Tag: capital of israel


Trump in the Middle East: Note Who Curses America, and Who Blesses It: Yoram Hazony, National Review, Jan. 23, 2018— President Donald Trump has promised that in the Middle East under his presidency, “there are many things that can happen now that would never have happened before.”

Why Arabs and Muslims Will Not Accept Israel as the Jewish State: Mordechai Kedar, Algemeiner, Jan. 19, 2018— Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital aroused massive outrage in the Arab and Islamic world.

Iranian Protests Reveal Leadership Fault Lines in the Muslim World: Dr. James M. Dorsey, BESA, Jan. 16, 2018— The responses by major Sunni Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa to the recent anti-government protests in Iran demonstrated that none of the contenders for regional dominance and leadership, which include Turkey and Egypt, were willing to follow the Saudi lead.

Quest for Arab Democracy: David Pryce-Jones, National Review, Dec. 31, 2017— One day in December 2010, a policewoman in a small and rather humdrum town in Tunisia slapped the face of Mohamed Bouazizi.


On Topic Links


US Allies Should Back President Trump: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Jan. 28, 2018

Trump’s Mideast Plan: Take it or Leave it: Alex Fishman, Ynet, Jan. 24, 2018

Arab Regimes Terrified by Israel's Freedoms: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 16, 2018

‘The Middle East and World War III – Why No Peace?’: Alan Baker, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 1, 2018





Yoram Hazony

National Review, Jan. 23, 2018


President Donald Trump has promised that in the Middle East under his presidency, “there are many things that can happen now that would never have happened before.” Two speeches of the last ten days offer dramatic confirmation of the emerging reconfiguration of America’s relationship with Israel and the Middle East under his leadership.


In a two-hour speech before the Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) last week, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, denounced the British, Dutch, French, and Americans for having conspired, ever since the 1650s, to create a Jewish colonial outpost that would “erase the Palestinians from Palestine.” As Abbas tells it, all this reached a climax on the eve of World War I, when the West realized that it was on the verge of collapse and that the Islamic world was “poised to inherit European civilization.” To put an end to this threat, the Western nations went about carving up the Muslim world so that it would be forever “divided, backward, and engulfed in infighting.” As for the United States, it has been “playing games” of this sort ever since then, importing, for example, the disastrous Arab Spring into Middle East.


Abbas summed up by demanding an apology and reparations from Britain for the Balfour Declaration and denying that the United States can serve as a mediator in the Mideast. Finally, he went to the trouble of cursing both President Trump and the U.S. Congress: Yehrab beitak (“May your house be razed”), he said. I have been following the speeches of the PLO and its supporters in the Arab world for 30 years. Nothing here is new. These are the same things that Yasser Arafat, Abbas, and the mainline PLO leadership have always believed. It is a worldview that reflects an abiding hatred for the West, blaming Christians and Jews not only for the founding of Israel but for every calamity that has befallen the Muslim and Arab world for centuries.


What should be one’s policy toward an organization committed to such an ideology? One option is to sympathize with the shame and outrage to which the PLO gives voice, and to try to mitigate it with grants of territory, authority, prestige, and large-scale ongoing funding. American administrations have pursued this option, seeking to make a peace partner out of the PLO, since President Ronald Reagan announced a dialogue with it in December 1988. Israel, too, has pursued this option, since 1993. But in the ensuing 30 years of talk, the only major agreements signed have been those the PLO leadership could find a way to fit into its narrative: Agreements such as the 1993 Oslo Accords, which could be portrayed as inflicting a bitter defeat on Israel and the West — and as a step on the road to ultimate triumph.


President Trump, Vice President Pence, and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley are pioneering an alternative policy, which can be summed up in Haley’s words: “We’re not going to pay to be abused.” If players like the PLO, North Korea, Pakistan, and Iran (hopefully, Turkey gets added to this list soon) want to cultivate a civilizational hatred of America, double-talking while they give aid to global terrorism and conjure diplomatic scandals at the U.N. — well, then they don’t get to be allies.


What this looks like was already on display when Trump became the first serving U.S. president to visit the kotel (the Western Wall) in Jerusalem in May, shredding the longstanding diplomatic taboo against making it look as though the holiest site in Judaism is in fact part of the State of Israel. Since then, Trump and Haley have taken on UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, which regularly disseminate the PLO’s view of history and current affairs. The Trump administration has cut in half America’s massive financial support of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East), an organization whose purpose is to maintain generations of unabsorbed descendants of Palestinian Arab refugees, inculcating them in Abbas-style grievances against Israel and the West.


Mike Pence’s address on Monday to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, continued this trajectory. But he also responded to Abbas’s history lesson with some tasteful but potent narrative-weaving of his own. In addition to the traditional script pointing to the shared interests of the United States and Israel as democracies, Pence emphasized that it was significant to him as an American that “our founders turned to the Hebrew Bible for direction” in establishing their country and that Israel’s story “inspired my forebears to create . . . a new birth of freedom.” He returned repeatedly to the way in which the story of the Jewish people holding fast to God’s promise to return them to their land “shows the power of faith.” Pence even said the traditional Jewish shehehianu blessing (in Hebrew!), thanking God for bringing us to see this day in which the Jewish people have been restored to their land…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Mordechai Kedar

Algemeiner, Jan. 19, 2018


Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital aroused massive outrage in the Arab and Islamic world. This was for two main reasons — one religious and one nationalist. The religious reason is rooted in Islam’s conception of itself as a faith whose mission is to bring both Judaism and Christianity to an end, and inherit all that was once Jewish or Christian: land, places of worship, and people. In Islam’s worldview, Palestine in its entirety belongs to Muslims alone, because both Jews and Christians betrayed Allah when they refused to become followers of the prophet Muhammad. Their punishment is … expulsion from their lands and the forfeiture of all rights to them.


Throughout the history of Islam, Muslims turned churches into mosques, including the Great Mosque of Ramle, the Bani Omaya Mosque in Damascus, the Hagia Sofia of Istanbul, and many Spanish churches. The reason is their belief that Christianity, like Judaism, is nullified by Islam, making churches unnecessary. According to Islamic tenets, the prophets revered by these obsolete religions are Muslims. These include Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Aaron. And according to Islam, King Solomon built a mosque, not a Temple, in Jerusalem. (The 1,500-year gap between the king’s reign and the birth of Islam is irrelevant to true believers.)


Jews and Christians can be protected under Muslim rule by becoming subservient to Islam in what is known as dhimmi status, which means that they are legally deprived of many rights, including the right to own land and bear arms. Dhimmis are forced to pay a head tax (jyzia) and are to be kept in a downtrodden state, as is mandated by the Koran. In Islam’s view, Jews are not a nation but a collection of religious communities to be found in various countries: a Jew in Poland is a “Pole of the Mosaic religion” and a Jew in Morocco is a “Moroccan Arab of the Mosaic religion.”


Suddenly, towards the end of the 19th century, everything changed. Jews began coming to Palestine in ever-growing numbers. The Zionists “invented” a new nation — the “Jewish people” — and decided that a certain part of the House of Islam was their homeland, known as Eretz Israel. They built communities and a protective fighting force even though, as dhimmis, they were not supposed to be allowed to bear arms and were subjected to Islam’s protection. In 1948, the Jews actually declared a state, despite the fact that they did not deserve sovereignty. Then, in 1967, they “conquered” the West Bank and East Jerusalem.


Jews now attempt to pray on the Temple Mount, suggesting that Judaism has returned to being an active, living and even dynamic religion. This brings the very raison d’être of Islam into question. After all, Islam came into the world in order to make Judaism obsolete. Muslims loyal to their religion and aware of this danger cannot possibly accept the existence of a Jewish state, not even a tiny one on the Tel Aviv coast. To them, Israel as the state of the Jewish people is a theological threat to Islam and only secondarily, a national, political, judicial or territorial threat.


President Trump’s acknowledgement of Israel’s existence by recognizing Jerusalem as its capital was a double whammy for Islam: Trump, a Christian, had granted recognition to the Jews. The outraged Muslim world thought this must be a Christo-Judaic plot against Islam. Trump’s declaration reminded them (along with several Jews) of the November 1917 Balfour Declaration, about which the Arabs continue to rail at the world: “You made the promises of non-owners to those who did not have the right to be given those promises.”


In the weeks following Trump’s declaration, Muslims all over the world expressed their fury at the seal of approval granted the Jewish state — despite its very existence being opposed to that of Islam. Leaders and ordinary citizens, men and women, took to the streets to demonstrate their inability to live with the fact that the most prominent Christian head of state had recognized the capital chosen by the Jewish nation, and, by extension, its right to its own land.


The disturbances in Wadi Ara, in central Israel — rioters attempted to block the main road and damaged a public bus — were another manifestation of Muslim fury. The location is not surprising, because the Wadi Ara area includes the city of Umm al-Fahm, where the main concentration of the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement, headed by the infamous Raed Salah, is to be found. The Northern Branch has been declared illegal, along with some of the smaller organizations it has fostered, resulting in its members having no lawful way to express their fury at the existence of the state of Israel. With little alternative, they act in the public space as individuals without an organizational identity…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]







Dr. James M. Dorsey

BESA, Jan. 16, 2018


The responses by major Sunni Muslim countries in the Middle East and North Africa to the recent anti-government protests in Iran demonstrated that none of the contenders for regional dominance and leadership, which include Turkey and Egypt, were willing to follow the Saudi lead. In fact, the responses appeared to confirm that regional leadership was more likely to be shared among Turkey, Egypt, and Iran than decided in the debilitating power struggle between Saudi Arabia and the Islamic Republic, a struggle that has wreaked havoc across the region and which the Kingdom is losing.


Uncharacteristically, Saudi Arabia under the rule of King Salman and his son, Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, has refrained from commenting on the protests. The kingdom has also been silent in the walk-up to US President Donald J. Trump’s decision on what to do about American adherence to the 2015 international nuclear agreement with Iran.


While Saudi media, oblivious to the potential for dissent in the kingdom, gloated about the exploding discontent in Iran, Saudi leaders stayed quiet in a bid to avoid providing Iranian leaders with a pretext to blame external forces for the unrest. (That did not stop Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other Iranian leaders from laying the blame at the doors of Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the US).


Similarly, Saudi Arabia, whose regional prominence is to a significant extent dependent on American, if not international, containment of Iran, stayed on the sidelines as Trump deliberated undermining the agreement that for almost three years has severely restricted Iran’s nuclear program and halted the Islamic Republic’s ambition of becoming a nuclear power any time soon. While the Saudis would welcome any tightening of the screws on Iran, they have come to see the agreement as not only preventing Iran (at least for now) from developing a military nuclear capability but also as avoiding a regional nuclear arms race in which Turkey and Egypt as well as, potentially, the United Arab Emirates would take part.


The agreement gives the kingdom an opportunity to set up building blocks for a future military nuclear capability, if deemed necessary. Trump’s apparent willingness to ease restrictions on Saudi enrichment of uranium as part of his bid to ensure that US companies play a key role in the development of Saudi Arabia’s nuclear energy sector facilitates the Saudi strategy. In contrast to the Saudis, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan was vocal in his support for the Iranian government and called Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to express his solidarity. Egypt, like Saudi Arabia, has not commented on the protests but has studiously avoided being sucked into the Saudi-Iranian rivalry, including its multiple proxy battles in Yemen and elsewhere.


The various responses to the Iranian protests reveal more than simply differences of evaluation of those events. They show the fault lines of two, if not three, major alliances that are emerging among the contenders for regional leadership in the Middle East and North Africa and adjacent regions like the Horn of Africa. They also highlight Saudi Arabia’s inability to garner overwhelming support for its ambitions and/or efforts to achieve them. Those efforts include the kingdom’s declaration of an economic and diplomatic boycott of Qatar; its military intervention in Yemen; and its failed attempt to force the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri.


Turkey has effectively sought to counter Saudi moves not only by forging close ties to the Islamic Republic despite their differences over Syria, but also by supporting Qatar with a military base in the Gulf state. It has also kept up a supply of food and other goods into Qatar, the flow of which had been interrupted by the Saudi-led boycott. Turkey has established a military training facility in Somalia and is discussing creating a base in Djibouti, the Horn of Africa’s rent-a-military base country par excellence (it contains foreign military facilities operated by France, the US, Saudi Arabia, China, and Japan). Turkey also recently signed a $650 million agreement with Sudan to rebuild a decaying Ottoman port city and construct a naval dock to maintain civilian and military vessels on the African country’s Red Sea coast. Saudi Arabia sees the Turkish moves as an effort to encircle it.


Turkey, to the chagrin of Saudi Arabia and its closest regional ally, the UAE, as well as Egypt, has supported the Muslim Brotherhood as well as other strands of political Islam. Egypt recently launched an investigation into embarrassing leaks from alleged intelligence officers that were broadcast on the Brotherhood’s Istanbul-based Mekameleen TV station and published in The New York Times. Egypt has denied the accuracy of the leaks. If Saudi Arabia, backed by the UAE, Bahrain, and Israel (as an unacknowledged partner) constitutes one bloc, Turkey forms another that could include the region’s third pole, Iran. Egypt, conscious of its past as the Arab world’s undisputed leader, may not yet be able to carve out a distinct leadership role for itself, but it is working hard to keep the door open.


Underlying the jockeying for regional dominance is a stark reality. Turkey, Iran, and Egypt have, to varying degrees, crucial assets that Saudi Arabia lacks: large populations, huge domestic markets, battle-hardened militaries, resources, and a deep sense of identity rooted in an imperial past and/or a sense of thousands of years of history. Saudi Arabia has its status as custodian of Islam’s most holy cities and financial muscle. In the long run, those are unlikely to prove sufficient.





David Pryce-Jones

National Review, Dec. 31, 2017


One day in December 2010, a policewoman in a small and rather humdrum town in Tunisia slapped the face of Mohamed Bouazizi. The dispute was over his permit to be selling fruit and vegetables off a barrow. The injustice that he encountered, and the humiliation, drove the poor man to take his life. Just as a butterfly fluttering its wings is supposed to cause a cascade of faraway atmospheric effects, this suicide set off a movement of protest and solidarity in one Arab country after another. The monarchies and republics in which Arabs live are, in reality, dictatorships, and the time had apparently arrived for them to reform and take their place in what was supposed to be an emerging worldwide democratic order.


What became known as the Arab Spring did not live up to these expectations; far from it. Since 2010, Arab countries have suffered civil war, coups, terrorism, invasion by foreign powers, genocide, the sale of women in slave markets, the ruin of historic cities and monuments, the death of civilians by the hundreds of thousands, and the flight of refugees in their millions. The rise of the Islamic State, self-described as a caliphate, redesigned the boundaries of Syria and Iraq, countries that may not be reconstituted for a very long time, if ever. Islamist volunteers in this misappropriated territory murdered, beheaded, crucified, or tortured to death, often in public, whomever they pleased. Libya, Yemen, and Lebanon are also states in varying stages of collapse. A whole civilization seems to be coming apart.


The proper human response to such calamity is that something ought to be done about it. Elliott Abrams takes it for granted in Realism and Democracy that the United States can and should come to the rescue. His career has given him authority to comment on matters of power politics. In the Reagan administration, he was assistant secretary of state for human rights and humanitarian affairs (1981–85) and assistant secretary for inter-American affairs (1985–89); he later served as President George W. Bush’s adviser for global democracy strategy (2005–09). His sympathies are very wide, his quotations from the academic literature are numerous and apt, and his prose is almost miraculously jargon-free.


His introductory chapter, almost a hundred pages long, is a kind of handbook to the mindsets of American policymakers concerning the Middle East in recent decades. The U.S. approach during the Cold War was perhaps an unfair great-power exercise but at least it kept the peace after its fashion. The most frequent cause of a clash during that era was some independent but rash manipulation on the part of one of the superpowers’ clients. The superpowers’ balancing of laissez-faire and a tight fist was usually enough to keep major clients such as Turkey and Iran, and even Arab-nationalist dictators, on the straight and narrow path of cooperation with them. Those times are over. In the absence of the external pressures of the Cold War, former clients are now in a position to pursue their own ambitions, forming alliances and enmities without regard for Western interests. Military intervention in Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere so far has only sustained or increased the level of instability. The sole alternative is to make a moralizing speech, but if the decision not to intervene militarily has already been taken, this is pointlessly sanctimonious.


Put simply, what Realism and Democracy is asking is whether the United States should deal with the present free-for-all in the role of policeman or of paramedic. Abrams takes his lead from President Reagan, once his boss, who was convinced that whatever Arabs might do or say, basically they want the same freedom as Americans, and they are able to acquire it, too. In this view, freedom is the function of democracy, and democracy in turn is the function of human rights. In the course of his career, Abrams also met and admired the like-minded senators Scoop Jackson and Daniel Moynihan and, last but not least, George W. Bush, the president who did his best to give freedom to Iraqis. Proud to be an unreconstructed Reaganite, Abrams further awards himself the title of neo-con…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


US Allies Should Back President Trump: Prof. Hillel Frisch, BESA, Jan. 28, 2018—It is not the business of allies to meddle in the domestic affairs of the US, and certainly not to take a position in domestic controversies over the performance of its leaders and politicians. It is the role of the vibrant democratic process in the US to handle such matters.

Trump’s Mideast Plan: Take it or Leave it: Alex Fishman, Ynet, Jan. 24, 2018—Knowing Donald Trump, he won’t give anyone an early warning. He’ll just deliver a festive speech and present his “ultimate deal” for the Middle East. There won’t be long negotiations with the two parties, and he won’t convene a conference, like American presidents have done in the past. He’ll simply present everyone with a fact: This is the deal. Take it or leave it.

Arab Regimes Terrified by Israel's Freedoms: Giulio Meotti, Gatestone Institute, Jan. 16, 2018—Fifty years have passed since many Arab countries were humiliated by Israel in 1967 in a war the Arabs started, with the explicit goal of destroying the Jewish State and throwing the Jews into the Mediterranean Sea. Today, Israel has solid diplomatic relations with two of these countries — Jordan to Egypt — while Saudi officials speak with their Israeli security counterparts about the Iranian threat.

‘The Middle East and World War III – Why No Peace?’: Alan Baker, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 1, 2018—In what is a very ambitious and aspiring work, dramatically titled The Middle East and World War III – Why No Peace?, Dr. Michael Calvo, Sorbonne educated and a graduate of New York University, an expert in international law and comparative jurisprudence, takes on the complex, unique and evidently intractable Middle East conflict.






Why the Holocaust Does Not Fade Away: Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Arutz Sheva, Jan. 26, 2018 — One may wonder why the memory of the Holocaust does not fade away with time as do most historical events.

The Inevitable Politicization of International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Matt Lebovic, Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2018 — When President Donald Trump left Jews out of his remarks for International Holocaust Remembrance Day last year, he inadvertently gave the relatively new commemoration an unprecedented amount of publicity.

What Did you Hear when Mike Pence Spoke to the Knesset?: Jonathan S. Tobin, Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018— In Monday’s New York Times, columnist Max Fisher treated Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel as just another expression of what he considers the divisive policies of the Trump administration.

A Tale of Two Speeches: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Jan. 25, 2018— I've been privileged to attend the two great speeches of this decade in the Knesset plenum: that of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (exactly four years ago, January 20, 2014) and that of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (this week).



On Topic Links


New Israeli Exhibit Highlights Power of Photos in Holocaust: Aron Heller, National Post, Jan. 25, 2018

Is Ukraine’s Holocaust Memorial at Babi Yar in Trouble?: Izabella Tabarovsky, Tablet, Jan. 24, 2018

Accomplices to the Holocaust: Mordecai Paldiel, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2018

Dear Mr. Ambassador, Why is Canada Funding Anti-Semitism?: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Jan. 18, 2018





Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld

Arutz Sheva, Jan. 26, 2018


One may wonder why the memory of the Holocaust does not fade away with time as do most historical events. Why are the Holocaust and several related World War II issues mentioned increasingly in the media? Why do these aspects seem to draw increased attention as time passes? Even though one cannot quantify the phenomenon, similarly the increase of Holocaust abuse seems evident. It is only when one starts researching this, that the frequency and diversity of the distortions become apparent.


When looking for reasons for the frequent mention of the Holocaust, a number of disparate possible causes emerge. One is a trend toward increasing chaos in the world. In such a reality many look for extreme points of reference, while others distort them. A second reason is the increased removal of barriers of what is acceptable in the public domain or in certain environments. A further source of increased Holocaust distortion is the largely unregulated social media arena.


