Monday, May 23, 2016

Discovering the extent of East-German hostility to Israel

From Commentary magazine, 16 May 2016, by Jeffery Herf:
After the Holocaust, an implicit if rarely stated 11th commandment prevailed in West German politics: Do not kill or harm any more Jews and do not help anyone else to kill or harm any more Jews, including the citizens of the state of Israel. This was a moral minimum and proved uncomfortably compatible with certain disturbing aspects of the behavior of the West German government, like the premature amnesty granted to ex-Nazi officials and many years of public silence about the crimes of the very recent past. Still, no West German government brought harm to Jews, either at home or in Israel.
East Germany was a different story. It too had been part of the Third Reich, and its people and leaders were as morally shadowed by the evils perpetrated in their land as anyone in the West. But it was hostile to the state of Israel from the time of its founding in 1949 to its own demise in 1989. And now, we know that hostility was matched by behavior that systematically sought to injure Jews, the Jewish people, and the Jewish state.

With access to the archives of its most sensitive political, military, intelligence and diplomatic archives, we are able to document the depth of that hostility. We now know that especially in the years just preceding the Six-Day War of 1967 and continuing up to 1989, the East German government’s support of the Arab states and the Palestinian terrorist organizations included the political warfare it waged in its propaganda organs and at the United Nations, where it supported the Zionism-as-racism resolution of November 1975. It also provided significant amounts of military assistance in the form of weapons deliveries and military training to the Arab states and the Palestinian terrorist organizations at war with Israel. As a historian of modern Germany, I regard these previously under-examined events as among the most important in postwar German and European history.

The self-described anti-fascist regime in East Germany and the West German radicals who also called themselves “anti-fascists” were enthusiastic participants in all of these efforts. Their aggressive campaign, designed to delegitimize Israel and Jewish nationalism, featured various false assertions about the history of the conflict with the Arabs and Palestinians, and it still echoes in the present day. There is nothing new in the accusations hurled at Israel by the advocates of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions (BDS); they can be found in the assaults of the 1960s and 1970s by the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Arab states, and their Soviet-bloc supporters, like the government of East Germany.
Now that the dictatorship is gone and its archives are open, we have begun writing the history of the undeclared wars waged against Israel by the Soviet-bloc–Arab-state–PLO alliance during the last quarter century of the Cold War. We are now able to understand more clearly the intersection of political warfare waged against Israel at the United Nations with the clash of arms in the Middle East. We also now can understand and appreciate how the Israelis, with their American ally, triumphed in these undeclared wars, thus preventing Israel’s destruction by force of arms and dealing Soviet-bloc strategy in the Middle East a crucial series of still underappreciated decisive defeats.

As early as 1967, West German Jewish leaders such as Heinz Galinski and his colleagues at the Central Council of Jews in Germany were raising alarms about the emergence of anti-Semitism and actual threats of violence aimed at Jews in West Germany coming from the radical left. In 1969, the West Berlin leftist Dieter Kunzelmann urged his fellow leftists to overcome what he called “the Jewish complex,” a supposedly crippling guilt that produced a false consciousness of sympathy for Israel. Ulrike Meinhof, one of the leaders of West Germany’s most notorious domestic terrorist ring, openly celebrated the PLO’s 1972 slaughter of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics as a great revolutionary deed. Two of those who assisted in a radical Palestinian group’s 1976 hijacking of an Air France plane flying from Tel Aviv—which was forced to land in Entebbe, Uganda, occasioning Israel’s Operation Thunderbolt, the most dramatic hostage rescue in history—were West Germans. Indeed, West German terrorism was a subject of obsessive concern in the country and across Europe throughout the 1970s.

But all of that was, in some sense, a diversion that directed the world’s attention away from larger and much more consequential secret operations taking place in East Germany and the Soviet bloc that had far greater impact on the conflict in the Middle East. While the West German terrorists sought publicity, the East German state used its dictatorship and absence of a free press to keep clandestine its military support for the Arab states and the Palestine Liberation Organization and its affiliates.
Since East Germany was a state, it controlled territory where military training could take place. It had its own armed forces, a modest arms industry, a controlled press, embassies and consulates around the world, formidable secret-police and intelligence agencies, and government-controlled universities promulgating ideological messages to young students coming from Third World countries.

During the Six-Day War of June 1967, East Germany joined its Soviet-bloc partners in sending MiG fighter jets, Soviet T-34 tanks, and thousands of Kalashnikov assault weapons to Egypt and Syria. The files of the East German Defense Ministry, especially those of the office of the Defense Minister Heinz Hoffmann, contain extensive information about East Germany’s contribution to the rearmament and training of Egyptian and Syrian armed forces from 1967 to the Yom Kippur War in 1973. On September 30, 1969, in the face of increasing requests from many states and movements in the Third World for military support, Willi Stoph, Politburo member and president of the East German Council of Ministers, assigned Deputy Minister Gerhard Weiss the task of coordinating deliveries of weapons to states around the world, including the Arab states. Weiss’s committee remained the center of that program for the next 15 years. By 1970, East Germany had sent another 50 MiG fighter jets, 17,500 Kalashnikov machine guns, 150,000 land mines, 3,500 hand grenades, as well as helmets, uniforms, and backpacks to Egypt and Syria.

With Stalin’s turn against Israel in 1949 and the “anti-cosmopolitan” purges of the early 1950s, the Soviet bloc as a whole became Israel’s enemy. Yet East Germany took an even more passionate and prominent role in the anti-Israeli cause than did its fellow satellites in Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia. Unlike them, East Germany faced in West Germany an adversary that sought to isolate and delegitimize it by refusing to have diplomatic relations with any state that recognized the East. In playing the anti-Zionist card, East Germany found a means both to shatter West German diplomacy and open the floodgates of diplomatic recognition. A breakthrough with the Arab states began in 1969, when Iraq became the first non-Communist government (after Norodom Sihanouk’s Cambodia) to establish diplomatic relations with East Germany. A joint declaration by the foreign ministers of the two countries made a clear connection between Iraq’s decision to establish diplomatic relations and East Germany’s antagonism to Israel, stressing their “shared struggle . . . against imperialism, neo-Nazism, colonialism, and Zionism” and describing Israel as “racist, imperialist, reactionary, and aggressive.”

