Month: May 2011

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP— YOM YERUSHALAYIM SAMEACH!

 

 

 

Weekly Quotes

 

When I was overseas…I kept remembering one verse: ‘Chazak Chazak v’Nitchazek.’ [Be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened].… We need that strength every day of the year. We’re undergoing a great struggle but we also have some great achievements. Forty-four years ago, Israel’s soldiers fulfilled the vision of the prophets and brought back Jerusalem to its proper place.… Today Jerusalem is beautiful and is a pride to the entire country. We came back to Jerusalem as builders, and today Jerusalem is growing and flourishing.… We see how the citizens of Jerusalem walk in it proudly. Jerusalem has once again become the capital of the Jewish people.… There’s nothing more holy to us than Jerusalem. We’ll keep Jerusalem, we’ll keep its unity.… We’ll protect Jerusalem and Jerusalem will protect us. I say to you not just Chag Sameach [happy holiday], but L’Shana Haba’a BiYerushalyim Habenuya Yoter [Next year in Jerusalem which is built even more]!”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a Jerusalem Day address marking the 44th anniversary of the unification of the Jewish people’s Eternal capital, reaffirming the nation of Israel’s historical connection to the Holy city, and declaring that Jerusalem will forever remain the undivided capital of Jewish state. (Arutz Sheva, June 1.)

 

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and ministers…today, the Cabinet will pass decisions to invest [in Jerusalem] approximately NIS 400 million in infrastructures, tourism and bio-technology. We want to turn Jerusalem into a global bio-technology center. We will provide study grants and scholarships for discharged soldiers in Jerusalem. We will rehabilitate heritage sites that are important to the State of Israel and our people. The Government and the people are bound as one to build up Jerusalem, the heart of the nation, and this commitment to Jerusalem is one of the foundations of the unity of the Jewish People.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a weekly cabinet meeting, announcing the government’s plan to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in Jerusalem-based projects to strengthen the city’s global position, and reinforce the Jewish people’s presence in its historical capital. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 29.)

 

The following story illustrates Israel’s dilemma. A Palestinian woman from Gaza arrives at Soroka Hospital in Beersheba for lifesaving skin treatment for burns over half her body. After the conclusion of her extensive treatment, the woman is invited back for follow-up visits to the outpatient clinic. One day she is caught at the border crossing wearing a suicide belt. Her intention? To blow herself up at the same clinic that saved her life. What kind of culture leads one to do that? Sadly, it is a culture infused with resentment and hatred. It is this culture that underlies the Palestinians’ and the broader Arab world’s refusal to accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. This is the root of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. It is not about the ‘67 lines. And until Israel’s enemies come to terms with this reality, a true peace will be impossible.…”—U.S.House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, conveying a true story during his speech to the AIPAC policy conference in Washington on May 22, and attributing the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a pervasive hatred of Israel, disseminated and subsequently internalized by Arab populations throughout the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal, May 25.)

 

Corporal Shalit was kidnapped by Hamas in 2006 from Israeli territory by a squad of Hamas kidnappers who entered Israel specifically for the purpose. He is thus completely unlike Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, all of whom have been tracked down, charged and convicted in duly appointed courts of law for their criminal, murderous terrorist acts. Corporal Gilad Shalit is guilty of no crime—he was simply unfortunate enough to be seized by Hamas. This is the act of a criminal gang. Now, however, it is no longer only the act of a single criminal gang.… When Nabil Shaath foreshadows that the PA, once having come into authority over all Palestinians in Gaza, will not immediately free Shalit but, on the contrary, will use him as bargaining chip, he tells the world that Fatah [and the PA] are no different from Hamas as a criminal, terrorist outfit…[and] must be rigorously sanctioned and isolated. As a start, the U.S. must cease all funding to the PA at once.”—Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) National President Morton A. Klein, following senior Palestinian Authority official Nabil Shaath’s declaration that the PA will continue to hold hostage abducted Israeli solider Gilad Shalit in order to negotiate his release in exchange for jailed Palestinian terrorists, condemning, profusely, the Palestinian leadership, and calling on the U.S. government to immediately suspend its funding of the Palestinian Authority. (ZOA website, May 27.)

 

With the Egyptian decision to permanently open the Rafah Border Terminal that links Gaza with Egypt without the presence of international observers, it is appropriate to consider what are Egypt’s treaty obligations with Israel relating to the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip that may be used against the Jewish State. Article III 2 of the Peace Treaty Between Israel and Egypt of March 26, 1979 obligates Egypt ‘to refrain from…assisting…in acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, subversion or violence against the other Party, anywhere, and undertakes to ensure that perpetrators of such acts are brought to justice.’ The smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip constitutes such ‘assisting’ and Egypt is thus obligated under the treaty to prevent such smuggling and to bring the smugglers ‘to justice.’ It should be noted that while [third-party] observers were to ensure that the agreement is honored, a memorandum between the US and Israel commits the US to support Israel in the case that Egypt violates the treaty.”—Dr Aaron Lerner, Director of Independent Media Review and Analysis, outlining Egypt’s violation of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel due to its decision to open up the Rafah border crossing to Gaza without putting into place the necessary security measures to prevent an influx in the smuggling of weaponry to the Hamas-governed Strip. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 26.)

 

I proudly announce that we are ready to give all our experiences to the Egyptian nation.… Our enemies do not want us rebuild our ties because they know a great political and economic power will emerge from our cooperation.… If we stand together, there is no need for their [American] help because Iran and Egypt have needs which can be met by relying on each other’s capabilities.”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, at a meeting with Egyptian academics, clerics and media representatives in Tehran, pushing his plan to rebuild links with Cairo after the overthrow of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and affirming that the emergence of a new “great power” would force “Zionists along with other enemies of nations [to] leave and escape this region.” (Ynet News, June 1.)

 

For a president to be sitting in Washington, D.C., and saying, go back to your ‘67 borders in Israel, how about you live there and try to defend an indefensible border nine miles wide? When you grow up you find out that life isn’t the way you imagined it.… If you’ve never been to the moon, you can’t issue policy about the moon. You have no f***king idea what it’s like on the moon.… He has no f***king idea what the world is like because he doesn’t have to live there.”—Front-man of the legendary rock group KISS, Gene Simmons, who was born in Israel as Chaim Witz, in an interview with CNBC, calling U.S. President Barack Obama “naïve” for demanding that Israel withdraw to the “1967 borders” as a pre-condition for negotiations with the Palestinians. The vocalist, who is fluent in Hebrew, visited Israel for the first time this past March since leaving as a child. (Jerusalem Post, May 28.)

Short Takes

CANADA TAKES FIRM PRO-ISRAEL STANCE AT G8 SUMMIT—(Deauville, France) Group of Eight leaders have altered a statement pressuring Israel to return to negotiations with the Palestinians because Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper vehemently opposed any mention in the leaders’ final communique to Israel’s 1967 borders. “The Canadians were really very adamant, even though Obama expressly referred to the 1967 borders in his speech last week,” one European diplomat said. In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman phoned his Canadian counterpart John Baird to thank Prime MinisterHarper for his pro-Israel stance; during the conversation Lieberman said that “Canada is a true friend of Israel.” (Reuters, May 27 & Jerusalem Post, May 28.)

 

UNSC RECOMMENDATION NEEDED FOR PALESTINIAN STATE—(Jerusalem) In an unprecedented development, UN General Assembly President Joseph Deiss has affirmed that a Palestinian state will not become a member of the United Nations without a unanimous recommendation from the Security Council. According to Deiss, if the US or any other permanent council member uses its veto to oppose Palestinian statehood, then the General Assembly will not be able to vote on membership for a Palestinian state, as such would violate the UN Charter. According to the Charter, a prospective UN member state is required to fill out a formal application stating its adherence to the Charter, the 15-member Security Council must then make a recommendation that requires nine “yes” votes and no veto by a permanent member, and only then can the General Assembly vote to admit the state, which must be approved by a two-thirds majority. (Jerusalem Post, May 27.)

 

PALESTINIANS PREPARE FOR ‘NAKSA’ MARCHES ON BORDERS—(Jerusalem) Following the example of this month’s Nakba Day marches, Palestinians and their supporters are preparing to launch another multipronged assault on Israel’s borders next week to mark the “Naksa,” or setback, the Arab defeat and territorial losses in the 1967 Six Day War. The website “Third Palestinian Intifada” has posted detailed plans for marches on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Gaza, on three separate dates before and during the war’s anniversary. The group’s “plan of action” calls for mass rallies on June 3, 5 and 7—the Friday leading up to the Six Day War anniversary, the date on which the war began, and the date Israeli troops took Jerusalem, respectively. Thirteen people were killed this past May 15th (Nakba Day)w hile trying to breach Israel’s borders. (Jerusalem Post, May 31.)

 

KEY JEWISH DONOR BREAKS WITH OBAMA—(New York) One of the most important Democratic donors of the past two decades has indicated that he will not contribute to President Obama’s reelection campaign in 2012, because of the administration’s stance on Israel. Billionaire financier Haim Saban told CNBC that Obama hasn’t done enough to show support for Israel. “I’m very perplexed as to why the president, who’s been to Cairo, to Saudi Arabia, to Turkey, has not made a stop in Israel and spoken to the Israeli people,” Saban said. “I believe that the president can clarify to the Israeli people what his positions are on Israel and calm them down. Because they are not calm right now.” Others large democratic donors are expected to follow Saban’s example. (Contentions, May 25.)

 

UNIFIL BOMBERS ALSO MEANT TO LAUNCH ROCKETS INTO ISRAEL—(Jerusalem) Lebanese newspaper Al-Safir has reported that the recent bombing of a UNIFIL vehicle in Ramileh, Lebanon was potentially part of a broader operation which included launching rockets into Israel. The bombing, which resulted in the death of one Italian soldier, raises additional questions regarding the power vacuum that has plagued the Lebanese political spectrum for the last number of month, due to Prime Minister-designate Najib Mitaki’s inability to form a ruling coalition. According to Al-Safir, Hezbollah is suspected of having coordinated the attack; however a conflicting report by Lebanese newspaper An-Nahar claims that Syria was behind the bombing, to steer attention away from the country’s own deepening crisis. (Jerusalem Post, May 30.)

 

SYRIAN RESIDENTS FIGHT BACK GOV’T TROOPS FOR FIRST TIME—(Jerusalem) Syrian residents have fought back for the first time against government troops in a two-month-old uprising against the rule of President Bashar Assad. According to reports, residents of Talbiseh and Rastan, in the central Syrian province of Homs, used automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades to fend off advancing troops, raising fears that the uprising may turn into a “Libya-style” armed conflict. Commenting on the intensifying conflict, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said that the brutality and repression in Syria against anti-government protesters is “shocking,” and urged the Syrian government to permit a UN-fact finding mission to enter the country. (Jerusalem Post, May 31.)

 

MUBARAK FINED $33M. FOR CUTTING PHONES DURING PROTESTS—(Cairo) An Egyptian court has fined former President Hosni Mubarak 200 million Egyptian pounds for cutting off mobile and internet services during the January protests that led to his ouster. It was the first court ruling to be made against Mubarak since he left office on Feb. 11. At least 800 people died during 18 days of protests that toppled Mubarak, and more than 6,000 were injured by live ammunition, rubber bullets, water cannons and batons. Mubarak is currently being detained in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh; he will stand trial in Egypt in September on more serious charges, including ordering the killing of protesters, which could carry the death penalty. (Reuters, May 28.)

 

EGYPT OPENS GAZA BORDER—(Rafah, Egypt) Hundreds of Palestinians have crossed into Egypt after Cairo opened its border with the Gaza Strip for the first time in four years, a shift that signals a more pro-Palestinian policy by Egypt’s post-revolutionary government. In a move angering Israel, the crossing will not be operated in accordance with a 2005 U.S.-mediated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians that called for European monitors at the border and gave Israel the ability to monitor traffic remotely. Egypt has kept its border with the Gaza Strip almost entirely closed since 2007, when Hamas wrested control of the coastal enclave from the Palestinian Authority. (Wall Street Journal, May 28.)

 

OVER 400 AL-QAIDA TERRORISTS NOW IN SINAI—(Jerusalem) According a senior Egyptian security officer, more than 400 al-Qaida members have infiltrated the Sinai Peninsula. While Egyptian security officials are pursuing the terrorists, who are composed of Palestinians, Bedouins and foreign Arab citizens, there have already been a number of attacks carried out “against [Egyptian] security forces in the Sinai city of El Arish.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recently addressed Egypt’s security problems in Sinai at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, saying “Egypt [is having] difficulties exercising its sovereignty over Sinai.… What’s happening in Sinai is that global terrorist organizations are meddling there and their presence is increasing because of the connection between Sinai and Gaza.” (Jerusalem Post, May 30.)

 

NATO EXTENDS OPERATION IN LIBYA—(Brussels) The North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s top official has announced that the alliance will extend its mission in Libya for a further 90 days. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s Secretary-General, said the new agreement “sends a clear message to the Gadhafi regime: We are determined to continue our operation to protect the people of Libya.” The announcement to extend NATO’s mission coincided with the release by the Libyan Ministry of Health of the first government estimates regarding civilian casualties in Libya. The report lists 718 civilians killed between March 19 and May 26 as a result of NATO military operations. NATO has denied killing large numbers of civilians. (Wall Street Journal, June 1.)

 

IRAN VOWS TO UNPLUG INTERNET—(New York) Iran is taking finalizing steps towards the implementation of a new national Internet that could, in effect, disconnect Iranian cyberspace from the rest of the world. Iran, already among the most sophisticated nations in online censoring—an effort to confront what the regime refers to as an online invasion of Western ideas, culture and influence—is promoting its national Internet as a cost-saving measure for consumers and as a way to uphold Islamic moral codes. According to reports, Iran also intends to introduce its own computer operating system in coming months to replace Microsoft Corp.’s Windows. According to Ali Aghamohammadi, Iran’s head of economic affairs, Iran’s national Internet will be “a genuinely halal network, aimed at Muslims on an ethical and moral level.” (Wall Street Journal, May 28.)

 

SAUDI BID TO CURB IRAN WORRIES U.S.—(New York) Saudi Arabia is rallying Muslim nations across the Middle East and Asia to join an informal Arab alliance against Iran, in a move U.S. officials worry could draw other troubled nations into the sectarian tensions gripping the Arab world. Saudi officials have approached Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Central Asian states to lend diplomatic support—and potentially military assistance—to help stifle a majority Shiite revolt in Sunni-led Bahrain, a conflict that has become a symbol of Arab defiance against Iran. Saudi Arabia’s actions come amidst increasing friction with the Obama administration. U.S. officials working with Saudi Arabia have acknowledged Riyadh’s frustration with Washington’s policies, in particular the U.S.-facilitated toppling of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was considered by the Saudis as the last strong Sunni hedge against growing Iranian influence in the Middle East. (Wall Street Journal, May 27.)

 

YEMEN UNREST SPREADS—(San’a, Yemen)The security situation in Yemen is deteriorating rapidly, following President Saleh’s refusal—for a third time—to sign an agreement designed to end his 33-year rule and allow him a dignified exit from office. More than 150 people have died in clashes that have raged in three Yemeni cities, including San’a, the capital. There is growing concern amongst U.S. and Saudi Arabian officials that Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula will take advantage of a potential civil war to increase its foothold and launch fresh attacks on international targets. (Wall Street Journal, May 30.)

 

DOCUMENTS SHOWING LENIN HAD JEWISH ROOTS ON DISPLAY—(New York) Documents alleging that Soviet Communist leader Vladimir Lenin had a Jewish heritage are presently on display in Moscow. The documents include a letter written in 1932 by Lenin’s oldest sister, Anna Ulyanova, saying that their maternal grandfather was a Ukrainian Jew who converted to Christianity in order to gain access to higher education. The letter, written by Ulyanova to Joseph Stalin, Lenin’s successor, asked Stalin to make Lenin’s Jewish heritage known in an effort to curb the rise of anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. According to the exhibition’s curator, Tatyana Koloskova, Stalin ordered Ulyanova to “keep absolute silence” about Lenin’s Jewish roots. (JTA, May 25.)

 

BOOK: VATICAN HELPED NAZIS EVADE CONVICTION—(Jerusalem) A new book by Harvard Research Fellow Gerald Steinacher claims that thousands of Nazis were able to evade justice following the Holocaust thanks to the complicity of the Vatican. Nazis on the Run: How Hitler’s Henchmen Fled Europe claims that Catholic authorities helped SS men including Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele avoid detection, travel safely out of Europe, and live comfortably in exile after the end of World War II. Steinacher uncovered these details while examining a trove of unpublished Red Cross documents, which showed that understaffed European human rights workers attempting to resettle millions of displaced WWII victims unknowingly created a network that was exploited by Nazis evading justice, with the knowledge and support of the Vatican. (Jerusalem Post, May 27.)

 

IDF MAKES HISTORY: FIRST WOMAN TO BE MADE MAJOR GENERAL—(Jerusalem) Brig.-Gen. Orna Barbivai, deputy head of the IDF Human Resources Directorate, will make history in a few weeks when she becomes the first female officer in the IDF to be promoted to the rank of major general. Barbivai, 49 and the mother of three, will replace current head of the directorate Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir who is retiring from IDF service. Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz recommended the appointment and it was approved by Defense Minister Ehud Barak. (Jerusalem Post, May 26.)

YOM YERUSHALAYIM, 5771!

 

 

 

We’re sitting right now on the ridge and we’re seeing the Old City. Shortly we’re going to go in to the Old City of Jerusalem, that all generations have dreamed about. We will be the first to enter the Old City.… The Temple Mount is in our hands! I repeat, the Temple Mount is in our hands!”—Lt. General Mordechai (Motta) Gur, commander of the first IDF brigade to advance through the Old City of Jerusalem toward the Temple Mount and the Western Wall on June 7, 1967, describing by radio the bringing of Jerusalem’s holiest site under Jewish control for the first time in 2000 years. General Rabbi Shlomo Goren, chief chaplain of the IDF, then sounded the Shofar signify Jerusalem’s liberation. (CAMERA, May 31, 2011.)

 

 

 

YOM YERUSHALAIM 5771
Baruch Chohen

In loving memory of Malca z’l

 

“I will plant them upon their land, and they shall never again be plucked out of the land which I have given them.” Amos 9:15

 

As we celebrate Jerusalem Day, we should recall and be proud of the history of our people, Israel. It was King David who captured Jerusalem and completed the unification of the tribes of Israel between 1000-961 B.C.E.

 

By taking Jerusalem, King David wiped out the last alien enclave in the hills of the Hebrew country and the one hostile fortress that stood between the two portions of the Israelite kingdom. Moreover, the capture of Jerusalem was as necessary to Israel’s independence as it was to the unification of the Israeli tribe. These and other reasons were behind David’s next spectacular move which was to have a far-reaching and great impact on history, making Jerusalemthe capital of Israel!

 

B’shana habaa B’Yerushalaim Ha’bnuyah!

 

Jerusalem The Eternal Capital Of Israel—Selected Quotes

 

“Jerusalem which is bound firmly together binds the Jews to one another.” (Psalm 122:3)

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”(Psalm 122:6)

“In the din and tumult of the age, the still small value of Jerusalem remains our own music.”—IsraelZangwill, 1921

“No city in the world, not even Athens or Rome, ever played as great a role in the life of a nation for so long a time as Jerusalem has done in the life of the Jewish people.”—David ben Gurion, 1947

 

There Stood—by Paul Celan

 

There stood
A splinter of fig upon your lip,

There stood
Jerusalem around us,

There stood
The bright pine scent
Above the Danish skiff we thanked

I stood
In you.

 

JOGGING MEMORIES OF 1947 AND 1967 ON JERUSALEM DAY
Gil Troy

Jerusalem Post, May 31, 2011

 

I hate disappointing the worrywarts, but today, Jerusalem Day, 2011, 44-years after its reunification, Jerusalem is a remarkably functional city, a surprisingly peaceful city, a delightfully magical city. The city I experience daily is not the city described in the headlines. It does not feel like it is in eclipse, nor does it feel like a powder keg. I absorbed New York’s fear of crime in the 1970s, Boston’s racial tension in the 1980s, and Montreal’s linguistic complexity in the 1990s much more intensely. While jogging through the Old City daily, I feel lucky to live in such a livable city.

Jerusalem invites time-traveling in profound ways while doing mundane tasks. Every day, crossing the footbridge over the Cinemateque looking toward Mount Zion, I observe a panorama of peace reinforced by a symphony of silence, with the Tower of David crowned by its Israeli flag and Muslim crescent, church spires and minarets, the new city’s modern construction to my left and the older houses abutting the Old City to my right. The sweeping Old City walls dominate front and center.