The exposure of antisemitism has greatly increased in recent years, together with the growth in incidents expressing hatred toward Jews. Holocaust abuse and distortions to some extent overlap with antisemitism. The promotion of a new Holocaust is not a distortion category in the strictest sense of the word, even though the two are related. This promotion of a second Holocaust has many gradations. Some are explicit. In the 1960's George Lincoln Rockwell was head of the American Nazi Party. He said that, "If he came to power he would execute Jews who were traitors.  He furthermore stated that 90% of American Jews were traitors."


Nowadays explicit institutional threats of genocide against Jews mainly come out of parts of the Muslim world. Iran and Hamas are two of the major perpetrators. Others are usually of an indirect and far more limited nature. Neo-Nazi movements can be direct or indirect promoters of a new Holocaust. Much international publicity was given to a march of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the town of Charlottesville, Virginia on 12 August, 2017. Arms were outstretched in Hitler salutes. Some had tattoos of swastikas. There were also chants of the Nazi slogan "blood and soil." All this is documented in photos and video footage. The demonstration quickly turned violent, as white supremacists intimidated and attacked counter-protesters. A car, driven by a white supremacist man, reportedly also an antisemite, rammed into counter-protesters, resulting in the death of a woman.


In September 2017, the British police announced that three men in the UK were charged with terror offenses, in connection with the banned neo-Nazi group "National Action." Two of the suspects were active soldiers. Other aspects are a mix of hooligan behavior and neo-Nazism. In September 2017, when the German soccer team played against the Czech Republic in Prague, tens of German soccer fans shouted Nazi slogans. There were also calls of "Sieg Heil." In bars, fascist music was played at the request of these Nazi supporters. 


A lengthy case in South Africa concerning the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) resulted in the Equality Court unequivocally upholding a South African Rights Commission ruling that international relations spokesman, Bongani Masuku, had been guilty of antisemitic hate speech for which he must apologize to the Jewish community. The hate speech written a number of years ago against Jews — including South African Jews — stated that Hitler was their friend. Masuku added that those Jews whom he defines as “Zionists” should be "forced out of South Africa." He also threatened violence "with immediate effect against families in South Africa whose children had moved to Israel and served in the army." 


Antisemites know that saying to Jews “Hitler should have killed you,” or “The Nazis forgot to gas you,” are extreme insults. While the main occurrences of this take place in the Arab and Muslim world, the original Hamas charter said it explicitly: “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.” The revised charter still aims at the same target. There are also slightly less evident ways in which the same genocidal aim is indicated. For instance, when Palestinian and other Arab sources present a map of the geographic area in which Israel does not appear. This can only be achieved through genocide, which usually is not stated outright…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    





Matt Lebovic

Times of Israel, Jan. 26, 2018


When President Donald Trump left Jews out of his remarks for International Holocaust Remembrance Day last year, he inadvertently gave the relatively new commemoration an unprecedented amount of publicity. Ahead of this Saturday’s observance, the annual tribute is already drawing headlines, from an Israel-related show-down in South Carolina’s legislature to Jewish leaders preparing to boycott Austria’s official observance in parliament.


The day of Holocaust memory was proposed at the United Nations by Israel in 2005. In addition to encouraging education about the murder of six million Jews during the Holocaust, the authors of Resolution 60/7 sought to push back against denial of the genocide. January 27 was chosen because on that date in 1945, the Red Army liberated Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews from all over Europe were murdered during World War II.


With last year’s tribute notable for what was not said, activists around the world are drawing battle-lines in anticipation of this Saturday’s observance. In a climate of far-right political parties gaining sway across Europe, leaders of Austria’s tiny Jewish community said they will not attend the parliament’s Shoah observance because legislators of the Freedom Party are set to participate. Founded by a former Nazi SS officer in 1956, the party is opposed to anti-Nazi legislation and has sparked protests among Austrians alarmed by its nationalist agenda.


“If there will be ministers there from the Freedom Party, and I’m sure there will be, I will not be able to shake their hands, so the Jewish community will not attend,” said Oskar Deutsch, president of Vienna’s Jewish community, in an interview last week. Austria has punished very few Nazi perpetrators compared to Germany and other countries, and there is not a strong culture of “memory work” with regards to the past, as in Germany. The Freedom Party has been in power before, and the Jewish community has officially maintained a no-contact policy with it for 17 years.


Across the pond in South Carolina, Saturday’s commemoration has been declared the deadline to pass a bill that would codify a universal definition of anti-Semitism among state institutions. For several weeks, Governor Henry McMaster has been calling on the senate to pass the codification measure before January 27. The bill would make South Carolina the first state to define anti-Semitism as per the US State Department’s guidelines, which include Holocaust denial and the rejection of Israel’s right to exist among forms of anti-Semitic expression. “Governor McMaster has rightly asked the state senate to pass the bill before Holocaust Memorial Day in honor of over six million souls who were murdered because of their Jewish ethnicity and faith,” said State Representative Alan Clemmons, who drafted the bill out of concern for a resurgence of anti-Semitism on college campuses. “Never again means passing the bill now,” said the Republican legislator.


Under former Governor Nikki Haley, South Carolina became the first state to cease awarding business contracts to companies that boycott Israel. Since then, similar “anti-BDS” measures were adopted by 23 other states. Boycott activists have called the pending anti-Semitism measure a ban on free speech, including because it equates calls for Israel’s destruction with anti-Semitism.


Since the first commemoration in 2005, the United Nations has given each International Holocaust Remembrance Day an educational theme. Past frameworks include the plight of children in the Shoah, the persecution of Roma and Sinti victims, and the Nazi regime’s efforts to murder individuals with physical or mental disabilities. This year, the theme of “shared responsibility” for remembering the genocide was chosen to frame activities, including a focus on gathering accounts from “the last survivors.” Last Thursday at UN headquarters in New York, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov opened an exhibition on the genocide as it unfolded in Soviet territories, including what has been called “the Holocaust by bullets.”


In Israel, the Holocaust is officially commemorated on an entirely different day, Yom HaShoah, an observance timed to the Hebrew calendar day marking the start of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising in the spring of 1943. That annual day of mourning first took place in 1951, and was tied to the new state’s desire to project the kind of strength exhibited by Jewish resistance in Warsaw and other ghettos. However, following the lead of the United Kingdom in 2001, many countries selected January 27 as their official day of Holocaust remembrance…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Jonathan S. Tobin

Jewish Press, Jan. 23, 2018


In Monday’s New York Times, columnist Max Fisher treated Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Israel as just another expression of what he considers the divisive policies of the Trump administration. Even before Pence gave a rousing speech to the Knesset, Fisher wrote that Trump’s approach to the Middle East conveyed what he called “a particularly American notion of being ‘pro-Israel.’” Trump and Pence’s stances on Jerusalem and the peace process were, he wrote, rooted in the “us versus them” American identity politics of evangelicals that liberals view with disdain.


To this way of thinking, Pence’s instinctive identification with America’s only democratic ally in the region, his robust support for Israel’s right to exist, its claim on its ancient capital Jerusalem and the need for its opponents to come to terms with these facts is just another version of the Trump administration’s immigration policies or its views on abortion. But what Trump and Pence’s critics get wrong is not so much their critique of the details of their policies as it is their resistance to the notion that America’s love for Israel is rooted in its religious heritage as well as its national interests.


How did any sentiments such as Pence’s words on Jewish rights or even a recognition of the fact that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital come to be seen as just another front in America’s increasingly bitter partisan wars? Is it really the fault of Republicans or Christian conservatives? Or is rather that some on the left have come to embrace intersectionality—a view of the world in which Israel is falsely accused of being a colonial power oppressing a group that is identified as the moral equivalent of those who are made to suffer because of their race, gender or sexual preference? For the growing numbers who subscribe to this view, Israel is just another front in the great divide between left and right in which Pence’s stands are easily demonized.


But no matter how you feel about Trump, Pence or the views of evangelicals on social issues, what is really troubling about the way some left-wingers are so quick to lash out at the administration’s stands in such a way as to demonize normative pro-Israel positions. The reality check needed here is not for the administration and its supporters but for those so deeply identified with the “resistance,” which made its voice heard last weekend in marches around the country, that anything the president or vice president say on any subject must somehow be shoehorned into a narrative about how awful they are. There was nothing particularly controversial in either the president’s remarks on Jerusalem last month or Pence’s speech today from the point of view of the pursuit of peace. Neither Trump nor Pence precluded a two-solution or even a re-division of Jerusalem in order to accommodate a Palestinian capital if that was part of a peace plan accepted by both sides.


It was significant that Pence quoted George Washington and John Adams in his Knesset speech. Few American Jews know that the first U.S. president to endorse a Jewish state wasn’t Harry Truman or anyone else in the 20th century. It was Adams, the nation’s first vice president and second president. That demonstrates just how far back into America’s political history backing for Zionism goes. That vast numbers of Americans are inspired by the Bible to support Jewish rights in their ancient homeland isn’t so much a function of the left-right conflict as it is an integral part of the nation’s political culture. Those turned off by Pence’s rhetoric need to ask what exactly it is about a desire to respect Jewish rights and demand that Palestinians give up their century-old war on Zionism that annoys them so much.


Nor is there anything intrinsically right-wing or crazy about Pence’s declaration that the Iran nuclear deal must be renegotiated to end the sunset clauses that will enable Tehran to legally seek a weapon once the accord expires within a decade. President Barack Obama vowed to end Iran’s nuclear program and to never to allow Iran to obtain a bomb, but the only way those promises can be fulfilled are by the measures Trump and Pence advocate. For those who can’t listen to anything coming out of this administration without re-interpreting it through the lens of the resistance, Pence’s moving comments about the ties between America and Israel may seem like a creepy conservative plot against liberal values. But if that’s how you heard it, the problem isn’t in Pence’s rhetoric, but in a rejection of a belief that the overwhelming majority of American still rightly view as a consensus issue.       




David M. Weinberg

Israel Hayom, Jan. 25, 2018


I've been privileged to attend the two great speeches of this decade in the Knesset plenum: that of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper (exactly four years ago, January 20, 2014) and that of U.S. Vice President Mike Pence (this week). Two uplifting experiences: one moral and one spiritual. I felt that each speech was an epoch-making event that perhaps transforms the course of history. I felt in the presence of something momentous.


In his soaring speech to the Knesset, Harper articulated a principled approach that calls out the hypocrisies and shames the injustices of what too often passes as "politically correct" policy regarding Israel. He savaged the campaign to boycott and isolate Israel. "In the world of diplomacy, with one, solitary, Jewish state and scores of others, it is all too easy 'to go along to get along' and single out Israel. But such 'going along to get along,' is not a 'balanced' approach, nor a 'sophisticated' one; it is, quite simply, weak and wrong. Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we live in a world where that kind of moral relativism runs rampant. And in the garden of such moral relativism, the seeds of much more sinister notions can be easily planted.


"As once Jewish businesses were boycotted, some civil society leaders today call for a boycott of Israel. On some campuses, intellectualized arguments against Israeli policies thinly mask the underlying realities, such as the shunning of Israeli academics and the harassment of Jewish students. Most disgracefully of all, some openly call Israel an apartheid state. Think about that. Think about the twisted logic and outright malice behind that: A state, based on freedom, democracy and the rule of law, that was founded so Jews can flourish, as Jews, and seek shelter from the shadow of the worst racist experiment in history, that is condemned, and that condemnation is masked in the language of anti-racism. It is nothing short of sickening. In much of the Western world, the old hatred, crude anti-Semitism, has been translated into more sophisticated language for use in polite society. People who would never say they hate and blame the Jews for their own failings or the problems of the world, instead declare their hatred of Israel and blame the only Jewish state for the problems of the Middle East."


And in this ugly environment, Harper emphatically concluded, "Support today for the Jewish State of Israel is more than a moral imperative. It is also of strategic importance, also a matter of our own long-term interests." And then there was Harper's thundering finale which brought me and everybody in the room to their feet (for a 15th time): "Through fire and water Canada will stand by Israel!" The speech was incredibly important validation for Israelis and supporters of Israel everywhere who at times feel outcast or are afflicted by self-doubt – given the daily battering and vituperation of Israel's enemies.


Came Harper and said: Fret not. Israel may not be perfect, but the problem isn't you. It's the nasty way others are judging you. Israel doesn't merit the vicious and violent criticism it is being treated to. The anti-Israel narrative is not supported by the facts on the ground, and this narrative is just another iteration of the age-old hatred from which Jews have suffered for two millennia. Harper also mildly anchored his support for Israel in the Jewish people's Biblical lineage, noting in an earlier speech on Israel's 60th anniversary that "the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob made their way home. Their pilgrimage was the culmination of a 2,000-year-old dream."


Pence picked up where Harper left off, adopting a metahistorical perspective and adding a spiritual dimension to the case for Israel. For Pence, Israel's resurgence as a modern nation-state in its ancient homeland is nothing less than biblical prophecy actualized. "As I stand in Abraham's 'Promised Land,' I believe that all who cherish freedom, and seek a brighter future, should cast their eyes here to this place and marvel at what they behold. How unlikely was Israel's birth; how more unlikely has been her survival. And how confounding, and against the odds, has been her thriving. You have turned the desert into a garden, scarcity into plenty, sickness into health, and you turned hope into a future.


"Israel is like a tree that has grown deep roots in the soil of your forefathers, yet as it grows, it reaches ever closer to the heavens. And today and every day, the Jewish State of Israel, and all the Jewish people, bear witness to God's faithfulness, as well as your own. It was the faith of the Jewish people that gathered the scattered fragments of a people and made them whole again; that took the language of the Bible and the landscape of the Psalms and made them live again. And it was faith that rebuilt the ruins of Jerusalem and made them strong again. The Jewish people held fast to a promise through all the ages, written so long ago, that 'even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens,' from there He would gather and bring you back to the land which your fathers possessed."


Then Pence turned to Jerusalem, and explained the Trump administration's decision to recognize it as Israel's capital by saying: "The Jewish people's unbreakable bond to this sacred city reaches back more than 3,000 years. It was here, in Jerusalem, on Mount Moriah, that Abraham offered his son, Isaac, and was credited with righteousness for his faith in God. It was here, in Jerusalem, that King David consecrated the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. And since its rebirth, the modern State of Israel has called this city the seat of its government. And so we will 'pray for the peace of Jerusalem.' That 'those who love you be secure,' that 'there be peace within your walls, and security in your citadels.' We will work and strive for that brighter future where everyone who calls this ancient land their home shall sit 'under their vine and fig tree, and none shall make them afraid.'"…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!


On Topic Links


New Israeli Exhibit Highlights Power of Photos in Holocaust: Aron Heller, National Post, Jan. 25, 2018—Staring at grainy video footage of Jewish children marching to their freedom though the barbed-wire fences of the Auschwitz death camp, 79-year-old Vera Kriegel Grossman excitedly points a finger at the screen upon identifying a dark-haired girl in a dirty striped uniform as her 6-year-old self.

Is Ukraine’s Holocaust Memorial at Babi Yar in Trouble?: Izabella Tabarovsky, Tablet, Jan. 24, 2018—Babi Yar, a patchwork of ravines outside Kyiv where 33,771 Jews were executed by firing squads on Sept. 29-30, 1941, is the most potent symbol of the “Holocaust by bullets” in the Nazi-occupied Soviet territories. Yet more than 75 years after the murder of 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews—a quarter of all Holocaust victims and more than half of all Jews murdered in the Holocaust in the USSR—Babi Yar remains an orphan among the sites of global memory of the Holocaust.

Accomplices to the Holocaust: Mordecai Paldiel, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 21, 2018—Many people refer to the oft-quoted admonition by British political thinker Edmund Burke – “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” – without applying it to modern events, such as the Holocaust. On January 27, we shall again commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the most heinous place ever designed by human beings.

Dear Mr. Ambassador, Why is Canada Funding Anti-Semitism?: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Jan. 18, 2018—Dear Ambassador Blanchard, I understand that you plan to visit Israel next week and the West Bank as well. In light of the long overdue attention focused recently on UNRWA — the UN’s Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees — a key client in your portfolio, I presume you are popping into the region to better understand the relevant issues.






Netanyahu’s Meeting With the EU Foreign Ministers: Susan Hattis Rolef, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 10, 2017— I admit that I would love to be a fly on the wall when our prime minister meets EU foreign ministers in Brussels today.

Israel's Mythical "Isolation": Elliott Abrams, Council on Foreign Relations, Nov. 30, 2017— This week Kenya inaugurated a president (Uhuru Kenyatta, for his second term).

If Netanyahu is So Corrupt and Dangerous, Why Don’t Rivals Unite to Defeat Him?: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, Dec. 4, 2017— One after another, the would-be leaders of Israel compete to excoriate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

More on Bibi and Friends: Ira Sharkansky, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2017— Compared to selected other national leaders here and there, Bibi's done well from public office.


On Topic Links


Thousands Protest Against Netanyahu for Second Week in Tel Aviv: Moshe Cohen and Maariv Hashavua, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2017

Israel’s “Teflon” Prime Minister: Naomi Ragen, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 14, 2017

Israeli Prime Ministerial Hopeful Avi Gabbay: We Should Scare Our Enemies, Instead of Letting Them Scare Us: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Dec. 5, 2017

Israel’s Ruinous Right: Dr. Martin Sherman, Jewish Press, Nov. 19, 2017





Susan Hattis Rolef

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 10, 2017


I admit that I would love to be a fly on the wall when our prime minister meets EU foreign ministers in Brussels today. There is no doubt the event will be highly charged, and I suspect Netanyahu will not have an easy time getting his messages across to the Europeans. And what is that message? Primarily that an Iranian presence in Syria as part of long-term arrangements in that miserable, battered country poses a threat not only to Israel’s security but to that of the rest of the democratic world; that US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem is a positive and promising development; and that EU meddling with human rights issues in the West Bank, and its support of and engagement with Israeli human rights organizations, is something the current Israeli government cannot tolerate.


There are many reasons why the relations between Israel and the EU have become charged and uncordial, and why this particular meeting is liable to be especially explosive. The EU has long expressed its disapproval of Israel’s policy in the West Bank, the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem, which it views as occupied territories to which the Fourth Geneva Convention applies. Within the framework of this policy the EU has published guidelines regarding the marking of Israeli products produced in the “occupied territories” and of Israeli companies that are engaged in business activities in them. This is not a direct call for the boycott of products and companies, but rather more of an irksome recommendation.


About a third of EU members have recognized a Palestinian state; all the former Communist member states recognized Palestine in 1988 and did not cancel their recognition after becoming democracies, and two West European members, Iceland and Sweden, recognized Palestine in 2011 and 2014, respectively. The parliaments of several other EU states voted in favor of recognition of Palestine toward the end of 2014, including the UK and France.


Quite a few EU members financially support Israeli human rights organizations (as they do organizations in other countries that regularly breach the human rights of citizens and non-citizens under their rule) and collaborate with them. Most recently representatives of the EU, headed by the newly selected EU ambassador to Israel, Emanuele Giaufret, participated in a celebration to mark International Human Rights Day with NGO B’Tselem at a photo exhibition titled “Fifty years of occupation,” which presented the images of 50 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, from all walks of life, who were born in 1967 and have lived their whole life under the abnormal reality of the last 50 years.


As to President Trump’s formal recognition last week of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital (without defining its boundaries), and his repetition of the promise made by three previous presidents that in future the US embassy will be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, neither the EU nor any of its member states is likely to follow suit. The maximum that can be expected are statements, such as that made by the Czech Republic, recognizing west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and a promise to move embassies to Jerusalem after a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians is attained. In truth, recognition of west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should have occurred already in 1948, and the reason why it didn’t – the fact that the 1947 UN partition plan called for the internalization of Jerusalem – was a feeble excuse given the political and military reality at the time.


All of this is viewed with disapproval and disdain by official Israel. Typically, the Foreign Ministry referred to the official EU attendance at the photo exhibition last week “a spit in the face.” The EU, of course, sees things differently, and most of its members have full sympathy with the EU’s positions, while feeling despair regarding Israel’s reactions. For example, one of the protests that will be greeting Netanyahu upon his arrival in Brussels will be by a group of members of the European Parliament demanding that Israel pay the 1.2 million euros in compensation for its destruction of various construction projects financed by the EU in Area C of the West Bank, which Israel considered to be illegal, including houses for expelled Beduin, structures that served as schools and kindergartens for Beduin children, pipes, water cisterns and electricity generators.


