Tag: Yitzhak Rabin


Sadat's Visit, the Peace Process and the Future of Israeli-Arab Relations: Charles Bybelezer, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2017 — Exactly forty years ago, on November 20, 1977, then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addressed the Israeli parliament in what is considered a watershed moment in the Jewish state's history.

Israeli Attitudes Towards Egypt 40 Years After Sadat’s Visit: Prof. Efraim Karsh, BESA, Nov. 19, 2017— Forty years ago this month, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport for a two-day visit to Jerusalem, at the official invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

Series of Attacks in Egypt Targeting Coptic Christians Forces Churches to Close: Perry Chiaramonte, Fox News, Nov. 2, 2017 — Egypt has been one of the worst places for Christian persecution in recent months.

‘Journalist’ Ayat Oraby: Mainstream or Extreme?: Samantha Rose Mandeles, American Spectator, Nov. 14, 2017— On October 20, 54 Egyptian policemen were killed in a firefight with “militants” in the desert, 80 miles from Cairo.


On Topic Links


Video: Raymond Ibrahim on Egyptian President Sisi and Coptic Christians: Raymond Ibrahim, Youtube, Oct. 20, 2017

Sadat and Begin – the Peacemakers: Dr. Martin Kramer, BESA, Nov. 19, 2017

40 Years Since Egypt’s Pres. Anwar Sadat Came to Jerusalem, Israel: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Nov. 19, 2017

Sadat and Me in Jerusalem 40 Years Ago: Lenny Ben-David, JCPA, Nov. 20, 2017






                          Charles Bybelezer

Jerusalem Post, Nov. 20, 2017


Exactly forty years ago, on November 20, 1977, then-Egyptian president Anwar Sadat addressed the Israeli parliament in what is considered a watershed moment in the Jewish state's history. His call for peace with Israel turned on its head the conflict with the Arab world which to that point had played out in four major wars—in 1948, 1956, 1967 and just a few years earlier, in 1973. In all of these conflagrations, Egypt played a leading role as the region's most populous and important country and thus the torch-bearer of Arab nationalism, the predominant political system in the Middle East at the time.


In his speech to Israeli lawmakers, Sadat "declare[d] to the whole world that we [Egyptians] accept to live with you in permanent peace based on justice." Months later, on March 16, 1979, Sadat and then-Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin shook hands on the White House lawn after signing a formal treaty brokered by former US president Jimmy Carter.


The enormity of the event cannot be overstated both because since that time, Israel's southern border has remained relatively quiet, effectively removing an existential threat, thereby allowing Jerusalem to reallocate resources away from defense and towards building a prosperous country. It also paved the way for the signing of the 1994 peace agreement with Jordan, which secured Israel's eastern flank.


According to Zvi Mazel, a former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, "Sadat's visit was probably the most important moment up to that point in Israel's short existence. Out of the blue," he told The Media Line, "the president of Egypt decided to come to Jerusalem and very quickly did so—it was like a dream, we could not believe it was happening. The leader of the biggest Arab country with whom we fought only wars comes and says he wants peace."


Itzhak Levanon, another former top Israeli envoy to Cairo, described the feeling in Israel at the time as if "the Messiah was coming." He highlighted to The Media Line the risk that Sadat was taking, "as he faced a lot of antagonism within Egypt [and ultimately was assassinated by Islamic extremists in 1981]. There were two ministers who resigned and the Muslim Brotherhood was against the move. Most of the public sphere was also very critical of him. "So from the beginning there was a dichotomy between the two peoples," Levanon elaborated, a reality which in his estimation accounts for the "cold" peace that currently persists.


Despite the absence of meaningful co-existence, today there appears to be a renewed thawing in ties between the Jewish state and the Arab world, driven by a confluence of interests, primarily the shared desire to curb Shiite Iran's expansionism. Hence, the context and timing of Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman's comments over the weekend, in which he urged the heads of Sunni Muslim states to publicly visit Israel. "I call on the leaders of the region to follow in [former] president Sadat's steps by coming to Jerusalem and opening a new page.… Sadat was courageous [and] stood against the tide [thereby] pav[ing] the way for [others to] recognize the importance of the strategic relationship with the state of Israel," Liberman wrote.


His statements came after IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot last week gave a much-publicized interview to the Saudi Elaph newspaper, in which he asserted that "[Israel is] ready to exchange experiences with Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab countries [as well as] intelligence information to confront Iran." For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long trumpeted that Jerusalem is on the precipice of a "new era" in its relations with Arab states.


This apparent rapprochement is occurring on the backdrop of efforts by US President Donald Trump to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, with multiple reports claiming that White House point men Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt have started devising the parameters of a comprehensive deal that will incorporate regional countries into the mix. And herein, according to many analysts, lies the key to Israel's ability to unlock the full potential of prospective ties with the Arab world; namely, that so-called "normalization" can only occur when the Palestinian issue is resolved.


Sadat himself emphasized during his visit to Israel that peace with Egypt could not be separated from the fate of the Palestinians. "In the absence of a just solution to the Palestinian problem, never will there be that durable…peace upon which the entire world insists," he affirmed. To this end, the subsequent agreement with Israel gave birth to the "Palestinian autonomy talks" that aimed to resolve the status of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which had come under Israeli control in the 1967 war. The Framework for Peace in the Middle East, a section of the 1978 Camp David Accords, called for elections in the territories and the formation of a Palestinian "self-governing authority" within one year…

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





Prof. Efraim Karsh

BESA, Nov. 19, 2017


Forty years ago this month, Egyptian president Anwar Sadat landed at Israel’s Ben-Gurion airport for a two-day visit to Jerusalem, at the official invitation of Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. The entire world held its breath. Here was the leader of the largest and most populous Arab state, which had spearheaded repeated pan-Arab attempts to destroy Israel, visiting the contested capital of the Arab world’s foremost nemesis in an apparent acquiescence in the legitimacy of the Jewish State’s existence and its right to peaceful coexistence with its Arab neighbors. So profound was the general disbelief that the Israeli chief-of-staff, Lt. Gen. Mordechai Gur, warned the government that the visit was an Egyptian deceptive ploy, on the heels of the Egyptian-Syrian surprise attack of October 1973.


