Tag: Ehud Olmert

THE WEEK THAT WAS: AMID INCREASING UN MORAL RELATIVISM, OLMERT TRAGEDY IS A “SHOCKING STAIN” ON ISRAEL

Open Letter to Ban Ki-moon on Terrorism & “Human Nature”: Hillel C. Neuer, UN Watch, Feb. 5, 2016 — Dear Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon…

Getting Serious About the UN’s Anti-Israel Bias: Ben Cohen, Algemeiner, Feb. 18, 2016— Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, this week sounded an unusually strong — and therefore welcome — warning about the continuing bias against Israel in the corridors of the world body.

The Tragedy of Ehud Olmert in Retrospect: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2016— The image of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, now 70, entering Ma’asiyahu Prison to serve a 19-month sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice is a shocking stain on the entire nation.

‘The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai,’ Edited by Robert Alter: Rosie Schaap, New York Times, Jan. 29, 2016 — I have one selfish quibble with the expansive, magnificent new book “The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai,” edited by Robert Alter.

 

On Topic Links

 

Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel: Ban Ki-Moon, New York Times, Jan. 31, 2016

The Moral Relativism of the United Nations: Manfred Gerstenfeld, JCPA, Jan. 13, 2016

UN Ignored Claims of French Peacekeepers Giving Children Food for Sexual Favours, Report Says: Cara Anna, National Post, Dec. 17, 2016

Double Standards and the Intifada: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Jan. 20, 2016

Justice Antonin Scalia and the Jews: Aish, Feb. 13, 2015              

 

    

 

OPEN LETTER TO BAN KI-MOON ON TERRORISM & “HUMAN NATURE”

Hillel C. Neuer                       

   UN Watch, Feb. 5, 2016 

 

Dear Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: Tomorrow when you attend synagogue to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day—after two weeks when you singled out Israel at the Security Council and in the New York Times—I hope you will pay heed to the following verses of Exodus in the weekly Bible portion that will be read out before the congregation: “Do not spread a false report… Do not follow the crowd to do evil; neither shall you testify in a dispute by siding with the multitude to pervert justice.” (Exodus XXIII)

 

As you begin your 10th year as Secretary-General of the United Nations, I hope you reflect upon these words, and on how your conduct has changed over time. Because I remember when, during your first year in office, in 2007, you admirably criticized the Human Rights Council after it decided to permanently single out Israel under a special agenda item at every one of its meetings. You were sharply rebuked for this by the 56-strong Islamic group.

 

Today, perhaps because you have been stung by such rebukes from the multitude that dominates your organization—including the 120-strong Non-Aligned Movement, now chaired by Iran—too often your own actions, and those carried out by U.N. officials under your command, spread false reports, follow the crowd to do evil, and deliver testimony that perverts justice.

 

Let us begin by your remarks last week to the Security Council. Though you started by saying that you condemned Palestinian stabbings, car attacks and shootings against Israelis, you swiftly absolved the terrorists of any moral responsibility by saying “it is human nature to react to occupation.” Going further, you drew a narrative in which Palestinian “alienation,” “despair,” and “frustration” are “driving” the murder of Israelis. You chastised Israel for “provocative acts,” some of which you described as “an affront to the Palestinian people.”

 

No, Mr. Secretary General. It was not “human nature” for Palestinians, in the week preceding your UN remarks, to stab to death Dafna Meir, a mother of six children, outside her home; to stab Michal Froman, a pregnant woman; or to stab Shlomit Krigman, a 23-year-old university graduate, who died from her wounds on the day of your testimony. The truth is that Palestinian youth are being incited day and night to murder Israelis. While you did say that “incitement has no place,” you deliberately refused to condemn the perpetrators, omitting any mention of the Palestinian Authority, its president Mahmoud Abbas, or Fatah, all of whom have glorified the murderers of Israelis as “martyrs.”

 

Likewise, while you condemned the firing of rockets into Israel, you again noticeably declined to name Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or its leaders, sufficing instead with a generic reference to anonymous “militant groups.” Doubling down, you then published an unprecedented New York Times op-ed last Sunday which repeated the same one-sided charges, pointing the finger at “senior members of Israel’s government.” Hamas and Abbas again went unmentioned. Instead of making excuses for terrorists, you ought to learn courage from Muslims like Lucy Aharish, an Arab Israeli journalist, who, unlike you, has unequivocally condemned Arab leaders’ incitement to kill in the name of Islam, saying, “I refuse to accept excuses of frustration.”

 

As noted by Herb Keinon of the Jerusalem Post, none of your 85 op-eds of the past decade have gone after a specific country in this fashion. China, Russia, Cuba, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and other regimes, all get a free pass. Instead, your 2007 op-ed on Darfur actually commended President Omar al-Bashir—the same man who is wanted by the ICC for genocide in Darfur—for his “unqualified commitment to support the peacekeeping mission.” And in the same article you found reason to shower praise on Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi for “generously” offering to host peace talks, and for his “remarkable” water pipeline. What a perversion of truth!

 

Mr. Secretary-General, neither Israel nor any other government is above criticism. But it’s time for you to consider that Palestinians must be held morally responsible for their own actions, and not infantilized. It’s time for you to consider that Palestinian anger might also be a consequence of oppression by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority—both of them dictatorial governments—just as hundreds of millions of other Arabs and Muslims throughout the Middle East, as the world suddenly learned five years ago during the Arab Spring, have been oppressed by their own regimes.

 

It’s time for you to consider that Israel is not the problem in the Middle East, which is sinking into chaos because of ideologies of ignorance, medievalism and death; and that, on the contrary, having more Middle East societies like open-minded, innovative and democratic Israel is the solution.

 

Most importantly, you ought to consider your own organization’s role in all of this. When was the last time that you spoke out against the demonization of Israelis that pervades the resolutions and debates of the U.N. General Assembly, UNESCO, and the Human Rights Council? When last year the GA condemned Israel in 20 one-sided resolutions that gave a free pass to Hamas—with only three resolutions on the rest of the world combined—why were you silent?

 

When Hamas terrorists fired thousands of rockets at Israel in the summer of 2014, and the U.N.’s highest human rights body held an emergency session that condemned Israel 18 times and Hamas 0 times, why were you silent? When that same body created a biased commission of inquiry headed by William Schabas, a life-long anti-Israel activist who did paid legal work for the PLO, why were you silent? When the upcoming March session of the Human Rights Council is planning to hold yet another follow-up debate on the discredited 2009 Goldstone Report — even though Goldstone long ago retracted the core charge of that report — why are you silent?

 

When UN Watch revealed last year that the Goldstone Report’s key author—whom your Geneva staff deliberately hired—was in fact a rabid Hamas supporter, Grietje Baars, who served as European spokeswoman for the Gaza Flotilla of 2010, and who dedicated her life to prosecuting Israelis for alleged war crimes, why were you silent? Why are you not launching an investigation into this fundamental breach of U.N. neutrality? When the UNHRC is planning next month to name a new Special Rapporteur into “Israel’s violations of the bases and principles of international law,” a one-sided mandate that looks only at Israeli actions and presumes guilt in advance, why are you silent?

 

Mr. Secretary-General, your op-ed was entitled “Don’t shoot the messenger, Israel.” Perhaps you ought to consider that the U.N. is not a messenger here, but a key actor; and that, too often, your organization’s actions encourage, enable and legitimize terrorism. If you unequivocally condemn terrorism that strikes French, American, and Nigerian victims, without expressing sympathy and understanding with the alleged grievances of the murderers, you should do no different when the victims are Israelis. I conclude again with the words of the Bible: “Do not spread a false report… Do not follow the crowd to do evil; neither shall you testify in a dispute by siding with the multitude to pervert justice.”

 

Hillel Neuer is a Former Editor of CIJR’s Dateline M.E. Student Magazine

                                                           

 

Contents

GETTING SERIOUS ABOUT THE UN’S ANTI-ISRAEL BIAS

Ben Cohen

                                                Algemeiner, Feb. 18, 2016

 

Samantha Power, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, this week sounded an unusually strong — and therefore welcome — warning about the continuing bias against Israel in the corridors of the world body.

 

On a visit to Israel, Power spoke publicly about the experience of ZAKA, an Israeli humanitarian aid organization, in its efforts to gain accreditation at the UNN. After describing Zaka’s venerable record of assistance not just in Israel, but in New York City after the 9/11 atrocities and in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there in 2010, the ambassador pointed out that when, in 2013, the agency applied for accreditation to the UN’s NGO committee, it was flatly denied. It took another five attempts before the same committee until the accreditation was granted, thanks to pressure from Power herself along with Israeli diplomats.

 

In the same speech, Power reflected that “bias has extended well beyond Israel as a country [to] Israel as an idea.” In particular, she noted the insidious role of the UN’s Human Rights Council. Power said, “The only country in the world with a standing agenda item at the Human Rights Council is not North Korea, a totalitarian state that is currently holding an estimated 100,000 people in gulags; not Syria, which has gassed its people — lots of them. It is Israel.”

 

It should be remembered that the Human Rights Council was created in 2006 to replace the old Commission on Human Rights. At the time, the outgoing UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, expressed hope that the new Council would break with the past, by preventing serial human rights abusers from gaining membership as easily as they had with the previous Commission, and by shifting away from the excessive focus on Israel. So Power’s remarks confirm that this goal has yet to be attained. She’s right, too, about the bias in the UN against Israel “as an idea.” The roots of the rot go very deep.

 

Fifty years ago, when the West Bank was still occupied by Jordan, the Soviet Union began a campaign that was to culminate in the 1975 UN General Assembly resolution equating Zionism with racism. The Israeli scholars Joel Fishman and Yohanan Manor have unearthed how, in the October 1965 proceedings of one of its sub-committees, the Soviets responded to a joint US-Brazil resolution condemning antisemitism with an amendment urging the inclusion of “Zionism” as well. So let there be no doubt: Before there was an “Israeli occupation,” there was a demonization campaign against the Jewish nature of the state underway.

 

By the time the General Assembly passed Resolution 3379 in 1975, the key slander it contained — the bracketing of the national liberation movement of the Jewish people with South African apartheid — was already a familiar one in the halls of the UN. It fed on the same poisonous atmosphere, marked by terrorism and the constant threat of a Middle East war, that birthed such horrors as the Red Army Fraction, a group of well-heeled German students who hijacked planes and murdered Jews and others in the name of the Palestinian cause. And it remained on the books for 16 years before it was rescinded in a curt, single-line resolution on the eve of the historic 1991 Middle East peace conference.

 

The problem is that the UN continues to behave as if it regards Zionism as a form of racism. And the reason for that is simple. Structurally, nothing has changed at the UN since the coming, and then going, of Resolution 3379. The systemic bias identified by Power remains because the same bodies that have targeted Israel in the past continue to do so now.

