Tag: Settlements


The Press Buries Hillary Clinton’s Sins: Kimberley A. Strassel, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2016 — If average voters turned on the TV for five minutes this week, chances are they know that Donald Trump made lewd remarks a decade ago and now stands accused of groping women.

The New York Times Abandoned its Integrity Just to Bash Donald Trump: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Oct. 11, 2016 — There is apparently nothing wrong with America that can’t be blamed on Donald Trump.

The New York Times’ Obsession With Settlements Means It Misses Other News: Ira Stoll, Algemeiner, Oct. 6, 2016  — One of the ways the New York Times shows its bias against Israel is with decisions on the placement of stories.

Is Obama Preparing a Parting Shot at Israel?: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2016— Last week, the U.N.’s premier cultural agency, UNESCO, approved a resolution viciously condemning Israel (referred to as “the Occupying Power”) for various alleged trespasses and violations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.


On Topic Links


Why Readers See The Times as Liberal: Liz Spayd, New York Times, July 23, 2016

The Ongoing NYT Propaganda Campaign: Prof. Phyllis Chesler, Arutz Sheva, Sept. 22, 2016

The Real Reason Reporters Don’t Give to Pols: It Would Give Away Their Agenda: Jonah Goldberg, New York Post, October 21, 2016

Checkmating Obama: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2016





Kimberley A. Strassel                                 

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 16, 2016   


If average voters turned on the TV for five minutes this week, chances are they know that Donald Trump made lewd remarks a decade ago and now stands accused of groping women. But even if average voters had the TV on 24/7, they still probably haven’t heard the news about Hillary Clinton: That the nation now has proof of pretty much everything she has been accused of.


It comes from hacked emails dumped by WikiLeaks, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, and accounts from FBI insiders. The media has almost uniformly ignored the flurry of bombshells, preferring to devote its front pages to the Trump story. So let’s review what amounts to a devastating case against a Clinton presidency.


Start with a June 2015 email to Clinton staffers from Erika Rottenberg, the former general counsel of LinkedIn. Ms. Rottenberg wrote that none of the attorneys in her circle of friends “can understand how it was viewed as ok/secure/appropriate to use a private server for secure documents AND why further Hillary took it upon herself to review them and delete documents.” She added: “It smacks of acting above the law and it smacks of the type of thing I’ve either gotten discovery sanctions for, fired people for, etc.”…


A few months later, in a September 2015 email, a Clinton confidante fretted that Mrs. Clinton was too bullheaded to acknowledge she’d done wrong. “Everyone wants her to apologize,” wrote Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress. “And she should. Apologies are like her Achilles’ heel.” Clinton staffers debated how to evade a congressional subpoena of Mrs. Clinton’s emails—three weeks before a technician deleted them. The campaign later employed a focus group to see if it could fool Americans into thinking the email scandal was part of the Benghazi investigation (they are separate) and lay it all off as a Republican plot. A senior FBI official involved with the Clinton investigation told Fox News this week that the “vast majority” of career agents and prosecutors working the case “felt she should be prosecuted” and that giving her a pass was “a top-down decision.”


The Obama administration—the federal government, supported by tax dollars—was working as an extension of the Clinton campaign. The State Department coordinated with her staff in responding to the email scandal, and the Justice Department kept her team informed about developments in the court case. Worse, Mrs. Clinton’s State Department, as documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show, took special care of donors to the Clinton Foundation. In a series of 2010 emails, a senior aide to Mrs. Clinton asked a foundation official to let her know which groups offering assistance with the Haitian earthquake relief were “FOB” (Friends of Bill) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs). Those who made the cut appear to have been teed up for contracts. Those who weren’t? Routed to a standard government website.


The leaks show that the foundation was indeed the nexus of influence and money. The head of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ira Magaziner, suggested in a 2011 email that Bill Clinton call Sheikh Mohammed of Saudi Arabia to thank him for offering the use of a plane. In response, a top Clinton Foundation official wrote: “Unless Sheikh Mo has sent us a $6 million check, this sounds crazy to do.”


The entire progressive apparatus—the Clinton campaign and boosters at the Center for American Progress—appears to view voters as stupid and tiresome, segregated into groups that must either be cajoled into support or demeaned into silence. We read that Republicans are attracted to Catholicism’s “severely backwards gender relations” and only join the faith to “sound sophisticated”; that Democratic leaders such as Bill Richardson are “needy Latinos”; that Bernie Sanders supporters are “self-righteous”; that the only people who watch Miss America “are from the confederacy”; and that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is “a terrorist.”


The leaks also show that the press is in Mrs. Clinton’s pocket. Donna Brazile, a former Clinton staffer and a TV pundit, sent the exact wording of a coming CNN town hall question to the campaign in advance of the event. Other media allowed the Clinton camp to veto which quotes they used from interviews, worked to maximize her press events and offered campaign advice.

Mrs. Clinton has been exposed to have no core, to be someone who constantly changes her position to maximize political gain. Leaked speeches prove that she has two positions (public and private) on banks; two positions on the wealthy; two positions on borders; two positions on energy. Her team had endless discussions about what positions she should adopt to appease “the Red Army”—i.e. “the base of the Democratic Party.” Voters might not know any of this, because while both presidential candidates have plenty to answer for, the press has focused solely on taking out Mr. Trump. And the press is doing a diligent job of it.        





THE NEW YORK TIMES ABANDONED ITS                                                            

INTEGRITY JUST TO BASH DONALD TRUMP                                                                        

Michael Goodwin                                                                                                  

New York Post, Oct. 11, 2016


There is apparently nothing wrong with America that can’t be blamed on Donald Trump. He is single-handedly destroying the Republican Party, trashing presidential debates and spoiling the reputation of locker-room talk. And — breaking news alert! — Trump is even changing journalism. His habit of saying things that nobody ever said before is forcing reporters to unleash their partisan views instead of just giving the facts.


Some of these charges may be true, but the one about Trump changing journalism is demonstrably false. All the more so because it comes from the editor of the New York Times, who happens to be the actual guilty party. Dean Baquet, the Gray Lady’s boss for two years, recently claimed that Trump’s campaign had forced the paper into a new way of covering politics. “I think that he’s challenged our language,” Baquet told an interviewer. “He will have changed journalism, he really will have.”


The claim is presented as one of those chin-stroking insights about a new paradigm that liberals spot around every corner. In fact, it is just another example of the Times getting it all wrong. Trump didn’t change the Times — Baquet did. He’s the one who authorized reporters to abandon the paper’s standards when covering Trump and express their personal political opinions. Or, as Baquet said in the interview with Nieman Lab’s Ken Doctor, the struggle for fairness is over. “I think that Trump has ended that struggle,” Baquet boasted. “I think we now say stuff. We fact-check him. We write it more powerfully that it’s false.”


Fact-checking, of course, is often in the eye of the beholder, and quickly morphs into opinion when there is no restraint or neutral standard. The result is the paper’s relentless, daily assault on Trump, to the advantage of Hillary Clinton. Opinions, all uniformly anti-Trump, now ooze from the paper’s every pore, with headlines on front-page “news” articles indistinguishable from daily denunciations on the editorial and op-ed pages. This is not a mere continuation of the old liberal bias that infected the Times, the Washington Post and the broadcast networks for years. This is a malignant strain of conformity that strips away any pretense of fairness in favor of strident partisanship.


The signal that the Times abandoned its traditional church-state separation of news and opinion came in an article by the paper’s media reporter two months ago. In his August piece, Jim Rutenberg declared that most reporters saw Trump “as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate,” and concluded they had a duty to be “true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history’s judgment.” Baquet, in the interview, cited the Rutenberg piece, saying it “nailed” his thinking. He also said he started “down this track” years ago, during the dispute over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and made it clear he believed then-President George W. Bush and then-Secretary of State Colin Powell lied to take America to war. The Trump treatment, he said, was a logical extension: “I think he gave us courage, if you will. I think he made us — forced us, because he does it so often, to get comfortable with saying something is false.” Baquet offered another example that got him to this point. He accused Republicans of lying in their “swift-boat” charges against Democratic nominee John Kerry in the 2004 campaign.


It is not incidental that his examples all involve allegedly dishonest Republicans, and none involves dishonest Democrats. Nothing better explains why the Times fails to give Clinton the same scrutiny it gives Trump. More than 60 percent of voters regard her as fundamentally dishonest, but Baquet sees only Republicans as liars. Simply put, his political bias precludes fair journalism. And once standards are gone, they are gone forever, meaning anyone wanting to work at the Times will face a political litmus test. Baquet’s defense of slanted coverage is reflected in the trove of ­emails WikiLeaks released from Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.


Times reporters and columnists repeatedly show up in partisan ways. Washington correspondent John Harwood sends Podesta his private approval of Hillary Clinton appearances, as if he’s on the team. Columnist Nicholas Kristof, in advance of an interview with Bill Clinton, ­emails his questions, which Podesta’s team passes around to staffers to shape Clinton’s answers.


A Washington reporter gives Hillary Clinton veto power over quotations he can use from an interview. Another reporter is praised as someone who has “never disappointed” in delivering stories the campaign wants “teed up” for public consumption. As the editor, Baquet should be outraged that his staff secretly compromised the paper’s integrity. But as the editor who eliminated the Times’ standards, he’s getting the biased paper he wanted.                                                        




THE NEW YORK TIMES’ OBSESSION WITH                                                                   

SETTLEMENTS MEANS IT MISSES OTHER NEWS                                                                       

Ira Stoll                                                                                                                  

Algemeiner, Oct. 6, 2016


One of the ways the New York Times shows its bias against Israel is with decisions on the placement of stories. The latest example comes with the newspaper’s decision to print a news article, above the fold on page one, about a flap between the Obama administration and the Israeli government over a West Bank settlement.