The EU and its members also remember Netanyahu’s embarrassing statement to the premiers of Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia last July in Budapest in which he urged them to try to change the EU’s attitude toward Israel. An open microphone he was not aware of recorded him saying, “The European Union is the only association of countries in the world that conditions the relations with Israel – that produces technology and every area [sic] – on political conditions. The only one! Nobody does it. It’s crazy… there is no logic here. The EU is undermining its security by undermining Israel… I think Europe has to decide if it wants to live and thrive, or if it wants to shrivel and disappear.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    





Elliott Abrams

Council on Foreign Relations, Nov. 30, 2017


This week Kenya inaugurated a president (Uhuru Kenyatta, for his second term). One and only one Western head of government was present, joining ten African presidents. One and only one foreign leader was asked to speak at the celebratory lunch, while being seated next to Kenyatta. Who was that? Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And while in Nairobi for one day, Netanyahu met with the presidents of Rwanda, Gabon, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Sudan, Botswana, and Namibia, and the prime minister of Ethiopia. The prominence of Israel’s leader during this occasion would be worth mention even if he were one of a dozen Western leaders who were present—but he was alone. The British sent a second level minister handling foreign aid, for example, not even a Cabinet member.


There are two points worth making. The first is that Israel is succeeding in an extraordinary campaign of outreach across the globe, to India and China, to Africa, and recently to Latin America. The second is that this is no automatic development, but a tribute to the energy, dedication, and perspicacity of Prime Minister Netanyahu. They aren’t just welcoming Israel; they are welcoming him. They are interested in his extraordinary country, obviously, but also in his personal understanding of economic change, of the role of military strength, and of world affairs. Similarly, in September 2016 Netanyahu was a hotter ticket at the UN General Assembly than even Barack Obama: more African leaders sought meetings with Netanyahu than with the President of the United States.


Netanyahu’s critics are legion in Israel, but even they ought to be honest enough to acknowledge what he has achieved for his country in countering isolation, BDS, and anti-Semitism and greatly widening and deepening Israel’s global ties. And it has just been announced that Netanyahu has been invited to address all 28 EU foreign ministers at their December meeting. QED.  







David Horovitz

Times of Israel, Dec. 4, 2017


One after another, the would-be leaders of Israel compete to excoriate Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Many of them have served under him — as defense ministers, finance ministers, ministers of environmental protection — and have concluded that he is unfit for office, that he is, variously, a criminal, the head of a dishonest government, leading Israel to disaster with his diplomatic and security policies, inciting sectors of the Israeli populace against each other, undermining the courts and the police, capitulating to the ultra-Orthodox, alienating world Jewry, and plenty more.


Yair Lapid, whose centrist Yesh Atid is generally polling as the main competition to Netanyahu’s Likud, has long asserted that the prime minister is both personally corrupt and running a corrupt coalition. Lapid, a former finance minister under Netanyahu, has most recently been at the forefront of critics of the so-called police recommendations bill (latterly suspended amid an escalating public outcry), which he alleges was personally “tailored” to help shield Netanyahu from the corruption cases in which he is embroiled.


For Avi Gabbay, the new Labor leader, whose Zionist Union alliance is not too far behind in some of the polls, Israel under Netanyahu is “really getting close to becoming Turkey” in its corrupt, one-man rule. Gabbay is demanding “elections as soon as possible.” As a member of the Kulanu party, he too served as a minister in Netanyahu’s coalition, quitting in May 2016 when Avigdor Liberman was appointed as defense minister in place of the “temperate” Moshe Ya’alon. At his farewell press conference, Gabbay protested against what he said was becoming an “extremist” government and, full of biblical foreboding, warned: “The Jewish people already destroyed the Second Temple with their civil wars, we must stop these processes that will lead to the destruction of the Third Temple.”


“Temperate” ex-defense minister Ya’alon himself, a former IDF chief of staff and Netanyahu’s right-hand man through several rounds of conflict with Hamas and innumerable other security challenges, declares most weeks that Netanyahu is a crook and that he must resign over an allegedly corruption-riddled deal to purchase German submarines, for which Netanyahu’s two chief legal lieutenants, David Shimron and Yitzhak Molcho, are under investigation. “It can’t be that the prime minister is not involved, Ya’alon says. And if the truth doesn’t come out, he vows, “I will go on a speaking tour to tell all.”


One of Ya’alon’s distinguished predecessors as both chief of staff and defense minister, Ehud Barak, who also long served together with Netanyahu, let rip just days ago to catalog Netanyahu’s failings. In a New York Times op-ed, Barak accused the Netanyahu-led government of showing a general disrespect for the rule of law, and claimed that it had “declared war” on the courts, the media, civil society and the ethical code of the IDF.


“For all of Israel’s great achievements in its seven decades of statehood, our country now finds its very future, identity and security severely threatened by the whims and illusions of the ultra-nationalist government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,” Barak declared. “In its more than three years in power, this government has been irrational, bordering on messianic,” Barak wrote. “It is now increasingly clear where it is headed: creeping annexation of the West Bank.” Netanyahu had also capitulated to the ultra-Orthodox members of his coalition, Barak charged, and damaged Israel’s “crucial relationship with American Jews.”


Other resonant figures have weighed in, too, some of them a little more gently. Netanyahu’s former education minister Gideon Saar, who took a break from politics to spend more time with his family, has said he feels “ill at ease” over one of the Netanyahu corruption cases — involving an alleged deal with the Yedioth Ahronoth daily for more favorable coverage — and that he ultimately intends to become prime minister, but so far has refrained from directly challenging his Likud party leader. Another former Likud highflier, Moshe Kahlon, chose to bolt and set up his own party, rather than directly challenge Israel’s second-longest serving prime minister, and now exalts in the position of Netanyahu’s finance minister.


Two other former chiefs of staff, Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, have been the most restrained of all, steering clear of party politics thus far and instead establishing a “social movement” aimed at bringing “an end to the divisions, an end to the incitement, an end to the baseless hatred.” At their launch, partnered by yet another former Netanyahu education minister Shai Piron, they didn’t so much as mention the name Netanyahu. They really didn’t need to.


What’s quite staggering is not merely the avalanche of criticism and doomsaying by the prime minister’s would-be successors, however. It is, rather, the disconnect between the insistence that Netanyahu has to urgently go — for the sake of Israel, no less — and the critics’ abiding unwillingness to take the one step that would most effectively advance this ostensible national imperative. No matter how grave the purported danger, they simply refuse to get together to defeat it.


Few of Isaac Herzog’s greatest admirers would claim that he was the most potent opposition leader ever to face off in an election campaign against Netanyahu. Yet the Zionist Union chairman, mild-mannered, limited in his appeal, outmaneuvered in the campaign by the experienced Netanyahu, undermined by some in his own party, and also battling the country’s most widely read newspaper, raised his party’s share of Knesset seats in 2015 to 24 (in partnership with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua), while Netanyahu’s Likud fell back a little to 30. It would be false to claim that Herzog came within a whisker of winning the elections, but this fairly unchallenging challenger did give Netanyahu a run for his money. And we will never know how those elections would have been affected had Kahlon and Lapid put their egos aside and agreed on their parties running together.


More than two years later, some of Netanyahu’s critics would have us believe that the very fate of our country is at stake, that we are deeply threatened both internally and externally. And yet, still, the egos hold sway. Gabbay and Lapid snipe at each other. While asserting that there is nobody better qualified than he is to lead us to salvation, Barak merely snipes from the sidelines. Poll after poll shows the uncharismatic Ya’alon failing to so much as clear the threshold to win any Knesset seats at all, and yet he insists on heading his own new political movement rather than bolstering somebody else’s.


Tens of thousands of Israelis protested on Saturday night due to their sense that corruption is taking an ever greater hold on Israel under Netanyahu (and that was before his coalition chief, David Bitan, was called in for a full day’s police questioning in an escalating graft investigation). A far greater number of Israelis, needless to say, wish we had a different prime minister. Netanyahu, in poll after poll after poll, remains by far the public’s most popular choice — but at about 26-31%. That leaves well over two-thirds for whom Netanyahu is not the favored premier. This, in turn, would suggest that many Israelis are searching around, thus far in vain, for credible alternatives. It would surely give the long list of Netanyahu’s would-be successors considerably more credibility if, when complaining about the damage the prime minister has done, is doing, and will do if he is not stopped, they also declared that, given the gravity of the hour, they were putting aside their relatively marginal ideological differences and unifying to protect the country.


The Israeli public proved in 1999, after three relatively terror-free years, that it was prepared to oust Netanyahu, in part because of a sense that he was missing opportunities for peace. Almost two decades later, the critics would have us believe that the dangers posed by Netanyahu are far more acute. But their egotistical approach, as all their own surveys must be telling them, continues to leave much of the public unpersuaded.                                                                       





Ira Sharkansky

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2017


Compared to selected other national leaders here and there, Bibi's done well from public office. He and Sara have gotten used to demanding expensive gifts from individuals wanting his help. With respect to the two most prominent exchanges we know about, they weren't all that serious. He helped an Israeli billionaire get an American visa that allowed him to continuing making his pile there; and he helped an Australian billionaire get a residence permit for Israel that has allowed him to avoid taxes.


Bibi's life style isn't all that different from what was acquired by originally poor folk like Americans Richard Nixon and Lyndon Johnson, and the Israeli Ariel Sharon. Israelis are fond of comparing him to predecessors who were models of modesty. David ben Gurion lived with his wife in a desert shack. Yitzhak Shamir flew tourist class to the US when he traveled on official business. Ehud Olmert began his career on the path of getting rich and living well, but encountered a change in the media and officials charged with law enforcement. His prison term was not severe, but according to recent pictures was enough to change his appearance.


Netanyahu's involvement in a deal with a German shipyard and manipulations by the major shareholder in Israel's prime communication firm may have been indirect, but weightier than gifts of cigars and champagne, or free lodging at luxurious sites for the younger Netanyahu. It's Bibi's friends, relatives, and appointees who have gotten rich, and it seems doubtful if it could happen without his knowledge and help.

Signs are that Israeli media, police, and prosecutors are operating in the mode that ended Olmert's career, and it doesn't look good for Bibi and the Missus. Son Yair may get off with a bad name.


If Donald Trump is the best that Americans can put in the White House, his record doesn't make Bibi or Israel look out of step. Trump's boorish behavior may not be anything more than embarrassing, providing it doesn't start a war that destroys parts of South Korea, Japan, and maybe the US. His string of corporate bankruptcies and callous treatment of what was promised to students at Trump University look as bad as anything we're seeing in Jerusalem. American individualism going back to colonial history makes us wonder what should have been expected. US history hasn't produced the pride in modesty along the models of ben Gurion or Shamir.


Trump is getting high marks for his proclamation about Jerusalem, but we're concerned about the downside of Palestinians' response, whatever it'll be. The US is seeing the embarrassment and dismissal of one overprivileged male after another on account of sexual misconduct. Watchers are wondering when that shoe is going to drop in Trump's bedroom. Israelis who knew our own elite equivalents of John Kennedy and Bill Clinton changed their norms during the era of Moshe Katsav. Commentators on these notes have accused me of going overboard in my criticism of Bibi. I'll repeat the assessment that he is better as a policymaker and politician than as an individual, husband and father with respect to personal behavior. He seems far less dangerous than his current American counterpart. No surprise that Bibi has adopted Donald as patron. The act may gain Israel support from the world's most powerful country. It may even be true that the support from the Trump administration will be greater than that received from most if not all of his predecessors…

 [To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


Thousands Protest Against Netanyahu for Second Week in Tel Aviv: Moshe Cohen and Maariv Hashavua, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 9, 2017—Approximately 25,000 protestors took to Tel Aviv's Rothschild Boulevard on Saturday evening to oppose alleged corruption at the highest echelons of Israeli government and called for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign.

Israel’s “Teflon” Prime Minister: Naomi Ragen, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 14, 2017—While the Donald Trump era has brought a new level of hysteria to U.S. political discourse, the attempts to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by the seemingly weekly revelation of yet another corruption scandal have only slightly dented his popularity.

Israeli Prime Ministerial Hopeful Avi Gabbay: We Should Scare Our Enemies, Instead of Letting Them Scare Us: Barney Breen-Portnoy, Algemeiner, Dec. 5, 2017—Turmoil is the new status quo in the halls of the Knesset, amid a number of deepening police investigations into corruption allegations against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israel’s Ruinous Right: Dr. Martin Sherman, Jewish Press, Nov. 19, 2017—It is neither an easy nor an enviable undertaking today for anyone trying to alert the public as to the perilous vulnerability in which the nation currently finds itself.




As Campus BDS Inanities Continue Here, Serious Events in the M.E. Indicate Radical Israeli-U.S. Reorientation: Frederick Krantz, CIJR, Dec. 8, 2017 — This Hanukkah issue of ISRAFAX confronts the sad descent of our university campuses into the vicious inanities of antisemitic and anti-Israel BDS campaigns.

Trump’s Truth-Telling on Jerusalem Marks an All-New Middle East: John Podhoretz, New York Post, Dec. 6, 2017 — “This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” President Trump said in announcing America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Israelis Will Pay for Trump's Jerusalem Gambit: Noah Feldman, Bloomberg, Dec. 6, 2017 — From the standpoint of producing Middle East peace, President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a speech Wednesday can only be called irrational.

American Jews, Look in the Mirror: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 5, 2017— There are some unpleasant facts and bitter truths about a large component of Diaspora Jews that are being swept under the carpet.


On Topic Links


Why Moving the Embassy Advances US Interests: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Dec. 7, 2017

Pushing-Back Against Palestinian Denialism: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2017

Trump, Often Polarizing, Draws Broad Jewish and Christian Support on Jerusalem: Sean Savage, JNS, Dec. 7, 2017

Why the 1947 UN Partition Resolution Must Be Celebrated: Martin Kramer, Mosaic, Nov. 27, 2017






Frederick Krantz

CIJR, Dec. 8, 2017


This Hanukkah issue of ISRAFAX confronts the sad descent of our university campuses into the vicious inanities of antisemitic and anti-Israel BDS campaigns. Sustained by “speech codes” and so-called “diversity” quotas, pro-Palestinian propaganda, in fact, violates core academic values like free speech, free thought, and individual rights.


Insofar as such well-funded campaigns have a practical purpose, it is to delegitimate the Jewish state and so prepare it for destruction. (So far, thankfully, this purpose has been without any practical consequence.)


Yet at this very moment serious events involving real issues and power politics are underway in the Middle East, which may throw the heinous, and ultimately inconsequential, campus shenanigans into high relief.   The outcome of moves currently underway may well result in a marked strengthening of Israel’s real regional strength and position.


As we go to press, President Trump is about to make good on campaign promises and recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital (whether the Embassy will actually be moved there at this point remains moot). The fact of an impending move is confirmed by the squeals of protest and threats already issuing from P.A. head Abbas, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Arab League. 


This move, in turn, reflects an improved Saudi Arabian Israel-Palestinian peace plan, issuing from the ascendancy of the reformist Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (“MBS”), First Deputy Prime Minister, president of the Council for Economic and Development Affairs., and the youngest minister of defense in the world.   


This plan, while reinforcing Israel’s current, defensible,  borders and reportedly recognizing Jerusalem as its capital, would create a Palestinian statelet by combining  some West Bank areas, Gaza and, innovatively, territory in northern Sinai


Under MBS, Saudi Arabia has embarked on an aggressive, anti-Iranian foreign policy. Movement on Jerusalem and the Saudi-backed peace process should, therefore, be seen in conjunction with several other recent developments. Saudi-supported Lebanese President Saad Hariri, responding to Saudi pressure, first   “resigned”, and then agreed to be recalled to office, calling in the process for an end to Iranian-backed Hezbollah’s domination of Lebanon and its interventionist role in Syria. Simultaneously, Israel—after warning Teheran not to build permanent bases–has attacked several suspected new Iranian military sites in that country with missiles.


Meanwhile, the situation of the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen has deteriorated, after they assassinated their erstwhile ally, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Saleh, who aligned with Iran-backed Houthi rebels against Yemeni President Abd–Rabbo Mansour Hadi, had recently called for opening “a new page” with the Saudi-backed Hadi. This earned him the title of “traitor” and led to his recent murder by the Houthis.  (Saudi-backed Hadi has now called for unity in the battle against the Houthis and their Iranian backers.)


The common denominator connecting these recent events seems to be U.S.-led and Saudi- and Israeli- (and, indirectly, Egyptian- and Jordanian-) pushback against hitherto unopposed Iranian expansion in the Middle East.  Having defeated the IS terrorist caliphate in Iraq (Mosul) and Syria (Raqqah), the US-backed coalition may finally be turning to deal with Iran. 


This Israel-supported Sunni political-military force has obvious implications not only for Iran’s Shiite-related imperialism but also for the Iranian nuclear project. Obama’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action not only licensed ultimate Iranian nuclear and missile development, it also agreed to, and indirectly funded, Iran’s regional political expansion.


Now, this is under attack, and behind it too lies the deepening North Korean crisis. Here direct action against either Teheran or Pyongyang (who have helped one another in both nuclear and missile development) can have practical, sobering, and reciprocal consequences for both rogue states. 

A resumed and more realistic Saudi/Egyptian-backed peace process, conjoined with consistent pushback against, and blockage of, Iran’s expansionism, will also negatively affect three of the other major players in the region—Russia and Turkey, and Iraq. 


Russia and Turkey have backed Assad and excluded the US from their Syrian “peace talks” in Astana, and both have played ball with Iranian expansionism.  And a weak Shiite-dominated Iraq has fallen under Iranian domination. Russia acts like, but in fact is no longer,  a Great Power,  while Turkey–increasingly Islamist and authoritarian (and economically unstable)–has alienated its former ally, the U.S. 


A defeat of Iranian expansionism in Syria and Yemen, conjoined with a successful Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative and a clipping of Hezbollah’s Lebanese wings, would isolate and weaken both Russia and Turkey, and increase American influence in Iraq. 


Although the Middle East is ever unstable and often disappoints projections, it is possible that we are looking at the beginning of a profound re-ordering of the region. If so, events there will throw into high relief the utopian dimensions of the BDSers’ dream of playing a role in Israel’s destruction. What may work here in ivory towers isolated by student ignorance, faculty hypocrisy, and administrative cowardice has little to do, ultimately, with the power relationships and civilizational values marking the “real” world.


North American society, unlike some of our campus play-pens, is deeply pro-Israel, and temporary Russian and Hezbollah-Iranian gains in the Middle East may well be erased as the US recovers the world and regional leadership roles formerly played during and after World War II and the Cold War. 


And insofar as Israel’s, and the Jewish people’s, enemies are concerned, on campuses as well as in the Middle East, it is well for them to understand that propaganda lies, “safe spaces”, and "magical thinking" are not political facts. And that Jews, since 1945 and the re-founding of the state of Israel in 1948 are, like their Maccabean forebears who defended Jewish freedom against the Greeks, not powerless.


(Professor Frederick Krantz [Liberal Arts College, Concordia University] is Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research and Editor of its ISRAFAX and Daily Isranet Briefing journals.)







John Podhoretz

New York Post, Dec. 6, 2017


“This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality,” President Trump said in announcing America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Never have truer words been spoken, and they were delivered in the best speech Trump has ever given.


What Trump did was stunning. He could just have signed the waiver of the law passed in 1995 compelling the executive branch to move America’s embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He did it six months ago, just like his three immediate predecessors did every six months since 1996. Or he could have not signed the waiver and simply said he was going to start the process of building the new embassy.


Instead, he called the international community’s seven-decade bluff and ended a delusion about the future that has prevented Palestinians from seeing the world and their own geopolitical situation clearly. It is a bold shift.


The idea that Jerusalem is not Israel’s capital has been a global pretense for decades, including here in the United States. It’s a pretense because Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital from the moment the new country secured a future by winning a bloody war for independence waged against it by Arab nations after they rejected the UN partition of the old British mandate into a Jewish state and an Arab state.


Under the plan, Jerusalem was to be an international city governed by the United Nations. But the Arab effort to push the Jews into the sea — an effort no other nation on Earth intervened in to prevent — left a divided Jerusalem in the hands of the Jews in the West and Jordan in the East. There would be no “international” Jerusalem because the Arabs made sure there could not be one.


So, in 1949, Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion moved the government from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. “The people which faithfully honored for 2,500 years the oath sworn by the Rivers of Babylon not to forget Jerusalem — this people will never reconcile itself with separation from Jerusalem,” Ben-Gurion told the United Nations at the time. After Israel’s triumph in the Six-Day War in 1967, Jerusalem was unified and became, in the words spoken by every Israeli prime minister, the “eternal and undivided capital” of the Jewish state.


And yet the international fiction that Jerusalem is not only not Israel’s capital but isn’t even to be considered formally part of Israel has persisted for 50 years now. Nominally, the idea is that Palestinians need to be allowed to believe they’ll secure sovereignty over at least a part of Jerusalem for them to pursue a final peace deal with the Israelis. And so most of the world has chosen to act as though Israel has no legal dominion over any part of Jerusalem.


