypt, in 1967. Yet they went to war and lost—events that would not normally be expected to generate reverence for the status quo ante.

The facts, which must be perfectly well-known to Brent Scowcroft, are that it is impossible to deal with the Palestinians while Hamas controls Gaza and the PLO the West Bank; that it is impossible to broker anything while the surrounding Arab powers are in turmoil; that this U.S. administration is not taken seriously by anybody in the area after the denial of the Bush-era settlements arrangement and the failure of its Iran policy; and the solution, when the Palestinians are ready, has, as Scowcroft himself notes, largely been identified already.

There will have to be some exchanges of territory, to make Israel wider between the Mediterranean and the West Bank. Scowcroft envisions a united Jerusalem serving as the capital of both countries. I don’t think so; I think sideby-side Jerusalems, with the Arabs controlling their area beyond Orient House and a special arrangement and assured access to designated holy sites for all faiths throughout both countries. The Palestinian right of return would be to Palestine, and this fairy tale of one big happy Holy Land where all would be brothers, but in fact the Muslims would outnumber the Jews and expel or massacre them yet again, should finally have a silver stake driven through its heart.

A clairvoyant is not required to see that this is where it will end up. Nor is one required to see that, as Arab populations have begun to stop being distracted by the red herring of Israel and have focused on the misgovernment from which they have suffered, no Israeli flags have been burned nor Palestinian flags waved about by non-Palestinians.

Israel is absolutely legitimate as a Jewish state, and was so constituted by the unanimous permanent members of the United Nations Security Counsel.… The borders have been open to legitimate debate. But when the Palestinians determine that they will no longer be used as cannon-fodder, a cause celebre that enables the leaders of the Muslim powers to misgovern, oppress and pillage their countries, and deflect discontent by waving the bloody shirt of Palestine, the borders could be quickly established along the lines mentioned. If the Palestinians could draw the lesson of the spectacular economic growth of the West Bank, which Israel has assisted, and where Prime Minister Salam Fayyad favours peace and is the first Palestinian leader whose CV does not contain a long stint as an extremist or terrorist; and of the contrast with the collapsed economy in Gaza, which has happily served as a launch-site for rockets aimed at Israeli civilians since Sharon vacated it; then peace would be imminent.

For a sensible and experienced man such as Brent Scowcroft to suggest that President Obama is in any position to broker anything in a Middle East where the Arab governments are fighting for their lives with their own people and Hamas is still trying to kill all the Jews, is disconcerting. Even Richard Goldstone, the token anti-Israel Jew recruited by the United Nations to write a smear job on Israel’s hugely provoked reprisals against Gaza, has recanted his fraudulent report.

Israel has its faults, but it is a legitimate Jewish state, a successful society of laws and enterprise. The Palestinians have grievances, but a remedy is at hand. Israel will take half a loaf. If Palestine would also, there would be peace. But it won’t happen until it is clear what Egypt, Syria and Lebanon will look like, and whether anything will be done to curb the baleful influence in the area of Iran. If he was minded to, President Obama could do something about that, but it isn’t a matter of brokerage and there is no sign of it coming.







Baruch Cohen


In loving memory of Malca z’’l

The Seder is rooted in the innermost of the Jewish heart.—The Haggadah Book

I love Passover because it is a cry against indifference.—Elie Wiesel, Forward, 1992.

Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is an undeniable right of every human being. By celebrating the Passover, we are learning about our past, and thus ensuring our future. The ideas that underline the feast of Passover are noble and humane: the idea of freedom, the idea of justice, and the democratic struggle for human dignity.

The Jewish sages have posited that liberty must be fought for and renewed in every generation.

During centuries of unending adversity, we Jews, have found renewed strength and hope in the Passover celebration, which unites today’s generation with its heroic ancestral past in the common struggle for justice, liberty and humanity.

The Passover festival has two basic messages whose poignancy and significance are true for all times: first, deliverance from bondage and suffering, and the drive to do away with ignorance; the second message of Passover is that deliverance is an ongoing process!

The Passover holiday teaches us that we triumphed over degradation and affliction. Our history gives us the confidence to carry on our struggle, against our old and new enemies; already, through that struggle, we achieved a glorious victory: our beloved state of Israel.

The Jewish democratic struggle is also one for all people for all nations; Passover represents the global desire for love to triumph over the darkness of hate. The basic human resolve to be free is clearly evidenced by the ongoing uprisings in the world against tyrannical regimes. Hopefully, this coming Holy day of Passover will be a holiday of freedom and liberation for all.

Hag Passover Sameach!

Happy Passover to the entire House of Israel and to all CIJR friends and supporters.

(Baruch Cohen is the Research Chairman at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.)


NewsRealBlog, March 3, 2011


An antisemitic Jew I know, rather than seeing the Passover ceremony as the celebration of freedom (the world’s first and for a long time only successful slave revolt), and of justice and morality (the Ten Commandments), derides the whole ceremony as the unconscionable and immoral celebration of the genocide of the Egyptian people. What troubles him so much is the fact that, after each plague, when Pharaoh seems about to soften and let the Jews go, God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, leading to the necessity of yet another plague, culminating in the death of the first born.

I know that some people have tried to explain away this part of the story by saying that it is simply dramatic license, meant to increase the tension and danger of the Jew’s escape from Egypt. After all, if it had been easy, it wouldn’t have been much of a story. You know, Moses asks, “Hey, Pharaoh, can we go?” and Pharaoh answers “Sure.” That’s not a narrative with much punch or heroism, and God’s involvement is minimal or, at least, unexciting. It’s much more exciting to have an escalating series of plagues, with the audience on tenterhooks as to whether those pesky Jewish slaves will actually be able to make a break for it.

This reasoning is silly. There’s a much more profound purpose behind the ten plagues, and that is to remind us of the tyrant’s capacity for tolerating others’ suffering, as long as his power remains in place.

What Pharaoh discovered with the first nine plagues is that life can go on, at least for the ruler, despite an increase in the burdens placed upon his people. A blood filled Nile River may, at first, have seemed appalling, but the red receded and life went on. Pharaoh still held together his government. The same held true for each subsequent plague, whether lice or boils or wild animals or frogs, or whatever: As long as Pharaoh could maintain his power base, he was okay with the incremental decimation visited upon those he ruled.