The description of Israel as a racist state and an imperialist tool, and the implication that both it and West Germany were expressions of neo-Nazism, was thus embedded in East Germany’s diplomatic relations with the Arab states. Similar language accompanied the establishment of diplomatic relations between East Germany and Sudan, Syria, Egypt, as well as with South Yemen in 1969. For the East German Communists, anti-Zionism was a matter of ideological conviction and an effective tool to undermine West German policy in the Middle East. The East Germans presented themselves as a different sort of “good German,” a German state that was an enemy of Israel, and their antagonism to Israel contributed to their considerable popularity among Third World states. Following its admission to the United Nations in 1973, East Germany repeatedly found itself in the middle of the huge General Assembly majorities voting in favor of unbalanced resolutions denouncing Israel.

In October 1971, East German Defense Minister Heinz Hoffmann led a military delegation on a trip to Iraq, Egypt, and most important, to Syria. There he met with Hafez al-Assad and the chief of the Syrian General Staff, Mustafa Tlass. In the course of extolling solidarity in the common struggle against Zionism, Hoffmann observed that Tlass “clearly” expressed a “tendency that existed among other leading officers of the Arab armed forces,” namely an “unconditional admiration for the fascist Blitzkrieg strategy and the expert accomplishments of the bourgeois German military.” Unfazed by Tlass’s admiration for the Wehrmacht’s accomplishments, Hoffmann expressed confidence that the Syrians “will be victorious in their battle against the enemy.” He added, “We are fighting the same enemy!”—by which he meant the United States and Israel.

The relationship between East Germany and Syria and between Hoffman and Tlass deepened in the following decade. Assad’s Syria, in fact, became the linchpin of Soviet state-to-state policy in the Middle East (just as it is the linchpin of Russian policy in the Middle East today). In the early 1980s, Tlass published The Matzo of Zion. In a variation on the medieval European blood libel, he wrote that the Jews murdered Arab children to acquire their blood to make matzos for Passover. He also claimed that Europe had advanced economically because it persecuted the Jews, while the Arabs and Muslims were backward because they had treated the Jews too well. The Hoffmann files document some very warm toasts between Hoffmann and Tlass in which they declared mutual solidarity and celebrated a community of struggle (Kampfgemeinschaft).

So far as the available archival material suggests (and we don’t know what files from those years were destroyed), the East German regime was not involved in planning or supporting the Black September attack on Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972. East Germany wanted the Olympics to showcase the accomplishments of its (drug-enhanced) athletes. However, the year after the attack, East Germany’s relations with the PLO, of which Black September was an activist wing, became a formal alliance.

In the weeks following the massacre, Hans Dietrich Genscher, then West Germany’s interior minister and future foreign minister, signed an order banning an organization called the General Union of Palestinian Students (GUPS). The West German authorities had gathered evidence that GUPS was an arm of the PLO that sought to support “armed struggle” against Israel and possibly internationalize the “armed struggle” with a “front” in West Germany itself. In the month after the attack on the Olympics, the West German authorities expelled about 300 members of GUPS, seized its property, and dissolved the organization as a consequence of its willingness to use and support violence.

The GUPS ban opened an opportunity for East Germany to gain yet more favor in the Arab states, and it seized the moment, denouncing the West German ban as an “anti-Arab” measure. East German diplomats in Beirut and Damascus had discussions with members of the PLO. East German chief Erich Honecker and PLO boss Yasser Arafat exchanged letters. In a letter of September 17, 1972, Arafat urged “understanding of the action in Munich from the viewpoint of the general problem and its historical events with all of their political, national, and human dimensions.” Replying on November 27, Honecker denounced what he called “the string of recent Israeli acts of aggression against the Republic of Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic” and stressed that East Germany “in the future as in the past” stood “firmly on the side of the Arabic-Palestinian people.” Arafat and the PLO Executive Committee then understood that East Germany would presumably be willing to allow their territory to be used to support Palestinian guerilla activities aimed against Israel.

In August 1973, the East Germans celebrated Arafat, along with American Communist leader Angela Davis, as a major attraction of the “World Youth Festival” in East Berlin, where Arafat held the first of many meetings with Honecker. On August 2, 1973, East German Politburo member Gerhard Grüneberg and Arafat signed a formal agreement of cooperation to support their common “struggle against imperialism and Zionism.” The East Germans promised to deliver “solidarity goods in the civilian and non-civilian area”—that is, weapons. Similar agreements for civilian and military deliveries were signed on an annual basis over the next 15 years. In September 1973, East Germany became the first of the Soviet-bloc states to allow the PLO to open a consulate in its capital—a year before the Soviet Union. This decision took place when the PLO, following its Charter of 1968, was openly engaged in “armed struggle” with the purpose of destroying the state of Israel. It demonstrated the vanguard role and initiative that the East German Communists brought to the anti-Israeli cause.
On September 21, 1973, Heinz Galinski, the titular head of the Jewish community in West Berlin, sent an open letter to Erich Honecker to express the “growing concern and anxiety in the Jewish community” about the establishment of the PLO office in East Berlin. Honecker did not reply to Galinski’s letter. The mayor of West Berlin, Klaus Schutz, was also alarmed about the opening of the PLO office. So was David Klein, head of the U.S. Mission in West Berlin. They were all concerned that Arab and Palestinian terrorists would fly from the Middle East to East Berlin’s Schönefeld Airport and that the PLO office would then aid their travel to West Berlin, West Germany, and eventually all Western Europe.

Since the “four powers”—the United States, Britain, France, and the Soviet Union—had responsibility for insuring law and order in Berlin, the issue of possible terrorist infiltration from East to West Berlin and West Germany rose to the level of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s office. On September 28, 1973, in preparing an approach to the Soviet Union, Kissinger wrote that the Western Allies had heard that among the activities of the PLO office in East Berlin “will be the training of personnel for acts of terrorism” and that “whatever its function, [a PLO] Berlin office cannot help but introduce a new element of tension into Berlin and work against our mutual efforts to create détente.” He added: “It is also in the Soviet interest to do nothing which might encourage terrorism or lead those who are inclined in that direction to believe they have the support—tacit or active—of authorities anywhere in Berlin. It is in this spirit that we ask that the Soviet Embassy to use its influence to keep the PLO office from operating.” On October 25, 1973, Klein conveyed Kissinger’s warnings to his Soviet counterpart in East Berlin that “Berlin is not used in any way as a base for activities of terrorism or violence.” The American warnings of 1973 did not, however, raise the issue of the use of East German territory as a base for terrorist activities aimed at Israel.

