Thursday, September 29, 2016

Khamenei’s Slant on WWII: Iran Must Not Go the Way of Germany and Japan

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 367, September 28, 2016, by Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman:

ayatollah-ali-khameneiEXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In a speech last week to the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei spoke of the outcome of World War II in revealing terms. In the context of a debate over the size of the Iranian military, he invoked the humiliation inflicted upon Germany and Japan by the US. Read against the background of Iran’s Holocaust denial, its exterminatory intent towards Israel, and its rejection of Western values, this invocation confirms Khamenei’s totalitarian interpretation of Islam. Iran is in open conflict with the West and with Saudi Arabia too. This raises questions about the facile assumptions of change underpinning the nuclear deal with Iran.
Speaking on September 18, 2016 before commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Supreme Leader of Iran launched into a bitter polemic against Rafsanjani's call to invest more in the economy and less in military build-up. (Ref. MEMRI translation and analytical observations.) The IRGC, Khameini declared, is the key to the success of the revolutionary project. Deterrence can only be achieved if fear of Iran's raw power is instilled in the hearts of her enemies. Neither the JCPOA (the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers) in itself, nor a shift in strategy to more civilian pursuits, can protect Iran. The revolution must be translated into military might.
At this point in the speech, Khameini offered a fascinating point of reference. Look, he suggested, at Germany and Japan at the end of World War II: forced into submission, humiliated, and required to disarm. He made no effort to hide his sympathy. As far as Khameini is concerned, the bad guys won and the good guys lost in 1945, and the time has come to overthrow the entire post-war dispensation.
This position is, after all, in line with Iran’s denial of the Holocaust (recall the caricature competition designed to denigrate and diminish it) and exterminatory stand towards Israel. It is not the personal quirk of Ahmadinejad, who was, in fact, just told by the Leader that he will not be allowed to run for president again this time. It is the position of Khamenei himself and of Khomeini before him: "Khatt al-Imam," the line of the Imam, the ultimate imperative of the revolutionary regime.
According to this line, Iran has a religious (or, rather, ideological) imperative to reject all Western mores. For this to be possible, the Revolution, even more than the State as such, must position itself as a strong military power in regional and global affairs. The alternative is unthinkable. The "values" the West and the US seek to impose include utterly base and noxious notions like homosexuality (with which Iran's present leaders are apparently obsessed). Military weakness would lead to moral weakness, a "cultural invasion," and the loss of all that Khameini and Khomeini have sought to establish.
Khameini told his audience that there are misguided souls in Iran who seek to negotiate with the US even as the Americans themselves seek a dialog with Iran on regional affairs (e.g., on Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen). He rejects this quest not only as poisonous for Iran, but as evidence that America is now a spent force.
With that American weakness in mind, the Iranian leadership is now openly calling for the total destruction of Wahhabism (read: the Saudi state). It makes this call while complaining, as did Foreign Minister Zarif in an op-ed at The New York Times, that "big money is being used to whitewash terrorism." This claim is, of course, extremely rich to anyone with even a smattering of knowledge about Iran’s behavior in recent years.
Iranian arrogance is thus on the rise in the post-deal era, and with it Iran’s hope of steadily undoing Israel and undermining regional and global stability until the true Imam or Mehdi appears on earth. Meanwhile, as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubayr wrote in response to Zarif, it is Iran that remains at the top of the terror lists. It is Iran's ally in Syria, with the help of Iran's proxies in Lebanon, who is now engaging in unprecedented acts of carnage in Aleppo.
The Leader's extolling of military might is thus frightening to all in the region, even as Tehran tries to present itself as the voice of reason in the struggle against the Islamic State (Iran was quick to denounce the assassination in Amman this week of a Christian journalist who "insulted" the IS radicals).
There could be an opportunity here. Neither candidate for the US presidency seems to have bought into the strange notion, implicit (and at times explicit) in the positions taken by Obama and his inner circle, that Iran can serve as a useful counterweight to other forces in the region. Nor have they bought (yet) into the delusion that Iran's revolutionary impulse can be assumed to be benign. The US is thus still able to think of Iran as an enemy, which it is.
If so, the domestic tension and turmoil over the unfulfilled promise of economic relief, and over Khamenei’s demand for more and more sacrifices by the people (a "resistance economy," as he calls it) can provide fertile ground for destabilization of the Iranian regime. Such an opportunity was lost in 2009. It need not be lost again.

