On Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 5:00pm a candle lighting ceremony will take place at Israeli President Shimon Peres’ residence in Jerusalem, ushering in the 16th Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Day. An official memorial service for Lea and Yitzhak Rabin, z”l, will be held Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 3:00pm at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.
STOP DISTORTING RABIN’S LEGACY
Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2011
As the nation commemorates the 16th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, I can vividly recollect—as though it was yesterday—the shock and anguish that we all experienced when we first heard the devastating news.
I was privileged to develop a warm rapport with Rabin who, on my frequent visits to Jerusalem before I made aliya, nearly always found quality time to talk to me. I had a great liking for him. He was a straightforward man whose frankness and impatience with small talk was refreshing.
Our discussions in the later stages were largely centered on the pros and cons of the Oslo Accords. Like many others, I felt that Rabin had been sandbagged by Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and their group into endorsing a policy that ran completely counter to his instincts and long-standing outlook.
As the process developed and he faced increasingly fierce criticism, he became impatient, inflexible and aggressive. I recall a particularly tense disagreement between us after he referred—in the media—to settlers, whom in the past he had frequently referred to as the salt of the earth.…
But contrary to what was frequently alleged, in all my private discussions with him he was never euphoric about Oslo, repeatedly describing it as a “gamble” which he felt obliged to put to the test. “If it fails,” he said, “we will take everything back,” although in retrospect, I doubt whether he really believed that was possible.
To achieve the necessary Knesset majority to endorse the Oslo Accords, Rabin cynically indulged in political corruption, bribing unsavory opposition members to defect by offering to make them government ministers. But notwithstanding this and contrary to many of his harshest critics, I remain convinced that Rabin always rationalized his actions as being in the national interest. To me, there is absolutely no question that he was a genuine Israeli patriot.
Despite his best intentions, however, the gamble failed. As a consequence of that disastrous initiative much Israeli blood was, and continues to be, shed.…
Today, as we continue to commemorate Rabin’s memory and the appalling crime of his assassination, we should feel outraged at the ruthless and cynical distortions employed by the far Left and others who invoke his memory to justify their initiatives and seek to portray him, falsely, as having shared their delusional political views.
The truth is that Rabin did not even bother to conceal his utter contempt for many of those who now have the gall to invoke his name. In fact, Rabin adamantly refused to make the concessions to the Palestinians and the Americans that were extended by our current “right wing” prime minister.
In his last Knesset speech on October 5, 1995, several weeks prior to his assassination, Rabin was adamant that “we will not return to the June 1967 lines.” Furthermore, in relation to the settlements, he said: “We committed ourselves before the Knesset not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim government and not to hinder building for natural growth.” He repeatedly vowed that he would never agree to divide Jerusalem.
Yet the left and much of the media now invoke Rabin as the leader who promoted “peace,” while condemning current Prime Minister Netanyahu, who ironically was willing to compromise on these issues.
That applies also to Rabin’s resistance to American pressure. Unlike Netanyahu, Rabin did not indulge in diplomatic niceties; when pressured he responded aggressively, reminding the Americans that Israel was a sovereign state and would not be dictated to by outside parties, even its ally the United States.
When we commemorate our assassinated prime minister, we should not concentrate on his failure in relation to Oslo. Instead, we should relate to him as one of the last of the great Labor Zionist leaders, who served his country with distinction both as a military commander and a dedicated leader.… His Yahrzeit should be commemorated in a manner designed to promote unity and harmony rather than being misrepresented to encourage division and rancor. That is how most Israelis would wish to honor the memory of Yitzhak Rabin.
THE MYTH OF ISRAEL’S RIGHTWARD TURN
Contentions, November 8, 2011
Tonight, as Israel’s memorial day for slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin begins, is a good time to debunk a myth that has recently gained great currency: that Israel’s population has become increasingly right-wing, constituting a major obstacle to peace. This myth was most famously propounded by former [US] President Bill Clinton, but it also crops up frequently in academic discourse. A study published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in September, for instance, declared that “Today Israel’s Jewish population is more nationalistic, religiously conservative, and hawkish on foreign policy and security affairs than that of even a generation ago, and it would be unrecognizable to Israel’s founders.”
Yet Rabin himself, the idol of those who propagate this myth, provides the best possible refutation of it. All you have to do is read his final speech to the Knesset, given one month before his death, to realize how far to the left Israel has traveled since then.
For instance, Rabin envisioned a final-status solution in which Israel lived alongside a Palestinian “entity which is less than a state.” Today, even the “right-wing” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly advocates a Palestinian state.
Rabin envisioned “united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev [two nearby settlements],” as “the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty.” Since then, two Israeli prime ministers have offered to give the Palestinians East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and most of the Old City.