 

It’s not just the Human Rights Council. On the same day that it passed the Zionism-is-racism resolution, the General Assembly created the memorably named “Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People,” along with an entire “Division of Palestinian Rights” for research, information, and propaganda requirements. For more than 40 years now, the UN has annually spent several million dollars of member-state money on NGO conferences on the Palestinian territories, “fact-finding” junkets composed of minor officials who decide that Israel is guilty before they even reach the airport, and endless resolutions and reports that cement the false image of Israel as a rogue state.

 

The Palestinian People Committee’s report to the General Assembly for its 2015 activities tells you all you need to know about how anti-Israel bias works its way through the UN system. Inter alia, we learn that one “Noam Chomsky, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology,” delivered a lecture as part of the “International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.” We are told about the economic costs of the “occupation,” but the rife corruption in the Palestinian Authority that has eaten billions of dollars in aid money isn’t mentioned. At another point, we are informed that calculating the “occupation’s cost” is “complex and multidimensional, requiring expertise in economics, law, history, and politics.” Preferably acquired at the Kim Il Sung University in Pyongyang, I’ll wager.

 

These and similar ignominies are documented on a regular basis by UN Watch, which also reports diligently on those human rights crises ignored by the UN. But what hasn’t yet happened is an international discussion about the future of the Palestinian People Committee and its associated bodies…

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

                                                                       

Contents

              THE TRAGEDY OF EHUD OLMERT IN RETROSPECT

                   Isi Leibler                      

                                                Jerusalem Post, Feb. 17, 2016

 

The image of former prime minister Ehud Olmert, now 70, entering Ma’asiyahu Prison to serve a 19-month sentence for bribery and obstruction of justice is a shocking stain on the entire nation. To witness such a talented man fall to such depths saddened me. I befriended Olmert after hosting him in Australia in the 1980s, where he made a tremendous impact on the community and built up a cadre of friends who admired him. Subsequently, I spent many hours with him in the Knesset, in his ministerial offices, and was especially close to him when he became mayor of Jerusalem.

 

Olmert was a consummate politician and fundraiser, an outstanding networker with an engaging personality and a well-deserved reputation of loyalty to his friends. Ironically, following in his father’s footsteps and being elected to the Knesset as the youngest MK, his initial impact was a vigorous campaign against corruption. He opposed the peace treaty with Egyptian president Anwar Sadat but subsequently mended his fences with prime minister Menachem Begin and rose within the ranks of Likud, serving a term as an exemplary health minister in the Shamir government.

 

Olmert was a leader in the national camp, bitterly opposed the Oslo Accords, sought to close Orient House, the PLO’s headquarters in Jerusalem, and even demanded the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. In 1993, he was elected mayor of Jerusalem, defeating the longstanding and legendary Teddy Kolleck. For 10 years as mayor he was a champion for a united Jerusalem. When prime minister Ehud Barak floated the idea of dividing the capital in an unsuccessful effort to coax Yasser Arafat to agree to a settlement, Olmert organized a massive global meeting in support of a united Jerusalem, attended by 300,000 people.

 

In 2003, Olmert reentered the Knesset as a member of Sharon’s government, serving for three years as minister of industry, trade and labor. In a shocking display of crude political opportunism, the rightwing Likud leader with a Revisionist background became, virtually overnight, prime minister Sharon’s most aggressive and effective proponent of the disastrous unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip. He was brutal and even cruel in the mocking of his former friends and allies and trivialized the forcible eviction of the Gush Katif settlements. At that stage, I became one of his most fervent critics.

 

Olmert’s volte-face was reflected in a keynote speech he gave to the left-wing American-based Israel Policy Forum in June 2005, when he stated, “We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies.” Having secured for himself the title of deputy prime minister, he was able to seize the reins of leadership when Sharon was incapacitated by a stroke…

 

In 2007, Olmert participated in the revived peace talks in Annapolis, Maryland, where he virtually adopted the Palestinian narrative, stating that “for dozens of years, many Palestinians have been living in camps, disconnected from the environment in which they grew, wallowing in poverty, neglect, alienation, bitterness and a deep, unrelenting sense of deprivation. …I know that this pain and humiliation are the deepest foundations which fomented the hatred against us.” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ignored Olmert’s groveling remarks, stressing that the Palestinians would never recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

 

Olmert told the Israeli media that unless a Palestinian state were created, the Jewish state would be engaged in apartheid and “the State of Israel is finished.” Desperate to rehabilitate his political reputation and retrieve his legacy – and without consulting the Knesset or cabinet – Olmert offered Abbas 98% of the West Bank, forgoing defensible borders and Israel’s security presence along the Jordan River. Furthermore, he agreed to divide Jerusalem and was even willing to yield jurisdiction of the Temple Mount to a multinational committee. He also undertook to allow a number of Arab refugees to settle inside Israel without any reference to restitution for Jews expelled from Arab countries in 1948.

 

Fortunately for Israel, like his predecessor Arafat, Abbas rejected Olmert’s proposals and even failed to make a counter offer, merely repeating his demand of the “right of return” for all Palestinian refugees, which amounts to the dissolution of the Jewish state. In retrospect, Olmert proved to be the worst prime minister Israel has known. The irresponsible unauthorized offers he extended to the Palestinians are to this day being exploited by them as a benchmark for reopening negotiations…

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

                                                                               

 

Contents

‘THE POETRY OF YEHUDA AMICHAI,’ EDITED BY ROBERT ALTER

Rosie Schaap                                             

New York Times, Jan. 29, 2016

 

I have one selfish quibble with the expansive, magnificent new book “The Poetry of Yehuda Amichai,” edited by Robert Alter. It excludes a personal favorite, “The Eve of Rosh Hashanah.” Every year, on the occasion of its title, I read the poem aloud. In Chana Bloch and Stephen ­Mitchell’s translation, it begins: “The eve of Rosh Hashanah. At the house that’s being built,//a man makes a vow: not to do anything wrong in it,//only to love. — and ends: And whoever uses people as handles or as rungs of a ladder//will soon find himself hugging a stick of wood//and holding a severed hand and wiping his tears//with a potsherd.”

 

I share it with my family and my friends, Jews and non-Jews, poetry lovers and those who have made their distaste for poetry known. I often share poems I love, but nothing ever gets a response as enthusiastic as “The Eve of Rosh Hashanah” does. It reminds us — because Amichai knew we sometimes need reminding — to treat one another with decency and care; to love, not to exploit. It is useful, and usefulness mattered to Amichai. Chana ­Kron­feld, in her penetrating new monograph on the poet, THE FULL ­SEVERITY OF COMPASSION (Stanford University, $55), quotes him: “ ‘The main thing is to be useful,’ ­Amichai would often say. . . . Providing useful ­poetry was indeed something he was always proud of, especially when it was ordinary human beings, not the mechanisms of state or institutional religion, that would find some practical application for his words.”

 

Amichai was so famous in Israel that, as Mel Gussow wrote in his 2000 New York Times obituary, “walking in Jerusalem, his home for many years, he would be recognized and accorded the attention that in the United States might be reserved for a movie star or athlete.” Both Alter and Kron­feld (many of her translations, with Chana Bloch, also appear in Alter’s book) disclose a deep concern about the peculiar burden of Amichai’s popularity in Israel that feels both corrective and protective: They are not only the poet’s exegetes and translators, they were also his friends. Amichai’s popularity — facilitated by the clarity and immediacy of his poems, and a tendency, in Alter’s words, to “think of Amichai primarily as a vernacular poet of everyday experience” — has been a deterrent to understanding that “his language is scarcely as vernacular, and not at all as simple, as it is often imagined to be.”…                                                    

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

 

CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

 

On Topic

 

Don’t Shoot the Messenger, Israel: Ban Ki-Moon, New York Times, Jan. 31, 2016—IN Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, 2016 has begun much as 2015 ended — with unacceptable levels of violence and a polarized public discourse. That polarization showed itself in the halls of the United Nations last week when I pointed out a simple truth: History proves that people will always resist occupation.

The Moral Relativism of the United Nations: Manfred Gerstenfeld, JCPA, Jan. 13, 2016 —The United Nations, its affiliated organizations, and its representatives pervasively and recurrently employ moral relativism to attack Israel.

UN Ignored Claims of French Peacekeepers Giving Children Food for Sexual Favours, Report Says: Cara Anna, National Post, Dec. 17, 2016—The United Nations’ “gross institutional failure” to act on allegations that French and other peacekeepers sexually abused children in the Central African Republic led to even more assaults, according to a new report released Thursday.

Double Standards and the Intifada: Jonathan S. Tobin, Commentary, Jan. 20, 2016—That the Obama administration has forfeited the trust of Israelis is not news. After seven years of picking fights with their government over consensus issues like Jerusalem, the 1967 borders and then embracing détente with Iran, the growing divide between the two allies is not in dispute.

Justice Antonin Scalia and the Jews: Aish, Feb. 13, 2015—US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016. Justice Scalia was a strong-willed and polarizing figure on the bench. Here are five little-known facts about Justice Scalia as they relate to the Jewish community.

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

ISRAEL’S COMING ELECTION: DESPITE WILD CARDS, 
NETANYAHU’S BLOC STRONGER, OPPOSITION LEADERLESS

 

 

Articles:

Netanyahu Faces Wild Cards in Early Elections

The Israeli government has called a general election for Jan. 22, and polls suggest Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightist-religious coalition is likely to win a renewed majority — but an array of wild cards make the outcome of this campaign unpredictable nonetheless….

Ha’aretz poll: Netanyahu Beats Election Rivals, Right-wing Bloc Grows Stronger
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no serious challenger in the next election, political experts said, after he launched the campaign for the 19th Knesset on Tuesday. A poll carried out for Ha’aretz on Wednesday appears to confirm this.

A More Realistic Electoral Reform Plan
It’s that time of the year again when voters’ minds begin to think about “What if?” What if we had a better election system? What if our representatives were elected from districts instead of nationwide?

 

 

On Topic Links

 

 

Murdoch: 'Nightmare for Israel' If Obama Wins

Candidly Speaking: On Israeli Racism and Democracy

Netanyahu: My Gov't Brought Security Back To Israel
 

 

NETANYAHU FACES WILD CARDS IN EARLY ELECTIONS

Dan Perry

Times of Israel, Associated Press, October 15, 2012

 

The Israeli government has called a general election for Jan. 22, and polls suggest Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightist-religious coalition is likely to win a renewed majority — but an array of wild cards make the outcome of this campaign unpredictable nonetheless….

 

The vote also comes at a pivotal point in the increasingly acrimonious cultural clash between Western-oriented liberals and Netanyahu’s resilient alliance of social conservatives, security hawks and fundamentalist Jews.

 

That dichotomy is mirrored in Israel’s traditional electoral map, a bewildering affair that nonetheless reduces to two rival “blocs” vying for 61 out of 120 Knesset seats — the threshold needed to form a government.

 

The “left” bloc, historically led by the Labor Party, wants the West Bank and Gaza — captured from Jordan and Egypt respectively in the 1967 war — either traded for peace or separated from Israel in some other way to protect a Jewish majority within “Israel proper.” Jews currently make up about three-quarters of Israel’s population, but when the West Bank and Gaza are included, the breakdown between Jews and Arabs is close to 50/50. Smaller dovish groups and parties from Israel’s Arab minority are also in this bloc.