Israel Shifting From Defense to Offense in Fight Against Delegitimization

From Algemeiner, 27 Sept 2016, by Barney Breen-Portnoy:

... Sima Vaknin-Gil —  director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs — said the government was using information-gathering as a means to help it thwart the activities of anti-Israel individuals and groups around the world.
...“The government has defined delegitimization as one of the three main threats facing Israel that must be dealt with. While this is a threat that is not critical right now, if you take a long-term look, you see this as one that could develop.”


During the past year, Israel  began implementing a $26 million plan to combat delegitimization efforts — of which the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is one component.

Vaknin-Gil said her ministry, led by Likud minister Gilad Erdan, “sets strategy, puts activities into motion and cooperates with different organizations, both in Israel and abroad. We build the tools and infrastructure to combat delegitimization...”

...Vaknin-Gil warned that 2017 is expected to be a “very problematic” year, due to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War — after which Israel took control of the West Bank from Jordan; the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt; and the Golan Heights from Syria — and the 100th anniversary of the issuing of the Balfour Declaration, in which the United Kingdom announced its support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

“These dates are going to be used to intensify anti-Israel activities,” Vaknin-Gil said. “So we are now preparing a plan to handle this. We must be ready.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shimon Peres dies

From JPost, 28 Sept 2016:

Shimon Peres, former president and veteran Israeli statesman, dies at 93
 
Former PM Shimon Peres dies at 93

Senior statesman dies after suffering a stroke two weeks ago.

Shimon Peres, former president, former prime minister, former defense minister, former foreign minister, former minister of eight other ministries, the last surviving member of Israel’s founding fathers, and winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize died Tuesday after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. He was 93.

Doctors said Peres suffered severe organ failure Tuesday, as well as irreversible brain damage caused by the massive haemorrhagic stroke he sustained on September 13.

Remember Babi Yar

In memory of Babi Yar, 75 years ago:
 "All Jews living in the city of Kiev and its vicinity must come to the corner of Melnikova and Dokhturovska* Street by 8 o'clock on the morning of Monday, September 29th 1941. They are to bring with them documents, money, valuables, as well as warm clothes, underwear etc. Any Jews not carrying out this instruction and who are found elsewhere will be shot..."
Guarded by SS, SD and Ukrainian auxiliaries, the Jews were marched in groups of 100 via the Mel...nikova Street to the Jewish cemetery located near the ravine called "Babi Yar". The entire surroundings of the ravine had been fenced in with barbed wire, and were cordoned off by three rows of troops: The outer circle was manned by Ukrainian police, the second with Ukrainian police and Germans, and the inner circle with Germans only.

 At the killing site the Jews were ordered to undress, stack their belongings, and were then led in groups of 10 to the edge of the ravine. There they were shot (by automatic guns and machine-guns) in front of their fellow sufferers, who were unable to escape.


 Over 34,000 Jews were killed in the ravine at Babi Yar that week.

 


Symphony No.13 in B flat minor - "Babi Jar"
Dmitri Shostakovich, opus 113

Text by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Transliteration and translation adopted from Valeria Vlazinskaya

 Russian (transliterated)English
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Babi Yar

Nad Babim Yarom pamyatnikov nyet.
Krutoi obryv, kak gruboye nadgrobye.
Mne strashno.
Mne sevodnya stolko let,
Kak samomu yevreiskomu narodu.

Mne kazhetsya seichas - ya iudei.
vot ya bredu po drevnemu Egiptu.
A vot ya, na kreste raspyati, gibnu.
I do sikh por na mne - sledy gvozdei.
Mne kazhestya, shot Dreifus - eto ya.
Meshchanstvo - moi donoschik i sudya.
Ya za reshotkoi. Ya popal v koltso,
Zatravlennyi, oplyovannyi, obolgannyi,
I admochki s bryusselskimi oborkami,
Vizzha, zontami tychut mne v litso.
Mne kahzetsya, ya - malchik v Belostoke.