Rabin declared that Israel’s “security border…will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.” Since then, two Israeli premiers have offered to give the Palestinians almost all the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley; even the “right-wing” Netanyahu reportedly agreed to negotiate borders based on the 1967 lines.
Rabin listed Gaza’s Gush Katif as one of the settlement blocs Israel would retain. Since then, Israel has withdrawn from every inch of Gaza.
Rabin pledged “not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.” Since then, Israel has uprooted 25 settlements (21 in Gaza and four in the West Bank) without a final-status agreement, while the “right-wing” Netanyahu instituted Israel’s first-ever moratorium on settlement construction (for 10 months), including “building for natural growth.”
Israeli public opinion has also moved dramatically leftward. Two decades ago, for instance, a Palestinian state was anathema to most Israelis; the idea was entertained only on the far-left fringe. Today, polls consistently show overwhelming support for a Palestinian state on almost all the West Bank and Gaza.
On only one issue have Israelis actually moved rightward: Far fewer now believe the “peace process” will ever produce peace. In April 1996, for instance, 47 percent expected Israeli-Palestinian peace to be achieved “in the coming years,” while 32 percent did not. In October 2011, only 32 percent foresaw peace being achieved anytime soon, while 66 percent did not. The latter results have been roughly consistent for years now.
That, however, has nothing to do with Israelis becoming more “nationalistic” or “religiously conservative” and everything to do with hard experience: Since 1993, Israel has evacuated Lebanon, Gaza and large chunks of the West Bank only to see all three become bases for murderous anti-Israel terror, while its Palestinian “peace partner” has steadfastly refused to recognize a Jewish state or cease demanding to destroy it through an influx of millions of Palestinian “refugees.”
If the world truly wants to see an Israeli-Palestinian peace, it must start addressing these very real problems. Blaming the impasse instead on a nonexistent Israeli turn rightward merely ensures that peace will remain an unachievable dream.
LETTING AN ANTI-SEMITIC TRUTHER SPEAK
IS A DISGRACE TO MCGILL
National Post, November 8, 2011
John Humphrey, the McGill University law professor who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, must be rolling in his grave. By a gross lapse in judgment, the McGill human rights centre that Humphrey inspired is about to lend its platform to Richard Falk, a lifelong apologist for terrorists and a major 9/11 conspiracy theorist.
Before inviting Falk to speak next week, on the subject of U.S. drone killings, did the university do its homework?
At first glance, the former Princeton professor of international law, prolific author and UN expert appears highly qualified.… Yet a brief review of Falk’s record shows him to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Fluent in the language of human rights, Falk’s twisted judgment, morality and sense of reality promote the very opposite. Examples abound.
First, Falk was an energetic campaigner for Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, both before and after the 1979 revolution. Days after the cleric arrived in Tehran to seize power, Falk reassured the world, in a New York Times op-ed titled “Trusting Khomeini,” that “the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.” Khomeini’s entourage, wrote Falk, had “a notable record of concern for human rights.” Indeed, the ayatollah’s “new model of popular revolution” offered the world “a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.…”
In world politics, folly carries a price, and legions of Iranians—brutalized, tortured and raped by the Islamic Republic—continue to pay it.
Second, Falk is one of the figures responsible for turning the UN Human Rights Council…into a travesty. In 2008, shortly after Falk accused Israel of planning a “Palestinian Holocaust,” a bloc of dictatorships, including Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, installed him as the council’s expert on Palestine. The mission they gave him is so biased in its formulation, that Falk tries to obscure it. He calls himself the Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories,” implying a regional jurisdiction that objectively treats all actions and parties. Yet his actual mandate is to investigate “Israel’s violations.” Not Hamas, not Fatah, not Islamic Jihad—just Israel.…
Third, Falk uses his UN post to legitimize Hamas, systematically ignoring its open incitement to genocidal murder of Jews and the deliberate targeting of civilians. Falk takes pains to portray Hamas as “the elected government” of Gaza—never mind that that the group seized power by throwing opponents off rooftops and shooting them in hospital beds.… Falk’s support for the terrorist group is so extreme that even the Palestinian Authority—as revealed in a Wikleaks cable, and which Falk himself admits—has sought to remove him, on grounds that he is a “partisan of Hamas.”
Fourth, in July Falk published a cartoon showing a dog, with “USA” written on its body and wearing a skullcap marked with a Star of David, urinating on a depiction of justice while it devours a bloody skeleton. Falk was globally censured. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay found the posting “anti-Semitic” and “objectionable.…”
Fifth, Falk is one of the world’s most high-profile 9/11 conspiracy theorists, lending his name to those who accuse the U.S. government of orchestrating the destruction of the Twin Towers as a pretext to launch wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In particular, Falk actively promotes the writings of David Ray Griffin, a disciple and close friend, who has produced 12 books describing the World Trade Center attack as “an inside job.…” Even after his UN appointment, Falk penned a 2008 article entitled, “9/11: More Than Meets The Eye,” arguing that the crimes were committed by “the established elites of the American governmental structure.”