The files of the East German Ministry of State Security, the Stasi, indicate that the Soviet and East German intelligence services took the American warnings seriously. A Stasi report of October 17, 1973, expressed concern about “possible execution of acts of terror by militant organizations originating from the [East German] base of operations and possible activities of supporters living in the GDR.” The Stasi had four “friendly” Palestinian organizations with members in East Germany under observation. These included Al Fatah, with 60 members; the “left-wing extremist” Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, with 20; 15 members of the Syrian-based Al Saika; and six members of the Democratic Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. On the one hand, the Communist regime welcomed these organizations as part of its contribution to the global struggle against imperialism and Zionism. On the other, it viewed them as a source of potential trouble, especially if they carried out terrorist attacks in West Germany and Western Europe that could be traced back to East Germany. Such actions would undermine the GDR’s reputation as a “peace state” and confirm suspicions that it was a state sponsor of terrorism, thus endangering the financially lucrative benefits of détente it was receiving from West Germany.

These concerns were the background to a remarkable Stasi report ordered by Minister of State Security Erich Mielke of May 8, 1979, entitled “Information about Activities of Representative of the Palestine Liberation Movement in Association with International Terrorists Seeking to Include the GDR in the Preparation of Acts of Violence in the Countries of Western Europe.” Such groups, he wrote, had “activated the planning and preparation of acts of violence seen as acts of war (Kriegshandlung) against Western countries. Such activities that are based in the territory of the GDR create political dangers and damage our national security interests.” The memo articulated what I am calling East Germany’s Eurocentric policy of counterterrorism.

Fortunately for the Stasi, in Arafat and the PLO East Germany had an ally with knowledge of Arab and Palestinian organizations involved in such acts of terrorism. Arafat evidently concluded that terrorist attacks in Western Europe did more harm than good to the PLO’s goal of winning political support there in its battle against Israel. The PLO made clear its willingness to assist the East Germans in reducing the terrorist threat to West Germany and Western Europe when that threat came from Arab and Palestinian-associated foreign groups and individuals working in East Germany or other Soviet-bloc states.

This became grounds for intensified cooperation between the Stasi and the PLO intelligence service. The purpose of the cooperation was not in any way to discourage terrorism directed at Israel or at the Egyptian government of Anwar Sadat. As a Stasi memo of May 8, 1979, put it, the goal was for “the GDR as its ally, to enhance the PLO’s ability to carry out actions that it describes as ‘acts of war’ (Kriegshandlungen) against anti-Palestinian, Zionist centers as well as against the traitorous Sadat regime.” In June 1979, the Stasi signed a formal agreement of cooperation with the PLO intelligence services based on their shared interest in preventing the use of East Germany as a base for terrorist operations against Western Europe and, instead, fostering it as a base for terrorist operations against Israel. The contact between the two services was Counterterrorism Department XXII, run by Gerhard Leiber.

During the 1970s, the PLO and the affiliates on its Executive Committee, notably the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP)and the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP), carried out numerous terrorist actions against the cities and towns of northern Israel from bases in southern Lebanon. They included particularly barbaric attacks on civilians in Kiryat Shmona and Ma’alot in 1974 and the Coastal Road Massacre of 1978 between Tel Aviv and Haifa. The attacks received extensive coverage in the global media. The celebrations of attacks on “enemy children” filled press conferences and radio broadcasts of the Palestinian organizations in Beirut and Damascus. American diplomats in those cities sent memos back to Washington describing the celebrations in horrifying detail. Meanwhile, East Germany’s diplomats in the region were in contact not only with Arafat but also with leaders of the PFLP and PDFLP. During these years, East Germany was joining the Soviet bloc in sending these groups weapons of terror, including thousands of Kalashnikovs, hand grenades, and abundant ammunition and in offering them military training and medical care.

Israel’s delegation to the United Nations, and its ambassadors in this period—including Gideon Rafael, Yosef Tekoah, Chaim Herzog, Yehuda Blum, and, later, Benjamin Netanyahu—left behind an astonishingly detailed documentary record of Palestinian and Arab terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians in the form of letters to the secretary general and to the rotating president of the Security Council. In the debates at the UN, East German representatives rejected descriptions of the PLO as a terrorist organization as forms of “slander” and “defamation” of a just national liberation struggle. Yet in East Berlin, when Abu Ayad, the head of the PLO intelligence service, spoke with officials in the Stasi’s Counterterrorism Division, those officials dispensed with such euphemisms and expressed their support for “terrorism” if it served the interest of the Palestinian struggle and did not harm East German national-security interest.

The significance of Soviet-bloc support became apparent when it collapsed in 1989 and the PLO lost its primary military supporter. With the end of the East German dictatorship, the PLO also lost a key partner that had been aiding its political warfare against Israel. In April 1990, the first democratically elected parliament in East Germany voted unanimously to denounce its Communist predecessor’s policy of antagonism to Israel. In July, the same parliament rejected the UN’s Zionism-as-racism resolution, which the Communist regime had supported. And so the most disgraceful chapter in German history since the death of Hitler came to an end—a chapter in which a German government that rose from the Nazi ashes supported those who sought to destroy Israel by force of arms.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Netanyahu responds to Ya'alon

From Arutz Sheva, 20 May 2016, by Hezki Baruch:

PM says Ya'alon should have taken Foreign Ministry, rejects claims of confidence crisis and Likud 'extremism,' renews unity govt. offer.

Netanyahu and Ya'alon
Netanyahu and Ya'alon
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement on Friday afternoon, responding to Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's (Likud) sudden resignation and press conference earlier in the day.

Ya'alon announced that he intends to return and contend for the leadership, after Netanyahu decided to give his post of Defense Minister to MK Avigdor Liberman as a condition to have his Yisrael Beytenu party join the coalition.

"I am sorry about 'Boogie' Ya'alon's decision," said Netanyahu. "I think he should have continued to be a full partner in the leadership of the state in the post of Foreign Minister."

The Prime Minister thanked Ya'alon for his service in the IDF, where he served as Chief of Staff, and said he appreciates the cooperation that the two shared particularly during 2014 Operation Protective Edge.

"The change in the distribution of potrfolios did not stem from a crisis in confidence between us, it stemmed from the need to expand the government, and that was in order to bring stability to the state of Israel faced in light of the great challenges before us," he said.

"I imagine that if 'Boogie' Ya'alon had not been asked to leave the Defense Ministry and move to the Foreign Ministry, (then) what he calls a crisis in confidence between us would not have developed - and he would not have resigned," said Netanyahu, shooting through Ya'alon's claims that his resignation was a moral decision based on a lack of confidence in the Prime Minister.

Netanyahu then referenced tensions displayed between the two in a recent faceoff, when Ya'alon supported IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan who compared Israel to Nazi Germany at a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony.

Earlier this week Ya'alon escalated matters further when he told IDF officers to give their personal opinions, regardless of whether they countered the policy of the political echelon, leading Netanyahu to summon him for a talk.