These days, I confess, I think more about recent history than the walls’ ancient history, built by Suleiman the Magnificent 500 years ago but evoking Abraham binding Isaac, King David designating King Solomon, thousands of years earlier. Mahmoud Abbas’s rewriting of the history of 1947, which passed the New York Times’ editorial muster, Barack Obama’s obsession with the 1967 lines, have me wishing Jerusalem’s stones could talk, confirming what really happened when Zionists founded Israel in 1947-1948, when Israelis liberated Jerusalem in 1967, and during the difficult intervening years.

My daily plunge into this past begins with Jerusalem’s 19 years of rupture, as I traverse what was the barbed-wire-and-mine-strewn No-Man’s Land. To my right, the Cinemateque looms, a center of Israel’s edgy, often critical, vibrant democratic culture, contradicting false cries of McCarthyism. To my left, the red-roofed houses of Yemin Moshe unfold, beside Moses Montefiore’s 1857 windmill. I think about the poor people who lived in this, the first neighborhood outside Jerusalem’s walls, during the State’s first years. And I wince imagining their terror when, periodically, Jordanian snipers would shoot. The Jordanian army always reassured the UN that a soldier had gone crazy—again and again.

Scampering up Mount Zion, holy to us and our Christian brethren, I wonder what the fifty soldiers following Captain Eli Kedar thought while hustling along this alley on June 7, 1967. Did they remember the failure to free the besieged Jewish Quarter from this alley in 1948? Did they know the last Jew to leave the Jewish Quarter, headed to Jordanian prison for nine months, was a 15-year-old, Eli Kedar? Did they appreciate their commanders’ genius in mostly attacking from behind, via Lions Gate? Did they know Israel began the war two days earlier with only 71 troops in Jerusalem? Were they aware that, even while the Jordanians shelled Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minster Levi Eshkol offered peace to Jordan’s King Hussein, making the war one of self-defense and any resulting territorial gains not an illegal occupation? Did they sense they were about to correct the historic mistake of the city’s division, returning the Holy Temple’s remnants to Jewish sovereignty after 2000 years? Did they appreciate their army’s sensitivity in deploying archaeologists to try preserving holy sites? Probably, most simply thought about going home—which 759 Israelis after six days never did.

Entering the Jewish quarter I again ponder the nineteen years preceding the Six Day War when Israel—living under Barack Obama’s 1967 borders—were banned from the Old City, although the UN never validated Jordanian control. Those, ahem, illegal occupiers trashed Jerusalem’s synagogues. Contrast that bitter past to the redemptive sights and sounds of kids playing and praying, the burger bars adjoining archaeological museums, the glorious dome of the Hurva synagogue, which means ruins: bombarded by Jordan in 1948; rebuilt and rededicated last year.

Crossing the Jewish Quarter, then the Arab market, seamlessly, safely, I exit through Jaffa Gate. Sixty-four years ago, on December 2, 1947, just days after the UN proposed partitioning Palestine on November 29, Arabs shouting “Death to the Jews!” looted the Jewish commercial center across the way, at the entrance to today’s David Village. This was the Palestinian response to the compromise the Jews accepted. Mahmoud Abbas’s recent New York Times column lied, claiming the Zionists rejected compromise, then “expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state,” when the Arab rejectionists chose violence—and continue to reject a Jewish state.…

In Six Days of War, Michael Oren quotes Arik Akhmon one of the first Israelis in 1967 to enter the Western Wall plaza, as bullets whizzed by. Although not religious, Akhmon recalled, “I don’t think there was a man who wasn’t overwhelmed with emotion. Something special had happened.”

Jerusalem is a real city which cannot “overwhelm” residents daily—life intrudes. But every day I note something “special” about the place, its history or mystery, its sights or smells, its old memories or new achievements. Today, Yom Yerushalayim, let’s honor its secret ingredient, the people it attracts, connected to Jerusalem’s lush past, enlivening the city during its complex yet compelling present, and shaping a safe, spiritually-rich, yet charmingly commonplace future keeping the city magical and livable.

(Gil Troy is Professor of History at McGill University
and a Shalom Hartman Research Fellow in Jerusalem.
)

 

OBAMA, JERUSALEM DAY IS NO JOKE
Yonatan Sredni

Arutz Sheva, May 31, 2011

 

Some people rank the importance of the day’s events by which stories top the newscasts. For me, I look to see what the American late-night talk-show hosts are joking about. While stories about Israel often hit the front page of US papers, they rarely break into David Letterman’s or Conan O’Brien’s opening monologues.

The exception to the rule occurred last week in the wake of US President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East which was followed up by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s address to both houses of Congress.

The Tonight Show’s Jay Leno, and his Jewish joke-writers, pulled no punches attacking the President: “President Obama suggested that Israel should go back to the pre-1967 borders. Native Americans said, “Why stop there? Let’s go back to the pre-1492 borders.”“

Leno followed up that joke with another jab at Obama later in the week: “Obama was also in England, where the Queen suggested that we go back to the pre-1776 borders.”

But the truth is that 1967 lines are no laughing matter. It’s not only about not being able to ‘go back’ in history, just like one cannot go back to 1492 or 1776. The issue at hand, which Netanyahu strongly stressed in Washington, is security. Netanyahu clearly stated that Israel, “cannot return to indefensible 1967 lines”.

All the talk about the 1967 lines could not be timelier. This Tuesday night and Wednesday is Yom Yerushalayim (Jerusalem Day). Jerusalem Day commemorates the reunification of Jerusalem and the establishment of Israeli control over the Old City (including the Western Wall) during the Six Day War in June 1967. On May 12, 1968, the government proclaimed a new holiday—Jerusalem Day—to be celebrated on the 28th of Iyar, the Hebrew date on which the divided city of Jerusalem became one.

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel declared Jerusalem Day a minor religious holiday to thank God for the six-day victory and for answering the 2,000-year-old prayer of “Next Year in Jerusalem”. Religious Zionists gather for special holiday prayers on this day, and some hold special festive meals and wear holiday clothing.

On March 23, 1998, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Day Law, formally making the day a national holiday.

But the fact is, Jerusalem Day need not be a holiday just for Jews. Since it affects people of all faiths who now have the ability to worship freely in Jerusalem, people of all faiths should embrace it. As Netanyahu stated in his speech at Congress last week, “And as for Jerusalem, only a democratic Israel has protected the freedom of worship for all faiths in the city. Throughout the millennial history of the Jewish capital, the only time that Jews, Christians, and Moslems could worship freely, could have unfettered access to their holy sites has been during Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem. Jerusalem must never again be divided. Jerusalem must remain the united capital of Israel.”

I used to get annoyed because as wonderful as Jerusalem Day is, ‘Jerusalem Day’ has become just that—a day for Jerusalem. Unfortunately, outside the capital this important day goes by virtually unnoticed.

Jerusalem will have its parades, its 1 a.m. march to the Kotel from the Merkaz HaRav Yeshiva and the afternoon flag march of youth organizations in the streets of the Old City with festive dancing at the Kotel, its Jerusalem flag with the lion on it flapping in the wind. It’s neither Jerusalem nor her residents that I am worried about.

Travel outside the capital and you will hardly see any signs of this holiday at all. Sure, many communities across Israel and the Diaspora hold festive prayer services or concerts for Jerusalem Day. Noami Shemer’s classic ballad “Jerusalem of Gold” is sure to be sung countless times across the nation this week. But ask the average non-Jerusalemite Israeli on the street what’s special about this Wednesday and you will likely get a blank stare.

Will the Israeli press cover Jerusalem Day at all this year, or will they regulate it to their back pages and end of their newscasts, along with the weather reports? Will there be television programs about Jerusalem on Tuesday night or will they take a backseat to whatever passes as “prime time TV” these days (maybe the Israeli version of Survivor, filmed on the other side of the globe)?

Has Jerusalem Day become a sad joke? Overall, there seems to be little awareness of Jerusalem Day outside the capital. The Ministry of Education recently announced that 50% of Israeli students in public schools had never visited Jerusalem at all.

So what can be done to raise Jerusalem awareness? Well, efforts are now being made to organize trips to Jerusalem (which will include visits to important sites like the Kotel, Yad Vashem, Ammunition Hill, the Knesset, etc.) for all Israeli schools. This is certainly a step in the right direction.

But perhaps we owe a ‘debt of gratitude’ to President Obama for mentioning the 1967 lines. Had he not said what he said, it is doubtful that Prime Minister Netanyahu would have so strongly defended his own position that returning to the 1967 was not an option. In an unexpected way, Obama and Netanyahu brought about some major awareness about 1967, which is what Jerusalem Day is all about.

At every Jewish wedding, just before the groom stomps on the glass, the following verses from Psalms (reminding us in times of gladness that the Temple in Jerusalem has yet to be rebuilt) are said: “If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand wither, let my tongue cleave to my palate if I do not remember you…if I do not set Jerusalem above my highest joy.” (137, 5-7)

I believe the key to those verses is in the last phrase—“above my highest joy.” We need to emphasize that “Jerusalem is number one.”

Of course we won’t forget about Jerusalem. But let’s also remember that Jerusalem Day is not a joke, it’s important. Jerusalem is no laughing matter.

And to all those who still don’t know that it’s Jerusalem Day, well then, the joke’s on you.

 

REJOICE ON JERUSALEM DAY
Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, May 11, 2011

 

Jerusalem, referred to over 600 times in the Bible, has represented the cornerstone of our Jewish identity for more than three millennia since it became the capital of King David’s Israelite monarchy. It remained at the core of our spiritual longings following the second dispersion when for 2,000 years our forefathers faced Jerusalem in their daily prayers, yearning for a return to their ancestral homeland. Moreover, even throughout their exile, Jews retained a significant presence in their Holy City and since the 1840s have constituted the largest group inhabiting the city.

Jerusalem also has major religious significance for Christians and Muslims, both of whom denied freedom of worship to other religions when they ruled over the city. During the Jordanian control of the Old City from 1948 to 1967, in flagrant breach of armistice agreements, Jews were refused all access to holy sites, and synagogues and graveyards were desecrated and destroyed. And the world remained silent.

Since the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967, the government of Israel—for the first time—ensured that all faiths could freely worship and maintain their religious institutions. If anything, the Israeli authorities discriminated against Jews, denying them the right to worship on the Temple Mount lest Muslims took offense.

Yet to this day many Palestinians deny that there ever was a Jewish presence in the city and make preposterous allegations that the Jewish holy sites, including the Temple, were Zionist fabrications concocted to justify “the Jewish colonialist enterprise.”

To this end they have been systematically destroying archeological evidence on the Temple Mount.

In addition, we are now faced with a determined campaign in which most of the world, including the Obama administration, is pressuring us to once again divide Jerusalem. Even prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, an architect of the Oslo Accords, on the eve of his assassination warned the Knesset that Jerusalem must remain united. And indeed in this day and age the concept of dividing cities is considered retrograde.

We are also painfully aware of the appalling track records of many Islamic states which deny freedom of worship to non-Muslims. The record of the Palestinians in this context is particularly vile, and we should be under no illusions how they would behave if they gained control of the holy sites.

But beyond this there is also the question of security. Every Israeli withdrawal in recent years has led to emboldening the jihadists and intensified aggression and terror. A division of Jerusalem would virtually guarantee that a corrupt or impotent Palestinian Authority or a rabid Hamas would be tempted to launch terror actions against neighboring Jewish areas.

Jerusalem Day should therefore not merely be a day of celebration. It should also be a day in which we pledge that, irrespective of the creative solutions devised to provide greater autonomy for Arabs in Jerusalem, the city must never be divided and Israel must remain the custodian to guarantee freedom of worship to Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Alas, today, many of us tend to overdramatize the challenges confronting us and display a penchant for self criticism which approaches masochism. Jerusalem Day should be a day when we give thanks to the Almighty for His intervention and pay tribute to those who fought against overwhelming odds to reunite the city and establish our national homeland.

Despite successive wars, facing ongoing terror and still being surrounded by enemies pledged to destroy us, Israel is here to stay. Seven and half million Israeli citizens, three quarters of whom are Jews, have achieved a demographic critical mass and notwithstanding the many doomsday predictions, the Jewish state can never be undone.

And despite an absence of natural resources, we have transformed our country into a veritable economic powerhouse which has achieved miraculous progress in science, technology, industry and agriculture. Tiny Israel has more hi-tech start-ups and companies listed on NASDAQ than any country other than the US. Our arts and cultural development is expanding and we continue producing Nobel Prize winners.

We have undergone a religious revival and today there are more Jews in Israel learning Torah than in any age in Jewish history.

We have successfully absorbed millions of Jews, the majority being Holocaust survivors and refugees finding haven from oppression. They originate from all four corners of the globe ranging from Western olim to Ethiopians. And while the integration process has still a long way to go, no society in the world has succeeded in absorbing such a mass of immigrants and molding them into a nation.

We see the shocking global resurgence of anti-Semitism, mankind’s oldest and perennial hatred, throughout the Western world. Many Diaspora Jews, especially in Europe, have reached the obvious conclusion that there is no future for their children in societies that treat them as pariahs. In contrast, our children live without ever experiencing the pain and humiliation of discrimination or being treated as inferior. For them Jewish identity is natural and requires no justification. The world applies double standards against us. With millions of innocent human beings murdered or denied human rights, we Jews remain the people who dwell alone.

The bitter lesson of our history has been that while we are obliged to forge alliances, ultimately we must rely on our own resources, rather than the goodwill of others. That is why we should continuously celebrate the fact that after 2,000 years of persecution, degradation and exile, the creation of a Jewish state has now empowered us. We must realize that so long as the majority of our people remain determined, our future rests in our own hands Those who wail about our shortcomings and the corruption within our ranks should realize that it is a mark of a healthy society when it transparently discloses its weaknesses and exacts harsh punishment on leaders who transgress.

We failed to achieve peace with our neighbors because we lack a peace partner. For years we deluded ourselves into believing that providing Arabs with land would achieve peace, only to belatedly realize that the Palestinian goal was neither peace, nor an independent state for themselves. Their primary objective was to deny legitimacy to Jewish sovereignty in the region.

When in years to come, our neighbors ultimately come to the realization that they can never vanquish us, they will follow the example of Egypt and Jordan—and appoint leaders who will peacefully coexist and enjoy prosperity with us.

I often contemplate what our grandparents would have thought during the dark years of the Holocaust had someone predicted to them that the Jewish people would rise like a phoenix from the ashes to resurrect a Jewish homeland which would become the greatest success story of our century. That is the theme that should run through our minds as we celebrate Jerusalem Day. And it should make us smile.

THE DREAMER’S NIGHTMARE: A STRONG ISRAEL

 

 

 

LESSONS OF NETANYAHU’S TRIUMPH
Caroline B. Glick
Jerusalem Post, May 27, 2011

 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was hoping to avoid his clash with US President Barack Obama [last] week in Washington. Four days before his showdown at the White House with the American leader, Netanyahu addressed the Knesset. His speech was the most dovish he had ever given. In it, he set out the parameters of the land concessions he is willing to make to the Palestinians, in the event they ever decide that they are interested in negotiating a final peace.

Among other things, Netanyahu spoke for the first time about “settlement blocs,” and so signaled that he would be willing to evacuate the more isolated Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. He also spoke of a long-term military presence in the Jordan Valley rather than Israeli sovereignty along the militarily vital plain. Both strategically and ideologically, Netanyahu’s speech constituted a massive concession to Obama. The premier had good reason to believe that his speech would pre-empt any US demand for further Israeli concessions during his visit to Washington.

Alas, it was not to be. Instead of welcoming Netanyahu’s unprecedented concessions, Obama dismissed them as insufficient as he blindsided Netanyahu…with his speech at the State Department. There, just hours before Netanyahu was scheduled to fly off to meet him in the Oval Office, Obama adopted the Palestinian negotiating position by calling for Israel to accept that future negotiations will be based on the indefensible—indeed suicidal—1949 armistice lines.

So, just as he was about to board his plane, Netanyahu realized that his mission in the US capital had changed. His job wasn’t to go along to get along. His job was to stop Obama from driving Israel’s relations with the US off a cliff.

Netanyahu was no longer going to Washington to explain where Israel will stand aside. He was going to Washington to explain what Israel stands for. Obama threw down the gauntlet. Netanyahu needed to pick it up by rallying both the Israeli people to his side and rallying the American people to Israel’s side. Both goals, he realized, could only be accomplished by presenting his vision of what Israel is and what it stands for.

And Netanyahu did his job. He did his job brilliantly.

Israel today is the target of an ever escalating campaign to demonize and delegitimize it. Just this week we learned that a dozen towns in Scotland have decided to ban Israeli books from their public libraries. One Scottish town has decided to post signs calling for its residents to boycott Israeli products and put a distinguishing mark (yellow star, perhaps?) on all Israeli products sold in local stores to warn residents away from them.… In San Francisco, there is a proposition on the ballot for the fall elections to ban circumcision. The proposition would make it a criminal offense to carry out the oldest Jewish religious ritual. Offenders will be punished by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.

Israelis shake their heads and wonder, what did we do to the people of [Scotland and] San Francisco? It seems that everywhere we look we are told that we have no right to exist. From Ramallah to Gaza, to Egypt, to Scotland, Norway, and San Francisco, we are told that we are evil and had better give up the store. And then Obama took to the stage…and told us that we have to surrender our ability to defend ourselves in order to make room for a Palestinian state run by terrorists committed to our destruction.

But then Netanyahu arrived in Washington and said, “Enough already, we’ve had quite enough of this dangerous nonsense.” And we felt things we haven’t felt for a long time. We felt empowered. We felt we had a voice. We felt proud. We felt we had a leader. We felt relieved.

The American people, whose overwhelming support for Israel was demonstrated by their representatives in both houses of the Congress…also felt empowered, proud and relieved. Because not only did Netanyahu eloquently remind them of why they stand with Israel, he reminded them of why everyone who truly loves freedom stands with America.…

Since he assumed office, Obama has been traveling the world apologizing for America’s world leadership. He has been lecturing the American people about the need to subordinate America’s national interests to global organizations like the United Nations that are controlled by dictatorships which despise them. Suddenly, here was an allied leader reminding them of why America is a great nation that leads the world by right, not by historical coincidence.

It is not coincidental that many American and Israeli observers have described Netanyahu’s speech as “Churchillian.” Winston Churchill’s leadership was a classic example of democratic leadership. And Netanyahu is Churchill’s most fervent pupil. The democratic leadership model requires a leader to set out his vision of where his country must go and convince the public to follow him.

That is what Churchill did. And that is what Netanyahu did this week. And like Churchill in June 1940, Netanyahu’s success this week was dazzling.

Just how dazzling was make clear by a Haaretz poll of the Israeli public conducted after Netanyahu’s speech before the Congress. The poll found that Netanyahu’s approval ratings increased an astounding 13 percentage points, from 38 to 51 percent in one week. Two-thirds of the Israelis who watched his speech said it made them proud.

As for the US response, the fact that leading Democrats on Capitol Hill, House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, felt it necessary to distance themselves from Obama’s statements about Israel’s final borders makes clear that Netanyahu successfully rallied the American public to Israel’s side.

This point was also brought home with Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s interesting request to Republicans during their joint meeting with Netanyahu. In front of the Israeli leader, Wasserman Schultz asked her Republican counterparts not to use support for Israel as a campaign issue. Her request makes clear that following Netanyahu’s brilliant triumph in Washington, Democrats realize that the president’s poor treatment of Israel is an issue that will harm them politically if the Republicans decide to make it an issue in next year’s elections.…

Netanyahu’s extraordinary leadership this week has shown…us that he has the capacity to be the leader of our times.… Netanyahu should realize what his astounding success means for him as well as for Israel. The people of Israel and our many friends around the world will continue to stand behind him proudly if he continues to lead us as well and wonderfully as he did this week. And we will admire him. And we will thank him.

 

WHAT OBAMA DID TO ISRAEL
Charles Krauthammer

National Review, May 27, 2011

 

Every Arab-Israeli negotiation contains a fundamental asymmetry: Israel gives up land, which is tangible; the Arabs make promises, which are ephemeral. The longstanding American solution has been to nonetheless urge Israel to take risks for peace while America balances things by giving assurances of U.S. support for Israel’s security and diplomatic needs.

It’s on the basis of such solemn assurances that Israel undertook, for example, the Gaza withdrawal. In order to mitigate this risk, Pres. George W. Bush gave a written commitment that America supported Israel’s absorption of major settlement blocs in any peace agreement, opposed any return to the 1967 lines, and stood firm against the so-called Palestinian right of return to Israel.

For two and a half years, the Obama administration has refused to recognize and reaffirm these assurances. Then last week in his State Department speech, President Obama definitively trashed them. He declared that the Arab-Israeli conflict should indeed be resolved along “the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

Nothing new here, said Obama three days later. “By definition, it means that the parties themselves—Israelis and Palestinians—will negotiate a border that is different” from 1967.

It means nothing of the sort. “Mutually” means both parties have to agree. And if one side doesn’t? Then, by definition, you’re back to the 1967 lines.