 

The “right” bloc is led by Netanyahu’s Likud, which historically has been hostile to territorial concessions. Netanyahu now says he is ready for a limited Palestinian state in some of the West Bank — yet his government continues to build Jewish settlements deep inside it and few take him at his word. Rounding out the bloc are even more nationalist groupings and religious parties eager to deepen the Jewish character of the state.

 

Polls suggest the right could win about 65 Knesset seats — a near-default majority that has mostly held for decades, built in part by the demographic advantage of a religious minority with high birthrates….The new campaign presents a significant number of wild cards that could affect the result:

 

THE CENTER

 

Popular dissatisfaction with the left-right dichotomy occasionally gives rise to “centrist parties” that claim they might align with either bloc. But these days such parties — whose support and makeup generally reflects the secular and Westernized side of Israel — find their natural location with the left, as Kadima did, and amount to a device for taking votes from the right.

 

The newest centrist offering is Yesh Atid (There Is A Future), built around the popularity of 49-year-old Yair Lapid — a former TV news anchor, talk show host, newspaper columnist, movie star, mystery novelist and amateur boxer. Polls show he could lead one of the largest parties, with up to 19 seats. Depending on whom he chooses to run by his side, he seems to have a shot at taking votes from the right.

 

A RIVAL

 

Whereas Netanyuahu is unchallenged in his bloc, the left is splintered into at least three mid-sized parties: a somewhat resurgent Labor, with former journalist Shelly Yachimovich as its leader, running mostly on social issues such as redistribution of wealth; Kadima, now led by the relatively unpopular former military chief Shaul Mofaz; and Yesh Atid.

 

There is tremendous pressure on them to unite, driven by the idea that this would change the psychology of the race and draw support greater than the sum of the left’s current parts. Indeed, a poll in the Jerusalem Post found that a unified party would outpoll Likud and become the largest party.

 

Would that be enough to crack the advantage of the wider right bloc? That may depend on whether a galvanizing figure is brought in to lead it.

 

The current speculation focuses on an Olmert comeback, which he is believed to be considering and which would be a gamble. Forced from office four years ago by a corruption scandal, he has been cleared of most charges but still faces trial in a bribery case. The backup is Tzipi Livni, Olmert’s foreign minister and a former Kadima leader — who is also said to be mulling the creation of yet another centrist party.

 

THE GENERAL

 

Gabi Ashkenazi, who was military chief until last year, is so popular that it is generally accepted that the recent law freezing top security officials out of politics for three years after their retirement was formulated mostly to keep him from leading the left against Netanyahu — and so in popular parlance it bears his name.

 

Taciturn and tough-looking, with security credentials and of politically useful mixed European and Middle Eastern heritage he is believed to have strong appeal to the right. The much-discussed scenario has him campaigning for the left under the understanding that if the bloc wins it would repeal the “Ashkenazi Law” and appoint him defense minister.

 

DEFECTIONS

 

Although the right bloc has propped Netanyahu nicely for four years, two potential defections exist. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the mid-sized Yisrael Beiteinu party, is an aggressive nationalist who nonetheless took part in the last Kadima government, is bitter about a years-long corruption investigation, and harbors ambitions of leading the right bloc that suggest an interest in seeing Netanyahu go down. And Arieh Deri, the only major ultra-Orthodox leader who is seen as moderate on the Palestinians, is returning to politics after a jail spell and a long hiatus; if he is not reinstated as head of the religious Shas Party many expect him to run against it, taking some of its dozen-odd seats and possibly delivering them to the left.

 

IRAN

 

Some in Netanyahu’s circle cast the election as a referendum on attacking Iran — or at least on Israel’s right to act militarily to prevent the Islamic Republic from achieving nuclear weapons capability. Normally, on security issues, Israelis do turn hawkish at the polls.

 

But this one is complicated: The security establishment considers the talk of an attack reckless and seems to oppose the idea; much of the world is arrayed against the notion, seeking more time for economic sanctions to force Iran’s hand; and polls show the Israeli public — fearing a massive counterstrike including missiles on their cities and mayhem on their borders — opposes any move that is not coordinated with the United States. It could make very uncomfortable campaigning for Netanyahu.

 

IT’S THE ECONOMY

 

Netanyahu supporters nonetheless hope the election hinges on the usual strategic issues, especially the Palestinians. On that well-worn ground, Likud is helped by the perception here that the Palestinians are sticking to unreasonably maximalist positions — including a division of Jerusalem that would mean a potentially tense border running right through the downtown of the holy city.

 

But if the left can change the discourse, Netanyahu is vulnerable on two issues.

 

So many Israelis are unhappy with the economy — surprisingly good macroeconomic figures alongside tremendous income gaps and widespread poverty — that a social protest movement largely aimed against the government last year sent hundreds of thousands to the streets. If this becomes an election issue it could galvanize the left vote — which historically, unlike the disciplined masses of the religious right, tends to be lazy on election day.

 

And Netanyahu is dangerously exposed on the question of ending the current system of draft exemptions for tens of thousands in the burgeoning ultra-Orthodox minority — ordered earlier this year by the Supreme Court, supported by most Israelis, and largely ignored by his government. The secular majority, including many on the right, is increasingly alarmed by Orthodox efforts to segregate the sexes in public, their widespread reliance on state handouts, and their school system, which turns out Torah scholars who know little English or math and have few skills for the work world. Netanyahu’s utter dependence on their parties’ votes for the right bloc’s majority could focus minds, drive away the center and amount to his Achilles’ heel in this campaign. (Top of Page)

 

HAARETZ POLL: NETANYAHU BEATS ELECTION RIVALS,
RIGHT-WING BLOC GROWS STRONGER

Yossi Verter

Ha'aretz, October 11, 2012

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no serious challenger in the next election, political experts said after he launched the campaign for the 19th Knesset on Tuesday. A poll carried out for Ha’aretz on Wednesday appears to confirm this.

 

The poll, conducted by Dialog under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, shows that Netanyahu easily defeats all his possible rivals from the center-left bloc. As far as the public is concerned, Netanyahu is deemed much more suitable for post of prime minister than any of his potential rivals.

 

At the same time, the Likud-right wing-ultra-Orthodox bloc has increased its strength to 68 Knesset seats, while the center-left bloc has gone down to 52, compared to the blocs' respective strength in the outgoing Knesset and the previous poll.

 

The candidate with the highest support after Netanyahu is Tzipi Livni, who has retired from political life. However, Livni, who is considering a return, fails to muster more than half of the support attributed to Netanyahu (57 percent – 28 percent ).

 

Ironically, Livni, who failed as Kadima's leader in the opposition, lost to Shaul Mofaz in the party primaries and was ousted from the political arena by her party members, is the leading opposition candidate. Kadima members may regret voting for Mofaz as their party leader in March. No wonder many of them are hoping that she or Ehud Olmert will return. Or even both of them.

 

Support for the remaining potential candidates – former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who hasn't decided yet whether he's throwing his hat in the ring, Atzmaut leader Ehud Barak, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz and Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich – is not impressive. The poll results lead to the conclusion that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister.

 

The poll…shows that support for Netanyahu is even stronger than it was in the previous poll some two weeks ago. Asked about their satisfaction with Netanyahu's performance as prime minister, 45 percent of the interviewees were satisfied and 45 percent were dissatisfied, marking a 15 percent improvement from the last poll, in which only 38 were satisfied compared to 53 who were not. The improvement in Netanayhu's position likely results from his presentation at the UN and perhaps from his announcement of early elections.

 

While the Likud receives a few more Knesset seats and Labor a few less, Yair Lapid is considerably stronger, according to this poll. Ehud Barak's Atzmaut Party does not obtain the minimum required votes to enter the Knesset.  Future polls are expected to examine the repercussions of a party led by Olmert on the political map. However, in view of the right wing bloc's strength, it is hard to imagine Olmert, with or without Livni, attracting enough cross-over votes from the right.

 

If Olmert joins the campaign, he will no doubt affect the power balance in the center-left bloc dramatically. Yacimovich will weaken, Lapid will weaken even more. Mofaz will probably have to renounce his place as Kadima leader. It is not clear, however, whether this will change the outcome for Netanyahu.  (Top of Page)

 

 

A MORE REALISTIC ELECTORAL REFORM PLAN
David Gleicher

Jerusalem Post, October 14, 2012

 

It’s that time of the year again when voters’ minds begin to think about “What if?” What if we had a better election system? What if our representatives were elected from districts instead of nationwide? In response, “good government” groups and political parties propose various electoral reform ideas, all of them doomed to go down in flames because the reformers forget a basic rule of politics (and of life, I suppose): No one is going to vote to put themselves out of a job.

I’m not against electoral reform. In fact, as a former participant/member of the Cook County Democratic Party (a.k.a. the “Machine”), I believe in the late Mayor Richard J. Daley’s adage, “Good government is good politics.” But you’ve got to be realistic about what you can accomplish.

In light of that, I propose an electoral reform plan that can maybe, just possibly, pass, because, counter-intuitively, it adds 30 more Knesset seats, thus preserving the jobs of many current MKs. Here’s how it would work:

1: Israel would be divided into 25 electoral districts of roughly equal population. The districts would be drawn by a committee consisting of Knesset representatives, judges and respected “public” members to be chosen by the president. The committee would be instructed to keep districts compact and neighborhoods intact in order to prevent American-style gerrymandering.

Each district would elect three representatives. However, no more than two of a district’s representatives could be from the same party. A voter would have three votes at his disposal. S/he could give one candidate all three votes or split the votes between two candidates or give three candidates one vote each. This will prevent one party from dominating any single district….

2: The other 75 seats would be voted on as we do now, as a national ticket. However, the threshold requirement would be 4 percent of the vote, giving a party three seats. This would still give the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and Arab parties representation in the Knesset, but would force other smaller parties to consolidate or die.

3: The head of the national ticket (that is, the non-district seats) would be that party’s candidate for prime minister. However, if a party gets fewer than 25 “national” seats, its candidate for prime minister would be forced into a runoff against the second-highest party’s candidate.

Unlike today, the winner would automatically be named prime minister for a four-year term. To give the government stability, a no-confidence vote in the government’s first year would require 100 votes; in the second year, 90 votes; in the third year, 80 votes; and in the fourth year, a mere majority.

4: Cabinet members would be appointed by the prime minister and approved by the Knesset. However, a cabinet minister or deputy minister could not also serve as a Knesset member. That would enable ministers to concentrate on their ministries, not general Knesset affairs.

In addition, while Knesset members from districts will receive an office allotment and funds for a secretary and aide, MKs elected on the party slate, not having district responsibilities, will be allotted only one secretary and share a receptionist with other MKs. Another advantage: With the increase in numbers of MKs, each one will have fewer committee assignments, allowing the MK to concentrate on that committee’s work.

