Month: September 2011



Baruch Cohen

In the memory of beloved Malca z’l


“Renew a steadfast spirit within me”

Psalm 51:12


The Shofar blast during the High Holidays reminds us of the just and ethical values of Judaism; it reminds us of our commitments to building a better and just world for all.


Tikun Olam, the mending of the world, is the meaning of the Shofar’s blast: a call for brotherhood, an end to hate, suffering, tyranny. An end to war, blood and tears!


The wonderful Hebrew cry from the heart forHeshbon Hanefesh, a taking stock of our soul, is for  inner accounting, a judgment upon oneself. We confess our failure, our missed duties to ourselves and to our fellow men. Heshbon Hanefesh: to bridge or at least narrow the gap between promising and doing! This is Heshbon Hanefesh: the callto narrow this gap, the call for atonement and redemption, redemption of the entire world: Holam Koolo!


As a Holocaust survivor, I hear alarming echoes coming from today’s world, the outrageous call of hate against the Jewish people, the State of Israel, revived global antisemitism, genocidal threats against the Jewish people by terrorist states, the ugly calls for the “delegitimation of the State of Israel.” The heavy gathering clouds calling for hate and crime, remind me of the anguish and fear, the horrible climate I lived through in the years from 1930 on.


Against this, the sound of the Shofar 5772 is a call for brotherhood, for peace, for celebration of creation, for renewal, for a new, promising beginning, for all people.


Shanah Tova—Happy New Year 5772!


May it be one of Peace for the Jewish people, for our beloved State of Israel, for all humanity.


Shanah Tova: Happy New Year to all our CIJR friends and family!


Baruch Cohen


Within the little synagogue

The light is dim

The air is hushed around,

The silence seems to pray:

We hear the Shofar sound!


O Shofar, tell us we need not fear,

Though long and hard the way.

O Shofar, bind us with thy holy strains

‘Til each young heart shares in Israel’s pain.

Like a trumpet clear,

Sound anew to the world,

Renew strongest vow:


To bear with pride now the name of Jew

And across the endless years!



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

Weekly Quotes


Israel is in a unique place because we have had the right polices to give ourselves economic strength… military strength…and of course spiritual strength by stressing the general Jewish values.… We have a lot more to do, but I think that as we approach the new year, we can say we have done a great deal and will continue in this path. That is the message I have for the coming year: we have to continue to fortify the state of Israel.…”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, extending New Year’s greetings to the Jewish people, and emphasizing “that the best guarantor of our future is that we build our country…build our society, build our defenses, educate our children—continue to develop the State of Israel.” (Jerusalem Post, September 28.)


“[The United States of America] will continue to stand with Israel because the bond between our nations is unshakable.…”—US President Barack Obama, in his annual Rosh Hashanah address, wishing the Jewish people a “sweet year, health, happiness and peace,” and calling the Jewish New Year a time to “reaffirm friendships, renew commitments, and reflect on values we cherish.” (Jerusalem Post, September 27.)


1. Within a month there will be a preparatory meeting between the parties to agree an agenda and method of proceeding in the negotiation. 2. At that meeting there will be a commitment by both sides that the objective of any negotiation is to reach an agreement within a timeframe agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012.… 3. There will be a Donors Conference at which the international community will give full and sustained support to the Palestinian Authority state-building actions developed by Prime Minister Fayyad under the leadership of President Abbas. 4. The Quartet recognizes the achievements of the Palestinian Authority in preparing institutions for statehood.… In this regard, the members of the Quartet will consult to identify additional steps they can actively support towards Palestinian statehood.… 5. The Quartet calls upon the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective. The Quartet reiterate[s] the obligations of both parties under the Roadmap. 6. The Quartet commit[s] to remain actively involved and to encourage and review progress.…”—Statement released by the Quartet—comprising the US, EU, Russia and the UN—”reiterate[ing] its urgent appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions.” (Independent Media Review and Analysis, September 24.)


We should go into direct negotiations…without preconditions. Israel has always wanted that, and I have announced that as our intention from day one. The Palestinians have avoided it. They have avoided it because they don’t want to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people, to give up the ghost on the refugees, and to give us the security conditions necessary to the defense of Israel.…”—Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post, unequivocally calling on the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table, while questioning the PA’s desire to forge “a realistic and enduring peace rather than a fictitious and ephemeral one.” (Jerusalem Post, September 28.)


“When we say that the settlement should be based upon the borders [of June 4, 1967], President [Abbas] understands, we understand, and everybody knows that the greater goal cannot be accomplished in one go. If Israel withdraws from Jerusalem, evacuates the 650,000 settlers, and dismantles the wall—what will become of Israel? It will come to an end.…”—Member of the Fatah Central Committee, Abbas Zaki, in an interview aired on Al-Jazeera September 23, 2011, affirming that the Palestinians’ goal is to “wipe Israel out,” but because it is “not [acceptable] policy to say so, keep it to yourself.…” (MEMRI, September 23.)


Why would Abbas—former lieutenant of Yasser Arafat, the late terrorist leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—eschew negotiations in favor of a course that may well lead to war? It doesn’t make sense—unless one realizes that, in essentials, Abbas is an unreconstructed PLO devotee. The perceived difference between his persona and Arafat’s is more one of image and style rather than substance. His theatrical performance at the UN followed to the letter the Arab position at the Khartoum Summit after Israel’s stunning victories over the Arabs in the 1967 Six-Day War: ‘No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel.’ Furthermore, later in Ramallah, the PA chairman said his hopes were for a Palestinian ‘Arab Spring’ uprising against Israel.… Given the Palestinians’ implacable intransigence when it comes to concessions, who could ever take seriously the idea that PA representatives would ever entertain the thought of conceding a single grain of sand to Israel in exchange for a secure peace? In this arena of the undefined, Netanyahu’s statement that the UN is the ‘theater of the absurd’ sounds like an accurate appraisal of the entire exercise.”—Executive editor of Friends of Israel, Elwood McQuaid, in “Chasing Arafat’s Dream,” describing PA president Mahmoud Abbas’ ideological opposition to Israel’s existence, a philosophy formerly espoused by his mentor and predecessor, Yasser Arafat. (Jerusalem Magazine, September 28.)


Hamas was using the so-called Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement as a vehicle to raise its profile in the West Bank. Hamas’s strategy is to replace the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.… The public atmosphere to Hamas is much more lenient. This allows for the creation of operational terror cells. Hamas is taking into consideration the renewal of suicide bombing attacks.”—Col. (res.) Jonathan Fighel, a senior Israeli counterterrorism expert, confirming that Hamas is “gaining influence in the West Bank and acting more freely,” a situation which the terrorist organization may exploit to resume suicide bombings against Israel. (Jerusalem Post, September 13.)


Same heart and same values. And that I say with great appreciation for your stance and your conviction, for your friendship.”—Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, in a joint press conference held on the sidelines of the UN general Assembly, thanking Prime Minister Stephen Harper for Canada’s ongoing, steadfast support for Israel. (Globe & Mail, September 21.)


If we don’t succeed today to reach a negotiation with the Iranians, there is a strong risk of military action.”—French Ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud, warning of military action against Iranian nuclear facilities, as “some countries won’t accept [the] prospect” of the Islamic Republic surpassing the nuclear threshold. (Jerusalem Post, September 28.)