Sheltered in his lavish palace, Pharaoh might worry about a populace starving and frightened, but that was irrelevant as long as that same populace continued to fear and worship him. The people’s suffering, ultimately, was irrelevant to his goals. It was only when the price became too high—when Pharaoh’s power base was destroyed because his citizens were destroyed—that Pharaoh was convinced, even temporarily, to alter his evil ways.

Human nature hasn’t changed much in 3,000 years. Think, for example, of both the Nazis and the Japanese at the end of WWII. For the Nazis, it was apparent by December 1944 (the Battle of the Bulge) that the war was over. Hitler, however, was a megalomaniac in the pharaonic mold, and his high command, either from fear or insanity, would not gainsay him. Rather than surrendering, the Nazi high command was willing to see its country overrun and its citizens killed. Only when the death toll became too high, and it was apparent that nothing could be salvaged from the ashes, did the war on the continent finally end.

The same held true for the Japanese. Truman did not decide to drop the bomb just for the sake of it. Even the fact that it would impress the Soviets was an insufficient reason for doing so. What swayed Truman was the fact that his advisers told him (credibly as it turned out) that the Japanese Bushido culture would not allow Japan to surrender even when surrender had become the only reasonable option. Instead, the military warned Truman that, although the Americans would inevitably win the war, if Truman didn’t take drastic action, victory would take another year, and cost up to 100,000 American lives and at least that many Japanese lives (including Japanese civilians).

Truman therefore had two choices: another year of war, with the loss of 100,000 Americans and many more than 100,000 Japanese; or an immediate stop to the war, with no more American casualties and at least 100,000 Japanese casualties. Put that way, the choice was a no-brainer. The outcome would be the same for the Japanese, but Truman would save the lives of more than 100,000 Americans, British, Australians and Dutch. The Japanese high command was Pharaoh. No amount of smaller plagues could stop the command from its chosen path. Only a large plague would swiftly lead to the inevitable conclusion.

But what about the innocent lives lost as a result of Pharaoh’s, the Nazi’s, and the Japanese high command’s intransigence? As the Japanese tale shows only too well, the innocents were always going to die.… The same holds true for the Germans, whom the Nazis had long ago designated as cannon fodder to support their intensely evil regime. That’s the problem with an evil regime.… Pharaoh will let you die of plagues, and the Nazi and Japanese leadership will let you be bombed and burned—as long as they can retain their power.

Iran is no different. Although the people bleed and cry under the brutish regime, no plague, including rioting in the streets, has come along that is bad enough to break the back of that tyranny. The people continue to die by inches, and the regime threatens everyone within bombing distance.

[Some] believe that it is immoral to impose serious consequences against the Iranian regime because there are innocents who will suffer from those consequences. What these liberals fail to understand is that, when power doesn’t reside in the people, but resides, instead, in a single group that is insulated from all but the most terrible strikes, imposing small plagues against the country (freezing a few bank accounts, public reprimands, vague threats) is utterly useless. These small plagues, no matter how much they affect the ordinary citizen, do not affect the decision-making process in which a tyrant engages. The only thing that will move the tyrant is to destroy his power base. Everything else is theatre.…


Rafael Medoff
Haaretz, April 15, 2011


The famed investigative journalist I.F. Stone undoubtedly took part in some interesting Passover seders in his time, but he had never spent one with Jews whose lives particularly connected them to the events in ancient Egypt—until 1947, when he participated in a remarkable seder with Holocaust survivors in a detention camp on the island of Cyprus.…

“This is being written 3,000 feet up over the blue Mediterranean,” began Stone’s dramatic account in the pages of the New York City daily newspaper PM. “I am in a tiny four-passenger two-motored mosquito plane bound for Haifa from Nicosia in Cyprus, where I have just spent the first two days of Passover in camps established by the British to intern ‘illegal’ Jewish immigrants seized in Palestine.”

They were tumultuous times, to say the least. Hundreds of thousands of Holocaust survivors still crowded the displaced persons camps in Allied-occupied Europe, clamoring for the right to immigrate to Palestine. The British, bowing to Arab opposition, had almost completely shut the gates to the Holy Land. Palestine itself was in flames, as Jewish underground forces waged guerrilla warfare against the British authorities. Meanwhile, in Washington, the Truman administration wobbled back and forth on the politically controversial issues of Jewish immigration and statehood.

In a desperate race for the Promised Land, survivors were boarding Aliyah Bet (unauthorized immigration ) ships bound for the Palestine coast. More often than not, they were intercepted by British naval patrols and taken to Cyprus. That’s where I.F. Stone’s story began.

“There are two sets of camps on the sweet-smelling ancient Greek Isle of Cyprus for 11,300 refugees now held there,” Stone explained. “Both are being enlarged to meet the expected Spring rush of Aliyah Beth boats which will probably boost the Jewish population to 20,000 before the end of June.…”

On Passover eve, “unexpected and unannounced,” Stone and a friend, Alex Taylor of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, dropped in on the Efrati family: Moshe Efrati, 35, “a laundryman by trade,” his wife Rachel, their 15-year-old daughter Miriam and 12-year-old son Eliezer. Despite the lack of an invitation, the visitors “were at once made welcome.”

“Father Efrati sat at the head of the table, reclining on a pillow as is customary for the seder,” Stone’s account continued. “On his right, sat his bright-eyed son of 12, already a student in the yeshivah organized by religious Jews in the camp. On the father’s left sat his good wife and daughter. Alex and I were given haggadas (Passover service books ) and the seder went on.”

“It was no hop-skip-and-jump affair, as is customary in most American Jewish homes,” Stone noted. “Efrati left nothing out. We rose to drink our wine with blessings, partook of the bitter herbs and first matzohs. Efrati sang the parts with relish and explained and translated as he went along.…”

Stone, himself a secular Jew, was clearly moved by the warmth and religious devotion of the family in the midst of such difficult surroundings. “The mother looked on as if she didn’t know how one man could be so bright,” he wrote, “and the daughter was fascinated while the son’s eyes shone.”

What struck Stone the most was the connection between past and present. “The Passover has a deep personal meaning for these Jews.… For them the ancient cruel taskmasters were no fable: They had been in slave labor camps under German occupation. For them, the God who smote the Egyptians was the same God who brought the Third Reich low.”

Stone was profoundly impressed by the vibrant life he saw among the Cyprus exiles, as he strolled around the camp the next day. “Life flows on strong, and vigorous babies are being born at the rate of 30 to 40 monthly,” he reported. “There have been almost 600 weddings since the camps were established last August, and there were 135 nuptials during the two weeks before Passover. “There are schools and synagogues, camp newspapers, an art exhibition, and workshops,” not to mention “several soccer teams which often play the British guards and boast they have never been beaten.”