The raising of the Knesset from 120 to 150 seats will be controversial, but it is a necessary price to get this proposal passed because it would still give smaller parties representation. And we would not be “over-represented.”

According to research done by former Jerusalem Post executive editor Amotz Asa-El in his must-read study of Israeli electoral reform (“Israel’s Electoral Complex,” Azure Magazine, Winter, 2008), mixed legislative systems used in other western countries have the following legislators per citizen: Finland and Sweden have about 26,000 citizens per legislator, Denmark has 29,000, New Zealand has 31,000, and Austria has 32,000. Right now there is one Knesset member for every 62,500 Israelis. The change would make it one MK per 50,000 Israelis, still fewer legislators than the countries listed above.

Politics is the art of compromise. Add 30 more legislators and maybe we get reform. I think it’s worth the price. And when former Ra’anana mayor Ze’ev Bielski realizes that he could easily run and win from a Ra’anana district more easily than as a generic Kadima member, and when Tzipi Hotovely realizes that her Rehovot neighbors will vote for her without the need to deal with Likud vote contractors, we may see MKs come to the same conclusion that “Good government is good politics.” (Top of Page)

_______________________________________________________

 

Murdoch: 'Nightmare for Israel' If Obama Wins: Paul Scicchitano, Newsmax, October 14, 2012

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch tweeted on Saturday that it would be a “nightmare for Israel” if President Obama is re-elected to a second term.

 

Candidly Speaking: On Israeli Racism and Democracy: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, October 10, 2012

Nothing makes us cringe more than screaming headlines reporting racist outbursts or hate crimes in our own country. No matter how rare, such acts not only shame us but encourage us to ask ourselves how such obscene behavior could occur in the homeland of the Jewish people which itself endured 2,000 years of persecution and humiliation in the Diaspora.

 

Netanyahu: My Gov't Brought Security Back To Israel: Jpost Staff, Jerusalem Post, October 15 2012
PM addresses Knesset, officially asking to advance elections to January 22, 2013, making his case to be reelected; says, "anyone who underestimates the threat a nuclear Iran poses to Israel is not worthy to be PM."

ISRAEL’S COMING ELECTION: DESPITE WILD CARDS, 
NETANYAHU’S BLOC STRONGER, OPPOSITION LEADERLESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Articles:

Netanyahu Faces Wild Cards in Early Elections

The Israeli government has called a general election for Jan. 22, and polls suggest Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightist-religious coalition is likely to win a renewed majority — but an array of wild cards make the outcome of this campaign unpredictable nonetheless….

Ha’aretz poll: Netanyahu Beats Election Rivals, Right-wing Bloc Grows Stronger
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no serious challenger in the next election, political experts said, after he launched the campaign for the 19th Knesset on Tuesday. A poll carried out for Ha’aretz on Wednesday appears to confirm this.

A More Realistic Electoral Reform Plan
It’s that time of the year again when voters’ minds begin to think about “What if?” What if we had a better election system? What if our representatives were elected from districts instead of nationwide?

 

On Topic Links

 

Murdoch: 'Nightmare for Israel' If Obama Wins

Candidly Speaking: On Israeli Racism and Democracy

Netanyahu: My Gov't Brought Security Back To Israel
 

 

NETANYAHU FACES WILD CARDS IN EARLY ELECTIONS

Dan Perry

Times of Israel, Associated Press, October 15, 2012

 

The Israeli government has called a general election for Jan. 22, and polls suggest Benjamin Netanyahu’s rightist-religious coalition is likely to win a renewed majority — but an array of wild cards make the outcome of this campaign unpredictable nonetheless….

 

The vote also comes at a pivotal point in the increasingly acrimonious cultural clash between Western-oriented liberals and Netanyahu’s resilient alliance of social conservatives, security hawks and fundamentalist Jews.

 

That dichotomy is mirrored in Israel’s traditional electoral map, a bewildering affair that nonetheless reduces to two rival “blocs” vying for 61 out of 120 Knesset seats — the threshold needed to form a government.

 

The “left” bloc, historically led by the Labor Party, wants the West Bank and Gaza — captured from Jordan and Egypt respectively in the 1967 war — either traded for peace or separated from Israel in some other way to protect a Jewish majority within “Israel proper.” Jews currently make up about three-quarters of Israel’s population, but when the West Bank and Gaza are included, the breakdown between Jews and Arabs is close to 50/50. Smaller dovish groups and parties from Israel’s Arab minority are also in this bloc.

 

The “right” bloc is led by Netanyahu’s Likud, which historically has been hostile to territorial concessions. Netanyahu now says he is ready for a limited Palestinian state in some of the West Bank — yet his government continues to build Jewish settlements deep inside it and few take him at his word. Rounding out the bloc are even more nationalist groupings and religious parties eager to deepen the Jewish character of the state.

 

Polls suggest the right could win about 65 Knesset seats — a near-default majority that has mostly held for decades, built in part by the demographic advantage of a religious minority with high birthrates….The new campaign presents a significant number of wild cards that could affect the result:

 

THE CENTER

 

Popular dissatisfaction with the left-right dichotomy occasionally gives rise to “centrist parties” that claim they might align with either bloc. But these days such parties — whose support and makeup generally reflects the secular and Westernized side of Israel — find their natural location with the left, as Kadima did, and amount to a device for taking votes from the right.

 

The newest centrist offering is Yesh Atid (There Is A Future), built around the popularity of 49-year-old Yair Lapid — a former TV news anchor, talk show host, newspaper columnist, movie star, mystery novelist and amateur boxer. Polls show he could lead one of the largest parties, with up to 19 seats. Depending on whom he chooses to run by his side, he seems to have a shot at taking votes from the right.

 

A RIVAL

 

Whereas Netanyuahu is unchallenged in his bloc, the left is splintered into at least three mid-sized parties: a somewhat resurgent Labor, with former journalist Shelly Yachimovich as its leader, running mostly on social issues such as redistribution of wealth; Kadima, now led by the relatively unpopular former military chief Shaul Mofaz; and Yesh Atid.

 

There is tremendous pressure on them to unite, driven by the idea that this would change the psychology of the race and draw support greater than the sum of the left’s current parts. Indeed, a poll in the Jerusalem Post found that a unified party would outpoll Likud and become the largest party.

 

Would that be enough to crack the advantage of the wider right bloc? That may depend on whether a galvanizing figure is brought in to lead it.

 

The current speculation focuses on an Olmert comeback, which he is believed to be considering and which would be a gamble. Forced from office four years ago by a corruption scandal, he has been cleared of most charges but still faces trial in a bribery case. The backup is Tzipi Livni, Olmert’s foreign minister and a former Kadima leader — who is also said to be mulling the creation of yet another centrist party.

 

THE GENERAL

 

Gabi Ashkenazi, who was military chief until last year, is so popular that it is generally accepted that the recent law freezing top security officials out of politics for three years after their retirement was formulated mostly to keep him from leading the left against Netanyahu — and so in popular parlance it bears his name.

 

Taciturn and tough-looking, with security credentials and of politically useful mixed European and Middle Eastern heritage he is believed to have strong appeal to the right. The much-discussed scenario has him campaigning for the left under the understanding that if the bloc wins it would repeal the “Ashkenazi Law” and appoint him defense minister.

 

DEFECTIONS

 

Although the right bloc has propped Netanyahu nicely for four years, two potential defections exist. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, head of the mid-sized Yisrael Beiteinu party, is an aggressive nationalist who nonetheless took part in the last Kadima government, is bitter about a years-long corruption investigation, and harbors ambitions of leading the right bloc that suggest an interest in seeing Netanyahu go down. And Arieh Deri, the only major ultra-Orthodox leader who is seen as moderate on the Palestinians, is returning to politics after a jail spell and a long hiatus; if he is not reinstated as head of the religious Shas Party many expect him to run against it, taking some of its dozen-odd seats and possibly delivering them to the left.

 

IRAN

 

Some in Netanyahu’s circle cast the election as a referendum on attacking Iran — or at least on Israel’s right to act militarily to prevent the Islamic Republic from achieving nuclear weapons capability. Normally, on security issues, Israelis do turn hawkish at the polls.

 

But this one is complicated: The security establishment considers the talk of an attack reckless and seems to oppose the idea; much of the world is arrayed against the notion, seeking more time for economic sanctions to force Iran’s hand; and polls show the Israeli public — fearing a massive counterstrike including missiles on their cities and mayhem on their borders — opposes any move that is not coordinated with the United States. It could make very uncomfortable campaigning for Netanyahu.

 

IT’S THE ECONOMY

 

Netanyahu supporters nonetheless hope the election hinges on the usual strategic issues, especially the Palestinians. On that well-worn ground, Likud is helped by the perception here that the Palestinians are sticking to unreasonably maximalist positions — including a division of Jerusalem that would mean a potentially tense border running right through the downtown of the holy city.

 

But if the left can change the discourse, Netanyahu is vulnerable on two issues.

 

So many Israelis are unhappy with the economy — surprisingly good macroeconomic figures alongside tremendous income gaps and widespread poverty — that a social protest movement largely aimed against the government last year sent hundreds of thousands to the streets. If this becomes an election issue it could galvanize the left vote — which historically, unlike the disciplined masses of the religious right, tends to be lazy on election day.

 

And Netanyahu is dangerously exposed on the question of ending the current system of draft exemptions for tens of thousands in the burgeoning ultra-Orthodox minority — ordered earlier this year by the Supreme Court, supported by most Israelis, and largely ignored by his government. The secular majority, including many on the right, is increasingly alarmed by Orthodox efforts to segregate the sexes in public, their widespread reliance on state handouts, and their school system, which turns out Torah scholars who know little English or math and have few skills for the work world. Netanyahu’s utter dependence on their parties’ votes for the right bloc’s majority could focus minds, drive away the center and amount to his Achilles’ heel in this campaign. (Top of Page)

 

HAARETZ POLL: NETANYAHU BEATS ELECTION RIVALS,
RIGHT-WING BLOC GROWS STRONGER

Yossi Verter

Ha'aretz, October 11, 2012

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no serious challenger in the next election, political experts said after he launched the campaign for the 19th Knesset on Tuesday. A poll carried out for Ha’aretz on Wednesday appears to confirm this.

 

The poll, conducted by Dialog under the supervision of Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, shows that Netanyahu easily defeats all his possible rivals from the center-left bloc. As far as the public is concerned, Netanyahu is deemed much more suitable for post of prime minister than any of his potential rivals.

 

At the same time, the Likud-right wing-ultra-Orthodox bloc has increased its strength to 68 Knesset seats, while the center-left bloc has gone down to 52, compared to the blocs' respective strength in the outgoing Knesset and the previous poll.

 

The candidate with the highest support after Netanyahu is Tzipi Livni, who has retired from political life. However, Livni, who is considering a return, fails to muster more than half of the support attributed to Netanyahu (57 percent – 28 percent ).