Krov lyotsya, rastekayas po polam,
Beschinstvuyut vozhdi traktimoi stoiki
I pakhnut vodkoi s lukom popolam.

Ya sapogom otbroshennyi, bessilnyi.
Naprasno ya pogromshchikov moyu.

Pod gogot: "Bei zhidov, spasai Rossiyu!"
Labaznik izbiyavet mat moyu.

O russki moi narod, ya znayu ty
Po sushchnosti internazionalen.
No chasto te, chi ruki nechisty
Tvoim chiteishim imenem bryatsali.
Ya znayu dobrotu moyei zemli.
Kak podlo, shto i zhilochkoi ne drognuv.
Antisemity narekli sebya

"Soyuzom Russkovo Naroda!"


Mne kazhetsya ya - eto Anna Frank,
Prozrachnaya, kak vetochka v aprele,
I ya lyublyu, i mne ne nado fraz,
No nado, shtob drug v druga my smotreli.
Kak malo mozhno videt, obonyat!
Nelzya nam listyev
I nelzya nam neba,
No mozhno ochen mnogo - eto nezhno
Drug druga v tyomnoi komnate obnyat.

"Syuda idut!"

"Ne bosa, eto guly
Samoy vesny. Ona syuda idyot.
Idi ko mne,
Dai mne skoreye guby!"

"Lomayut dver!"

"Nyet, eto ledokhod..."

Nad Babim Yarom shelest dikikh trav,
Derevya smotryat grozno, po-sudeiski.
Zdes molcha vsyo krichit, i, shapku snyav,
Ya chuvstvuyu, kak medlenno sedeyu.

I sam ya, kak sploshnoi bezzvuchnyi krik,
Nad tysyachami tysyach pogrebyonnykh.
Ya - kazhdyi zdes rasstrelyanni starik.
Ya - kazhdyi zdes rasstrelyanni rebyonok.
Nichto vo mne pro eto ne zabudet.

"Internatsional" pust progremit.
Kogda naveki pokhoronen budet
Posledni na zemle antisemit.

Yevreiskoi krovi nyet v krovi moyei,
No nenavisten zloboi zaskoruzloi
Ya vsem antisemitam, kak yevrei.

I potomu ya - nastoyashchi russki!
Babi Yar

Over Babi Yar there are no monuments.
The steep precipice is like a crude gravestone.
I am terrified.
I am as old today
As all Jewish people.

Now I imagine that I'm a Jew.
Here I wander through ancient Egypt.
And here, on the cross, crucified, I perish.
And still I have on me the marks of the nails.
I imagine myself to be Dreyfus.
The Philistine - my informer and judge.
I am behind bars. I am surrounded.
Persecuted, spat on, slandered.
And dainty ladies in Brussels frills,
Squealing, poke their parasols into my face.
I imagine myself the boy from Belostok.

Blood flows, running over the floors.
The rabble-rousers in the tavern commit their outrages
Reeking of vodka and onions, half and half.

Kicked by a boot, I lie helpless.
In vain I plead with the pogrom-makers.

Accompanied by jeers: "Beat the Yids, save Russia!"
A grain merchant batters my mother.

O my Russian people, I know you
Are innately international
But often those whose hands were vile
In vain used your purest name.
I know the goodness of my land.
What base lowness - without a quiver of a vein
The anti-Semites proclaimed themselves

"The Union of the Russian People!"


I imagine myself as Anne Frank,
Transparent as a sprig in April,
And I love, and have no need for phrases,
But I do need for us to gaze into each other.
How little one can see, or smell!
Leaves - we cannot have,
Sky - we cannot have,
But there is so much we can have -
To embrace tenderly in a darkened room.

"They're coming!"

"Don't be afraid, those are the booming sounds
Of Spring itself. It's coming here.
Come to me,
Quickly, give me your lips!"

"They're breaking the door!"

"No, it's the ice breaking..."