I’d argue that this doesn’t really amount to “news” much at all. American governments have been critical of West Bank settlements for decades. Israeli governments, meanwhile, have for decades supported allowing Israeli Jews to live in the West Bank. Jews have a long historical and religious connection there. Jewish settlements provide a security buffer in the Jordan valley. They provide affordable housing and a security buffer around the Israeli capital at Jerusalem. And the existing Jewish population in the settlements needs room to grow.


Yet the Times editors place the “United States Criticizes Israel Over West Bank Settlement Plan” headline at the top of page one, judging it to be bigger news than a bunch of other stories in the day’s paper that did not make it onto the front page at all — including the approach of Hurricane Matthew, the end of cash tolls at New York City bridges and tunnels, the selection of a new secretary-general of the United Nations and the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.


The Times is so obsessed with the settlement issue that it follows up the front-page story with another long one online — it will probably make the print newspaper sometime in the next few days — headlined, “West Bank Settlers Prepare for Clash, With Israeli Government.” That article is about the prospect that the Israeli government will force the evacuation of 40 families from Amona. Unfortunately for Times readers who are counting on the newspaper to deliver an accurate portrayal of the world, the newspaper’s focus on the settlement issue comes at the expense of excellence when it comes to other issues that are probably more significant.


For example, the White House made a stunning insult to Israel and to world Jewry by issuing a “corrected” press release deleting the word “Israel” from its description of the location of the Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem, the site of President Obama’s remarks at the funeral of Shimon Peres. The Times handled this not with a full-length news article, much less a front-page, above-the-fold one, but instead with a single paragraph all the way at the end of an article about the funeral. The fact that the Obama White House can’t even acknowledge that Shimon Peres was buried in Israel says so much. As Elliott Abrams wrote on his blog at the Council on Foreign Relations web site, the site “lies in Western Jerusalem, near Yad Vashem and Jerusalem Forest…only those who seek to destroy Israel think this place will ever be anything but a part of the Jewish State.”


As for the Washington Free Beacon’s scoop that there are three written agreements between the US and Iran’s intelligence ministry that are being kept secret from the public in a secure reading room on Capitol Hill — well, nothing about that in the Times, either. But in terms of the prospects for peace in the Middle East and for the security of Israel and America, that’s a much bigger and more important deal than any nonsense the Times is peddling about West Bank settlements.




IS OBAMA PREPARING A PARTING SHOT AT ISRAEL?                                                                        

Charles Krauthammer                                                                               

Washington Post, Oct. 27, 2016


Last week, the U.N.’s premier cultural agency, UNESCO, approved a resolution viciously condemning Israel (referred to as “the Occupying Power”) for various alleged trespasses and violations of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Except that the resolution never uses that term for Judaism’s holiest shrine. It refers to and treats it as an exclusively Muslim site, a deliberate attempt to eradicate its connection — let alone its centrality — to the Jewish people and Jewish history.


This Orwellian absurdity, part of a larger effort to deny the Jewish connection to their ancestral homeland, is an insult not just to Judaism but to Christianity. It makes a mockery of the Gospels, which chronicle the story of a Galilean Jew whose life and ministry unfolded throughout the Holy Land, most especially in Jerusalem and the Temple. If this is nothing but a Muslim site, what happens to the very foundation of Christianity, which occurred 600 years before Islam even came into being?


This UNESCO resolution is merely the surreal extreme of the worldwide campaign to delegitimize Israel. It features the BDS movement (Boycott, Divest and Sanction), now growing on Western university campuses and in some mainline Protestant churches. And it extends even into some precincts of the Democratic Party.


Bernie Sanders tried to introduce into the Democratic Party platform a plank more unfavorable to Israel. He failed, but when a couple of Hillary Clinton campaign consultants questioned (in emails revealed by WikiLeaks) why she should be mentioning Israel in her speeches, campaign manager Robby Mook concurred, “We shouldn’t have Israel at public events. Especially dem activists.” For whom the very mention of Israel is toxic.


And what to make of the White House’s correction to a news release about last month’s funeral of Shimon Peres? The original release identified the location as “Mount Herzl, Jerusalem, Israel.” The correction crossed out the country identifier — “Israel.” Well, where else is Jerusalem? Sri Lanka? Moreover, Mount Herzl isn’t even in disputed East Jerusalem. It’s in West Jerusalem, within the boundaries of pre-1967 Israel. If that’s not Israel, what is?


But such cowardly gestures are mere pinpricks compared to the damage Israel faces in the final days of the Obama presidency. As John Hannah of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recently wrote (in Foreign Policy), there have been indications for months that President Obama might go to the U.N. and unveil his own final status parameters of a two-state solution. These would then be enshrined in a new Security Council resolution that could officially recognize a Palestinian state on the territory Israel came into possession of during the 1967 Six-Day War. There is a reason such a move has been resisted by eight previous U.S. administrations: It overthrows the central premise of Middle East peacemaking — land for peace. Under which the Palestinians get their state after negotiations in which the parties agree on recognized boundaries, exchange mutual recognition and declare a permanent end to the conflict.


Land for peace would be replaced by land for nothing. Endorsing in advance a Palestinian state and what would essentially be a full Israeli withdrawal removes the Palestinian incentive to negotiate and strips Israel of territorial bargaining chips of the kind it used, for example, to achieve peace with Egypt. The result would be not just perpetual war but incalculable damage to Israel. And irreversible, too, because the resolution would be protected from alteration by the Russian and/or Chinese veto.


As for the damage, consider but one example: the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, destroyed and ethnically cleansed of Jews by its Arab conquerors in the war of 1948-1949. It was rebuilt by Israel after 1967. It would now be open to the absurd judicial charge that the Jewish state’s possession of the Jewish Quarter constitutes a criminal occupation of another country. Israel would be hauled endlessly into courts (both national and international) to face sanctions, boycotts (now under color of law) and arrest of its leaders. All this for violating a U.N. mandate to which no Israeli government, left or right, could possibly accede.


Before the election, Obama dare not attempt this final legacy item, to go along with the Iran deal and the Castro conciliation, for fear of damaging Clinton. His last opportunity comes after Election Day. The one person who might deter him, points out Hannah, is Clinton herself, by committing Obama to do nothing before he leaves office that would tie her hands should she become president.


Clinton’s supporters who care about Israel and about peace need to urge her to do that now. It will soon be too late. Soon Obama will be free to deliver a devastating parting shot to Israel and to the prime minister he detests.


CIJR Wishes All Our Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!



On Topic Links


Why Readers See The Times as Liberal: Liz Spayd, New York Times, July 23, 2016—I HAVE been here less than a month, but already I’ve discovered something that surely must be bad for business if your business is running The New York Times.

The Ongoing NYT Propaganda Campaign: Prof. Phyllis Chesler, Arutz Sheva, Sept. 22, 2016—I’m sure that reading the New York Times is shortening my life—and yet I continue to do so. I no longer monitor it as I once did.

The Real Reason Reporters Don’t Give to Pols: It Would Give Away Their Agenda: Jonah Goldberg, New York Post, October 21, 2016 —‘Let me say for the billionth time: Reporters don’t root for a side. Period.” This declarative tweet came from The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza on Oct. 16. The next day, Cillizza posted on Twitter, “Well, this is super depressing. NO idea why any journalist would donate $ to politicians.

Checkmating Obama: Caroline Glick, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 27, 2016—In one of the immortal lines of Godfather 2, mafia boss Michael Corleone discusses the fate of his brother, who betrayed him, with his enforcer. “I don’t want anything to happen to him while my mother is alive,” Corleone said.







We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org



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When Europe Demanded Israel Surrender the Western Wall: Haviv Rettig Gur, The Times of Israel, July 16, 2013—The European Union’s new directive banning any cooperation with Israeli institutions over the Green Line isn’t new, and is actually being implemented for Israel’s benefit, according to the office of the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.


The EU’s Broken Mideast Compass: Noah Beck, Front Page Magazine, July 18, 2013—The European Union recently sent out a directive barring its 28 members from cooperating with Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The boycott includes “all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes” to Israeli entities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.


European Medicine Is Bad for Israel, and for Middle East Peace: Barry Shaw, Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2013—How often have European diplomats and politicians incorrectly forecast events in the Middle East? What they called the Arab Spring turned into the Islamic Winter. Didn’t they force Israel to allow Yasser Arafat, the world’s first Islamic arch-terrorist, to return from his enforced exile in Tunis by acclaiming him as Israel’s peace partner?

EU Judea and Samaria Guidelines Harm Palestinians: Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana and Hezi Sternlicht, Israel Hayom, July 17, 2013—A senior Palestinian Authority official confirmed to Israel Hayom on Tuesday that many in Ramallah were dissatisfied with the European Union's decision to withhold economic grants and incentives to Israeli companies situated in Judea and Samaria.


On Topic Links


Full Text of the European Union’s Settlement Guidelines: Times of Israel, July 18, 2013

Israel Moves to Quit Flagship EU Project Over Restrictions: Times of Israel, July 18, 2013

Boycott Just Around the Corner: Ephraim Sneh, YNet News, July 17, 2013

The First Casualty of the EU Settlement Directive: John Kerry: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, July 17, 2013

The Baseless Hatred of the EU Towards Israel: Melanie Philips, Melanie's Blog,  July 16, 2013

Netanyahu Working to Get EU to Freeze Publication of New Guidelines: Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2013

EU's Yesha Sanctions Could Boomerang: David Lev, Israel National News, July 18, 2013





Haviv Rettig Gur

Times of Israel, July 16, 2013


The European Union’s new directive banning any cooperation with Israeli institutions over the Green Line isn’t new, and is actually being implemented for Israel’s benefit, according to the office of the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton. The directive contains two main planks: denial of European funding to, and cooperation with, Israeli institutions based or operating over the Green Line, and a requirement that all future agreements between Israel and the EU — and possibly between Israel and individual member states as well — include a clause in which Israel accepts the European Union’s position that all territory over the Green Line does not belong to Israel.


