Israel Must Now Be Proactive: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017— The fervent hope shared by most Israelis — despite the frustration of some American Jews — is that U.S. President Donald Trump will overcome his domestic political problems and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance.
Words and Silence Matter: Trump vs. Obama: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, June 1, 2017 — U.S President Donald Trump’s public statements during his visit to Israel are of importance irrespective of what he said in private to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority’s Mohammed Abbas.
To Die for Estonia?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 1, 2017 — So what if, in his speech last week to NATO, President Trump didn’t explicitly reaffirm the provision that an attack on one is an attack on all?
The Flaws of "Oslo" Are the Same as the Flaws of Oslo: Neil Rogachevsky, Mosaic, May 17, 2017 — Nearly a quarter-century has passed since Yitzḥak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn.
The Limits of Israeli Power: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017
Merkel Throws Trump in the Briar Patch: David P. Goldman, PJ Media, May 30, 2017
Time for Honesty About London: We Are Losing the Fight Against Radical Islam: Pete Hoekstra, Fox News, June 5, 2017
The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, June 7, 2017
Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017
The fervent hope shared by most Israelis — despite the frustration of some American Jews — is that U.S. President Donald Trump will overcome his domestic political problems and strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance. Trump’s visit to the Middle East region consolidated our status. We are in a remarkably good position. After years of relentless bias and harassment from the international community, led by our purported ally, the United States, we are now blessed with an American president who publicly expresses his love and support for, and alliance with, the Jewish state.
Those who dismiss as mere posturing Trump’s presence at the Western Wall, his very sensitive remarks at Yad Vashem and his warm and supportive speech at the Israel Museum simply fail to appreciate the profound political implication of his remarks. To that must be added his call on the Sunni states to confront Iranian terror and combat extremism, explicitly including anti-Semitism, within their ranks. Not to mention the revolutionary U.S. campaign to confront the anti-Israel obsession at the U.N. All of this represents a significant reversal of the tide in our favor.
In this context, one should also consider the dramatic success of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in developing economic and diplomatic links with Russia, India, China, Japan, and now Africa. To this can be added the incredible, almost overt relationship with Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states. One must be blind not to appreciate that these significant improvements in our international status have largely been achieved as a combined result of the deft diplomacy of Netanyahu and the new Trump administration policy.
In fact, today, we have an extraordinary, unique window of opportunity. But it requires us to take the initiative and display our willingness to cooperate with Trump’s peace initiatives on condition that our security is not compromised. Netanyahu must show leadership and initiate steps and not merely respond to pressures. He should be prepared to implement a temporary freeze on construction in areas outside the settlement blocs that will always remain part of Israel. He should undertake to continue to strive toward enhancing the quality of life in the autonomous Palestinian areas and offer additional humanitarian assistance.
But this offer can only be made in the context of reciprocity. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas must cease the incitement and end the disgraceful encouragement of killers, including the PA’s rewarding of their families with huge pensions amounting to over 300 million dollars annually for their crimes. He must also recognize Israel as a Jewish state and cease demanding the “right of return” to Israel of Arab refugees and their descendants which would amount to the dissolution of the Jewish state. A solution to dealing with Hamas will also need to be considered.
Until this happens, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate borders or even contemplate a Palestinian state. Despite his assurances about supporting peace, there is little likelihood of the duplicitous Abbas agreeing to any of these basic prerequisites. Should that be the case, we should call for an end to the phony peace process and, in conjunction with the U.S. and possibly even the Saudis, seek to create a working relationship with those living under Palestinian autonomy — if necessary, bypassing the current leadership. This will not eliminate terror but our security will be vastly enhanced if we have the support of the Americans.
Our main objective must be to promote the truth and cease providing cover for terrorist leaders who speak to the West with forked tongues endorsing peace, yet continue to incite their followers. If we can do this in tandem with the Americans, in due course we may resolve other issues, such as the formal annexation of the settlement blocs, recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, and ensuring that Trump honors his undertaking to help the IDF retain its qualitative edge despite the arms buildup provided to the Saudis.
All of this is dependent on Trump not being persuaded like his predecessors that the easiest way to retain stability is to maintain a fake peace process, perpetuating the deplorable lie that this conflict is a struggle by two peoples over real estate. The cause of the conflict is the intransigence of the Palestinian leaders and their brainwashed citizens whose objective is not a two-state solution, but a single Palestinian state from the river to the sea. To minimize the likelihood of this happening, Netanyahu must act now and demonstrate his willingness to explore any opportunity for peace…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld
Arutz Sheva, June 1, 2017
U.S President Donald Trump’s public statements during his visit to Israel are of importance irrespective of what he said in private to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority’s Mohammed Abbas. This is even more the case because of the damage a variety of statements — and lack of them — by his predecessor Barack Obama and the previous U.S administration have caused Israel.