What did the future hold? The seder at the Efratis’ offered a clue. “Were [the displaced persons in Cyprus] not like the Jews under Moses?” Stone asked. “Moses went through one kind of wilderness or another to the promised land. And as Efrati explained in his own running commentary to the service comfortingly, ‘We had to go down into Egypt for 400 years, but we need only be six months or so in Cyprus.’”

Stone thought Efrati’s prediction too optimistic. Given the severe British restrictions on Jewish immigration, he observed, “it will take 18 months before the latest arrivals get their chance to go to Palestine.”

But British rule in Palestine did not last another 18 months. That autumn, in the face of the Jewish underground’s military assaults and sharply escalating international pressure—generated in no small measure by sympathetic journalists such as Stone—the British surrendered. Seven months after Stone’s Passover with the Efratis, London accepted the United Nations vote on partitioning Palestine and announced it would withdraw. Four months later, the first British troops began leaving, and two months after that, on May 15, 1948, the British withdrawal was completed.

For the Efratis and thousands of other displaced persons whose plight I.F. Stone helped publicize with his impassioned prose, the exodus was over and homecoming was finally at hand.

(Dr. Rafael Medoff is director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies.)


Daniel Gordis
Jerusalem Post, April 15, 2011


We read it so often that we hardly even notice it anymore. It’s that famous line from the Haggada, which Jews around the world will recite in just a few days: “And even if we were all wise, filled with understanding, all elders and all learned in the Torah, we would still be obligated to tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt.”

Why, though? If we were all so deeply learned, what possible need would there be to tell a story? The message is clear—there are truths that emerge from stories that cannot be gleaned from “mere” study. There is knowledge to which the heart can lead us that the mind cannot. As much as Jews take the intellect seriously, we understand its limitations. There is a sort of knowing that can come only through telling—or hearing—a story.

It is the difference between great philosophy and profound literature. As critical and even world-changing as some of the great philosophers have been, for many of us, it is the broken heart and the soul laid bare that we encounter in great literature that touches us more deeply.

From there, we glean our most profound insights about what matters, to what we hope to dedicate our lives. The notion that we can create real allegiance only through minds and without touching hearts is foolish. That is why the Bible contains no rigorous philosophy, but many stories. And that is why the more we tell the story of the Exodus from Egypt, the Haggada tells us, the more we are to be praised.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column (“Of sermons and strategies,” April 1) about American rabbinical students who feel distanced from Zionism, some of whose critiques of Israel seem to me to have crossed red lines. Since that column appeared, I’ve had numerous meetings with students studying in Israel for the year. Some I met in groups, some alone.

Politically and religiously, they represented a broad spectrum. They were smart, sensitive and genuine. As we spoke, some shared their most basic worry—that Israel would not be decent.

And I shared mine—that Israel would not survive.

Obviously Israel’s decency is critical. But a country that does not exist cannot be decent. And as we spoke, memories began to emerge. I shared with some of these students my earliest memory about Israel. It was June 1967, and I was almost eight years old. We were in the kitchen, in Baltimore, having dinner. But this dinner was different from all other dinners.

My brothers and I ate, and our parents served us. As on almost every night, our little black-and-white television was tuned to Walter Cronkite. But on this night, my parents didn’t eat—they didn’t even sit at the table. All they did was feed us, watch TV—and pace across the kitchen.

The next evening, when that odd scene unfolded once again, I finally asked them, “Aren’t you going to eat?” “We’re not hungry,” they said. I was dumbfounded. How could you not be hungry at dinner time? And two days in a row? When my own kids ask what it was that led us to move here, I say nothing about lectures I heard or books I was given to read. It was, I explain, the simple fact that with Israel seemingly on the very precipice of destruction, my parents simply couldn’t eat.

Some of the students then shared their own earliest memories of Israel. One recalled the day that all the students in his Orthodox day school were summoned together for an assembly, and how the whole school watched as Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty. For another, it was the intifada, and the images (again, on television) of helmeted IDF soldiers with rifles chasing young boys who’d thrown rocks.

My formative memories were of Israel on the verge of extinction, while theirs were of Israel being recognized by its neighbor or of the seeming imbalance of Israeli-Palestinian power. And that makes all the difference.

None of us knows with certainty how widespread the alienation from Israel among these students is, but no one ought to deny that it is there. And it is obviously even more widespread among college students at large. What Pessah is designed to remind us is that a major part of our response has to be memory creation.

Many American rabbinical students go to Bethlehem each year, on a program designed to expose them to the feelings of the “other” side. But there’s passion to be felt on this side, too. Go to Bethlehem, fine. But why not also visit Ein Prat and witness the meeting of Western civilization and Jewish tradition in a beit midrash populated by post-army secular and religious Israelis together? Speak to people in Bethlehem…but then go to the student-run villages of Ayalim, where a new, socially aware, politically diverse, largely non-religious Zionist activism is taking root precisely among young people their age. Those are the sorts of memories we have to add to the hopper.

What’s shaping these students? It’s fine to assign books on human rights and on the problematics of Israeli democracy. But I’d have them read Amos Oz’s Tale of Love and Darkness, too, so they can see the non-negotiable love for Zion with which a staunch leftist writes. I’d have them read Yehuda Avner’s The Prime Ministers, and “visit” the offices of Eshkol, Meir, Rabin and Begin—“relive” moments when life here hung by a thread.… True, they won’t have actually lived through it—but the Seder night suggests to us that we can remember even things that we did not experience.

A student dropped me a line after one of these meetings. “It may sound strange,” he said, “but for some of us, the most memorable idea to come out of the meeting is that Israel might actually not survive.” For someone of my generation, what is shocking is that that was surprising. But it’s not a matter of anyone’s “fault.”

It’s a matter of what we remember, and what we don’t. That’s the business that we’re in this coming Monday night. The Seder is the moment for reminding ourselves—and each other—that the next generation of Jewish leaders will join us not if we beat them into intellectual submission, but if we can bequeath to them new memories—and thus, at the same time, our aspirations, as well as our foreboding awareness of the fragility of freedom.

(Daniel Gordis is senior vice president of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.)