Nor is this merely a theoretical proposition. Three times the Palestinians have been offered exactly that formula, 1967 plus swaps—at Camp David 2000, Taba 2001, and the 2008 Olmert-Abbas negotiations. Every time, the Palestinians said no and walked away.…

Note how Obama has undermined Israel’s negotiating position. He is demanding that Israel go into peace talks having already forfeited its claim to the territory won in the ‘67 war—its only bargaining chip. Remember: That ‘67 line runs right through Jerusalem. Thus the starting point of negotiations would be that the Western Wall and even Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter are Palestinian—alien territory for which Israel must now bargain.

The very idea that Judaism’s holiest shrine is alien or that Jerusalem’s Jewish Quarter is rightfully, historically, or demographically Arab is an absurdity. And the idea that, in order to retain them, Israel has to give up parts of itself is a travesty.

Obama also moved the goal posts on the so-called right of return. Flooding Israel with millions of Arabs would destroy the world’s only Jewish state while creating a 23rd Arab state and a second Palestinian state—not exactly what we mean when we speak of a “two-state solution.” That’s why it has been the policy of the U.S. to adamantly oppose this “right.”

Yet in his State Department speech, Obama refused to simply restate this position—and refused again in a supposedly corrective speech three days later. Instead, he told Israel it must negotiate the right of return with the Palestinians after having given every inch of territory. Bargaining with what, pray tell?

No matter. “The status quo is unsustainable,” declared Obama, “and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.”

Israel too? Exactly what bold steps for peace have the Palestinians taken? Israel made three radically conciliatory offers to establish a Palestinian state, withdrew from Gaza, and has been trying to renew negotiations for more than two years. Meanwhile, the Gaza Palestinians have been firing rockets at Israeli towns and villages. And on the West Bank, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas turned down the Olmert offer, walked out of negotiations with Benjamin Netanyahu, and now defies the United States by seeking not peace talks but instant statehood—without peace, without recognizing Israel—at the U.N. And to make unmistakable this spurning of any peace process, Abbas agrees to join the openly genocidal Hamas in a unity government, which even Obama acknowledges makes negotiations impossible.

Obama’s response to this relentless Palestinian intransigence? To reward it—by abandoning the Bush assurances, legitimizing the ‘67 borders, and refusing to reaffirm America’s rejection of the right of return.

The only remaining question is whether this perverse and ultimately self-defeating policy is born of genuine antipathy toward Israel or of the arrogance of a blundering amateur who refuses to see that he is undermining not just peace but the very possibility of negotiations.

 

THE MIDEAST HISTORY LESSON OBAMA SO DESPERATELY NEEDS
Seth Mandel

FrontPage, May 27, 2011

 

After President Obama surprised Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week with a now-infamous statement of principle about the 1967 lines, Netanyahu responded with what news outlets characterized as a “history lecture.”

Though the outlets—ranging from the French Press Agency to the Chicago Sun-Times—meant the phrase derisively, a history lesson on the 1967 lines was exactly what the moment called for. And a lesson on the Israel-Egypt peace treaty and the early negotiations that led to the Oslo process would, for instance, enlighten the president on just why his strategy for Mideast peace is backwards, and doomed to fail.

Anwar Sadat’s trip to Jerusalem to address the Israeli Knesset in 1977 immediately entered the history books as a moment of triumph for political courage and for the power of diplomacy. It held the promise of a Middle East where Israel’s existence is a recognized reality, and it offered a glimpse of what Arab statesmanship could accomplish. Grand gestures weren’t meaningless after all.

But there was one prominent American who disagreed. After the Egyptian president’s dramatic visit to Jerusalem U.S. President Jimmy Carter said, “a separate peace agreement between Egypt and Israel is not desirable.”

In retrospect, of course, it has been very “desirable” for Carter’s otherwise dismal foreign policy record. Historian Arthur Herman explained in the Wall Street Journal in 2009 how that came to be: “But by the autumn of 1978, the rest of Mr. Carter’s foreign policy had crumbled,” Herman wrote. “He had pushed through an unpopular giveaway of the Panama Canal, allowed the Sandinistas to take power in Nicaragua as proxies of Cuba, and stood by while chaos grew in the Shah’s Iran. Desperate for some kind of foreign policy success in order to bolster his chances for re-election in 1980, Mr. Carter finally decided to elbow his way into the game by setting up a meeting between Sadat and Begin at Camp David.”

When it became inevitable, Carter took the credit. It should be noted that there is much value in a White House reception for such a deal. It communicates the notion that American moral and physical power stand behind the agreement, giving it extra weight in the international arena. But the fact remains that because Carter wanted a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace, he actually opposed the Egypt-Israel deal. Against it before he was for it, so to speak.

The agreement was the result of diplomacy and negotiation undertaken by the Israelis and the Egyptian government. Only after it became a formality did the U.S. get involved.

A similar path took shape on its way to the Bill Clinton-endorsed Oslo process—the declaration of principles of which were signed at the White House in 1993. As Barry Rubin and Judith Colp Rubin write in Yasir Arafat: A Political Biography, what became the Oslo process began in earnest in 1991, when Israeli scholars Yair Hirschfeld and Ron Pundak met with Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi in Ramallah to discuss Israeli-Palestinian economic cooperation. Ashrawi suggested the Israelis meet with PLO economist Ahmad Qurei in London in December of that year. Arafat approved.

“This was not just to be a meeting between two Israeli academics and a PLO economist,” the authors write. “Abu Mazin (Mahmoud Abbas) later wrote that the key factor in making the PLO pursue this channel was the relationship of Pundak and Hirschfeld through Yossi Beilin, a prominent figure in the Labor party, to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres. The get-together was arranged by Terje Larsen, a Norwegian sociologist who headed the Institute for Applied Social Sciences. That meeting’s success soon led to more rounds of secret talks between Israel and the PLO hosted by the Norwegians.”

The talks circumvented the U.S. [as well as then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzkah Rabin], which was what Arafat wanted anyway. As Martin Indyk describes in his memoir of Clinton Mideast diplomacy, Arafat’s presence posed a continued logistical problem—at times comical—for the American administration since Arafat was an international terrorist.…

The talks moved along, and eventually the Clinton administration got involved. Once that happened, however, things quickly spiraled out of control. Arafat muscled his way into a more public role (he was always involved behind the scenes), and eventually hijacked the process, derailing virtually the entire Mideast diplomacy of the Clinton administration. (As the Bush administration prepared to take over, Clinton called Colin Powell and told him: “Don’t let Arafat sucker punch you like he did me.”)

The lesson here is that the American administration can play a productive role in the peace process, but not an overwhelming one. History has shown time and again in the Mideast that negotiations must be done quietly and be free of outside interference. The more public the spectacle, the more it encourages the Palestinians to grandstand, stall, and manipulate.

Unfortunately, this is a lesson Obama has yet to learn. His version of American Mideast diplomacy is the reverse of what has worked, and the photocopy of what has failed. The predictable result is that the Palestinians…are barreling toward a UN General Assembly publicity stunt that would effectively abrogate the Oslo process and introduce a level of anarchy into an already unstable region.

History suggests the president should reverse course immediately to salvage the process. But this may be a lesson too far.

(Seth Mandel is a writer specializing in Middle Eastern politics
and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the
Horowitz Freedom Center.)

 

THE DREAMER GOES DOWN FOR THE COUNT
Walter Russell Mead

American Interest, May 25, 2011

 

I had never thought there were many similarities between the pleasure-loving Charles II of England and the more upright Barack Obama until this week. Listening to his speeches on the Middle East at the State Department, US-Israel relations at the AIPAC annual meeting and most recently his address to the British Parliament the comparison becomes irresistible.

“Here lies our sovereign king,” wrote the Earl of Rochester about King Charles:

Whose word no man relies on.
Who never said a foolish thing
Or ever did a wise one.

This seems to capture President Obama’s Middle East problems in a nutshell. The President’s descriptions of the situation are comprehensive and urbane. He correctly identifies the forces at work. He develops interesting policy ideas and approaches that address important political and moral elements of the complex problems we face. He crafts approaches that might, with good will and deft management, bridge the gaps between the sides. He reads thoughtful speeches full of sensible reflections.

But the last few weeks have cast him as the least competent manager of America’s Middle East diplomatic portfolio in a very long time. He has infuriated and frustrated long term friends, but made no headway in reconciling enemies. He has strained our ties with the established regimes without winning new friends on the Arab Street. He has committed our forces in the strategically irrelevant backwater of Libya not, as he originally told us, for “days, not weeks” but for months not days.

Where he has failed so dramatically is in the arena he himself has so frequently identified as vital: the search for peace between Palestinians and Israelis. His record of grotesque, humiliating and total diplomatic failure in his dealings with Prime Minister Netanyahu has few parallels in American history. Three times he has gone up against Netanyahu; three times he has ingloriously failed. This last defeat—Netanyahu’s deadly, devastating speech to Congress in which he eviscerated President Obama’s foreign policy to prolonged and repeated standing ovations by members of both parties—may have been the single most stunning and effective public rebuke to an American President a foreign leader has ever delivered.

Netanyahu beat Obama like a red-headed stepchild; he played him like a fiddle; he pounded him like a big brass drum. The Prime Minister of Israel danced rings around his arrogant, professorial opponent. It was like watching the Harlem Globetrotters go up against the junior squad from Miss Porter’s School; like watching Harvard play Texas A&M, like watching Bambi meet Godzilla—or Bill Clinton run against Bob Dole.

The Prime Minister mopped the floor with our guy. Obama made his ‘67 speech; Bibi ripped him to shreds. Obama goes to AIPAC, nervous, off-balance, backing and filling. Then Bibi drops the C-Bomb, demonstrating to the whole world that the Prime Minister of Israel has substantially more support in both the House and the Senate than the President of the United States.

President Obama’s new Middle East policy, intended to liquidate the wreckage resulting from his old policy and get the President somehow onto firmer ground, lies in ruins even before it could be launched. He had dropped the George Mitchell approach, refused to lay out his own set of parameters for settling the conflict, and accepted some important Israeli red lines—but for some reason he chose not to follow through with the logic of these decisions and offer Netanyahu a reset button.

As so often in the past, but catastrophically this time, he found the “sour spot”: the position that angers everyone and pleases none. He moved close enough to the Israelis to infuriate the Palestinians while keeping the Israelis at too great a distance to earn their trust.… Everyone who followed the events of the last week knows that the President has lost control of the American-Israeli relationship and that he has no near-term prospects of rescuing the peace process. The Israelis, the Palestinians and the US Congress have all rejected his leadership.…

Internationally, this matters a great deal; domestically it matters even more.… As the stunning and overwhelming response to Prime Minister Netanyahu in Congress showed, Israel matters in American politics like almost no other country on earth. Well beyond the American Jewish and the Protestant fundamentalist communities, the people and the story of Israel stir some of the deepest and most mysterious reaches of the American soul. The idea of Jewish and Israeli exceptionalism is profoundly tied to the idea of American exceptionalism. The belief that God favors and protects Israel is connected to the idea that God favors and protects America.…

Being pro-Israel matters in American mass politics because the public mind believes at a deep level that to be pro-Israel is to be pro-America and pro-faith. Substantial numbers of voters believe that politicians who don’t ‘get’ Israel also don’t ‘get’ America and don’t ‘get’ God. Obama’s political isolation on this issue, and the haste with which liberal Democrats like Nancy Pelosi left the embattled President to take the heat alone, testify to the pervasive sense in American politics that Israel is an American value. Said the Minority Leader to the Prime Minister: “I think it’s clear that both sides of the Capitol believe you advance the cause of peace.”

President Obama probably understands this intellectually; he understands many things intellectually. But what he can’t seem to do is to incorporate that knowledge into a politically sustainable line of policy. The deep American sense of connection to and, yes, love of Israel limits the flexibility of any administration. Again, the President seems to know that with his head. But he clearly had no idea what he was up against when Bibi Netanyahu came to town.

As a result, he’s taking another ride in the clown car.… I hope I’m wrong, but I think the next intifada got a lot closer this week.

EUROPE’S ANTI-SEMITISM: YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW

 

 

 

BOOK EXCERPT: AMONG THE TRUTHERS
THE ENDURING INFLUENCE OF THE PROTOCOLS OF ZION
Jonathan Kay

National Post, May 10, 2011

 

In August, 1897, Theodor Herzl and two hundred fellow activists convened at a concert hall in Basel, Switzerland, to attend the First Zionist Congress. The capstone of their deliberations was The Basel Program, a landmark manifesto aimed at “establishing for the Jewish people a publicly and legally assured home in Palestine.…”

But as legend has it, it was all an elaborate act—just a respectable set-piece to divert gentile journalists and spies from the real meeting taking place at a secret location nearby. There, Herzl delivered a clandestine 24-part lecture series for Jewish ears only. In these speeches, “protocols” as Herzl called them, there was little talk of carving a small country out of the Middle Eastern desert. What he proposed was nothing less than a plan for total world domination.

Europe’s gentiles—or goyim, as they were described in Yiddish—generally were a happy, earnest lot, Herzl told his audience. They worked their farms and small businesses assiduously, prayed to a benevolent Christian God, and prospered under the kindly, lawful aristocrats who rose up from among their ranks. But they were also gullible, lustful, greedy and unstable in their attitudes—human frailties that the calculating, ascetic Jew could exploit in order to rob them of their entitlements.

The Jewish strategy, Herzl explained, would target all strata of goyim. To corrupt the proles, Jewish smut merchants would provide pornography and “alcoholic liquors.” To ensnare middle-class farmers and merchants, Jewish moneylenders would practice usury. Ambitious gentile politicians would be co-opted through extortion and outright bribery; or else installed as quislings in Europe’s Masonic lodges, which Jews secretly controlled.

Meanwhile, gentile intellectuals, such as they were, would be beguiled by democracy, liberalism, Marxism, socialism, communism, Darwinism, anarchism, “Nietzsche-ism,” and all the other fangled creeds the Jew had created.…

Of course, God-fearing men would never willingly succumb to Jewish tyranny. But Herzl had an answer to that: Jews would not only annihilate Europe’s earthly rulers, but also “the very principle of God-head and the spirit,” whose presence in men’s souls shielded them from the “arithmetical calculations and material needs” upon which the Jew preyed.… “All nations will be swallowed up in the pursuit of gain, and in the race for it will not take note of their common foe [the Jew].…”

When Herzl was done with his 24 protocols, the conference disbanded and the Jewish Elders returned to their homes in order to prepare their plots. The world might never have learned of the protocols’ existence—but for a single Russian police agent who, through means unknown, intercepted one of Herzl’s acolytes at a German Masonic lodge.

In exchange for what one must assume to have been an extravagant sum, the Jew agreed to turn over his handwritten transcription of Herzl’s protocols—but only till the next morning. All through the night, a team of Russian scribes feverishly copied out the Hebrew text. When sunrise broke, the fruits of their labour were sent to translators in Moscow, who would go on to warn the world of the Jewish menace.

Thus ends the fairy tale, known to history as The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion—a document that would become the most influential conspiracist tract since the era of the French Revolution. Millions of readers were taken in by this poisonous fraud following its widespread publication in 1919. Adolf Hitler and other war criminals would be inspired to act on it, setting in motion a wave of anti-Semitic hatred so intense that, by the end of the Second World War, Central and Eastern Europe were left virtually Judenrein.

All this came to pass despite the fact the Protocols was debunked within months of its dissemination. As investigators revealed, the document was concocted by czarist anti-Semites who had not even taken the trouble to invent the lies themselves. Instead, they plagiarized Protocols from two sources: Biarritz, a lurid anti-Semitic novel published 50 years previously in Germany, and a French propaganda tract from the same era, “Dialogues in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu,” written by a French lawyer named Maurice Joly.…

The Protocols was a lie. But like all successful conspiracy theories, it was a lie that people wanted to hear. This was a moment when Europe had just endured not one, but two epic upheavals, neither of which had a simple, comprehensible cause.… For Europeans reading the Protocols in the 1920s and 1930s, the document offered something precious: the idea that only a single barrier—the Jewish race—blocked a return to the peaceful, pious and socially ordered world that had been destroyed by war, revolution, mechanization, urbanization, radical political ideologies, secularization and catastrophic inflation. The evil brilliance of the Protocols lay in the fact that it patched together a theory of Jewish conspiracy that covered every one of these upheavals—all the while enchanting the reader with backward glimpses of the noble, God-fearing milieu that the Jew allegedly had undermined.…

 

LENIN’S JEWISH ROOTS PUT ON DISPLAY IN RUSSIAN MUSEUM
Editorial
Jerusalem Post, May 24, 2011

 

Documents apparently confirming rumors that Vladimir Lenin had Jewish ancestors can now be seen at Russia’s State History Museum.… Among the newly released documents on display is a letter written by Lenin’s sister, Anna Ulyanova, claiming that their maternal grandfather was a Jew from the Ukraine who converted to Christianity to escape persecution in the Pale of Settlement and have access to higher education.…

“He came from a poor Jewish family and was, according to his baptismal certificate, the son of Moses Blank, a native of (the western Ukrainian city of) Zhitomir,” Ulyanova wrote in 1932.… In the letter, written [by Ulyanova] to Josef Stalin, who replaced Lenin after his death in 1924, Ulyanova wrote “Vladimir Ilych [Lenin’s birth name] had always thought of Jews highly. I am very sorry that the fact of our origin—which I had suspected before—was not known during his lifetime.…”

Ulyanova requested that Stalin make Lenin’s Jewish background known to combat the rise of anti-Semitism.… She wrote in her letter, “I hear that in recent years anti-Semitism has been growing stronger again, even among Communists. It would be wrong to hide the fact from the masses.”

Stalin ignored Ulyanova’s request and told her to “keep absolute silence” about the letter, according to the exhibition’s curator, Tatyana Koloskova.…

THE FULL-BLOWN RETURN OF ANTI-SEMITISM IN EUROPE
Guy Milliere
Hudson Institute, May 16, 2011

On April 19, the Corfu synagogue, in Greece, was burned. How many Jews live in Corfu today? One hundred and fifty. How many Jews live in Greece? Eight thousand, or about 0.8% of the population. For some, it seems these figures are still far too high. Two other synagogues were burned in Greece during the past year.…

What happened in Greece is happening everywhere across the European continent.

During the last decade, synagogues were vandalized or set on fire in Poland, Sweden, Hungary, France. Anti-Semitic inscriptions are being drawn on building walls in Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, London, Berlin and Rome. Jewish cemeteries are being ransacked. Jews are being attacked on the streets of most major cities on the continent.… Jewish schools are being placed under police protection everywhere, and are usually equipped with security gates. Jewish children in public high schools are bullied; when parents complain, they are encouraged to choose another place of learning for their children.

In some cities such as Malmo, Sweden, or Roubaix, France, the persecution suffered by the Jewish community has reached such a degree that people are selling their homes at any price and leaving. Those who stay have the constant feeling that they are risking their lives: they must be extremely streetwise and carry no sign showing who they are. In 1990, approximately 2000 Jewish people lived in Malmo; now there are fewer than 700, and the number is decreasing every year.

Jews now, in fact, have to be streetwise in all European countries: men wearing a skullcap usually hide it under a hat or a cap. Owners of kosher restaurants located on avenues where protests are organized close their facilities before the arrival of the participants—even if the protest is about wages or retirement age. They know too well that among the demonstrators, there will always be some who will express their rage at the sight of a Jewish name or a star of David on a store front. In Paris, on Labor Day, May 1st, in front of a Jewish cafe on Avenue of the Republic, several hundred demonstrators stopped and began to boo “Jews” and “Zionists.” A man coming out of the cafe was assaulted until police officers arrived on the scene.

A few weeks ago in Norway, when Alan Dershowitz was banned from giving lectures on the conflict in the Middle East, the professors who supported the ban used anti-Semitic stereotypes in their remarks. What happened to him is now commonplace. In many universities in Europe, giving lectures on Jewish culture has become risky, and giving lectures on Israel anywhere—without being clearly “pro-Palestinian”—is even more risky, or impossible: Once the event is announced, the organizers and the lecturers immediately receive explicit death threats by mail or by the internet. The day the lecture takes place, “anti-Zionists” organize violent protests, try to prevent people from entering the hall, and physically attack the lecturers. The only way to avoid this type of situation is to organize the lecture by invitation only, without ads.

After World War II, anti-Semitism seemed to disappear in Europe. It is back, to a very disquieting degree. Although it is not exactly the same anti-Semitism that in the 1930’s, it is not fully different.

It is an anti-Semitism that is widespread in the Muslim population that settled in Europe, and it would be easy to think that it is strictly an Islamic phenomenon, but the anti-Semitism as it exists today in the Muslim world was heavily influenced by the old European anti-Semitism. And what the Muslim immigrants bring with them can easily find resonances in European non-Muslim populations. Copies of fraudulent Protocols of the Elders of Zion in Arabic are sold in Islamic bookstores from one end of the continent to the other, and they also circulate abundantly again in many European languages, under the mantle or via internet.…

The new, current anti-Semitism now adds on to the old kind, the demonization of the State of Israel. The Islamic view of Israel is now the dominant view of Israel in Europe. The idea that Israel is a “colonial power” that has “robbed” people of their land, and is an “artificial State”, even though the Jews have been on that land for three thousand years—and even though many states in the area, such as Jordan and Libya, and Iraq are even more illegitimate, their borders having been drawn on paper by the British in the 1920s—is a commonplace among journalists.