That is, in a word, insane. Jerusalem is now home to 860,000 people — 10 percent of Israel’s population, nearly double that of its second city, Tel Aviv. Every one of them, Jew and Arab, is a citizen of the state. (The city is 60 percent Jewish and 35 percent Muslim.) It is the locus of Israel’s government, where the parliament sits, where the prime minister lives and where most government agencies are located.


The pretense has been allowed to continue for two reasons. The more rational reason is this: There has always been fear that any change in Jerusalem’s status might ignite a violent Palestinian response, retard peace efforts and inflame the “Arab street” throughout the Middle East. So why create a crisis when the status quo is at least stable? Then there are those who simply believe Israel is a bad actor deserving of international scorn and isolation and should not be allowed to get away with it — it, in this case, being Jerusalem. Trump rightly scorns the latter view and has an answer for the former: “This is a long-overdue step to advance the peace process. And to work towards a lasting agreement.”


The Palestinians need to accept reality. They continue to act as though they will get what they want through rejection and resistance and rage. “It is time,” Trump said, “for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midsts. It is time for all civilized nations and people to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate, not violence.” The Palestinian refusal to accept Israel for what it is and what it has become has been the greatest bar to peace. And there are reasons to believe the so-called Arab street has bigger problems to concern itself with right now than Israel’s capital…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Noah Feldman

Bloomberg, Dec. 6, 2017


From the standpoint of producing Middle East peace, President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in a speech Wednesday can only be called irrational. It raises the risk of Palestinian violence that could derail peace efforts by his son-in-law Jared Kushner. It makes it harder for crucial U.S. allies like the Saudis to side with Trump and push the Palestinians to a deal. It won’t make Israel feel more secure. And it will hearten right-wingers in the U.S. and Israel whose endgame is actually to avoid a two-state solution.


Yet there is one possible silver lining to the coming storm — a consequence of the decision that may affect the calculus of the peace process more positively. Trump, intentionally or not, is signaling to all concerned that he is unafraid of backing Israel in ways that go further than the traditional pro-Israel U.S. stance.


That’s a huge threat to the Palestinians — if peace talks fail, Trump could be prepared to support Israeli annexation of more of the West Bank. And it’s an implicit promise to the Israelis that also contains an implicit threat: Given how generous Trump is being to Israel, its leaders had better agree to whatever deal Trump will seek to impose on them — or else.


To see why Trump’s move is so extraordinary, you have to understand that the recognition of “Jerusalem” as Israel’s capital amounts to a recognition of Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem — and its subsequent expansion of the Jerusalem municipality far beyond the cities’ traditional limits to include multiple Palestinian villages and newly built Jewish neighborhoods.


If recognizing Jerusalem as the capital only meant acknowledging that the Knesset and the rest of Israel’s governing institutions are there, it wouldn’t be quite so big a deal. They’ve been in the western part of the city since Israel’s independence in 1948. Countries presumably have the right to choose any city they want as their capital. And no one realistically thinks that West Jerusalem shouldn’t be part of Israel under a final status agreement. The tricky part is that, since 1967, Israel has considered East and West Jerusalem to be a single, unified city, at least as a legal matter. (Lots of differences exist on the ground.) The act of annexing Jordanian territory into Israel has not been recognized by the international community, including the U.S.


Israel has deepened the problem by successive further expansions of Jerusalem that themselves have come with further annexation. Today, the Jerusalem border extends almost all the way to Bethlehem, south of the city. When you drive from Jerusalem to Bethlehem, there’s almost no noticeable break until you get to the Israeli security barrier and cross into Palestine. And from Bethlehem, you can see new Jerusalem neighborhoods looming on nearby hills.


Although recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital doesn’t necessarily entail formal recognition of Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem, it certainly suggests that the Trump administration is willing to come very close — far closer than any prior U.S. administration. That carries meaning for the Palestinian and Israeli negotiators alike. It hints that Trump is willing to threaten the Palestinians with endorsement of Israeli annexation of more Palestinian territory — a nightmare from the Palestinian perspective. The fact that Trump is so blatantly pro-Israel suggests that the Palestinians had better bend over backward to accept whatever deal is on offer, lest the consequences be dire…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]





Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Dec. 5, 2017


There are some unpleasant facts and bitter truths about a large component of Diaspora Jews that are being swept under the carpet. The reality is that many of those who classify themselves as Jews live in an environment in which being Jewish has become associated with endorsing a meaningless universalism dominated by liberal mumbo jumbo.


An ever-increasing number of American Jews in this category describe themselves as secular but lack the cultural and national characteristics of their secular predecessors who rejected religion but in most cases retained a national identity. Having said that, some of their secular predecessors were Bundists, and until the creation of Israel, most American Jews were non-Zionist.


Today’s middle-aged Jews grew up in a postwar world where antisemitism was receding and many concluded that it was becoming extinct. The generation born between 1950 to 1980 was not exposed to the vicious antisemitism that their parents endured in the prewar era. In addition, with the passage of time, the horror of the Holocaust and what it implied for the Jewish people has become a dim historical memory rather than a collective experience. This generation of American Jews never experienced the pre-State of Israel feeling of powerlessness. This was further accelerated by the decline of Jewish education, with most youngsters not having even a rudimentary knowledge of their Jewish heritage or culture.


The greatest factor affecting today’s Jews is the massive acculturation that has taken place due to the open society in which they live, where, in contrast to the past, prejudice does not inhibit intermarriage. Today it is estimated that over 70% of non-Orthodox Jews intermarry – an astronomical figure. Surveys show that the vast majority of children of intermarried couples are hardly conscious of their Jewish identity. The relevance of Israel as a haven from persecution simply does not resonate today as it did with previous Jewish generations. According to a recent Pew survey, only 43% of American Jewish youth have visited Israel and as many as 31% said that they had no attachment to Israel.


We must therefore acknowledge that a substantial and growing proportion of American Jews cannot be relied upon for support, and that for many younger Jews, concern for Israel’s security has become a low priority. Indeed, for some, displaying an anti-Israel attitude is considered chic and a means of socially integrating into the liberal community where opposition to Israel is required for eligibility. This has led some Jews, utterly ignorant of their heritage, to express their Jewish identity by attacking Israel and becoming darlings of anti-Israel agitators on college campuses and in the left-wing media.


This disturbing trend was accelerated by then-US president Barack Obama, who created a rift between many of his Jewish supporters and Israel. They remained silent while he treated Israel like a rogue state and fawned over Iran. Today, a considerable number of Jewish students choose to identify with the Black Lives Matter movement or endorse terrorist sympathizers like Linda Sarsour as preferable to supporting Israel. Some even prattle about keeping all Jews in the “big tent” and justify dialogue with anti-Israel Jews and those who actively campaign for the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement…


[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic Links


Why Moving the Embassy Advances US Interests: Yoram Ettinger, Algemeiner, Dec. 7, 2017—Here are seven reasons why moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was a wise decision: 1. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem — as proscribed by the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act — represent President Trump’s resolve to focus on US interests, defy Arab pressure/threats, and overrule the politically-correct bureaucracy of the State Department.

Pushing-Back Against Palestinian Denialism: David M. Weinberg, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2017—The Palestinians have no one to blame except themselves for President Donald Trump’s declaration regarding Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem. The same goes for European leaders, who were so busy this week condemning Trump’s move.

Trump, Often Polarizing, Draws Broad Jewish and Christian Support on Jerusalem: Sean Savage, JNS, Dec. 7, 2017—It’s not often that the American Jewish community is united on issues pertaining to President Donald Trump, or on any political topics for that matter. But Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — and his expression of the intent to move the US embassy to that city — drew widespread support from Jewish organizations, dovetailing with the expected backing of Christian Zionist groups.

Why the 1947 UN Partition Resolution Must Be Celebrated: Martin Kramer, Mosaic, Nov. 27, 2017—Earlier this month, the governments of Britain and Israel marked the centenary of the Balfour Declaration with much fanfare. From London to Jerusalem, prime ministers, parliamentarians, and protesters weighed in. The world’s major media outlets ran extended analyses, while historians (myself included) enjoyed their fleeting few minutes of fame.


Trump and Jerusalem: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2017— Israelis’ gratitude to President Donald Trump for his twin decisions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state and to commit to moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv was on display throughout the capital.

Trump’s Speech Recognizing Jerusalem: What It Says and What It Doesn’t Say: Nadav Shragai, JCPA, Dec. 7, 2017— The U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel overturns American policy dating back 70 years and entails several immediate results, some of them declarative and some also practical:

It Took Trump to Expose the Stupidity of Denying Jerusalem's Reality: Vivian Bercovici, National Post, Dec. 7, 2017 — Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital.

Why Trump Is Right in Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's Capital: Alan M. Dershowitz, The Hill, Dec. 7, 2017— Days away from the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry boasted about the success of the Obama administration's signature foreign policy achievement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)…


On Topic Links


Jerusalem’s Old City Lit Up with American and Israeli Flags: Jewish Press, Dec. 6, 2017

Netanyahu Says More Countries to Follow Trump Lead on Jerusalem: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Dec. 7, 2017

A Momentous Day: Jewish Leaders and Israel Advocates Respond to Trump Announcement on Jerusalem: Algemeiner, Dec. 6, 2017

The Real Palestinian Response to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 7, 2017




Jerusalem Post, Dec. 7, 2017


Israelis’ gratitude to President Donald Trump for his twin decisions to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state and to commit to moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv was on display throughout the capital. The Old City’s Ottoman-era walls were lit up on Wednesday night with red, white and blue lights. And the American flag was flying from posts along the streets of Jerusalem.


Trump’s decision finally righted a historic injustice on a number levels. Most fundamentally, it recognized the historical ties of the Jewish people to the city of Jerusalem that stretch back over 3,000 years. But it also put an end to the absurdity of relating to Jerusalem as though it were a corpus separatum – a separate body – as stipulated in the 1947 UN Partition Plan. Seventy years ago, before the Palestinians and the Arab nations rejected outright the idea that the land that now makes up Israel could be shared between Jews and Muslims, the nations of the world envisioned a Jerusalem under international control. Sites holy to Islam, Christianity and Judaism would be respected and developed and members of all faiths would be given access and be allowed to worship freely.


Much has changed since. The Arab nations’ failed attempt to snuff out the Jewish state at its inception left Jordan in control of eastern Jerusalem. For 19 years between 1948 and 1967 Jews were banned from the Temple Mount. Synagogues and other Jewish sites in the Jewish Quarter were left in ruins. In a miraculous turn of events in 1967, a second attempt by the combined armies of Jordan, Egypt, Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, supported by eight additional Arab countries, to destroy Israel resulted in their resounding defeat and left Israel in control of a united Jerusalem.


For the first time in recent history Jerusalem became a free city that protected the religious rights of all faiths, as envisioned by the UN. The capital of Israel, the city has flourished as a home to a diverse population – Jewish, Muslim and Christian. Yet, the world – including the US – continued to relate to Jerusalem as though it were 1947. Finally, a US president has given official recognition to the reality on the ground. Anyone who has visited Jerusalem has seen first-hand how Jerusalem has thrived as Israel’s capital – not just for Jews but for Arabs as well. It is a bustling city where hi-tech exists alongside historical sites resonant with meaning for the three great monotheistic faiths.


All of Israel’s major state institutions are in Jerusalem: the Knesset, the Supreme Court and almost all of the government ministries. The international community’s failure to recognize and appreciate the transformation of Jerusalem under Israeli control and to honor Israel’s choice of capital was a long-standing injustice finally righted by US President Donald Trump.


Trump’s many detractors say that the decision was a bad one because it will spark unrest and discord among radical Muslims who have provided ample proof of their propensity to use violence to register complaints and get what they want. We sympathize with those who seek peace and wish to avoid unnecessary confrontations. But we also believe Americans should not compromise their own beliefs and values out of a desire to appease those who have a long history of using terrorism to further their interests.


Appeasing extremists never works for a number of reasons. First, because it only leads to more extremism by proving that bullying tactics work and providing an incentive for more violence. Also, it tends to distract attention from the real issue: that there are many Muslim extremists who refuse to reconcile themselves to the existence of a Jewish state in the Middle East within any borders no matter what its capital. Why else would Palestinians and other Muslims be opposed to international recognition of parts of Jerusalem that will remain part of Israel in any conceivable peace deal?


Though the Jewish people does not need international recognition for proof of its historic ties to the city of Jerusalem, we are nevertheless grateful to the US president for having the courage to stand up for what is right.                                                               




Nadav Shragai

JCPA, Dec. 7, 2017


The U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel overturns American policy dating back 70 years and entails several immediate results, some of them declarative and some also practical:


Burial of the UN Resolution to Internationalize Jerusalem: Trump put paid to the notion of “internationalization,” which the United States had not officially renounced since November 29, 1947. That same day, of course, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181 on dividing the Land of Israel between the Jews and the Arabs. The partition resolution stated, among other things, that: “The City of Jerusalem shall be established as a corpus separatum under a special international regime and shall be administered by the United Nations.”


According to the United Nations, the boundaries of Jerusalem then also encompassed the city of Bethlehem, and the internationalization of the city was to be in place for 10 years. However, it was never implemented. The outcomes of the Israel’s 1948-49 War of Independence and the division of Jerusalem between Israel and Jordan turned internationalization into a dead letter.


Until the “recognition speech,” the United States had never officially renounced internationalization while giving most of the emphasis in its policy to repeated statements that Jerusalem’s status would be determined in negotiations between the sides. Now that Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, internationalization has become, from the U.S. standpoint, irrelevant history.


Plans for Dividing the City – In Deep-Freeze: Trump’s speech puts into deep-freeze the audacious plans for a division of the city, which were on the negotiating table during the tenures of Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert. Barak and Olmert were prepared to divide Jerusalem, and two U.S. administrations, that of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, were intensely involved in mediating between the sides and encouraging them to adopt such a plan in the hope of achieving peace. The countries of the European Union also took part in the negotiations on dividing Jerusalem at different stages. In the wake of Trump’s speech and his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the chances that during his tenure such plans will again be broached are low.


Jerusalem – No Longer “Occupied Territory”: During the 50 years that the city has been unified, the U.S. administration has sometimes defined parts of Jerusalem as “occupied territory,” while at other moments it eschewed that language. For example, Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s secretary of state, avoided the term. In President Carter’s administration, however, the State Department made frequent reference to the notion, calling the eastern part of the city “occupied Palestinian territory.” It now appears that for the Trump administration, following Trump’s announcement that he recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Jerusalem is no longer “occupied Palestinian territory.”  


A Single Territorial Unit without Sacrosanct Borders: Until Trump’s speech, the United States did not recognize either west or east Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, even though presidents, secretaries of state, and American diplomats were regularly hosted in the western part of the city.


Trump’s speech did not distinguish between west and east. He referred to Jerusalem with all its parts as a single unit. At the same time, the speech made clear that the United States does not necessarily regard the current borders as sacrosanct, or as the president himself put it: “We are not taking a position on any final status issues, including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.”


Formal Recognition of the Reality of “One Jerusalem”: Trump again mentioned the Jewish people’s historical bond to Jerusalem, while also emphasizing his awareness of the current reality in the city. One of the consequences of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is, then, concomitant recognition of the facts that Israel has created in the areas that it added to Jerusalem in 1967. In those areas – north, south, and east of the Green Line – more than 200,000 people now live (about 40 percent of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem). Facts have been created as well in the vicinity of the Old City where thousands of Jews reside, mainly in the Jewish Quarter.


The alley of the Western Wall has become a huge plaza. After many years, Jews can now visit the Temple Mount. The U.S. president now, in effect, recognizes all these places, along with the network of infrastructures, national parks, and governmental and national institutions that have been built in the added parts of Jerusalem – including on Mount Scopus, where Hadassah Hospital and the Hebrew University were re-established after 1967. In Atarot to the north, the Atarot Airport was put to use (and later closed). Numerous archaeological digs have been conducted in all parts of the city, and Jerusalem’s glorious past through the ages has been revealed. All of this – along with, of course, the older reality in the western part of the city, where the government offices, the Knesset, the president’s residence, and the Supreme Court  are located – the United States now recognizes as part of “Jerusalem, capital of Israel.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Vivian Bercovici

National Post, Dec. 7, 2017


Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like every other sovereign nation to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this as a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace.” And with that simple, clear statement Wednesday, President Donald Trump exposed the fallacy of what has long been the go-to canard of international diplomacy on the question of the capital of the state of Israel. No other country has ever had its designated capital rebuffed. By whatever metric — political, historical or religious — the international refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has always been baseless.


Zion, the ancient place that is Jerusalem, is mentioned 850 times in the Torah. Throughout millennia of dispersal and exile, Jews have prayed to and kept a consistent presence and population in Jerusalem. Archaeological finds and ancient texts corroborate this fact. Yes, Jerusalem is important to all three Abrahamic religions, but even Islamic leaders agree that Jerusalem, unmentioned in the Quran, is the third most significant site for Islam, after Mecca and Medina.


The Western Wall of the Second Temple, the holiest site in Judaism, is located inside the ancient walled city of Jerusalem. Now part of “East Jerusalem,” the Old City was controlled by Jordan from 1948 to 1967, and Jews were prohibited any access. After being attacked by Jordan and Arab allies in the Six Day War in 1967, Israel recaptured its ancient capital and the West Bank, thus beginning the “occupation.”


Since then, all three religions have enjoyed access to their holy sites in Jerusalem. Yet Arab and Palestinian leaders still demand Jerusalem be denied to the Jews as their capital. When Palestinians murdered two Israeli policemen patrolling the Al-Aqsa mosque on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount this summer, Israel installed metal detectors to screen visitors. So PA President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel of trying to take over the Muslim holy site, Palestinians rioted, and Israel relented.


What has all this modern political history got to do with recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel? Absolutely nothing. Because none of it changes that all historic and religious evidence is clear that Jerusalem is fundamentally central to Judaism, that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and so it is of the Jewish State. Even Trump stated Wednesday that the final outcome of the status of East Jerusalem must still be negotiated. But it is nonetheless absurd to suggest, as some countries and NGOs have, that there is no legitimate Jewish connection to the ancient city of Jerusalem.


Through a secular lens, the evidence is just as clear. Jerusalem was designated the capital of the state of Israel in 1948. From 1950, Israel’s major government institutions, including the Knesset, government offices and the Supreme Court have been located in “West Jerusalem.” West Jerusalem is indisputably a part of Israeli territory and recognized as such by the United Nations and the international community. So on what basis does any country refuse to locate an embassy in West Jerusalem? There is no less logic or validity, in terms of respecting international law, to locating an embassy in West Jerusalem than in Tel Aviv, where these embassies now sit.


Any U.S. president before Trump, or any other country’s leaders, could have located an embassy in West Jerusalem and recognized that part of the city as the capital of the State of Israel. Yet most governments have robotically acquiesced to the illogic promoted by the Palestinians and Arab leaders that to recognize Jerusalem as the capital would be to pre-judge the outcome of any peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. That’s poppycock. And it took Donald Trump, of all people, to expose that big fat lie. How does recognizing a fact predetermine the outcome of anything? It doesn’t.


By Wednesday afternoon, both the Czech Republic and the Philippines were talking about moving their embassies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Still other countries, including Canada and France, were quick to issue statements restating their same boilerplate reasons for not doing so. They don’t, or won’t understand that their purported justifications for maintaining this position have nothing to do with logic, fact, international law, or political or religious reality.


With their lie finally called out by the Trump White House, Palestinian leaders are now threatening days of rage and violence in protest. Speaking with the National Post Wednesday after Trump’s announcement, Naftali Bennett, a minister in Israel’s security cabinet, noted that no nation should surrender its diplomacy to violent threats. “Countries must act based on what’s right, not have their actions dictated by the threats of terrorists and extremists,” he said.


The Jerusalem issue is one of Israeli politics’ rare points of consensus and leaders across the spectrum (with the exception of the Knesset’s United Arab List party) have been praising Trump’s resolve in honouring a commitment he had made, and righting what, in their eyes, is a terrible wrong. Since its founding, Israel has been attacked and lived surrounded by neighbours pledged to its annihilation. But its existence is a fact that is not going away, and Jerusalem’s paramount place in Israel is non-negotiable. “The announcement by the president is welcome, but natural,” said Bennett, “We have patience and believe that, in due course, all countries will recognize Jerusalem as our capital.”