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* Vital work with students, including the Student Israel-Advocacy Program(SIAP), the Baruch Cohen Research Internships, and Dateline: Middle East student magazine

* Indispensable online Israel & Middle East DataBank(

* Outstanding issues-related Seminars and Colloquia

To make a contribution, please phone us at (514) 486 5544
or email to

Thank you! Happy Passover.



Herb Keinon
Jerusalem Post, April 13, 2011


For years, the Likud and the Right have been accused of fear-mongering, of playing upon the country’s real security concerns to turn their backs on peace. Time and time again [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu…has been accused of exaggerating the threats facing the country in order to avoid making concessions to the Palestinians. Many were the times he was mocked before Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza for saying that rockets would fall on Ashdod and Ashkelon if the IDF withdrew.…

Forget for a moment that many of the nightmare scenarios, such as the rockets on Ashkelon, have transpired; the Right is not the only part of the country’s political map that can spread fear. These days it is coming from the Left (and also from some in the Center), in the form of doomsday scenarios bandied about over what will happen if the UN General Assembly passes a resolution in September that recognizes a Palestinian state.

One argument gaining currency is that if the UN General Assembly does indeed recognize a Palestinian state, then the minute it does so the 600,000 Israelis living in east Jerusalem and the West Bank will, under international law, be considered to be occupiers of another UN state, and international consequences in the form of sanctions are sure to be harsh and swift. But this is overwrought. Since the conquest of the Golan Heights in 1967, Israel has been viewed by the international community as occupying the territory of another country. Yet Israel was not ostracized, nor were sanctions leveled against it.…

But whether the General Assembly will recognize a Palestinian state in September is in itself a “big if.” And any UN move must be measured on three levels: What the declaration itself might say, what operational steps it will call for, and what are the implications of such a resolution.

First of all, it is not clear what a resolution to recognize a Palestinian state will say. Since General Assembly resolutions are primarily political and symbolic in nature, the Palestinians historically have wanted to have as broad a majority of states on board as possible. The Palestinians in the past have not aimed for resolutions that would push away the European countries, but rather have sought the lowest common denominator that would keep countries like Britain, France and Germany on board.

What happens often is that the Palestinians bring a resolution, the Europeans propose a counter-resolution, and after a great deal of diplomatic haggling, a middle ground is hashed out. [Accordingly], on the recognition question, the Palestinians will have to determine how far they can go without losing Europe. As a result, the resolution that may, in the final analysis, come to the General Assembly is likely to be much milder than many people fear, simply because many in the EU are unlikely to support a Palestinian declaration recognizing a Palestinian state as-is, within the 1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as its capital, without being able to ensure Palestinian control over that territory.…

Regarding operational significance, UN General Assembly resolutions are largely political and symbolic, with ramifications solely inside the UN system. A recognition-of-statehood resolution could call for an advisory opinion by the International Court of Justice, as was done in 2004 when the GA sent [Israel’s decision to construct a] security barrier to The Hague. The ICJ ruled against Israel, but the fence still remains.

Under the UN Charter, to become a member state, a new nation needs a Security Council resolution, and a two-third majority inside the GA. It is highly unlikely the US would let such a resolution through the Security Council, so the Palestinians would be left with the General Assembly majority.

In this scenario the Palestinian hope is that this would give them full rights as a state within the UN system, including recognition of the prohibition of the use of force against it. But even the UN recognizes the right of self-defense, which means Israel would have legal rights to respond to attacks coming from Palestinian territory.

Regarding sanctions, the General Assembly can recommend sanctions, but this would not be legally binding on anyone. In 1981, when the UN General Assembly recommended sanctions against South Africa to promote Namibian independence, these sanctions were largely adopted because the world saw South Africa as illegitimate and was interested in those types of sanctions. That is not our case regarding Israel.

Outside of settlement goods, there is no real conversation in Europe at this time about a wholesale sanctioning of Israel. While the idea has some traction on the radical Left and in college campuses, the governments of the world’s democracies—despite all the Israel Apartheid Weeks—are not there.…

Furthermore, the General Assembly can’t force Israel to withdraw. It’s important to remember that the UN doesn’t create states, it recognizes them. On this note it is a bit ironic that the Arabs, who in 1947 rejected the UN vote in favor of the partition and then attacked the fledgling Jewish state, are now looking to that same body as the moral authority for the creation of a Palestinian state.

The true question revolves around the consequences of this move beyond the UN context.… Such a declaration would be an energizer for those seeking to marginalize Israel, and would illustrate the degree to which the world wants one thing, and Israel something else.

Recognition of statehood would make a return to negotiations much more difficult, empowering the false idea that an imposed solution can take the place of an agreed-upon one, and changing the whole “negotiation” trajectory of the diplomatic process of the past two decades.

And, finally, such a move could possibly prompt another popular Palestinian uprising.

But even with all that in mind, one should still keep an honest eye on what it is exactly that the UN General Assembly can and cannot do, and not exaggerate the impact of a GA resolution.


E. Kontorovich
Jerusalem Post, April 11, 2011


The Palestinian Authority’s declared intention of seeking admission to the United Nations from the General Assembly would be considered a triumph for the Palestinians and would ostensibly put Israel in instant legal and diplomatic jeopardy if it does not promptly withdraw to the armistice lines of 1949. But these assumptions give the possible GA vote far more significance and legitimacy than it deserves.

First, the General Assembly can only admit states upon the recommendation of the Security Council, where an American veto appears to block the way. In the absence of such a recommendation, seeking recognition from the GA resolution is at best a legal nullity, and a mockery of the procedures enshrined in the UN Charter.

Even within the scope of its role in admitting new members, the GA only has the power to admit states, not the power to create or determine members’ borders. (That role, within the UN system, would fall to the International Court of Justice or the Security Council). The Security Council has already determined in Resolution 242, adopted in the wake of the Six Day War, that Israel need not return all of the land it took from various Arab states in that conflict. Certainly the GA cannot overrule the Security Council. Moreover, one of the first opinions of the Court held that decisions about membership cannot be leveraged to push other substantive agendas. Thus it is meaningless to speak of the GA recognizing Palestine with any particular set of borders. Just as the GA had no binding role to play in 1947, when it came out in favor of a partition of the Palestine Mandate, it can no more enforce partition now.

Another major fallacy contends that the GA’s recognition of a Palestinian state within all of the Green Line would automatically make Israel an international outlaw, because it would be occupying some of that territory. Palestinian leaders dramatically claim that Israel would be in “daily violation” of the GA resolution. If the GA’s resolutions controlled Israel’s legitimacy, it would long have ceased to exist within any borders. The international parliament in 1975 famously adopted its “Zionism equals racism” resolution, condemning the very project of a Jewish state in the Middle East within any borders. Yet the endorsement of the idea by an overwhelming vote of the GA did not make it real or true, and the resolution was eventually rescinded, the only GA measure to meet such a fate.