Hatred towards Israel is now the most widely shared sentiment among Europeans, whatever their place on the political spectrum. It is now through hatred of Israel, that hatred of Jews…can again express itself.…

As Israel is a Jewish state, European Jews are asked to be “good Europeans”, and to disavow Israel. If they refuse, or worse, if they say they still support Israel, they are considered untrustworthy. In the 1930s, Jews were accused of not being full members of the country where they lived. Today, the same criticism rises in a slightly different form: Jews are accused of the existence of a Jewish state, and are suspected of being too tied to that state to be full members of the country where they live.

More deeply, the Jews of Europe might feel that if they can paint the Jews as evil, then perhaps what their parents and grandparents did to them during World War II was not really so bad after all; you could even say they deserved what they got.… The Israeli army is often compared in European media to the Nazi army. The comparison is fully playing its role: if the Jews are Nazis today, it means that the Europeans did the world a favor in killing six million of them, and that the Europeans are not really guilty.…

A survey conducted last year for the Friederich Ebert Foundation, a German think tank linked to Germany’s Social Democratic Party, was eloquent. To the question: “Do you think that Jews abuse their status as victims of Nazism ?”, positive responses reached proportions hardly imaginable: 72.2% in Poland, 48% in Germany, 40.2% in Italy, 32.3% in France. Another question, “Do you understand why people do not like Jews”, generated results that must be faced. Number of positive responses: 55.2% in Poland, 48.9% in Germany, 40.2% in Italy.… The question, “Do you think that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians”, was asked. Positive responses : 63% in Poland, 47.7% in Germany.

Moshe Kantor, president of the European Jewish Congress, called the poll “very disturbing. The governments of Europe, and the European Union,” he said, “would do well to wake up to this problem before it is too late.”

 

NORWAY: PURVEYOR OF ANTI-SEMITISM
Manfred Gerstenfeld
Jerusalem Post, May 24, 2011

 

That the offer of free lectures on the middle East conflict by Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz, one of the most eloquent advocates of the Israeli case, was refused by three universities in Norway should come as no surprise. Besides being a substantial producer of oil and gas, the country is also a major purveyor of Israel hatred and anti-Semitism.

Several ministers of the Labor and Socialist Left governing parties have endorsed hate-inciting acts. The state TV and radio company NRK has an anti-Israel bias officially approved by the Broadcasting Council. There is a dominant anti-Israel attitude in the media and significant anti-Israelism in academia. Trade unions make periodic boycott calls. Some Lutheran bishops are major inciters. There is substantial anti-Semitism in schools. In 2008, comedian Otto Jespersen urged his nationwide TV audience to remember “all the billions of fleas and lice that lost their lives in the German gas chambers, without having done anything wrong other than settling on persons of Jewish background.…”

For a long time this Norwegian reality went almost unnoticed abroad. It surfaced with a vengeance in the “Wall Street Journal” in late March when Dershowitz attacked the heads of the universities who refused his offer. “Only once before have I been prevented from lecturing at universities in a country. The other country was apartheid South Africa,” he observed. Then, turning to Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, who claims that Norway’s philosophy is ‘dialogue,’ Dershowitz wrote that “Hamas and its supporters are invited into the dialogue, but supporters of Israel are excluded by an implicit, yet very real, boycott against pro-Israel views.”

Jay Nordlinger of the “National Review,” the only foreign journalist who occasionally writes about the Nordic country, usually does so sympathetically. Yet a few days after Dershowitz’ article, Nordlinger remarked: “Norway is a splendid country, and its citizens are right to be proud of it. But it has a problem, one common to many countries: anti-Semitism. Not just opposition to Israel [which is problematic enough], but plain, old-fashioned anti-Semitism.”

This rare foreign criticism of Norway was followed by an interview in “The Jerusalem Post” with American author Bruce Bawer, who argued that Norway’s cultural elite has replaced its affinity “to the Soviet Union with sympathy for the great totalitarian ideology of our time: Islamism. Thus they romanticize Palestinians and despise Israel.” He recommended that Norwegian Jews leave for Israel.…

The attitude of the ruling cultural elite toward Israel can best be described as a national mutation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As Dr. Jekyll, it presents itself as a great supporter of human rights and major contributor of development aid; as Mr. Hyde it rarely misses an opportunity for Israel-bashing.

Where do the Israel hatred and anti-Semitism originate? The Lutheran creed, which dominated the country in the past explains much. In the 19th century, Norway was the last European country to let Jews in. During World War II…more than 750 [Jews] were arrested by the Norwegian authorities, who, after confiscating their possessions, delivered the captive Jews to the German occupiers. Almost all were killed in Auschwitz. Norway is also one of a handful of countries in which kosher slaughter is outlawed. It preceded Nazi Germany in passing a bill to this effect by a large parliamentary majority in 1929. However, to this day Norway has not seen fit to outlaw whaling and the brutal slaying of large numbers of seals.

Norway is falsely ranked among the leading countries concerning freedom of the press. That is because in this democracy, censorship is executed by the editors of the papers rather than by the state. The end result, though, makes for far less than a free market of ideas, especially when it comes to issues like anti-Semitism and Israel hatred.

A typical example is a letter of complaint last August by then-US senator Sam Brownback to the Norwegian ambassador in Washington about the hatred against Jews and Israel. To back up his claims, Brownback attached a 10-point document from the Simon Wiesenthal Center with serious allegations of hate-supporting acts by the Norwegian king and several ministers, including Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Foreign Minister Store. Only the small Christian “Norge Idag” newspaper mentioned Brownback’s letter. All other media ignored it, even though it is unlikely that an American senator had ever written anything as critical of Norway and its leaders. But serious public debate, as is often the case there, was stifled.

(Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld has published 19 books,
including
“Behind the Humanitarian Mask: The Nordic Countries, Israel and the Jews.”)

 

2010 REPORT ON ANTI-SEMITISM:
LONDON—YOU HAVE A PROBLEM
Editorial

Cif Watch, February 6, 2011

 

The Community Security Trust (CST) has once again produced sterling work in its recently released “Antisemitic Incidents [in the UK] Report 2010.” The 639 reported incidents in 2010 are the second highest annual total since records began in 1984…[and] the long-term trend of rising levels of antisemitic incidents in the UK over the past decade continues.

Of course the CST’s report represents the tip of the iceberg, as the organization itself points out: “Not all antisemitic incidents will be reported to CST and therefore the true figures will be higher than those recorded.”

The entire report makes for very disturbing reading, but some particularly worrying trends include the damage to property of private individuals—attacks on private homes, the number of incidents involving Jewish schools, schoolchildren and teachers, the prominence of attacks in the Greater Manchester area and the rise of violent anti-Semitic assaults as a proportion of the total incidents.

The then British Prime Minister Gordon Brown described the previous CST report, released in February 2010 and monitoring the incidents of 2009, as “deeply troubling”. The question many of us will be asking is how he and other members of the British establishment intend to deal with this disturbing and well-documented trend of rising antisemitism in their country. No less troubling perhaps is the fact that the British government leaves the recording of antisemitic hate crime to the Jewish community itself.

In a country which prides itself in being a liberal and multicultural democracy, one might expect a newspaper which describes itself as ‘the world’s leading liberal voice’ to place antisemitic hate crimes pretty much at the top of its ‘to do’ list. Unfortunately, we have yet to see this issue being taken up seriously by the Guardian. In fact, other CST reports have cited the Guardian as a major purveyor of anti-Semitic discourse.…

As pointed out in this latest report, the first week in June 2010—immediately following the incident aboard the ‘Mavi Marmara’—showed a spike in incidents of hate crimes against British Jews. At the time, CiF Watch recorded the publication of 37 opinion pieces, editorials and cartoons relating to the incident (excluding actual news items) between the dates 31/05/2010 and 11/06/2010. Seventy-six percent of those articles were hostile towards Israel. Overall, the coverage of this event cast Israel in the role of the aggressor and transgressor of international law, while severely downplaying—and often completely ignoring—the actions of the IHH in this incident and its links to terrorist organizations.…

“The findings raise serious questions about the willingness on the parts of The Guardian and The Independent to deal appropriately with evidence which supports Israel’s side of a contested story. Given the high-profile given by these same publications to stories involving serious allegations of wrongdoing by Israel, this is particularly noteworthy.…”

The CST’s meticulous recording of antisemitic attacks…is obviously extremely important.… However, in any normally functioning society the recording of, and fight against, hate crimes perpetrated against a minority cannot be left to the victims themselves. One would expect to see much broader interest in the subject from those supposedly committed to anti-racism and the creation of an inclusive society and one might conclude that the Left-leaning liberal media should be expected to be at the forefront of that cause.…

THE FORGOTTEN WARS

 

 

 

IRAQTHREAT ASSESSMENT:
THE DANGERS TO THE UNITED STATES, IRAQ, AND MIDEAST STABILITY OF ABANDONING IRAQ AT THE END OF 2011
Frederick W. Kagan
The Critical Threats Project Of The American Enterprise Institute, May 2011

 

Iraqis live in a tough region. Although none of their neighbours have been designing military forces specifically to target them, general tensions in the region and among Iran, Israel, and Western powers have led to the maintenance of regional conventional militaries that pose a significant threat to Iraq with its current armed forces, configured as they are exclusively for internal security missions. Those missions are made much more daunting by Iran’s continued support for—and use of—armed proxy groups to influence Iraqi decision making and pursue Iranian interests. Even the task of keeping sufficient pressure on al Qaeda in Iraq and other Sunni revanchist groups will strain the Iraqi military if it has little or no external support.…

[Accordingly], the Iraqi Security Forces will not be able to defend Iraq’s sovereignty, independence from Iran, and internal stability without American assistance, including some ground forces in Iraq, for a number of years. The negotiation of a security agreement extending the presence of US forces in Iraq beyond the end of 2011 is thus an urgent national security priority for the United States and Iraq.

Iranposes the most immediate and serious threat to Iraqi security. It has been using a mix of military force—weighted toward unconventional forces, to be sure, but including naval forces, riverine forces, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—inside Iraq since 2003. Iranian-directed military groups such as Kitaib Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al Haq, and the Promised Day Brigades have maintained and even expanded their abilities to conduct very significant attacks in Iraq, including rocket and mortar attacks in Baghdad. Attacks at current or even somewhat higher levels do not pose an existential threat to the Iraqi state, but they will become increasingly intolerable as Iraqis continue to try to re-establish normalcy.… Left unchecked, this Iranian proxy warfare could reduce Iraq to a state of effective vassalage.…

Defending against such groups requires both defensive and high-end offensive capabilities, as well as effective police and border police (which Iraq does not have now).… Iraqis will also require the capability to strike quickly against these cells, using radar systems to detect the point of origin of the attacks, quick-response forces, and, ideally, air weapons teams (reconnaissance and attack helicopters, as well as UAVs) to strike back.… Preventing such attacks [also] requires the ability to gather, analyze, and act on intelligence very rapidly and precisely to kill or capture the key leaders, facilitators, and operators that compose these attack cells. Iraqi Special Operations Forces have some of these capabilities, but not all of them. They certainly do not have them in sufficient quantity to manage threats of this type without continued US assistance, and they will not have such independent capabilities by 2012. Nor have they developed necessary command-and-control structures or the cadre of leadership capable of planning and conducting complex counter-terrorism and counter–irregular warfare operations on their own.…

Current American combat capabilities in Iraq are thus an essential component to helping Iraqi Security Forces maintain freedom of movement in their own country and protect themselves from indirect fire attacks. The complete withdrawal of those capabilities would leave Iraq significantly more vulnerable to concerted efforts by Iranian-directed groups to increase their operations to pressure Iraqi leaders to make important decisions that favor Tehran—a technique Iran’s Qods Force commanders controlling these groups have relied on for years.

The conventional Iranian military threat to Iraq is somewhat harder to evaluate. It is less likely to be deployed, to be sure, particularly as long as Iranian leaders feel they can achieve their central interests in Iraq using the means outlined above. But conventional capabilities are never irrelevant to the planning of permanent military forces—or to the thinking of leaders, who have to consider what would happen should a conflict begin to escalate despite their desires to avoid escalation. Just as Iraq cannot truly be sovereign and independent if it cannot defeat foreign-sponsored proxy military groups in its own territory, neither can it be fully autonomous if its leaders know that opponents can escalate any conflict at their discretion to levels that ensure Iraqi defeat.

[For example], a rapid thrust by the Iranian 92nd Armored Division, supported by commandos and possibly airborne units, could cut Iraq’s access to the Persian Gulf, including the oil pipelines through which Iraq exports the overwhelming majority of its oil. Even a temporary Iranian raid could do enormous damage to Iraq’s economy (and global oil markets) by destroying those pipelines and other key oil infrastructure in the area. The Iraqi military as currently configured could neither stop such an advance nor force the withdrawal of Iranian forces established on Iraqi territory.…

From the standpoint of regional stability, the likelihood of such a conflict is less important than the regional perception of the possible dangers. The Middle East is unstable enough already. It is desirable to avoid providing any additional reasons for states there to engage in arms races with one another. Fortunately, there is a way to provide Iraq with much better assurance of its survival without having Baghdad build a military large enough to scare its neighbors or waste resources better spent on improving the lives of its people.…

American air power and a relatively small US ground presence in southern Iraq would be enough to prevent any sort of lightning strike by Iran’s 92nd Armored Division to cut Iraq off from the sea. Iranian mechanized forces cannot advance, sustain themselves, or survive in the face of US air power, and they cannot overcome American mechanized forces backed with that air power, even with great numerical superiority. If the United States chose to prevent Iranian military formations from advancing into Iraq, and if it had the requisite air power present in the theater, it could unquestionably do so.…

From the US perspective, the advantages of providing such a guarantee are significant. It would dampen Iraqi enthusiasm for a costly and potentially destabilizing rearmament program. More importantly, it would deter serious Iranian adventurism in Iraq and help Baghdad resist Iranian pressure to conform to Tehran’s policies aimed at excluding the United States and its allies from a region of vital interest to the West. It would also significantly reduce the likelihood of escalation of border conflicts or political (or religious) differences between Tehran and Baghdad.…

The large political and emotional reasons for keeping some US military presence in Iraq are, perhaps, even more important. Refusing to station US forces in Iraq would be in itself a positive statement of American lack of interest in Iraq in the context of America’s relationships with its other critical allies. It would be an explicit rejection of a meaningful security partnership and a declaration to the world that the United States does not regard the defense of Iraq [as a vital strategic interest].…

The United States has one chance to persuade Iraqi leaders to choose an entirely new path for the defense of their country that does not destabilize the region. We should take it. So should the Iraqis. The cost of asking for and signing such an agreement will be high in Baghdad. Tehran has already demonstrated its intent to use force, at least by proxy, to bring all possible pressure to bear on the Iraqi leadership to prevent this outcome. Even without such overt external intervention, there would be opposition to such an agreement within Iraq. And we should be clear as well that Prime Minister Nuri Kemal al Maliki may himself be of two minds about extending the US military presence. He has shown increasing tendencies toward consolidating power in his own hands and re-forming a Kurd-Shia Arab alliance that largely excludes Iraq’s Sunni Arabs from real participation in government. The United States has been and will remain an obstacle to attempts to undermine the current political settlement in Iraq or to erode Iraq’s representative and balanced form of government.

These are all powerful factors that may well deter Maliki from requesting an extension of the American presence, particularly without active US engagement with many political leaders in Iraq and the region to address them. But Maliki and the Iraqi political leadership are now facing a stark choice, and they will signal to Tehran, their own people, and the world what kind of Iraq they really want by making—or failing to make—this decision.

If Maliki allows the United States to leave Iraq, he is effectively declaring his intent to fall in line with Tehran’s wishes, to subordinate Iraq’s foreign policy to the Persians, and, possibly, to consolidate his own power as a sort of modern Persian satrap in Baghdad. If Iraq’s leaders allow themselves to be daunted by fear of Maliki or Iran, they will be betraying their people, who have shed so much blood to establish a safe, independent, multiethnic, multisectarian, unitary Iraqi state with representative institutions of government.…

Much is at stake for the United States in this decision. Even more is at stake for Iraq. This decision will mark a fundamental bifurcation in Iraq’s future. Let us hope that Iraq’s leaders can surmount their fear in this case as they have in so many others. America’s leaders should stand with them rather than behind them as they make this difficult choice.

[Frederick W. Kagan is a resident scholar in defense and security policy studies and director of the Critical Threats Project at AEI. He is the author of the series of reports Choosing Victory (AEI),
which recommended and monitored the US military surge in Iraq.]

 

IRAQ—A PROVINCE OF IRAN?
Daniel Pipes
WashingtonTimes, May 12, 2011

 

After American forces leave Iraq at the end of 2011, Tehran will try to turn its neighbor into a satrapy, i.e., a satellite state, to the great detriment of Western, moderate Arab, and Israeli interests.

Intense Iranian efforts are already underway, with Tehran sponsoring militias in Iraq and sending its own forces into Iraqi border areas. Baghdad responds with weakness, with its chief of staff proposing a regional pact with Iran and top politicians ordering attacks on the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MeK), an Iranian dissident organization with 3,400 members resident in Camp Ashraf, 60 miles northeast of Baghdad. The MeK issue reveals Iraqi subservience to Iran with special clarity. Note some recent developments:

On April 7, the MeK released intelligence exposing Iran’s growing capacity to enrich uranium, a revelation the Iranian foreign minister quickly confirmed.

On April 8, even as U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Iraq, the country’s armed forces attacked Ashraf. Fox News and CNN footage shows Iraqis in U.S.-supplied armored personnel carriers, Humvees, and bulldozers running down unarmed residents as sharpshooters shot at them, killing 34 people and injuring 325. The top secret plan-to-attack order of the Iraqi military, “Iraqi Security Forces Operation Order No. 21, Year 2011,” reveals how Baghdad sees the Ashraf residents as “the enemy,” suggesting collusion between Baghdad and Tehran.

This incident took place despite fresh pledges by Baghdad to treat the Iranian dissidents humanely and to protect them. U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry rightly described the attack as a “massacre” while former governor Howard Dean called the Iraqi prime minister a “mass murderer.” The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights “condemned” the attack and the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) expressed “deep concern.”

On April 11, the advisor for military affairs to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i (according to a news report) “praised the Iraqi Army for its recent attack on the strongholds of [the MeK] and asked Baghdad to continue attacking the terrorist base until its destruction.”

On April 24, despite United Nations insistence that “Camp Ashraf residents be protected from forcible deportation, expulsion or repatriation,” Baghdad and Tehran signed an extradition agreement which state-controlled Iranian media interprets as a mechanism forcibly to transfer MeK members to Iran, where they anticipate a horrific fate.

Iraqi maltreatment of Iranian dissidents both raises humanitarian concerns and points to the MeK’s larger importance as a mechanism to thwart the U.S. goal of minimizing Tehran’s influence in Iraq.

That said, Washington—which granted “protected persons” status to the Ashraf residents in 2004 in exchange for their surrendering arms—bears partial responsibility for the attacks on Ashraf; in 1997, it threw a sop to Tehran and, contrary to both fact and law, wrongly listed (and continues to list) the MeK as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.”

Baghdadexploits this terrorist tag. For example, Congressman Brad Sherman (Democrat of California) reports that “in private discussions the Iraqi ambassador’s office has said the blood is not on the hands of the Iraqi government but is at least partially on the hands of the State Department because the MeK is listed as a terrorist group and accordingly, Iraq doesn’t feel that it has to respect the human rights of those in the camp.” The terrorist designation also offers Baghdad a pretext to expel Ashraf’s residents and possibly extradite them to Iran.

The U.S. Government should delist the MeK as a terrorist organization, following the wishes of a large bipartisan majority in Congress, of Barack Obama’s former national security adviser, and of prominent Republicans.… Now is the time urgently to act on Camp Ashraf—a bellwether of growing Iranian influence over Iraq—before Tehran turns Iraq into a satrapy.

(Mr. Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and Taube distinguished visiting fellow
at the
Hoover Institution of Stanford University.)

 

BIN LADEN’S DEATH CHANGES LITTLE
Max Boot
Wall StreetJournal, May 9, 2011

 

Those who claim that we can disengage from Afghanistan now that the “emir” of al Qaeda is dead seem to assume the whole organization will disappear with him.… But it might not. Other terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah have survived the loss of their leaders.

Opponents of the war effort also argue that the Navy SEAL raid should be a model for the kind of counterterrorist approach we should adopt more generally, relying on pinpoint strikes rather than dispatching 100,000 ground troops to carry out a gruelling counterinsurgency campaign.