Commenting on the showdown, Netanyahu said, "now I want to clarify: the IDF is a moral army."
"It maintains and will continue to maintain the highest values of morality - and at their forefront the purity of the weapon," he said, in a possible reference to Ya'alon's criticism of IDF soldier Elor Azariya, who is on trial for shooting a wounded terrorist.

"There is and will be no disagreement on that. The IDF is also the people's army, and I am firm in my opinion that we have to continue to keep the IDF outside of politics."

"The attempt to bring the IDF and its commanders into a political argument is invalid, and dangerous for democracy," he said in a condemnation of Ya'alon's comments earlier this week. "In a democracy the military echelon is subordinate to the political echelon - and not the reverse."

Batting away Ya'alon's accusations that Likud has become "extremist," he said, "Likud believes in Democracy. Likud is a nationalist liberal movement, a movement that is obligated to defend Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Likud expresses the central stream of the nation, and as such it is obligated to the security of the state and to striving for peace."

"The government is open to peace. There are opportunities in the diplomatic field, especially due to certain developments in the region that I personally am diligently working on. Therefore I made a great effort to bring the Zionist Union into the government."

"And therefore I leave the door open to this union (with Zionist Union) in the most serious manner, a union that will only do good for the state of Israel," concluded Netanyahu, renewing his offers of a unity government

Saturday, May 21, 2016

What SORT of "peace"

From Algemeiner, 20 May 2016, by Martin Sherman:

After a long absence, “Peace” is back in the headlines – due, in large measure, to ...a new French initiative to somehow ... resuscitate the moribund “peace process”.

...However, ... what [do] we actually mean (and what we can realistically expect) when we talk of “peace” ...[?]

Indeed, the need for such clarification becomes even more vital and pressing because of recent reports of possible Egyptian involvement in attempts to initiate “peace” negotiations with Arab regimes, teetering on the brink of extinction and involving a perilous Israeli withdrawal to indefensible borders. All this in exchange for grudging recognition as a non-Jewish state by a partially no longer existent, partially disintegrating Arab world!

What SORT of "peace"?
  • ... on the one hand, [harmonious] “peace” can be used to designate a state of mutual harmony prevailing between parties;
  • on the other hand, [deterrence-based "peace"] can just as aptly be used to characterize an absence of violence between them, maintained by deterrence.
In the former, the word “peace” entails a situation in which violence is eschewed by mutual perception of a common interest in preserving a tranquil status quo, as the preferred option of all protagonists.

In the latter, it entails a situation in which violence is avoided because the protagonists are dissuaded from embarking on a course of violence as a preferred option only by the threat of incurring exorbitant cost.

The significance of this distinction goes far beyond a mere semantic curiosity. To the contrary, if not clearly understood, it is likely to precipitate calamitous consequences.

...Clearly, [harmonious “peace”] typically entails relationships characterized by openness, and free movement of people, goods, ideas and capital across borders. Perhaps exemplified by the relationship between Canada and the US, virtually no effort at all needs to be invested by one state in efforts to deter hostile action by the other state. Differences which arise are not only settled in a non-violent fashion, but the very idea of using force to do so is virtually inconceivable as a policy option.

By contrast, [deterrence-based "peace"] perhaps typified by relations between the USA and USSR during the “Cold War” or between Iran and Iraq up to the 1980’s, the protagonists feel compelled to invest huge efforts in deterrence in order to maintain the absence of war. Indeed, whenever the deterrent capacity of one state is perceived to wane, the danger of war becomes very real – as was the case in the Iraqi offensive against Iran, when the latter appeared sufficiently weakened in the wake of post-revolutionary disarray.

In [deterrence-based "peace"] there is no harmonious interaction between the peoples of the states. The movement across frontiers, whether of human beings, goods, ideas or capital is usually highly restricted — always heavily regulated, often totally forbidden.

It is therefore not surprising to find that [harmonious “peace”] prevails almost exclusively between democracies, since its characteristics of openness and unfettered trans-frontier interactions run counter to the nature of dictatorial regimes — in fact rendering such peaceful harmony almost conceptually unfeasible.

The perils of pursuit of [harmonious “peace”] when only  [deterrence-based "peace"]  is feasible, was succinctly summed up over two decades ago by Benjamin Netanyahu, in his widely-acclaimed book, A Place among the Nations: Israel and the World. In it, he too calls for making a clear distinction, differentiating between “peace of democracies” and “peace of deterrence.” With considerable insight he wrote:
“As long as you are faced with a dictatorial adversary, you must maintain sufficient strength to deter him from going to war. By doing so, you can at least obtain the peace of deterrence. But if you let down your defenses . . . you invite war, not peace.”
Over half a century earlier (1936), Winston Churchill underscored the dangers inherent in differing regime structures:
…the French Army is the strongest in Europe. But no one is afraid of France. Everyone knows that France wants to be let alone, and that with her it is only a case of self-preservation…They are a liberal nation with free parliamentary institutions. Germany on the other hand, under its Nazi regime…[where] two or three men have the whole of that mighty country in their grip [and] there is no public opinion except what is manufactured by those new and terrible engines — broadcasting and a controlled Press fills unmistakably that part [of]… the would-be dominator or potential aggressor.
Compromise counterproductive
To fully grasp the potential for disaster when a policy designed to attain a harmonious outcome is pursued in a political context in which none is possible, it is first necessary to recognize that, in principle, there are two archetypal and antithetical conflictual configurations.

In one, a policy of compromise and concession may well be appropriate; in the other, such policy will be devastatingly inappropriate.

In the first configuration, one’s adversary interprets any concession as a genuine conciliatory initiative, and feels obliged to respond with a counter-concession. Thus, by a series of concessions and counter-concessions, the process will converge toward some amicably harmonious resolution of conflict.

However, in the alternate configuration, one’s adversary does not interpret concessionary initiatives as bona-fide conciliatory gestures, but as a sign of vulnerability and weakness, made under duress. Accordingly, such initiatives will not elicit any reciprocal conciliatory gesture, but rather demands for further concessions.
But if further concessions are offered to assuage such demands, instead of convergence toward peaceable resolution, the result will be a divergent process. This will necessarily culminate in either total capitulation or large-scale violence – either
  1. when one side finally realizes that its adversary is acting in bad faith and can only be restrained by force; or
  2. when the other side realizes it has extracted all the concessions possible by non-coercive means – and further gains can only be won by force.
Accordingly, in such a scenario,
  • compromise will be counterproductive;
  • concessions will compound casualties and
  • moderation will multiply the menace.