As Ashton’s office noted in a statement sent to The Times of Israel Tuesday, the directive was “in conformity with the EU long-standing position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law.”


The European Union has indeed long held that view. It won’t invest or cooperate with communal or civic organizations over the Green Line, and has been one of the most reliable critics of Israeli settlement policy for decades. Even the details of the directive aren’t new. On December 10, 2012, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council stated that “all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”


But the fresh directive is still sending a shock wave through Israeli diplomatic circles — not because anyone is surprised about the position it takes, but because of the precision with which the EU indicates it is to be implemented. “They crossed a line,” a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel Tuesday. “That the EU won’t sign an agreement with Ariel University [in the West Bank] is no secret. But now they are going to force the Hebrew University to promise that no scientist working on a program [that enjoys EU cooperation or funding] lives over the Green Line,” including in apartment complexes down the street from the university campus on Mount Scopus — “or in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, which has been Jewish a bit longer than the EU.”


“That’s absurd,” the official said. In adhering blindly to the Green Line, he claimed, the EU is in effect taking sides in the conflict in a way that distances its position from that of the majority of Israelis who support negotiations and a two-state solution. Indeed, the move has raised hackles with some on the Israeli left, which usually sees EU institutions as allies in the pursuit of peace. As another official noted, the EU’s new policy is in effect demanding that Israel deny — in writing — any rights to the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site, as a precondition for signing any agreement with the EU.


Ashton’s office tried to explain that the development was a positive one for Israel. “This is important in view of the new opportunities that will be offered to Israel (as an ENP [European Neighborhood Policy] partner) for participation in EU programmes and other funding instruments in the 2014-2020 financial framework,” read the statement issued to The Times of Israel. “We want Israel to play a full part in these instruments and we want to be sure that Israel’s participation is not put in question so that Israel will be able to make use of all possibilities offered by the new financial framework,” it added.


Or, in short: This is for your own good, to prevent any future challenges to your ability to get further benefits from the EU down the road — a carrot-and-stick approach where the carrot is further integration into the EU economy, and the stick is the inability of any institution operating over the Green Line to enjoy the fruits of that integration. A spokesman for the EU delegation in Israel told the Associated Press that the new guidelines would not affect Israel’s private sector or companies, but rather bodies like research centers or NGOs. That didn’t stop the Israel’s Manufacturers Association from worrying about the “obstacles” the EU was placing in the way of further economic ties.


For decades, European bureaucrats have been hard at work building a world of unbreakable rules and regulations. Applied to a messy, unresolved conflict, the decision to apply one set of rules over another — adhering to the demands of the pre-1967 lines, for example, at the expense of major Israeli population centers beyond those lines — would appear to the Israeli critics of the move to involve choosing sides in the larger conflict.


Others on the left see it differently. Labor’s Nachman Shai didn’t praise the EU move, but did regard it as the unfortunate consequence of the government’s misguided, pro-settlement policies, which he said were gradually causing Israel’s isolation. Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on called the directive “very significant,” in distinguishing between sovereign Israel, on the one hand, “and the settlements and occupation,” on the other. Europe, she said, was telling Israel that it can’t simultaneously expect to maintain international credibility as a seeker of peace while building in the settlements. Gal-on’s take was unsurprising. So, too, the outraged protests from less dovish Israeli leaders.


What was striking about the latter, though, was that they extended their criticisms to assert that the EU was demonstrating an incapacity to function as a fair-minded peace broker. And that was because, if it does indeed truly seek to implement its latest directive, and condition further dealings with Israel on a government acknowledgement that all territory beyond the Green Line is not part of Israel, the EU may have issued a demand to which few mainstream Israeli leaders will acquiesce.





Noah Beck

Front Page Magazine, July 18, 2013


The European Union recently sent out a directive barring its 28 members from cooperating with Israeli entities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The boycott includes “all funding, cooperation, and the granting of scholarships, research grants and prizes” to Israeli entities in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.


If this is how the EU chooses to spend its limited diplomatic and political resources “to help” the Middle East, then its moral compass is badly broken. The EU still hasn’t even mustered the clarity or courage to join the USA, Canada, and six Gulf states (led by Bahrain) in designating Hezbollah a terrorist organization, even though Hezbollah has committed terrorist acts on EU soil that have killed an EU citizen, and has supported Basher Assad’s butchery in Syria. The EU has also failed to take any decisive action to address the urgent crises in Lebanon, Syria, and Iran (which marches ever closer to nukes and imports ore — for armor and missile production — from Germany and France). And where is the EU’s boycott of Mideast governments that persecute women, execute homosexuals, and condone the slaughter of Christians?


If the EU wants to wield its economic clout to impose peace on disputing parties, why not boycott China for its brutal occupation of Tibet? Clearly that occupation doesn’t matter because the EU is China’s largest trading partner. And why isn’t the EU boycotting Northern Cyprus, which is under foreign military occupation by Turkey (against the wishes of the EU)?


The hypocrisy is even more flagrant because some EU states are themselves occupying disputed territories on various continents. One of the most notorious examples is the Falkland Islands. What exactly is the UK’s burning security interest in occupying a Latin American island nearly 8,000 miles away? Maybe the EU should boycott the UK as well.


In the end, an EU boycott of Israel is just a cheap way to score political points with the oil-producing Arab states and the growing Muslim population on European soil. Indeed, the EU’s anti-Israel directive resembles Stephen Hawking’s ill-fated attempt to inject himself into the Israeli-Palestinian controversy. Just as he absurdly chose to boycott the country largely responsible for the technology that enables him to communicate, the EU shamelessly targets the only country in the Middle East that actually shares the EU’s democratic values, respect for human rights, pluralism, and the rule of law (not to mention shared interests like curbing Iranian nukes, developing natural gas resources in the Mediterranean Sea, and seeing moderates prevail in the volatile Middle East).


Putting aside the EU’s abundant hypocrisy, trying to strong-arm Israel into unilateral concessions has already proved to be an abysmal failure when it comes to promoting peace. Just ask President Obama, who in 2009 pressured Israel into a 10-month settlement freeze in the West Bank without requiring any reciprocal gestures from the Palestinians. They quickly realized that they need not negotiate with Israel because Obama was doing that for them. One can hardly blame Palestinians for trying to maximize their negotiating posture, even if it lacks good faith. Thus, peace talks have remained stalled for Obama’s entire presidency, even though Secretary of State John Kerry is now making his sixth peace-pushing trip (in as many months) to the region.


It’s also worth noting that the real obstacle to peace — Palestinian rejectionism and terrorism — existed before any of Israel’s settlement-building. Palestinian terrorism and rejectionism from Gaza also continued despite the removal of Israeli settlements (from Gaza in 2005). So Israeli settlements did not create Palestinian extremism and their removal doesn’t necessarily end it.


History has also demonstrated that Israeli settlement building has not prevented Israel from making painful territorial compromises for peace: Menachem Begin evacuated the Sinai, Ehud Barak ended Israel’s presence in Southern Lebanon, Ariel Sharon left Gaza, and Benjamin Netanyahu handed over West Bank territories under the Wye Accords.


Moreover, the EU seems to have forgotten that Jews have a historical and legal right to be in the West Bank. The “Mandate for Palestine” confirmed by the League of Nations recognized the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine” and “the grounds for reconstituting their National Home in that country.” Under Article 6, the Mandate encouraged “close settlement by Jews, on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” The EU’s boycott falsely implies that Jews have no right to live in the West Bank, and is thus disturbingly reminiscent of the “Judenrein” policies of Nazi Germany, which banned Jews from certain spheres of life only because they were Jews….


If the EU wants to ignore international law and history, the many more pressing Mideast issues, and its own hypocrisy, all for the sake of promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace, then it should at least recognize that unilateral pressure on Israel has only reinforced Palestinian inflexibility. Indeed, it is only the Palestinians who have refused to negotiate peace without preconditions. The EU has pressured the wrong party because its Mideast compass is badly broken.




Barry Shaw

Jerusalem Post, July 17, 2013


We have arrived at the moment most of us reckoned we would never see. How often have European diplomats and politicians incorrectly forecast events in the Middle East? What they called the Arab Spring turned into the Islamic Winter. Didn’t they force Israel to allow Yasser Arafat, the world’s first Islamic arch-terrorist, to return from his enforced exile in Tunis by acclaiming him as Israel’s peace partner? He spoke about “peace of the brave” as they awarded him with their Nobel Peace Prize, but he gave us “peace of the grave” as soon as he landed in Ramallah. Didn’t they encourage us to forcefully uproot 8,000 people from their homes in the Gaza Strip in the name of peace with the Palestinians, and didn’t we get rockets instead? Now they have the chutzpah to aim an EU directive banning their European members “from cooperating with Israeli entities in the West Bank, Golan Heights, and east Jerusalem.”


As Daniel Seaman of the Prime Minister’s Office reminded us on his Facebook page, “the Europeans found an unequivocal voice when it comes to Israel, but still can’t declare Hezbollah a terrorist entity. Ironically, while Europeans try to define our ancestral borders, the Muslims are redefining theirs.” Seaman added, “With Europe’s record regarding the Jewish people’s past [Greece, Rome, Spain, Russia, France, Poland, Germany, Britain], they have no moral say in determining the Jewish people’s future.”