[Israel] says that Palestine is bombing [it] and that many Israelis have been killed. I would like to see accurate statistics on how many Israelis have been killed by the bombs thrown by Palestinians or by the rockets that were launched by them—10? 20? 100? 200?… But on the other hand we know that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been killed [by Israel].… These are very clear numbers.”—Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a CNN interview, minimizing Palestinian terrorism against Israeli civilians, and calling on Israel to “Please document [the number of deaths] and let us know!” In a shocking reference to the Holocaust, the Turkish prime minister also accused “Israeli[s of] always resorting back to the issue of genocide in history—they are always acting as if they are the victims.… But neither Turkey nor the Muslims in the region…have ever exerted such cruelty on Israel, but Israel is very cruel in that regard. It shows no mercy.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu rebuked Erdogan’s statements, saying the “charges against Israel that have nothing to do with the facts.…The Holocaust was the worst crime in history perpetuated against our people. To hear this allegation at the beginning of the 21st century…is outrageous.” Israeli Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, also weighed in, calling Erdogan’s administration “a radical Islamic extremist leadership that supports and develops terror.” Lieberman also mocked Erdogan’s accusations, affirming that “ [Erdogan’s performance] was great for us. If I wanted to improve Israeli hasbara [public diplomacy], I would buy media outlets around the world and have Erdogan talk from morning until night.” (Jerusalem Post, September 24 & 26.)


“[Hugo Boss] wishes to express its profound regret to those who suffered harm or hardship at the factory run by Hugo Ferdinand Boss under National Socialist rule.”—Statement issued by fashion company Hugo Boss, apologizing to those mistreated by the company in the process of making uniforms for the Nazi party, following revelations in a new book that Hugo Ferdinand Boss’ clothing factory in the southern German town of Metzingen employed forced laborers during WWII. Hugo Boss has in the past been referred to as “Hitler’s Tailor.” (Jerusalem Post, September 22.)


Dear President Yudof: We…are deeply distressed by the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students on many University of California campuses. On June 28, 2010, twelve Jewish organizations wrote to you to urge you…address this serious problem. In your reply, you urged Jewish leaders to be patient and have faith in the ability of the newly-established Advisory Councils on Campus Climate, Culture, and Inclusion to address the problem. However it has been over a year, and the Advisory Councils have recommended no policies and issued no public statements informing the UC community about the problem of anti-Semitism or how it will be addressed.… There is now a lawsuit pending against UC Berkeley, from a Jewish student who was physically assaulted by a Muslim student on that campus. Her lawsuit alleges that the administration over the years did not effectively deal with anti-Semitic harassment and intimidation by Muslim and anti-Israel student groups, leading to a ‘dangerous and threatening’ environment for Jewish students. Further, a faculty member at UC Santa Cruz has filed a federal complaint alleging that faculty and administrators on that campus have misused their official university positions to promote a virulently anti-Israel political agenda that has created a hostile environment for many Jewish students.… Now we, as Jewish community members, urge you to address this problem effectively and promptly.…”—Letter written by Leila Beckwith, Professor Emeritus, University of California at Los Angeles and Tammi Rossman-Benjamin, Lecturer, University of California at Santa Cruz, to Mark G. Yudof, President of the University of California, condemning the University for failing to address the issue of anti-Semitism of campus, and demanding that “members and supporters of the California Jewish communitybe given a timeline of when substantive measures to address the problem of the harassment and intimidation of Jewish students will be taken on UC campuses.” (September 19.)


Another year has passed and Gilad is still not with us.… They sent him on a mission almost 2000 days ago, and they haven’t found a way to return him.”—Noam Schalit, father of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit, telling Israel Radio that the Schalit family will spend the eve of the Jewish New Year in their Jerusalem protest tent, and calling on the Israeli government “to pay the price to bring [Gilad] home.” (Jerusalem Post, September 28.)


This data demonstrates the continuing trend of rising aliya and the strengthening of Zionism.…”—Israel’s Minister of Immigrant Absorption, Sofa Landver, praising the approximately 21,300 Jews who immigrated to Israel during the Jewish year of 5771, a 19 percent increase over the previous year. (Jerusalem Post, September 22.)


Short Takes


PALESTINIANS STEPPING UP ANTI-ISRAEL BOYCOTT—(Jerusalem) A Fatah official and advisor to PA president Mahmoud Abbas has announced that the Palestinians are stepping up their boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaign against Israel. Sabri Saydam said that the Palestinians will embark on a campaign which aims to boycott all Israeli products, not just goods manufactured beyond the Green Line. The campaign will go even further than that, Saydam said: “We will increase pressure on Israeli academic institutions by demanding that universities worldwide…sever academic ties with Israeli institutions.” The Palestinians also plan to boost coordination with various worldwide anti-Israel bodies, which they hope may serve to pressure the UN Security Council into endorsing their statehood bid. (Ynet News, September 27.)


EGYPT SEIZES GAZA-BOUND ANTI-AIRCRAFT MISSILES IN SINAI—(Jerusalem) Egyptian security forces have seized anti-aircraft missiles and shoulder launchers in the Sinai Peninsula, reportedly destined for the Gaza Strip. According to officials, the weaponry entered Egypt either from Sudan or Libya. Last month, Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm alleged that Egyptian officials were finalizing plans to combat smuggling from the Sinai into Gaza, and Israel Radio reported the same week that Egypt’s army is planning to destroy all tunnels within 14 km. of the border. High-level Egyptian security sources also claim the country is considering establishing a 5-kilometer buffer zone along its border with the Gaza Strip, and that heavy excavation equipment had been moved to the border in order to destroy smuggling tunnels. (Jerusalem Post, September 26.)


VIRTUAL FENCE TO BE SET UP ON ISRAEL-EGYPT BORDER—(Jerusalem) A virtual fence that will aid in the detection and prevention of infiltration attempts will be set up on the Israel-Egypt border in the coming year. Magna Technologies has been entrusted with constructing the virtual fence, which will operate alongside the physical barrier currently being built along the same border. According to Magna, the main advantages of the virtual fence are its abilities to identify objects in a focused and detailed manner and to overcome false alarms. Military officials said last week that the construction of a physical barrier on the Israel-Egypt border will be completed by the end of 2012, rather than 2013 as originally planned. Forty-five kilometers of the barrier have been built over the past eight months and another 100 kilometers are scheduled to be built by the end of this year, leaving the 130 kilometers to be built in 2012. (Israel Defense Forces Website, August 28.)


EGYPT EXTENDS ALLEGED SPY GRAPEL’S REMAND BY 45 DAYS—(Jerusalem) According to Egyptian daily Al Ahram, an Egyptian court has ruled to extend the remand of alleged Mossad spy Ilan Grapel by 45 days, despite an appeal by the US embassy in Cairo that Grapel be released while the investigation was ongoing. Grapel was arrested at his downtown Cairo hotel by Egyptian state security officers in June on suspicion of working for Israeli intelligence to foment sectarian strife and gather intelligence on post-revolution Egypt. The Emory University Law student, and former IDF soldier, traveled to Egypt this summer as part of his work for a charity helping African refugees. The Israeli government categorically denies he was conducting espionage in Egypt. (Jerusalem Post, September 14.)