Even if Palestine were properly admitted to the UN, the occupation of territory within the internationally recognized borders of a UN member by another member is not uncommon. It does not result in condemnation, boycotts or even any attention. For example, Turkey occupies half of Cyprus; Russia occupies several sections of Georgia, Moldova and other former Soviet states. And that is just tranquil Europe. Indeed, Russia significantly expanded its occupation and colonization of Georgia in the war two years ago, yet it remains an erstwhile member of the Middle East Quartet. Even if a Palestinian state were announced by the GA, conflict would exist only over a small portion of the territory. Because of the Oslo process, which turned half of the West Bank over to Palestinian control, and the 2005 disengagement, which took all Israeli troops and civilians out of Gaza, Israel’s central demands now involve sovereignty over settlements, which make up a small percentage of the total area. A Palestinian state would join the long list of states that have unresolved border disputes with neighbors. None of these situations results in a diplomatic tsunami.

To be sure, GA recognition of Palestine may be turned into an occasion for further demonizing and isolating the Jewish state. But that would not be the obvious and natural effect of such a resolution. It would simply be the illegitimate use to which Israel’s critics and enemies may choose to put it, a use that has nothing to do with international law or neutral principles. Those nations and organizations willing to jump on such a hollow excuse for a diplomatic assault on Israel have clearly already made up their minds.

Delegitimization by the UN can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. When friends of Israel fret about delegitimization by the GA, they unwittingly give the body more power than it has.

(The writer is a professor of law at Northwestern University,
specializing in international and constitutional law.


Moshe Arens
Haaretz, April 12, 2011


Anyone who has helped design alarms and early warning systems knows the phenomenon of false alarms. They bedevil both the developers and those who are supposed to be protected by the system. The systems being put in place to warn of oncoming “tsunamis” are also affected by this false alarm syndrome. The more sensitive the system, the more likely it is to sound the alarm when there is nothing to actually be alarmed about. Israel has its own tsunami warning system—and it is none other than our defense minister, [Ehud Barak], who has already sounded the alarm.

According to him, Israel will be hit by a political tsunami in September. His warning bell is being echoed by many who demand the government launch a daring initiative before it is too late, before the tsunami hits us. But they have a pleasant surprise awaiting them: Israel will still be here in September, and for many many months to come.…

States have never been created by UN declarations and never will be. For those who have forgotten, Israel was not created by UN resolution 181 in November 1947, but by David Ben-Gurion’s declaration of Israeli independence on May 15, 1948 and by the IDF’s ability to take and control the areas of the new state.

A UN declaration, whether at the Security Council or the General Assembly, recognizing a Palestinian state within the borders of the April 1949 armistice lines with Jordan, with Jerusalem as its capital, will be no more effective than Security Council resolution 1701, which prohibited Hezbollah from military operations in southern Lebanon, or General Assembly resolution 3379, which equated Zionism with racism.

If this latest declaration is actually passed, it will merely serve as another reminder of the impotence of the United Nations and its irrelevance when it comes to dealing with international conflicts. The U.S. government must surely be aware of this.

All this brouhaha about the coming tsunami skirts the fundamental issues preventing an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Namely, that such an agreement must constitute the end of the conflict, and that the Palestinian signatories to the agreement must be capable of assuring that no acts of terror will be launched from territories that Israel turns over as part of the agreement.

The current Palestinian spokesman, or president if you like, Mahmoud Abbas, is not capable of satisfying either of these conditions. At best, he represents only half of the Palestinians, and regardless of what commitments he undertakes, Hamas and other Islamic jihadists will have plenty of additional claims on Israel even after Abbas signs an agreement. His control over areas in Judea and Samaria is limited at best, and he certainly cannot be relied on to prevent acts of terror against Israel from those areas Israel would withdraw from.

Until the Palestinians get their act together, there seems little chance of reaching an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. That is the sad truth, and no amount of theatrics by Abbas, and maneuvering by the Quartet, the United States and the United Nations, or all of them in concert, will change that. That is what Israeli spokesmen should be explaining to everyone—friends, do-gooders and enemies alike.…

The important thing is to stay calm, not press the panic button, and not listen to those familiar faces who reappear every now and then with a new-old initiative suggesting that Israel announce it is prepared to withdraw to the “‘67 borders.” And to not make any hasty, half-baked statements under the illusion that they will appease those applying pressure on Israel.… Only when it is clear that the Israeli government is standing firm on its positions will the pressure on Israel be relaxed.

(Mr. Moshe Arens is a former Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs, and has served
as Israeli Defense Minister on three occasions. Mr. Arens will be the keynote speake
 at CIJR’s upcoming Gala, scheduled for Wednesday, June 15, 2011.)


Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, April 13, 2011


Dear Mr. President,

During your recent meeting with American Jewish communal leaders, you reassured them of “America’s unshakable support for Israel’s security, opposition to any effort to delegitimize it or single it out for criticisms, and commitment to achieve a peace that will secure the future for Arabs and Israelis alike.” Moreover, you reaffirmed your undertaking to keep US military aid at its current high levels.

On the eve of Pessah, when we celebrate our freedom from bondage, permit me to explain why, despite such assurances, most Israelis still harbor profound anxiety about your attitude toward our security.

I preface this with a reference to your disturbing remarks at the meeting, when you urged them to “search your souls” over whether Israel is genuinely serious about peace, and called on them to encourage us to take “bold steps.” Many of us consider such remarks as exemplifying the moral equivalence you consistently apply to our defensive actions in relation to terror attacks, and your penchant for condemning us while largely ignoring Palestinian intransigency.

You appear to have endorsed the Arab narrative, which ignores the fact that it was the Jewish state that suffered aggression from its neighbors preceding the ‘67 war. You also seem to disregard the fact that the vast majority of Israelis today—including our prime minister—have no desire to rule over Arabs, and would dearly like to separate from them.

We may debate the amount of land beyond the 1949 armistice lines that Resolution 242 entitles us to retain, but the discussion is over minor percentages. Besides, two prime ministers offered the Palestinians over 90 percent of these territories—and were rebuffed.