President Obama has repeatedly provided superficial support for this view by claiming that our “core goal” in Afghanistan is limited to “disrupting, dismantling and defeating al Qaeda.” No doubt he put the emphasis on al Qaeda because it is the terrorist group that most Americans worry about the most. But since 2001 it has never had more than a few dozen fighters at a time inside Afghanistan.

Of greater immediate concern are al Qaeda’s allies: the Quetta Shura Taliban, the Haqqani network and Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin (HiG), which among them deploy thousands of hardened terrorists. These groups, in turn, are part of a larger conglomeration of extremists based in Pakistan including the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (the Pakistani Taliban), Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed.

All of these organizations share an eagerness to slaughter civilians and a desire to create a totalitarian regime modeled on Taliban-era Afghanistan. All are rabidly hostile to Westerners, Jews, Hindus, Shiites and anyone else who does not share their hard-core Salafist beliefs.

The major difference among them, at least so far, has been one of geographic focus. The Taliban, the Haqqani network and HiG want to seize power in Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban aspires to rule in Islamabad. Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed are primarily focused on wresting Kashmir away from India, although there have been reports of the former’s network expanding into Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Only al Qaeda has a global focus—so far.

But whatever their tactical differences, these groups have established a mutually supportive relationship with the help of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence. Lashkar-e-Taiba’s founder, Hafiz Muhammed Saeed, said this week that “Osama bin Laden was a great person.” Mullah Omar, the leader of the Taliban, was even more closely aligned with bin Laden. If the Taliban had repudiated al Qaeda after 9/11, they could have avoided a U.S. invasion. But they chose to go down with their Arab friends, and there has been no sign since of any serious fissure between them.

It is immaterial whether or not the Taliban, the Haqqani network, Lashkar-e-Taiba and the others are currently targeting the American homeland. We cannot allow them to create a fundamentalist caliphate stretching from Kabul to Kashmir and beyond. Their takeover of Afghanistan—a first step toward this grandiose goal—would galvanize jihadists and could reverse the loss of momentum they have suffered because of the Arab Spring and bin Laden’s death. It would also provide greater impetus to topple the nuclear-armed Pakistan next door.

Islamists have already made dangerous inroads in Pakistan, as seen from the fact that Osama bin Laden was able to live in a military garrison town just 35 miles north of Islamabad. Having bases in Afghanistan is our best bet for projecting power into Pakistan—as the SEALs showed. But there is no way the government of Afghanistan would allow us to keep bases there if we stopped supporting it. If an American exit were imminent, Hamid Karzai and other politicians would rush to cut a deal with the Taliban to save their own necks.

That would mean that we would be reduced to the pre-9/11 status quo when we used ineffectual cruise-missile strikes to try to kill top terrorists. Successful Special Operations require a significant intelligence-gathering apparatus on the ground and close proximity to launch raids with little warning time. Our presence in Afghanistan gives us those advantages, without which we could not have carried off the bin Laden raid.

To prevent the fall of Afghanistan, we must do more than launch a few raids or air strikes. If not, the terrorists will be able to regenerate themselves. That’s what the Taliban, the Haqqanis and others did between 2001 and 2009—the years when we never had more than 30,000 troops on the ground. Only last fall did we finally surge to 100,000 American troops, along with 40,000 allied ones. For the first time, that gave us the capability to “clear, hold and build.” During my recent travels in Kandahar and Helmand, I saw coalition troops securing areas that only a few months before were Taliban strongholds.

But the gains achieved so far are tenuous and reversible. The Taliban are back on the offensive. It is vital to stick to the strategy NATO announced last fall of not putting Afghans in the lead until 2014. Moving too quickly to turn over control to unready forces can be disastrous—as shown by last month’s breakout of more than 400 Taliban fighters from Kandahar’s main prison.

If we give more time to Gen. David Petraeus and his successor, Gen. John Allen, they can strengthen Afghanistan enough—mainly by building up the indigenous security forces—to prevent a Taliban takeover or a ruinous civil war even after U.S. forces finally start drawing down. That, in turn, can help us to stabilize Pakistan: an outcome worth fighting for.

(Mr. Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.)

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

Weekly Quotes

I think for there to be peace, the Palestinians will have to accept some basic realities. The first is that while Israel is prepared to make generous compromises for peace, it cannot go back to the 1967 lines, because these lines are indefensible.… Remember that before 1967, Israel was all of 9 miles wide—half the width of the Washington Beltway. And these were not the boundaries of peace; they were the boundaries of repeated wars.… The second…is that Israel cannot negotiate with a Palestinian government that is backed by Hamas. Hamas…is a terrorist organization, committed to Israel’s destruction.… [Hamas] recently fired an antitank rocket at a yellow school bus, killing a 16-year-old boy.… [Palestinian Authority] President Abbas has a simple choice. He has to decide if he…keeps his pact with Hamas, or makes peace with Israel.… A third reality is that the Palestinian refugee problem will have to be resolved in the context of a Palestinian state but certainly not in the borders of Israel. The Arab attack in 1948 on Israel resulted in two refugee problems, Palestinian refugee problem and Jewish refugees, roughly the same number, who were expelled from Arab lands. Tiny Israel absorbed the Jewish refugees, but the vast Arab world refused to absorb the Palestinian refugees. Now, 63 years later, the Palestinians come to us and they say: accept the grandchildren, and the great-grandchildren of these refugees, thereby wiping out Israel’s future as a Jewish state.… Everybody knows it’s not going to happen. And I think it’s time to tell the Palestinians forthrightly, it’s not going to happen.…”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following a meeting at the White House with U.S. president Barack Obama, rebuking Obama’s Middle East policy speech in which he set Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders as a precondition to future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, and outlining his own criteria for the creation of a Palestinian state. (NY Times, May 20.)

 

The overall importance of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to a special joint meeting of Congress was not in the substance…but rather in the overwhelmingly warm ovation he received.… The nearly four-minute ovation he received when he entered the historic chamber…was not only heard by Netanyahu, but also by US President Barack Obama, the Palestinians and the world at large. With all the talk of the country’s existential loneliness, and Israel’s real sense of isolation, when Netanyahu spoke to the most important parliament in the world, it exuded nothing but warmth toward Israel.… With the resounding applause, on both sides of the aisle, to Netanyahu’s comments on a unified Jerusalem, not returning to the 1967 lines, not negotiating with Hamas, not allowing the descendants of Palestinian refugees to enter Israel, Obama…received a clear signal from Congress that when it comes to Israel, his hands are not free.”—Excerpts from Herb Keinon’s Jerusalem Post article, entitled Applause Heard in White House, Around World, describing the outpouring of support shown to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his historic speech to a joint session of Congress, and reinforcing the fact that the world responds positively to Israel when the Jewish state relates a strong, principled message (Jerusalem Post, May 24.)

 

The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), the oldest pro-Israel organization in the United States, strongly condemns President Obama’s Mideast speech…promoting and supporting the establishment of a Hamas/Fatah/Iran terrorist state on the Auschwitz 1967 indefensible armistice lines.… President Obama has dealt Israel a severe diplomatic blow, which harms all those who care about peace and fighting terrorism.… Obama was recently given a Noble Peace Prize; he should now receive the Nobel War Prize for increasing the likelihood of a Mideast war and endangering Israel’s very existence.…”—Excerpts from a statement issued by the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), condemning U.S. president Barack Obama’s Mideast policy speech in which he adopted the most pro-Palestinian position of any American president in history. (ZOA Website, May 19.)

 

The President’s habit of drawing a moral equivalence between the actions of the Palestinians and the Israelis while assessing blame for the conflict is, in and of itself, harmful to the prospect for peace. In reality, Israel—since its creation—has always proven willing to make the sacrifices necessary for peace, while the Palestinians on numerous occasions have rejected those offers.… By keeping the burden and thus the spotlight on Israel, the president is only giving the Palestinian Authority more incentive to carry on its unhelpful game of sidestepping negotiations and failing to put an end to terrorism.”—Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, reinforcing the invariable reality that peace cannot be achieved until such time that the Palestinians are held accountable for their belligerence. (Haaretz, May 19 & Wall Street Journal, May 20.))

 

There is already a Palestinian state in Jordan. Eighty percent of the Jordanian people are Palestinians, and it is built on 65% of the Jewish homeland allocated in the Balfour Declaration and given to us at the San Remo conference. Once the Palestinians lose their orphan status as a people without a state, their international demands will become much weaker. If what happened in Tahrir square happens in Amman we could find in a single day that on our eastern border there is no Hashemite Kingdom, but a Palestinian state controlled by 80% of the public.”—Arye Eldad (National Union), “requesting that King Abdullah [mark Jordanian Independence Day by] declar[ing] Jordan as the national homeland of the Palestinian people.” Eldad also referred to a comment made by Kind Abdullah’s father, who said that “Jordan is Palestine, Palestine is Jordan.” (Jerusalem Post, May 24.)

 

Abbas has decided not to run for Palestinian Authority chairman in the next elections, primarily following developments in the Arab world, and is focusing on building his heritage by leaving ‘on his own accord’ and not being ousted like Mubarak.… It can be clearly stated that Abu Mazen (Abbas) is not a partner to advancing the political process, but quite the opposite. Abu Mazen is subjugating the PA’s interests and resources as well as the political process to his and his family’s wellbeing as well as his place in history.”—Excerpts from an internal document drafted by an aide to Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, claiming that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is not a “partner for peace”, and that “recent events in the Arab world have led [Abbas] to adopt an exit strategy.” (Ynet News, May 22.)

 

Their scheme is to save the Zionist regime, global arrogance and US interests. The main enemies of nations are the US, its allies and the Zionist regime. All regional countries must be vigilant.… [A] new Middle East and North Africa is about to emerge without the dominance of the US or the existence of the Israeli regime.”—Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, accusing the US of being engaged in plots to save Israel and protect its own interests, as well as “to pit regional nations and countries against each other and to wage a war between them.” (Jerusalem Post, May 24.)

 

The actions the administration has taken today send an unequivocal message to President Assad, the Syrian leadership, and regime insiders that they will be held accountable for the ongoing violence and repression in Syria. President Assad and his regime must immediately end the use of violence, answer the calls of the Syrian people for a more representative government and embark upon the path of meaningful democratic reform.”—Acting U.S. under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence David Cohen, announcing U.S. sanctions against Syrian president Bashar Assad in response to the violent crackdown on protestors throughout the country, which has killed more than 850 Syrians. In a letter to members of Congress, U.S. President Barack Obama said the sanctions were due to the “continuous escalation of violence against the people of Syria.” Obama’s comments raise the prospect that American president could call for Assad’s ouster, as he did of deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and beleaguered Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. (Jerusalem Post, May 18.)

 

We commit and promise to stand behind you, oh Mahmoud Abbas, until Judgment Day. I am returning to you, the purest land, oh land of the free. No matter how long the nights of exile, I am returning to you, oh land. From Rafah to Rosh Hanikra (northern Israel) our coast, and Beit Shean (Israeli city).… From Haifa (Israeli city) and Tantura to the [Jordan] valley (i.e. all of Israel). I am returning to you, the purest land, oh land of the free.”—Excerpts from a song performed for Palestinian Authority leaders, including president Mahmoud Abbas, at a Fatah-organized concert, presenting all of Israel as “Palestine.” (Palestinian Media Watch, May 12.)

 

Short Takes

 

CANADA WON’T BACK OBAMA’S MIDEAST PEACE PROPOSAL—(Ottawa) The Harper government has refused to join the United States in calling for Israel’s return to the 1967 borders as a starting point for Mideast peace. At a briefing ahead of the upcoming G8 summit in France, Canadian officials said the basis for the negotiations must be mutually agreed upon. The Prime Minister’s director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, added that Canada’s position continues to be the search for a two-state solution, but affirmed that “no solution, ultimately, is possible without both parties sitting down, negotiating and agreeing on what that final outcome will look like.” (Globe and Mail, May 22.)

 

JEWISH DONORS WARN OBAMA ON ISRAEL—(New York) Jewish donors and fund-raisers are warning the Obama re-election campaign that the president is at risk of losing financial support because of concerns about his handling of Israel. In response, the U.S. president has asked Penny Pritzker, Obama’s 2008 national finance chairwoman, to talk with Jewish leaders about their concerns. Malcolm I. Hoenlein, the executive vice chairman of The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, believes that discontent amongst the Jewish community could affect fund raising capacity for Obama’s 2012 campaign, especially since Obama has not yet visited Israel, despite having been to several Muslim nations. (Wall Street Journal, May 19.)

 

MUBARAK AND SONS TO FACE TRIAL OVER PROTESTER DEATHS—(Cairo) According to Egypt’s prosecutor-general, ex-President Hosni Mubarak will stand trial on charges of ordering the deadly shootings of protesters during the uprising that ousted him. The 83-year-old leader, his two sons and a close business associate have also been charged with abusing their power to amass wealth. The referral to trial is a key demand of many Egyptians who have rallied to insist that Mubarak face justice, and called for the lifting of the emergency laws that remain on the books more than three months after he was ousted. Mubarak has been in custody in a hospital since last month. A trial date has not yet been set. (Washington Post, May 24.)

 

EGYPT TO OPEN RAFAH CROSSING—(Jerusalem) Egypt’s official news agency has confirmed that the Rafah border crossing with Gaza will be permanently opened on Saturday. The decision marks a sharp departure from the policies of ex-President Hosni Mubarak, who had restricted the movement of people and goods through Rafah in keeping with the blockade imposed on Gaza, after Hamas seized control of the strip in 2007. According to MENA, Egypt’s new military rulers set the date for the opening of the crossing as part of efforts “to end the status of the Palestinian division and achieve national reconciliation.” (Associated Press, May 25.)

 

NATO STEPS UP AIRSTRIKES IN LIBYAN CAPITAL—(Benghazi) North Atlantic Treaty Organization warplanes have bombarded targets in Tripoli, in the heaviest night of bombing of the Libyan capital since the alliance launched its air campaign against Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces. The airstrikes, which struck near Col. Gadhafi’s residential compound, came as the U.S. invited Libya’s rebel leadership to open a representative office in Washington and NATO moved toward considering adding ground-attack helicopters to its military campaign in hopes of breaking a stalemate between the Libyan leader and rebels seeking to overthrow him. (Wall Street Journal, May 25.)

 

FIGHTING SPURS FEARS OF WAR IN YEMEN—(San’a, Yemen)The White House has stepped up pressure on Yemen’s embattled president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to step aside, as the country edges closer to civil war. Mr. Saleh has repeatedly balked at signing an Arab-brokered deal that would end his 33 years in power and give him immunity from prosecution. Western counterterrorism officials say the ongoing instability gives Yemen-based al Qaeda militants greater freedom to plot attacks. The Pentagon had previously increased support for Mr. Saleh’s security forces, providing them with arms and training to help combat al Qaeda’s most active affiliate, Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. (Wall Street Journal, May 25.)

 

NEW PA LAW TO GRANT ALL CONVICTED TERRORISTS MONTHLY PAY—(Jerusalem) A new Palestinian Authority law grants a monthly salary to all Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs imprisoned in Israel for terrorism. Among those now eligible for salaries are Abdullah Barghouti, serving 67 life sentences for acts that include planning the Sbarro restaurant (2001) and Moment cafe (2002) suicide bombings in Jerusalem, and Hassan Salameh, serving 38 life sentences for offenses that include planning a series of 1996 bus bombings. The law stipulates that those serving lengthier prison terms will receive higher salaries, which will be paid from the day of arrest until release. The new law was published in the official PA Registry on April 13, 2011. (Jerusalem Post, May 20.)

 

SWISS FREEZE FUNDS FOR PRO-PALESTINIAN NGO—(Berlin) The Swiss government has frozen its funding for a pro-Palestinian NGO, due to the appearance of an anti-Semitic cartoon on the group’s website. Switzerland, Holland, Sweden and Denmark together fund the NGO Development Center (NDC), which has allocated $270,000 since 2008 to BADIL: Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. “By stopping funding to BADIL, NDC is acknowledging that NGOs sometimes misuse foreign government funding to pursue radical political agendas,” wrote Gerald Steinberg, the head of the Jerusalem-based watchdog organization NGO Monitor. The cartoon showed a caricature of a Jewish man holding a blood-soaked pitchfork and keys while standing over a dead Arab child. BADIL, founded in 1998, advocates a boycott, sanctions and divestment (BDS) strategy against the Jewish state. (Jerusalem Post, May 22.)

MAJORITY OF ISRAELI ARABS SEE JEWS AS FOREIGNERS—(Jerusalem) The results of the 2010 Arab Jewish relations survey, compiled by Professor Sami Smocha in collaboration with the Jewish-Arab center at the University of Haifa, have been released. The study found that 62.5% percent of Arab citizens of Israel believe that Jews are a foreign imprint on the Middle East and are destined to be replaced by Palestinians, while 61.4% believe that Israel has no right to exist as a Jewish state. Furthermore, 71% of Israeli Arabs blamed Jews for the hardships suffered by Palestinians during and after the “Nakba” in 1948, and 37.8% said they don’t believe that millions of Jews were the victims of a campaign of genocide waged by Nazi Germany. (Jerusalem Post, May 19.)

 

KNESSET MOVES TOWARD RECOGNIZING ARMENIAN GENOCIDE—(Jerusalem) Shortly before the one year anniversary of the Mavi Marmara Flotilla incident, that marked a low point in Israel-Turkey relations, the Knesset has held its first open discussion on recognition of the Armenian genocide. With a number of Armenian religious and lay leaders watching in the visitors’ gallery, MKs took the stand to speak in favor of officially recognizing the series of massacres and deportations that killed an estimated 1.5 million Armenians in the years during and shortly after World War I. For years, consecutive Israeli governments had blocked attempts by MKs to raise the subject of recognizing the genocide out of concern that such recognition could damage relations with Ankara. (Jerusalem Post, May 18.)

 

RABBI WINS ‘JEOPARDY!’—(West Bloomfield, Michigan) Rabbi Joyce Newmark has won an episode of the television game show Jeopardy, finishing with $29,200. The 63-year-old Conservative rabbi, who wore a yarmulke during the taping of the show, answered correctly the Final Jeopardy question: “From the Latin for ‘Free,’ this 2-word term for a type of College refers to the old belief of what a free man should be taught”—“What is liberal arts?” At her audition, Newmark was asked to fill out a form informing the producers if there were specific dates when she would not be available to tape; she wrote “Jewish holidays.” (JTA, May 17.)

 

SAN FRANCISCO/SANTA MONICA TO PUT CIRCUMCISION BAN ON THE BALLOT—(San Francisco) A measure seeking to ban male circumcision will appear on the November ballot in San Francisco. More than 7,700 signatures from city residents on a petition in support of the measure were approved as valid by city officials; at least 7,168 signatures were required, and more than 12,000 were submitted. The measure would make it a misdemeanor crime to circumcise a boy before he is 18 years old, and would carry a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Opponents of the ban claim that the prohibition would violate the 1st Amendment prohibition of government interference with a person’s religious practice.(JTA, May 19.)

 

WORLD RECORD: LARGEST FALAFEL BALL IS CERTIFIED—(Washington) According to the Los Angeles Daily News, a falafel ball weighing 52.8 pounds, created at the Santa Clarita Valley Jewish Food and Cultural Festival, has been certified by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest ever. The previous Guinness record for a falafel ball was 24 pounds. (JTA, May 16.)

OBAMA’S ‘CZECH’MATE?

 

 

 

AN ANTI-ISRAEL PRESIDENT
Bret Stephens

Wall Street Journal, May 24, 2011

 

Say what you will about President Obama’s approach to Israel—or of his relationship with American Jews—he sure has mastered the concept of chutzpah.

[Last] Thursday at the State Department, the president gave his big speech on the Middle East, in which he invoked the claims of friendship to tell Israelis “the truth,” which to his mind was that “the status quo is unsustainable, and Israel too must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.” On Friday in the Oval Office, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered his version of the truth, which was that the 1967 border proposed by Mr. Obama as a basis for negotiating the outlines of a Palestinian state was a nonstarter.

Administration reaction to this reciprocal act of friendly truth-telling? “That was Bibi over the top,” the New York Times quoted one senior U.S. official, using the prime minister’s nickname. “That’s not how you address the president of the United States.” Maybe so. Then again, it isn’t often that this or any other U.S. president welcomes a foreign leader by sandbagging him with an adversarial policy speech a day before the visit.…

The contempt was again on display Sunday, when Mr. Obama spoke to the AIPAC policy conference in Washington. The speech was stocked with the perennial bromides about U.S.-Israeli friendship, which brought an anxious crowd to its feet a few times. As for the rest, it was a thin tissue of falsehoods, rhetorical legerdemain, telling omissions and self-contradictions. Let’s count the ways.