Falk has repeatedly appeared on the “TruthJihad.com” show of Kevin Barrett, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Holocaust skeptic who rails against the “ethnic Jews” who (he says) run Washington and the media. Falk endorsed Barrett’s “good work,” while also praising Iranian tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
In January, after Falk blogged more of the same, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took the floor of the Human Rights Council to issue an unprecedented condemnation of a UN official. Falk’s remarks, said Mr. Ban, were “preposterous” and “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.”
How can McGill now treat Falk as an authority on the war on terror? What message does this send?
U.S. ambassador Susan Rice, a strong defender of the UN, called Falk’s 9/11 remarks “despicable,” saying his “distasteful sideshow” harms the cause of human rights. She’s right. And someone who consistently contorts reality to fit a preconceived political agenda—one that always ends up excusing the preachers of hate and perpetrators of terror—has no place in an institution of learning premised on the principles of rational and empirical inquiry.
(Hillel Neuer graduated from the McGill Faculty of Law in 1997
and is now the executive director of UN Watch.)
JERUSALEM AND THE FOUNDERS
New York Sun, November 4, 2011
Many of us will be watching the Supreme Court of the United States Monday, [November 7, 2011] when the justices are scheduled to hear one of those only-in-America cases, where a child is challenging one of the most powerful of the government’s secretaries. The youngster in the case is a nine-year-old American boy, Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky. The secretary he is suing is Hillary Clinton. He is asking the court to order her to carry out a law requiring the state department accede to his request that the papers memorializing his birth state that, when he was born at Shaare Zedeck hospital in the western part Jerusalem, the country he was born in was Israel.
Mrs. Clinton actually voted for the law before she refused to carry it out. That was back in 2002, when she was a member of the Senate, which passed the law on a unanimous vote. Now she is claiming that it would infringe on the powers of the president to carry out the foreign policy of the United States. Mrs. Clinton is not alone. President George W. Bush issued a signing statement when he affixed his signature to the law, making the same dissent.…
The notion that the case has any impact on foreign policy is itself in dispute, however. Master Zivitofsky’s lawyer, Nathan Lewin, won a hearing at the Supreme Court precisely by arguing that all the handwringing by Mrs. Clinton over the impact of the case is, in effect, for naught and that the effect on foreign policy of the section of the law that gives the youngster the right to a birth certificate stating the country he was born in is “trivial.”
It may be, though, that the justices will want to delve more thoroughly into the question of which branch has the upper hand constitutionally in respect of foreign policy. If that happens, get set for a marvelous argument. The lawyers for Mrs. Clinton have tried to suggest that the historical record favors the upper hand in foreign affairs going to the executive. But Mr. Lewin has placed before the judges a memorable brief, featuring such figures as Geo. Washington, John Marshall, Alex. Hamilton, Thos. Jefferson, Jas. Monroe, Henry Clay, J. Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson, Zach’ry Taylor, and A’bram Lincoln. Writes the attorney for Master Zivitofsky:
“From the founding of the Republic through the Lincoln Administration there clearly was no consensus that the Constitution assigned recognition of foreign governments exclusively to the discretion of the Executive. President Monroe requested joint action from the Congress to accord recognition to new Latin American republics. President Jackson analogized the recognition power to the power to declare war, and he left to Congress the recognition of the independent Republic of Texas. President Taylor believed that he could only ‘recommend to Congress…the recognition of Hungary.’ And President Lincoln withheld dispatch of ministers to Haiti and Liberia until Congress authorized recognition of those countries—even though he could discern no reason why nations with black populations should not be recognized.”
Master Zivitofsky, therefore, asserts that it is, in his attorney’s words, “inaccurate to say”—as the government has suggested—“that ‘it has been commonly understood since the Washington Administration’ that the President has exclusive discretionary power to recognize foreign governments. At least through the administration of President Lincoln, Presidents who were confronted with controversial recognition issues acknowledged that action or approval by the Congress was necessary before a foreign government would be formally recognized. More recent assertions of exclusive Executive authority have been challenged by Congress, and no decision of this Court or any lower federal tribunal has, until now, determined whether the President has the totally plenary discretionary recognition power that is being asserted by the Solicitor General in this case.”
It’s not every day one gets a case that opens up these vistas into our constitutional and historical substructure.… It’s just the sort of situation in which it makes sense to seek one’s wisdom in history that the Founders gave us.