The visit proved to be the most important single political event in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, culminating in the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of March 1979 and the attendant shattering of the Arab world’s uniform rejection of Jewish statehood. And while Sadat’s successor, Hosni Mubarak, held a far more restrictive view of the agreement, the Israeli-Egyptian peace has successfully weathered many regional crises (from the 1982 Lebanon war, to the “al-Aqsa Intifada,” to the 2014 Gaza conflict), paving the road to the October 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty and the yet-to-be-completed Israeli-Palestinian peace process launched with the September 1993 Oslo Accord.


But how do Israelis view this momentous event from a forty-year vantage point? Do they appreciate its full historic significance and the impact it has had on their lives? Do they consider the price of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty worth paying? A recent survey held by Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies (BESA) shows a rather mixed picture. While 81% of respondents viewed the agreement as conducive to Israel’s national security, 51% deemed the concessions made for its attainment (notably the evacuation of the oil-rich Sinai Peninsula and the demolition of the Yamit town) to have been excessive, compared to 46% of respondents who considered them commensurate with the agreement’s mammoth gains.


This apparent contradiction seems to be a corollary of Israelis’ keen awareness of Mubarak’s lukewarm perception of peace. While one can only speculate about Sadat’s own ultimate intentions – he was assassinated in October 1981 by an Islamist zealot – for Mubarak, peace was of no value in and of itself but was rather the price Cairo had to pay for such substantial benefits as US economic and military aid. As a result, Mubarak reduced interaction with Israel to the lowest possible level, while simultaneously transforming the Egyptian army into a formidable modern force and fostering a culture of virulent anti-Semitism in Egypt, a culture whose premises he himself evidently shared.


Though President Abdel Fattah Sisi has taken a different route, bringing Israeli-Egyptian relations to unprecedented heights, most Israelis seem to acknowledge the instrumental nature of the Egyptian perception of peace. Consequently, only 14% of the BESA survey regarded Egypt’s attitude to Israel as friendly (of whom 37% thought Israel “overpaid” for the agreement), while 68% viewed it as lukewarm and another 18% as hostile (of whom 44% and 68% respectively deemed the concessions made for the agreement as excessive).


Not surprisingly, perhaps, support for the agreement was found to be strongest among center-left voters, though it was actually the rightwing Likud Party that made this historic breakthrough. Ninety-two percent of Hamahane Hatzioni and Yesh Atid voters, as well as 88% of Meretz voters, believed the agreement to have enhanced Israel’s national security as opposed to 82% of Likud voters, 82% of Habayit Hayehudi’s voters, and 67% of Israel Beitenu voters. Support for the agreement within the ultraorthodox community was even lower, with 64% of Shas voters and 68% of Yahadut Hatorah voters viewing the agreement as conducive to Israel’s national security.


Likewise, the survey exposed the ambiguous attitude of Israel’s Arab citizens to the agreement, or indeed to possible Israeli reconciliation with the neighboring Arab states. While only 68% of Israeli Arabs viewed the agreement as conducive to Israel’s national security, compared to 83% of their Jewish compatriots, 17% of them deemed the price paid for its attainment to have been too low (compared to 1% of Israeli Jews). In other words, Israeli Arabs are more inclined than their Jewish counterparts (with the salient exception of Meretz voters) to have their state pay a higher price for a less favorable international agreement affecting its national security. This inclination is markedly higher among voters for the Joint Arab Party (compared to those voting for Jewish parties), with 22% of them considering the price too low.


The gap between Israeli Arabs and Jews notwithstanding, both communities are equally skeptical about the prospects for a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement, with over 80% of respondents agreeing that there are currently no leaders of Sadat’s and Begin’s stature on either side of the divide who are capable of effecting a similarly momentous breakthrough. Hardly a heart-warming prognosis after nearly four decades of Egyptian-Israeli peace.






Perry Chiaramonte

Fox News, Nov. 2, 2017


Egypt has been one of the worst places for Christian persecution in recent months. A series of attacks targeting Christians and forced closure of churches have caused Egypt’s Christian population to call on authorities for help. The Minya Coptic Orthodox Diocese said authorities sealed off two churches in the southern province, citing harassment and attacks by extremists. A third was closed because of fear of attacks. The statement was issued late Saturday.


It said clashes broke out Friday when ultraconservative Muslims tried to attack one of the churches, adding that a Coptic woman was wounded. Later that day, the mob attacked Christian homes, the statement said. “We have kept quiet for two weeks … but the situation has worsened. It seems as if prayer is a crime the Copts should be punished for,” the statement said, referring to the repeated closure of the churches. The diocese urged authorities to end discrimination against Christians and “not to succumb to the fundamentalists.”


Minya Governor Essam Badawi denied the churches were closed for security reasons, saying they were “unlicensed houses” that lacked the documentation needed to “perform religious rites.” However, he confirmed there were two attacks on the houses of worship and that 15 people were arrested. He said police are searching for 11 other suspects. He said 21 churches in Minya are still open for services.


According to the International Christian Concern, a separate clash broke out on October 27, when a Muslim mob formed in the village of Exbat, following noontime prayer services and attacked St. George’s Church and other buildings owned by Christians. Security officials responded, thereby, closing the church.


“Following the Friday prayer, many Muslims gathered into a mob and began to attack us,” Sobhi, a Christian resident in Ezbat Zakaria, said in a statement to ICC, which was provided to Fox News. “They threw stones at our homes resulting in breaking the doors and windows of some houses, injuring a Coptic woman … they set three stables owned by Copts on fire. They then headed to the church (the building services) and tried to attack it, but the security guards who were assigned confronted them and prevented them from approaching the church.”


Egypt’s Coptic Christians, who make up around 10 percent of the population, long have been a target of Islamic extremists. Attacks on churches by Muslim mobs increased since the 2013 military coup that ousted an Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi. Christians overwhelmingly supported the army chief-turned-president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, and extremists have used such support as a pretext to increase attacks against them.


The recent closures of the churches underscore the recent problems the Coptic Christian community has faced. Historically, most attacks on the Coptic community occurred in northern parts of the country, including the Sinai Peninsula. “Once again, Christians in Egypt are suffering for no other reason than their faith. As this event illustrates, Egypt’s Christians are not safe whether they are at home or at church,” Claire Evans, regional manager for ICC said in a statement provided to Fox News. “Closing the church does nothing to protect Christians. In fact, the mob wanted to close the church and deny the Christians the ability to exercise their right to religious practice.”