But that’s not stopping them. They have officially declared that what they call the West Bank (but Jews call Judea and Samaria) and east Jerusalem are no longer part of the State of Israel. See how they have twisted historical fact and legitimacy. In their eyes, the Jewish homeland went from being mandated the National Home of the Jewish People to a “disputed territory” when recaptured from the Jordanians in 1967, before then being transmuted into “occupied territories” as the Europeans acted to appease the radical Arab voices.


When did, fact, history and law dissolve into lies, false definitions and actions that to citizens of the Jewish state seem eerily akin to the Nuremburg laws? What happened to European patience and desire to allow the current peace initiative to take root? Instead of a quiet and orderly diplomatic route to negotiations we now have the heavy hand of European unilateral bias against Israel. As usual, it is dressed up in fine language to make it appear that they are taking altruistic steps for the good of all of us in the region.


Europe! You are not our parents, and we are not little children forced to take your nasty-tasting medicine because you insist it is good for us. You are wrong and you should not be surprised if Israel refuses to quietly take your medicine, and here is one reason why: On December 10, 2012, the European Union’s Foreign Affairs Council stated that “all agreements between the State of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967.”


Taken at face value, this means that the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple, which was liberated from Jordan in 1967 and where I have just celebrated a family Bar Mitzvah, and where many thousands of Jews from around the world just commemorated Tisha Be’av, the date of the destruction of both our holy Temples, is not part of the Jewish State of Israel.  This alone should have world Jewry demonstrating their rage and fury. It should also bring out millions of Christians that identify with an ancient heritage that no EU diplomat dare overturn.


Earlier this year I wrote an article that appeared in The Jerusalem Post. It was entitled, “Palestinian flags flying over Jerusalem.” It detailed the significant real estate sites that will fall into the hands of Hamas when misguided outside forces side with Palestinians’ evil intent. When writing that piece I never thought such a decisive step in this direction would be taken by Europe within a few short months.


The EU blunder has brought that unthinkable moment forward. The Hebrew University, the Rockefeller Museum and Hadassah Hospital are, by the new EU definition, now prime targets for a European boycott. We are not just talking here about Israeli industry located on land that will remain as part of Israel in any future peace agreement, and that employs in excess of 30,000 Palestinian workers to boot, but also of the research, academic and medical centers that do so much good for mankind that lie at the foot of the European guillotine.  And the Europeans think this is in the best interest of people in the region. They have been so very wrong in the past, and are dead wrong today.


The author is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to
The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College.





Daniel Siryoti, Shlomo Cesana and Hezi Sternlicht

Israel Hayom, July 17, 2013


A senior Palestinian Authority official confirmed to Israel Hayom on Tuesday that many in Ramallah were dissatisfied with the European Union's decision to withhold economic grants and incentives to Israeli companies situated in Judea and Samaria. "For our part, we approached a number of [European] Union officials, in the [Palestinian] Authority and also in Israel, to try and prevent the decision or at least to keep it unofficial," said the official, who declined to give his name. "It's not just Israeli companies that are going to be hit economically, it's also going to be disastrous economically and socially for the Palestinian community."


According to the Palestinian official, the European move will freeze joint projects, force employers to stop hiring Palestinians to work on joint projects with Israelis and lead to widespread layoffs of Palestinians laborers working in Judea and Samaria industrial zones. Sammer Darawsha, who works in a hothouse that is a part of a joint Israeli-Palestinian agricultural project funded by members of the EU and situated near the Halamish settlement, said the decision will "affect everyone, whether Jew or Palestinian. If they take away our livelihoods and food, exactly what kind of peace will be here?"


Several manufacturers and exporters were concerned by the EU directive — which prevents the EU from giving grants to Israeli enterprises beyond the pre-1967 borders — estimating that the decision could cause tens of millions of euros in damages. According to the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute, the EU constitutes Israel's most lucrative trade zone, and is the destination for a third of all Israeli goods. Trade with the EU in 2012 amounted to $36.6 billion. Israel imported $22.4 billion worth of goods from the EU that same year.


A top manufacturer warned that "blending politics and business results in a bad mixture, we have had bitter experience with it in the past. There's a sense that Europe is trying to harm the freedom of trade illegitimately."

"It must be understood that the Arab side is also going to be harmed by this directive. Indeed, a generous portion of the labor in Judea and Samaria is Palestinian," a veteran businessman said on Tuesday. Ramzi Gabai, the director of the export institute, said that "there's no room to mix political and economic issues." Tzvika Oren, Manufacturers Association of Israel president and the chairman of the Coordinating Bureau of Economic Organizations, said he "regrets the EU's intention to involve politics with economy."





On Topic

Full Text of the European Union’s Settlement Guidelines: Times of Israel, July 18, 2013—The new European Union directives concerning EU funding for entities established beyond the 1967 border lines including the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights prohibit Israeli companies located beyond the 1967 lines from receiving prizes, grants, or financing.


Israel Moves to Quit Flagship EU Project Over Restrictions: Times of Israel, July 18, 2013—Israel has threatened to pull out of the European Union’s flagship innovation project unless the EU backs down from its funding ban on Israeli institutions operating over the pre-1967 lines. Pulling out of major economic initiative could strike a blow at Europe due to Israel’s status strength as a research center


Boycott Just Around the Corner: Ephraim Sneh, YNet News, July 17, 2013—The European Union's decision to exclude the settlements from its agreements with the State of Israel is a turning point. The decision means that any activity in a West Bank settlement will not benefit from any aid received from the EU by activities within the sovereign State of Israel (the 1967 lines).


The First Casualty of the EU Settlement Directive: John Kerry: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, July 17, 2013—US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revive talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority suffered a serious blow on Tuesday. But this time it wasn’t the Palestinians or the Israelis who derailed the process, but the US’s ostensible ally in the quest for peace, the European Union.


The Baseless Hatred of the EU Towards Israel: Melanie Philips, Melanie's Blog,  July 16, 2013—Consternation in Israel over the EU’s malicious decision to boycott individuals or institutions situated over the ‘Green Line’ between Israel and the disputed territories. This would presumably include boycotting, for example, the Hebrew University which is just over that line or, even more grotesquely, Jewish residents in Jerusalem’s Old City – where ancient Jewish settlement far predated the arrival of a single Arab, dating as it does since King David who built it as the capital of the kingdom of the Jewish people.


EU's Yesha Sanctions Could Boomerang: David Lev, Israel National News, July 18, 2013—The European Union is not the only one that can impose sanctions and boycotts, Israeli officials said Thursday. A report in Maariv said that if the EU insists on boycotting Israelis and Jews living and doing business in the lands liberated in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel could boycott some major European Union projects that feature Israel as a central partner.



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Charles Bybelezer: Israelis Are Not Racists



Originally published, October 29, 2012 in The Jewish Tribune.


Last week, Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper ran a front page article claiming that “most Israeli Jews support an apartheid regime in the country, if the territories are annexed.”


The publication of the piece, promoting the findings of a recent poll, created a firestorm, setting abuzz every antisemitic and jihadist website in the Middle East and even garnering the attention of media overseas, including the Globe and Mail.


Apparently, it seems not to matter that the poll is littered with inconsistencies and pejorative nuances, or that the survey’s financiers and promoters are, to understate the matter, of dubious integrity; so long as any propaganda, masquerading under the guise of a “study,” provides antisemitic fodder, anti-Israel travellers worldwide will revel in the opportunity to muddy Israel’s name.


That those involved in the poll acted in bad faith, and that the article in question is profoundly flawed, is easily deduced through a cursory analysis of Ha’aretz’s piece. The first red flag is that, after Israelis are accused of supporting the implementation of ‘apartheid’ in the headline, the following qualification is buried 16 paragraphs later: “The survey conductors say perhaps the term ‘apartheid’ was not clear enough to some interviewees.”


Accordingly, the newspaper, though obtuse on the applicability of the term ‘apartheid,’ contends that most Israelis support apartheid, whereas a small majority believes that apartheid is already practised to a degree in the country; this, despite the acknowledgement of ‘some’ not knowing what apartheid means and thus what it actually entails. If someone is unfamiliar with the institutionalized racism against blacks that existed in South Africa, then obviously they cannot be expected to discern that no such system, process or attitudes shape or inform Israeli society or its mindset.


Significantly, there remains the small matter of the inclusion of the word ‘IF’ in the context of annexing ‘territories,’ itself an ambiguous term which Ha’aretz insinuates to be a reference to the West Bank, also known as the ‘Palestinian territories.’ In fact, respondents were never asked whether they supported the annexation of any predominantly Palestinian areas in the West Bank, containing some 2.5 million Arabs over whom the so-called ‘apartheid regime’ would, presumably, be implemented. (That poll after poll shows a strong majority of Israelis opposing any such move no doubt accounted for the question’s omission.)


Instead, participants were only asked whether they would support the incorporation into Israel of an unspecified number of “settlements,” which cover a fraction of the overall geographical area of the West Bank, are comprised almost entirely of Jews, and which invariably would remain under Israeli sovereignty in any future peace deal forged with the Palestinians. Even this prospect was rejected by a plurality (48%) of those surveyed.

Accordingly, one is hard-pressed to fathom how Ha’aretz arrived at the conclusion that “most Jews would support an apartheid regime…if the territories were annexed,” given that a plurality of respondents rejected annexation of any ‘territories,’ including ‘settlements’ devoid of Palestinians.


To further expose the journalistic disingenuousness of Ha’aretz, it is noteworthy to compare the paper’s use of the vague word ‘territories’ in connection with UN resolution 242, adopted in the aftermath of the 1967 Six Day War. The resolution set as a condition for “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East…[the] withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” Specifically omitted from that text, however, was any reference to “all” or “the” territories captured by Israel in order, thereby, to recognize under International Law Israel’s right to retain – even in the event a future peace deal calling for limited territorial withdrawals – land vital to preserving its security. In other words, the notoriously anti-Israel UN conscientiously used the undefined term ‘territories’ with a view to conferring legitimate legal rights upon Israelis, whereas Ha’aretz did so in order to slander them.