For starters, it would be nice if the president could come clean about whether his line about the 1967 line—“mutually agreed swaps” and all—was path-breaking and controversial, or no big deal. On Sunday, Mr. Obama congratulated himself for choosing the hard road to Mideast peace as he prepares for re-election, only to offer a few minutes later that “there was nothing particularly original in my proposal.”

Yet assuming Mr. Obama knows what he’s talking about, he knows that’s untrue: No U.S. president has explicitly endorsed the ‘67 lines as the basis for negotiating a final border.… Mr. Obama would also know that in 2009 Hillary Clinton had described this formula as “the Palestinian goal.” Now it’s Mr. Obama’s goal as well, even as he insists that “no peace can be imposed.”

Then there was Mr. Obama’s use of his favorite professorial trope: “Let me repeat what I actually said.” What followed was a rehearsal of what he supposedly said on Thursday.

But Mr. Obama’s problem isn’t, as he supposes, that people aren’t paying close enough attention to him. On the contrary, they’ve noticed that on Thursday Mr. Obama called for Israel to make territorial concessions to some approximation of the ‘67 lines before an agreement is reached on the existential issues of refugees and Jerusalem. “Moving forward now on the basis of territory and security,” he said, “provides a foundation to resolve these two issues in a way that is just and fair, and that respects the rights and aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians.”

Mr. Obama neglected to mention these points on Sunday, hence the telling omission. But the essence of his proposal is that Israel should cede territory, put itself into a weaker position, and then hope for the best. This doesn’t even amount to a land-for-peace formula.

That’s not all. Mr. Obama got some applause Sunday by calling for a “non-militarized” Palestinian state. But how does that square with his comment, presumably applicable to a future Palestine, that “every state has a right to self-defense”? Mr. Obama was also cheered for his references to Israel as a “Jewish state.” But why then obfuscate on the question of Palestinian refugees, whose political purpose over 63 years has been to destroy Israel as a Jewish state?

And then there was that line that “we will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and their rhetoric.” Applause! But can Mr. Obama offer a single example of having done that as president, except perhaps at the level of a State Department press release?

What, then, would a pro-Israel president do? He would tell Palestinians that there is no right of return. He would make the reform of the Arab mindset toward Israel the centerpiece of his peace efforts. He would outline hard and specific consequences should Hamas join the government.

Such a vision could lay the groundwork for peace. What Mr. Obama offered is a formula for war, one that he will pursue in a second term. Assuming, of course, that he gets one.

 

HEAR NO MIDDLE EAST, SEE NO MIDDLE EAST
Barry Rubin
FrontPage Blog, May 21, 2011

 

President Barack Obama’s speech on Middle East policy did more damage to U.S.-Israel relations than anything said by any previous president during the almost forty-year alliance between the two countries. Yet, ironically, the speech wasn’t intended to be on Israel at all; Obama apparently thought he was being friendly toward Israel.…

The crisis, then, was caused by three factors: The ignorance of the Obama Administration over the issues involved; Obama’s chronic lack of friendliness toward Israel; and his refusal to recognize the threat from revolutionary Islamism.

His speech mainly focused on a totally uncritical evaluation of the current upheavals in the Arab world. The idea that Egypt is about to become a radical state, that the Egypt-Israel treaty is jeopardized, and that Israel is now facing the prospect of a renewed enemy to its southwest with twelve times its own population simply has not entered Obama’s calculations.

In other words, Obama is asking Israel to make risky concessions at the very moment when its security situation is potentially at its worst in the last thirty years. The assumption that Arab states would not launch a conventional war on Israel—which has prevailed since Egypt moved toward peace in 1978—no longer holds.

The fact that the president blithely sees no danger whatsoever from the Egyptian situation or the current upheavals in the region—a point that was the main theme of his speech—reduces his credibility with Israel to zero.

A second factor that makes Obama’s timing dangerously thoughtless is that he is rewarding the Palestinian Authority (PA) after it made a cooperation deal with the revolutionary Islamist group Hamas. Of course, Hamas is an openly antisemitic organization that makes no secret of its refusal to recognize Israel, its pride in committing terrorism, and its intention to commit genocide against Israel’s Jews.…

In practice, Obama accepts the entry of Hamas into the PA government, just as he accepts that of Hezbollah into Lebanon’s government, and the Muslim Brotherhood into Egypt’s government. While the president’s rhetoric on Israel and the Palestinians is studiously “even-handed” his policy is clearly on the other side, that of Israel’s and America’s enemies.

I don’t think Obama realizes this fact. But who cares? That’s what he’s doing and it is catastrophic for the United States, its Arab allies, and Israel.

But there’s more! In his speech Obama took a tough verbal stance against the PA’s plan to get the UN General Assembly to grant Palestine independence unilaterally in September.… While it is nice to know that the Obama Administration will vote against the proposal—one can’t take anything for granted with this president—that’s not what’s most important. In line with his principle of not taking leadership, Obama isn’t lobbying strenuously to press other countries to oppose the measure or the PA to drop the idea, and certainly isn’t threatening to punish them if they do.

Thus, this fiasco, which destroys even the chance for any Israel-PA talks in 2011 and perhaps for far longer, is partly the result of American passivity.

Yet the list of administration mistakes on these issues is still not complete. In his speech, Obama proposed a plan. Again, he tipped his hat at Israel by saying that he wouldn’t try to impose a solution—no doubt thinking that would win him praise from Israel—but then made a proposal that totally tramples on Israel’s interests.

Obama’s idea was that Israel would withdraw from the remainder of the West Bank and turn it over to the PA in exchange for unspecified security guarantees. Palestine could become a state and the issues of Jerusalem and refugees would be postponed.

The effect of such an outcome would be to throw away all of Israel’s leverage on the remaining issues; free the Palestinians to do what they wanted; and exchange real strategic assets (land) for promises written on paper (security guarantees). Given the PA’s past practices and the European-American implementation of their own pledges, that would be very flimsy paper indeed.

Then there is Obama’s refusal to give credit to Israel for the ways it has already shown its desire for peace, readiness to make concessions, and willingness to take risks in order to resolve the conflict. He never mentions that Israel has already withdrawn from the Sinai Peninsula, returned small amounts of territory to Jordan, pulled completely out of Lebanon and the Gaza Strip, and given the PA all the Arab-populated portions of the West Bank (except a small area in Hebron).

Most annoying of all, in discussing what Israel has done “wrong” in the speech he said that Israeli settlement activity is continuing. Since Israel froze construction for nine months at Obama’s request (and the PA then refused to talk) one might expect some gratitude on the president’s part for Israel’s cooperation and some criticism for the PA’s refusal to do what Obama asked.

If Obama refuses to acknowledge, much less reward, Israeli cooperation and concessions in the past, Israelis and Israeli leaders know that he won’t do so in future. If Obama refuses to maintain past U.S. pledges to Israel—like the country being able to annex settlement blocs and support for Israel being recognized by the PA as a Jewish state in a peace agreement—Israelis have no faith in any promises including security guarantees he offers in future.…

Israel is not going to allow a president with no credibility, who clearly doesn’t understand what’s at stake, fails to support his Arab allies, is soft on his Iranian and Syrian enemies, doesn’t learn from his past errors, is sacrificing U.S. interests in the region, and pays no attention to what’s happening in Egypt, to determine its future.

And it isn’t just Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who thinks that way. There’s a national consensus on the issue. For almost two and a half years, Israel has played along with Obama, working hard to avoid friction, because the relationship with the United States is of tremendous importance. There was some hope that Obama would learn from experience or, at least, the bilateral relationship could muddle through his four-year term.

Now, however, in large part because of the revolution in Egypt definitely headed toward radicalism and probably toward Islamism, and the PA’s readmission of Hamas—as well as Obama’s failure to learn much about the Middle East and Israel’s situation—that effort has come to an end.

[Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. Mr. Rubin will be speaking at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s June 15th Gala.]

 

A TALE OF TWO BETRAYALS
Steve McCann
American Thinker, May 22, 2011

 

The President of the United States has willingly and with forethought placed…Israel, whose existence America has guaranteed since 1948, in an untenable situation by his attempt to impose a course of action that, if not followed by Israel, will further…cause international sentiment to turn against [the Jewish State].…

President Obama is attempting to force a settlement on terms dictated by the Arabs in the Middle East. By setting as a pre-condition the surrender of territory commensurate with the pre-1967 boundaries in any negotiations with the Palestinians, he has instead guaranteed further conflict.…

In case the President isn’t aware, about this time 73 years ago there was an eerily similar situation taking place in Europe. Czechoslovakia was a country formed out of the re-drawing of boundaries after the horrific slaughter of World War I and the surrender of Germany and Austria. Much of the Czech border was adjacent to what was left of Germany, but it was a defensible border against a nation which for decades exhibited a particularly aggressive stance against its neighbors.

The new nation quickly developed its own economy, government and military while avoiding much of the financial and political chaos taking place in Germany during the 1920’s and 30’s. However, along its border with Germany was a region called Sudetenland which contained many ethnic Germans, who for the most part were quite content to live within the boundaries of Czechoslovakia.

Adolf Hitler upon assuming power in Germany almost immediately began [plotting to] re-institute the old German-speaking empire in Europe. Once he realized that the other strong Western European powers would not stand in the way of his immediate ambitions, such as the re-occupation of the Rhineland (controlled by France), he cast his eye toward Czechoslovakia.

In April of 1938, Hitler, together with his allies in the Sudeten Nazi party, issued a demand that Sudetenland be made autonomous and allied with Nazi Germany. [This] request, if granted, would leave Czechoslovakia unprotected, as almost all its border defenses were located in this region.… The Czech government refused to acquiesce to these absurd demands.

Hitler then, knowing that the governments of France and the United Kingdom were set on avoiding war at any cost, ratcheted up his demands and threatened to begin a war by invading Czechoslovakia. Both France and Britain advised the Czech government to accede to Hitler’s wishes or they would not support the country in the event of a war.

Hitler and his henchmen then began to foment unrest in the Sudetenland, which prompted military action by the Czech army in an attempt to restore order. Hitler then claimed that the Czech were indiscriminately slaughtering Sudeten Germans (a wholly false accusation). He demanded that the French and British [permit a] German takeover of the region. They agreed and issued an ultimatum to the Czechs, making their commitment to Czechoslovakia’s existence contingent on accepting Hitler’s demands.

The Czechs reluctantly accepted; however Hitler then increased his demands once more insisting that the claims of ethnic Germans in Poland and Hungary also be satisfied which would have the effect of further decreasing not only Czechoslovakia’s border with Germany but also its border with Poland to the north and Hungary to the South.…

The Czech government refused…and began to mobilize its military. On September 28, the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Neville Chamberlin, appealed for a conference with Hitler on this matter along with France and Italy. Czechoslovakia was not invited.

A deal was reached the next day. The German army was to occupy the Sudetenland by October 10, 1938, and an international commission would decide the fate of the other disputed areas; Hitler agreed that he had no further designs on the country and would leave the balance of the Czechoslovakia in peace. The allies would therefore guarantee the survival of the remainder of the country.

Czechoslovakia was informed by Britain and France that it could resist Nazi Germany alone, as they would not honor their defense agreements with Czechoslovakia.… Given that option the Czechs capitulated.

Neville Chamberlin flew back to London and proclaimed this Agreement, now known as the “Munich Pact”, together with a new peace treaty with Germany as “Peace in our time.”

Within six months Czechoslovakia ceased to exist as:

1) October 1938: Germany occupied the Sudetenland

2) October 1938: Poland occupied parts of northern Czechoslovakia

3) November 1938: Hungary occupied parts of southern Czechoslovakia

4) March 1939: The remaining Czech territories were annexed and became part of Germany

Hitler having so successfully intimidated and bullied the European allies over Czechoslovakia and other territory then set his sights on Poland which was invaded in September of 1939 thus triggering the most devastating war in the history of mankind.

It is not a casual observation to notice how many parallels there are with the saga of Czechoslovakia and today’s Israel.…

[In this respect], Barack Obama, [due to] his recent actions, has forced a major question to be asked: will the United States reprise the role of France and Britain in 1938? Will Israel be intimidated and bullied into accepting terms that will have as their end-game the dissolution of the country?

Despite numerous efforts over the past forty years by Israel to negotiate and surrender some land, among other concessions, nothing has accomplish[ed] peace with the Palestinians…[nor will it] until all parties [are] equal[ly] commitment to peace.… It would do well for the President to understand history…[for his] attempt to force a settlement by appeasing the Arab street at the expense of Israel will only lead to a potential world-wide conflagration as Iran and it’s…allies will only be emboldened to seek more concessions and ultimately war.

 

PEACE IS NOT A PREREQUISITE TO ISRAEL’S SURVIVAL
Evelyn Gordon
Jerusalem Magazine, May 23, 2011

 

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is undoubtedly agonizing right now over…[how] to mitigate the damage caused by US President Barack Obama’s bombshell last week: the unprecedented demand that Israel withdraw to the 1967 lines without getting an end to the conflict in exchange, without such key issues as the refugees or Jerusalem even being addressed. Not even Europe or the Arab League ever went that far.

I don’t know what Netanyahu should say. But I know one thing that he and other leading Israeli politicians desperately need to stop saying: that Israel’s survival depends on signing a peace agreement with the Palestinians. For nothing so badly undermines Israel’s position among all three of the relevant audiences—the Palestinians, the international community and Israelis themselves.

Five years ago, no Israeli leader would have dreamed of asserting that Israel’s survival depends on anything any other nation does or doesn’t do: The whole point of Zionism was to restore control over Jewish fate to the Jews themselves.

But in a 2007 media interview, then-prime minister Ehud Olmert famously declared that “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses…the State of Israel is finished.” And in the few short years since then, that astounding claim seems to have become de rigueur for Israeli politicians. Even Netanyahu himself echoed it at the official memorial ceremony for late prime minister Yitzhak Rabin last October, claiming that his own political camp, the center-right, has also now “acknowledged that it’s impossible to survive in the long run without a political settlement.”

Yet even if Israeli leaders believe this, it ought to be obvious that they shouldn’t say it, because it completely eradicates Israel’s leverage in negotiations with the Palestinians. If all the Palestinians have to do to ensure Israel’s eventual demise is to keep saying “no” to every offer of statehood, what conceivable incentive would they ever have to compromise? Why should they settle for the West Bank and Gaza if merely waiting a few decades would give them pre-1967 Israel too?

Such statements are equally devastating to Israel’s effort to obtain international backing for its positions. Ever since the Oslo process began in 1993, Israel has been trying to convince the world that any agreement must accommodate its needs on issues like the refugees, Jerusalem, the settlement blocs and security arrangements. And ostensibly, it holds a very powerful bargaining chip: the threat that there will be no agreement if these needs aren’t met.

Yet if Israel’s very survival depends on the existence of a Palestinian state, then it is in no position to bargain; it will ultimately have to accept an agreement on any terms the Palestinians care to offer. Beggars, after all, can’t be choosers. And if accommodating Israel’s needs isn’t actually necessary to obtain a deal, why should the international community—which has never been sympathetic to Israel’s positions to begin with—support these positions?

Worst of all, however, is the impact such statements have on the Israeli public. After all, most Israelis have long since concluded that no peace deal is achievable in the foreseeable future. Thus if Israel’s future truly depends on such a deal, the country has no future. And if so, why stay here? Why shouldn’t any Israeli who can simply leave? Life in Israel has always entailed many difficulties; the prize that makes them all worth enduring is Jewish sovereignty—the Jewish people’s ability, for the first time in 2,000 years, to determine its own fate. But if that prize is in fact beyond reach, why keep making the effort?

Indeed, such statements could well become self-fulfilling prophecies.… If our leaders have convinced themselves that only peace can save Israel, they will never even seek alternative strategies for surviving without peace, much less develop and implement them.

Theodor Herzl famously declared that “if you will it, it is no dream.” But to will anything, you must first be able to conceive of it. And that, ultimately, is the great challenge facing Netanyahu.… He must reverse five years of disastrous public discourse and persuade Israelis, and the world, that survival without peace is indeed conceivable. And then he must develop strategies to turn that idea into reality.

“MY FEAR IS THAT WE MAY BE A BIT FURTHER AWAY”… [FROM PEACE]—ALAN M. DERSHOWITZ, MAY 20, 2011

 

 

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA, THE ‘WINDS OF CHANGE,’
AND MIDDLE EAST PEACE
Robert Satloff

Washington Institute for Near East Policy, May 19, 2011

 

President Obama…sketch[ed] out a new paradigm for U.S. engagement with the Middle East in his State Department “winds of change” speech this afternoon, in which he raised the goal of reform and democracy to a top-tier U.S. interest. Nevertheless, after critiquing Arab regimes that have used the Arab-Israeli conflict to distract their peoples from the important business of reform, he undermined the potency and effect of his own message by unveiling a new—and controversial—set of principles guiding U.S. efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Specifically, the peace process principles he articulated constitute a major departure from long-standing U.S. policy. Not only did President Obama’s statement make no mention of the democracy-based benchmarks injected into this process by President Bush in his June 2002 Rose Garden speech (which might have been appropriate, given the overall theme of his speech), he even included significant departures from the “Clinton Parameters” presented to the parties by the then president in December 2000:

  • President Obama is the first sitting president to say that the final borders should be “based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.” (The Clinton Parameters—which, it is important to note, President Clinton officially withdrew before he left office—did not mention the 1967 borders, but did mention “swaps and other territorial arrangements.”) The Obama formulation concretizes a move away from four decades of U.S. policy based on UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967, which has always interpreted calls for an Israeli withdrawal to a “secure and recognized” border as not synonymous with the pre-1967 boundaries The idea of land swaps, which may very well be a solution that the parties themselves choose to pursue, sounds very different when endorsed by the president of the United States. In effect, it means that the U.S. view is that resolution of the territorial aspect of the conflict can only be achieved if Israel cedes territory it held even before the 1967 war.
  • Regarding IDF deployment, President Obama said that the Palestinian state should have borders with Egypt, Jordan, and Israel, and referred to the “full and phased” withdrawal of the Israel Defense Forces. This statement implies categorical American opposition to any open-ended Israeli presence inside the future Palestinian state. This differs from the Clinton Parameters, which envisioned three Israeli “facilities” inside the West Bank, with no time limit on their presence.
  • Although the president noted that he was endorsing a borders-and-security-first approach, leaving the subjects of refugees and Jerusalem for future negotiations, this is an odd reading of the relevance of those two issues. For Palestinians, the refugee issue may be powerfully emotive, going to the core of Palestinian identity; for Israelis, however, it is as much an issue of security as ideology. For the president not to repeat previous U.S. government statements—e.g., that Palestinians will never see their right of return implemented through a return to Israel—is to raise expectations and inject doubt into a settled topic.

Perhaps more than anything else, the most surprising aspect of the president’s peace process statement was that it moved substantially toward the Palestinian position just days after the Palestinian Authority decided to seek unity and reconciliation with Hamas. Indeed, the president seemed nonplussed that Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has opted for unity with Hamas, a group the United States views as a terrorist organization. This reconciliation with Hamas “raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel,” the president noted—but evidently not questions so profound and troubling to the United States that they would impede a shift in U.S. policy that advantages the Palestinians.

Also odd was the fact that the president offered no implementation mechanism to translate these ideas into real negotiations. He named no high-level successor to Sen. George Mitchell, the peace process envoy who just resigned, nor did he specifically call for the immediate renewal of negotiations.

Despite this absence of a new mechanism, the likely next step is for Palestinians to take up the president’s call, ask for renewal of negotiations on precisely the terms the president outlined—borders that are “based on the 1967 lines with mutual swaps,” with no reference to refugees or other issues on which the Palestinians would make major compromises—and wait for Israel to say no.

Now en route to Washington, Israeli prime minister Netanyahu has already issued a statement objecting to the president’s focus on the 1967 borders. The two leaders may find a way to blur their differences over the principles outlined today, given their partnership on strategic issues and mutual interest in political cooperation and amity. But the approach to Israeli-Palestinian peace enunciated today has within it the seeds of deepening tension and perhaps even rift between the two sides—the very distraction from the focus on democratic reform the president said he wanted to avoid.

(Robert Satloff is The Washington Institute’s executive director
and Howard P. Berkowitz chair in U.S. Middle East policy.
)

 

UNDERSTANDING OBAMA’S SHIFT ON ISRAEL AND THE ‘1967 LINES’
Glenn Kessler

Washington Post, May 20, 2011

 

“The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”—President Obama, May 19, 2011

This sentence in President Obama’s much-anticipated speech on the Middle East caused much consternation Thursday among supporters of the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will meet with Obama on Friday, adamantly rejected it.

For people not trained in the nuances of Middle East diplomacy, the sentence might appear unremarkable. However, many experts say it represents a significant shift in U.S. policy, and it is certainly a change for the Obama administration.

As is often the case with diplomacy, the context and the speaker are nearly as important as the words. Ever since the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, it has been clear that peace with the Palestinians would be achieved through some exchange of land for security. Indeed, Israelis and Palestinians have held several intensive negotiations that involved swapping lands along the Arab-Israeli dividing line that existed before the 1967 war—technically known as the Green Line, or the boundaries established by the 1949 Armistice agreements.