Christians in northern Sinai have been fleeing in droves in recent years because of the militant threats, and the community —  that before 2011 numbered up to 5,000 —  now has dwindled to less than 1,000, according to The Associated Press. There are no official statistics on the number of Christians in cities or across the country. The displacement underscores what many human rights activists have said about the failure of the Egyptian government in providing the minimum level of security to the Christians in this volatile region of northern Sinai, where the military has been battling for years against militants.


Also, local authorities often have refused to permit the construction of churches, fearing blowback from ultraconservative Muslims. That has led Christians to set up unauthorized houses of worship, which are sometimes attacked by Muslim mobs. Last August, parliament passed a law that for the first time spelled out rules on building churches, a step many Christians had hoped would speed construction. But critics fear that only the restrictions will be implemented.





Samantha Rose Mandeles

American Spectator, Nov. 14, 2017


On October 20, 54 Egyptian policemen were killed in a firefight with “militants” in the desert, 80 miles from Cairo. Local media reported the police were attacked by the Hasm Movement, a terrorist organization that the Egyptian government claims is linked to the Muslim Brotherhood.


Governments around the world offered statements of sympathy to the Egyptian government over one of deadliest attacks against Egyptian security forces in many years. The U.S. State Department announced that it “condemns the terrorist attack,” “[offers] profound condolences,” and “stands with Egypt at this difficult time, as we continue to work together to fight the scourge of terrorism.”


But among some Islamist activists in America, there was jubilation. In a Facebook post, written on October 20, New York-based journalist Ayat Oraby applauded the killings, accusing the deceased soldiers and police of insolence and cowardice. In another post about one of the murdered soldiers, Oraby expressed “Joy at the death of that criminal!” Oraby accused the deceased soldiers of having previously been paid by Egyptian General (and now President) Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to murder unarmed Muslims during the infamous Rabaa massacre in 2013, during which supporters of the deposed Muslim Brotherhood President, Mohamed Morsi, clashed with Egyptian police and military.


Oraby is a prominent figure. She serves as the editor-in-chief of Noon Al-Niswa, the “first Arab American Women’s magazine.” In 2013, Noon Al-Niswa held an event to celebrate its first printed issue after being an exclusively online publication. According to another Arabic-language online publication, the event was attended by self-styled “human rights activist” Linda Sarsour, former Deputy Secretary of Energy Randa Fahmy Hudome and New Jersey state senator Barbara Buono.


In her capacity as an editor, Oraby has won the Shirley Chisholm Award in journalism (awarded by New Jersey Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver), and been invited to speak on college campuses all over North America, including at Concordia University, University of Toronto, and Montclair State University. At her Montclair State talk, Oraby was billed as an “Activist, Journalist, Broadcaster & Advocate for Arab women.” What sort of activism does Oraby practice? In a 2016 Arabic-language video on her Facebook account denouncing Egypt’s Coptic Christian population, she declared that “the Crescent must always be on top of the Cross” and urged her audience to “Boycott the Christians economically.”


Oraby’s Facebook posts, meanwhile, include virulent anti-Semitism. She claims that Israel has taken over the Middle East, and that Egypt’s former president Gamal Abdel Nasser was “a Jew” and an “American Intelligence agent.” The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has a long history of commenting on hate speech issues. But when we asked CAIR’s national office and its New York branch to comment on Oraby’s extremism, they refused.


CAIR was founded and remains run by Muslim Brotherhood members. Its refusal to condemn this anti-Semitic, anti-Christian and pro-terror rhetoric is explained by Oraby’s own history of involvement with the Muslim Brotherhood. Oraby’s Twitter profile lists her as a member of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council (ERC), a Turkey-based organization that supports Egypt’s ousted Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi. Although Oraby claims she is “not with Muslim Brotherhood,” Oraby’s membership in the ERC indicates otherwise.  When ERC first formed, at least one Egyptian English-language paper announced, “MB supporters launch revolutionary council.” Another Arabic-language paper describes Oraby as an “active member of the Muslim Brotherhood.”


Furthermore, Oraby has lobbied Congress alongside MB activists who endorse the boycott of Copts, later showing up in a photo with them displaying the four-fingered Muslim Brotherhood gesture. Oraby has praised Muslim Brotherhood ideologue Sayyid Qutb as an “intellectual” and a “martyr.” And, both of her Facebook profiles feature pictures of Muhammad Morsi as the cover photo. She even captioned her personal page’s photo of Morsi with the declaration, “We still consider you to be the legitimate president of Egypt.”…

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




On Topic Links


Video: Raymond Ibrahim on Egyptian President Sisi and Coptic Christians: Raymond Ibrahim, Youtube, Oct. 20, 2017—In the video that follows, I discuss the situation of the Christian Copts of Egypt in the context of that nation’s president. The clip is from this year’s annual Coptic Solidarity conference held last June in Washington D.C.

Sadat and Begin – the Peacemakers: Dr. Martin Kramer, BESA, Nov. 19, 2017—It is now thirty-eight years since the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, most famously evoked by the three-way handshake on the White House lawn that changed the Middle East.

40 Years Since Egypt’s Pres. Anwar Sadat Came to Jerusalem, Israel: Hana Levi Julian, Jewish Press, Nov. 19, 2017—The Israeli government on Sunday marked the fortieth anniversary of the historic visit by an Egyptian leader that marked the start of a new era of peace in the Middle East.

Sadat and Me in Jerusalem 40 Years Ago: Lenny Ben-David, JCPA, Nov. 20, 2017—Forty years ago, I worked in Washington as the Director of Research at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. My work focused on arguing against the Carter Administration’s push for an international peace conference in Geneva that would include the Soviet Union and radical Arab states and opposing American arms sales to Egypt.








Fighting a Worthy Intellectual Battle: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Oct. 27, 2017 — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's now-famous (or infamous) "sour pickles" speech at the opening of the Knesset winter session this week was more than a curiosity and much more than good political theater.

Why Is Israel's Image Improving in Greece?: George N. Tzogopoulos, BESA, Oct. 24, 2017— For most observers, the South Caucasus region might not appear high on Israel’s foreign policy agenda.

Israel and the South Caucasus: Building a New Approach: Emil Avdaliani, Algemeiner, Nov. 5, 2017 — Canadian governmental spokespeople have been active lately in apologizing for historical wrongs.

Remembering Rabin: Editorial, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2017— Many on the Left want the annual memorial of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to focus on the late prime minister’s political convictions and emphasize the dangers of incitement, particular of the right-wing variety.