GOVERNMENT FORCES KILL PROTESTORS IN YEMEN—(San’a, Yemen)—Pro-government forces have killed nearly 50 protestors in two successive days of clashes in Yemen’s capital, as frustration builds over President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s refusal to step down after 33 years in power. Yemen’s protest movement last week stepped up demonstrations after Saleh deputized Vice President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi to negotiate further on a Gulf-mediated, U.S.-backed deal under which he would step down in return for immunity from prosecution. Saleh, who returned recently to Yemen from Saudi Arabia, has already backed away three times from signing the deal, thus many believe the move is the latest of many delaying tactics. (Wall Street Journal, September 19.)


US COURT: STUDENTS GUILTY OF DISRUPTING ISRAELI ENVOY—(Jerusalem) The Orange County Superior Court has found 10 Muslim students guilty of disrupting a lecture by Israeli ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, at the University of California, Irvine in February 2010. The students were charged with misdemeanor counts after standing up, one by one, and shouting prepared statements at Oren during his speech, including “propagating murder is not an expression of free speech.” Prosecutors say the students broke the law by interrupting the program, despite calls to behave from campus officials. (Ynet news, September 24.)


DIOR DESIGNER GUILTY OF ANTI-SEMITIC SLURS—(Paris) A French court has handed out a $6,000 (Euros) suspended fine to disgraced fashion designer John Galliano after finding him guilty of anti-Semitic behaviour, including shouting “I love Hitler” at a Paris bar earlier this year. The court explained its relatively lenient decision by referring to Galliano’s lack of criminal record and the treatment for drug and alcohol addiction he has sought since his arrest. (Reuters, September 9.)


MONTENEGRO TO MAKE JUDAISM AN OFFICIAL STATE RELIGION—(Jerusalem) Montenegro’s Prime Minister Igor Luksic has announced that his country will recognize Judaism as a state religion. During a meeting held with Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, Luksic said the Jewish faith will receive the same legal status as Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and Islam. There are only a handful of Jews living in the Montenegro but state officials are hoping that elevating Judaism’s status will encourage interest and investment in Montenegro from Jews around the world. (Jerusalem Post, September 18.)


ISRAEL PLEDGES $1 MILLION TO AUSCHWITZ—(Jerusalem) Israel has pledged $1 million to help preserve Auschwitz; an additional $162 million is currently being raised to create a perpetual fund to pay for ongoing maintenance work at the site of the former Nazi death camp in Poland. About two-thirds of the money already has already been pledged, including $15 million from the United States, $80 million from Germany and $13 million from Poland. Some 1 million Jews were killed at Auschwitz-Birkenau between 1940 and 1945. Approximately 1 million people visit the memorial site each year. (JTA, September 25.)


On September 13, 2011, the Haqqani network perpetrated a terrorist attack on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan, a coordinated assault involving suicide bombers and rocket fire that killed 25. During congressional testimony the following week, US Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accused the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency of facilitating the attacks, saying “The actions by the Pakistani government to support [the Haqqani Network]—actively and passively—represent a growing problem that is undermining U.S. interests.” Although the Pakistani government has denied the US allegations, tensions between the two countries continue to rise, threatening to further destabilize an already fragile alliance.



Mark Mazzetti, Scott Shane & Alissa J. Rubin
NY Times, September 24, 2011

They are the Sopranos of the Afghanistan war, a ruthless crime family that built an empire out of kidnapping, extortion, smuggling, even trucking. They have trafficked in precious gems, stolen lumber and demanded protection money from businesses building roads and schools with American reconstruction funds. They safeguard their mountainous turf by planting deadly roadside bombs and shelling remote American military bases. And they are accused by American officials of being guns for hire: a proxy force used by the Pakistani intelligence service to carry out grisly, high-profile attacks in Kabul and throughout the country. Today, American intelligence and military officials call the crime clan known as the Haqqani network—led by a wizened militant named Jalaluddin Haqqani…—the most deadly insurgent group in Afghanistan.

In the latest of a series of ever bolder strikes, the group staged a daylong assault on the United States Embassy in Kabul, an attack Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, charged [last Thursday] was aided by Pakistan’s military spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. According to two American officials, cellphones used by the attackers made calls to suspected ISI operatives before the attack, although top Pakistani officials deny their government played any role.

But even as the Americans pledge revenge against the Haqqanis, and even amid a new debate in the Obama administration about how to blunt the group’s power, there is a growing belief that it could be too late.… Responsible for hundreds of American deaths, the Haqqanis probably will outlast the United States troops in Afghanistan and command large swaths of territory there once the shooting stops. American military officers, who have spent years urging Washington to take action against the Haqqanis, express anger that the Obama administration has still not put the group on the State Department’s list of terrorist organizations out of concern that such a move would scuttle any chances that the group might make peace with Afghanistan’s government.…

The Haqqanis have expanded their reach and numbers as top American officials have tried repeatedly over the last decade to berate and cajole officials in Pakistan to cut ties to a group it considers essential for its own security, all with little effect.… Now largely run by two of Mr. Haqqani’s sons, who experts say are even more committed Islamists than their father, the network is in a position of strength as the United States tries to broker a peace deal in Afghanistan before pulling its troops from the country.…

With a combination of guns and muscle, the Haqqani network has built a sprawling enterprise on both sides of a border that barely exists. The Haqqanis are Afghan members of the Zadran tribe, but it is in the town of Miram Shah in Pakistan’s tribal areas where they have set up a mini-state with courts, tax offices and radical madrasa schools producing a ready supply of fighters. They secretly run a network of front companies throughout Pakistan selling cars and real estate, and have been tied to at least two factories churning out the ammonium nitrate used to build roadside bombs in Afghanistan.

American intelligence officials believe that a steady flow of money from wealthy people in the gulf states helps sustain the Haqqanis, and that they further line their pockets with extortion and smuggling operations throughout eastern Afghanistan.… They are also in the kidnapping business, with a mix of pecuniary and ideological motives. In May, the group released the latest of a series of videos showing Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, an American infantryman held by the network since June 2009, with a Haqqani official.…

Over the past five years, with relatively few American troops operating in eastern Afghanistan, the Haqqanis have run what is in effect a protection racket for construction firms—meaning that American taxpayers are helping to finance the enemy network.… But the group is not just a two-bit mafia enriching itself with shakedown schemes. It is an organized militia using high-profile terrorist attacks on hotels, embassies and other targets to advance its agenda to become a power broker in a future political settlement. And, sometimes, the agenda of its patrons from Pakistan’s spy service, the ISI.