Whetting, not satiating, Arab appetites
Of course, little effort is required to identify that the conditions confronting Israel today resemble the latter situation far more than the former. No matter how many far-reaching compromises and gut-wrenching concessions it has made, they have never been enough to elicit any commensurate counter-concession/compromise from the Arabs. Indeed rather than satiate the Arab appetite, they have merely whet it, with each such gesture becoming the point of departure for further demands for even more far-reaching “gestures.”

Thus, if in any “peace” negotiations, compromises intended to induce counter-compromises actually undermine Israeli deterrence by increasing its perceived vulnerability, they will make war, not peace, more imminent.

Indeed, it was none other than Shimon Peres, in recent years one of the most avid advocates of the land-for-peace doctrine (or rather, dogma), who, in his programmatic book, Tomorrow is Now (Keter, 1977), warned vigorously of the perils of the policy he later embraced. After detailing how surrendering the mountainous Sudeten region made Czechoslovakia vulnerable to attack, which eventually destroyed it (p. 235), Peres writes of precisely the concessions Israel is being pressured to make today to attain “peace” :
“Without a border which affords security, a country is doomed to destruction in war… It is of course doubtful whether territorial expanse can provide absolute deterrence. However, the lack of minimal territorial expanse places a country in a position of an absolute lack of deterrence. This in itself constitutes almost compulsive temptation to attack Israel from all directions …”

Ominously, he warns (p. 255):
“The major issue is not [attaining] an agreement, but ensuring the actual implementation of the agreement in practice.  The number of agreements which the Arabs have violated is no less than number which they have kept.“ 

Since then, of course, their record has hardly improved.

Will Netanyahu 2016 heed Netanyahu 1993?
Allow me to conclude with an excerpt from a 1996 Haaretz interview with Netanyahu, conducted by Ari Shavit , shortly after he was first elected prime minster, on positions he articulated in his book, A Place among the Nations (1993), which helped catapult him to political prominence:
Shavit: In your book, you make a distinction between … a harmonious kind of peace that can exist only between democratic countries, and peace through deterrence, which could also be maintained in the Middle East as it currently is. Do you think we need to lower our expectations and adopt a much more modest concept of peace?
Netanyahu: One of our problems is that we tend to nurse unrealistic expectations… when people detach themselves from reality, floating around in the clouds and losing contact with the ground, they will eventually crash on the rocky realities of the true Middle East.
Let us all hope that Netanyahu of today will heed the advice of Netanyahu of then. It is the only way Israel will be able to avoid the ruinous ravages of [the futile pursuit of the wrong sort of] “peace.”

Ya'alon drops a bombshell in Israel's political scene

Boogie Ya'alon is a great military leader and a valuable national leader. His sudden resignation from the Knesset is a tremendous loss to the nation.

He counsels the nation's leaders to "...navigate using a compass, not a weather vane..." While this emphasises Boogie's very admirable sense of ethics, conviction and determination in his mission, despite populist and external forces, it's advice that suits a military general, but not a political leader. A military leader must pursue his objective, despite all obstacles. His political masters, however, must be more circumspect. The leader of a nation, or captain of a ship, needs BOTH a compass and a weather vane. He must keep sight of both his destination AND of the surrounding storms, if he is to avoid foundering on the rocks. Bibi did what was necessary to widen the coalition and enable stable government.

Furthermore, Boogie's encouragement of IDF officers making political statements is a grave and intolerable error. In a democracy, the military is subordinate to the elected government. Only in dictatorships is politics publicly debated by officers in command of military forces.

At this time, when the nation is under existential threat from enemies near and far, and from misguided friends who would undermine us, the government needs unity and loyalty. Boogie could, and should have stayed on as Foreign Minister.

From Israel Hayom, 20 May 2016:

Ya'alon announces 'timeout from politics,' promises return
Defense minister Moshe Ya'alon announces resignation over "loss of faith" in PM Netanyahu, declares he plans to vie for leadership role in future • Resignation to take effect next week
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announces his resignation, Friday
Photo credit: AFP
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon announces his resignation, Friday                                                
Photo credit: AFP

Friday, May 20, 2016

Obama leaves a dangerous mess for the Next US President

From  Future Directions International 18 May 2016, by Lindsay Hughes:

Iran announced recently that it had carried out yet another missile test towards the end of April, its third since the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Agreement (JCPOA) was signed.

According to Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Ali Abdollahi, Iran launched a high precision ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometres and an alleged accuracy of eight metres. General Abdollahi did not name the missile that was tested or provide further details but claimed that the headquarters of the chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces has allocated ten percent of defence budget to research projects aimed at strengthening defence power.
A previous FDI paper noted and examined Iran’s announcement on 8 March that it had carried out a ballistic missile test to demonstrate its ‘full readiness to confront all kinds of threats against the Revolution, establishment and territorial integrity.’
A US spokesman stated at the time that there was every possibility that the test had violated the terms of the JCPOA. This statement aside, however, there was little, if any, further reaction from the Obama Administration. In fact, Washington stated that a fresh missile test would not violate a July 2015 accord under which Iran has restricted its disputed nuclear programme and won relief from UN and Western financial sanctions in return.
This lack of remonstration will, no doubt, have strengthened Iran’s determination to carry out yet another test. Three types of reactions are emerging in response to it. The United States, Saudi Arabia and its Middle East allies and a few other countries have denounced the test, claiming that Iran has not conformed to the terms of the JCPOA. Russia, no doubt hoping to strengthen its influence in the Middle East and also to sell military technology to Iran, has stated that Iran has not broken any of the terms of the JCPOA. The third reaction, equally unsurprisingly, is that of Western Europe: total indifference to what those countries perceive as a problem of the US, no matter that Iran’s missiles are increasingly able to strike targets in the neighbouring countries of Eastern Europe.
To be clear, there is every indication that Iran has breached the terms of the JCPOA. Iran tested a new ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple warheads in October and November, almost immediately after the JCPOA was signed, and launched two more missiles in March.
This is clearly in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1929 (2010), which states in part, ‘Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities’. The JCPOA, furthermore, is unambiguous in its declaration that Iran will not undertake any ballistic missile tests ‘until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier.’
Iran, as is to be expected, dismisses these concerns that it is in breach of the UN resolutions or the JCPOA. The UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015), however, is clear upon this point. It ‘calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.’ This, by itself, should be sufficient cause for Iran to cease its missile testing but it is encouraged by Russia, whose head of the ministry’s Department for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Weapons Control, Mikhail Ulyanov, informed the Interfax news agency, ‘We do not think these launches violate Resolution 2231, because the resolution does not ban the tests.’ His argument is predicated upon the fact that, ‘[a]s stated by the Iranians, the missiles they test are incapable of carrying nuclear warheads. No one has yet provided any evidence that this is untrue … so the question emerges, what violations we are talking about? No violations whatsoever.’ This argument is patently disingenuous. The argument, moreover, is shown to be a dangerous one in light of Iranian Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s statement that ‘[t]hose who say the future is in negotiations, not in missiles, are either ignorant or traitors.’ Russia, moreover, has its own goals in the Middle East: to increase its regional influence there, especially now that the Obama Administration has shown every sign of withdrawing its support of Saudi Arabia and relations between the two countries are at an all-time low, and to sell military technology to Tehran.
The Obama Administration is commonly seen to be searching for a legacy that it can show to be successful as it reaches the end of its two terms in office. It had hoped to find one in easing tensions with Iran. It has failed, however, in this endeavour. Not only has Iran taken full advantage of an administration in its final year in Washington, it has also endangered the US relationship with Saudi Arabia and created ill-will with Israel.
It has become very clear that the next President of the United States will have a difficult time in mending ties with those two countries and putting together the pieces of the US Middle East policy under the current government.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