 

Ironically, Livni, who failed as Kadima's leader in the opposition, lost to Shaul Mofaz in the party primaries and was ousted from the political arena by her party members, is the leading opposition candidate. Kadima members may regret voting for Mofaz as their party leader in March. No wonder many of them are hoping that she or Ehud Olmert will return. Or even both of them.

 

Support for the remaining potential candidates – former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who hasn't decided yet whether he's throwing his hat in the ring, Atzmaut leader Ehud Barak, Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz and Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich – is not impressive. The poll results lead to the conclusion that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister.

 

The poll…shows that support for Netanyahu is even stronger than it was in the previous poll some two weeks ago. Asked about their satisfaction with Netanyahu's performance as prime minister, 45 percent of the interviewees were satisfied and 45 percent were dissatisfied, marking a 15 percent improvement from the last poll, in which only 38 were satisfied compared to 53 who were not. The improvement in Netanayhu's position likely results from his presentation at the UN and perhaps from his announcement of early elections.

 

While the Likud receives a few more Knesset seats and Labor a few less, Yair Lapid is considerably stronger, according to this poll. Ehud Barak's Atzmaut Party does not obtain the minimum required votes to enter the Knesset.  Future polls are expected to examine the repercussions of a party led by Olmert on the political map. However, in view of the right wing bloc's strength, it is hard to imagine Olmert, with or without Livni, attracting enough cross-over votes from the right.

 

If Olmert joins the campaign, he will no doubt affect the power balance in the center-left bloc dramatically. Yacimovich will weaken, Lapid will weaken even more. Mofaz will probably have to renounce his place as Kadima leader. It is not clear, however, whether this will change the outcome for Netanyahu.  (Top of Page)

 

 

A MORE REALISTIC ELECTORAL REFORM PLAN
David Gleicher

Jerusalem Post, October 14, 2012

 

It’s that time of the year again when voters’ minds begin to think about “What if?” What if we had a better election system? What if our representatives were elected from districts instead of nationwide? In response, “good government” groups and political parties propose various electoral reform ideas, all of them doomed to go down in flames because the reformers forget a basic rule of politics (and of life, I suppose): No one is going to vote to put themselves out of a job.

I’m not against electoral reform. In fact, as a former participant/member of the Cook County Democratic Party (a.k.a. the “Machine”), I believe in the late Mayor Richard J. Daley’s adage, “Good government is good politics.” But you’ve got to be realistic about what you can accomplish.

In light of that, I propose an electoral reform plan that can maybe, just possibly, pass, because, counter-intuitively, it adds 30 more Knesset seats, thus preserving the jobs of many current MKs. Here’s how it would work:

1: Israel would be divided into 25 electoral districts of roughly equal population. The districts would be drawn by a committee consisting of Knesset representatives, judges and respected “public” members to be chosen by the president. The committee would be instructed to keep districts compact and neighborhoods intact in order to prevent American-style gerrymandering.

Each district would elect three representatives. However, no more than two of a district’s representatives could be from the same party. A voter would have three votes at his disposal. S/he could give one candidate all three votes or split the votes between two candidates or give three candidates one vote each. This will prevent one party from dominating any single district….

2: The other 75 seats would be voted on as we do now, as a national ticket. However, the threshold requirement would be 4 percent of the vote, giving a party three seats. This would still give the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and Arab parties representation in the Knesset, but would force other smaller parties to consolidate or die.

3: The head of the national ticket (that is, the non-district seats) would be that party’s candidate for prime minister. However, if a party gets fewer than 25 “national” seats, its candidate for prime minister would be forced into a runoff against the second-highest party’s candidate.

Unlike today, the winner would automatically be named prime minister for a four-year term. To give the government stability, a no-confidence vote in the government’s first year would require 100 votes; in the second year, 90 votes; in the third year, 80 votes; and in the fourth year, a mere majority.

4: Cabinet members would be appointed by the prime minister and approved by the Knesset. However, a cabinet minister or deputy minister could not also serve as a Knesset member. That would enable ministers to concentrate on their ministries, not general Knesset affairs.

In addition, while Knesset members from districts will receive an office allotment and funds for a secretary and aide, MKs elected on the party slate, not having district responsibilities, will be allotted only one secretary and share a receptionist with other MKs. Another advantage: With the increase in numbers of MKs, each one will have fewer committee assignments, allowing the MK to concentrate on that committee’s work.

The raising of the Knesset from 120 to 150 seats will be controversial, but it is a necessary price to get this proposal passed because it would still give smaller parties representation. And we would not be “over-represented.”

According to research done by former Jerusalem Post executive editor Amotz Asa-El in his must-read study of Israeli electoral reform (“Israel’s Electoral Complex,” Azure Magazine, Winter, 2008), mixed legislative systems used in other western countries have the following legislators per citizen: Finland and Sweden have about 26,000 citizens per legislator, Denmark has 29,000, New Zealand has 31,000, and Austria has 32,000. Right now there is one Knesset member for every 62,500 Israelis. The change would make it one MK per 50,000 Israelis, still fewer legislators than the countries listed above.

Politics is the art of compromise. Add 30 more legislators and maybe we get reform. I think it’s worth the price. And when former Ra’anana mayor Ze’ev Bielski realizes that he could easily run and win from a Ra’anana district more easily than as a generic Kadima member, and when Tzipi Hotovely realizes that her Rehovot neighbors will vote for her without the need to deal with Likud vote contractors, we may see MKs come to the same conclusion that “Good government is good politics.” (Top of Page)

_______________________________________________________

 

Murdoch: 'Nightmare for Israel' If Obama Wins: Paul Scicchitano, Newsmax, October 14, 2012

Media mogul Rupert Murdoch tweeted on Saturday that it would be a “nightmare for Israel” if President Obama is re-elected to a second term.

 

Candidly Speaking: On Israeli Racism and Democracy: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, October 10, 2012

Nothing makes us cringe more than screaming headlines reporting racist outbursts or hate crimes in our own country. No matter how rare, such acts not only shame us but encourage us to ask ourselves how such obscene behavior could occur in the homeland of the Jewish people which itself endured 2,000 years of persecution and humiliation in the Diaspora.

 

Netanyahu: My Gov't Brought Security Back To Israel: Jpost Staff, Jerusalem Post, October 15 2012
PM addresses Knesset, officially asking to advance elections to January 22, 2013, making his case to be reelected; says, "anyone who underestimates the threat a nuclear Iran poses to Israel is not worthy to be PM."

MYTHES ET RÉALITÉS : ISRAËL, LA « PAIX » AVEC LES PALESTINIENS, LA « GUERRE » AVEC L’ÉGYPTE ET L’ANTISÉMITISME EN MILIEUX ACADÉMIQUES D’EUROPE

 

LE MYTHE DE LA PAIX MANQUÉE

AVEC LES PALESTINIENS

Le Centre des Affaires Publiques et de l'État, Jérusalem (CAPE), 15 mai 2012

 

Lors d’une récente interview diffusée sur CNN, l’ancien Premier ministre, Ehoud Olmert, a donné l’impression qu’en 2008, il était sur le point de signer un accord de paix avec le président de l’Autorité palestinienne, Mahmoud Abbas. Toujours selon Olmert, le rendez-vous historique a raté en raison d’une intervention financière de la part de certains milieux américains qui ont agi par tous les moyens pour le destituer.

Indépendamment de ses motifs politiques, Olmert a alimenté le mythe répandu dans le monde entier, selon lequel les Israéliens et les Palestiniens étaient très proches de la signature d’un accord. Il fallait seulement une poussée de la part de diplomatie américaine pour combler les dernières minimes divergences. Hélas, la vérité était tout autre et bien différente.

 Tout d’abord, nous devons considérer les négociations secrètes qu’a entamé Olmert avec Mahmoud Abbas comme une preuve supplémentaire de  l’écart énorme existant entre les concessions extrêmes faite pour la première fois par un Premier ministre israélien, et les exigences minimales des Palestiniens. Les médias ont créé rapidement le mythe et les éditorialistes ont laissé entendre que nous étions très proches d’une percée historique qui aboutira au statut  final entre l’État juif et les Palestiniens.

 Ainsi, en janvier 2001, suite aux pourparlers de Taba, les négociateurs israéliens et palestiniens ont publié une déclaration commune en annonçant tambour battant : « les deux parties affirment qu’elles n’ont jamais été aussi proches d’un accord ».Pourtant, la réponse qu’a donnée Mohamed Dahlan  au ministre des Affaires étrangères israélien de l’époque, Shlomo Ben Ami était : « C’est un non sens! » (Rahta barta en arabe). Le représentant de l’Union européenne, Miguel Moratinos, a affirmé dans son rapport à Bruxelles qu’il existait à Taba  « de sérieuses divergences » entre les deux parties. Une analyse des quinze dernières années prouve que nous avons une  tendance d’exagérer sur les succès parvenus lors des négociations israélo-palestiniennes.

 David Makovsky, ancien correspondant politique du quotidien Haaretz dans les années 90, a écrit que suite d’un entretien avec le général Shlomo Yanai, nous apprenons que la commission mixte militaire de Taba n’a pas discuté sérieusement sur les questions de sécurité et que les deux parties n’ont pas progressé dans le débat mais ont plutôt régressé.   En 2008, les pourparlers entre Olmert et Abbas ont été menés secrètement mais aucun accord concret n’a été conclu. Pourtant, à la une du  New York Times magazine Olmert dit : « jamais nous étions aussi proches  de parvenir  à un accord sur la base de principes qui pourront conduire  à mettre un terme définitif au conflit entre nous et les Palestiniens. »

 Sur la question du droit du retour des réfugiés palestiniens, et en dépit du fait qu’Olmert avait employé le terme « aspect constructif », le président Abbas a affirmé au Washington Post  qu’Olmert a bien accepté le principe « du droit au retour ». Olmert rectifia le tir et affirme maintenant que le nombre exact des réfugiés autorisé à retourner dans leur foyer reste à négocier. S’agit-il vraiment d’un « accord »?

 Sur les questions sécuritaires, il faut dire que les propositions d’Olmert étaient encore plus alarmantes. Mahmoud Abbas affirme que ces questions ont été abordé et régler avec le général James Jones, conseiller de Condoleezza Rice. Et pourtant, et en dépit de cette affirmation  aucun accord sérieux n’a été conclu avec Israël.

Dans ses Mémoires, la Secrétaire d’État, madame Rice explique qu’elle pensait qu’il fallait remplacer les forces de Tsahal dans certaines zones, telle la vallée du Jourdain, par des forces internationales et même par des forces de l’Otan. Ainsi, l’initiative d’Olmert a complètement modifié la conception selon laquelle Israël doit se défendre par lui-même. Sur Jérusalem, nous avons constaté également qu’il existait différentes versions de ce qu’Olmert prévoyait et nous pouvons dire qu’elles sont toutes problématiques.