Last month, Afghanistan’s National Intelligence Directorate released recordings of phone calls intercepted during the June 28 attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul. In the exchanges, Haqqani network leaders in Pakistan instruct their operatives in the hotel to shoot the locks off rooms, throw in grenades and make sure no one escapes. Later, as a fire blazes, the recordings capture the voice of Badruddin Haqqani, one of Jalaluddin’s sons.… More than a dozen people were killed in the attack, which American officials say they think was carried out with some ISI help.…

According to a senior American military official, cross-border attacks by the Haqqanis into Afghanistan have increased more than fivefold this year over the same period a year ago, and roadside bomb attacks are up 20 percent compared with last year. For years, American officials have urged Pakistan to move against the Haqqanis’ base of operations in North Waziristan. They typically are rebuffed by military and intelligence officials in Islamabad.…

As a result, the United States has fallen back on a familiar strategy: missiles fired from armed drones operated by the C.I.A. But because the Haqqani network’s leaders are thought to be hiding in populated towns like Miram Shah, where the C.I.A. is hesitant to carry out drone strikes, American officials said that the campaign has had only limited success against the group’s leadership.

A quarter-century ago, the Haqqani fighters were not the targets of C.I.A. missiles. They were the ones shooting C.I.A.-supplied missiles, the shoulder-fired Stingers that would devastate Soviet air power over Afghanistan. Jalaluddin Haqqani was in temporary alliance with the United States against its greater adversary, the Soviet Union, just as his network today is allied with a Pakistan that sees Afghanistan as a critical buffer against its greater adversary, India.…

On Feb. 19, 2009, the day before Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Pakistan’s new senior military commander, was due in Washington for his first meetings with the Obama administration, the American Embassy in Islamabad sent a classified cable to the State Department. American officials believed that General Kayani, Pakistan’s onetime spymaster, had for years overseen Pakistan’s covert support for militant groups like the Haqqani network, and the cable offered blunt advice about the coming talks. “The single biggest message Kayani should hear in Washington is that this support must end,” said the cable, written by Ambassador Anne W. Patterson.

In the 30 months since, few in Washington believe that Pakistan’s support of armed militia groups has diminished.…

The new urgency for a political settlement in Afghanistan has further limited Washington’s options for fighting the Haqqani network. During high-level discussions last year, Obama administration officials debated listing the group as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization,” which allows for some assets to be frozen and could dissuade donors from supporting the group. While some military commanders pushed for the designation, the administration ultimately decided that such a move might alienate the Haqqanis and drive them away from future negotiations.… But as Washington struggles to broker an endgame for the Afghan war, there is widespread doubt about whether the Haqqanis will negotiate, and whether their patrons in Islamabad will even let them.…

“Is there any formula for Pakistan to agree to stop supporting the insurgency in Afghanistan and instead help broker and be satisfied with a political settlement?” asked Karl W. Eikenberry, who served as both America’s top military commander in Afghanistan and its ambassador to the country. “We don’t know the answer to that question,” he said.


Daniel S. Markey

Foreign Policy, September 23, 2011

On Sept. 22, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified before Congress that the Haqqani network, the group that launched the Sept. 13 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, is a “veritable arm” of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Directorate. Public testimony has been matched by tough talk in private, including in meetings between CIA chief David Petraeus and ISI chief Ahmed Shuja Pasha and between U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her counterpart, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar.

Washington is launching a full-court press to show that it will no longer sit idly by while terrorist groups, abetted by the ISI, kill Americans and their allies in Afghanistan. Never before have we seen this sort of high-level, across-the-board pressure from the U.S. government. And never before have U.S. demands on Islamabad to get tough on the Haqqani network been coupled with what—at least implicitly—sound like threats of significantly expanded U.S. unilateral action inside Pakistan.

At surface level, these statements require no explanation at all. If Washington has ample evidence of ISI complicity, then how can it possibly look the other way, much less continue to provide assistance to the Pakistani government and military?

But the reality is that evidence of ISI support for Haqqani operations in Afghanistan is hardly new. Back in July 2008, Washington made similar claimsof Pakistani complicity when the Indian Embassy in Kabul was bombed. Since then, however, U.S. military and civilian aidto Pakistan has increased, in part reflecting American hopes that carrots, rather than sticks, will be more likely to shift Pakistan’s behavior.

In the past, Washington always tempered its criticism of Pakistan for fear that pushing too hard might break the relationship in ways that would cause more harm than good. U.S. officials have always known that the major supply lines for American forces in Afghanistan run through Pakistan’s ports, highways, and airspace.…

What has changed? There are probably two reasons behind Washington’s newly aggressive posture.

First, U.S. military leverage in the region is a diminishing asset. Washington can make threats now that will be less credible in a year or two. NATO force levels in Afghanistan are at their zenith, so if there is ever going to be a time for credible threats to expand the conflict into the Pakistani tribal areas where the Haqqani network is headquartered, it is now.

Second, Washington believes it has relatively little to lose in its bilateral relationship with Pakistan. To be sure, much is still at stake. Supply routes to Afghanistan and bilateral ties with a nuclear-armed state are nothing to sneeze at. But the calculation has to do with relative losses, not absolute ones. As U.S. officials peer into the future, they see little reason to expect that relations with Islamabad are likely to improve. Indeed, there’s precious little evidence to suggest that the trajectory of the U.S.-Pakistan relations will go anywhere but downhill. If there is already a realistic chance that this relationship will rupture and that the benefits of bilateral cooperation will eventually be lost, why not press Pakistan now while Washington still enjoys some positive leverage and before relations hit rock bottom?…

But Pakistan also has cards to play in its escalating bout with the United States.… Pakistan is likely to remind Washington that it controls the ground supply routes into Afghanistan, perhaps by halting or delaying entry or by allowing shipments to be destroyed. Both of these steps have been taken in the past. And it could get far, far worse than that. Pakistan could close its airspace to American overflights, end remaining military and intelligence cooperation, deny visas to U.S. officials, enable militant attacks on U.S. Embassy employees and facilities, and shoot down the U.S. drones that still fly over Pakistan’s tribal areas.

Would Washington be willing and able to respond to each of these steps? Perhaps; but it won’t be easy. The United States could take the costly step of shifting ground supply routes to Afghanistan to run through Russia and Central Asia, along the so-called Northern Distribution Network; negotiate new agreements for airborne shipments and personnel; substitute drones with less-discriminating, higher-flying bombers that can evade Pakistani air defenses; and launch commando raids into Pakistan supported by a surged conventional presence on Afghanistan’s eastern border.

These are ugly options. They could get even uglier. But this is now the reality, with Washington having taken such an aggressive, public stance against its erstwhile ally.… Faced with such terribly high stakes, the question now is which side will blink first, and when.


Barry Rubin
Pajamas Media, September 18, 2011

Is there any sponsor of anti-American terrorism in the Middle East that the Obama Administration hasn’t tried to sponsor?

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Cameron Munter told Radio Pakistan, September 17: “The attack that took place in Kabul a few days ago, that was the work of the Haqqani network.… There is evidence linking the Haqqani Network to the Pakistan government. This is something that must stop.”

Do you realize the significance of those two sentences? It goes something like this:

-The United States gives billions of dollars to the Pakistani government to fight terrorism.

-Instead, the Pakistani government doesn’t do that very much. Remember where Osama bin Ladin was hanging out without Pakistan’s regime doing anything?

-The Pakistani government gives money to al-Qaida and Taliban-linked terrorists—the Haqqani Network. The Haqqani Network and other terrorists sponsored by Pakistan murder hundreds of people in India. They also attack Americans.