What Israel’s New Coalition Means

From Commentary, 18 May 2016, by
What just happened in Israel?

When the dust settled after Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s attempts to widen his coalition ended in apparent success, the result was a more right-wing government. That’s an accurate observation and will, no doubt, bring down more opprobrium on the government from foreign critics, especially American liberals, that will see it as unalterably opposed to peace.

But the process that led to this result tells us something different.
While in the end, Netanyahu chose to make a deal that would expand his coalition with a right-wing party, the fact that the party he jilted at the last moment was the leading opposition faction illustrates the fact that on the really big issue facing the Israeli people — how to deal with the Palestinians and the peace process — there are no real differences between any of the mainstream parties.

Though politics in Israel will remain fractious and nasty, no one should imagine that what has just happened demonstrates the prime minister’s weakness or that his approach to war and peace issues is discredited. To the contrary, the competition to sit at the Cabinet table with him shows that he not only remains in control of events but is also sitting in the political center of the nation rather than on the right as his foreign detractors think.

Having survived more than a year since his third election win in a row with a razor thin 61-member coalition in the 120-seat Knesset, Netanyahu was determined to expand his margin for error, and he has apparently succeeded. After a very public flirtation and what apparently were substantive negotiations with the Zionist Union — the nation’s largest opposition party and the home of Labour, Israel’s traditional home for left-wingers and liberals — Netanyahu switched horses in the last day and made a deal with the sole right-wing party that hadn’t joined his government last year.

The addition of Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu’s six seats gets the prime minister to a 67-member coalition ought to be enough to avoid the problems the prime minister had been having due to the constant fear that the absence of an MK on any given day will topple the governmental apple cart. Since there are no real ideological differences between Lieberman and Netanyahu, it removes a voice criticizing him from the right and gives him governmental responsibility.

It also helps solve a growing problem at the Cabinet since it gives him an excuse to replace Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who had been causing problems with comments that placed him at odds with the prime minister over the conduct of the Israel Defense Forces. Yaalon now will either take a lesser portfolio or leave the Cabinet. At any rate, with this demotion Yaalon now joins the list of other potential successors to Netanyahu, who entertained the vain notion that they could challenge him within the Likud.

But the biggest loser out of this affair is Zionist Union leader Isaac Herzog. A year ago, Herzog seemed to revive the fortunes of Labor by forming an alliance with former foreign minister Tzipi Livni and leading the faction they formed to a strong second-place finish in the March 2015 election. That should have put him in a position to harry Netanyahu and set his party up for a better chance at victory the next time. But instead of revitalizing Israel’s left wing, Herzog seems to have crashed it.

What followed was something that dismayed Israeli leftists and shocked American liberals that are praying for Netanyahu’s demise. Herzog conceded that Netanyahu was basically right on the big issue that divided Israeli voters for the past 50 years: the peace process. Instead of pretending as most other leftists have done all these years that Israel giving up the West Bank and other territory would bring peace with the Palestinians, Herzog told the truth. In January, he said that Israel had no real peace partner and that the two-state solution that most Israelis longed for was an impossibility for the foreseeable future.

While Herzog had plenty of critical things to say about the prime minister, his ideas for different ways of managing the conflict until a sea change in the Palestinian political culture will allow peace were either unrealistic or no different from what Netanyahu was already doing. What happened next seemed inevitable. Herzog entered into negotiations with Netanyahu for a national unity government.
This set off some members of Labour, including the more liberal faction that he had displaced in the leadership of the party, as well as its media cheering section at the ultra-left Haaretz newspaper. They condemned the negotiations and damned Herzog for a traitor to his party.

Instead of an unwieldy broad coalition, [Netanyahu wi]ll stick with a narrow right-wing government but one that is large enough to be more stable. This means that Netanyahu will not only outlast Barack Obama but will also have a better-than-average chance of remaining in office until at least the end of the decade, if not beyond it, and surpass Israeli founding father David Ben Gurion as the longest serving prime minister.

It will also weaken the Zionist Union. ... If the party swings further to the left that will hurt its chances in future elections where, if the current polls are accurate, it will be replaced as the leading opposition party by Yair Lapid’s centrist Yesh Atid.

Where does this leave Israel?

Herzog’s leftist critics in his own party are happy about his likely demise ...But there’s more to be gleaned from Netanyahu’s latest proof of his political skill than those conclusions.

The mere fact that a Likud-Labor coalition was not only possible but seemed the most likely scenario for some time should awaken the country’s critics to a basic fact about Israeli politics. While the competition for cabinet seats in Israel is fierce, the great dispute that foreigners imagine divides citizens of the Jewish state isn’t the locus of political debate. The world may think Israelis are still — as they were in the 1980s and 1990s — evenly split on the question of whether to trade land for peace with the Palestinians. But the election results as well as the coalition negotiations tell a different story.

Most Israelis, including many that voted for some of the right wing parties, would be willing to make such a swap and give up territory if it meant a real peace. But outside of the far left virtually no one thinks such an arrangement is possible because of the reality of Palestinian intransigence. Neither Herzog nor Lapid — the two potential replacements for Netanyahu as head of the country — really disagree with him about whether a two-state solution is desirable or if it can be implemented. All three agree it’s a good idea. All three also agree that it isn’t going to happen because the Palestinians are still unwilling to make peace and addicted to violence.