On Topic Links


Growing Confidence in Israel's High Tech Sector: Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 30, 2017

Netanyahu: 100 Years After Balfour, Palestinians Should Accept Jewish State: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2017

Netanyahu’s Center-Right Partners Won’t Join Labor-Led Government Despite Alarming Polls: David Israel, Jewish Press, Nov. 5, 2017

85,000 Attend Rally Marking 22nd Anniversary of Rabin’s Murder: Jacob Magid, Times of Israel, Nov. 4, 2017




FIGHTING A WORTHY INTELLECTUAL BATTLE                                                                  

David M. Weinberg

Israel Hayom, Oct. 27, 2017


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's now-famous (or infamous) "sour pickles" speech at the opening of the Knesset winter session this week was more than a curiosity and much more than good political theater. It was a substantial address that touched upon some of the central intellectual battles underway these days, in and about Israel.


Essentially, Netanyahu was pushing back against what he called the "industry of despondency" about Israel – the negativism about Israel's direction in all matters: social, economic, democratic and diplomatic. Netanyahu rejected doom-and-gloom depictions of Israel as isolated, divided, oppressive, frozen, and fascist. Instead, he argued, Israel is on the upswing in almost all fields, with strong showings in defense, diplomacy, business, art, science, and yes, in democratic discourse and in identity politics too.


I am particularly interested in intellectual currents in defense and diplomatic matters, which are undergoing an important revolution. For years, the left-liberal side of Israel's political spectrum has advanced an alarmist and defeatist narrative: that Israel is losing its global stature and support because of the continuing stalemate in relations with the Palestinians.


First, the Left argued that Israel needed a peace accord with the Palestinians; otherwise it would not be secure. Then, the Left argued that without at least a peace process, Israel would be demonized and deprived of international standing. Now, the Left argues that without unilateral Israeli withdrawals and a division of our capital city, Israel will be crushed demographically and go dark democratically. Netanyahu is saying no to this. He is saying that Israel can stand up for its historic rights and security interests, and still improve its global standing, while maintaining its robust universalist and nationalist identity.


Of course, a process of reconciliation and compromise with the Palestinians would be preferable. But Israel's importance, salience and relevance for the Jewish people and for the world are functions of much more than our difficult situation with recalcitrant Palestinians. Israel has a strategic standing, regionally and globally, that is consequential and resolute. The strength of Israel and the religious-national values embedded in its society are affectionately respected in many, many quarters.


This is partially the context that explains the establishment in Jerusalem this month of a new conservative security think tank, the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies, of which I am the founding vice president. The institute seeks to counter debilitating currents in Israeli defense and diplomatic discourse, and recapture the mainstream in Zionist security thinking.


Among the principles underlying the institute's activity are the Jewish people's historic connection to the land of Israel as a central component of strategic worldview; the salience of security in diplomatic agreements; rejection of unilateral Israeli moves that strengthen adversaries; the importance of strategic cooperation with like-minded Western allies; the imperative of Israel being able to defend itself by itself in all eventualities; and, critically, the importance of united Jerusalem to Israel’s security and destiny…


The fact is that over the past three decades, the Israeli Left has astutely financed a multitude of public policy centers to buttress an agenda of far-reaching concessions meant to rapidly pave the way toward Palestinian statehood with a divided Jerusalem as its capital. Alas, the Israeli center-right has not created a serious intellectual infrastructure that might lead security thinking in an alternative direction. The Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies seeks to redress this situation, to push back against downcast and despairing narratives, and to reinforce the healthy, steadfast instincts of the Israeli majority.


Here is an example of healthy instincts. According to a new JISS public opinion poll to be released next week, a solid majority of Israelis (64%) believes that Israel must rule the entire Jerusalem envelope for security and ideological reasons. Even larger majorities believe that Israel must maintain sovereignty over the Temple Mount whatever diplomatic accords emerge (72%), and that Jews should be able to pray on the Temple Mount (68%).


The new institute will also seek to energize Israeli strategic discourse with a reconsideration of defense concepts that have fallen by the wayside over the past two decades, such as pre-emptive war and secure borders. Another central focus for the new institute is training the next generation of national security specialists – a younger cohort from the Israeli academic, intelligence, military and foreign policy communities – in the best traditions of both Zionist and Western grand strategic thinking.


The choice of Jerusalem for this new think tank is no accident. The July events surrounding the Temple Mount, as well as the decision by the Trump Administration to walk back an explicit election promise on the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem – where the embassy belongs! – are but two aspects of what is bound to be an almost existential issue for Israel and the Jewish People…

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






George N. Tzogopoulos

BESA, Oct. 24, 2017


Generally speaking, there has long been a consensus among Greek journalists on who is to be blamed for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and for the failure to achieve peace: Israel. The Jewish state has been consistently portrayed as the aggressor and the Palestinians as innocent victims. The Greek coverage of the Mavi Marmara incident in June 2010 illustrates this phenomenon. “Mourning and ire for the Israeli Ressalto” was the headline used by Eleftherotypia, a leftist publication (now closed down for economic reasons). The center-left paper TA NEA was equally critical, opting for the headline: “World outcry: Goliath crushed David”. The “World outcry” phrase was also used by the conservative newspaper Hi Kathimerini.


Greek sympathy for the Palestinian cause is rooted in the proximity of the Arab world and the support of most Arabs on the Cyprus Question. Anti-Semitism has also played a role. But there is another reason why Israel was constantly blamed by the Greek media, at least before 2010. It served as a useful scapegoat for all the problems in the Middle East, if not all the problems in the world. This made it easy for journalists to avoid time-consuming, in-depth research on international affairs. Jerusalem’s close cooperation with Ankara only fueled the negative perception of Israel among the Greek media.


The turning point came in the late summer of 2010. The media tend to follow the prevailing political agenda, and the rehabilitation of Israel’s image was no exception. When Jerusalem decided to look for new allies in the Eastern Mediterranean following the setback in its relations with Ankara, it turned to Athens. In August 2010, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Greece, opening a new chapter in a relationship that had been marked for decades by misunderstandings and suspicion.


George Papandreou, the Greek premier at the time, saw Israel as a critical ally in an era of economic austerity and uncertainty over Greece’s potential default and exit from the Eurozone. The Greek media followed Papandreou’s lead. The headline of TA NEA was characteristic: “From flirting to marriage: Greece and Israel are opening perspectives for golden cooperation.” Eleftherotypia talked about “Changing balances creating a ‘new axis’ in the region,” and Hi Kathimerini wrote about a “closer collaboration” between the two countries. From late 2010 onwards, covering Israel has been a job not only for foreign editors but also for diplomatic correspondents.