-A week ago, the Haqqani Network attacked the U.S. Embassy with rocket-propelled grenades. It took the Pakistani military 20 hours to get them out of a nearby building.

-Thus, U.S. taxpayers are paying money to the Pakistani government to fight terrorists attacking America that the government then uses to help terrorists attack America.

Might this be a problem? Could this be a central example of the insanity of U.S. policy that also, for example, gives money to the Palestinian Authority which is allied to Hamas, a genocidal, anti-American group, and successfully pressed Israel to reduce sanctions so that the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip can flourish.

And Obama Administration policy was nice to Syria for 2.5 years, until it literally was forced to change that policy, despite the fact that Syria’s regime was giving money to kill Americans in Iraq. It also tried to be nice to Iran but Iranian intransigence and domestic pressure finally made it impose more sanctions.

The Obama Administration has also made the Turkish regime its favorite Middle East ally despite that government’s support for Hamas, Hizballah, and Turkish Islamist groups. It has even to some degree become the patron of the Egyptian and Syrian Muslim Brotherhoods which are profoundly anti-American, pro-terrorist groups.

In ordinary times, this sort of thing would be a major scandal. Front-page media stories would daily skewer the Obama Administration for aiding, abetting, and financing major sponsors of terrorism. Academic experts would pour on scorn; members of Congress would demand investigations. Yet in this era nothing happens.

The U.S. ambassador, under instructions from Washington, stamps his foot and says that Pakistani government support for anti-American and murderous terrorism “must stop.” But it won’t stop. And the Obama Administration won’t do anything about it.…

Moshe Arens’ Keynote Address at CIJR’s 23rd Annual Gala



Sabrina Mezzacappa


On June 15, 2011 Moshe Arens, Israel’s former defense and foreign affairs minister, and ambassador to the U.S., gave the Keynote Address at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research’s 23rd annual Gala Anniversary celebration. In his remarks, Arens placed specific emphasis on the necessity of support for Israel, expressing gratitude for CIJR’s untiring efforts to convey an unbiased view of the democratic Jewish state to the public. His speech touched on topics resonating with his audience, including the warm relationship between Canada and Israel, Israel’s continuing battle for independence, and the need for effective responses to terrorism.


Noting an earlier, cooler Israel-Canada relationship, Arens looked ahead to a closer association with the Canadian government, praising the recent statement by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper taking exception to President Barack Obama’s suggestion that Israel accept the pre-1967 Six Days War “borders” (really untenable armistice lines) as part of reviving the peace process. Harper’s support on this issue, Arens explained, “is a great thing for Israel”.


Once again stressing the importance of support, Arens noted that the Sate of Israel did not come into existence through a United Nations resolution, but through the coming together of several thousand men and women who fought in a successful War of Independence against Arab aggression. Although it ended in victory, had more people come to support the new state, the war might have been more decisive, and Israel’s final armistice borders more secure. 


In the decades following 1948, Israel had had to deter repeated attacks by its enemies. But its continued victories demonstrated to the Arab world that there was no chance of a military victory over the Israel Defense Forces.


Yet today Israel has to face a new form of attack, a weapon not directed at the Israeli Army but at civilians—terrorism. The indiscriminate use of violence against civilians has introduced a new form of fear directed at the very structure of society. When people are afraid to go to school, or ride the bus, or visit friends, the solidarity which holds society together is threatened.  When civilians’ sense of communal safety is threatened, the state must act. And under such circumstances, negotiation with the enemy is not an option. Terrorism can be dealt with successfully only by force.


It is time, Arens concluded, for the Jewish people to stand together to fight the many threats Israel continues to face, whether on the battlefield, through terrorism, or by political and ideological attack. Such strong support for democratic, Jewish Israel remains fundamental, and necessary.


(Sabrina Mezzacappa is a CIJR Baruch & Sonia Cohen Israel Research Intern)




Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last Friday addressed the United Nations General Assembly in New York, conveying Israel’s “hope for peace,” while reiterating that peace with the Palestinians can only be forged through direct negotiations between the parties. Netanyahu’s appeal followed Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas’ remarks, deemed by Israeli Foreign Minster Avigdor Lieberman a “speech of incitement,” in which Abbas on multiple occasions invoked the Palestinian “Nakba”—the “tragedy” of Israel’s creation in 1948 and the beginning of the “occupation.” Abbas confirmed that he would ignore Israel and the US and submit an application for a sovereign Palestinian state directly to the UN Security Council.—Ed.



Weekly Standard, September 23, 2011

Thank you, Mr. President.

Ladies and gentlemen, Israel has extended its hand in peace from the moment it was established 63 years ago. On behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, I extend that hand again today. I extend it to the people of Egypt and Jordan, with renewed friendship for neighbors with whom we have made peace. I extend it to the people of Turkey, with respect and good will. I extend it to the people of Libya and Tunisia, with admiration for those trying to build a democratic future. I extend it to the other peoples of North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, with whom we want to forge a new beginning. I extend it to the people of Syria, Lebanon and Iran, with awe at the courage of those fighting brutal repression.

But most especially, I extend my hand to the Palestinian people, with whom we seek a just and lasting peace. (Applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, in Israel our hope for peace never wanes. Our scientists, doctors, innovators, apply their genius to improve the world of tomorrow. Our artists, our writers, enrich the heritage of humanity. Now, I know that this is not exactly the image of Israel that is often portrayed in this hall. After all, it was here in 1975 that the age-old yearning of my people to restore our national life in our ancient biblical homeland—it was then that this was braided—branded, rather—shamefully, as racism. And it was here in 1980, right here, that the historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt wasn’t praised; it was denounced! And it’s here year after year that Israel is unjustly singled out for condemnation. It’s singled out for condemnation more often than all the nations of the world combined. Twenty-one out of the 27 General Assembly resolutions condemn Israel—the one true democracy in the Middle East.

Well, this is an unfortunate part of the U.N. institution. It’s the—the theater of the absurd. It doesn’t only cast Israel as the villain; it often casts real villains in leading roles: Gadhafi’s Libya chaired the U.N. Commission on Human Rights; Saddam’s Iraq headed the U.N. Committee on Disarmament.

You might say: That’s the past. Well, here’s what’s happening now—right now, today. Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon now presides over the U.N. Security Council. This means, in effect, that a terror organization presides over the body entrusted with guaranteeing the world’s security.

You couldn’t make this thing up.

So here in the U.N., automatic majorities can decide anything. They can decide that the sun…rises in the west.… They can also decide—they have decided that the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest place, is occupied Palestinian territory.

And yet even here in the General Assembly, the truth can sometimes break through. In 1984 when I was appointed Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, I visited the great rabbi of Lubavich. He said to me—and ladies and gentlemen, I don’t want any of you to be offended because from personal experience of serving here, I know there are many honorable men and women, many capable and decent people serving their nations here. But here’s what the rebbe said to me. He said to me, you’ll be serving in a house of many lies. And then he said, remember that even in the darkest place, the light of a single candle can be seen far and wide.