Israeli political strife is still intense but it is about economic issues and personalities since Netanyahu remains personally unpopular even though he has won three consecutive elections and would probably be favored for a fourth if it were held anytime soon. That means Americans who think the prime minister is wrong about peace should take into consideration the fact that most Israelis share his views. Though he is blasted regularly in the international and media as a right-wing extremist, he is on the left of his current coalition and smack dab in the center of Israel’s political spectrum at the moment.

Netanyahu’s government ...does represent the country’s consensus about peace. That may be astonishing to Americans, but it should also cause them to start thinking about whether it is time for them to give up illusions about the Palestinians and peace that the majority of voters in the Jewish state have long since abandoned.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The French Peace Initiative: From de Gaulle to Haaretz

From Gatestone Institute, 17 May 2016, by *:
France's peace initiative is French President François Hollande's equivalent of de Gaulle's betrayal of Israel.
  • France has already announced that if the peace initiative fails, France will recognize a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rightly concluded that "this ensures that a conference will fail."
  • France knows that the peace initiative is pointless, but it is using it for theatrical value to embarrass Israel's government and curry favor with Arab regimes.
  • Those who claim to support peace, but who in fact work to undermine it, are partly responsible for the anti-Semitic campaign against Israel. They should be prominently named and exposed for collaborating with bigots, anti-Semites, and terrorists.
When I hear about the current French peace initiative for Israel and the Palestinians, I have to keep pinching myself to make sure that I am not dreaming. After the powerful United States tried repeatedly and unsuccessfully to bring peace between these protagonists, what makes the French think that they can do better?

France's boldness is particularly shocking, since France long ago lost the right to be considered a friend of Israel. In 1967, French President Charles de Gaulle imposed an arms embargo on Israel when the Jewish nation was under threat from a coalition of Arab countries. In doing so, de Gaulle threw the Jews under the bus in order to improve France's relations with the Arab world. Thanks to Israeli ingenuity and resiliency, Israel still defeated the Arab coalition in the Six Day War and impressed the United States, which then replaced France as Israel's main ally.

France's peace initiative, which includes an international summit in Paris on May 30 to discuss the "parameters" of a peace deal, is French President François Hollande's equivalent of de Gaulle's betrayal of Israel. France has already announced that if the peace initiative fails, France will recognize a Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rightly concluded that "this ensures that a conference will fail."
France's peace initiative, which includes an international summit in Paris on May 30 to discuss the "parameters" of a peace deal, is French President François Hollande's equivalent of de Gaulle's betrayal of Israel.

It is clear that no solution would be acceptable to Israel unless it protects Israel against continued Arab aggression, and unless it finds a solution to the millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees with which the Arab world insists on flooding Israel.

There is no sign that the Arab world, including the Palestinians, are anywhere close to accepting these conditions. France's recognition of "Palestine" without any deal would mean that France does not consider those two conditions necessary.

France's recognition of "Palestine" without any deal would provide no solution for Palestinian refugees. It would provide no solution to Palestinian terrorism. It would not make the concept of a Palestinian state any more real than it is today. It would not provide Israel with secure borders.
France's unilateral recognition of "Palestine" would simply provide one more moral victory for the corrupt Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and one less reason for him to negotiate peace in good faith or to give his people what they really need: a thriving economy and a functioning civil society.

If France's initiative had any chance of success at all (which is doubtful considering the U.S. failures under more favorable circumstances, when the Palestinian leadership was keener on negotiations and when Hamas was weaker), France eliminated that chance by announcing that it would recognize "Palestine" regardless of what happens.

Is the French government so naïve that it would play into Abbas' hands and sabotage its own initiative? Maybe, but the more likely explanation seems to be that France knows that the peace initiative is pointless, but it is using it for theatrical value to embarrass Israel's government and curry favor with Arab regimes.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, which is often more "pro-Palestinian" (read anti-Israel) than the Palestinians, demands that Netanyahu accept the French initiative.
Haaretz takes the position that "there is no reason to reject the French initiative, which, even if it doesn't resolve the fundamentals of the conflict, will at least put it back on the global agenda." The theory that the conflict remains unresolved due to it not being on the "global agenda" is mind-boggling, considering the vocal and vicious worldwide anti-Israel movement. The conflict is very much on the "global agenda" -- too much so, in fact -- compared to other conflicts that are deadlier and get far less attention.
Haaretz claims that the French initiative "may also generate some original ideas and steps toward a solution." Considering the attention that this conflict receives, the lack of "ideas" is far from being the problem. Pro-Israel and anti-Israel editorialists and bloggers have generated an immense body of "ideas," most of which are totally impractical, and all of which are unrealistic until the Arab side of the conflict stops promoting hate against Israel and starts negotiating in good faith.

Haaretz's pathetic defense of the French initiative is followed by wholesale accusations, which have no substance, against Netanyahu. Haaretz, for instance, tries to convince readers that Netanyahu's willingness to negotiate without conditions is itself a condition! As Haaretz is into the business of redefining words, why not say that the conflict is not really a conflict and be done with it!

Haaretz concludes by saying that Netanyahu "should give it [the French initiative] substance that will ensure the security and well-being of Israel's citizens." If this were possible, that would indeed be commendable, but as France, by promising the Palestinians recognition without negotiation, destroyed what little chance of success the initiative might have had. Asking Netanyahu miraculously to give the initiative "substance" is at best naïve, and at worst treacherous.

It could also be a trap to set Netanyahu up for failure, which, considering Haaretz's antipathy towards Israel's Prime Minister, is likely.

Contrary to Haaretz's assertion that "there is no reason to reject the French initiative," as the initiative is almost certain to fail, its failure will be one more weapon used by anti-Israel activists to demonize Israel, so there is every reason to not lend the initiative a legitimacy it does not deserve.

Israel survived de Gaulle's betrayal, and it will likely survive Hollande's betrayal. But one more failed initiative and one more meaningless recognition of "Palestine" will push peace and Palestinian statehood even farther away.

As Alan Dershowitz wrote recently, those who aided the Nazis in killing Jews, even indirectly, hold a part of the responsibility for the Holocaust. Those -- in France, at Haaretz, or elsewhere -- who claim to support peace but in fact work to undermine it, are partly responsible for the anti-Semitic campaign against Israel. They should be prominently named and exposed for collaborating with bigots, anti-Semites, and terrorists.

*Fred Maroun, a left-leaning Arab based in Canada, has authored op-eds for New Canadian Media, among other outlets. From 1961-1984, he lived in Lebanon.