 Toujours dans ses Mémoires, Rice écrit que Mahmoud Abbas a refusé ses propositions concernant le «  Saint Bassin » à savoir un renoncement de la souveraineté israélienne sur une zone incluant la vieille ville dont le Mont du Temple, le Mur des lamentations, le Mont des Oliviers et la cité de David. Même après une intervention du Président Bush, Mahmoud Abbas refusa d’accepter cette proposition en prétextant que sur Jérusalem  « les divergences demeurent trop grandes ».

 Dans ce contexte, peu importe qui gagnera les prochaines élections aux États-Unis, une chose est certaine, la nouvelle administration tentera de formuler une initiative de paix israélo-palestinienne et forcer les deux parties à l’accepter. Après l’échec des négociations à Camp David et de Taba, la politique étrangère des États-Unis  s’est fixée depuis à ramener ces  propositions même si dans le passé elles avaient échoué à aboutir à un accord. Aucune alternative n’a été envisagée. Ainsi, l’ancien président, Bill Clinton, pouvait écrire une décennie plus tard dans le  New York Times, concernant l’initiative d’Olmert « tous savent parfaitement à quoi ressemblera le statut final entre Israéliens et Palestiniens ».

En dépit de sa réputation problématique, les dernières apparitions d’Ehoud Olmert devant les médias américains renforcent la fausse impression selon laquelle un accord sur la signature du statut final a bien existé et il ne faut actuellement que le revitaliser… sans pour autant chercher une autre alternative plus viable pour aboutir enfin à une paix réelle et définitive dans notre région.

UNE PASSIVITÉ QUI NOURRIT LE CONFLIT

ET LE RADICALISME ISLAMIQUE

Dr Zvi Tenney

Magazine terredisrael.com, 16 mai 2012

La racine du conflit palestino-israélien étant le refus arabe de reconnaître le droit à l’existence de l’Etat d’Israël, on ne cesse de se demander pourquoi l’Occident ne s’occupe pas sérieusement de cet aspect fondamental du conflit. Il est incontestable que cette attitude ne peut qu’envenimer le conflit renforçant ainsi sa présentation erronée de « colonialisme israélien » contre lequel il est évidemment de bon ton de lutter. Présenter ainsi, le conflit sert même à légitimer la poussée de l’Islamisme en Europe ; la tuerie de Toulouse n’a-elle pas été revendiquée par l’assassin « pour venger les crimes commis contre les enfants palestiniens » ?

C’est ainsi qu’il n’y a eu aucune réaction occidentale après la déclaration de Mahmoud Abbas qui lors de sa récente visite officielle en Tunisie a réaffirmé haut et fort, comme le rapporte Al-Hayat Al-Jadid, quotidien officiel palestinien daté du 1er mai 2012, «… qu’il n’y a aucun lien juif avec Jérusalem… Les Arabes doivent se mobiliser contre la tentative qui y est faite de voler son identité islamique…. »

Aucune réaction occidentale non plus quand, dans le cadre de ce thème constant de l’Autorité palestinienne, le mufti de l’Autorité palestinienne, Mohammed Hussein, intervenant à la télévision officielle palestinienne, tenait ces propos: «…il n’y a jamais eu de lieu de culte juif sur le site de la mosquée Al-Aksa … les Juifs veulent dire ou suggèrent que ce lieu (le Mont du Temple) a été autrefois, prétendent-ils, un Temple. Cependant en réalité il n’y a jamais eu de Temple à aucune époque pas plus qu’il n’y a jamais eu de lieu de culte pour les Juifs ou d’autres sur le site de la mosquée Al-Aqsa qui date de l’an 705 de l’ère chrétienne »

Ce type de déclaration abonde et constitue un thème constant et officiel utilisé par l’Autorité palestinienne à tous les niveaux : « Jérusalem nous appartient est-il dit et redit et les Israéliens, les Juifs, tentent de se l’approprier en réécrivant l’histoire. Ce que ne peuvent tolérer les Arabes et les musulmans »

On ne peut s’étonner d’entendre également ce genre de déclarations dans le monde musulman .Voici pour exemple comment la chose s’est traduite il y a quelques jours en Egypte. A l´occasion du lancement de la campagne présidentielle du candidat Mohammed Moursi, membre des Frères musulmans, le prédicateur égyptien Safwat Higazi a prononcé, le 1er mai 2012, le discours suivant diffusé, comme le rapporte MEMRI, sur la télévision satellitaire Al-Nas :

« …Nous pouvons voir comment le rêve du califat islamique est en voie de réalisation, si Allah le veut, grâce au Dr Muhammad Moursi et à ses frères, ses supporters et son parti politique…..La capitale du califat – la capitale des États-Unis des Arabes – sera Jérusalem, si Allah le veut. Notre capitale ne doit pas être le Caire, La Mecque ou Médine. Ce sera Jérusalem, si Allah le veut. Notre appel sera – Des millions de martyrs marchent en direction de Jérusalem. Des millions de martyrs marchent vers Jérusalem…. »

Et à tout cela (et au fait bien connu qu’Israël n’existe pas pour les cartographes palestiniens et dans les manuels scolaires palestiniens), aucune réaction du Monde occidental ! Pourquoi cette passivité ? L’existence de Jérusalem juive et de son Temple ne sont-ils pas parti intégrale de l’histoire et de la tradition judéo-chrétienne du Monde occidental ? L’histoire de Jésus ne s’inscrit-elle pas dans les liens millénaires du peuple juif avec cette Terre d’Israël ?

Faut-il surtout rappeler au Monde occidental que cette négation de l’histoire judéo-chrétienne joue également un rôle moteur dans le processus d’islamisation de l’Europe qu’il redoute tant ?

LA GUERRE AVEC L'ÉGYPTE SE RAPPROCHE

Caroline Glick

upjf.com, 16 mai 2012

Le Premier Ministre Netanyahu a fièrement présenté lors d'un récent discours une des réalisations de son gouvernement, la haute clôture de sécurité le long des 220km de frontières avec l'Égypte. Le seul problème, c'est que de la vidéo ci-dessous, montre clairement que nous pourrions avoir besoin d'une voie dégagée vers le Sinaï afin d'anticiper les projets de millions d'Égyptiens qui ont l'intention de marcher sur Jérusalem. Je l'ai dit depuis des années que notre stratégie défensive doit cesser de tabler sur des systèmes militaires défensifs. Arrêtons de dépenser de l'argent pour une défense statique. (se souvenir de la ligne Bar-Lev lors de la guerre de Kippour Ndtr)

Nos ennemis préparent une manœuvre. Nous devrions adopter la seule doctrine militaire qui n'a jamais vraiment fonctionnée – l'anticipation en lançant la guerre sur leur territoire.

Nous avons besoin d'au moins d'une autre division complète de service actif – d'infanterie mécanisée de préférence – pour le Commandement Sud.  Nous avons besoin de chars, de transports de troupes blindés (APCs), de bataillons de Lance Roquettes Multiples (MLRS) et, des troupes du Génie. Nous ne pouvons pas nous permettre d'être pris par surprise.

Il y a deux leçons évidentes à tirer de ce qui se passe en Égypte.

Tout d'abord, la fameuse formule de "la terre contre la paix", elle est devenue abracadabrantesque. Nous avons donné la terre pour la paix et maintenant ils ont décidé de détruire la paix, mais de garder la terre. Dans le clip ci-dessous ils disent que leur chemin de l'invasion passe par Gaza.

Donc, ici aussi, ils prouvent que tous les gens qui ont dit que Gaza n'avait aucune valeur stratégique pour Israël ont eu tort deux fois. Comme le démontrent sur le terrain les bombardements quotidiens d'Israël à partir de Gaza, notre présence à Gaza avait empêché des attaques sur le sud d'Israël. Ainsi que leurs déclarations qui montrent clairement, que notre présence à Gaza avait bloqué la convergence des forces palestiniennes et égyptiennes dans le Sinaï qui – avec ses 220 km de frontière  avec Israël, est maintenant le point préféré de lancement d'attaques.

La deuxième leçon est bien sûr que tout l'enthousiasme des  Occidentaux, pour la «démocratie arabe» et particulièrement par les conservateurs qui ont un grand besoin de faire la guerre, d'une façon différente ressemble à une expérience rédemptrice ou quelque chose d'irresponsable au point d'en être malveillant.

Nous vous avons prévenu maintes et maintes fois que cela finirait mal. Mais vous avez dit que nous avions tort et, qu'en fait, c'était immoral en quelque sorte de préférer Moubarak au «peuple».

Maintenant, j'ai juste une petite demande pour tous ceux qui ont fait pression sur Obama pour déposer Moubarak. Non, je ne m'attends pas à des excuses. Tout ce que je demande, c'est que la prochaine fois que vous étreignez vos enfants dans vos bras, pensez aux enfants israéliens dont les vies ont été mises en danger grâce à vos pontifiants irresponsables…

LES UNIVERSITÉS EUROPÉENNES DE LA HONTE,

OU COMMENT OBTENIR UNE MAITRISE D’ANTISÉMITISME

Giulio Meotti

primo-info.eu, 13 mai 2012

Les conférences des spécialistes pro-israéliens sont annulées, et ceux qui arrivent sont évacués par les portes arrière. Un journaliste italien tire la sonnette d’alarme, les universités occidentales se transforment de façon inquiétante en bastions de la haine. D’un regard extérieur, les universités en occident ressemblent à des oasis raffinées où abondent la sagesse et la connaissance. En fait, ces institutions des hautes études se transforment de plus en plus clairement, et de façon brutale, en temples de la haine antisémite. Les facultés célèbres qui forment le berceau de la culture européenne sacrifient la liberté et Israël, en faveur de la barbarie et du refus du progrès.

Même aux États-Unis, on commence à baisser les bras. L’institut de recherche juif de San Francisco a publié dernièrement un rapport intitulé « Seul dans le système : comprendre l’isolement des étudiants juifs sur les campus », une des études les plus complètes du genre.  D’après ce rapport, plus de 40% des étudiants confirment qu’il y a de l’antisémitisme sur leurs campus. Environ 41% d’entre eux ont dû faire face à des remarques anti-israéliennes de la part de leurs professeurs de classe.

Les chiffres montrent une situation grave, même en Europe. Les universités européennes sont fières d’avoir une population étudiante musulmane importante, par contre, on compte peu d’étudiants juifs ou pro-israéliens. Alors, que 15 a 20% des inscrits dans les universités américaines sont juifs, les facultés européennes ne comptent peut-être qu’un dixième de ces chiffres. Nous sommes actuellement les témoins de la plus puissante vague anti-israélienne vue depuis le 6 avril 2002, quand 123 universitaires avaient signé une lettre ouverte publiée par le journal britannique « The Guardian » appelant à suspendre tout contact avec la culture israélienne.

L’université de Provence, en France, a annulé l’apparition d’une écrivaine israélienne survivante de la shoah, mais des responsables du Hezbollah ont été autorisés à prononcer un discours à la Sorbonne. En Hollande, l’université Erasmus a organisé dernièrement des manifestations au cours desquelles Israël était comparée à l’ex-régime d’apartheid d’Afrique du sud. Mais le cas de Peter van der Horst, professeur d’histoire catholique et juive ancienne à l’université hollandaise d’Utrecht, montre toute la peur et la haine qui dominent l’université hollandaise.