Today our region is undergoing unprecedented upheaval. For years we have been confronting a xenophobic, Islamic Iran, on the eve of achieving nuclear status, which repeatedly declares its intention to wipe us off the face of the world. Now the entire Arab world is in the throes of revolutionary turmoil. But far from emerging as free societies, new Arab regimes may prove to be even more committed to radical Islam than their corrupt predecessors. We fear that we will again be surrounded by fanatical rejectionist states committed to our destruction.

In this context, Mr. President, Israelis ask: What do you really expect of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government? Bear in mind that unilateral withdrawal from Gaza led to increased missile attacks. And since your election, Israel has made all the concessions. Last year, under enormous pressure from you, Netanyahu took the unprecedented step of imposing a 10-month freeze on settlement construction, even in areas that will unquestionably remain part of Israel. He also committed the government to endorsing a two-state solution—a major policy reversal in his Likud party.

In contrast, beyond making duplicitous statements—concealed from their constituents—endorsing peace, the Palestinian leaders remained utterly intransigent, unwilling to compromise on a single issue, even refusing to negotiate. In fact, following Al Jazeera disclosures of compromises allegedly reached during negotiations with prime minister Ehud Olmert, the PA leaders blatantly denied having offered any concessions. Surely this suggests that when negotiating with Olmert, Abbas was either duplicitous or conscious that brainwashing his constituents to hate us had been so effective that any genuine Palestinian accommodation was inconceivable.…

Besides, the PA has been adamant in its refusal to recognize us as a Jewish state. Indeed, whereas 20% of the population of Israel consists of Arab and Muslim citizens, our “moderate peace partner” has proclaimed that a Palestinian state would be judenrein, insisting that he would not tolerate the presence of a single Jew. Mr. President, can you ignore such blatantly racist remarks from a leader you repeatedly refer to as a moderate peace partner? Many of us believe that the principal objective of Abbas, like his Hamas kinsmen, is still the dissolution of Jewish sovereignty; that he is merely employing Yasser Arafat’s tactics of extracting unilateral concessions and attempting to dismantle us in stages.

However, even if we accept your premise that Abbas is genuinely willing to make peace, can you, seriously visualize him having the power to deliver? Besides, you are aware that Hamas is a genocidal organization, committed to killing all Jews. Yet the man you insist is a moderate peace partner unequivocally repeats his desire to merge his PA with these Islamic psychopaths. Is it reasonable to expect us to support the creation of a neighboring state in which a dominant group remains proudly committed to our destruction?…

And finally, Mr. President…when you urge your Jewish constituents to press Israel to make further unilateral concessions, it epitomizes the concerns we share about your inability to appreciate the perils we face. It also fuels our fear that you are contemplating further pressure on us to retreat behind the 1949 armistice lines—which would endanger our very existence.

I urge you to reinstate the principles outlined by the Bush administration. I refer to US rejection of the right of return for Palestinian refugees; recognition of demographic changes in relation to the major settlement blocs, not seeking to impose a return to the 1949 armistice lines; and support for defensible Israeli borders.

I believe I echo the vast majority of my fellow Israelis when I appeal to you to provide us with the confidence to move forward by taking these elements into account and review your current policy.





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Tax-Deductible Donations Support CIJR’s Key Work:

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* Vital work with students, including the Student Israel-Advocacy Program(SIAP), the Baruch Cohen Research Internships, and Dateline: Middle East student magazine

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To make a contribution, please phone us at (514) 486 5544
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Thank you! Happy Passover.




Israel’s Attorney-General announces hearings to indict FM Lieberman

Israel’s Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has announced that he is considering indicting Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and will hold hearings in which Lieberman’s lawyers can defend him before the indictment. The reported charges against Leiberman include fraud, breach of trust, money-laundering and harassing a witness. Sources close to Lieberman said he would not instigate a coalition crisis prior to the hearings and that the government would not topple. (Jerusalem Post, April 13.)



Weekly Quotes

The president will be speaking in greater detail about America’s policy in the Middle East and North Africa in the coming weeks. America’s core interests and values have not changed.… This includes renewed pursuit of comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. The status quo between Palestinians and Israelis is no more sustainable than the political systems that have crumbled in recent months. And while it is a truism that only the parties themselves can make the hard choices for peace, there is no substitute for continued, active American leadership — and the president and I are committed to that.”—US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a speech at the US-Islamic World Forum, describing the U.S.’ ongoing drive to promote comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, which will include a reinvigorated US role in trying to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Last week, U.S. president Obama confided to visiting Israeli President Shimon Peres, “that with the winds of change blowing through the Arab world, it’s more urgent than ever that we try to seize the opportunity to create a peaceful solution between the Palestinians and the Israelis.” Reports suggest that US president Obama will shortly propose a new “peace” initiative, in order to deter the Palestinian Authority from seeking UN-recognition of a Palestinian state at the General Assembly in September. (Jerusalem Post, April 13.)


Today Robert Serry, the ‘UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process,’ present[ed] his report on Palestinian state-building efforts…[and] Serry thinks the efforts are ‘clearly on track.…’ Serry’s report is designed to assist the social promotion of the Palestinians in September, through a resolution by a body [the UN General Assembly] that lacks the authority to confer statehood on anyone, much less anyone as patently unprepared as the Palestinians.… Not to put too fine a point on it: if you can’t finish drafting your constitution; if your ‘president’ is in the seventh year of his four-year term; if you have no functioning legislature and cannot hold parliamentary elections; if half your putative state is occupied by terrorists; if your education system is a cesspool of anti-Semitism; if you insist upon dedicating public squares to those who massacred civilians; if your ruling party is corroded by corruption; if you have no free press or independent judiciary; if you cannot implement anything in negotiations that you refuse to conduct in any event; and if you haven’t finished Phase I of the Roadmap…well, you might not be ready for a state.”—Excerpts from Rick Richman’s Commentary article, entitled All Set to Be a Failed State, denouncing the notion that the Palestinians are prepared for statehood, by pointing out the blatant deficiencies that plague Palestinian society.


Hamas is fighting a war of attrition against us. We won’t come to terms with a situation in which they decide when there’s quiet and when the area heats up.… There was quiet, and Hamas took advantage of the quiet in order to smuggle more and more weapons. We remember when Kassams only had a range of 20 km; today they reach Beersheba and Ashdod and in the end they’ll reach Tel Aviv.… We are going to do what was agreed upon. We know how to get what was in the agreement and what we signed with Likud, without threats and without crises”—Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in an interview with Israel Radio, denouncing the prospect of a ceasefire with Hamas, as this would not serve Israel’s national interests. Lieberman added that he is currently working towards implementing a coalition agreement, which calls for Israel to overthrow Hamas. (Jerusalem Post, April 11.)