Alan M. Dershowitz

The Hill, Dec. 7, 2017


President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital is a perfect response to President Obama's benighted decision to change American policy by engineering the United Nations Security Council Resolution declaring Judaism's holiest places in Jerusalem to be occupied territory and a "flagrant violation under international law." It was President Obama who changed the status quo and made peace more difficult, by handing the Palestinians enormous leverage in future negotiations and disincentivizing them from making a compromised peace.


It had long been American foreign policy to veto any one-sided Security Council resolutions that declared Judaism's holiest places to be illegally occupied. Obama's decision to change that policy was not based on American interests or in the interests of peace. It was done out of personal revenge against Prime Minister Netanyahu and an act of pique by the outgoing president. It was also designed improperly to tie the hands of President-elect Trump. President Trump is doing the right thing by telling the United Nations that the United States now rejects the one-sided U.N. Security Council Resolution.


So if there is any change to the status quo, let the blame lie where it should be: at the hands of President Obama for his cowardly decision to wait until he was a lame-duck president to get even with Prime Minister Netanyahu. President Trump deserves praise for restoring balance in negotiations with Israel and the Palestinians. It was President Obama who made peace more difficult. It was President Trump who made it more feasible again.


The outrageously one-sided Security Council Resolution declared that "any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem," have "no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law." This means, among other things, that Israel's decision to build a plaza for prayer at the Western Wall — Judaism's holiest site — constitutes a "flagrant violation of international law." This resolution was, therefore, not limited to settlements in the West Bank, as the Obama administration later claimed in a bait-and-switch. The resolution applied equally to the very heart of Israel.


Before June 4, 1967, Jews were forbidden from praying at the Western Wall. They were forbidden to attend classes at the Hebrew University at Mt. Scopus, which had been opened in 1925 and was supported by Albert Einstein. Jews could not seek medical care at the Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus, which had treated Jews and Arabs alike since 1918. Jews could not live in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, where their forebears had built homes and synagogues for thousands of years. These Judenrein prohibitions were enacted by Jordan, which had captured by military force these Jewish areas during Israel's War of Independence, in 1948, and had illegally occupied the entire West Bank, which the United Nations had set aside for an Arab state. When the Jordanian government occupied these historic Jewish sites, they destroyed all the remnants of Judaism, including synagogues, schools and cemeteries, whose headstones they used for urinals. Between 1948 and 1967, the United Nations did not offer a single resolution condemning this Jordanian occupation and cultural devastation.


When Israel retook these areas in a defensive war that Jordan started by shelling civilian homes in West Jerusalem, and opened them up as places where Jews could pray, study, receive medical treatment and live, the United States took the official position that it would not recognize Israel's legitimate claims to Jewish Jerusalem. It stated that the status of Jerusalem, including these newly liberated areas, would be left open to final negotiations and that the status quo would remain in place. That is the official rationale for why the United States refused to recognize any part of Jerusalem, including West Jerusalem, as part of Israel. That is why the United States refused to allow an American citizen born in any part of Jerusalem to put the words "Jerusalem, Israel" on his or her passport as their place of birth…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






On Topic Links


Jerusalem’s Old City Lit Up with American and Israeli Flags: Jewish Press, Dec. 6, 2017—In anticipation and in honor of President Trump’s upcoming announcement on Jerusalem, the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem have been lit up with American and Israeli flags.

Netanyahu Says More Countries to Follow Trump Lead on Jerusalem: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Dec. 7, 2017—Israeli officials downplayed threats of a diplomatic backlash in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the country’s capital, saying other countries were eager to follow suit and international ties would not be affected.

A Momentous Day: Jewish Leaders and Israel Advocates Respond to Trump Announcement on Jerusalem: Algemeiner, Dec. 6, 2017

The Real Palestinian Response to Trump's Jerusalem Speech: Bassam Tawil, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 7, 2017—A short three hours after US President Donald Trump phoned Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to inform him of his intention to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a number of Palestinian photojournalists received a phone call from Bethlehem.


Why Won't Abbas Accept "Two States for Two Peoples"?: Alan M. Dershowitz, Gatestone Institute, June 12, 2017— There is a widespread but false belief that Mahmoud Abbas is finally prepared to accept the two-state solution proposed by the U.N. in November 1947 when it divided mandatory Palestine into two areas: one for the Jewish People; the other for the Arab People.

Why Trump’s Delaying, But Won’t Forget, His Israeli Embassy Promise: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, June 5, 2017 — President Trump prevented the U.S. embassy in Israel from moving to Jerusalem last Thursday, his deadline for doing so under a U.S. law that every six months gives the president the right to thwart Congress’s desire to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Ehud Barak: Blatantly Ignoring Danger: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, May 31, 2017 — US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel seems to have triggered a new campaign over the future of the Jewish people in the land of its forefathers, and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has joined the ranks of those whose hopes for Israeli concessions in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem have been rekindled.

Six Days and 50 Years of War: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, June 2, 2017— In June 1967 Arab leaders declared their intention to annihilate the Jewish state, and the Jews decided they wouldn’t sit still for it.


On Topic Links


Ex-UN Envoy Bolton: Trump has no Chance at Ultimate Peace Deal: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2017

Precursor for Victory – A Diplomatic “Iron-Dome”: Dr. Martin Sherman, Arutz Sheva, May 12, 2017

Could Israel’s Bennett Become Next Leader of the Right?: Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor, Apr. 28, 2017

Cutting Abbas Down to Size: Ruthie Blum, Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2017





Alan M. Dershowitz

Gatestone Institute, June 12, 2017


There is a widespread but false belief that Mahmoud Abbas is finally prepared to accept the two-state solution proposed by the U.N. in November 1947 when it divided mandatory Palestine into two areas: one for the Jewish People; the other for the Arab People. The Jews of Palestine accepted the compromise division and declared a nation state for the Jewish people to be called by its historic name: Israel. The Arabs of Palestine, on the other hand, rejected the division and declared that they would never accept a state for the Jewish people and statehood for the Palestinian people. They wanted for there not to be a state for the Jewish people more than for there to be a state for their own people.


Accordingly, they joined the surrounding Arab armies in trying to destroy Israel and drive its Jewish residents into the sea. They failed back then, but over the years, and to the current day, they continue to want no state for the Jewish people more than they want a state for Palestinian Arabs. That is why Abbas refuses to say that he would ever accept the U.N. principle of two states for two peoples. I know, because I have personally asked him on several occasions.


In a few months, Israel will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the historic U.N. compromise, but the leaders of the Palestinian Authority still refuse to accept the principle of that resolution: two states for two peoples. President Trump, for his part, has expressed an eagerness to make "the ultimate deal" between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This has propelled discussions about the dormant peace-process back into the spotlight. Shortly before travelling to the Middle East – where he met with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Israel and President Abbas in Bethlehem – Trump invited the Palestinian leader to the White House. Abbas was last at the White House in March 2014 shortly before the Obama administration's shuttle diplomacy efforts –led by Secretary of State John Kerry – fell apart.


Leading up to his meeting with President Trump in Washington, Abbas said to a German publication: "We're ready to collaborate with him and meet the Israeli prime minister under his [Trump's] auspices to build peace." He then went on to voice his support for a two-state solution, saying, "It's high time to work on the requirements for it." This was interpreted as a willingness on Abbas' part to accept the idea of a state for the Jewish people. Generally speaking, the international community supports the idea of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with two-states for two-peoples: a state for the Jewish people alongside a state for the Palestinians. Yet presenting Mahmoud Abbas as a supporter of the two-states for two people formulation is to deny truth. The general idea of a two-state solution – which Abbas has nominally supported – does not specify that one state would be for the Jewish people and the other one for the Arabs. Over the years President Abbas has expressed a commitment to a two-state solution – stating that he supports an Arab state along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital – but has so far refused to accept the legitimacy of a nation state for the Jews existing by its side.


Consider President Abbas' own words. In a 2003 interview he said: "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I will never recognize the Jewishness of the state, or a 'Jewish state.'" When asked about Israel being the nation state of the Jewish people (in the context of Ehud Olmert's generous peace proposal in 2008) the PA leader said: "From a historical perspective, there are two states: Israel and Palestine. In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognize, nothing else." And in a later interview with the Al-Quds newspaper Abbas reiterated this refusal to recognize that Israel is the nation state of the Jewish people: "We're not talking about a Jewish state and we won't talk about one. For us, there is the state of Israel and we won't recognize Israel as a Jewish state. I told them that this is their business and that they are free to call themselves whatever they want. But [I told them] you can't expect us to accept this."


The list of such pronouncements from the man at the head of the Palestinian Authority goes on and on. Not only has Abbas refused to accept the formulation "Jewish state," he adamantly refuses to accept the more descriptive formulation "nation state of the Jewish people." Abbas is of course committed to Palestine being a Muslim state under Sharia Law, despite the reality that Christian Palestinians constitute a significant (if forcibly shrinking) percentage of Palestinian Arabs…


Writing for the New York Times on the advent of the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War, Israel's former Ambassador to Israel, Michael Oren said: "The conflict is not about the territory Israel captured in 1967. It is about whether a Jewish state has a right to exist in the Middle East in the first place. As Mr. Abbas has publicly stated, 'I will never accept a Jewish state.'" Oren argues that until Abbas and other Palestinian leaders can say the words "two states for two peoples," no reasonable resolution will be reached…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]







Lawrence Solomon

National Post, June 5, 2017


President Trump prevented the U.S. embassy in Israel from moving to Jerusalem last Thursday, his deadline for doing so under a U.S. law that every six months gives the president the right to thwart Congress’s desire to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In denying the move, Trump lost an opportunity to determine the true intentions of the Palestinians toward Israel.


Are Palestinians willing to share Jerusalem with the Jews, as they have privately assured Trump and previous U.S. presidents? Or do they want Jerusalem entirely in Palestinian hands, and Israel wiped off the map, as they tell their people publicly in Arabic and as they depict in Palestinian schoolbooks? If Palestinians truly believe in the two-state solution — an Israeli and a Palestinian state living side by side in peace, with each having its capital in different parts of Jerusalem — they would have no principled reason to resent a U.S. embassy in an Israeli neighbourhood of Jerusalem.


Although Trump lost this opportunity to flush out the Palestinians’ true negotiating position, and in the process to please his base by fulfilling his campaign promise to move the embassy, he wisely did not do so on Thursday. Thursday was the day Trump fulfilled another campaign promise, one that is also highly important to his base and one that couldn’t wait: ripping up the Paris climate accord, which interferes with Trump’s desire to deregulate the U.S. economy. Had Trump fulfilled both promises in close proximity to each other, he would have muddled his messaging and failed to maximize the political credit that would come of honouring both. Much better to keep the Jerusalem asset in his vest pocket, and pull it out at a time and place that provides maximum political effect…


Trump sees the embassy decision, and Jerusalem’s status, as major bargaining chips in negotiating a final settlement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He gained an additional negotiating advantage when he angrily confronted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem with evidence that Abbas had been inciting hated against Israel, contrary to what Abbas had told Trump in their earlier meeting in Washington, D.C. “You tricked me in D.C.! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement,” Trump reportedly shouted during their meeting, stunning Abbas into silence for several minutes before he recovered his composure. Abbas’s attempt at explanations didn’t wash. Banging his fist on the table, Trump irritatedly added: “You can talk about how much you want peace, but that’s empty (rhetoric).”


Trump’s upper hand was strengthened last week when he learned how much Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails and their families had received as incentives to attack Jews — more than US$1 billion over the last four years, paid mostly by Western aid. When the two met in Washington, Trump had specifically told Abbas to “resolve this issue,” likely having no idea of the scale of payments involved. One good reason to move the embassy soon — to determine the Palestinians’ true intentions — may no longer be necessary. Given Abbas’s duplicity towards him, and the Palestinians’ billion-dollar commitment to terrorism, Trump may feel he already knows the deal to be struck won’t come of an honest negotiation, but of an imposed settlement.


In announcing the delay in moving the embassy, the White House explained that “President Trump made this decision to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal between Israel and the Palestinians, fulfilling his solemn obligation to defend America’s national security interests. But, as he has repeatedly stated his intention to move the embassy, the question is not if that move happens, but only when.”


The most logical “when” is at least a year from now, probably two or even three. First, Trump must give Abbas every opportunity to live up to the commitments to peace he has given Trump, no matter how improbable they may now seem. But Abbas will know that the clock is ticking. To win re-election and remain in power, Trump will again need the evangelical vote, for whom the embassy move is paramount. Well before the end of his first term as president, whether or not the Palestinians have proven themselves desirous of living in peace with the Jews, Trump will be able to make his move in good conscience.






Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

BESA, May 31, 2017


US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel seems to have triggered a new campaign over the future of the Jewish people in the land of its forefathers, and former Prime Minister Ehud Barak has joined the ranks of those whose hopes for Israeli concessions in Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem have been rekindled. In a piece published in Haaretz last week that sharply criticized author Micah Goodman’s book Catch 67: The Ideologies behind the Disagreements Tearing Israel Apart, Barak sought to weigh in on the question of whether Israel can properly defend itself in the event it withdraws from Judea and Samaria.


Barak’s answer was decisive: Israel’s refusal to separate from the Palestinians and withdraw to the 1967 lines – with certain exceptions for the big settlement blocs – is “a definite threat to the future of the Zionist project,” while the threats that may arise following a withdrawal are “military technical risks.” He was dismissive of the Right’s premise that such territorial concessions are potentially extremely dangerous, arguing that “Israel is the strongest country in the region militarily, strategically and economically and – if we craft our relations with the United States skillfully – also diplomatically.” According to Barak, if Israel succeeds in navigating the moves it is expected to pursue, it would be able to deal with any military threat that may rear its head.


But history has proven that even superpowers can fail. One needs to look no further than the Russians and the Americans in Afghanistan. Since the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Israel has a clear point of reference as to the nature of the potential threat a Palestinian state may constitute. By similar logic, one can argue that what happened in the Gaza Strip – i.e., the terrorist threat it poses to the border-adjacent communities – could happen in Judea and Samaria, only this time, it would be the majority of the cities in Israel’s center and coastal plain that would be targeted.


Barak and his supporters promise that the future Palestinian state will be demilitarized. It is worth exploring whether this objective is attainable and to what extent, especially in an age when global arms proliferation is available to the highest bidder, as seen by the unabated arms smuggling to Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon, and given both groups’ increasing domestic weapons production capabilities. The other approach, which Barak utterly dismisses as an unfounded right-wing view, argues that establishing and maintaining Palestinian demilitarization is essential if Israel is to maintain its ongoing security efforts and a thriving civilian presence throughout Judea and Samaria.


Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that rightists have a mixed set of ideologies, as Barak claims. That does not change the fact that the need for strategic depth on Israel’s narrow coastline was not the Right’s brainchild. In his 1978 book And Now Tomorrow, then-Labor party leader Shimon Peres wrote, “If a separate Palestinian state is established, it will be armed to the teeth. It will also have bases for the most extreme terrorist forces and they will be equipped with anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles that will endanger not only passersby but every plane and helicopter flying in Israel’s skies and every vehicle traveling on the main highways of the coastal plain. … The main problem is not agreeing on demilitarization, but upholding such an agreement in practice.”


Like many of those supporting the notion of withdrawal, Barak has based his arguments on the fact that many in the defense establishment share his views. While the numbers may be in his favor, what does it really mean? Galileo taught us that progress depends on open and critical scientific thinking. Arguing that one’s view is akin to scientific truth simply because it is the majority opinion belongs in a church or the rabbinical establishment. Neither Albert Einstein nor Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman had the support of the scientific community in the early days of their research.


We now have the opportunity to validate the expertise professed by these defense officials when they address strategic questions. Early in the 1948 War of Independence, during a situation assessment with the IDF’s General Staff, then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion stated that “we will adhere to the experts’ advice on the technical issues, but the experts will not have the final say on everything – that is up to the people’s representatives. It is not up to the experts to decide whether to wage war or not, and whether to defend the Negev or not.”


The same is true of the question of Israel’s future in Judea and Samaria. Experts are welcome to express their opinion, but one must remember that when it comes to this issue they are not politically impartial professionals, and unlike on technical matters, the experts are not familiar with the ins and outs of strategic issues…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    




Bret Stephens

              New York Times, June 2, 2017


In June 1967 Arab leaders declared their intention to annihilate the Jewish state, and the Jews decided they wouldn’t sit still for it. For the crime of self-preservation, Israel remains a nation unforgiven. Unforgiven, Israel’s milder critics say, because the Six-Day War, even if justified at the time, does not justify 50 years of occupation. They argue, also, that Israel can rely on its own strength as well as international guarantees to take risks for peace. This is ahistoric nonsense.


On June 4, 1967, the day before the war, Israel faced the fact that United Nations peacekeepers in Sinai, intended as a buffer with Egypt, had been withdrawn at Cairo’s insistence; that France, hitherto Israel’s ally, had imposed an arms embargo on it; and that Lyndon Johnson had failed to deliver on previous American assurances to break any Egyptian blockade of the Israeli port of Eilat. On June 5, the first day of the war, the Israeli government used three separate diplomatic channels to warn Jordan — then occupying the West Bank — not to initiate hostilities. The Jordanians ignored the warning and opened fire with planes and artillery. Some 6,000 shells landed on the western side of Jerusalem alone.


On June 19, 1967 — nine days after the end of the war — the Israeli cabinet decided it would offer the return of territories conquered from Egypt and Syria in exchange for peace, security and recognition. The Arab League categorically rejected peace with Israel at its summit in Khartoum later that year. In 1973 Egypt and Syria unleashed a devastating surprise attack on Israel, puncturing the myth of Israeli invulnerability.


It took a decade after 1967 for the Egyptian government of Anwar Sadat finally to accept Israel’s legitimacy. When he did he recovered every inch of Sinai — from Menachem Begin, Israel’s right-wing prime minister. Syria remains unreconciled.


It took another decade for Yasir Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organization to recognize Israel and formally forswear terrorism. But its pledges were insincere. Only after the Soviet Union’s collapse and Arafat’s disastrous support for Saddam Hussein in the gulf war did the P.L.O. finally seem to get serious. It led to the Oslo Accords of 1993 and further Israeli withdrawals. In 2000, at Camp David, Israel offered Arafat a state. He rejected it. “I regret that in 2000 he missed the opportunity to bring that nation” — Palestine — “into being,” was Bill Clinton’s bitter verdict on the summit’s outcome. Within two years Arafat was calling on a million “martyrs” to march on Jerusalem.


In 2005, another right-wing Israeli government removed its soldiers, settlers and settlements from the Gaza Strip. Two years later Hamas seized control of the territory and used it to start three wars in seven years. In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a Palestinian state in Gaza and 93 percent of the West Bank. The Palestinians rejected the proposal out of hand. This is a truncated history. Israel is not a nation of saints and has made its mistakes. The most serious of those is proliferation of West Bank settlements beyond those in historically recognized blocs. But before we fall prey to the lazy trope of “50 years of occupation,” inevitably used to indict Israel, let’s note the following:


There would have been no occupation, and no settlements, if Egypt and its allies hadn’t recklessly provoked a war. Or if the “international community” hadn’t fecklessly abandoned Israel in its desperate hours. Or if Jordan hadn’t foolishly ignored Israel’s warnings to stay out of it. Or if the Arab League hadn’t arrogantly rejected the possibility of peace. A Palestinian state would most likely exist if Arafat hadn’t adopted terrorism as the calling card of Palestinian aspirations. Or if he hadn’t rejected the offer of a state 17 years ago. Or if he hadn’t renounced his renunciation of terror.


A Palestinian state would also most likely exist if Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas — now in the 13th year of his elected four-year term — hadn’t rejected it again nine years ago, and if Gazans hadn’t turned their territory into a terrifying model of Palestinian statehood, and if the United Nations didn’t treat Hamas’s attacks on Israel as a nuisance but Israel’s self-defense as a crime against humanity.


The cover of a recent issue of The Economist purports to answer the question “Why Israel Needs a Palestinian State.” The argument isn’t wrong. It just isn’t wise. Israel needs a Palestinian state to safeguard its democratic future — in the long term. But the character of such a state matters at least as much as its mere existence. The Middle East doesn’t need another failed state in its midst. Israel doesn’t need another Hamastan on its border. Palestinians in the West Bank don’t need it over their heads. In 1967 Israel was forced into a war against enemies who then begrudged it the peace. Egypt, at least, found its Sadat. The drama of the Six-Day War will close when Palestinians find theirs.



On Topic Links


Ex-UN Envoy Bolton: Trump has no Chance at Ultimate Peace Deal: Yonah Jeremy Bob, Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2017 —There is no chance President Donald Trump will secure a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.