That media worldwide felt no compunction about uncritically regurgitating Ha’aretz’s libel reaffirms the prevailing anti-Israel bias; that the New Israel Fund (NIF), which in the past proudly has lent its name to initiatives defaming the Jewish state, disassociated itself from the survey reveals the extent of that bias.


On the very same day that Ha’aretz wrote that the poll “was commissioned by the New Israel Fund’s Yisraela Goldblum Fund,” the NIF issued a statement saying the organization “does not stand behind the survey in Ha’aretz and is not related with it in any way.”

That the far-left NIF assumed and publicly asserted such stance confirms a level of partiality in the poll surpassing even the infamous Goldstone Report, formulated in conjunction with and featuring testimony from Israeli NGOs backed by the NIF, which falsely accused Israel of perpetrating “war crimes” during its 2008-2009 incursion into Gaza. (Richard Goldstone, who chaired the UN’s “fact-finding mission” into the Gaza War and after whom the Report was named, repudiated the allegation in a highly publicized Washington Post op-ed in April 2011). The full significance of the organization’s denial is best understood in the context of Wikileaks’ release in 2010 of a confidential US government cable quoting Hedva Radanovitz, the NIF’s Associate Director in Israel, as expressing hope that “in 100 years Israel would be majority Arab and that the disappearance of a Jewish state would not be the tragedy that Israelis fear since it would become more democratic.”


The NIF’s decision likely had something to do with the fact that the Yisraela Goldblum Fund was created by Amiram Goldblum, the more radical leftist founder of Peace Now, who still runs the foundation named after his late wife Yisraela, herself a former senior official at the NIF.


Goldblum’s thoughts on Israel were restated as recently as this past May 5 at a Peace Now event: “Israel’s future regarding elections and demography has already been predetermined…in the bedroom of the settlers and the ultra-Orthodox.” Goldblum then called on the global left to counter the growing strength of Israel’s right by finding a way to impose its agenda on the country through foreign political entities.


Perhaps even the NIF realizes that this kind of racist, seditionist rhetoric precludes someone from commissioning an objective poll. In fact, it takes a special type of Israel-hater to disseminate such invective in ignorance of the forgoing.


Enter Gideon Levy. Not only did Ha’aretz’s resident anti-Zionist pen the article presenting the findings of the survey, Levy also wrote an accompanying opinion piece, Apartheid without shame or guilt. In his op-ed, he waxed hysterically: “We’re racists, the Israelis are saying, we practise apartheid and we even want to live in an apartheid state. Yes, this is Israel.”


In a moment of charitable wilfull blindness in his favour, one could attribute to Levy a desire to provide analytical commentary on what he deemed to be a reliable survey – if not for the fact that in May Levy wrote a column entitled, Israel is the most naive and racist country in the West. Now ask yourself whether Levy, like Goldblum, is qualified to critique objectively a study alleging Israeli racism, given that he already held the position that “Israel is the most naive and racist country in the West.”


As but one example of Levy’s bias extending even beyond the parameters of the poll, consider that in his op-ed he wrote: “The majority [of Israelis] doesn’t want Arabs to vote for the Knesset, Arab neighbours at home or Arab students at school. Let our camp be pure – as clean of Arabs as possible and perhaps even more so.” Yet, in fact, no plurality of respondents answered in the affirmative any of the questions connected to Levy’s assertions – not for banning Arabs from voting for parliament or for the implementation of segregation in apartment buildings and schools.


That the editors of Ha’aretz failed to definitively declare Levy’s patent conflict of interest perfectly encapsulates why the newspaper currently is on life-support. In this respect, this episode also reflects a shameless attempt by a gasping newspaper to grasp any straw-man to generate publicity and a few more subscriptions.


On the macro level, the survey is yet another example exposing the depths to which the Israeli left has sunk. First its failed policies were discredited; then it was abandoned by its base; and now it is self-destructing.


Charles Bybelezer, former Publications Editor for CIJR,  recently moved to Israel to begin working as a breaking news editor at The Jerusalem Post.



Jerusalem, August 20, 2012

Baroness Ashton,
…I would like to update you regarding the current situation of Israel's relationship with the Palestinian Authority (PA). As a preamble, I would like to emphasize that the purpose of this letter is to demonstrate Israel's goodwill, desire to build trust and sincere desire to create a positive atmosphere vis a vis the PA, with the goal of bringing our neighbors back to the table of direct negotiations. Unfortunately, we have encountered repeated Palestinian patterns of refusal and consistent attempts to turn to pointless activity, counterproductive to any constructive efforts….
Israel has in recent months undertaken several significant gestures towards the Palestinians: Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Shteinitz and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad concluded (July 31) arrangements with respect to the transfer of goods between Israel and the PA and related tax procedures. These steps, which were recommended by the International Monetary Fund, will improve the PA's tax system, increase revenues and bolster the Palestinian economy.
In light of the PA's budget crisis, Israel transferred at the beginning of the month of Ramadan (July 27) an advance of NIS 180 million (approximately USD 45 million) of August tax remittances. The money was intended to help the P A pay salaries in time to celebrate the holiday. An agreement was concluded (July 14) to employ an additional 5,000 Palestinian construction workers in Israel; the number of roadblocks was reduced to 10, most of which are normally open; the remains of Palestinian terrorists were returned (May 31). In addition, Israel agreed to develop the gas field off the Gaza shoreline.
Israel is promoting infrastructure projects in Area C, including completion of a master plan. In 2011, 119 infrastructure projects were approved, 58 of them with international financing. Fifteen projects relating to the construction and renovation of infrastructures for schools and clinics have received "fast-track" approval. I won't go into all the details of additional Israeli gestures that were made throughout 2012, all of them with the goal of assisting the Palestinian economy and easing the lives of the residents in the West Bank and Gaza.
Unfortunately, despite these steps, we do not see any willingness or positive attitude on the part of the PA. The opposite is the case: we see a rise in the Palestinian activity against Israel in the diplomatic and legal arenas, with attempts to accelerate illegal construction in Area C (including dragging the EU into this problematic activity), to encourage an economic boycott on the Israeli economy in the territories and to generate repeated negative statements against Israel. In addition, we have encountered a relatively new campaign, blaming Israel for the murder of Yassir Arafat, as well as the ongoing institutionalized incitement in the Palestinian media, attacking Israel and the legitimacy of the State's existence.
Mr. Mahmoud Abbas' unfortunate behavior indicates that he apparently is uninterested or unable — due to his standing in the domestic Palestinian scene vis a vis Hamas, and in light of the regional geopolitical situation — to reach an agreement which would bring an end to the conflict, including addressing all the core issues. Instead he is creating a culture of blaming Israel for delaying the process, while attempting to achieve advantages without negotiation via blackmailing and ongoing attempts to internationalize the conflict.
The situation as I have described it is supported not only by the facts but also may be corroborated by the Jordanians, who made a great effort to facilitate Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs direct dialogue between Israel and the PA. Unfortunately, because of the attitudes of Mr. Abbas and his partners, these efforts did not lead to any progress. This situation is very clear to the Jordanians.
This pattern of refusal is not new. With the Annapolis process, under the previous Israeli government, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered the Palestinians far-reaching concessions and gestures of goodwill, more than any other Israeli government, without success….
Two additional matters should be taken into account: the historic Bar-Ilan speech of Prime Minister Netanyahu, which called for a two state solution, and the unprecedented step of the current government, which, in response to Palestinian demands, temporarily froze the construction in the settlements, in order to renew peace negotiations. As part of the Palestinian systematic pattern of avoiding bilateral negotiations, these steps were met with rejection and with unilateral steps by the Palestinians, under Mr. Abbas' leadership.
In a calculated manner, Mr. Abbas is focusing his dialogue with the international community on the subject of settlements. Unfortunately, the international community tends to accept this discourse lock, stock and barrel, without criticism or a nuanced approach. This is a damaging attitude, which does not reflect the reality on the ground.
The entire area of the settlements constitutes approximately one percent of the area of the West Bank. The last settlement which Israel constructed was in 1991. In the framework of the peace accord with Egypt (1979), Israel took the painful step of evacuating all the settlements and military bases in Sinai. In 2005, Israel evacuated all of our settlements from the Gaza Strip, as well as four settlements in the northern West Bank, but instead of peace and security, we received the Hamas government in Gaza which opposes the existence of Israel, and is unwilling to live in peace with us, as well as 14,000 rockets and  missiles which were indiscriminately shot at towns and villages in southern Israel.
Facts and history, as opposed to the simplistic stereotypes and political bias, contradict the idea that somehow the settlement enterprise is the main obstacle to renewing the negotiations. This premise simply does not stand up to the test of reality or the historic precedent of the peace process between Israel and our neighbors. Both peace accords, with Egypt and Jordan, were signed when settlements existed; the claim that settlements are the obstacle to peace is unfounded.…
The Palestinian Authority is a despotic government riddled with corruption. This pattern of behavior has led to criticism even within his own constituency. Due to Abbas' weak standing, and his policy of not renewing the negotiations, which is an obstacle to peace, the time has come to consider a creative solution, to think "outside the box," in order to strengthen the Palestinian leadership. This is crucial, so that the Israeli gestures to strengthen the economy, stability and strength of the PA will not be turned into a boomerang against Israel.
Despite Mr. Abbas' delays, general elections in the PA should be held, and a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership should be elected. The PA elections were due to be held in 2010 and have since been postponed several times. As of today, no new date has been set for elections. Only such a leadership can bring progress with Israel….(Top)
Avigdor Liberman
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs


Efraim Karsh

Middle East Forum, August 2012


…[L]et us assume for the sake of argument that Israel and the PLO-dominated Palestinian Authority (PA) were to sign a formal peace treaty. Would this stop the effort to delegitimize the Jewish state campaign or eliminate anti-Semitism from the European scene? Hardly—for the simple reason that the Palestinian question has next to nothing to do with either of these. Though anti-Zionism has been the core principle of pan-Arab solidarity since the 1930s—it is easier, after all, to unite people through a common hatred than through a shared loyalty—the Arab states (and the Palestinians' international champions) have shown far less concern for the well-being of the Palestinians than for their own interests.