In the aftermath of the Netanyahu-Papandreou Athens meeting, most Greek journalists began to grasp that Israel is no longer an unknown, distant neighbor. Above all, it is a partner. This strategic partnership yields positives for Greece in terms of security and energy affairs, and also has a tangibly positive effect on the Greek economy. While 207,711 Israeli tourists came to Greece in 2012, expected arrivals from Israel are expected to be 530,712 in 2017. Thessaloniki (among others) is a city Israeli citizens are keen to visit due to its historic Jewish past and its mayor Yannis Boutaris, who is very friendly towards Israel.


Also, economic opportunities quickly became apparent. As a “start-up” nation, Israel attracted the attention of Greek entrepreneurs. The Embassy of Israel in Athens organizes events and competitions, the winners of which have the opportunity to participate in the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival. Israel’s communications strategy on Facebook and Twitter also helps Greek journalists and ordinary citizens gain easy access to information about the country.


Moreover, the racist behavior of the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party, and its position that Israel is Greece’s “eternal enemy,” have (to an extent) associated anti-Israel voices in Greece with political extremists. The attack of a far-left terror group against the Israeli embassy in Athens in December 2014 reinforced this perception and drove some new sympathy for Israel. At the time, most Greek journalists expressed serious concern about safety and security in Greece as well as about the international implications of the event. To Ethnos, a center-left newspaper, said the attack was an international stigma for Greece as it was “the first against an Israeli Embassy for twelve years at the world level.” (For its part, Proto Thema, a weekly tabloid, reported on the involvement of Mossad in the investigation, indirectly implying that Greek authorities would not necessarily be able to locate the suspects.)…


After 2015, an additional barrier tarnishing Israel’s image in Greece was removed. A leftist government, Syriza, came to power, bringing with it a new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras. Though he had participated in pro-Palestinian demonstrations in the past, his tune changed when he assumed his new position. In contrast to his pre-election stance, Tsipras treats Israel as an ally, and his foreign policy is reflected in media coverage on both left and right. The Journalists’ Newspaper, for example, which replaced Eleftherotypia, praised the Trilateral Thessaloniki Meeting of June 2017 for accelerating the construction of an East Med pipeline.


Broadly speaking, Greek journalists are now more mature about Israel. In the aftermath of the “Arab Spring,” even the most pro-Palestinian journalists covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict acknowledge Jerusalem’s contribution to regional stability. Also, official visits to Israeli cities have left participants impressed by the country, and this is penetrating into their work. Other Greek media representatives have turned their attention entirely to blaming Germany for the Greek drama, and see no need to construct other “enemies.” Still others are affected by rising Islamophobia, rather than anti-Semitism, as terror attacks plotted by ISIS continue to strike Europe.


The improving image of Israel in Greece could theoretically go hand in hand with a reduction in anti-Semitism. In 2014, the Greek parliament voted in favor of a new anti-racism law that made Holocaust denial, inter alia, a criminal act. Numbers cannot confirm this, though, as some stereotypes grounded in the thinking of older generations have deep roots. Greece has not experienced endemic violence against members of Jewish institutions, but the authorities are nevertheless in search of measures to eradicate anti-Semitism. When Speaker of the Greek Parliament Nikos Voutsis visited Israel last January, he signed a declaration to combat anti-Semitism. Politicians such as the vice president of the conservative New Democracy party, Adonis Georgiadis, have decided to publicly apologize for their anti-Semitic pasts. Those who sympathize with racist points of view find themselves politically isolated. This process will take time, of course, because it is principally related to school education. But the change in coverage of Israel by Greek journalists is a good omen. 






Emil Avdaliani

Algemeiner, Nov. 5, 2017


For most observers, the South Caucasus region might not appear high on Israel’s foreign policy agenda. This is a reasonable assumption, as none of the three states — Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia — borders Israel. Moreover, the region is a hotbed of ethnic fighting, with three ongoing separatist conflicts in South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh further complicating political stability.


However, the South Caucasus’ strategic location — which lies on the one hand between Central Asia and eastern Europe, and on the other between Russia and the Middle East – has drawn regional players to seek greater influence in the territory. Those players are usually Turkey, Russia and the EU, and their interest might logically appear to overwhelm any potential influence that Israel might have in the region.


Yet over the past year, Israel has intensified its foreign policy moves toward each of the South Caucasian states. Each country interests Israel for its own particular reasons. For example, prior to 2008, the Georgian army was largely supplied with Israeli military technologies. However, the Russo-Georgian war that broke out in August 2008 caused Israeli exports to cease, as Russia was angry that its small neighbor was able to boast such advanced military capabilities. Beyond military ties, Georgia interests Israel from an economic standpoint: Israeli investments play an important role in Georgia’s economy. Moreover, Georgia is geopolitically important, insofar as it has several large ports on its Black Sea shoreline that can easily be used for commercial and military purposes.


In the case of Armenia, Israel’s relations have been somewhat distant for more than a decade. This was due primarily to Israel’s rather strong ties with Yerevan’s two biggest geopolitical rivals: Azerbaijan and Turkey. However, a shift in bilateral relations was made apparent recently when a senior Israeli official visited Yerevan. Tzachi Hanegbi, Israel’s minister for regional cooperation, visited Armenia on July 25-26, 2017 for talks with senior Armenian officials. Hanegbi is a key figure in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party and has held ministerial positions for two decades. He said his visit was intended as a step forward in relations to make the Armenia-Israeli “friendship mutually beneficial in many fields.” His was the first visit by a senior Israeli official to Armenia since 2012.


One of the major bones of contention between Armenia and Israel is Israeli arms shipments to Azerbaijan. Those supplies played an important role in last year’s “April war” between Armenia and Azerbaijan. After Azerbaijan took several frontline posts in a surprise attack on April 2, 2016, Armenian forces undertook a counteroffensive — but Israeli-supplied Harop suicide drones and Spike anti-tank missiles helped Azerbaijani forces thwart that counterattack. This brings us to Israel-Azerbaijan relations. In late 2016, reports circulated that Baku was planning to buy Israeli “Iron Dome” capabilities to better counter Armenian attacks. Beyond those military ties, Azerbaijan is important to Israel for its large oil resources. In the event of need, the country could potentially become Israel’s major oil supplier.