 Le chercheur de premier plan comptait prétendre dans son discours d’adieu que « l’islamisation de l’antisémitisme européen est un des développements les plus effrayants de ces dernières décennies ». Le président de l’université l’en a empêché et a censuré sa conférence. « Ce devait être ma dernière conférence », a déclaré Peter van der Horst. « Dans le Proche-Orient actuel, le niveau de démonisation des juifs est arrivé à un stade incroyable».  Les juifs sont accusés de tout ce qui est mal, cela a commence par du cannibalisme lors des attaques contre les Twin-Towers, le tsunami, la grippe aviaire, le SIDA, etc… Le comité de direction de l’université a décidé que mon discours dans son entier était dangereux, et qu’il risquait d’entrainer une réaction violente de la part des ‘organisations étudiantes musulmanes bien organisées’.

« J’ai décidé de présenter un discours plus court parce que je ne voulais pas m’exposer à un danger potentiel ». « Je me suis contraint à la censure personnelle », a ajouté Peter van der Horst. « Au pays d’Anne Franck, nous acceptons le fait qu’aujourd’hui les juifs ne peuvent pas se promener avec des symboles religieux. Nous acceptons le fait que les synagogues en Hollande soient sécurisées par la police. Comment cela va t-il finir ? ».

Des dizaines d’universitaires ont signé dernièrement une pétition qui condamne l’université de Liverpool qui a invité l’adjoint de l’ambassadeur d’Israël en Angleterre à prononcer un discours. A l’université d’Edimbourg en Écosse, les étudiants ont voté en faveur du boycott des produits israéliens. A l’université Queens de Belfast, des militants palestiniens violents ont attaqué le diplomate israélien Solon Solomon.

Le professeur Benny Morris de l’université Ben Gourion a été attaqué l’année dernière par un groupe de musulmans avant une conférence au « London School of Economics ». Apres avoir, malgré tout, fait sa conférence sur la guerre d’indépendance de l’état d’Israël, Morris fut évacué par la porte arrière de la faculté, celle qui sert à sortir les ordures, par crainte pour sa sécurité s’il sortait normalement.

« Je me suis senti comme un juif a Berlin dans les années 20 » a raconté Morris sous le choc. « Israël est un sujet totalement tabou en Europe. A Cambridge mon cours a été annulé sous la pression de groupes islamistes. Je crains que la situation ne fasse qu’empirer ». Encore en Grande-Bretagne, le spécialiste allemand en science politique, Matthias Konzl, a été invité par l’université de Leads à un séminaire de trois jours. Sa conférence devait porter sur le sujet de « l’héritage d’Hitler : l’antisémitisme islamique au Proche-Orient », et était censée réunir un large public, mais lorsqu’il est arrivé à la faculté on lui a annoncé que son intervention avait été annulée pour des « raisons de sécurité ».

Au printemps dernier, le professeur israélien Ronen Cohen, dont le pêché est de travailler au centre universitaire d’Ariel, fut éjecté d’une conférence universitaire à Berlin (il fut réintégré après de très vives protestations). En Espagne, le ministre de la construction l’a empêché de participer à une compétition internationale sur l’énergie solaire parce que l’université d’Ariel se situe en Samarie.

Selon un sondage commandé par le ministère des affaires étrangères espagnol, 62% des étudiants en université ne veulent pas de juifs dans leurs classes. Ces chiffres inquiètent plus qu’ils ne surprennent : les gens les plus antisémites en Espagne sont aussi les plus cultivés. En Italie, les sites internet populaires appellent à créer une « liste noire » des professeurs juifs. Un étudiant israélien de l’université de Torino, Amir Per, a raconté au journal italien « Corriera della sera » que « les juifs qui sont ici cachent leur identité de peur de devenir des cibles ».

Le diplomate Shai Cohen a été empêché de prononcer un discours à l’université de Pise suite à une attaque violente d’étudiants qui l’ont traite de ‘boucher’. L’ambassadeur israélien en Italie, Ehud Gol, a dû se sauver de l’université de Firenze suite à un événement du même genre. Même en Scandinavie la situation est similaire. Une chaussure fut envoyée sur l’ambassadeur d’Israël, Beni Dagan, pendant sa conférence à l’université de Stockholm. Dans ce même établissement un professeur a publié une lettre appelant les juifs à prendre leurs distances avec Israël s’ils ne veulent pas devenir des cibles de l’antisémitisme.

A l’université d’Oslo une étudiante juive, Ania Savsonik, a dû arrêter ses études d’hébreu suite aux attaques antisémites de la part des ses ‘amis’ de l’université. Les universités de Norvège ont interdit de séjour Alan Dershowitz, le célèbre professeur de Harvard, à cause de ses positions pro-israéliennes.

En 1936, au début d’une nouvelle vague d’émeutes anti-juives, le dirigeant sioniste Berl Katznelson avait écrit : « nous devons nous protéger non pas seulement des émeutes physiques mais aussi des émeutes spirituelles ». Mais aujourd’hui les émeutes spirituelles siègent dans les facultés occidentales. Il est question d’une « solution finale » universitaire que l’on peut résumer à l’aide des affiches placardées sur les murs de l’université de Londres : « La paix avec Israël est un crime ».

THE REINCARNATION OF THE 3RD ARAB ‘NO’: THE PALESTINIAN REFUSAL TO NEGOTIATE WITH ISRAEL

On Saturday, Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho delivered a letter to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas outlining Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s stance on the stalled “peace process”. According to Israeli media, Netanyahu again called for the immediate resumption of negotiations without preconditions, as called for by the Middle East Quartet, consisting of the US, UN, EU and Russia. Netanyahu’s Office later issued a joint statement saying “Israel and the Palestinian Authority are committed to achieving peace and the sides hope that the exchange of letters…will further this goal.”

 

On Sunday, Palestinian officials formally rejected Netanyahu’s overture, saying “the content of the letter did not represent grounds for returning to negotiations.” Yasser Abed Rabbo, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, thereafter reiterated the Palestinians’ refusal to resume peace talks unless Israel halts all construction across the Green Line and accepts the 1967 borders as a basis for negotiations.

 

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials today confirmed that Egyptian mediators are working to end a mass hunger strike by some 2000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

 

KICKING THE PALESTINIAN ADDICTION
P. David Hornik

American Spectator, May 8, 2012

The Palestinians have faded from view lately. There’s been an “Arab Spring,” an intensifying Iranian issue, elections in the U.S., economic travails. True, the Obama administration and the EU keep forking over funds to the Palestinian Authority. But the obsession with securing sovereign statehood for the Palestinians seems to have fallen off lately.…

There is, to begin with, the “Arab Spring” itself. Not much more than a year ago, it was still seen in some quarters as a harbinger of democracy and progress. By now this “spring” has dissolved into a spectacle of empowered Islamism, anarchy, and severe brutality—particularly, at present, in the daily atrocity stories from Syria.

Against this backdrop, it needs to be asked whether creating still another Arab state—a Palestinian one—would be either prudent or moral. Indeed, several of the already-existing Arab states were 20th-century Western creations. Of these, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, for instance, have been afflicted with internal strife sometimes escalating to the mass murder of tens of thousands of people. All the 21 sovereign states of the Arab League are dictatorships beset with corruption and poverty.…

The two already-existing Palestinian entities, of course, exhibit these pathologies. Semi-sovereign, Hamas-run Gaza is an Islamist dictatorship that fires rockets into Israel. The West Bank Palestinian Authority…is also a dictatorship, torture rampant in its prisons, journalists muzzled. Its corruption is notorious. And like Gaza, the West Bank PA is an incubator of anti-Israeli incitement and hatred. As for internal strife, already in 2007 Hamas and Fatah fought a vicious skirmish in Gaza, throwing each other off tall buildings.…

It is, then, hard to see how conferring full sovereignty on the Palestinians would promote peace with Israel, or U.S. and Western interests. Terror and possibly war with Israel, further destabilizing rather than stabilizing the region, would be much more probable from any empirical standpoint.

To this the likely objection is that the status quo is “untenable,” that Israel cannot keep “ruling” (i.e., maintaining security control over) the West Bank without losing its Jewish-democratic character. “Untenable,” however, is a figment of Western and some Israeli imaginations. It essentially means “morally untenable.” But creating yet another Arab dictatorship is hardly a moral requirement.…

A variant of the “untenable” claim is the “demographic argument,” which says the Israeli Jewish population will soon be swamped by the total Arab-Palestinian population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. That argument, though, is irrelevant to Gaza now that Israel has left it. And as for the West Bank, the vast majority of the Palestinians in it live under PA jurisdiction in all areas of life including educational, religious, legal, administrative, and even most aspects of internal security. They are, in short, not part of the Israeli polity and no more demographically relevant to it than their Gaza counterparts. Moreover, the latest data show that even the supposedly higher Arab-Palestinian fertility rate is declining while the Israeli Jewish rate is on the upswing.…

[Given these circumstances], for the U.S., there [is] no upside to resuming the pressure on Israel to pursue a chimerical “peace.” Far too much U.S. and European attention has already been lavished on the Palestinians compared to other, truly distressed populations of the world. It’s time to kick the habit.

WHAT THE PALESTINIANS WANT
Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone Institute, May 4, 2012

No matter how much the US tries to help the Palestinians, it will always be viewed by many of them as an enemy.

[Recently], President Barack Obama gave $147 million to the Palestinians. A few days later, Palestinians demonstrated in Ramallah against the US and boycotted a ceremony held by the US Consulate-General. The protesters carried placards which read: “USAID go out!” and “We reject aid from those who deny our people the right to self-determination.”

USAID is the leading provider of bilateral development assistance to the Palestinians. This agency has given the Palestinians more than $3.5 billion since 1994 for programs in the areas of democracy and governance, education, health, humanitarian assistance, private enterprise and water resources and infrastructure.… [Nevertheless], the protesters chanted slogans denouncing US “bias” in favor of Israel. They accused the US of “covering up” for Israeli “war crimes” and of blocking [efforts by] the Palestinian leadership to seek UN recognition of a Palestinian state. More than 20 Palestinian professional unions and other organizations announced a boycott of the US-sponsored event for the same reason.

Many Palestinian journalists who were invited to cover the event also decided to stay away. Their representatives accused the US of supporting Israel and working toward “normalizing” relations between Israelis and Palestinians. In a similar show of hostility, US diplomats who visited Ramallah several months ago had shoes thrown at their vehicles.

As far as most Palestinians are concerned, the “friend of my enemy is my enemy.” Palestinians hate the US because of its continued support for Israel. The Palestinians want the US to endorse all their demands and force Israel to give them everything. As one of the leaders of the demonstrators explained, “The US will remain our enemy for as long as it does not fully support the Palestinians.…” The Americans can pour billions of dollars on the Palestinians every year, but that won’t change their hearts and minds.…

The anti-US sentiments are the direct result of incitement by the Palestinian Authority.… Palestinians are reminded almost every day that the US, which has been providing them with billions of dollars, is a foe rather than friend, although no one seems to ask how come a foe is so generous.