So, in many ways, it is not news that the eventual borders of a Palestinian state would be based on land swaps from the 1967 dividing line. But it makes a difference when the president of the United States says it, particularly in a carefully staged speech at the State Department. This then is not an off-the-cuff remark, but a carefully considered statement of U.S. policy.

Here is a tour through the diplomatic thicket, and how U.S. language on this issue has evolved over the years.

The Facts

The pre-1967 lines are important to both sides for setting the stage for eventual negotiations, but for vastly different reasons.

From an Israeli perspective, the de facto borders that existed before 1967 were not really borders, but an unsatisfactory, indefensible and temporary arrangement that even Arabs had not accepted. So Israeli officials do not want to be bound by those lines in any talks. From a Palestinian perspective, the pre-1967 division was a border between Israel and neighboring states and thus must be the starting point for negotiations involving land swaps. This way, they believe, the size of a future Palestinian state would end up to be—to the square foot—the exact size of the non-Israeli territories before the 1967 conflict. Palestinians would argue that even this is a major concession, since they believe all of the current state of Israel should belong to the Palestinians.

After the Six-Day War, the United Nations set the stage for decades of fitful peacemaking by issuing Resolution 242, which said that “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” should include the following principles:

1. Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.

2. Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

Since the resolution did not say “the territories,” it has become a full-time employment act for generations of diplomats. Nevertheless, until Obama on Thursday, U.S. presidents generally have steered clear of saying the negotiations should start on the 1967 lines. Here is a sampling of comments by presidents or their secretaries of state, with some explanation or commentary.

“It is clear, however, that a return to the situation of 4 June 1967 will not bring peace. There must be secure and there must be recognized borders.”—President Lyndon Johnson, September 1968

“In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israel’s population lived within artillery range of hostile armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again.”—President Ronald Reagan, September 1, 1982

“Israel will never negotiate from or return to the 1967 borders.”—Secretary of State George Shultz, September 1988

Starting with President Lyndon Johnson, right after the Six-Day War, U.S. presidents often have shown great sympathy for Israel’s contention that the pre-1967 dividing line did not provide security.

“I think there can be no genuine resolution to the conflict without a sovereign, viable, Palestinian state that accommodates Israeli’s security requirements and the demographic realities. That suggests Palestinian sovereignty over Gaza, the vast majority of the West Bank, the incorporation into Israel of settlement blocks.… To make the agreement durable, I think there will have to be some territorial swaps and other arrangements.”—President Bill Clinton, January 7, 2001

In his waning weeks in office, Clinton laid out what are now known as the “Clinton parameters,” an attempt to sketch out a negotiating solution to create two states. His description of the parameters is very detailed, but he shied away from mentioning the 1967 lines even as he spoke of “territorial swaps.”

“In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949, and all previous efforts to negotiate a two-state solution have reached the same conclusion. It is realistic to expect that any final status agreement will only be achieved on the basis of mutually agreed changes that reflect these realities.”—Bush, letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, April 14, 2004

When Sharon agreed to withdraw Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, Bush smoothed the deal by exchanging letters that supported the Israeli position that the 1967 lines were not a useful starting point. The letter infuriated Arabs, but it helped Sharon win domestic approval for the Gaza withdrawal. Interestingly, despite Israeli pleas, the Obama administration has refused to acknowledge the letter as binding on U.S. policy.

“We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements.”—Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Nov. 25, 2009

When the Israeli government announced a partial settlement freeze, Clinton responded with a statement that specifically mentioned a state based on 1967 lines, but as a “Palestinian goal.” This was balanced with a description of an “Israeli goal.”

Originally, the Obama administration had hoped both sides would have agreed to acknowledge such goals as a starting point for negotiations—known in the diplomatic trade as “terms of reference.” When that effort failed, Clinton issued the concept in her own name. She would repeat the same sentence, almost word for word, many times over the next 1½ years.

The Bottom Line

In the context of this history, Obama’s statement Thursday represented a major shift. He did not articulate the 1967 boundaries as a “Palestinian goal” but as U.S. policy. He also dropped any reference to “realities on the ground”—code for Israeli settlements—that both Bush and Hillary Rodham Clinton had used. He further suggested that Israel’s military would need to agree to leave the West Bank.

Obama did not go all the way and try to define what his statement meant for the disputed city of Jerusalem, or attempt to address the issue of Palestinians who want to return to lands now in the state of Israel. He said those issues would need to be addressed after borders and security are settled. But, for a U.S. president, the explicit reference to the 1967 lines represented crossing the Rubicon.

 

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S MISTAKE
Alan M. Dershowitz
Jerusalem Post, May 20, 2011

 

President Barack Obama should be commended for his emphasis on Israel’s security and his concern about Hamas joining the Palestinian Authority without renouncing its violent charter. But he made one serious mistake that tilts the balance against Israel in any future negotiations. Without insisting that the Palestinians give up their absurd claim to have millions of supposed refugees “return” to Israel as a matter of right, he insisted that Israel must surrender all of the areas captured in its defensive war of 1967, subject only to land swaps.

This formulation undercuts Security Council Resolution 242 (which I played a very small role in helping to draft). Resolution 242, passed unanimously by the Security Council in the wake of Israel’s 1967 victory, contemplated some territorial adjustments necessary to assure Israel’s security against future attacks. It also contemplated that Israel would hold onto the Western Wall, the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and the access roads to Hebrew University, without the need for any land swaps. Land swaps would only be required to make up for any areas beyond those contemplated by Resolution 242. The Obama formulation would seem to require land swaps even for the Western Wall.

Any proposed peace agreement will require the Palestinians to give up the so-called right of return, which is designed not for family reunification, but rather to turn Israel into another Palestinian state with an Arab majority. As all reasonable people know, the right of return is a non-starter. It is used as a “card” by the Palestinian leadership who fully understand that they will have to give it up if they want real peace.… Obama’s mistake was to insist that Israel give up its card without demanding that the Palestinians give up theirs.

Obama’s mistake is a continuation of a serious mistake he made early in his administration. That first mistake was to demand that Israel freeze all settlements. The Palestinian Authority had not demanded that as a condition to negotiations. But once the President of the United States issued such a demand, the Palestinian leadership could not be seen by its followers as being less Palestinian than the President. In other words, President Obama made it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to be reasonable. Most objective observers now recognize Obama’s serious mistake in this regard. What is shocking is that he has done it again. By demanding that Israel surrender all the territories it captured in the 1967 war (subject only to land swaps) without insisting that the Palestinians surrender their right of return, the President has gone further than Palestinian negotiators had during various prior negotiations. This makes it more difficult for the Palestinian leadership to be reasonable in their negotiations with the Israelis.

It is not too late for the President to “clarify” his remarks so that all sides understand that there must be quid for quo—that the Palestinians must surrender any right to return if the Israelis are expected to seriously consider going back to the 1967 lines (which Abba Eban called “the Auschwitz lines” because they denied Israel real security).

If President Obama is to play a positive role in bringing the Palestinians and the Israelis to the negotiating table, he should insist that there be no preconditions to negotiation. This would mean the Palestinians no longer insisting on a settlement freeze before they will even sit down to try to negotiate realistic borders. The President did not even ask the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Nor did he ask them to drop the condition that he, in effect, made them adopt when he earlier insisted on the freeze.

The President missed an important opportunity in delivering his highly anticipated speech. We are no closer to negotiations now than we were before the speech. My fear is that we may be a bit further away as a result of the President’s one-sided insistence that Israel surrender territories without the Palestinians giving up the right of return. I hope that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Washington may increase the chances of meaningful negotiations. I wish I could be more optimistic but the President’s speech gave no cause for optimism.…

 

WHAT SHOULD NETANYAHU SAY?
Jerold S. Auerbach
American Thinker, May 20, 2011

 

Next Tuesday, four days after he meets with President Obama, Prime Minister Netanyahu will address Congress. With Israel now confronting a triple-security threat that leaves the country more vulnerable than at any time since the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in 1973, it is imperative for the Israeli leader to stand firm.

Netanyahu’s planned “peace initiative” has been undermined by recent events. With its peace treaty with Egypt fraying since Mubarak’s forced departure, Gaza will surely become a Hamas arsenal. Reconciliation between Hamas, sworn to Israel’s destruction, and the Palestinian Authority, too weak to resist, will trap Israel between Palestinian pincers in Gaza and the West Bank. Looming in September is United Nations recognition of Palestinian statehood, another step in that organization’s persistent delegitimization of Israel.

Pressure continues to mount, from the international community and from the Obama administration, for Israel to relinquish the West Bank for a Palestinian state—and, presumably, “peace.” That is a delusion.

It is time for Netanyahu, in his address to Congress, to decisively reject the seductive but menacing mantra of “land for peace.” His recent declaration that the Palestinian Authority can have peace with Israel or with Hamas, but not both, was reassuring. His conditions for peace, recently outlined to the Knesset, sounded firm: Palestinian recognition of Israel; its refugee problem to be solved outside Israel’s borders; settlement blocs to remain part of Israel, with Jerusalem as its united capital. But they are insufficient.

The West Bank mountain ridge forms the major land barrier against an attack from the east that could decimate the coastal plain (including Tel Aviv), where 70 percent of Israelis live. The widely despised Jewish settlements located there are not the primary obstacle to peace; enduring Arab hostility to a Jewish state is. Between 1948 and 1967, there were no settlements—and still no peace.

The prime minister might use his opportunity to remind the world that the West Bank, biblical Judea and Samaria, is the biblical homeland of the Jewish people. Two thousand years of ancient Jewish history unfolded there. If there is Jewish land anywhere in the world, it is there.

Until after the Six-Day War, however, this land was Judenrein. Only then, following yet another failed Arab attempt to annihilate the Jewish state, could Jews return to live in their historical homeland. More than 300,000 Israelis have done so. Surrounding settlements with a Palestinian state will destroy them and undermine Israeli security. The alternative—Israeli expulsion of tens of thousands of Jews who live outside the settlement blocs—is no better.

Finally, given relentless international efforts to delegitimize Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu might remind critics that Jewish settlement, protected by international guarantees ever since 1922, is fully consistent with international law.

The League of Nations Mandate then cited “the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and the legitimacy of grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” After Great Britain lopped off three-quarters of Palestine for Trans-Jordan (the first Palestinian state), Jews were assured the right of “close settlement” in the remaining land west of the Jordan River. That right has never been rescinded.

Article 80 of the United Nations Charter explicitly protected the rights of “any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.” Drafted in 1945 by Jewish legal representatives (including Ben-Zion Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s father), it preserved the rights of the Jewish people to settle in all the land west of the Jordan River.

Settlement critics often cite Article 49 of the Geneva Convention, adopted in 1949 in the shadow of the Holocaust, as a restriction on settlement. They are mistaken. Drafted to prevent a repetition of the forced Nazi and Soviet deportations of civilian populations, it declared that an “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

This provision has no applicability to Jewish settlements. Neither during nor since the Six-Day War did Israel “deport” Palestinians from the West Bank or “transfer” Israelis there. Settlers acted on their own volition to restore a Jewish presence in the Jewish homeland—precisely as Zionist kibbutzniks had earlier done in the Galilee and Negev.…

Prime Minister Netayahu’s speech should be framed with reminders of these international guarantees, the historic Jewish attachment to the Land of Israel, and the menacing security situation that Israel will confront should its ancient homeland be abandoned. The consequences for Israel of surrendering its legitimate security and its historic and internationally guaranteed land claims would be dire, if not fatal.…

Netanyahu’s willingness to [compromise] Jewish land, first demonstrated when he capitulated to Clinton administration demands under the Oslo II Accords, is a disturbing harbinger. Last year he acceded to President Obama’s insistence on a ten-month freeze on settlement construction—in return for nothing. Even after the freeze expired, with no discernible Palestinian willingness to resume peace negotiations, Netanyahu tacitly acquiesced to its continuation.

Appeasement paved the way for one horrific Jewish tragedy. It is imperative for Israel’s Prime Minister to state, clearly and unequivocally, that the Jewish state will not become another Czechoslovakia, sacrificed by “friends” to please its enemies. Clinging to the fantasy of land for peace can only deepen Israel’s alarming vulnerability.

(Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of Brothers at War: Israel and the Tragedy of the Altalena.)

WHAT EVERY JEW AND NON-JEW NEEDS TO KNOW

 

 

 

THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL
IN PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY IDEOLOGY AND EDUCATION
Itamar Marcus & Harel Zioni

Palestinian Media Watch, May 18, 2011

 

On the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of Israel’s independence, Palestinian Media Watch has prepared a comprehensive report describing how the establishment of the state [of Israel] is depicted in the Palestinian Authority’s educational system and official media, both of which operate under the supervision of PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The report documents how the establishment of Israel and its continued existence are demonized by spokesmen and representatives of the PA in the official controlled media.

The report does not include quotes from the media controlled by Hamas, since the Hamas position concerning Israel’s existence is well-known and its charter calls for the destruction of Israel. The aim of the report is to document the PA positions expressed in internal Palestinian discourse in Arabic that are not expressed to the outside world. The report focuses on statements by senior PA officials, columnists in the official PA press, and program hosts and reporters on PA TV, from 2010-2011.

 

ABSTRACT:

“The Zionist gangs stole Palestine…and established the state of Israel”—this quote, from an official PA 12th Grade schoolbook, is an accurate depiction of how the PA educates its population to view the establishment of the State of Israel. Presenting the creation of the state as an act of theft and its continued existence as a historical injustice serves as the basis for the PA’s non-recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

In order to create an ideological basis for this, the PA denies there was an ancient Jewish history in the Land of Israel and also distorts modern history, presenting Zionism as a demonic Nazi-like phenomenon. In order to explain what made Jews come to Israel, since they claim there was no historical connection to draw them, Zionism is presented as a colonialist movement created by the West to further its interests.… Israel is further demonized through images and descriptions, such as “the foster child of the Nazis,” “an organized terror state,” “the cruelest enemy,” etc. Accordingly, the idea of the State of Israel ceasing to exist is presented as the achievement of justice.

Today, following the establishment of a Fatah and Hamas unity government, many countries are demanding that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist as a condition for the world’s recognition of their new government. Ironically, this very condition is violated daily by the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas.

 

THE REPORT:

1. “THE ZIONIST GANGS STOLE PALESTINE”

“The Zionist gangs stole Palestine” is a quote from a Palestinian Authority official 12th-Grade schoolbook. It encapsulates how the PA views—and educates its population to view—the establishment of the State of Israel.… The establishment of the state is presented as the result of crime, robbery and theft by foreigners with neither the right nor any historical connection to the place, with the deliberate aim of harming the Arab inhabitants of the land. The term “Zionist gangs” is prevalent in Palestinian discourse and refers to the generation that founded the state. The word “theft” refers to the acts of developing the land and establishing the state.

The following are some examples:

In a 12th-Grade schoolbook: “Palestine’s war ended with a catastrophe that is unprecedented in history, when the Zionist gangs stole Palestine and expelled its people from their cities, their villages, their lands and their houses, and established the State of Israel.” [Arabic Language, Analysis, Literature and Criticism, Grade 12, p. 104.]

Special Ramadan supplement to the official PA daily features a competition with prizes. The text of the Balfour Declaration is shown, followed by the question: “The cursed James Arthur Balfour Declaration led to the theft of the homeland and the expulsion of an entire people, in a campaign of ethnic cleansing unparalleled in modern history. On what date and what month in 1917 was this declaration issued?” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 7, 2010]…

PA TV item on UN Resolution 194, broadcast on International Refugee Day: “The Resolution, which stipulated return and restitution for the Palestinian refugees who had been expelled by force from their homes and from their land by the Zionist gangs in 1948 in the greatest operation of ethnic cleansing, continues to be a black chapter in human history.” [PA TV (Fatah), June 20, 2010]

Columnist in the PA daily under the headline, “Zionism reproduces the Holocaust”: “They plundered the Palestinian land and national interests, and established their state upon the ruins of the Palestinian Arab people, under the faded and false slogan, ‘A nationless land for a landless nation.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 19, 2011].…

 

2. NOT RECOGNIZING ISRAEL’S RIGHT TO EXIST

In order to substantiate the claim that the establishment of the State of Israel was an act of theft, the PA engages in historical revision. The ancient Jewish history in the Land of Israel is erased, while modern Jewish history is distorted in order to present Zionism as a demonic phenomenon.

Thus, the PA leadership creates the ideological basis for negating Israel’s right to exist. PA spokesmen have claimed that the Jewish nation is an “invented nation,” intended to justify Zionism; this ignores the reality of Zionism as the expression of the aspirations of the Jewish people returning to its homeland. This…erasure of the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel results in the verdict that the State of Israel has no right to exist.

The following are some examples:

PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “History proves the Arab, Islamic and Palestinian right to this land and disproves all the Israeli claims that they have religious and historical rights in this land.” [PA TV interview (Fatah), March 2, 2010]

PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud Al-Habbash: “The political science department at Bir Zeit University held…a political symposium with the participation of scholar Antoine Shalhat, who spoke about…Zionist ideology.… Shalhat said that the idea of Zionism is the establishment of a national home for Jews in Palestine and the invention of a new nationality, known as the Jewish nation, and that the first to propose this was the Jewish Theodore Herzl, who spoke in his book Altneuland about his ideas of establishing a Jewish state.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 27, 2010].…

Jordanian academic Muhammad Dohal, interviewed on PA TV documentary program about the UN Partition Plan: “The Jews are hated in every society in which they have lived, because of their behavior relating to their great love of money.… This was the source of their harm to the societies around them, including Palestinian society, Arab-Palestinian society. We all know that the Jews lived in Palestine and the Palestinian people adopted them, so to say…but they contrived schemes by means of their secret organizations, which gave rise to the idea of the need to purchase tracts of land and to seize control of them, and then to claim that they were the owners of a great area of the land, and that they were the original inhabitants of this land, and that the people which had adopted them was simply accidental in this land.… Their behavior led to [Shakespeare’s] famous story, the story of Shylock about money lending, which clings to the Jews.…” [PA TV (Fatah), Oct. 10 and 17, 2010].…

Adel Abd Al-Rahman, columnist in the official PA daily: “The false story of the Zionists, according to which Palestine is ‘the promised land,’ is simply a lie without any basis. No person of the Jewish faith who was born in any country of the world has the right to return to Palestine.…” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 16, 2010]

Adel Abd Al-Rahman, columnist in the official PA daily: “The history and heritage of Jericho confirm the Arab-Palestinian-Canaanite narrative concerning the entire Palestinian land, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river, negating anything else, especially the false Zionist narrative.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Oct. 21, 2010].…

 

3. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL PRESENTED AS “COLONIALIST” PLAN

In order to explain Israel’s existence as a country of immigrants who have no connection with the land, the claim is made—in President Mahmoud Abbas’s name—that “the Zionist movement is not Jewish, nor did it flow from the desire of the Jews themselves; rather, it was an imperialist colonialist movement which sought to use the Jews and to enlist them for the benefit of the west’s colonialist plans.” (See source below.) In other words, the State of Israel is the result of an international imperialist plot. The PA argues that the countries of Europe (led by Britain) tried to rid themselves of the Jews, who were a burden to them. They wanted a foreign body in the heart of the Arab world and establishing a state for the Jews there served this colonialist purpose.

The following are some examples:

PA President Mahmoud Abbas raised this claim in his research, as testified by a professor of political science at Bir Zeit University, Dr. Samih Hamouda: “…Professor Samih Hamouda, from the department of political science at Bir Zeit University, presented an analysis of the research studies of President Mahmoud Abbas, on the subject of Zionist ideology. Prof. Hamouda said that in his writings and research, the President linked Zionism with imperialism, by examining the reasons for the growth of Zionism, through scientific analysis of European society and the problem of Jews in Europe, and linked this with western aspirations in the Arab East. He added, ‘In the President [Abbas’s] studies, the Zionist movement is not Jewish, nor did it flow from the desire of the Jews themselves; rather, it was an imperialist colonialist movement which sought to use the Jews and to enlist them for the benefit of the western colonialist plans.’” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 27, 2010].…

Ahmad Hanoun, senior member of the PLO department for refugee affairs: “Most of the world participated, clearly and directly, in the plot against the Palestinian people. Meaning, they are partners in [creating] the tragedy that befell the Palestinian people. Nowhere [else] in history did the UN partition a land, giving it and allowing a part [of the population] that was not authentic to establish a state in that land, while not allowing the other nation to establish its state.” [PA TV (Fatah), Nov. 1, 2010]

Adel Abd Al-Rahman, columnist for the official PA daily: “The evil European and American forces enabled [the Jews] to achieve the idea of a ‘national home,’ in order to be rid of them and to remove from European society the results and ramifications of the Holocaust which they had carried out against the Jews of Europe in Nazi Germany. This was [done] with the aim of tearing apart the Arab land, by planting them as an imperialist colonialist enterprise in Arab Palestine. Instead of opposing the West’s colonialist plans and ideas, the Zionist Jews were glad to be the pawns of and fuel for the colonialist enterprise.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Jan. 19, 2011].…

 

4. DEMONIC IMAGES AND DESCRIPTIONS OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL

The Palestinian Authority demonizes Israel through horrific visual images and descriptions….