Today I hope that the light of truth will shine, if only for a few minutes, in a hall that for too long has been a place of darkness for my country. So as Israel’s prime minister, I didn’t come here to win applause. I came here to speak the truth. (Cheers, applause.) The truth is—the truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that in the Middle East at all times, but especially during these turbulent days, peace must be anchored in security. The truth is that we cannot achieve peace through U.N. resolutions, but only through direct negotiations between the parties. The truth is that so far the Palestinians have refused to negotiate. The truth is that Israel wants peace with a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want a state without peace. And the truth is you shouldn’t let that happen.… [See “On Topics” below for continued full text of P.M. Netanyahu’s UN address—Ed.]


Elliott Abrams
National Review, September 26, 2011

The rapturous applause that greeted Mahmoud Abbas, appearing before the U.N. General Assembly in his role as chairman of the PLO, was deceiving. The collection of states that swooned when he mentioned Yasser Arafat’s 1974 appearance in the same hall will never give him a state—nor even the foreign-aid money to pay his delegation’s hotel bills. His statehood project depends on Israel and the United States, and to a lesser extent on the Europeans (and a bit of Gulf Arab financing). His U.N. gambit has annoyed or offended all of those parties.…

The Israeli reaction to the Abbas speech is predictably negative, for it was a nasty piece of work filled with harshly worded denunciations—and from which any real commitment to telling truths to the Palestinian people was absent. Instead, Abbas repeatedly referred to the nakba or “catastrophe” of 1948 as the source of the Palestinians’ plight, thereby telegraphing to Israelis that his main complaint was the existence of the State of Israel rather than its “1967 borders.” His reference to the “Holy Land” as the home of Jesus Christ and the place from which Mohammed ascended to heaven excluded all references to Jews and Jewish history, and delivered the same awful message. The Abbas speech will end up strengthening Netanyahu’s tough approach to Israeli security.

But the most striking evidence of Abbas’s error came in the Quartet statement (from the U.S., the U.N., the EU, and Russia) released Friday night, after Abbas and Netanyahu had spoken. In the past two and half years, every Quartet statement has reflected Obama’s obsession with construction in the settlements and has demanded a freeze. The statements have also often reflected the Obama administration’s tilt toward the Palestinians and against Israel.

But not this one. Instead it reflected both Obama’s own U.N. speech, tilting the other way as the American elections appeared over the horizon, and EU annoyance with Abbas. This Quartet statement did not even mention settlements, not once, and instead simply laid out a long timetable for negotiations. The Quartet statement “reiterated its urgent appeal to the parties to overcome the current obstacles and resume direct bilateral Israeli-Palestinian negotiations without delay or preconditions,” thereby rejecting the Palestinian demand that a construction freeze come first.

The operational paragraphs were these:

1. Within a month there will be a preparatory meeting between the parties to agree an agenda and method of proceeding in the negotiation.

2. At that meeting there will be a commitment by both sides that the objective of any negotiation is to reach an agreement within a timeframe agreed to by the parties but not longer than the end of 2012. The Quartet expects the parties to come forward with comprehensive proposals within three months on territory and security, and to have made substantial progress within six months.

“The end of 2012” takes them, of course, beyond the U.S. elections. And lest the election-year tilt to Israel was still unclear, the State Department briefer who explained all this to the press late on Friday referred twice to Israeli “flexibility.” Gone are the days when the Obama administration pugnaciously sought confrontations with Jerusalem—at least until the reelection campaign is over.

But Palestinians would be mistaken to attribute the entirety of their defeat to American politics; they should note that Abbas did not get the Security Council vote he wanted. For the moment, at least, the Palestinians could not attain the nine votes they needed to win and thus force an American veto. This is another measure of their failure in New York.

It is true that Abbas’s U.N. ploy may work for him in terms of his own domestic politics—for a while, anyway. Instead of being the man who lost Gaza, he may briefly be the man who “bravely” took the statehood issue to the U.N. But he did not take the Palestinians one step closer to peace, nor did he speak to them seriously about what peace will require from them. In this he is a faithful follower of his mentor Yasser Arafat. If there is ever to be peace, the Palestinians will someday need a leadership that tells them the truth: Hard work and difficult compromises will be needed, not applause in the General Assembly.

(Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.)


Martin Peretz
New Republic, September 24, 2011

…The very surprising words in Obama’s address to the General Assembly on Wednesday assured Israelis, Jews, Zionists, and literally millions and millions of Christians (along with other religious humanists) whose beliefs ally them with Jewish civilization that America had not actually turned its back on the very nation that was the first in history to define and give content to the idea of peoplehood.

Read these words carefully:

“Let us be honest with ourselves: Israel is surrounded by neighbors that have waged repeated wars against it. Israel’s citizens have been killed by rockets fired at their houses and suicide bombs on their buses. Israel’s children come of age knowing that throughout the region, other children are taught to hate them. Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map. The Jewish people carry the burden of centuries of exile and persecution, and fresh memories of knowing that six million people were killed simply because of who they are. Those are facts. They cannot be denied.

“The Jewish people have forged a successful state in their historic homeland. Israel deserves recognition. It deserves normal relations with its neighbors. And friends of the Palestinians do them no favors by ignoring this truth, just as friends of Israel must recognize the need to pursue a two-state solution with a secure Israel next to an independent Palestine.”

Well, for the first time the president had actually been honest with himself, not totally honest, to be sure, but honest enough, giving him the undeserved benefit of the doubt. Had he spoken like this in any one of the venues where he had previously addressed crowds actually concerned about a peace settlement in the region he would have first of all assured the State of Israel that he understood its history, its security needs, and its very realistic anxieties about the mercurial neighborhood in which it lives. Had Obama done something like this before he would have reassured the lovers of Zion, the many tens of millions in America, and similar numbers elsewhere that all of his talk about statehood for the Palestinians was not just about satisfying their grievances but also calming the deep foreboding of the Jewish commonwealth that practical arrangements will not be made to balance the obvious instability of Arab countries and present Muslim civilization. This would not be easy to achieve.

I don’t imagine that the president cottoned lightly to the tactics and strategy of his own U.N. speech. It was not his natural bearing or disposition. But the raw fact is that Mohammed Abbas refused to compromise on his insistence that America be the party that negotiates with Israel over settlements in the West Bank and about the myriad issues surrounding Jerusalem. By his anger and his ongoing reproaches to Netanyahu (and the almost day-in-day-out cuts at the Israeli prime minister) the president seemed to oblige the Palestinians. The administration also mounted a campaign among fashionable media to demonize Bibi, a campaign taken up irrationally by nearly the whole salient staff of The New York Times.… What is Netanyahu’s sin? He would not permit the Obama administration to negotiate on Israel’s behalf. Which self-respecting country would have parlayed with an intermediary, even one so crucial to its own security like America, over such defining matters? That Obama somehow felt that he could force Israel to participate in such an unrealistic gambit shows how innocent he is or how malevolent he was. Indeed, both his innocence and his malevolence were bolstered by his essential sympathies with the Palestinian cause. But I suspect that Obama will not indulge the Arabs in such dangerous fantasies again.…

Obama’s statement was not, one should point out, the unvarnished, chapter-and-verse recitation of Israel-friendly policy views on substantive issues. He could have noted that only one of the two parties—the Palestinians—has refused to negotiate since last September. He might have specifically underscored the reality of a divided Palestine, in which a sizable part of the state seeking UN recognition is under the control of a terrorist movement committed to Israel’s (and the Palestinian Authority’s) destruction. He did not take the opportunity to clarify certain aspects of his parameters for peacemaking that he sidestepped in his May remarks, such as the eminently logical principle that Palestinian refugees will return to Palestine, not Israel, or the urgency of an agreement that ends the conflict and terminates all claims once and for all. He could have scolded many in the room, especially Arab states and their all-talk-but-no-action approach to the Palestinian state-building project. And he should have called specifically on rulers and peoples in countries that already have treaties with Israel (i.e., Egypt and Jordan) to strengthen the regional environment for peace by defending their strategic choice for peace, rather than letting it be the preferred pinata for discontent over domestic issues.