Precursor for Victory – A Diplomatic “Iron-Dome”: Dr. Martin Sherman, Arutz Sheva, May 12, 2017—Wars usually end when failure causes one side to despair when that side has…accepted defeat, and when that defeat has exhausted its will to fight – Daniel Pipes, A New Strategy for Israeli Victory, Commentary, December 14, 2016.

Could Israel’s Bennett Become Next Leader of the Right?: Mazal Mualem, Al-Monitor, Apr. 28, 2017—When the chairman of HaBayit HaYehudi, Minister of Education Naftali Bennett, entered the polling station on the morning of April 27, he was greeted by his supporters who shouted, "Who's there? The next prime minister!"

Cutting Abbas Down to Size: Ruthie Blum, Jerusalem Post, June 11, 2017—On Thursday, Bloomberg quoted a Palestinian Authority official saying that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is willing to forgo his usual preconditions for negotiations with Israel – such as a freeze on all settlement construction – in order to give the administration in Washington “a chance to deliver.”









After Trump Visit, the Onus Rests on Us: Isi Leibler, Algemeiner, May 24, 2017 — Overall, US President Donald Trump has delivered.

Trump’s Middle East Trip Was a Big, Surprising Success—and the Iranian Regime is Nervous: Lee Smith, Tablet, May 23, 2017 — “I want to tell you,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to President Donald Trump during a joint press conference Monday, “how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.”

A Trump Doctrine for the Middle East?: Michael Doran, New York Times, May 19, 2017 — During his campaign, Donald Trump’s Middle East policy seemed to begin and end with his vow to “bomb the hell” out of the Islamic State…

As the Middle East Petrostates Rush into Modernity, Their Indentured Servants Pay the Price: Robert Fulford, National Post, Apr. 13, 2017— The people who control the oil-rich states in the Arabian Gulf have learned that money isn’t everything.


On Topic Links


In Sign of Changing Region, Gulf States Float Major Upgrade in Ties with Israel: Tower, May 16, 2017

The Real Middle East Crisis:  James L. Gelvin, History News Newtowrk, May 21, 2017

Farewell to OPEC: Daniel John Sobieski, American Thinker, May 24, 2017

Why We Are Surprised by Surprises: Joshua Teicher, BESA, May 16, 2017





Isi Leibler

Algemeiner, May 24, 2017


Overall, US President Donald Trump has delivered. He will not have satisfied the delusional aspirations of Israel’s radical right but, despite some missteps before he arrived, highlighted by hostile and misleading press reports, the Trump visit was favorable for Israel and outlined parameters of what can be achieved with the Palestinians.


It was disappointing that he postponed transferring the US embassy to Jerusalem but there is still hope that this will happen during his presidency. We appreciate that he is the first sitting American president to visit Jerusalem’s Old City and the Western Wall. We would have preferred him to be more explicit about the extent of terrorism in Israel in his address to the Muslim world. But he more than compensated in his extraordinarily warm address at the Israel Museum. There is also some concern that the substantial commercial and defense relationship with the Saudis ($380 billion in deals, including $110 billion in arms purchases) might impact Israel and will require steps to ensure that we maintain our qualitative military edge.


Trump did not try to force unreasonable or irresponsible concessions. A Palestinian state is not even on the horizon. Neither is there any indication of a return to former President Barack Obama’s policy of freezing all settlement construction. Indeed, the president expressed friendship and support for Israel in a far more open and positive manner than any of his predecessors. In his address to the leaders of 55 Muslim-majority countries, he reversed Obama’s moral-equivalence approach and described the conflict as being between the forces of decency on the one hand, and an evil death cult on the other. He urged the Arab and Muslim states to actively eradicate terrorism and extremism from within their ranks and places of worship. He specifically condemned Hamas and Hezbollah, together with ISIS and al-Qaeda. Notably, he explicitly called on Arab and Muslim leaders to combat antisemitism. No American president has ever spoken directly to the Arab world in such a blunt and forthright manner.


For the first time, the Saudis, backed by the Egyptians and Gulf states, appear to be promoting peace or at least easing the tension between the Palestinians and the Israelis. In his lengthy statement outlining the Saudi position prior to Trump’s address, King Salman only devoted one sentence to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict but rather than condemning Israel, expressed the hope that peace will be achieved. This was a clear message as was the fact that Trump flew to Israel on the first ever direct flight from Riyadh to Tel Aviv.


Whereas in the past the Arab states were a major element fanning Palestinian anti-Israel hostility, it may well be that the tide has changed. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Saudis no longer demand that Israel freeze all settlement construction. Instead, they propose that Israel restrict construction outside the settlement blocs and provide additional humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in Gaza. In return, the Saudis would inch closer to partial normalization and recognition by allowing Israeli aircraft to fly over their territory, set up direct telephone connection and even provide tourist visas for Israelis. While this was not officially confirmed, there were no denials, which tends to confirm the veracity of the report and suggests that the Saudis are willing to actively act as brokers by pressing the Palestinians to be more flexible.


To what extent this was the outcome of discussions with Trump’s representatives, or simply because the Saudis now recognize the value of Israel’s support against Iran’s efforts to achieve regional hegemony, is irrelevant. There have already been widespread rumors attesting to covert Saudi cooperation with Israel in relation to Iran and similarly with the Egyptians in the struggle against ISIS in the Sinai Peninsula. Whereas Trump demanded that the Palestinians cease the incitement and bring an end to rewarding murderers and their families with lavish pensions and sanctifying them as heroes, he avoided suggesting that Israel cease settlement activity. But he undoubtedly pressed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move forward with confidence-building measures such as improving the economic conditions and social development among Palestinians.


At this potentially historic turning point, Netanyahu must stand firm against the radicals in his coalition and impose a limited freeze beyond the settlement blocs. The majority of the nation would endorse such a policy and if it brings down the government and forces elections, the nation will support him. We talk endlessly about the need for unity. At this crucial time, decision-making must reflect the views of the majority who are effectively the political centrists. No minority groups should be able to veto our national interest. Yair Lapid and his party, Yesh Atid, also embrace this centrist view. They should either join the government or support it on this issue. Even the non-delusional elements in Labor should support this process.


Of course, this is only the beginning. Before we engage in negotiating details, let us see Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas make some concessions. Let him recognize Israel as a Jewish state and abrogate the Palestinian refugee right of return. Then we can discuss borders and a demilitarized state. But in the meantime, we must demonstrate to the world and to Trump that we are reasonable and respond positively toward genuine Arab gestures…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]







Lee Smith

Tablet, May 23, 2017


“I want to tell you,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said to President Donald Trump during a joint press conference Monday, “how much we appreciate the reassertion of American leadership in the Middle East.”


So how is Trump’s first foreign trip as president playing out? Suddenly, the scandal-mired President seems like a plausible world leader. He is certainly a more welcome guest in the capitols of America’s traditional allies than his predecessor, President Barack Obama. In addition to enjoying the show, viewers at home—the ones who voted for Trump last fall—likely appreciate the $110 billion arms deal Trump struck with Saudi Arabia. With another $350 billion to come over the next decade, those contracts will certainly help put assembly-line Americans back to work.


Trump’s speech before a worldwide audience about terrorism and Islam was a useful initiative that will also put some of the dozens of Muslim leaders who attended the speech on notice. Acknowledging that Jerusalem is in Israel is a break with strict Obama policy. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall. But having spent nearly a decade living in Cairo and Beirut, and traveling throughout the Middle East, I can easily imagine the spin that the region’s intellectuals are putting on the trip as they sit in their coffee houses and smoke Gitanes:


    “Habibi, the Saudis just paid the Americans nearly half a trillion dollars to keep them safe from Iran, right? But Iran was nothing before Obama built them up with $150 billion. It’s only because Obama kept paying Iran—first to stay in negotiations over the nuclear program and then as a reward for signing the deal—that Iran was empowered. Obama and his pallets of cash helped Iran extend its reach from the Persian Gulf to the eastern Mediterranean.


    Iran thought that it got the better of the Americans, but the Americans played them for suckers! The CIA had something up their sleeves the whole time! They just wanted the Arabs to pay even more to defend them from Iran. So the Americans created this Iranian bogeyman and then they sent the Arabs a bill to make the Iran problem go away. They drove up the price! It’s a protection racket, don’t you see? And the Americans cleared nearly $300 billion. Oh man, you can be sure Trump and Netanyahu are laughing it up in Jerusalem. Very clever, those Americans!”


No, of course it wasn’t really a CIA shakedown orchestrated over two presidencies. And yet Trump’s maiden foreign presidential venture, or at least the first two stops, is indeed all about the new Administration’s determined recalibration of American Middle East policy after eight years of Obama’s adventurism—especially regarding Iran. Trump made his intentions toward Iran pretty clear in his Riyadh speech. “For decades, Iran has fueled the fires of sectarian conflict and terror,” said Trump. “It is a government that speaks openly of mass murder, vowing the destruction of Israel, death to America, and ruin for many leaders and nations in this room.”


The visuals from Riyadh and Jerusalem were even more important than the speeches. After all, you can reassure your allies on the phone—to scare your shared adversaries, you create a photo album and broadcast it on Facebook and Twitter. Here’s the president of the United States being celebrated in Saudi Arabia with a sword dance. And clearly, this is not the secretary of state’s first ardha. As a famous oil man who is always welcome to visit the global swing producer of oil, Rex Tillerson knows all the steps already. See him dancing with Wilbur Ross? The Americans and Saudis are like family.


And look—the president of the United States actually has Jews in his family. Here is a picture of his daughter praying at the Western Wall. Here is a picture of the president also at the Western wall wearing a kippah. And oh, look—Trump has made it his status picture on Twitter. The Iranian regime isn’t very happy. Trump’s photo ops stole the entire foreign policy news cycle from an Iranian regime that wanted a few days of good press after its rigged presidential elections last Friday. The message that Tehran received from the presidential pomp and circumstance in Riyadh is that things are different now.


The Obama administration moved quietly behind the scenes to reorient American policy toward Iran, while it pulled the rug out from under traditional American allies. Among other things, the Obama White House leaked Israeli strikes against Hezbollah convoys, it coordinated operations with Iranian-backed militias in Iraq, and it stood aside as Bashar al-Assad waged a genocidal campaign in Syria so as not to affect the prospects of the nuclear deal with Iran. The Iranians know how much they owe the Obama administration—whether it was air support for Qassem Soleimani in Tikrit, legitimization of Iranian interests in Yemen, deterring Israel from striking their nuclear facilities, turning a blind eye as they built a highway from Tehran to Baghdad to Damascus to Beirut. Now the Americans are dancing with the Arabs and praying with the Jews, and Iran is on its own again.                                      




Michael Doran

New York Times, May 19, 2017


During his campaign, Donald Trump’s Middle East policy seemed to begin and end with his vow to “bomb the hell” out of the Islamic State — a pledge that played well with his base but unsettled establishment foreign policy experts, who worried that the collateral damage would include everything else America has been trying to build in the region.


The establishment was giving itself too much credit: Our policies in the Middle East have been blowing themselves up for a good while. As Mr. Trump embarks Friday on his first foreign trip, including stops in Israel and Saudi Arabia, he has a chance to put in place a new long-term vision. In fact, the outlines of one are already in place. Despite the controversies at home, Mr. Trump may come away with a legacy-cementing achievement: a Trump Doctrine for the Middle East.


The Middle East is complex, but Mr. Trump’s predecessors stumbled for a singular reason: the rise of Iran. As a senior official in the George W. Bush administration, I saw firsthand how President Bush’s democracy project in Iraq diverted attention from countering Iran and its proxies. Mr. Bush seems to have believed that a robust democracy in Iraq would serve simultaneously as a bulwark against Sunni Islamic extremism and Iranian power. In the end, Iran slipped into Iraq under Mr. Bush’s nose, subverted the project, and recruited proxy militias to promote its interests.


Mr. Bush let Iran in by miscalculation. President Barack Obama, by contrast, embraced Iranian ascendancy with open arms — and not just in Iraq, but in Syria as well. Mr. Obama dropped efforts to contain Iran and sought a nuclear accord that would allow the West to normalize relations because he was convinced that recognition of an Iranian sphere of influence would persuade Tehran to function as a partner in stabilizing Iraq and Syria. This was another miscalculation, and it led directly to the Russian-Iranian military alliance in Syria.


Mr. Obama, like Mr. Bush before him, put a lot of effort into resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict — a worthy but useless undertaking that diverted them further from addressing Iran’s regional ascent and, later, Russia’s. We still don’t know the full details of Mr. Trump’s approach to the Middle East, but his hard-nosed ethos and willingness to question foreign policy dogmas offer an opportunity, in principle, to dispel several fallacies that led to these strategic blunders.


First, it is false that American “soft power” is the key to stabilizing the region. Our ideals, such as promoting democracy, will work to our advantage only if we first restore order — a project that rests on American hard power. What’s more, the use of force is not inherently counterproductive. Look at Russia’s campaign in Syria, which shows that in the hands of a good tactician like President Vladimir Putin, military superiority produces results.


Next, it is false that our support for our longtime friends is a cause of instability, and that by distancing ourselves from them while reaching out to our enemies we can make the world a safer place. (It’s an even worse fallacy to imagine that we can create a Middle East without enemies.) And it’s just as wrong to assume we can cleverly pull Russia away from Iran in Syria. The tensions between them are insignificant compared with their shared interest in propping up the Bashar al-Assad regime and eroding American influence.


Finally, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not the center of gravity in the Middle East, nor is it ripe for solution. It is not clear that Mr. Trump recognizes all of these fallacies. If he does, he will be far ahead of the game. But recognizing mistakes is just the first step. Step 2 requires rejecting the temptation, to which Mr. Obama succumbed, of defining the defeat of the Islamic State as the pre-eminent strategic goal. If Mr. Trump destroys the group, but fails at the same time to build a stabilizing regional coalition, his victory will be very short-lived. The next Islamic State will rise from the rubble, and Russia and Iran will exploit the ensuing chaos.


The third step is to build that coalition. Jordan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates can help, but only three American allies can project power beyond their borders: Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia. True, Turkey and Saudi Arabia are not always trustworthy, because their interests do not align seamlessly with American interests. Sidelining them, however, will make them only more, not less, troublesome. Their saving grace is that, unlike the Russians and Iranians, they will accept an American-dominated order.


By embarking for Saudi Arabia and Israel close on the heels of a meeting in Washington with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Mr. Trump is clearly signaling an appreciation of this elemental fact. He must now build on that fact to develop a Trump Doctrine, based on shoring up traditional allies against Iran. Such a plan, built on painstaking coalition building and maintenance, isn’t glamorous or inspiring. But good statesmanship requires recognizing the limits of what is possible. The choices in the Middle East are between very bad and much worse. Mr. Trump promised us steely-eyed realism. Here’s hoping he delivers on that pledge.                                                         





Robert Fulford

National Post, Apr. 13, 2017


The people who control the oil-rich states in the Arabian Gulf have learned that money isn’t everything. For one thing, it doesn’t impress the world, since the world assumes (wrongly) that it’s easy to dig oil from the ground or the ocean floor. So in recent years the Gulf princes and their advisers have decided they want something more. Prestige, for instance, and culture, and influence. They want others to think well of them. They want to be civilized and they think they know how to do that: buy some civilization from countries that have too much of it but not as much money as they think they need.


Qatar, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and other states in the Gulf are frantically busy re-inventing themselves, changing their image. They are becoming up-to-the-minute modern states with universities, museums, skyscrapers, high-quality architecture and European-style tourist hotels. The 2020 World Expo is coming to Dubai and the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Even the Louvre Abu Dhabi is there, with the help of the Louvre Paris, “Bringing Cultures Closer Together in the First Period of Globalisation” — a unique and universal museum, according to their website.


Everywhere new buildings are rising, with more promised for the future. The Gulf states see themselves as winners among the nations but unfortunately the losers are the people who literally build the buildings — the many thousands of exploited, indentured migrant workers who lack the protection of governments or unions. They come to the Gulf, make a pittance to send home and eventually depart, still poor. Foreign architects, designers and planners who work in the Gulf try to avoid labour issues. The late Zaha Hadid, the Iraqi-born British architect who was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Prize, was asked about it in 2014. She replied: “I have nothing to do with the workers. I think that’s an issue for the government to take care of. It’s not my duty as an architect to look at it.”


This week New York University’s Stern Center for Business and Human Rights released a highly negative report, Making Workers Pay: Recruitment of the Migrant Labor Force in the Gulf Construction Industry. The Gulf Cooperation Council — Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman — are developing with the furious energy of states that have glimpsed their destiny and want to achieve it as soon as possible. The workers, typically from small villages in Bangladesh and India, are often illiterate and not hard to scam.


They are most obviously cheated when they pay for their own recruitment, according to the Stern report. Agents are commissioned to find them, screen them for appropriate skills, arrange their visas and travel. The agents demand that the workers pay the bill for everything, roughly one or two thousand dollars. That often requires that the worker take out an expensive loan, which puts him in the category of indentured labour. In a recent interview a 24-year-old Pakistani talked about arriving in 2014 to work on the Louvre Abu Dhabi. He reported that he had paid more than $2,200 to a Lahore-based recruiter, which meant it would take him four years or more to break even. Outside the job, he said, “I have only time to eat and sleep.”


In all the Gulf countries, the Stern report says, local employers automatically acquire significant power over their workers. It becomes difficult for a migrant to change jobs, lodge a complaint or even return home without permission from the employer (who may be holding the migrant’s passport). The housing for workers is cramped and uncomfortable, the meals inadequate — and there’s no authority to negotiate for better conditions. There are laws protecting the workers, but they are at best unevenly enforced. In some cases the planning for much of this development has been so grandiloquent that it turns into a kind of comedy. Nobody in the Gulf seems to believe that slow and easy does the job but Abu Dhabi has set new records for hurried, exaggerated plans, royal pomposity and sheepish apology.


A few years ago the crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, set forth the future for Saadiyat Island, a $27-billion development. He decreed that it would include luxury hotels and a boutique shopping quarter. But the crucial section was a cultural district with a Guggenheim museum at its core. It would, if everything worked out, stimulate a modern Arab Renaissance. What could go wrong? Everything…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]



On Topic Links


In Sign of Changing Region, Gulf States Float Major Upgrade in Ties with Israel: Tower, May 16, 2017 —Arab Gulf states have offered to improve ties with Israel if it intensifies efforts to reach a diplomatic agreement with the Palestinians, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The potential steps could include allowing Israeli planes to fly over their territory, establishing direct telecommunication access to Israel, easing some limits on trade, and issuing visas to Israeli sports teams and trade delegations.

The Real Middle East Crisis:  James L. Gelvin, History News Newtowrk, May 21, 2017 —Poison gas. ISIS. Terrorism. The Arab Middle East has experienced more than its share of attention-grabbing horrors. But the twenty-four hour news cycle, with its relentless focus on the here and now, obscures the greatest problem the region faces: The threat to human security.

Farewell to OPEC: Daniel John Sobieski, American Thinker, May 24, 2017—Maybe the fly on the wall knows, because nothing was leaked to the New York Times or Washington Post, but one of the topics that may have come up in meetings between American and Saudi officials during President Trump’s historic visit is the energy revolution unleashed by President Trump that is sure to make the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries an energy relic.

Why We Are Surprised by Surprises: Joshua Teicher, BESA, May 16, 2017—Researchers and decision-makers are regularly taken by surprise by the collapse of regimes and by military moves with long-term geopolitical and traumatic consequences. They are hit “out of the blue” and awakened from their status quo illusions. This trend is in fact likely to accelerate during times of increasing uncertainty, when there is a greater likelihood of potential danger.










Did Trump Just Nix the Idea of a Two-State Solution?: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 2017— In diplomatic parlance, nothing says "I love you" more than telling a right-wing Israeli leader that perhaps a Palestinian state isn’t necessary after all.

The Two State Solution: Does Trump’s Indifference Matter?: Jonathan S. Tobin, National Review, Feb. 16, 2017— Those who expected Donald Trump to effect genuine change in Washington still might be waiting for him to take action on some issues, but when it comes to altering existing Middle East policy, the president has not disappointed.

Trump Has Fans in Israel: Prof. Efraim Inbar, BESA, Feb. 13, 2017— In a poll taken following Donald Trump’s victory, 83% of Israelis said they consider Trump a pro-Israel leader; by contrast, another poll showed that 63% view Barack Obama as the “worst” US president with regard to Israel in the last 30 years.

In the Middle East, Whispers of Breaking the Mould — and the Dangers that Poses: Father Raymond J. de Souza, National Post, Feb. 6, 2017— All eyes here are on Washington, where on Wednesday President Donald Trump will welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House.