The following are some examples:

Coordinator of the Prisoners’ Committee of the National and Islamic Parties, Yasser Mazhar, on behalf of the Committee: “Israel is the foster child of Nazism, and a strategic ally of racism, which has disappeared from the world—except for there.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, July 27, 2010]

Jamal Tamimi, a lecturer in communications at Al-Quds University, responding to the question, Where is Israel is headed? “To what is beyond Hitlerism, what is beyond fascism, what is beyond Nazism.” [PA TV (Fatah), Oct. 12, 2010]

Senior Fatah member, Marwan Barghouti, serving 5 life sentences in Israel for his involvement in terror activities, in an interview from prison: “The great Palestinian people—generators of the longest armed revolution in modern history, and proprietors of the two mightiest and greatest Intifadas in the region, facing the cruelest enemy and Zionist settlement colonialism that is unparalleled in the modern history of colonialism…” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Sept. 28, 2010]

Adel Abed Al-Rahman, columnist in the official PA daily: “The Israeli apartheid state, possessing no cultural heritage or any collective symbol for a society born from the womb of the Zionist and Western imperialist attack, aspires and exerts efforts to appropriate and take over symbols and elements of the Palestinian national identity.… All this is in order to strengthen its false claims and its fallacious stories to the world and its cultural and scientific institutions.… The Israel organized terror state acts vigorously, and on more than one level, to eliminate the Palestinian issue.… [Some] pretend not to know that all areas of life are [battle]fields for the conflict with the Zionist movement and with its racist and fascist state.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 19, 2010]

In an announcement published by the PLO Executive Council on the 22nd anniversary of the Palestinian declaration of independence (1988): “Owing to its policy that is hostile to peace and stability, Israel has become a growing political and moral burden on all of humanity.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Nov. 15, 2010]

In an article on the subject of the huge fire in the Carmel Forest last December: “Israel—whose preparations for destruction and war we hear about daily—is now unable to protect nature, which belongs to [all] mankind. This is a natural outcome for a country whose aim is destruction and ruin of humanity.” [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Dec. 8, 2010]

 

5. JUSTICE WILL BE ACHIEVED WHEN ISRAEL CEASES TO EXIST

The Palestinian Authority policy is to present the conflict with Israel as a struggle between Palestinians who are said to be innocent, with justice on their side, and Israel, which is said to be oppressive and cruel, void of legitimate rights. For this reason, the PA objective—having a world without the State of Israel—is not perceived as negative or unjust towards the citizens of Israel. Rather, it is presented as the attainment of historical justice.

A Fatah member of the Palestinian Parliament, Najat Abu-Bakr, stated this explicitly: “I am certain that the State of Israel—this entity which the world implanted in our body, in our bones and in our history—this is the beginning of the end of this oppressive entity.” [PA TV (Fatah), June 1, 2010]

The same message was conveyed by the narrator on a PA TV program about refugee camps. The narrator addresses the Jews of Israel, asking them to leave—in the name of justice: “Where are you [Israelis] from? Where are you from? Where are you from? Of course, you’re from Ukraine; of course, you’re from Germany, from Poland, from Russia, from Ethiopia, the Falasha (pejorative for Ethiopian Jews). Why have you stolen my homeland and taken my place? Please, I ask of you, return to your original homeland, so that I can return to my original homeland. This is my homeland; go back to your homeland!” [PA TV (Fatah), May 4 and 7, 2010]

 

CONCLUSIONS

The call for Jews to leave Israel that was expressed on official PA TV—“Return to your original homeland, so that I can return to my original homeland”—exemplifies the basis of the Palestinian Authority ideology, as documented in this report. The PA’s logic is:

Since “the Zionist gangs stole Palestine,” justice will be attained only when that which was stolen is returned.

Since “recognition of Israel’s right to be a state in this region represents an environmental and security hazard,” then for the sake of peace, justice demands that the danger be neutralized.

Since “the European and American forces of evil facilitated for them [the Jews] the idea of a ‘national home’…with the aim of tearing apart the Arab land, by planting them as an imperialist colonialist enterprise in Arab Palestine,” then justice will be achieved only when this “colonialist enterprise” ceases to exist.

Since “Israel is the foster child of Nazism, and a strategic ally of racism, which has disappeared from the world—except for there,” then justice demands the removal of the last remnant of Nazism in the world.

This position—that the State of Israel has no right to exist and therefore justice will be attained only with its termination—is a primary component of Palestinian Authority ideology. Today, following the establishment of a Fatah and Hamas unity government, many countries are demanding that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist as a condition for the world’s recognition of their new government. Ironically, it is this very condition that the Palestinian Authority itself under Mahmoud Abbas violates daily.

WEDNESDAY’S “NEWS IN REVIEW” ROUND-UP

 

 

 

Media-ocrity of the Week

 

…It is important to note that the last time the question of Palestinian statehood took center stage at the General Assembly, the question posed to the international community was whether our homeland should be partitioned into two states. In November 1947, the General Assembly made its recommendation and answered in the affirmative. Shortly thereafter, Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs to ensure a decisive Jewish majority in the future state of Israel, and Arab armies intervened. War and further expulsions ensued.… We go to the United Nations now to secure the right to live free in the remaining 22 percent of our historic homeland because we have been negotiating with the State of Israel for 20 years without coming any closer to realizing a state of our own. We cannot wait indefinitely while Israel continues to send more settlers to the occupied West Bank and denies Palestinians access to most of our land and holy places, particularly in Jerusalem.… Once admitted to the United Nations, our state stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel.…”—Excerpts from Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’s NY Times op-ed, entitled The Long Overdue Palestinian State, calling on the “peace-loving,” third world dictatorships of the world to support his unilateral bid for Palestinian statehood at the UN General assembly in September, and affirming that the creation of “Palestine” is now a precondition for future negotiations with Israel. In response to Abbas’s distorted historical account, the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg wrote, “There is no particular reason to hope for a successful peace process when the leader of the Palestinians is selling a false history of Israel’s independence.… Mahmoud Abbas cannot bring himself to note that the Jews accepted the partition plan, while the Arabs rejected it, and went to war to extinguish the new Jewish state in the cradle, and then lost their offensive war.… If only he…could find a way to avoid rehearsing old grievances and instead work toward a future in which [he] doesn’t get all that [he] wants, but gets enough to live.” (NY Times, May 16 & Atlantic, May 17.)

 

 

Weekly Quotes

We must stop beating ourselves up and blaming ourselves.… We saw what happened along the borders of Israel yesterday. Thousands thronged against our fences in an attempt to invade our territory and challenge our sovereignty.… What were they yelling in Gaza yesterday? They were shouting that they want to return to Jaffa. What were they crying in Syria yesterday? They were chanting that they want to return to the Galilee. What did the leader of Hamas say yesterday? ‘We want to see the end of the Zionist agenda,’ the very same words used by his patrons in Iran.… My friends, the root of this conflict never was a Palestinian state, or lack thereof. The root of the conflict is, and always has been, their refusal to recognize the Jewish state. It is not a conflict over 1967, but over 1948, over the very existence of the State of Israel. You must have noticed that yesterday’s events did not occur on June 5, the anniversary of the Six Day War. They occurred on May 15, the day the State of Israel was established. The Palestinians regard this day, the foundation of the State of Israel, their nakba, their catastrophe. But their catastrophe was that they did not have a leadership that was willing to reach a true historic compromise between the Palestinian people and the Jewish people.”—This is not a conflict about 1967, this is a conflict about 1948, about the State of Israel’s very existence. You must have noticed that yesterday’s events did not take place on June 5, the day the Six Day War erupted, they took place on May 15, the day the State of Israel was established.”—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in an address to the Knesset plenum as part of “Herzl Day”, reaffirming that neither “borders” nor “settlements” are the root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but rather Israel’s very existence, as evidenced by the fact that “Nakba Day”—the yearly Palestinian commemoration marking the “catastrophe” of Israel’s birth—is celebrated on Israel’s Independence Day. (PMO Website, May 16.)

 

Today, as the Palestinians and their supporters commemorate their so-called ‘Nakba’, it is imperative that the catastrophe that befell the Jews from Arab lands be remembered and recognized. While the Arabs in 1948 were involved in hostilities against the Jews, the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa were not present in a theater of war, yet overnight their citizenship was revoked, their assets stolen and they were expelled or forced to flee. There is also a massive disparity in numbers, while the Arabs refugees numbered just over half a million, the Jewish refugees numbered over 900,000 and because they were urban and wealthy, their assets accounted for almost double those of the more rural Arabs. In any future agreement with the Palestinians, the issue of the Jewish refugees should be recognized and those who fled, and their descendants, ought to receive redress.… The Palestinian refugee narrative has been allowed to stand uncontested, too few people know about the real ‘Nakba’, that saw the dispossession of almost a million Jews, and it is about time for this to change.”—Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, exposing the tyranny perpetrated by Arab nations against their Jewish citizens following Israel’s creation, which resulted in the forced expulsion of nearly one million Jews, and committing to fight the predominant and patently false narrative that only Palestinians were displaced during Israel’s defensive War of Independence. (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 15.)

 

Nazism was defeated, but the Nazi ideology and its anti-Semitic roots are still nested in many places around the world. We, the Jews, certainly can not ignore it, when Mein Kampf and The Protocols of the Elders of Zion are still available to anyone in many languages, and when a state that calls for the destruction of a nation is still a member of the UN. We can not stay complacent when faced with calls for genocide, and we will not be silent about the tragedies of other nations.”—Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, in a special Knesset Plenum to commemorate the 66th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s defeat, warning that although Nazism was vanquished its anti-Semitic ideology persists, and, as such, the Jewish people must be vigilant in the face of new existential threats posed by the likes of Iran. (Jerusalem Post, May 18.)

 

It would be a natural move for Iran to open an embassy or representative office in Gaza. Gaza is now a region almost free of occupation and Iran can have an active embassy in Gaza as it will have the same kind of mission in Egypt in future. Iran was the first government which recognized Palestine and allowed opening of the Palestinian embassy and today the Palestinian ambassador is active in Iran”—Representative of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Movement in Tehran, Nasser Abu Sharif, calling on Iran to open a Mission in Hamas-ruled Gaza, in order to foster bilateral relations with the Palestinians. Palestinian Ambassador to Tehran Salah al-Zawawi echoed Abu Sharif’s statement and commended the “Iranian nation and government’s support for the victory of Palestine.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, May 11.)

 

While no trial can bring back those that were murdered, holding those responsible to justice has an important moral and educational role in society. The conviction today of Demjanjuk underscores the fact that even though the policies of the ‘Final Solution’—the systematic murder of six million European Jews—were set and carried out by the German Nazi regime, the murder could not have taken place without the participation of myriads of Europeans on many levels. Their role was also criminal.”—Chairman of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Museum Avner Shalev, praising the conviction of John Demjanjuk for his role in orchestrating the murder of 27,900 Jews during the Nazi Holocaust. Nazi hunter Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Center asserted “The conviction today of death camp guard Ivan Demjanjuk, who actively participated in the mass murder of tens of thousands of Jews in the Sobibor death camp, sends a powerful message that those responsible for Holocaust crimes can still be held accountable even though decades have passed since they were committed.” (Jerusalem Post May 12.)

 

Where is terrorism? [Hamas] entered into the elections and after the elections this is how they were reacted, I mean, calling them terrorists, this would be disrespect to the will of the Palestinian people.”—Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in an interview with U.S. talk show host Charlie Rose, discrediting the notion that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and affirming Turkey’s support of the Fatah-Hamas unity pact, which Erdogan views as a sign of progress that will bring peace to the region. (Jerusalem Post, May 12.)

Short Takes

AL-QAEDA NAMES NEW LEADER—(New York) According to reports, Egyptian Saif al-Adel has been appointed as "caretaker" leader of al-Qaeda, following the death of Osama bin Laden. The decision comes as a surprise, as many expected bin Laden's longstanding deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to fill in for the slain leader. Al-Adel is a former Egyptian Special Forces soldier, and, according to the FBI, he is wanted in connection with the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania. The 50-something al-Adel has a bounty of $5 million on his head. (Associated Press, May 18.)

 

US MIDEAST ENVOY MITCHELL RESIGNS—(Washington) U.S. Middle East peace envoy George Mitchell has shocked the Obama administration by handing in his resignation, a move that reflects his frustration with the White House’s shifting and incoherent mid-east policy. Mitchell, a former U.S. senator who helped broker the Northern Ireland peace deal, was one of the first members of Obama’s foreign policy team to be announced and has shuttled extensively between Washington and Middle East capitals trying to set up new negotiations. Direct peace talks resumed briefly last year but broke down when the Palestinians demanded that pre-conditions over settlement construction in the West Bank. (Reuters, May 13.)

 

U.N. SAYS IRAN VIOLATED ARMS BAN—(United Nations) According to a new United Nations report, Iran has been shipping weapons to Syria in violation of a U.N. arms-export ban. Of the nine reported violations, six arms shipments from Iran were to Syria, whose government is conducting a deadly crackdown on anti-regime protesters. In all such incidents, the arms were found to be “carefully concealed” to avoid inspection and hide the identity of the end user. The report also said Iran continued “willful” circumvention of sanctions through the use of “front companies, concealment methods in shipping, financial transactions and the transfer of conventional arms.” (Wall Street Journal, May 12.)

 

AHMADINEJAD’S MENTOR CRITICIZES HIM—(Tehran) The spiritual mentor of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has harshly criticized the Iranian president for his role in an internal power struggle that has split the country’s hard-liners, indicating that Ahmadinejad’s own support base is fraying. The cleric is the latest high-profile figure to censure Ahmadinejad, who sparked a political confrontation last month by firing his intelligence minister without consulting the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The president’s mentor, Ayatollah Mohammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, said Ahmadinejad is increasingly turning friends into enemies and demonstrating what he called “illogical and cheap” behavior. The showdown is being interpreted as further evidence of a growing rift between Ahmadinejad and the ruling theocracy and a sign that Khamenei is seeking to tighten his grip on political affairs before parliamentary elections next year and a presidential election in 2013. (Washington Post, May 14.)

 

SYRIANPRESIDENT SAYS SECURITY FORCES MADE MISTAKES—(Beirut) Syrian president Bashar Assad has admitted that his security forces made mistakes during the uprising against his regime, blaming poorly trained police officers for a crackdown that has killed more than 850 people over the past two months. Assad’s comments come following a brutal attack on the western town of Talkalakh, which left more than 27 dead. Syrians pouring over the Lebanon border in recent days described horrific scenes in Talkalakh, including execution-style slayings and lifeless bodies littering the streets. Western powers continue to threaten the Assad regime with sanctions, while maintaining the hope that Assad will implement reforms. (Washington Post, May 17.)

 

WAR-CRIMES PROSECUTORS SEEK GADHAFI’S ARREST—(Tripoli) The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor is seeking arrest warrants for Col. Moammar Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam as well as Abdullah al-Senussi, a senior intelligence officer. According to chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo “The evidence shows that Moammar Gadhafi personally ordered attacks on Libyan civilians. [He] committed these crimes with the goal of maintaining his authority.” If indicted by ICC judges, Col. Gadhafi will be subject to an international arrest warrant, to be enforced by all members of the United Nations. An adviser to the rebels’ National Transitional Council called the announcement “a huge boost for morale.” (Associated Press & Wall Street Journal, May 16.)

 

THOUSANDS OF EGYPTIANS PROTEST AGAINST ISRAEL—(Jerusalem) Thousands of Egyptians have staged mass demonstrations outside the Israeli Consulate in Alexandria and the Israeli embassy in Cairo. Mobs of chanting dissenters—“With our souls, with our blood, we redeem you Palestine.”—descended on the Israeli Missions to push their military rulers to cut ties with Israel, and do more to help Palestinians. Egyptian riot police fired tear gas and live ammunition to disperse the protesters, and a security official confirmed that at least 185 demonstrators were arrested. Egypt's Health Ministry said at least 353 people were hurt. (Associated Press, May 16 & Jerusalem Post, May 13.)

 

TALIBAN LAYS CLAIM TO DEADLY PAKISTAN BLAST—(Islamabad) A pair of suicide bombers have struck paramilitary recruits at a training center in volatile northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 80 people. The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the attack was its first to avenge the slaying of Osama bin Laden by U.S. forces. The bombers, wearing explosive vests packed with nails and ball bearings, targeted a poorly equipped and trained force that was leaving a center at the Shabqadar Fort in the town of Charsadda. The bombing is likely to deepen the anger in Pakistan over the U.S. raid against bin Laden, which was launched without Pakistan’s knowledge. (Wall Street Journal, May 13.)

ITALY WILL/WILL NOT RECOGNIZE PALESTINIAN STATE—(Rome) According to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Italy will never recognize a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. During a speech at a reception to mark Israel’s Independence Day, Berlusconi praised the Jewish state as the only democracy in the Middle East, and affirmed “there is no other course [to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict] other than an agreement between the two states.” Five days later, Italy’s president Giorgio Napolitano announced during a news conference in Bethlehem with Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas that Italy was upgrading its Palestinian delegation to full diplomatic status. (JTA, May 12 & 17.)

 

SUSPECTS ARRESTED IN ALLEGED NEW YORK SYNAGOGUE TERROR PLOT—(Jerusalem) Ahmed Farhani and Mohamed Mamdouh have been arrested for buying a gun, ammunition and a grenade as part of a plan to blow up a New York synagogue. Ferhani, a 26-year-old Algerian, and Mamdouh, a 20-year-old U.S. citizen of Moroccan descent, have been arraigned on initial charges including conspiracy as a crime of terrorism, a rarely-used state law. An undercover detective had secretly recorded both men ranting about their hatred of Jews and discussing a synagogue attack, according to prosecutors. Both deny the allegations. (Haaretz, May 18.)

 

OBAMA’S HALF BROTHER VISITS ISRAEL—(Jerusalem) U.S. president Barack Obama’s half brother, Mark Ndesandjo, has visited Israel for the first time in order to reconnect with his Jewish roots. Ndesandjo, 45, was born to Barack Obama Senior’s third wife, a Jewish American kindergarten teacher and the daughter of Lithuanian immigrants. One of the main purposes of Ndesandjo’s visit was to meet with the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, Yona Metzger, to receive a blessing and a letter for his mother, Ruth Nidesand. According to reports, Metzger asked Ndesandjo to do “a noble favor for the Jewish people,” by convincing Obama to release Jonathan Pollard, who has been serving a life sentence in the U.S. since he was convicted of spying for Israel in 1986. Ndesandjo agreed. (Ynet News, May 11.)

 

BELGIAN JEWS SHOCKED BY JUSTICE MINISTER’S CALL TO ‘FORGET’ NAZI PAST—(Jerusalem) Belgian Justice Minister Stefaan De Clerck has stunned the country’s Jewish community by voicing support for an initiative to provide amnesty to Nazi collaborators during WWII, and for his suggestion that it may behoove the government to “forget” its Nazi past. Eli Ringer, council member of the Forum of Jewish Organizations (FJO) said that he was dismayed when he heard about the amnesty proposal, which was raised before the French speaking parties in Belgium. Ringer added that there would be a big problem if the proposal was accepted by the government, and that it is incomprehensible that the government would implement a law that would wipe out the lessons of the past. (Haaretz, May 17.)

 

SWEDEN’S QUEEN TO PROBE FATHER’S ‘NAZI TIES’—(Jerusalem) Sweden’s Queen Silvia is investigating her late father’s activities in Germany and Brazil during World War II to clarify reports about possible ties to Nazis. Walther Sommerlath’s alleged links with Germany’s Nazi party were first reported in 2002 by Swedish media, which claimed he joined the party in 1934 and took over a business from a Jew in 1939 under unclear circumstances. Royal Court spokesman Bertil Ternert said the investigation was launched in reaction to the “Kalla Fakta” (“Cold Facts”) TV program that aired in November. The results of the investigation are expected this fall. (Ynet News, May 17.)

 

ISRAEL TO PROMOTE DEAD SEA’S NEW 7 WONDERS CANDIDACY—(Jerusalem)

Israel’s Cabinet has allocated more than $2.5 million to promote the candidacy of the Dead Sea as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. The Dead Sea is one of 28 entries to have reached the finals of the competition; other candidates include the Grand Canyon, the Amazon rainforest and the Great Barrier Reef. Approximately 1 billion people are expected to vote to determine the winners, which will be revealed on November 11, 2011. According to Israel’s Ministry of Tourism, the selection of the Dead Sea as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature could lead to a significant increase in the number of tourists visiting Israel. (JTA, May 9.)