UN Human Rights Council has become Frankenstein’s monster

From UN Watch, 17 May 2016:

As delivered
MAY 17, 2016
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We meet on the 70th anniversary of the UN Commission on Human Rights, whose creators gathered this week, in May 1946, one year after the Nazi atrocities. Eleanor Roosevelt became the founding Chair, and René Cassin, the eminent legal philosopher, the Vice-Chair. The founders had a dream: to reaffirm the principle of human dignity, and to guarantee fundamental freedoms for all.

Over time, however, dictatorships hijacked the Commission—even electing the murderous regime of Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi as Chair; 1946, Eleanor Roosevelt; 2003, Colonel Qaddafi.

Two years later, UN Secretary-General Annan called for scrapping the commission, identifying its politicization, selectivity, and credibility deficit—all of which “cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole.”

By contrast, the UN promised that the new body would elect members committed to human rights, and address the world’s most severe abuses.

Ten years later, we ask: Is the new body living up to the UN’s promise of reform, and to the original dream, from 70 years ago, of Eleanor Roosevelt?

Let us consider the Council’s record in responding to gross violations. Thanks to the U.S., an important inquiry was created on North Korea. Yet over fifty sessions, only a tiny minority of countries have been condemned — less than what even the discredited old Commission accomplished.

To the vast majority of abusers, the Council grants impunity.

In China, 1.3 billion people are denied freedoms of speech, assembly, and religion. Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo languishes in prison. Tibetans are trampled and tortured. The Council’s response? Not one resolution, special session, or commission of inquiry. No protection for one-fifth of the world’s population. On the contrary, in violation of the criteria guaranteed in the Council’s 2006 charter, China was elected as a member.

In Russia, dissidents are harassed, arrested, even assassinated. Vladimir Putin’s regime has sparked deadly wars, invading Ukraine and swallowing Crimea. The Council’s response? Silence. Over ten years, the Council never attempted to pass a single resolution condemning Russia—when even the discredited commission managed to adopt two. Nor did the Council create a single special session, monitor or inquiry. On the contrary: Russia, too, was elected a member.

In Saudi Arabia, women are subjugated, Christians are arrested for practicing their religion, democracy blogger Raif Badawi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a thousand lashes, and beheadings are at an all time high. The Council’s response? Silence. A recent attempt to investigate Saudi Arabia’s carpet bombing of Yemeni civilians was quashed. On the contrary: Saudi Arabia, too, was elected a member.

And faced with compelling reports of torture in Algeria, forced child labor in Congo, attacks on dissidents in Cuba, abuse of foreign workers in Qatar, incommunicado detentions in the United Arab Emirates, the imprisonment of Caracas mayor Antonio Ledezma and other democracy leaders in Venezuela, and arbitrary arrests in Vietnam, what has the Council done, over its ten years, to protect these victims?

Absolutely nothing.

On the contrary: the UN elected every single one of these abusers as a Council member. With 62% of the current membership failing the basic standards of a free society, the Council’s democracy credentials are, in 2016, the lowest in history.

Let us consider the Council’s new Universal Periodic Review, which purports to examine every country. While the U.S. uses it to apply real scrutiny, the vast majority abuse it to praise each other. I was there when China praised Saudi Arabia for respecting religious freedom, and when the next day Saudi Arabia praised China for respecting minority rights. That’s why our detailed study, available at, is entitled Mutual Praise Society.

Let us consider where the Council is active. Despite the promise of ending selectivity, the Council’s pathological obsession with demonizing Israelis, and denying their human rights, has never been worse. Since its creation, the Council has adopted 67 resolutions condemning Israel—and only 61 on the rest of the world combined. The texts on Israel are uniquely suffused with the suppression of any countervailing facts that might provide balance.

Its commissions of inquiry like the Goldstone Report, which excoriated Israel while exonerating Hamas, initiated a new era whereby a terrorist group has come to rely on the Council as an effective international tool to achieve its deadly goals. Hamas is incentivized by the UN to launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilians while placing its own civilian population in harm’s way.
And just now, the Council instituted a UN black-list of Israeli companies, to have the UN implement the anti-Israeli BDS campaign—boycott, divestment and sanctions—and to strangle the economic life of Israeli citizens.

Finally, let us consider the Special Rapporteurs and other experts appointed by the Council. A number do important work, such as Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, the expert on Iran. But far too many are wolves in sheep’s clothing, appointed by the dictatorships to pursue radical agendas in the name of human rights.
  • In 2008, they appointed Richard Falk, a leading promoter of the 9/11 conspiracy theory and a supporter of Hamas. I applaud National Security Advisor Susan Rice for condemning his poisonous words when she was Ambassador to the UN.
  • In 2013, despite objections by Ambassador Samantha Power and the Swiss parliament, they re-elected Jean Ziegler, co-founder of the Muammar Qaddafi Human Rights Prize, an award given to Hugo Chavez, Louis Farrakhan, and Holocaust deniers such as Roger Garaudy. Ziegler is the longest-serving Council expert, and himself received the Qaddafi Prize.
  • In 2014, when Richard Falk’s term was up, the Council went ahead and appointed his wife and colleague, Hilal Elver, who, as the US objected, espouses equally inflammatory views.
  • In 2015, the Council made Idriss Jazairy a UN human rights expert, even though, when he was Algeria’s ambassador, he personally led an aggressive campaign of non-democracies to muzzle UN rights experts.
Who selects them? Last year the head of the Council panel that shortlists candidates was the representative of Saudi Arabia.

If Eleanor Roosevelt were alive, would she not agree that electing the misogynistic Saudi regime as Chair was, in the words of Reporters Without Borders, grotesque?

Mr. Chairman,
We are actually about to mark a third anniversary. Next month, Geneva will celebrate the 200th anniversary since Mary Shelley and her husband joined Lord Byron and others at Villa Diodati, in Geneva, right across from where the Council is today.

In that cold and gloomy June of 1816, amid the darkness, and storms of thunder and lightning, they exchanged ghost stories. Mary Shelley then had a nightmare, which she famously published: the story of an idealistic student who tried to create life, only to be horrified by its results, the story of Frankenstein.

I often walk past Villa Diodati. When I gaze across Lake Geneva and see the UN Human Rights Council, I cannot help but wonder: If Eleanor Roosevelt and René Cassin were alive, and beheld the sight of a body that grotesquely legitimizes murderers, dictators, and anti-Semites, would they not be revolted by what has become of their creation? Would they not conclude that today’s UN Human Rights Council has become Frankenstein’s monster, and their dream become a nightmare?

Mr. Chairman,
I believe the U.S. and fellow democracies can and must fight back, as outlined in my written remarks, and about which I will be happy to elaborate. Thank you.