On Topic Links


“The Two-State Solution”: What Does It Really Mean?: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Feb. 14, 2017

Tread Carefully with the New US Administration: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Feb. 16, 2017

Trying to Create a Palestinian State Would Repeat Mistakes that Have Led to so Much Mideast Bloodshed: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 6, 2017

Netanyahu and Trump Must Confront Iran, Global Threats: John Bolton, Algemeiner, Feb. 15, 2017



DID TRUMP JUST NIX THE IDEA OF A TWO-STATE SOLUTION?                                                                 

Tovah Lazaroff

Jerusalem Post, Feb. 16, 2017


In diplomatic parlance, nothing says "I love you" more than telling a right-wing Israeli leader that perhaps a Palestinian state isn’t necessary after all. He could have gone for the more traditional type of Valentine’s Day present. Nothing wrong with champagne, cigars, roses or even chocolates hearts.


But then, US President Donald Trump is hardly a run-of-the-mill politician. Touching the third rail of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by appearing to disavow a two-state solution is in keeping with his torch and burn attitude to tried and true staples of Washington policies. Twenty-some years ago, another outlier politician, former US president Bill Clinton, created a new paradigm for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Rose Garden. There, on the White House lawn on a bright fall day, he wed the Israelis and Palestinians to the notion that the only resolution to the conflict was a two-state solution.


The principle of two states for two peoples became such a basic truth, that in the conflict’s lexicon it was defined as synonymous with peace. Those who supported peace wanted a two-state solution and those who didn’t, opposed it. As Netanyahu left for Washington this week to hold his first meeting with Trump since the latter's January 20th inauguration, right-wing Israeli politicians called on him to trash the 25-year-old standard. They demanded that Netanyahu convince the new US president to oppose the creation of a Palestinian state and to support settlement building in Area C of the West Bank. “A Palestinian state is a stumbling block to peace,” Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev said in Jerusalem this week.


They were buoyed in their calls by the fact that since taking office, Trump has not pledged his commitment to a Palestinian state. It was presumed that he was simply waiting for Netanyahu’s arrival, so that the two of them would speak of this together, before Trump spoke about it publicly. Instead, on a cloudy day, in a packed briefing room inside the White House, Trump created the first new paradigm for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a quarter of a century and became the first US president to set aside the principles of the 1993 Oslo Accord.


Trump did it immediately upon Netanyahu’s arrival, as the two stood near each other, at joint podiums, flanked by Israeli and American flags. With a few brief sentences, Trump stated that a two-state solution was not the only option to resolving the conflict. “I’m looking at two states and one state. I am very happy with the one that both parties like. I thought for a while the two-state might be easier to do, but honestly, if Bibi [Netanyahu] and the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, then I am happy with the one they like the best,” Trump said.


His goal, Trump explained, was peace, and in its pursuit, he was not wedded to one solution or the other. “I would like to see a deal be made,” said Trump. This would not be a deal for a two-state solution, but a deal for peace, with or without a two-state solution. In a Tuesday briefing to reporters in Washington, a White House official expanded briefly on this idea, stating, “Peace is the goal, whether it comes in the form of a two-state solution, if that’s what the parties want, or something else, if that’s what the parties want. We’re going to help them.”


This wouldn’t be just any deal, Trump said on Wednesday, in his characteristic way of speaking. “It might be a bigger and better deal than people in this room even understand,” he said. It would not just be a bilateral deal but would involve other regional players. “It would take in many, many countries and it would cover a very large territory,” Trump said. These are countries, of course, that are firm in their stance that a two-state solution is the only alternative. But Trump’s words do not rule out a two-state solution, rather they change the focus and the end goal. It neither eliminates nor affirms a Palestinian state, but rather invites a fresh start of sorts.


On the surface of it, Trump appeared to hand Netanyahu a significant victory. Netanyahu could return to Israel and assure his right-wing voters that one of their key demands, disavowal of a Palestinian state, might be achievable, even if he himself remained committed to it. But Trump’s new philosophy for ending the conflict, uttered amidst a pledge of friendship, also carried with it some words of warning. His pursuit of what he has called the ultimate deal and peace between Israelis and Palestinians would know no bounds, such that he would entertain a non-ethnic nationalist solution, otherwise known as a one-state solution, or a state for all of its citizens…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




THE TWO STATE SOLUTION: DOES TRUMP’S INDIFFERENCE MATTER?                                                             

Jonathan S. Tobin

National Review, Feb. 16, 2017


Those who expected Donald Trump to effect genuine change in Washington still might be waiting for him to take action on some issues, but when it comes to altering existing Middle East policy, the president has not disappointed. With his refusal to specifically endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the president has seemingly discarded the idea that has been the bedrock principle of U.S. Middle East diplomacy for the past generation.


When asked about a two-state solution during a joint press conference prior to his first meeting as president with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Trump replied: I’m looking at two-state and one-state. I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. In doing so, Trump upset people on both sides. Palestinians think his unwillingness to pledge to work for an independent Palestinian state reveals his belief that they don’t deserve sovereignty. By the same token, many Israelis worry that his willingness to “live with” a one-state solution means he wouldn’t care if a Jewish state were replaced by one in which Arabs outnumbered Jews — which would end the entire Zionist experiment.


His statement was typically Trumpian in that it displayed either his ignorance or his lack of interest in the details, but it’s clear that the president wasn’t supporting either the one-state or the two-state option. Instead, what he was doing was endorsing a diplomatic principle that is just as important: The U.S. cannot impose peace on terms that aren’t accepted by the parties, and we shouldn’t behave in a manner that encourages Palestinians’ ongoing refusal to make peace.


Using the words “one state” was a mistake on Trump’s part. A one-state solution could lead to peace of a sort but only if one of the two sides surrendered. If Israelis acquiesce to the destruction of their country, it would end the conflict — at the cost of a potential Holocaust. Similarly, peace could result from the Palestinians’ deciding that they were ready to cede all of the country to the Jews and give up all hope of governing themselves. But since neither scenario is going to happen, to speak of one state is to declare that any compromise is impossible even in a distant and theoretical future.


The one-state option is the platform of Hamas, the Islamist terror group that governs the independent Palestinian state that exists (in all but name) in Gaza. Hamas’s goal is one Islamist state in which the Jewish population would either be massacred or expelled. The Fatah Party that runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank pays lip service at times to a two-state solution, but its ideology centers on denial and hope: Deny the right of the Jews to any part of the country, and hope for a state Arabs will dominate. Both Hamas and Fatah glorify violence against Jews and honor terrorists.


That’s why few Israelis believe a two-state solution is possible. Though it’s clear an overwhelming majority of Israelis want a two-state solution, they understand that the Palestinians have yet to come to terms with Israel’s legitimacy, and they think more territorial withdrawals would endanger their security without bringing peace. The idea of possibly replicating a Hamas state in the West Bank — far larger and more strategic than Gaza — strikes most Israelis as not only ill-advised but utterly insane.


A minority of Israelis do think that Israel can rule between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River indefinitely in spite of the presence of millions of Palestinians who don’t want to share the country with them. But there is a difference between supporting the right of Jews to disputed territory and asserting that you regard the exercise of that right as more important than making peace (if making peace were possible). Those to the right of Netanyahu might oppose giving up any territory, but they know that if the Palestinians ever did accept one of Israel’s offers of statehood, the Right would be heavily outvoted by the Israelis willing to give up territory for peace.


But just because Trump isn’t demanding a two-state solution doesn’t mean he is opposing it or even that his stance makes it less likely. For eight years, President Obama insisted that the Israelis give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem in order to allow a Palestinian state. Putting all the pressure on the Israelis was a bigger mistake than anything Trump has said. Obama didn’t take into account that Palestinian politics and the Hamas–Fatah rivalry made it impossible for their so-called moderates to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be located. Obama’s approach had the effect of rewarding Palestinian intransigence, which doomed his efforts.


In saying he didn’t care what the terms of peace were so long as both sides accepted them, Trump sent the opposite message to the Palestinians. The Palestinians believe that pressure from the international community will isolate the Jewish state and make it vulnerable. Trump’s refusal to sanctify the two-state mantra is a warning that if Palestinians want a state, they will not get it by jettisoning negotiations and asking the United Nations to impose terms on Israel — which is how they rewarded Obama for his efforts on their behalf.


Trump appears genuine in his desire to broker a peace deal. Indeed, to the dismay of many on the Israeli right, he wants Netanyahu to restrain settlement growth in parts of the West Bank that would be included in a Palestinian state — even if Trump knows that settlements are not the cause of the conflict. Yet like all others who have tried, Trump is bound to fail in his quest to conclude the ultimate Middle East real-estate transaction. If he does fail, it will not be because he declined to utter the magic words “two states” at a White House presser. Even the ablest diplomat or deal-maker can’t wish away the realities of Palestinian politics. But Trump’s willingness to put pressure on the Palestinians — rather than pointlessly hammering the Israelis as Obama did — actually increases his chances of success, minimal though they may be.





Prof. Efraim Inbar

BESA, Feb. 13, 2017


In a poll taken following Donald Trump’s victory, 83% of Israelis said they consider Trump a pro-Israel leader; by contrast, another poll showed that 63% view Barack Obama as the “worst” US president with regard to Israel in the last 30 years. Indeed, after eight years of tense relations with the Obama administration, most Israelis are relieved to see a friend in the White House. Moreover, on issues that are important to Israel – Iran and the Palestinians – there seems to be a greater convergence of views than before.


Trump’s stance on Iran is particularly important now, as Iran recently held a military exercise to test its missile and radar systems after the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Tehran for a ballistic missile test. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Trump in Washington DC this week, it will be worth noting what the leaders say about the Iran nuclear deal and what kind of role the US will play in Israel. Netanyahu fought tooth and nail against the nuclear agreement negotiated by the Obama administration with Iran. Trump slammed it as “one of the dumbest deals ever.” Senior members of his administration share this view and are apprehensive about Iranian intentions.


Obama gave a high priority to negotiating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and was obsessed with Jewish settlements in the West Bank. He estranged Israelis by not distinguishing between Israeli building in Jerusalem and in the West Bank. He often dished out “tough love” to Israel, as he called it when addressing a synagogue in Washington, DC. Trump and his advisors, by contrast, seem more relaxed about the Israeli-Palestinian issue, correctly understanding that it is by no means the most important problem in the chaotic Middle East. Even the White House criticism of new settlement building plans – it called them unhelpful to the peace process, but added that they are not impediments to peace – represents a positive change to many Israelis.


Furthermore, Trump’s promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem seems more sincere than similar promises made by previous presidential candidates. Throughout his campaign and into the early days of his presidency, Trump has shown that he follows through, and is more concerned with fulfilling his promises than flattering the electorate. Israelis cannot understand why other countries refuse to accept Jerusalem as their capital and to place their embassies in western Jerusalem, which is not, after all, disputed territory. Picking David Friedman – an Orthodox, pro-settlement, Jewish American who owns an apartment in Jerusalem – as ambassador to Israel lends credence to Trump’s promise.


Several of Trump’s positions that draw tremendous criticism at home and abroad are less problematic for Israelis. For example, the idea of building a wall along the US-Mexico border to stop illegal immigration is viewed in Israel as the expression of the sovereign right of any nation to prevent undesirable elements from entering its territory. Israel has built walls and fences to stop the infiltration of terrorists and illegal immigrants from Palestinian territory. Trump’s diatribes against Muslims are unseemly, but Israelis can understand where he is coming from, since they have been subjected to Muslim terrorism and Arab state aggression for 100 years. The political correctness of the Obama years – when the president refused to acknowledge radical Islam as the source of most of the terrorism in the world – frustrated Israelis.


Thus, Trump’s willingness to speak his mind is appreciated in Israel, even if some of his statements border on the vulgar. It is refreshing to the Israeli ear to hear an American president decline to beat around the bush, but rather to address issues directly, without the constraints of liberal political correctness. This quality has earned Trump some popularity in Israel. Israelis well know that a portion of the Washington bureaucracy, especially at the Department of State, and some of the media and academic elites are unfriendly to Israel. They welcome a president who dislikes that bureaucracy and is critical of those elites.


We should not forget that since the late 1960s, Israelis have largely preferred Republican presidents. Yitzhak Rabin, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Washington from 1968 to 1973, openly supported the Republican presidential candidate, Richard Nixon. Similarly, Prime Minister Netanyahu made his preference for Mitt Romney over Obama abundantly clear. Unlike many European politicians and American Democrats, Israelis are substantially nationalist and conservative. The conservative Israeli Likud party has won more elections than any other party since 1977.


Israelis followed the decline of American international fortunes during the Obama years with alarm. It frightens them to see America so weakened. Thus, a Trump who wants to make his country great again by increasing defense spending and standing tall against America’s enemies abroad (especially Iran) strikes a responsive chord among Israelis. Finally, Trump’s family biography endears him to Israelis. His daughter converted to Judaism and belongs to an Orthodox community. Trump has Jewish grandchildren of whom he is proud. His Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is an important advisor. Living in New York may have sensitized him to the sensibilities of the Jewish community. Moreover, he has always expressed strong support for the Jewish state…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]






Father Raymond J. de Souza

National Post, Feb. 6, 2017


All eyes here are on Washington, where on Wednesday President Donald Trump will welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the White House…Unpredictability is precisely the order of the day. The predictable future is no longer so predictable here.


I have been coming to Israel regularly for more than 10 years, and on this visit I am hearing for the first time people discussing openly that that two-state solution is dead, or that its time is past, or that it needs to be revived, or that it should be rejected. Apparently no one thinks it likely. Such views are not new, but the public rhetoric at least honoured the two-state consensus, which has been the basis of global Israeli-Palestinian policy for the nearly 25 years since the Oslo Accords.


Senior ministers in the Netanyahu coalition government speak openly about annexation of parts of the West Bank — the “Area C” territories where the overwhelming majority of Jewish settlers live (some 400,000) and where the Arab population (some 100,000) could be granted Israeli citizenship without upsetting the demographic balance of Israel, which is about 75 per cent Jewish, 21 per cent Arab, and 4 per cent others.


While the end of Obama and advent of Trump might explain some of the more frank talk, the underlying dynamics have been in place for years. Neither Netanyahu nor Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, believes the other is sincere in wanting a two-state solution. Neither trusts the other to keep promises made. And on the Israeli side, there is no confidence that Abbas, who is in his eighties, will be succeeded by a stable partner for peace. To the contrary, the fear is that the Hamas takeover in Gaza might be replicated in the West Bank, or that the broader regional dynamics — disintegration of Syria and Iraq and Yemen, regime change in Libya and Egypt, the expansion of Iranian influence, the rise of ISIL — might visit themselves upon Israel’s eastern border.


Indeed, there is more talk now than I have heard in years about a regional conference that would include the Arab powers in addition to the Israelis and Palestinians. Along with open talk of annexation, there is talk of a kind of confederation that would link Gaza and the West Bank with Jordan and Egypt. All of which brings about a certain déjà vu. After the first Gulf War, there was the regional conference in Madrid in 1991, convened by the United States and co-sponsored by the Soviet Union, then in the last days of its existence. Today, Russia is back in the Middle East as it has not been since the early 1970s, and its arrival makes any peace less likely. Madrid produced the various bilateral talks that led to the Israel-Jordan peace treaty and the Oslo Accords which created the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s agreement to the latter in Gaza and the West Bank, headed by the PLO’s Yassir Arafat, was agreement in principle to a future Palestinian state. The entire existence of the Palestinian Authority is premised on being a state in waiting.


Waiting is perhaps the most ancient practice of politics in the land of Israel, from biblical times until today. In that light, the quarter century since Madrid, or even the 50 years since the Six Day War, or the even the nearly 70 years since the independence of the modern state of Israel, might not seem so long. Yet the widely held conviction is that waiting for a new situation, new circumstances, new leaders, will not produce progress toward peace in a two-state solution. There are popular majorities in favour of it on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides, but similar majorities also believe that it is impossible given the failings of the other side.


Which leaves the status quo, no longer as the default in light of failed peace talks, but as a deliberate choice for an unhappy but tolerable situation, as opposed to an exhausting striving for an impossible situation. The alternative is to break the existing mould, the consensus of experts who for decades have insisted that the only way forward was toward a solution that successive generations of leaders could not deliver…                   

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


“The Two-State Solution”: What Does It Really Mean?: Amb. Alan Baker, JCPA, Feb. 14, 2017—The phrase “two-state solution” is repeated daily by international leaders and organizations. It has become the catch-phrase for anyone advocating resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. However, the phrase is repeated without a full awareness of its history or of the practical aspects of its implementation in the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

Tread Carefully with the New US Administration: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Feb. 16, 2017—In the run-up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's February 15 meeting with President Donald Trump, the difference in worldview between the Israeli political Right and Left, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue, became more pointed.

Trying to Create a Palestinian State Would Repeat Mistakes that Have Led to so Much Mideast Bloodshed: Lawrence Solomon, National Post, Feb. 6, 2017— Will Palestine exist in another generation? With the Trump administration gearing up for its meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week, it’s a question worth asking. The last thing the Trump administration should want is a repeat of the mistakes the Great Powers made a century ago when they created artificial countries.

Netanyahu and Trump Must Confront Iran, Global Threats: John Bolton, Algemeiner, Feb. 15, 2017—Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met today with President Donald Trump. While the two leaders had a full agenda to cover — including international terrorism, the ongoing carnage in Syria and Israel’s continuing efforts to find peace with its neighbors — Iran’s nuclear-weapons program undoubtedly dominated their discussions.










Eight Years of Obama’s Foreign Policy Disasters Recapped in Only Two Horrific Weeks: Editorial, National Post, Dec. 30, 2016— It is sad to see the foreign policy of the United States being carried out in such gasping, feeble whimpers.

Out with the Old, In With the New: Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror, BESA, Jan. 16, 2017— One cannot help but admire the American public, which eight years ago elected Barack Obama as the country's first African-American president.

A Disaster He's Proud Of: Lee Smith, Weekly Standard, Jan. 16, 2017— The Obama chapter in American foreign policy ends like the climax of an action movie—with a fireball growing in the distance and filling the screen as a man in silhouette approaches in slow motion and then veers off camera.

The Ancient Foreign Policy: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, Dec. 20, 2016 — For the last eight years, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Susan Rice have sought to rewrite the traditional approach to foreign policy.


On Topic Links


In Final Remarks, Obama Says Chance for Two-State Solution Passing By: Eric Cortellessa, Times of Israel, Jan. 18, 2017

The American Epoch is Over. It Ended on Obama’s Watch: Terry Glavin, National Post, Jan. 18, 2017

Barack to the Future: Christopher Caldwell, Weekly Standard, Jan. 9, 2017

Obama’s Legacy is Crumbling Before Our Eyes: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe & Mail, Jan. 7, 2017







National Post, Dec. 30, 2016


It is sad to see the foreign policy of the United States being carried out in such gasping, feeble whimpers. But it is no longer surprising. The last two weeks have been a microcosm of the failures of the last eight years. They will not soon be forgotten, or the damage quickly undone. First and foremost, of course, was the appalling decision of the United States — of President Barack Obama, let’s be clear — to not use America’s UN Security Council veto to strike down a heavy handed resolution levelled at Israel; more specifically, settlements it has established (and may expand) in portions of the disputed West Bank.


The settlements are undeniably controversial, nowhere more than in Israel itself. One can support Israel while questioning Israeli government’s settlement policies. But this resolution did more than just question the settlements. It called into question Israel’s right to control, after a future final peace agreement, even those sections of disputed territory that are by demography and history indisputably Jewish, including some of Judaism’s holiest sites. The resolution also attempted to do what generations of U.S. leaders have resisted doing — force an essentially bi-lateral process between Israel and the Palestinians into international fora that offer no solutions. Obama’s decision to permit the resolution to stand is an enormous black mark on the already shredded tatters of his foreign policy legacy.


It was also, incredibly, just the beginning of the Obama White House’s decision to unleash a parting salvo at a steadfast American ally. Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry also unloaded on Israel, slamming the settlements, defending Obama’s lacklustre record of support for Israel, and asserting that friends must be honest with each other. Of course. But friends also need to carefully consider how and where such messages are delivered. Apparently in an attempt to show America’s continued goodwill toward Israel, despite his rhetorical assault, Sec. Kerry also announced that the White House was prepared to back a push for peace.