There is much criticism in the U.S of President Trump and his unpredictability. It comes mainly from those who wanted and expected his opponent Hillary Clinton to win the election. The attacks on the current president however do not diminish the importance of his words in Israel. The current President’s statements are all the more important as — contrary to the case with his predecessor — one “gets what one sees” with Trump.
Obama’s distorted, overly positive view of the Muslim world was already apparent early in his presidency. In his first trip abroad in 2009 he travelled to the non-democratic state of Egypt where he was received by President Husni Mubarak. The 2008 report of Freedom House ranked Egypt as a non-free country with a rating of 5.5 on a scale from 1 as best to 7 as worst. The report stated: “Egypt received a downward trend arrow due to its suppression of journalists’ freedom of expression, repression of opposition groups, and the passage of constitutional amendments that hinder the judiciary’s ability to balance against executive excess.”
On that trip Obama intentionally bypassed U.S ally Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The American president did not berate the undemocratic character of the Egyptian regime. Instead in his 2009 Cairo speech Obama apologized for Western “colonialism.” His sympathy did not help U.S. ally Mubarak during the Arab spring, when Obama stabbed him in the back and pressured him to make concessions. Obama hypocritically argued that his criticism of Netanyahu gave him credibility when defending the Jewish state in the world arena. But the Obama administration also regularly criticized Israel for "settlement building" as well as other issues and this stands in sharp contrast to Obama’s avoidance of linking terrorist acts to Islam. Nor did he mention the wide support for undemocratic behavior in the Muslim world.
Obama admitted that he refrained from using the words “Islamic terror” in describing Middle East extremism. The Obama administration referred to terror attacks by Muslims as “lone wolf attacks” and refused to use the term “radical Islam.” The terms “Islam” and “jihad,” “Islamic extremism,” radical Islamic terrorism,” and “radical Islam” were banned from US Security documents.
The U.S has for a long time been Israel’s main ally. If a U.S administration is repeatedly so critical of Israel while remaining silent about the criminal behavior of its enemies, this can be interpreted as a signal to other countries. It has a negative multiplier effect. The Europeans were most probably encouraged by Obama’s biased attitude to go beyond just criticizing Israel. Their labelling of goods from the territories while not doing the same for other similar areas in the world is an example. When Trump had already been elected as President, Obama let Israel down in yet another signal of encouragement to its enemies. The U.S abstained on Security Council resolution 2334 demanding an end to Israeli settlements. Trump had asked him to veto the resolution.
One would have expected international media to analyze these matters in some detail after the Trump Middle East visit. If one checks Google on this subject many reports focus on a comparison of the notes the two presidents wrote at Yad Vashem. This marginal subject became the first significant topic in a lengthy article in the Washington Post. It was titled “The huge contrast between Obama’s and Trump’s visits to Israel’s Holocaust memorial.”
Trump did not mention the two state ‘solution’ in his speeches. Why should a U.S president preclude the outcome of direct Israeli-Palestinian negotiations? Or promise the creation of a second Palestinian state in addition to Jordan? Under Palestinian Authority leadership this state would be another corrupt Arab entity with substantial chances of failing. Yet another logical reason not to mention the two state ‘solution’ is that the PA does not control the Gaza Strip. Nor did Trump mention "settlements." There was no reason to do so. The central topic in Trump’s speeches in the Middle East focused on the fight against terror. It is worth noting that Trump did mention to the Palestinians that they should stop glorifying terrorist murderers of civilians, which sometimes also include Americans.
During his visit to Europe Trump continued to set the record straight. He reprimanded NATO leaders in Brussels, saying that 23 out of 28 did not meet their financial commitments to the organization. He said: “This is not fair to the people and taxpayers of the United States.” This was a euphemism for saying that they are parasites relying on the U.S. The EU and several European states have been arrogantly telling Israel for many years how it should run its internal affairs. The idea that EU leaders are being told to own up to their commitments is considered unpleasant by many European leaders. From an Israeli viewpoint it is very positive that Trump told them off on their failures.
After Trump’s visit many European leaders may be nostalgic for Obama, who was partly responsible for letting the Middle East chaos develop and the diminishment of U.S standing in the world. Yet as Alan Dershowitz said about his fellow Harvard law graduate Barack Obama: He will be remembered as “one of the worst presidents in the foreign policy arena,’ who created a ‘terrible conflict’ for people who share other tenets of his ideology.”
Washington Post, June 1, 2017
So what if, in his speech last week to NATO, President Trump didn’t explicitly reaffirm the provision that an attack on one is an attack on all? What’s the big deal? Didn’t he affirm a general commitment to NATO during his visit? Hadn’t he earlier sent his vice president and secretaries of state and defense to pledge allegiance to Article 5? And anyway, who believes that the United States would really go to war with Russia — and risk nuclear annihilation — over Estonia?