For example, it was common knowledge that the May 1948 pan-Arab invasion of the nascent state of Israel was more a scramble for Palestinian territory than a fight for Palestinian national rights. As the Arab league's secretary-general Azzam once admitted to a British reporter, the goal of King Abdullah of   Transjordan "was to swallow up the central hill regions of Palestine, with access to the Mediterranean at Gaza. The Egyptians would get the Negev. Galilee would go to Syria, except that the coastal part as far as Acre would be added to Lebanon."
From 1948 to 1967, when Egypt and Jordan ruled the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the Arab states failed to put these populations on the road to statehood. They also showed little interest in protecting their human rights or even in improving their quality of life—which is part of the reason why 120,000 West Bank Palestinians moved to the East Bank of the Jordan River and about 300,000 others emigrated abroad. "We couldn't care less if all of the refugees die," an Egyptian diplomat once remarked. "There are enough Arabs around."

Not surprisingly, the Arab states have never hesitated to sacrifice Palestinians on a grand scale whenever it suited their needs. In 1970, when his throne came under threat from the PLO, the affable and thoroughly Westernized King Hussein of Jordan had no qualms about slaughtering thousands of Palestinians, an event known as "Black September." Six years later, Lebanese Christian militias, backed by the Syrian army, massacred some 3,500 Palestinians, mostly civilians, in the Beirut refugee camp of Tel Zaatar. These militias again slaughtered hundreds of Palestinians in 1982 in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila, this time under Israel's watchful eye. In the summer of 2007, the Lebanese army killed hundreds of Palestinians, including many civilians, in the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared. None of the Arab states came to the Palestinians' rescue. Worse, in the mid-1980s, when the PLO—officially designated by the Arab League as the "sole representative of the Palestinian people"—tried to re-establish its military presence in Lebanon, it was unceremoniously expelled by President Assad of Syria.
This history of Arab leaders manipulating the Palestinian cause for their own ends while ignoring the fate of the Palestinians goes on and on. Saddam Hussein, in an effort to ennoble his predatory designs, claimed that he would not consider ending his August 1990 invasion of Kuwait without "the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of Israel from the occupied Arab territories in Palestine." Shortly after the 1991 Persian Gulf war, Kuwaitis set about punishing the PLO for its support of Hussein—cutting off financial sponsorship, expelling some 440,000 Palestinian workers, and slaughtering thousands. Their retribution was so severe that Arafat was forced to acknowledge that "what Kuwait did to the Palestinian people is worse than what has been done by Israel to Palestinians in the occupied territories."
If the Arab states have shown little empathy for the plight of ordinary Palestinians, the Islamic connection to the Palestinian problem is even more tenuous. It is not out of concern for a Palestinian right to national self-determination but as part of a holy war to prevent the loss of a part of the "House of Islam" that Islamists inveigh against the Jewish state of Israel. In the words of Hamas's covenant: "The land of Palestine has been an Islamic trust (waqf ) throughout the generations and until the day of resurrection…. When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims."

In this respect, there is no difference between Palestine and other parts of the world conquered by the forces of Islam throughout history. To this very day, for example, Arabs and many Muslims unabashedly pine for the restoration of Spain and look upon their expulsion from that country in 1492 as a grave historical injustice….As illustrated by the overwhelming support for the 9/11 attacks throughout the Arab and Islamic worlds, this vision is by no means confined to a disillusioned and obscurantist fringe of Islam; and within this grand scheme, the struggle between Israel and the Palestinians is but a single element and one whose supposed centrality looms far greater in Western than in Islamic eyes….[The above is an excerpt from Karsh’s book The War Against the Jews. For the full article please see the On Topic links below – Ed.] (Top)

Seth J. Frantzman

Jerusalem Post August 28, 2012

Recent articles about the village of Sussiya highlight the struggle that is taking place in ‘Area C’ of the West Bank. In the absence of a Palestinian state the West Bank has continued to percolate along the status quo lines set down in the Oslo agreement. Many commentators miss this in their analysis of what is taking place in terms of “the conflict.” People speak about being “pro-peace,” but if one defines the absence of war as a form of peace, in fact the West Bank is quite peaceful. But that masks the quiet conflict that takes place every day for control over a small sliver of land.

Area C is an abstract invention of a peace agreement that was never fully implemented. In this sense it is a bureau-geographic creature, invented so that it could eventually be disbanded. At Oslo in 1993 and 1995 the West Bank was divided into three sections, one of full Palestinian civil and police control, one of mixed control and an area of full Israeli civil and military control. This last area includes all 121 recognized Jewish communities in the West Bank as well as the other 100-odd Jewish “outposts.” The Jewish population of this area is estimated at 270,000.

Almost every study on the size of Area C puts it at 62 percent of the West Bank, or 3,482 sq. km, which makes it slightly larger than Yosemite national park in the US.  That Area C is often said to include a majority of the West Bank is primarily due to the fact that much of the desert was placed in Area C as part of Israeli military reservations. The entire Jordan valley, except Jericho and several villages, is part of Area C….

The quiet conflict for Area C is being waged because, for all intents and purposes, Israel has given up any interest in the rest of the West Bank. Except for Hebron, Israel long ago withdrew its forces from the Palestinian cities which had been re-occupied during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.…

There is a remaining piece of the Area C puzzle: The security fence includes about 8.5% of the West Bank between it and the Green Line. This includes the entire area of east Jerusalem that Israel has annexed.  The dispute is over those areas between the security fence and the major Palestinian population centers which run along the mountainous center of the area. Wherever there is a Jewish community there is [a Palestinian] effort to quietly encroach upon that community, to plough up land, to refurbish terraces, plant orchards, farm land and inhabit houses. The notion is that the more Palestinians can make parts of Area C appear to be Palestinian, the more pressure the international community will bring on Israel to release claims to it.

Like ancient Boeotia, which served as a pawn in the war between Athens and Sparta, Area C is a buffer zone that must be conquered and put to use by one side or the other. After all, Area C is all that is left, it is the place where the land is still in dispute, where a ploughed field or a harvested orchard can make or break states. That might sound ridiculous, but each case, each farmstead, each shack, each deed that is presented in court creates waves that impact beyond the lives of the several dozen individuals involved.

The recent news about Area C is what a World Council of Churches 2011 EAPPI document called the “quiet transfer.” According to this brochure the area “was meant to be gradually transferred to Palestinian administration” but instead Israel has been working to remove Palestinians from it.

The UN estimates that there are some 150,000 Arabs living in the area C in 270 “villages, camps and other communities.” However, according to a UN document produced by OCHA in August 2011, “two-thirds of [them] live in localities which are partly located in Area A and B.” Supposedly the remaining third, 50,000 people, are mostly Bedouin and “herders.” The UN estimates there are 27,000 members of these “herding communities” comprising some 5,000 families.

This little group of people is the focus of a massive international campaign. After OCHA spent a year interviewing some members of this group in the spring of 2011, it released a memo called “displacement and insecurity in Area C of the West Bank.” The memo claimed that the herders or Bedouin faced “restrictive and discriminatory planning…restrictions on movement…[and] military harassment.” The EAPPI factsheet published in 2011 piggybacked on this report with claims that Israel had demolished 342 structures in the area and made 656 people homeless.

On August 28, Mya Guarneiri, a Jerusalem based pro-Palestinian activist, wrote an op-ed in The National in Australia that claimed that “dozens of Palestinian and Bedouin villages are threatened with demolition and over 27,000 men, women and children face forced transfer. Most of these people are refugees.”  Notice how she characterizes the entire Palestinian population as being “threatened” with “forced transfer.”

One of the newest stories about the “transfer” was reported in The New York Times when Jodi Rudoren claimed that “the Israeli government has asked the Supreme Court to allow the demolition of eight Palestinian hamlets in the South Hebron Hills.” She went on to claim that it involves “about 1,800 people who live at least part time in a dozen communities that predate Israel’s 1967 seizure of the West Bank from Jordan, and in some cases have been around since the 1800s.”

An Israeli government spokesman quoted in the article noted that “starting from 2009, an increasing trend of augmenting and strengthening the population on the C Grounds is taking place.”  A great deal of misinformation is bandied about regarding these groups. Not only are they said to be refugees from 1948, but they are also then said to have lived in some ancient village since the 1800s. It is claimed that they cannot build houses because Israel does not provide permits in Area C, and yet it is also claimed their houses predate the creation of Area C in 1993 and the conquest of the area in 1967.

Oddly, the “villages” often appear on no maps, aerial photos or documents until the past several decades…. UN notations and the reports often note that the people live only “part time” in a place or sometimes in Area B and sometimes in C. Yet these nomadic herding groups become permanent residents of ancient villages when Israeli policy is concerned.