US aid should be conditioned not only on transparency and accountability in the Palestinian Authority, but also on an end to the campaign of hatred and incitement, as officially agreed in the Oslo Accords, but never implemented.

(Khaled Abu Toameh, an Arab Muslim, is an award-winning journalist
who has been covering Palestinian affairs for nearly three decades.
)

THE REAL PALESTINIAN REFUGEE PROBLEM
Clifford D. May

National Review, May 10, 2012

After World War II, the British left India, which was to be partitioned into two independent nations. One of them would have a Hindu majority, the other a Muslim majority. More than 7 million Muslims moved to the territory that became Pakistan. A similar number of Hindus and Sikhs moved to India. Today, not one remains a refugee.

After World War II, the British left Palestine, which was to be partitioned into two independent nations. One would have a Jewish majority, the other a Muslim majority. About 750,000 Muslims left the territories that became Israel. A similar number of Jews left Arab/Muslim lands. Today, not one of the Jews remains a refugee. But there are still Palestinian refugees—indeed, their number has mushroomed to almost 5 million. How is that possible? Through two mechanisms: First of all, a refugee, by definition, lives on foreign soil, but for Palestinians the definition has been changed, so that a displaced Palestinian on Palestinian soil also receives refugee status. Second, the international organization responsible for resettling refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), was cut out from the start. A new organization was set up exclusively for Palestinians: the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

In 1950, UNRWA defined a refugee as someone who had “lost his home and his means of livelihood” during the war launched by Arab/Muslim countries in response to Israel’s declaration of independent statehood. Fifteen years later, UNRWA decided—against objections from the United States—to include as refugees the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of those who left Israel. And in 1982, UNRWA further extended eligibility to all subsequent generations of descendants—forever.

Under UNRWA’s rules, even if the descendant of a Palestinian refugee has become a citizen of another state, he’s still a refugee. For example, of the 2 million refugees registered in Jordan, all but 167,000 hold Jordanian citizenship. (In fact, approximately 80 percent of Jordan’s population is Palestinian—not surprising, since Jordan occupies more than three-fourths of the area historically referred to as Palestine.) By adopting such a policy, UNRWA is flagrantly violating the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which states clearly that a person shall cease to be considered a refugee if he has “acquired a new nationality.…”

But UNRWA’s plan is to continue expanding—rather than shrinking—the Palestinian refugee population ad infinitum. According to UNHCR projections, by 2030 UNRWA’s refugee list will reach 8.5 million. By 2060 there will be 25 times the number registered by UNRWA in 1950—even though not one of those who actually left Israel is likely to still be breathing. Everyone understands what it would mean if all these refugees were actually to be granted a “right to return” to Israel.…

But, of course, that’s the goal: The descendants of those displaced more than 60 years ago—when the first offer of what we’ve come to call a “two-state solution” was rejected—are being used as pawns to prevent a two-state solution now or in the future. By increasing the number of refugees, by maintaining that population in poverty, dependence, and anger, by understanding that the “right of return” will be demanded by some Palestinian leaders, UNRWA is helping the extremists to prevent peace and continue to wage a war of annihilation against Israel. This anti-peace policy is being funded largely by Americans: We’ve always been the largest donor to UNRWA, contributing about $4.4 billion since 1950.

A few members of Congress have figured out what’s going on and plan to do something about it. Senator Mark Kirk (R., Ill.) is working on an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2013 State-Foreign Operations Appropriations bill that, for the first time, would establish as U.S. policy that only a Palestinian refugee can be classified as a Palestinian refugee—not a son, grandson, or great-grandson, and not someone who has resettled and taken citizenship in another country.… Representative Howard Berman (D., Calif.), ranking member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, also is considering legislative options in response to these problems. At the very least, these approaches would ensure that descendants of refugees would be listed—with unaccustomed clarity—as “descendants of refugees.”

They might still be eligible to receive UNRWA “services,” but as “Palestinian Authority citizens” who could look forward to becoming citizens of a Palestinian state—if and when the Palestinians come to the conclusion that establishing a Palestinian state is worth what it will cost: giving up the dream of destroying the Jewish state. Too few Palestinians are there yet. If Congress can rein in UNRWA, more may be moved in that direction.

(Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.)

LEGITIMATE GRIEVANCE OR POLITICAL STUNT?
Editorial

Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2012

In mid-April several dozen Palestinians began a hunger strike that has since grown to include almost 2,000 Palestinian prisoners. The prisoners demand not only an end to the practice of administrative detention, but also increased family visits and an end to solitary confinement.…

The use of administrative detention or other types of detention of terror suspects without charging them is not a uniquely Israeli method. Under UK law, suspects may be detained for up to 28 days.… In addition, the Israeli Supreme Court in 2008 noted that the “purpose [of the law] is to protect state security by removing from the cycle of hostilities anyone who is a member of a terrorist organization…in view of the threat that he represents to the security of the state and the lives of its inhabitants.” One of the laws on administrative detention applies to Israeli citizens just as it does to Palestinians in the West Bank.…

The fact that some Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails are subject to solitary confinement is also not exceptional. Many Jewish prisoners are placed in solitary confinement, including Hagai Amir, the recently released brother of the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin.… That some Palestinian prisoners have been punished by this method of imprisonment is not remarkable, in the Israeli or international context.

[Accordingly], the hunger strike being carried out by the Palestinians should be viewed in its context as a political tool, much as Gilad Schalit was used as a bargaining chip to obtain the release of Palestinian prisoners. The discovery of this new tool was made after Islamic Jihad activist Khader Adnan was released from detention after a hunger strike earlier this year. Hana Shalabi, another Islamic Jihad hunger striker, was released by Israel to the Gaza Strip on April 1. This led directly to the expansion of this method of protest among Islamic Jihad members and then among Palestinian prisoners in general.…

Israel must realize that it gains little by negotiating with the striking prisoners. Too many concessions to these strikers will encourage this method of “resistance.”

PEACEMAKING MYTHOLOGIES FROM TABA TO OLMERT
Dore Gold

Israel Hayom, May 11, 2012

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was interviewed [earlier this month] by CNN’s Christiana Ammanpour and sought to give his audience the impression that he had been on the verge of a historic peace agreement with Mahmoud Abbas in 2008, and only because of the interference of individuals from the US that brought in outside money, an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement was not reached.…

Leaving aside his dramatic accusations about millions of dollars that were transferred from what he called “the extreme right wing” in the US to hamper his peace initiative, Olmert was not even close to a final agreement, as he implied to his CNN audience. In fact, when carefully examined, Olmert’s secret talks with Abbas should be seen as the latest proof that the fundamental gaps between the most maximal concession made by an Israeli prime minister did not meet the minimal requirements of Abbas for an agreement. This was not the first time that the myth of an impending Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough, that never happened, was widely promoted.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at end of the Taba talks issued a joint statement on January 27, 2001 when their meetings concluded, saying: “The sides declare that they have never been closer to reaching an agreement.” Yet when Israeli Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben Ami repeated this to a radio reporter from Kol Yisrael, Muhammad Dahlan, [former leader of Fatah in Gaza], responded immediately afterwards by saying Kharta Barta (slang for baloney). The EU representative Miguel Moratinos even wrote in his internal report on Taba that “serious gaps remain” between the parties.… Nevertheless the myth that Israel and the Palestinians had been on the verge of an imminent breakthrough persisted.

What do we know about Olmert’s talks with Abbas?… Olmert made a proposal to [Abbas] in 2008, that he never made public in its entirety.… The most detailed version of the Olmert proposal was outlined in a cover story for the New York Times Magazine by Bernard Avishai.… Olmert told Avishai: “We were very close, more than ever in the past, to complete an agreement on principles that would have led to the end of the conflict between us and the Palestinians.” But was Olmert’s description accurate?

Avishai writes that Olmert used “constructive ambiguity” to deal with the toughest issues like the Palestinian refugees. Abbas told the Washington Post in May 2009 that…Olmert accepted the principle of the “right of return.” Yet, Olmert told Avishai two years later that the exact number of refugees that would return was still subject to further negotiation. How could this obvious gap lead Olmert to conclude that he was “very close” to completing an agreement with Abbas?

In the area of security, the Olmert proposals were even more troubling. Abbas told Avishai in the New York Times that “the file on security is closed.” But he then added “we do not claim it was an agreement but the file was finalized.” How was security “finalized” without an agreement between the parties on such an important topic? Abbas explained that the Israeli security concerns had been worked out with General James Jones, [then-US Secretary of State Condoleezza] Rice’s security advisor, but not with Israel. Unfortunately, Olmert did not seem to have a problem with this. Indeed, according Rice’s memoirs…there were Israeli security requirements that the Palestinians would not accept.…

There are different versions about what Olmert intended for Jerusalem, each more problematic than the next. He told Bernard Avishai that he was willing to give up Israeli sovereignty over what he called the Holy Basin—an area including the Old City, with the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, the Mount of Olives and the area of the City of David. Did these concessions bring Olmert as close to a final agreement as he claims? Rice write in her memoirs that Abu Mazen “refused” to accept Olmert’s offer, even after President Bush appealed to him to reconsider his position. In 2009, Abbas was interviewed by Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post and explained why he could not take Olmert’s offer to the Palestinians: “The gaps were too wide.”

Why is this question about the Olmert proposals important today? No matter who wins the upcoming US elections, the next administration will seek to shape an Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative and push the parties to accept it. [And despite] the failure of Camp David and Taba, the US foreign policy establishment has been locked on to trying to go back to proposals that plainly did not work. Alternatives have not even been considered.

In 2010, former President Clinton wrote…that because of past diplomacy and Olmert’s initiative, “everyone knows what a final agreement would look like.” Unfortunately, misinformed American presidents who are led to believe that a peace agreement was within our grasp, inevitably launch initiatives based on the terms that they heard were agreed to, only to end up clashing with their Israeli allies and walking away with a diplomatic embarrassment. Despite his tarnished reputation, Olmert’s appearances reinforce the misimpression that there was a full Israeli-Palestinian deal that once existed, that now needs to be revived.…

Israel is in a very different situation today than it was when these peace proposals were made in the past. Israelis have gone through a second intifada with suicide bomb attacks in the heart of their cities, the failure of Gaza withdrawal that led to a massive escalation of rocket attacks on southern Israel, and an Arab Spring, that has demonstrated the fragility of the regimes with which Israel has signed peace treaties as well as the probability that they could be replaced by Islamist elements. Under these circumstances, Israeli security needs in future negotiations must be stressed harder.… What is required is an alternative diplomatic strategy…rather than trying to revive a formula that has only led to diplomatic failure.

(Dore Gold, a former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations,
is president of the
Jerusalem center for Public Affairs.)