With Goldstone’s admission that ‘our fact-finding mission had no evidence’ and that ‘civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy,’ the politicized NGOs that supplied these allegations have been exposed again as biased and lacking credibility. Goldstone was [part of] an orchestrated campaign led by powerful NGOs, including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Breaking the Silence, Adalah, Palestinian Center for Human Rights, and Al Haq.… Israeli NGOs funded by European governments and the New Israel Fund have also played a central role in advancing the one-sided agenda of repressive regimes at the UN Human Rights Council. They have continued to lobby at the U.S. Congress, European Parliament, and the Knesset. Goldstone’s Washington Post article has exposed these campaigns as nothing more than anti-Israel propaganda.”—Professor Gerald Steinberg, president of NGO Monitor, in response to Richard Goldstone’s landmark Washington Post editorial, calling on the anti-Israel NGOs that contributed erroneous information to Goldstone’s report to withdraw their discredited claims. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 3.)


The governments and peoples of the region must be vigilant and aware, not to fall pray to the conspiracy and the deception of the U.S., its allies and the Zionist regime.… The time of pillaging and imposition on the peoples of the world is over and these forms of crimes and subterfuge will not save the day anymore.… I can safely say that they will simply not be able to do anything and that this is the end of the road. With the Lord’s mercy, the people of the region will be victorious and the business of cruelty and malevolence will be shut down forever, and where the just and humane leadership will replace the inhumane and uncivilized authoritarians.”—Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in his first press conference following the Iranian new year (March 21), asserting that a new Middle East, without the specter of Israel and the U.S., is taking shape. (Pajamas Media, April 7.)


I was hurt very much, and I am still hurting—my family and I—from the unjust campaigns against us and false allegations that aim to smear my reputation, my integrity, my (political) stances and my military history. I agree to authorize the prosecutor-general in writing to allow him to contact, through the Foreign Ministry, all countries in the world to prove to them that I and my wife agree to show any accounts or properties I have possessed starting from my military and political career until now to prove to the people that their former president only owns domestically according to previous financial disclosure.”—Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in his first remarks since his ouster more than two months ago, denying allegations that he abused his presidential authority to amass wealth and property. Egypt’s public prosecutor has ordered that Mubarak be detained for 15 days, while an investigation takes place into his purported ownership of property abroad and foreign bank accounts; Mubarak will also be confronted about his role in the killing of protesters during Egypt’s uprising. Mubarak is currently being treated in a Cairo hospital for a “heart crisis” (Associated Press, April 10 & Jerusalem Post, April 13.)


There are indications that some of Obama’s advisors are aware of the need for change in Syria. However, some argue that the problem is not President Bashar al-Assad, but rather the ‘old guard’ who were put in place by his father, [former Syrian President] Hafez al-Assad, and who he [Bashar al-Assad] is surrounded by. However President Bashar al-Assad’s statements, and his policies, contradict those who say that.”—Former director for Middle East affairs at the US National Security Council, Michael Singh, describing the internal division in the White House over Obama’s policy of engagement towards Syria, and criticizing Obama’s “courting of al-Assad to achieve regional objectives, whilst ignoring what is happening inside Syria”. According to reports, Syrian forces loyal to al-Assad have killed more than 200 protesters in their attempt to suppress the intensifying civil unrest throughout the country. This reality last week prompted U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to inexplicably refer to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad as a “reformer.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 11 & Jerusalem Post, April 12.)

Short Takes

GAZA MISSILE HITS ISRAELI SCHOOL BUS—(Jerusalem) An antitank missile fired from the Gaza Strip has hit a school bus in southern Israel, critically wounding a teenage boy. The Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the militant group Hamas, asserted responsibility for the attack, claiming it was an act of “self-defense to protect Palestinian civilians and citizens.” In response, the IDF released a statement affirming that “[Israel] will not allow communities…to continue living under constant threat. Any attempt to terrorize…any of Israel’s citizens will be met with a response.” (Washington Post & IDF Website, April 7.)



The Arab League has announced that it plans to press the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Gaza, amidst an escalation in violence in the area. The announcement comes following reports that UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Robert Serry, has successfully brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, including Hamas. The purported deal stipulates that the IDF stop its air and artillery strikes against Palestinian terrorist groups, who, in turn, would halt their rocket and mortar fire at civilian population centers. (Jerusalem Post, April 10.)


A PALESTINIAN ‘GIFT’ FOR PASSOVER—(Jerusalem) The Palestinian Authority has honored the terrorist mastermind of the “Passover Massacre”, an atrocity which claimed the lives of 30 innocent Israeli citizens attending a Seder at Netanya’s Park Hotel on March 27, 2002. In recent weeks, the Palestinian leadership has also named a youth soccer competition in Ramallah after Wafa Idris, the first female suicide bomber, and named a square in El Bireh, as well as two schools and a summer camp, in honor of Dalal Mughrabi, commander of the March 11, 1978 massacre of 38 bus passengers on Israel’s coastal road. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 8.)


IRAN TOUTS MAJOR ADVANCES IN NUCLEAR PROGRAM—(Washington) Scientists from Iran’s atomic energy program have successfully tested advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium and are less than a month away from starting the country’s first commercial nuclear reactor, progress that Western officials say could shorten the timeline for acquiring nuclear weapons. These announcements, linked to the observance of “nuclear technology day” in Tehran, underscore recent assessments by nuclear experts that Iran is preparing to speed up its production of enriched uranium. Iran, which began enriching uranium on an industrial scale in 2007, is now thought to possess enough low-enriched fuel to make at least two bombs if the material were processed further. (Washington Post, April 11.)


HEZBOLLAH PREPARED TO SEND 100 MISSILES DAILY AT TEL AVIV—(Jerusalem) According to a recent WikiLeaks cable, revealed to the Israeli press by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Hezbollah is capable of striking Tel Aviv directly, from an arsenal of more than 20,000 missiles. The cable describes a Joint Political Military Group meeting in November 2009, in which Israeli intelligence officials told their US counterparts that “Hezbollah was preparing for a long conflict with Israel in which it hopes to launch…400-600 rockets and missiles…per day, 100 of which will be aimed at Tel Aviv.” (Jerusalem Post, April 8.)