Area C has to be understood as the last part of this unsettled dispute between Israel and the Palestinians, the focus on it is generated for propaganda purposes to influence people to believe that one side or the other has more rights to it. (Top)



Adam Kramer


 Lately there has been a rising number of Middle East experts, as well as some Israeli officials, calling for a unilateral disengagement from the West Bank. Ehud Barak, Israel’s Minister of Defense, advocated this type of unilateral action during a speech he gave at the Institute for National Security Studies. Others who have expressed support for a similar plan include members of an organization called Blue White Future, who explained their position in an Op-Ed in the New York Times, and Rafael D. Frankel, who outlined his stance in an article in The National Interest.

Given the moribund current peace negotiations with the Palestinians, these pundits are promoting an Israeli pullout from most of the West Bank settlements as a way to achieve peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and to ensure Israel’s permanence, as a Jewish State. While this plan would ensure the crucial caveat that Israel remain a state with a strong Jewish majority, it is not so clear that Jews are in fact losing their hold on remaining the area’s majority. More importantly, though, an Israeli unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank would be replicating too many of the same mistakes that Israel made in its withdrawal from Gaza, thereby making it a plan that Israel certainly shouldn’t pursue. 

To see what would unfold if Israel were to leave the West Bank, one could look at the events that occurred following Israel’s similar unilateral disengagement from Gaza. Ariel Sharon withdrew from Gaza without negotiations and without fully realizing the future ramifications of his precipitous decision. What has transpired in the seven years since the pullout has been twofold. Firstly, while Gaza was supposed to become a future home-country for Palestinians under the PA, the Strip was quickly over-run by Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists, who proceeded to expel the PA.

Secondly, Israel has certainly not become safer since the disengagement experience but instead has had to endure seven years of almost endless rocket fire from Gaza terrorists into southern Israeli cities.

By unilaterally handing over the West Bank—which is over ten times as large in landmass as Gaza– Israel would not be receiving any security or peace guarantees in return for the land, thereby replicating the Gaza experience. Radical terrorist groups like Hamas or Islamic Jihad that filled the power vacuum in Gaza, would do likewise in the West Bank. Even if the PA and Fatah took steps to ensure this violent takeover would not happen, and instead held their own democratic elections (which is moot), nothing would prevent Hamas’ candidates from winning these elections and then seizing power. Obviously, what would unfold in either situation would be Gaza 2.0: either the terrorist organization Hamas or a terrorist PA ruling over another territory adjacent to Israel.

By handing over the West Bank without peace guarantees from the PA in exchange, which is what these advocates are backing, Israel would be putting itself in an almost impossible security situation, even for Israel’s powerful defense force. The West Bank’s lengthy eastern border with Jordan would need constant monitoring to prevent terrorists from entering the West Bank, as they have been entering Gaza from its now porous border with Egypt. Not to be forgotten is the fact that the West Bank’s western border would only be a few miles from Ben Gurion International Airport; maintaining secure airport use would obviously be an enormous security challenge.

Another security related issue is how to manage Israeli citizens displaced from the West Bank. This issue – of how to resettle, house, and find employment for the displaced persons – was a major issue during the pullout from Gaza. In fact, a recent Israel Hayom article details that many of those who were removed from Gaza back in 2005, still do not have permanent homes or jobs. How would the issue would be handled if it were to be done on a scale ten times greater? 

Many of these leaders who advocate the creation of a de-facto Palestinian state are motivated by a desire to ensure the longevity of Israel as a state with a Jewish majority. They believe that by keeping the status quo, Israel will eventually lose its Jewish majority. Therefore, they believe that the government needs to act with great expediency to maintain the State’s Jewish identity.
In 1950, Jews encompassed over 85% of Israel’s demographic. However, that tremendous majority has now declined a bit, to the point where Jews comprise around 75% of the country’s total population. If this decline were to continue uniformly, as many believe it will, then by the year 2040 or so, Jews would in fact lose their majority.

However, other studies affirm the antithesis. One American-Israel Demographic Research Group, argued that this trend of decline in percentage of Jews will reverse itself,  since Israeli birth rates are rising while Arab birth rates are falling. The population “crisis” is not an imminent threat, and Israel is not in danger of losing its Jewish majority. This report added that previous predictors of Israeli demographics did not end up becoming true, so that predictions that Israel will lose its Jewish majority in only thirty years should certainly be taken with a grain of salt. (A study conducted in the 1960’s had predicted that by the year 1990, Arabs would be the majority in Israel. Obviously, this study has proven false.)

Oftentimes, something that looks good on paper, once it happens in real life, it can end up completely differently.  The Gaza disengagement should teach Israel a strong lesson, that unilaterally evacuating land and allowing terrorist groups to take it over is not the best plan of action. (Top)
[Adam Kramer, 15, is a CIJR 2012 Cohen Summer Intern; he lives in Boston.]




On Topic


∙       Middle East Forum, August 2012
Efraim Karsh

∙       Gatestone Institute, August 16, 2012
Khaled Abu Toameh

∙       Ynet News, August 26, 2012
Asaf Romirowsky

∙       Jeruslaem Post, August 30, 2012
Herb Keinon

∙   New York Times, July 25, 2012
Dani Dayan

∙       CiF Watch, August 12, 2012
Gidon Ben-Zvi



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Robert Satloff
Washington Institute for Near East Policy, August 17, 2011

At the eleventh hour, the Obama administration is gamely trying to avert President Mahmoud Abbas’s promise to apply for full Palestinian membership in the United Nations—which he is due to hand deliver to the UN secretary-general on September 20—by restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. The trigger for new talks, which have been suspended by a Palestinian walkout since last autumn, would be a declaration by the Quartet (the United States, European Union, UN, and Russia) defining terms of reference or parameters for the resumption of talks.

The U.S. strategy is to entice the Palestinians away from their self-generated diplomatic train wreck at the UN by building on President Obama’s May 2011 speech, endorsed by the G-8 at Deauville, that included the Palestinian-friendly formula of “1967 lines with mutual swaps.” No less important as an arrow in the administration’s quiver is the sense that the Europeans would prefer a diplomatic alternative to a showdown at the UN, which would not only force a break with Washington but is likely to divide the EU’s big three (with France expected to support the Palestinians, Germany supporting the Israelis, and Britain still on the fence).

Despite having logic and reason on its side, the Obama team has had no success. There are multiple reasons for this: the administration delivered its main concession (the 1967 lines) too early in the process, and the Palestinians and Europeans have since pocketed the provision; EU diplomats prefer to cherry-pick the president’s May speech, taking the pro-Palestinian aspects (e.g., about the 1967 lines) and rejecting those favorable to Israel (e.g., mutual recognition of Israel as a state for the Jewish people and Palestine as a state for the Palestinian people); the Palestinian leadership is too committed to the UN route to stop the train; and Israel waited too long to accept a formula that may provide an alternative to the UN. Even so, the administration claims to be plowing ahead with the Quartet effort, leaving the group’s envoy, Tony Blair, to do the heavy lifting—evidently with the idea of maintaining plausible deniability that Washington is inching back from any commitments or accepting dilution of the president’s language.

In this context, yesterday’s Quartet statement expressing “great concern” about Israeli plans to build additional housing in Jerusalem and the large West Bank settlement of Ariel seems, at best, to run counter to the overall U.S. effort. At a time when Washington is trying to win European support for a new Quartet statement designed to cajole Palestinians away from a UN gambit, it makes little sense for the administration to give away, for free, a condemnation of Israel. In terms of substance, it is bad enough that the administration has once again endorsed the concept that Israeli construction in Jerusalem is forbidden. And at the tactical level, it is even worse that the administration would compound this policy error with the negotiating error of trading away something the Europeans will always sign up for (condemnation of Israel’s settlement policy) without getting something they are revealingly reluctant to do in return (endorse, as a goal of negotiations, the mutual recognition of Israel and Palestine as the nation-states for the Jewish and Palestinian peoples, respectively). With the Palestinian train heading toward the UN, the light at the end of the tunnel is really just Quartet diplomacy heading in the wrong direction.

(Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute.)


Elliot Abrams

CNN, August 16, 2011

If there is a single issue that explains the failure of Obama policy toward Israel, it is settlements. And this week the Administration once again indulged itself in a knee-jerk reaction that displayed incomprehension in a way that harms U.S.-Israeli relations without doing the slightest bit of good for the Palestinians.

This week Israel announced a plan to construct 277 more housing units in Ariel, a settlement that is a town of 18,000. The new units are to be constructed in the center of the town, it was also announced. This is a significant fact, for construction of new units at the edges of the town would mean that the security perimeter would need to be extended to protect the new housing and the people in it. But this will not happen, and Ariel will expand in population but not in land area. It is not, in the usual Palestinian Authority parlance, “taking more Palestinian land.”

When I worked on these issues in the Bush Administration, we discussed settlement expansion thoroughly with the government of Israel and reached agreement on some principles.

These were that Israel would create no new settlements and that existing settlements would expand in population but not in land area. New construction, that is, would be in already-built-up areas, and the phrase we used was “build up and in, not out.”

The usual complaints about new construction in the settlements were that “it is making a final peace agreement impossible” or at least more and more difficult by “taking more Palestinian land” that would have to be bargained over in the end and whose taking would right now interfere with Palestinian life and livelihoods. We understood that there would never be a long construction freeze even if there might be some brief ones, for the settlements – especially the “major blocks” that Israel will keep—are living communities with growing families.

So we reached that understanding with the Israelis: build up and in, not out. That way whatever the chances of a peace deal were, construction in the settlements would not reduce them.

This agreement the Obama Administration ignored or denounced, suggesting at various times that it never existed or that, anyway, it had been a bad idea and all construction must be frozen –even in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem.  (To be more accurate, construction by Israeli Jews was to be frozen; construction by Palestinians could continue).

No Israeli government could long accept such terms and though the Netanyahu government did agree to a short and partial freeze, when that failed to bring the Palestinian Liberation Organization back to the negotiating table the freeze was ended.