Ah, but that’s precisely the point. It is because deterrence is so delicate, so problematic, so literally unbelievable that it is not to be trifled with. And why for an American president to gratuitously undermine what little credibility deterrence already has, by ostentatiously refusing to recommit to Article 5, is so shocking. Deterrence is inherently a barely believable bluff. Even at the height of the Cold War, when highly resolute presidents, such as Eisenhower and Kennedy, threatened Russia with “massive retaliation” (i.e., all-out nuclear war), would we really have sacrificed New York for Berlin? No one knew for sure. Not Eisenhower, not Kennedy, not Khrushchev, not anyone. Yet that very uncertainty was enough to stay the hand of any aggressor and keep the peace of the world for 70 years, the longest period without war between the Great Powers in modern history.
Deterrence does not depend on 100 percent certainty that the other guy will go to war if you cross a red line. Given the stakes, merely a chance of that happening can be enough. For 70 years, it was enough. Leaders therefore do everything they can to bolster it. Install tripwires, for example. During the Cold War, we stationed troops in Germany to face the massive tank armies of Soviet Russia. Today we have 28,000 troops in South Korea, 12,000 near the demilitarized zone. Why? Not to repel invasion. They couldn’t. They’re not strong enough. To put it very coldly, they’re there to die. They’re a deliberate message to the enemy that if you invade our ally, you will have to kill a lot of Americans first. Which will galvanize us into full-scale war against you.
Tripwires are risky, dangerous and cynical. Yet we resort to them because parchment promises are problematic and tripwires imply automaticity. We do what we can to strengthen deterrence. Rhetorically as well. Which is why presidents from Truman on have regularly and powerfully reaffirmed our deterrent pledge to NATO. Until Trump. His omission was all the more damaging because of his personal history. This is a man chronically disdainful of NATO. He campaigned on its obsolescence. His inaugural address denounced American allies as cunning parasites living off American wealth and generosity. One of Trump’s top outside advisers, Newt Gingrich, says that “Estonia is in the suburbs of St. Petersburg,” as if Russian designs on the Baltic states are not at all unreasonable.
Moreover, Trump devoted much of his Brussels speech, the highlight of his first presidential trip to NATO, to berating the allies for not paying their fair share. Nothing particularly wrong with that, or new — half a century ago Senate Majority Leader Mike Mansfield was so offended by NATO free riding that he called for major reductions of U.S. troops in Europe. That’s an American perennial. But if you’re going to berate, at least reassure as well. Especially given rising Russian threats and aggression. Especially given that Trump’s speech was teed up precisely for such reassurance. An administration official had spread the word that he would use the speech to endorse Article 5. And it was delivered at a ceremony honoring the first and only invocation of Article 5 — ironically enough, by the allies in support of America after 9/11. And yet Trump deliberately, defiantly refused to simply say it: America will always honor its commitment under Article 5.
It’s not that, had Trump said the magic words, everyone would have 100 percent confidence we would strike back if Russia were to infiltrate little green men into Estonia, as it did in Crimea. But Trump’s refusal to utter those words does lower whatever probability Vladimir Putin might attach to America responding with any seriousness to Russian aggression against a NATO ally. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Sunday (without mentioning his name) that after Trump’s visit it is clear that Europe can no longer rely on others. It’s not that yesterday Europe could fully rely — and today it cannot rely at all. It’s simply that the American deterrent has been weakened. And deterrence weakened is an invitation to instability, miscalculation, provocation and worse.
Mosaic, May 17, 2017
Nearly a quarter-century has passed since Yitzḥak Rabin and Yasir Arafat shook hands on the White House lawn. The agreement signed on September 13, 1993 established the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the official representative body of the Palestinian people and permitted its chairman, Yasir Arafat, to return to the West Bank after his extended isolation in Tunisia. Committing Israel and the Palestinians to negotiate a final-status agreement, the so-called Oslo Accords opened the era of the peace process.
It is worth recalling the buoyant atmosphere that characterized not only that particular moment on the South Lawn but, more generally, the period in world history in which it occurred. Most dramatically, the cold war with the Soviet Union had ended in a triumph for the United States and its form of liberal democracy. If this was not quite the “end of history,” as a major public-policy essay had conjectured, the fall of the mighty Soviet empire raised similarly exuberant expectations for other arenas of conflict. Why, after all, couldn’t Israelis and Palestinians make peace?