Thus Israel’s relations with each of the three South Caucasian states depends on specific economic and military interests — interests that are contained within a complex wider context. Each state has its own relations with its larger neighbors, Russia and Turkey. Israeli diplomacy must navigate difficult political terrain where a misstep could cause Israel’s ties with Turkey or Russia to deteriorate…

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





Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2017


Many on the Left want the annual memorial of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin to focus on the late prime minister’s political convictions and emphasize the dangers of incitement, particular of the right-wing variety. Others, interested in appealing to a broader audience, want the event to be based on more common denominators such as Zionism and patriotism. Clearly Darkenu and Commanders for Israel’s Security, the two groups organizing the main event at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv on Saturday night, adhere to the second, more inclusive approach. And this has raised the rancor of the Left.


We believe both positions are wrongheaded. Clearly, focusing solely on Rabin’s politics will prevent the annual memorial from becoming a national event celebrated by all walks of Israeli society. Over the past 22 years since his assassination, many of the assumptions underpinning the Oslo Accords have been discredited, particularly the belief that a moderate Palestinian political leadership would emerge in response to Israeli overtures. The 2005 evacuation of Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip, which led to the rise of Hamas, has taught Israelis to be more skeptical of making territorial concessions.


Nor should Rabin’s assassination be used as a means of delegitimizing the entire Right or limiting free speech. A clear distinction must be made between violent actions and speech, even of the most despicable kinds. The former must be forbidden while the latter must be protected as essential to the functioning of any democracy. While it is true that incitement on the Right preceded Rabin’s murder, ultimately it was Yigal Amir who pulled the trigger. Nevertheless, people need to learn from memorials like the one planned for Saturday night that speech can incite violence. Freedom of speech is a right that should be protected but we also need to ensure that it is not abused.


That is why the lessons of Rabin’s assassination must not be watered down. Figures on the Left such as former Meretz MK Nitzan Horowitz are right when they point out that Rabin did not die of natural causes. He was the victim of a political assassination committed by a man who sought to change national policy not at the ballot box, but with shots from a pistol. That is why it is good that Darkenu and Commanders for Israel’s Security responded to the criticism that was rightly leveled against them from the Left for failing to mention in advertisements and notices publicizing Saturday night’s event that Rabin was assassinated. Now under the title “We are One People,” advertisements announce “a mass rally commemorating 22 years since the murder of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.”


In their attempt not to hurt anyone’s feelings and to appeal to everybody, Darkenu and Commanders for Israel’s Security watered down their message too much. On a day commemorating Israel’s most shocking political assassination, it is not enough to talk about “unity” and “moderation.” A clear position needs to be taken that any form of violence used to achieve a political end is illegitimate. Political decisions must be made through consensus not through bullying or intimidation. It would also help to understand that fear is often what motivates extreme rhetoric on both the Right and the Left. During the Oslo era, many on the Right were fearful that territorial concessions and providing arms to Palestinians would lead to violence. And this fear was largely vindicated. Meanwhile, the Left fears the demographic dangers to democracy resulting from maintaining control over Judea and Samaria, which could undermine Israel as we know it.


What makes Rabin’s memorial day unique and worthy of commemoration is not the Labor Party’s political agenda or Rabin’s own political convictions. Nor is it enough to talk vaguely of “unity” and “moderation.” Rather we must reaffirm our democratic values, which protect even the most abhorrent forms of speech while at the same time condemn any use of violence to further political ends. Regardless of one’s political affiliation, that is something we should all be able to agree on as we remember what happened on the night of November 4, 22 years ago.




On Topic Links


Growing Confidence in Israel's High Tech Sector: Amb. (ret.) Yoram Ettinger, Arutz Sheva, Oct. 30, 2017—The Israeli company Argos, which deals with information security for vehicles, is in advanced negotiations for its acquisition by Continental of Germany in the amount of a half-billion dollars, according to recent media reports.

Netanyahu: 100 Years After Balfour, Palestinians Should Accept Jewish State: Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, Nov. 2, 2017—The Palestinians have yet to take the same basic step that Great Britain did 100 years ago, when it issued the Balfour Declaration recognizing the right of the Jewish people to a state in their homeland, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his British counterpart, Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday.

Netanyahu’s Center-Right Partners Won’t Join Labor-Led Government Despite Alarming Polls: David Israel, Jewish Press, Nov. 5, 2017—It’s definitely pre-elections season in Israel, as yet another new poll has come out over the weekend with devastating predictions for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

85,000 Attend Rally Marking 22nd Anniversary of Rabin’s Murder: Jacob Magid, Times of Israel, Nov. 4, 2017—Some 85,000 people turned out at the annual rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday marking the 22nd anniversary of the assassination of Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, which this year tried to emphasize national unity rather than its traditional focus on peace.



On Tuesday, November 8, 2011 at 5:00pm a candle lighting ceremony will take place at Israeli President Shimon Peres’ residence in Jerusalem, ushering in the 16th Yitzhak Rabin Memorial Day. An official memorial service for Lea and Yitzhak Rabin, z”l, will be held Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 3:00pm at Mt. Herzl in Jerusalem.


Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, November 7, 2011

As the nation commemorates the 16th anniversary of the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, I can vividly recollect—as though it was yesterday—the shock and anguish that we all experienced when we first heard the devastating news.

I was privileged to develop a warm rapport with Rabin who, on my frequent visits to Jerusalem before I made aliya, nearly always found quality time to talk to me. I had a great liking for him. He was a straightforward man whose frankness and impatience with small talk was refreshing.

Our discussions in the later stages were largely centered on the pros and cons of the Oslo Accords. Like many others, I felt that Rabin had been sandbagged by Shimon Peres, Yossi Beilin and their group into endorsing a policy that ran completely counter to his instincts and long-standing outlook.

As the process developed and he faced increasingly fierce criticism, he became impatient, inflexible and aggressive. I recall a particularly tense disagreement between us after he referred—in the media—to settlers, whom in the past he had frequently referred to as the salt of the earth.…

But contrary to what was frequently alleged, in all my private discussions with him he was never euphoric about Oslo, repeatedly describing it as a “gamble” which he felt obliged to put to the test. “If it fails,” he said, “we will take everything back,” although in retrospect, I doubt whether he really believed that was possible.