Still, those deficiencies only marginally detract from the declaratory power of his speech. Many factors may have motivated the president to make his passionate statement opposing Palestinian UN recognition, but whether it was born of high policy, moral conviction, or crass politics, it will be compared in the annals of America’s lonely defense of Israel at the United Nations alongside Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s castigation of the Zionism-is-Racism resolution during the Ford administration, and John Negroponte’s declaration during the George W. Bush administration that the United States would veto any Security Council resolution on the Middle East conflict that failed to condemn terrorism against Israel.…

We shall see what we shall see. Will Obama’s sudden counter-instinctive respect for Israel’s predicament be long-lasting? Will Israel see Obama’s shift as both grave and truthful? Will it, can it aim to reinforce that change? How does he deal with his own sensibility and his many anti-Semitic allies so at odds with the millennial journey of Zion to the State of the Jews?

(Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief emeritus of The New Republic.)


Michael Oren

Wall Street Journal, September 24, 2011

The Palestinian Authority, which has already made a pact with the Hamas terrorist organization, now seeks recognition for a unilaterally declared state at the United Nations. President Barack Obama, though deeply committed to Palestinian statehood, declares his intention to block that scheme, even by exercising an American veto in the Security Council. Congress, for its part, threatens to cut off aid to the Palestinian Authority if it breaches its commitment to direct talks with Israel and pursues unilateralism.

American mediators, meanwhile, lobby other members of the Middle East Quartet—the U.S., the European Union, the U.N., and Russia—in an attempt to forge a new framework for renewing Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. And Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu waits for the Palestinians to rejoin him at the negotiating table.

Sound confusing? Indeed it was for many observers of this past week’s dizzying diplomacy in New York. They asked themselves what exactly had transpired at the U.N., and why? What had spurred the Palestinians to turn their backs on a sympathetic U.S. president and a strong Israeli statesman capable of leading his skeptical people to peace? How could the Palestinians risk all they had achieved in recent years—a thriving economy, restored law and order, and significant U.S. aid—in a reckless bid to snatch the statehood that they could easily have earned?

Confusing, perhaps, but the answer is simple. The Palestinians came to the U.N. to get a state, but without giving Israel peace in return.

Understanding the Palestinians’ decision requires a review not only of this past week’s events but of one that occurred nearly 64 years ago at the same U.N. On Nov. 29, 1947, the General Assembly voted to partition British-controlled Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, that would live side-by-side in peace. The Jews accepted the agreement, but the Palestinians rejected it and joined with five Arab armies in an ultimately thwarted attempt to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.

Forty six years later, in 1993, the Palestinians received another chance to accept the two-state solution. In the Oslo Accords, which the U.S. co-signed, Palestinians and Israelis pledged to resolve all outstanding issues through face-to-face negotiation and to achieve an historic peace. In fact, these discussions produced two Israeli peace proposals, in 2000 and 2008, that met virtually all of the Palestinians’ demands for a sovereign state in the areas won by Israel in the 1967 war—in the West Bank, Gaza and even East Jerusalem.

But Palestinian President Yasser Arafat rejected the first offer and Mahmoud Abbas ignored the second, for the very same reason their predecessors spurned the 1947 Partition Plan. Each time, accepting a Palestinian State meant accepting the Jewish State, a concession the Palestinians were unwilling to make.

In between Israeli peace offers, the Palestinians waged a terror war that killed and maimed thousands of Israelis. When Israel uprooted all of its settlements from Gaza in 2005, the Palestinians failed to create a peaceful enclave and instead created a Hamas terrorist stronghold that fired thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Yet, in spite of their rejection and trauma, Israelis continued to uphold the vision of two peaceful adjacent states.

That goal was embraced by Mr. Netanyahu, leader of the Likud Party, in a speech at Bar Ilan University in June 2009. Turning to “our Palestinian neighbors,” he declared, “let’s begin negotiations immediately without preconditions.” But Mr. Abbas refused to negotiate. Nevertheless, Mr. Netanyahu ordered the removal of hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank, facilitating remarkable economic growth and dramatically increased transport in and out of Gaza. When President Obama asked him to freeze construction in West Bank settlements, Mr. Netanyahu announced an unprecedented 10-month moratorium. But over the course of two and a half years, Mr. Abbas negotiated for a total of six hours, and then refused to discuss Israel’s security needs.

Those needs have grown immensely in the wake of the upheaval in the Arab world, the rise of Iranian proxies, and the deployment of tens of thousands of terrorist rockets on our borders. Though doubtful of the Palestinians’ readiness for genuine peace, Israelis retain the hope of a two-state solution. Mr. Netanyahu championed that hope and even brought it to the U.N. this week. “I am extending my hand, the hand of Israel, in peace,” he told Mr. Abbas—and the world—on Friday. “I hope you will grasp that hand.”

Unfortunately, Mr. Abbas did not come to New York to shake Mr. Netanyahu’s hand but to grab a state which, he wrote earlier this year, “will pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict” and “pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations.”

The U.S. and other principled nations are standing strong, though, and Mr. Netanyahu is ready to negotiate today—if only Mr. Abbas is willing. While the circumstances have changed since 1947 and even 2008, the formula for peace remains unaltered. By accepting the Jewish State, the Palestinians can have their own.

(Michael Oren is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.)


Mahmoud Abbas at the UN, to paraphrase Julius Caesar, venit, vidit, sed non vincit, “He came, he saw, but he did not conquer”. His demand, wrapped rhetorically in the usual uncompromising narrative distortions and untruths, was that Palestine—while ignoring direct negotiations with Israel—be recognized by the Security Council as a fully sovereign state. Abbas was given standing ovations by the majoritarian herd of General Assembly anti-Israel diplomats, but even as the formal request was dramatically deposited in Ban Ki-Moon’s hands, it was clear that it would be going nowhere.


The American President, dispelling nagging doubts about American policy, had already in his address to the Assembly the day before, explicitly rejected Abbas’s demand. He noted that a Palestinian state could be created only through negotiations recognizing Jewish Israel. Obama clearly and forthrightly stated that Israel’s security—repeatedly threatened in the past–was paramount, and that the US would veto a Unilateral Declaration of Independence motion if it came before the Security Council.


Only a year before, Obama, demanding an immediate settlement halt, had publicly committed to seeing such a state quickly emerge.  And even more recently he had alienated the Israelis by emphasizing the indefensible pre-1967 Six Day War “borders” (i.e., the dangerous 1949 armistice lines) as a starting point for talks.