Really, Mr. Secretary? Is this a joke? Nothing says “committed to peace” like stabbing a friend in the back, while simultaneously proposing to launch a massive international process to address a generations-long impasse … with all of three weeks left in your term. This hardly rises to the level of token. But that is par for the course with the Obama administration. Russia threatening NATO’s eastern flank? Send a battalion and some tanks, while imposing a few sanctions. China gobbling up and militarizing territory in the Pacific without legal cause and despite pledges not to? Sail the odd warship past a newly built island fortress for a look-see. Syria devolving into a hellhole of civil war and sectarian slaughter? Send some equipment — nothing too lethal, of course, because that might be controversial — and try to train a few fighters (but don’t break a sweat).


And, obviously, when the Assad regime nerve gasses its own people in direct defiance of your own declared “red line,” well, just pretend you never said that and walk away, whistling a merry tune. The less said about the nuclear deal with Iran, which freed up billions in frozen Iranian assets and lifted sanctions in exchange for Tehran’s unverifiable promise to briefly not build nuclear weapons, the better.


We could go on but the point is made. From Israel, to Syria, to Russia, to Iraq and through to the Pacific, America’s allies and partners have been forced to re-evaluate how useful an ally the United States really is, while its enemies and opponents discover just how far America can be pushed. Even when America’s interests have been directly and clearly challenged, for example, by Russia’s recent cyber adventurism, the best the White House can muster is an appeal to “knock it off” and a belated, half-hearted round of sanctions and diplomatic expulsions that could be described, if one were in a generous mood, as mostly symbolic.


America remains a great country — the only country truly capable of leading the free world. But for the last eight years, its commander-in-chief has not had any interest in that job, preferring to “lead from behind” when he led at all, and more keen on pursuing futile resets with rival powers than working with allies in pursuit of common Western interests. The state of the world today is proof of the failure of those policies — and leaves Mr. Obama’s successor in a very deep hole he may not be equipped to easily escape.         



OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW                                                          

Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror                                          

BESA, Jan. 16, 2017


One cannot help but admire the American public, which eight years ago elected Barack Obama as the country's first African-American president. The genuine elation and joy in the streets of New York City, where I was when he was sworn in, reflected the change American society had undergone.


Obama assumed office with a very solid worldview. He believed many of the challenges the US was facing globally stemmed from its forceful conduct and ability to impose its will on other nations. In his view, many of Washington's international failures stemmed from the fact that it had not tried to improve ties with its adversaries. This drove Obama to visit the Middle East – not including Israel – in 2009 and deliver his famous Cairo speech. He believed that addressing the people from the heart would be reciprocated. This was also the logic that drove his attempt to promote a new rapport with Russia.


Eight years later, it is hard to say the world has repaid Obama in kind. The world is not a better, more democratic place; nor does it favor the US in any way. This is especially true in the Middle East, but the sentiment is shared elsewhere as well. Moreover, the US rollback on its role in different regions has made its allies wary of their aggressive neighbors. This is so much the case that in some countries, there has been talk of replacing the dwindling American nuclear umbrella – by which the US, as a nuclear power, guarantees the protection of its non-nuclear allies – with independent atomic abilities. Should this become reality, it would spell a horrific nuclear race.


Obama is leaving behind a world far more dangerous than the one with which he was entrusted as leader of the most powerful country on earth – a title he managed to seriously compromise. As far as Israel-US relations go, the eight-year Obama administration has been complex. On the one hand, Israel had a sympathetic ear in Washington with regard to its security needs. The landmark $38 billion defense aid package signed with the US, and the fact that Israel, of all nations, was the first to receive the state-of-the-art F-35 fighter jet, speaks to the American commitment to the Jewish state's security for decades to come.


The relationship between the Israeli and American intelligence agencies continues to be excellent, a state of affairs that would not be possible without direction from the White House. Israel has also received vital US backing in the international arena more than once. Still, Washington and Jerusalem were at odds under Obama on four important issues. The first was nuclear nonproliferation. In 2010, the administration failed to keep its promise to Israel and gave in to Arab demands for supervision of Israel's alleged nuclear capabilities. This was done as part of the American effort to maintain consensus at that year's nuclear nonproliferation conference in Vienna.


The Americans may not have explicitly admitted that they broke a promise to Israel in this regard, but they understood that it was perceived that way by Israel and the world. Judging from the limited foreign reports on the issue, Israel's complaints were justified. The US ultimately took action to help Israel overcome the difficulties incurred as a result of that mistake, but that blatant breach of promise made a dent on the collective Israeli consciousness, even if its overall effect has dimmed.


The second issue is the settlement enterprise. The outgoing administration turned settlement construction in Judea and Samaria into the key issue with regard to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. It was nothing short of an obsession, and the issue by which any progress would rise or fall. Washington refrained from pressuring Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in any way, even when he failed to agree to the 2014 US framework to reignite the talks. The US deemed Abbas too politically weak to be pressured, while any Israeli construction, in either Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem, was denounced as an obstacle to peace. The administration thereby lost an opportunity of possibly historic proportions to advance the peace talks, while the Israeli government – and a Likud government at that – was more willing than ever to promote it.


The dissonance in the administration's responses was so jarring that it eroded the effectiveness of US condemnation, as the majority of the Israeli public, and some around the world, began to perceive it as one-sided, unjust and unwise. Moreover, the way in which the Obama administration handled the issue of settlements made Abbas climb up a very tall tree. It will be hard for him to climb down from such a height toward future negotiations. UN Security Council Resolution 2334 denouncing the settlement enterprise, passed in the last month of Obama's presidency, has only made things worse, and is likely to stall negotiations even further. The outgoing president appears to have decided to hinder his successor as much as possible, even at the expense of an interest he allegedly wants to promote…


The third issue of discord between Jerusalem and Washington was the Iranian nuclear program. Some would say this disagreement culminated in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to Congress in March 2015, perceived as an affront to Obama on his own turf. Truth be told, the crisis was of the administration's making. Contrary to how things are generally handled between allies, the White House made a conscious choice to deceive Israel and conceal the fact that it was holding intensive nuclear negotiations with Iran – an issue that has direct bearing on Israel's very existence. This move was especially jarring as it involved a dramatic shift in US policy, which resulted in a very bad deal. Even those who believe the deal is solid have a hard time justifying the winding road walked by the US administration to reach it – even more so when some top officials within the administration itself thought it was wrong to hide the talks from Israel…


The fourth issue at odds is the chaos in the Middle East. This was particularly evident after the 2011 ousting of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, when the Obama administration favored the Muslim Brotherhood's Muhammad Morsi as the representative of authentic sentiments among the Egyptian people over the military's countercoup. Israel preferred Egypt not be ruled by the radical ideology propagated by the Muslim Brotherhood, even if the alternative was Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, who maintains an iron grip on Egypt as president. In this case, the lack of consensus between Washington and Jerusalem over the dangers of political Islam was at the heart of their dispute. The American approach is ideological, in that it refuses to recognize that radical Islam is an authentic side of Islam. The very phrase "Islamic terrorism" was stricken from the politically correct vocabulary employed by Washington during the Obama years…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                            






Lee Smith

Weekly Standard, Jan. 16, 2017


The Obama chapter in American foreign policy ends like the climax of an action movie—with a fireball growing in the distance and filling the screen as a man in silhouette approaches in slow motion and then veers off camera. Barack Obama has set the Middle East on fire, and now it's spreading. The Obama administration's nuclear agreement with Iran has emboldened the world's leading state sponsor of terror, which now makes war openly in four Arab states (Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen) and is a growing threat to Israel and Saudi Arabia. The deal with Tehran that Obama boasts of as his signature foreign policy initiative guarantees, as the president himself acknowledged, that Iran will have an industrial-scale nuclear weapons program within 15 years.


After a 40-year absence from the Middle East, Russia has returned to the region, where it bombs Syria's schools and hospitals as America and Europe watch helplessly. Washington's traditional regional allies are scrambling to adjust to the new reality, which for the likes of Israel, Jordan, and Turkey means an opportunistic power on their borders that is allied with their existential enemies.


For Europe, the millions seeking refuge from the conflagration are agents of potential instability on the continent in the years to come; some in their midst are terrorists plain and simple. In just four years, or one presidential term, a civil uprising that started in Syria became a great Middle Eastern war over a host of sectarian, religious, and political hostilities dating back centuries. Critics and even admirers of the president say that Syria will be a stain on his record. But that's not how Obama sees it. The death and suffering of so many undoubtedly pains him, as he says. He says he wonders if he could have done anything else. Of course he could have, but he believed he had better reasons not to.


There is probably no other president in the post-World War II period who would not have committed significant resources to toppling Syrian president Bashar al-Assad. Indeed, by 2013, all of Obama's national security cabinet advised him to support the rebels. They believed that the United States had, first, a stake in helping to end a humanitarian catastrophe and, no less important, a vital interest in preserving a 70-year-old order that the conflict threatened to undo.


America's Cold War strategy was relatively simple in outline: We would preserve stability on the European continent, contain Moscow, and protect the resource-rich Persian Gulf, which ensured the free flow of trade on which American prosperity depended. Obama disregarded those principles. Assad's war sent millions to a quickly overwhelmed Europe. Putin's gambit in Syria eliminated Israel's air superiority in the eastern Mediterranean and positioned Russia on NATO's southern border. Iran's harassment of the U.S. Navy in the Gulf signaled to the oil-producing Arab states that since the nuclear deal was more important to Obama than American prestige and the safety of American servicemen and women, they were on their own.


By normal bipartisan American standards, Obama's foreign policy record is disastrous. But that's not how he sees it. For Obama and his closest aides, the last seven years represent a revolution, a transformative period in American foreign policy engineered by a transformative figure.


Obama's foreign policy issued in part from his understanding of global realities but more from his interpretation of the American character. He believed that Americans tend to make a mess of things around the world. Obama is like a narrator in a Graham Greene novel; in our relations with the rest of humanity, as he sees it, we are 300 million naïfs abroad, whose intentions may be good but who lack the tragic sense that the rest of the world feels in its bones. Americans, until Obama came along, had been in the grip of a triumphalist fantasy—American exceptionalism—thinking there was nothing wrong with the world that couldn't be fixed by pointing our guns at it. A shoot-first America was especially dangerous in the conflict-prone Middle East, where everything looks like a nail to a nation that thinks it's a hammer. For Obama, it was vitally important to get the country he was elected to lead off of what he called a "perpetual war footing."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                





Victor Davis Hanson

National Review, Dec. 20, 2016


For the last eight years, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Samantha Power, Ben Rhodes, and Susan Rice have sought to rewrite the traditional approach to foreign policy. In various ways, they have warned us about the dangers that a reactionary Trump presidency would pose, on the assumption that their new world order now operates more along the lines of an Ivy League conference than according to the machinations and self-interests of the dog-eat-dog Manhattan real-estate cosmos.


It would be nice if the international order had safe spaces, prohibitions against micro-aggressions, and trigger warnings that warn of hurtful speech, but is the world really one big Harvard or Stanford that runs on loud assertions of sensitivity, guilt, apologies, or even the cynical progressive pieties found in WikiLeaks?


The tempo abroad in the last eight years would suggest that the answer is no: half a million dead in Syria, over a million young Muslim men flooding into Europe, an Iraq in ruins (though Biden once bragged it would be the Obama administration’s “greatest achievement”), the Benghazi catastrophe, North Africa a wasteland and terrorist incubator, Israel and the Gulf states estranged from America, Iran empowered and soon to be nuclear, Russia hell-bent on humiliating the U.S., China quietly forming its own updated Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, an impoverished Cuba and much of Latin America gnawing the limp wrist of U.S. outreach, and the European Union gradually imploding.


Obama’s lead-from-behind foreign policy has becoming something like the seduction of an old house. Its wiring, plumbing, and foundation are shot, but the majestic structure, when given a thin coat of new paint by the seller, proudly goes on the market as “restored” — at least until the new buyer discovers that the Potemkin façade is about to collapse from lax maintenance and deliberate indifference. In other words, Obama’s periodic declamations, Nobel Prize, and adulation from a toady press are all veneers of shiny paint; the Middle East, Russia, China, Iran, and ISIS terrorism are the insidious frayed wiring, corroded pipes, and termites that are about to take down the entire structure from the inside out. Note that the unrepentant seller is always loudly petulant that the new owner, as he makes endless vital repairs, did not appreciate the paint job he inherited.


It was not always so. Ancient American foreign policy that got us from the ruin of World War II to the most prosperous age in the history of civilization was once guided by an appreciation of human nature’s constancy across time and space. Diplomacy hinged on seeing foreign leaders as roughly predictable — guided as much by Thucydidean emotions such as honor, fear, and perceived self-interest as by cold reason. In other words, sometimes nations did things that seemed to be stupid; in retrospect their actions looked irrational, but at the time, they served the needs of national honor or assuaged fears. Vladimir Putin, for example, in his effort to restore Russian power and regional hegemony, is guided by his desire to recapture the glories of the Soviet Union, not just its Stalinist authoritarianism or geographical expanse. He also seeks to restore the respect that long ago greeted Russian diplomats, generals, and leaders when sent abroad as proud emissaries of a world-class power.


In that context, talking down to a Putin serves no purpose other than to humiliate a proud leader whose guiding principle is that he will never allow himself to be publicly shamed. But Obama did exactly that when he scolded Putin to “cut it out” with the cyber attacks (as if, presto, Putin would follow his orders), and when he suggested that Putin’s tough-guy antics were sort of a macho shtick intended only to please Russians, and when he mocked a sullen Putin as a veritable class cut-up at photo-ops (as if the magisterial Obama had to discipline an unruly adolescent). Worse still, when such gratuitous humiliations are not backed by the presence of overwhelming power, deft statecraft, and national will, opportunists such as Putin are only emboldened to become irritants to the U.S. and its former so-called global order. We should not discount the idea that leaders become hostile as much out of spite as out of conflicting national interests.


Throughout history, it has not gone well for powerful leaders when they have been perceived as being both loudly sanctimonious and weak (read Demosthenes on Athenian reactions to Philip II), as if the nation’s strength enervates the leader rather than empowers his diplomacy. Worse still is when a leader aims to loudly project strength through rhetoric while quietly fearing to do so through ships and soldiers. Think again of Neville Chamberlain at Munich, who gave Hitler everything — including lectures on proper international behavior. Anthony Eden remarked at the time that British statesmen thought Hitler and Mussolini were like typical British elites with whom they could do business; the British diplomats mistakenly believed they could appeal to the dictators’ reason and common interests, and thus they were bound to be sorely disappointed. A man does not reach the pinnacle of Russian power only to nod agreeably when ordered to “cut it out.” And a thug such as Bashar al-Assad does not give up his lucrative family crime syndicate for the gallows because Obama flippantly announces to the world that “Assad must go.” The worst thing about Obama’s red-line threat to Syria was not just that Obama ignored it when it was crossed, but that he then denied he’d ever issued the threat in the first place…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]




On Topic Links


In Final Remarks, Obama Says Chance for Two-State Solution Passing By: Eric Cortellessa, Times of Israel, Jan. 18, 2017— In his final press conference as president, Barack Obama issued a stern warning to Israelis and Palestinians alike that the chances for a two-state solution could soon fade if serious changes are not made by both parties.

The American Epoch is Over. It Ended on Obama’s Watch: Terry Glavin, National Post, Jan. 18, 2017—“Yes, we can,” they chanted in unison. To hear Barack Obama speak, or just to catch a glimpse of him, roughly 200,000 people had turned out that day, July 24, 2008, filling the broad, tree-lined avenue of Strasse des 17 Juni in Berlin’s glorious Tiergarten Park. It was an audience three times the size of any crowd Obama had drawn back in the United States. The election was still months away.

Barack to the Future: Christopher Caldwell, Weekly Standard, Jan. 9, 2017—They are keening in the Bay Area. "Oh, America, what have we done?" wrote a San Bruno reader to the San Francisco Chronicle the week after November's election. "Many of us feel for President Obama, especially as we watch him gracefully support Donald Trump's transition, knowing Trump's priorities include destroying Obama's legacy."

Obama’s Legacy is Crumbling Before Our Eyes: Derek Burney & Fen Osler Hampson, Globe & Mail, Jan. 7, 2017—If words and erudition were the hallmarks of policy accomplishment, U.S. President Barack Obama would stand tall, but his legacy is crumbling even before he leaves the White House. As CNN’s Fareed Zakaria observed, Mr. Obama is “an intensely charismatic politician, but he was not able to build a political base underneath him.” His considerable skills at oratory seldom transcended into an ability to deliver results or a coherent plan of action.













Guarding against millennial dreams, and remaining aware of both the role of Realpolitik in diplomacy and of the usual gap between electoral proclamations and actual policy, what can we reasonably expect insofar as Israel and the Middle East are concerned from the new Administration of President Donald J. Trump?


Most generally, there should certainly be a kind of sea-change in attitude. The key reality of the Obama Administration—symbolized by the disastrous Iran nuclear deal–was a conscious “opening” to the Muslim (and above all Shiite) world, the reverse side of which was a cooling of relations with the Jewish state. Obama’s dislike of Bibi Netanyahu was not only openly personal, but also reflected policy. Israel as a military-political “ally” would continue to receive support, but a positive attitude towards Israel as a key democratic partner in the Middle East was de-emphasized.


Beyond this, there are clear indications of a deeper change. Trump’s immediate family has several Jewish connections through marriage, not least an Orthodox Jewish (by conversion) daughter and Jewish grandchildren. And he is a longtime and enthusiastic supporter, politically and financially, of the Jewish State. He has a longstanding friendship with Bibi Netanyahu, pro-Israel Orthodox political advisors (above all, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner), has headed up the annual Israel Day parade in New York City, and so on.


His statement before AIPAC during the Presidential campaign (including rejection of Obama’s Iran nuclear deal, and a pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem) was clear and wide-ranging, and he has already nominated a series of pro-Israel and anti-Iranian figures, many of whom are Jewish, to high positions in his impending Cabinet. (He also, reportedly, has warned Obama against sealing his “legacy” by selling Israel out through a unilateral UN Security Council declaration of a Palestinian state.)


Hence the expectation that his Israel and M.E. policies will be decidedly more favorable than those of Obama (and, should she have won, Hillary Clinton, Obama’s former Secretary of State), is rational and understandable. However, as the Italians say, Chi vivrà, vedrà, Who lives, will see (how things turn out). Trump is, insofar as foreign affairs generally are concerned, largely an unknown. He has stressed an “America First” policy, focusing on revving up economic development and employment (see his recent China tweets) and voiced doubts about NATO (many of whose members are in arrears), and about failed “nation-building” in the Middle East (directed largely at American policy in Iraq and Afghanistan).


Most concerning is his seemingly positive view of Putin and of Russia, which seems to discount Moscow’s aggressive policy (in Crimea-Ukraine, Syria, and elsewhere), something reinforced by his appointment of several Cabinet heads with close links to the Kremlin (Lt. General Flynn, for the National Security Administration, and, reportedly, the Exxon chairman, Rex Tillerson, as Secretary of State).


What will be the litmus paper test of the new Administration insofar as Israel is concerned? Three issues: the pledged moving of the US embassy to Israel’s capitol, Jerusalem (something Presidential candidates have to date never followed through on); cancelling or, more probably, markedly amending, Obama’s Iran nuclear deal; and resisting on-going “two-state solution” pressures. (This “solution”, the hallmark of failed US policy for over twenty years, now seems dead on arrival in any case, although it is concerning that Trump continues to refer–an old Presidential temptation–to wanting to broker an Israeli-Palestinian “deal of the century”.)


Of this triad, while finally recognizing Jerusalem would be nice, it is already decided de facto, as is (through Palestinian rejectionism and a broad negative Israeli consensus) the “two-state solution” issue. But decisively blocking Iran’s path to a nuclear weapon is, surely, for Israel the most strategically important issue for Trump to face, and the one on which his general Israel and M.E. policy will turn.


Nevertheless, changing the US-Israel atmospherics to something positive, rather than neutral or even negative, is important, and will finally bring Administrative attitudes into line both with US popular and Congressional opinion. But again, insofar as policy is concerned, that alone will be insufficient. If President Trump pursues a neo-isolationist foreign policy, allowing Russia to dominate a Hezbollah- and Iranian-backed Assad government (even if, as pledged, he ups the ante on the US-backed war against IS in Syria and Iraq), and if he doesn’t move quickly on the Jerusalem issue and/or backs off on amending the Iranian nuclear deal, the disappointment—in the American Jewish community and in Israel—will be palpable.


At this point, then, an attitude of guarded optimism and watchful waiting is probably best. Better to keep the pressure on, and be buoyed by major improvements when and if they come, than to be thrown into despair by failed utopian dreams and what may prove, despite better atmospherics, to be the usual Realpolitik business.


(Prof. Frederick Krantz, Director of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, is Editor of the Daily Isranet Briefing)