To achieve the necessary Knesset majority to endorse the Oslo Accords, Rabin cynically indulged in political corruption, bribing unsavory opposition members to defect by offering to make them government ministers. But notwithstanding this and contrary to many of his harshest critics, I remain convinced that Rabin always rationalized his actions as being in the national interest. To me, there is absolutely no question that he was a genuine Israeli patriot.

Despite his best intentions, however, the gamble failed. As a consequence of that disastrous initiative much Israeli blood was, and continues to be, shed.…

Today, as we continue to commemorate Rabin’s memory and the appalling crime of his assassination, we should feel outraged at the ruthless and cynical distortions employed by the far Left and others who invoke his memory to justify their initiatives and seek to portray him, falsely, as having shared their delusional political views.

The truth is that Rabin did not even bother to conceal his utter contempt for many of those who now have the gall to invoke his name. In fact, Rabin adamantly refused to make the concessions to the Palestinians and the Americans that were extended by our current “right wing” prime minister.

In his last Knesset speech on October 5, 1995, several weeks prior to his assassination, Rabin was adamant that “we will not return to the June 1967 lines.” Furthermore, in relation to the settlements, he said: “We committed ourselves before the Knesset not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim government and not to hinder building for natural growth.” He repeatedly vowed that he would never agree to divide Jerusalem.

Yet the left and much of the media now invoke Rabin as the leader who promoted “peace,” while condemning current Prime Minister Netanyahu, who ironically was willing to compromise on these issues.

That applies also to Rabin’s resistance to American pressure. Unlike Netanyahu, Rabin did not indulge in diplomatic niceties; when pressured he responded aggressively, reminding the Americans that Israel was a sovereign state and would not be dictated to by outside parties, even its ally the United States.

When we commemorate our assassinated prime minister, we should not concentrate on his failure in relation to Oslo. Instead, we should relate to him as one of the last of the great Labor Zionist leaders, who served his country with distinction both as a military commander and a dedicated leader.… His Yahrzeit should be commemorated in a manner designed to promote unity and harmony rather than being misrepresented to encourage division and rancor. That is how most Israelis would wish to honor the memory of Yitzhak Rabin.

Evelyn Gordon

Contentions, November 8, 2011

Tonight, as Israel’s memorial day for slain Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin begins, is a good time to debunk a myth that has recently gained great currency: that Israel’s population has become increasingly right-wing, constituting a major obstacle to peace. This myth was most famously propounded by former [US] President Bill Clinton, but it also crops up frequently in academic discourse. A study published by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies in September, for instance, declared that “Today Israel’s Jewish population is more nationalistic, religiously conservative, and hawkish on foreign policy and security affairs than that of even a generation ago, and it would be unrecognizable to Israel’s founders.”

Yet Rabin himself, the idol of those who propagate this myth, provides the best possible refutation of it. All you have to do is read his final speech to the Knesset, given one month before his death, to realize how far to the left Israel has traveled since then.

For instance, Rabin envisioned a final-status solution in which Israel lived alongside a Palestinian “entity which is less than a state.” Today, even the “right-wing” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly advocates a Palestinian state.

Rabin envisioned “united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev [two nearby settlements],” as “the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty.” Since then, two Israeli prime ministers have offered to give the Palestinians East Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and most of the Old City.

Rabin declared that Israel’s “security border…will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.” Since then, two Israeli premiers have offered to give the Palestinians almost all the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley; even the “right-wing” Netanyahu reportedly agreed to negotiate borders based on the 1967 lines.

Rabin listed Gaza’s Gush Katif as one of the settlement blocs Israel would retain. Since then, Israel has withdrawn from every inch of Gaza.

Rabin pledged “not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.” Since then, Israel has uprooted 25 settlements (21 in Gaza and four in the West Bank) without a final-status agreement, while the “right-wing” Netanyahu instituted Israel’s first-ever moratorium on settlement construction (for 10 months), including “building for natural growth.”

Israeli public opinion has also moved dramatically leftward. Two decades ago, for instance, a Palestinian state was anathema to most Israelis; the idea was entertained only on the far-left fringe. Today, polls consistently show overwhelming support for a Palestinian state on almost all the West Bank and Gaza.

On only one issue have Israelis actually moved rightward: Far fewer now believe the “peace process” will ever produce peace. In April 1996, for instance, 47 percent expected Israeli-Palestinian peace to be achieved “in the coming years,” while 32 percent did not. In October 2011, only 32 percent foresaw peace being achieved anytime soon, while 66 percent did not. The latter results have been roughly consistent for years now.

That, however, has nothing to do with Israelis becoming more “nationalistic” or “religiously conservative” and everything to do with hard experience: Since 1993, Israel has evacuated Lebanon, Gaza and large chunks of the West Bank only to see all three become bases for murderous anti-Israel terror, while its Palestinian “peace partner” has steadfastly refused to recognize a Jewish state or cease demanding to destroy it through an influx of millions of Palestinian “refugees.”

If the world truly wants to see an Israeli-Palestinian peace, it must start addressing these very real problems. Blaming the impasse instead on a nonexistent Israeli turn rightward merely ensures that peace will remain an unachievable dream.

Hillel Neuer

National Post, November 8, 2011

John Humphrey, the McGill University law professor who drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, must be rolling in his grave. By a gross lapse in judgment, the McGill human rights centre that Humphrey inspired is about to lend its platform to Richard Falk, a lifelong apologist for terrorists and a major 9/11 conspiracy theorist.

Before inviting Falk to speak next week, on the subject of U.S. drone killings, did the university do its homework?

At first glance, the former Princeton professor of international law, prolific author and UN expert appears highly qualified.… Yet a brief review of Falk’s record shows him to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Fluent in the language of human rights, Falk’s twisted judgment, morality and sense of reality promote the very opposite. Examples abound.

First, Falk was an energetic campaigner for Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, both before and after the 1979 revolution. Days after the cleric arrived in Tehran to seize power, Falk reassured the world, in a New York Times op-ed titled “Trusting Khomeini,” that “the depiction of him as fanatical, reactionary and the bearer of crude prejudices seems certainly and happily false.” Khomeini’s entourage, wrote Falk, had “a notable record of concern for human rights.” Indeed, the ayatollah’s “new model of popular revolution” offered the world “a desperately-needed model of humane governance for a third-world country.…”

In world politics, folly carries a price, and legions of Iranians—brutalized, tortured and raped by the Islamic Republic—continue to pay it.