This Obama fixation with a construction freeze proved disastrous because the President and his Secretary of State took the view that it was a precondition for negotiations without which the Palestinians could not be expected to come to the table. Of course once that American position was announced the Palestinian leadership had to adopt it, lest they appear weaker in asserting Palestinian “rights” than Washington.

The argument over the construction freeze embittered U.S.-Israel relations and killed any chance of negotiations in 2009 and 2010. Late in 2010 the policy was finally abandoned. Nothing has replaced it, and no one really knows what Administration policy is these days beyond getting past September’s expected UN General Assembly vote on Palestinian statehood.

But if the fixation on freezing construction in settlements is no longer the main pillar of Obama policy, those old sentiments and statements linger on. Thus did the announcement that new units were to be built in Ariel evoke a new denunciation from Washington.

To be sure, it did not come from the President himself and was a pretty low-key affair; it did not suggest that new a crisis in bilateral relations loomed. But this was a reminder that the Administration appears to have learned nothing, and still does not understand the difference between expanding a settlement physically and expanding the population of a settlement by building in already-built-up areas.

Why not? Without dealing with the question of which individual policymakers are responsible for this foolish policy, it does seem that the policy is based on the view that every square foot of land controlled by Jordan before the 1967 war is rightly part of “Palestine,” so that every Israeli action on that land is wrong.

This view also explains why the President believes peace negotiations should start from the “1967 borders.” But there are no “1967 borders,” just the 1949 Armistice lines that all sides agreed in 1949 were not to be regarded as permanent.

It is reasonable to have the 1949 map on the table when negotiations begin, and to have next to it the 2011 map, and to seek a compromise. It is not reasonable to view it as a violation of international law and a threat to a peace agreement every time bricks and studs and drywall show up at the center of an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. In the real world those new units in Ariel do not make a final peace agreement harder.

(Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.)


Martin Peretz
New Republic, August 17, 2011

The Arabs of Palestine have always nurtured a strategy to avoid negotiating a peace deal with the Israelis; and it is that they won’t negotiate at all unless Israel meets so many Palestinian preconditions that the map from which they and their Arab neighbors launched their wars would be completely restored in advance of talks. Poof: There was no Six Day War in 1967 and there was no Yom Kippur War in 1973. Forget both of these and smaller battles in between and after. Then, OK, let’s meet and see where we can go from here or actually there. Which, as Barack Obama didn’t quite have the nerve to say but certainly meant, is the armistice lines of 1949—yes, that’s exactly what he intended and almost said.…

It’s true that Obama’s [latest] scheme allows for a reciprocal transfer of real estate between Israel and the not quite nascent Palestine. But, given the fuss his administration has made even about Jewish land going back three millennia, like the City of David as if it had been a water hole or a mere parking lot for chariots, you have a sense of the utter ahistoricity of the president’s perspectives on these matters. The fact is that Jews and Arabs will not live neighborly lives once it is clear that Palestinian half-rule does not mean the restoration of the Mandelbaum Gate and the Jews excluded from their deepest history and their most sacred sites. (I know that many liberals and especially Jewish liberals don’t cotton to the idea of Jewish sacred sites and think it downright primitive. Ah, but a Muslim shrine! Well, you know the difference, of course you do.)

For nearly 20 years, the world sat quite comfy with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with help from the local Arabs, having occupied and then destroyed the entire ancient Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem which, according to the 1947 Palestine Partition and a later resolution, was supposed to be governed with the rest of the city, along with Bethlehem and other localities, as a corpus separatum.…The internationalization scheme was dead. In response in 1949, Israel took “west Jerusalem” as its capitol, which almost no foreign government recognized formally, but all duly and dutifully sent their emissaries up to Zion for business.

Even given the facts established by the Jordanians in old Jerusalem and the neglect by them of the West Bank (called by history and modern Zionism, Judea and Samaria), the Israeli prime minister offered to restore the captured lands to Arab sovereignty. But already then—that is, 1967—Colonel Qaddafi was in power in Libya. He cast a thrall over the Arab League and established the principles of Arab diplomacy with Israel: no peace, no recognition, and no negotiations.…

Palestine may or may not secure some sort of recognition for itself at the forthcoming meeting of the General Assembly, when the emissaries of dictatorships come to New York for a big shopping spree. But it will not much change things on the ground. In fact, the more the Palestinians deal in symbols the less ground they will have left to claim.…

Take the new construction announced a few days ago by the Israelis for Ariel, 11 miles east of the Green Line, a literal agricultural line, green as in agriculturally developed, in case you wondered. Yes, it juts into the West Bank. But it is also 33 years old and has some 18,000 inhabitants. Now, 277 housing units will be built—and more if the Palestinians don’t come to the table quickly. This, by the way, is neither a right-wing community nor a religious one. And it boasts a university with 11,000 students, of which close to 1,000 are Arab. There is no way that Ariel will be forfeited to the Palestinian Authority.

The issue in Jerusalem is very different. And more intricate. It is, aside from being a Jewish city, also an Arab city. With Arab history, Arab hopes, Arab actualities. The cartography of a settlement in the city will take as least as much ingenuity as good will. Moreover, there is land to the east of the municipal lines on which “Arab Jerusalem” can be expanded as “Jewish Jerusalem” was expanded. Again, I have little idea of how exactly the “whole” city will be governed and even if it will be as a “whole.”

But there are certain principles that cannot be ignored. The first of these is that this tiny place is the heart of Jewish history. The second, and by extension, is that the city is also the heart of Christian history.… Indeed, the denial of the epochal past of Jews and Christians (after all, they are intimately bound) is not worthy of the Muslims who recognize it in the Koran. Remember, then, that if there were no Jewish temple there was no Jesus or Jesus figure, and the entire history of Christianity collapses.…

The major impediment to moving on is actually the relentless psychodrama of the president about new Israeli construction in the territories which is little and far between. It has squeezed the Palestinians into a corner where many of them and certainly most Israelis did not want them to go. Maybe it gave Obama some moral thrill to castigate one of America’s most faithful allies. After all, he has not had many thrills at all. But the utter collapse of his Middle East diplomacy can be traced to his and Hillary Clinton’s apoplexy over a small neighborhood here and another one there. And all of this rancor when the two of them were still playing out the charade of Bashar Assad as a force for peace. Shame on them for being so insistently stupid and for purporting to have the moral credit for going into hysterics over a few hundred apartments in a Jewish neighborhood that was founded in 1973 and already has 40,000 residents.…

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


George Jonas
National Post, August 13, 2011

The Palestinian Authority proposes to become the 194th member of the United Nations by a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state in September. Those who complain that such a declaration undermines the peace process with Israel don’t understand that that’s the declaration’s purpose.

If “Palestine 194” were designed to coexist with the Jewish state, it wouldn’t have to be declared unilaterally. Since it’s designed to replace it, it has no other choice. If the Palestinian state comes about as a result of negotiations, it legitimizes the Jewish state.

It isn’t that Palestinians don’t want peace. They want peace, all right; it’s only that they don’t want peace with Israel.…

Many Arabs say that the Jews stole “the land.” They didn’t, but some Jews did have the idea of buying “the land”—not from the Arabs, who didn’t own it, but from the Turks, who did.

In those days most nations and territories belonged to the dynasties that ruled them. Palestine, the biblical homeland of the Jews, was a possession of the Ottoman dynasty, ruled by the sultan of Turkey, Abdul Hamid II.…

[Theodore] Herzl, a subject of the Habsburg emperor, Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary, hoped to persuade the Hohenzollern emperor, Wilhelm II of Germany, to support an approach to the Ottoman sultan Abdul Hamid II, to let a consortium put together by the House of Rothschild make him an offer for a homeland in Palestine for the Jews. Buying a country sounds impossible today, even somehow wrong, but it didn’t then, and Herzl lived then, not today.…

The Sultan had financial woes. It was conceivable he might consider an offer for his arid possession. Early Zionists took it for granted that Palestinian Arabs would welcome their plan. The Arabs were tenants, not owners of the land; surely they would prefer a progressive Jewish democracy to an inefficient and corrupt Ottoman overlord.…

As it turned out, the Sultan wouldn’t sell, which was just as well because no funds were raised sufficient for the purchase of a country by the Rothschilds or anyone else. Herzl soon died, and before long the Ottoman empire—the sick man of Europe, as it was called—also collapsed.

The victorious European powers, essentially the French and the British, split up the Sultan’s possessions, meaning to manage them for their own benefit as well as the benefit of their inhabitants, Arab and Jewish. For a mixture of reasons, not all selfish, but unwise all the same, the British turned their Palestinian mandate into the powder keg of the Twice Promised Land. When the dust settled, about 80% of the Balfour Declaration’s Jewish homeland had become the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, with the 1937 Peel Commission inviting the Palestinians and the Zionists to split the remaining 20% between them.

The Jews, though unhappy, said yes to Lord Peel. The Arabs said no. They said no again 10 years later when the United Nations voted for partition in 1947. Israel declared itself a state on May 15, 1948, and within about five hours the “rejectionist” Arab states attacked it. That is the war that continues to this day. It’s a conflict the Arab world can afford to lose over and over again. Israel’s first loss would be its last.

It follows that peace is the only way Israel can win, and peace is the only way the Arab side can lose. Under such circumstances, Israelis would be fools not to give land for peace, while Arabs would be fools to give peace for land. Neither side are fools.…

It’s hard to say whether [Mahmoud] Abbas believes in the unilateral Palestinian state or not. Perhaps he just believes in retiring with a bang rather than a whimper. This would be quite realistic and I’d give it a 50-50 chance. The only thing that has no chance in the Middle East is peace.