GOLDSTONE TO FACE LIBEL SUIT—(Jerusalem) Israeli MK Danny Danon has enlisted the help of Jewish-American lawyers to file a libel lawsuit against South African judge Richard Goldstone, following his retraction of his Operation Cast Lead report, which accused Israel of war crimes. A petition will be filed with a New York District Court next week, in which the plaintiffs will demand a formal apology and a symbolic financial compensation for the State of Israel. A second lawsuit may be filed in an Israeli court. (Ynet News, April 7.)


MERKEL: WE WILL OPPOSE ‘UNILATERAL’ PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD—(Berlin) German Chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced her government’s opposition to a possible United Nations resolution creating an independent Palestinian state. “The Federal Republic of Germany is championing a two-state solution.… Any kind of unilateral recognition does not promote this goal,” she said, during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Merkel added that the purported conflict between her and Netanyahu reported in the media in February is “not a realistic portrayal of what happened” and noted that the German-Israeli relationship is “very intense and close.” (Jerusalem Post, April 7.)


LIBYAN OPPOSITION PROTESTS CEASE-FIRE MOVE RETAINING GADHAFI—(Benghazi) Libyan opposition supporters have held protests against a delegation of African Union mediators, who arrived in Benghazi following meetings with Col. Moammar Gadhafi in Tripoli, in which Ghaddafi reportedly accepted a “road map” for a cease-fire that would leave the regime in power. Opposition officials said they have little faith in the visiting African Union mediators, most of them allies of Col. Gadhafi, who preach democracy for Libya but don’t practice it at home. Rebel forces in Benghazi are demanding that Col. Gadhafi step down immediately. (Wall Street Journal, April 11.)


GATES PRESSES IRAQ TO DECIDE ON EXTENSION OF U.S. PRESENCE—(Mosul, Iraq) U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is pressing senior Iraqi officials to decide whether they want U.S. troops to remain in the country beyond their scheduled departure at year’s end. During the course of his trip, Mr. Gates met with Iraq’s top leaders, including Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq, to reiterate the U.S.’ willingness to stay in Iraq beyond 2011, if invited. It is not known whether the Iraqi government will move to alter or extend the December 2008 security pact that set 2011 as the deadline for full U.S. withdrawal. (Wall Street Journal, April 8.)


IHH TO SEND ‘MARMARA’ BACK TO GAZA IN JUNE—(Jerusalem) The President of the Turkish group IHH, Bulent Yildrim, has confirmed his organization will again send the Mavi Marmara flotilla to Gaza in June. Speaking at an event called the “Mavi Marmara Support and Solidarity Memorial Night,” Yildrim  stated that this time his organization would be “more prepared” than it was last year, when IDF soldiers, who boarded the ship for a routine inspection, were viciously assaulted by a mob of “humanitarians.” The IHH President added that “Zionism has spread like a virus to humanity.” (Jerusalem Post, April 7.)


APPROVAL OF J’LEM BUILDING PLANS DELAYED—(Jerusalem) Four construction plans in Jewish neighborhoods located beyond the “Green Line” in Jerusalem have been removed from the agenda of the District Planning and Construction Committee following the Prime Minister Netanyahu’s direct intervention. According to reports, the move is aimed at preventing an “embarrassment” before a meeting of the Quartet on the Middle East, scheduled for April 15, a day after the committee was slated to discuss and approve the building plans. The Prime Minister’s Office declined comment. (Ynet News, April 11.)


RUSSIAN BILLIONAIRE PLANS ‘JEWISH AL-JAZEERA’—(New York) A Russian-Jewish billionaire is planning to create an international news network that will present “real information” about Israel. Alexander Mashkevich announced his intention to found a Jewish Al-Jazeera during an address at the Keren Hayasod—United Israel Appeal conference in Washington D.C. “Every day and every hour people get negative information about Israel,” Mashkevich told the conference. “Therefore, the most important thing is to represent Israel on an international level, with real information.” Mashkevich is ranked 297 on Forbes magazine’s billionaire list with an estimated fortune of $3.7 billion. (JTA, April 7.)


EGYPT SENDS BLOGGER TO PRISON FOR CRITICIZING ARMY—(Cairo) An Egyptian military tribunal has convicted a blogger of insulting the army, and sentenced him to three years in prison. The military court issued the sentence against Maikel Nabil Sanad, 26, without the presence of his lawyers, according to a statement by seven Cairo-based rights groups. Rights lawyers say the sentence has wide implications for freedom of expression in post-Mubarak Egypt, and could set a precedent for anyone seeking to expose abuses by the military. According to reports, more than 10,000 civilians have been convicted and sentenced by military tribunals since the army took over two months ago. (Wall Street Journal, April 11, 2011)


MONTREAL GROCERY STORE REMOVES, PUTS BACK STAR OF DAVID—(Montreal) A grocery store in Montreal has agreed to replace a single Star of David over a display of Passover products, after removing three large Stars following a customer’s complaint that they constituted religious “propaganda.” The Metro grocery store in Westmount was ordered by the chain’s head office to remove the Stars; however, the decision was reversed two days later after phone calls from angry local customers. Marie-Claude Bacon, director of corporate affairs for Metro, apologized for the “misunderstanding,” and suggested that “[Metro stores] are here for all [its] customers so we decided to put back the Star of David realizing we made a mistake.” (Montreal Gazette, April 7.)


ISRAEL EMBASSY STAFF EVACUATED FROM ABIDJAN—(Jerusalem) The staff of the Israeli Embassy in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, has been evacuated after having been trapped in the ambassador’s residence for days due to the ongoing civil war raging in the country. The evacuation took place under heavy fire between rival forces, and the acting ambassador was wounded. The injured diplomat received medical treatment at a local hospital, and has since safely arrived in Israel along with the rest of the diplomats. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, April 9.)


YAD VASHEM PUTS EICHMANN TRIAL ON YOUTUBE—(Jerusalem) Israel’s Yad Vashem museum has uploaded footage to YouTube of the entire trial of Holocaust architect Adolf Eichmann, to mark 50years since the groundbreaking court case. Eichmann, who was captured by Israeli agents in Argentina in 1960, was brought to Israel and put on trial on April 11, 1961 for his central role in the genocide of some six million Jews. The initiative is part of a larger project launched earlier this year by Yad Vashem and Google to post all of the museum’s Holocaust documents on the Internet. The English version of the trial can be viewed at: (Ynet News, April 11.)