Second, Falk is one of the figures responsible for turning the UN Human Rights Council…into a travesty. In 2008, shortly after Falk accused Israel of planning a “Palestinian Holocaust,” a bloc of dictatorships, including Bashar al-Assad’s Syria and Muammar Gaddafi’s Libya, installed him as the council’s expert on Palestine. The mission they gave him is so biased in its formulation, that Falk tries to obscure it. He calls himself the Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories,” implying a regional jurisdiction that objectively treats all actions and parties. Yet his actual mandate is to investigate “Israel’s violations.” Not Hamas, not Fatah, not Islamic Jihad—just Israel.…

Third, Falk uses his UN post to legitimize Hamas, systematically ignoring its open incitement to genocidal murder of Jews and the deliberate targeting of civilians. Falk takes pains to portray Hamas as “the elected government” of Gaza—never mind that that the group seized power by throwing opponents off rooftops and shooting them in hospital beds.… Falk’s support for the terrorist group is so extreme that even the Palestinian Authority—as revealed in a Wikleaks cable, and which Falk himself admits—has sought to remove him, on grounds that he is a “partisan of Hamas.”

Fourth, in July Falk published a cartoon showing a dog, with “USA” written on its body and wearing a skullcap marked with a Star of David, urinating on a depiction of justice while it devours a bloody skeleton. Falk was globally censured. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay found the posting “anti-Semitic” and “objectionable.…”

Fifth, Falk is one of the world’s most high-profile 9/11 conspiracy theorists, lending his name to those who accuse the U.S. government of orchestrating the destruction of the Twin Towers as a pretext to launch wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In particular, Falk actively promotes the writings of David Ray Griffin, a disciple and close friend, who has produced 12 books describing the World Trade Center attack as “an inside job.…” Even after his UN appointment, Falk penned a 2008 article entitled, “9/11: More Than Meets The Eye,” arguing that the crimes were committed by “the established elites of the American governmental structure.”

Falk has repeatedly appeared on the “TruthJihad.com” show of Kevin Barrett, a 9/11 conspiracy theorist and Holocaust skeptic who rails against the “ethnic Jews” who (he says) run Washington and the media. Falk endorsed Barrett’s “good work,” while also praising Iranian tyrant Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In January, after Falk blogged more of the same, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon took the floor of the Human Rights Council to issue an unprecedented condemnation of a UN official. Falk’s remarks, said Mr. Ban, were “preposterous” and “an affront to the memory of the more than 3,000 people who died in that tragic terrorist attack.”

How can McGill now treat Falk as an authority on the war on terror? What message does this send?

U.S. ambassador Susan Rice, a strong defender of the UN, called Falk’s 9/11 remarks “despicable,” saying his “distasteful sideshow” harms the cause of human rights. She’s right. And someone who consistently contorts reality to fit a preconceived political agenda—one that always ends up excusing the preachers of hate and perpetrators of terror—has no place in an institution of learning premised on the principles of rational and empirical inquiry.

(Hillel Neuer graduated from the McGill Faculty of Law in 1997
and is now the executive director of
UN Watch.)


New York Sun, November 4, 2011

Many of us will be watching the Supreme Court of the United States Monday, [November 7, 2011] when the justices are scheduled to hear one of those only-in-America cases, where a child is challenging one of the most powerful of the government’s secretaries. The youngster in the case is a nine-year-old American boy, Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky. The secretary he is suing is Hillary Clinton. He is asking the court to order her to carry out a law requiring the state department accede to his request that the papers memorializing his birth state that, when he was born at Shaare Zedeck hospital in the western part Jerusalem, the country he was born in was Israel.

Mrs. Clinton actually voted for the law before she refused to carry it out. That was back in 2002, when she was a member of the Senate, which passed the law on a unanimous vote. Now she is claiming that it would infringe on the powers of the president to carry out the foreign policy of the United States. Mrs. Clinton is not alone. President George W. Bush issued a signing statement when he affixed his signature to the law, making the same dissent.…

The notion that the case has any impact on foreign policy is itself in dispute, however. Master Zivitofsky’s lawyer, Nathan Lewin, won a hearing at the Supreme Court precisely by arguing that all the handwringing by Mrs. Clinton over the impact of the case is, in effect, for naught and that the effect on foreign policy of the section of the law that gives the youngster the right to a birth certificate stating the country he was born in is “trivial.”

It may be, though, that the justices will want to delve more thoroughly into the question of which branch has the upper hand constitutionally in respect of foreign policy. If that happens, get set for a marvelous argument. The lawyers for Mrs. Clinton have tried to suggest that the historical record favors the upper hand in foreign affairs going to the executive. But Mr. Lewin has placed before the judges a memorable brief, featuring such figures as Geo. Washington, John Marshall, Alex. Hamilton, Thos. Jefferson, Jas. Monroe, Henry Clay, J. Q. Adams, Andrew Jackson, Zach’ry Taylor, and A’bram Lincoln. Writes the attorney for Master Zivitofsky:

“From the founding of the Republic through the Lincoln Administration there clearly was no consensus that the Constitution assigned recognition of foreign governments exclusively to the discretion of the Executive. President Monroe requested joint action from the Congress to accord recognition to new Latin American republics. President Jackson analogized the recognition power to the power to declare war, and he left to Congress the recognition of the independent Republic of Texas. President Taylor believed that he could only ‘recommend to Congress…the recognition of Hungary.’ And President Lincoln withheld dispatch of ministers to Haiti and Liberia until Congress authorized recognition of those countries—even though he could discern no reason why nations with black populations should not be recognized.”

Master Zivitofsky, therefore, asserts that it is, in his attorney’s words, “inaccurate to say”—as the government has suggested—“that ‘it has been commonly understood since the Washington Administration’ that the President has exclusive discretionary power to recognize foreign governments. At least through the administration of President Lincoln, Presidents who were confronted with controversial recognition issues acknowledged that action or approval by the Congress was necessary before a foreign government would be formally recognized. More recent assertions of exclusive Executive authority have been challenged by Congress, and no decision of this Court or any lower federal tribunal has, until now, determined whether the President has the totally plenary discretionary recognition power that is being asserted by the Solicitor General in this case.”

It’s not every day one gets a case that opens up these vistas into our constitutional and historical substructure.… It’s just the sort of situation in which it makes sense to seek one’s wisdom in history that the Founders gave us.