To some, all the elements were in place. The Palestinians, it was averred, were willing to come to the table, and Israel was open, forward-looking, and “hopeful.” Its Labor-party leadership—not only the war hero Rabin but also Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak—had set aside any remaining illusions of permanent occupation. Having marginalized the “territorial maximalists,” Israelis were prepared to make the painful compromises for peace—a dynamic that President Bill Clinton, a friend of Israel, could help push along.
As even ardent supporters of the ensuing peace process will admit, things did not—to put it mildly—go according to plan, and the final-status agreement never came about. Today, notwithstanding Donald Trump’s (quite possibly fleeting) enthusiasm for the project, even the beginning of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority seems highly unlikely. The optimism that greeted the apparent breakthrough of 1993, however understandable in light of the cultural atmosphere of the time, in retrospect seems downright delusional. Yet many Westerners, Jewish and gentile alike, still look back at the Oslo years as a kind of golden age, one that shines only the brighter in contrast to the allegedly dark present.
Was Oslo a golden age? Those inclined to that belief now have the gift of a cleverly constructed drama that supports, and flatters, their view. Written by the New York playwright J.T. Rogers, Oslo tells the backstory of the Norwegian-brokered talks between informal envoys of the Israeli foreign ministry and the PLO over a ten-month period in 1992-93. Nearly three hours long, the play is heavy on dialogue and mostly lacking in the bells and whistles of many major New York productions. Nevertheless, by any non-Hamilton standard the play has been a hit, having moved from its debut last year at a small off-Broadway venue to the much bigger Lincoln Center Theater. On the evening I saw it, the crowd, more Upper West Side than Upper Midwest, gave the performers a rapturous standing ovation.
One might attribute this fervor at least in part to our own, highly fractious times, in which political, not to say partisan, drama is ripe for a comeback. But Oslo, which has been nominated for a 2017 Tony Award, is also an effective piece of indoctrination, mirroring, to a subtle but powerful degree, the dominant political mentality that helped produce the disastrous Oslo Accords themselves. Aside from the iconic Rabin-Arafat handshake, the whole story of the Oslo negotiations is not especially well known, and Rogers deserves credit for telling it with relative fidelity. The events are seen from the perspective of three Norwegian diplomats: Terje Rød-Larsen and his wife Mona Juul, and Jan Egeland. Thanks to a shared zeal, whose motive is never examined, the three navigate all manner of obstacles in order to bring Israelis and Palestinians together in secret negotiations at a country house south of Oslo, where the play is largely set.
Indeed, the play quite artfully stresses the single most astonishing fact about the Oslo talks: not only were they secret, but, on the Israeli side, they were at first completely unauthorized. At the time, Israelis were forbidden by law from having direct contact with PLO officials. It was Yossi Beilin, Israel’s deputy foreign minister, who unilaterally decided that flouting the law was justified by the end he sought. In December 1992, Beilin asked Yair Hirschfeld, a University of Haifa economist, to meet in London with the PLO’s finance minister, Ahmed Qurei, also known as Abu Ala. In January and early February, at further meetings in Norway, Hirschfeld and another economist, Ron Pundak, began drafting with the PLO team a document offering an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho, the establishment of an autonomous Palestinian administration in the West Bank, and direct negotiations regarding a final-status accord.
Prodded along by the committed and good-humored Norwegians, the play shows us, the participants found their mutual mistrust and hatred giving way to grudging respect and then a kind of friendship. The other side was humanized, which in turn led to recognition of its grievances and rights—grievances and rights that the Palestinian side, particularly, is portrayed in the play as having been more justified in holding on to. Eventually, higher-level Israelis—Uri Savir of the foreign ministry and Joel Singer, a lawyer and confidant of Prime Minister Rabin—replaced the economists in an effort to hammer out a final draft according to which, in exchange for the aforementioned concessions, the PLO would renounce violence and recognize the state of Israel…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
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The Limits of Israeli Power: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 6, 2017 —On Thursday, US President Donald Trump bowed to the foreign policy establishment and betrayed his voters. He signed a presidential waiver postponing the transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem for yet another six months.
Merkel Throws Trump in the Briar Patch: David P. Goldman, PJ Media, May 30, 2017—Donald Trump and Angela Merkel now agree about the main issues in U.S.-German relations. “The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are a way past us,” Merkel told a beer-tent rally of her political party. “We Europeans really have to take our fate into our own hands.”
Time for Honesty About London: We Are Losing the Fight Against Radical Islam: Pete Hoekstra, Fox News, June 5, 2017—London, Manchester, Paris, Nice, Brussels, Kabul, Baghdad, the global carnage continues.
The Identity Crisis Fueling European Muslim Radicalization: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, June 7, 2017—When tanks entered the streets of Istanbul and Ankara last summer in an attempt to overthrow the Turkish government, people swarmed the streets to fight them off.