Now, at the UN, he seemed suddenly to be doing tshuvah, repentance, for what many had come to see as a decidedly pro-Arab, and pro-Palestinian, foreign policy tilt.  Indeed Abbas, in his rostrum remarks the next day, seemed aggressively to target the American leader, saying that anyone “with a shred of conscience” could not reject his people’s application.

The pro-Israel community, as well it might, heaved a sigh of relief over the forthright American defense of Israel. But in diplomacy, as in life, there is often many a slip ‘twixt the lip and the cup, and much manipulative maneuvering is already under way at Turtle Bay and in Washington.


Abbas’s document may not reach the Security Council for several weeks, giving the US time to mount a desperate attempt—within and without the Council–to avoid what is being referred to as the “embarrassment” of having to cast a veto earning it the “wrath” of an inflamed Arab world.  (Celebrations of Abbas’ speech in the West Bank   includedburnings of American flags and, inter alia, descriptions of America as “the head of the snake” and of Obama as “no different from former American presidents”, i.e., the hated George Bush.)

The media is already rife with various reports of “deals” designed to avoid a veto. These include the “Quartet”’s immediate, and obviously previously concerted, call—made by American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton—for resumed direct negotiations within the next month (at a conference reportedly to be held in Moscow, no less). This call will, if it gets off the ground (the Palestinians have reportedly already rejected it), no doubt include renewed pressure on Israel to meet demands for a complete settlement halt prior to any resumption of face-to-face talks.


Of course, many observers see in Obama’s UN speech not so much a sudden conversion to a strong, principled pro-Israel policy, as a largely party-political calculation related to the need for Jewish support in the rapidly approaching November, 2012 Presidential election.


(Obama, sinking in the polls, no doubt also had his attention on the Jewish vote concentrated by that remarkable recent New York City straw in the wind, the Congressional election upset massively returning a Republican in a heavily Democratic, and Jewish, district.  Voters here had returned Democrats since 1920, and Obama’s  dangerously luke-warm Israel foreign policy was a key  electoral issue.)


Of course, despite Obama’s threatened or actual veto, the Palestinians’ manufactured “crisis” at the UN is far from over. Indeed, the shrewdly calculating Abbas clearly had already taken this “setback” into account. The Palestinian move is not a sudden, impetuous action, but part of a deeper, broader delegitimation campaign against Jewish Israel. The UN move was designed  with multiple purposes in mind, including making use even of a momentarily denied recognition of full state sovereignty.


Hence, whether or not a US Security Council veto is, finally, exercised, General Assembly approval of semi-official observer status, similar to the Vatican’s, is surely guaranteed.  “Palestine” can then plead its legal case before such bodies as the International Criminal Court and the International Court of Justice, seeking indictment of Israel for human-rights violations and “war crimes” and invoking the “South Africa apartheid analogy” already issuing from the various Durban “human rights” conferences.


Such moves would enable it, as a state-in-the-making, to seek the “BDS”–-“Boycott, Divestment, Sanction”—measures against Israel already demanded by pro-Palestinian political, NGO, and academic non-state actors. “Palestine” could also contest Israeli control of its air, land and sea borders, posing a direct security threat.


More immediately, “denial” of full-fledged state status could trigger “popular” disturbances, leading to a third “intifada” or—given the unstable “Arab Spring” political context–-worse.

The local instability which Abbas’s move may unleash (and which it may well have been intended to spur) must be related to the deteriorating Middle East regional situation. The Egyptian peace treaty with Israel is in tatters, as Cairo’s will to control the Sinai and Gaza borders crumbles and the Israeli embassy smolders.  Meanwhile Syria’s descent into murderous chaos continues, the Hezbollah terrorists continue to dominate Lebanon, Turkey’s “neo-Ottoman” Islamist, Erdogan, threatens naval confrontation in the eastern Mediterranean (and around Cyprus), and, most ominous of all, Iran proceeds essentially unimpeded towards possession of a nuclear weapon.


The region is potentially a tinder-box (for which “Arab Spring” is a dark euphemism), and Abbas’s move at the UN, far from being a “statesman-like” act, is more akin to  a lighted match.


And while for the moment it is of course well that the US will veto the UDI should it get to the Security Council, looking ahead a bit, an Obama victory, however narrow, in the coming 2012 Presidential election, could nevertheless prove quite dangerous. Once freed, in a second and final term, of any need to take “the Jewish vote” into consideration, would Obama, in the context of continuing world and US economic contraction, and given his repeated concern for “legacy” and the “remaking” of America, revert to his earlier pro-Arab policies?


A far left-liberal American President determined to “down-size” American foreign involvements (and the military), keeping Israel at arm’s length while engaging the Third [including the Arab] World”,   and disengaging not only from Iraq  and Afghanistan but from Syria and a now-nuclear Iran, would indeed be a novum, a radical and dangerous new departure.


Such a scenario would be one which would also mesh, consciously or not, with ongoing moves finally to achieve real sovereignty for “Palestine” while simultaneously delegitimating democratic Israel.


Just as Holocaust denial is underlain by a desire for Holocaust repetition, so, functionally, delegitimation—the attempt to weaken, isolate, and destabilize the Jewish state—points to its elimination. The  “two state solution” is a Western construct—the Palestinians’ UDI gambit should be seen for what it is, an aspect of the delegitimation drive, and part of their consistent refusal across the last 64 years—that is, since Israel’s foundation, to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.


What Abbas, like his predecessor and mentor Yasser Arafat (whom he invoked in his UN speech) is really pursuing is a one-state—Palestine—solution. Elimination of Israel, as envisioned by the advocates of delegitimation, can occur through exacerbating internal divisions, leading to political and moral exhaustion; by flooding the Jewish state with millions of Palestinian “refugees” via the never-abandoned “law of return”; by fomenting external pressures and crises leading to terrorism and war; or through a combination over time of all of these factors.


As the old curse goes, May you live in interesting times.


To conclude: An American veto, even if used, should not uncritically be assumed to be a sign of a permanent shift in attitude and policy, and Abbas’ UN UDI move, even if deflected, may well have other unsettling results.  Nevertheless, however shrewd and calculated the Palestinian strategy may be, it cannot assume passive acquiescence on the Israeli side, and may, therefore, have quite serious unintended consequences.


Indeed, Abbas’s move may well ultimately destroy the very possibility of a Palestinian state (assuming, again, that a state is really what the Palestinians want). For openers, it violates the Oslo Accords, mandating direct negotiations in exchange for the land Israel gave up in creating the P.A., and which were signed not only by Israel and the PLO, but by the U.S. In this sense the UDI tactic may yet confirm what the late Abba Eban, Israel’s great UN ambassador, noted long ago: “The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”.


This reality was caught quite clearly by Benjamin Netanyahu’s far from rhetorical question to a two-thirds-empty General Assembly auditorium. Speaking after Abbas’s peroration rejecting any recognition of a Jewish state, the Israeli P.M. asked, “[You are the] body that recognized the ‘Jewish state’ 64 years ago. Now, don’t you think it’s about time that Palestinians did the same?”


(Prof. Frederick Krantz, Editor of IsraBlog, is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research. He teaches history at Liberal Arts College, Concordia U., in Montreal.)