Over Babi Yar the wild grasses rustle.
The trees look sternly as if in judgement.
Here everything screams silently and, taking off my hat
I feel I am slowly turning grey.

And I myself am one long soundless cry.
Above the thousand thousands buried here.
I am every old man here shot dead.
I am every child here shot dead.
Nothing in me will ever forget this.

The "Internationale" - let it thunder
When forever will be buried
The last of the anti-Semites on earth.

There is no Jewish blood in mine,
But I am adamantly hated
By all anti-Semites as if I were a Jew.

That is why I am a true Russian!
2.

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Yumor

Tsari, koroli, imperatory,
Vlastiteli vsei zemli,
Komandovali paradami,
No yumorom, no yumorom ne mogli.
V dvortsy imenitykh osob,
Vse dni volzezhashchikh vykholenno,

Yavlyalsya brodyaga Ezop,
I nishchimi oni vyglyadeli.

V domakh, gde khanzha nsledil
Svoimi nogamig shchuplymi,

Vsyu poshlost Khodzha Nasreddin
Sshibal, kak shakhmaty, shutkami.

Khoteli humor kupit.

Da tolko evo ne kupish!

Khoteli yumor ubit.

A yumor pokazyal kukish.

Bortsya s nim - delo trudnoye,
Kaznili evo bez kontsa.

Evo golova obtrublennaya
Torchala na pike streltsa.

No lish skomoroshi dudochki
Svoi nachinali skaz,
On zvonko krichal: "Ya tutochki."

I likho puskalsya v plyas.

V potryopannom kutsem palitshke,
Ponuryas i slovno kayas,
Prestupnikom politicheskim
On, poimannyi, shol na kazn.
Vsem vidom pokornost vykalzyval,
Gotov k nezemnomu zhityu,
Kak vdrug iz paltishka vyskalzyval,
Rukoi makhal

I tyu-tyu!

Yumor pryatali v kamery,
Da chorta s dva udalos.

Reshotki i steny kamennyye
On prokhodli naskvoz.
Otkashlivayas prostuzhenno,
Kak ryadovoi boyets
Shagal on chastushkoi-prostushkoi
S vintovkoi na Zimni dvoryets.

Privyk on ko vzglyadam sumrachnym,
No eto yemu ne vredit,
I sam na sebya s yumorom
Yumor poroi glyadit.

On vechen.
On lovok.
I yurok.

Prodyot cherez vsyo, cherez vsekh.

Itak, da slavitsya yumor!
On - muzhesvennyi chelovek.
Humor

Tsars, kings, emperors,
Rulers of the world,
Commanded parades
But humor - humor they could not.
To the palaces of the eminent
Who, well groomed, all day reclined.

Came the vagabond Aesop
And before him all appeared impoverished.

In homes where a hypocrite left traces
Of his puny feet,

And this banality Hadji Nasr-ed-Din
Swept aside with his jokes like a chessboard.

They wanted to buy humor.

Only he cannot be bought!

They wanted to kill humor.

But humor thumbed his nose.

To battle him is tough business.
They executed him endlessly.

Humor's severed head
Was stuck on a warrior's pike.

Just when the buffoons' pipes
Would start their tale
He would brightly cry: "I'm here."

And would break into a dashing dance.

In a threadbare scanty coat,
Crestfallen and as if repenting,
Caught as a political prisoner
He would go to his execution.
His appearance displayed obedience,
Ready for his life hereafter,
When suddenly he would slip out of his coat
Waiving his hand

And bye-bye!

They hid humor in cells,
But like hell they succeeded.

Iron bars and stone walls
He would pass right through.
Cleaning his throat from the cold,
Like an ordinary soldier
He marched as a simple ditty
With a rifle for the Winter Palace.

He is used to stern glances,
But it does not hurt him.
And humor looks upon himself
At times with humor.

He is everlasting.
He is smart.
And nimble.

He will walk through everything and everybody.

And so, glory to humor!
He is a courageous fellow.
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V magazine

Kto v platke, a kto v platochke,
Kak na podvig, kak na trud,
V magazin poodinochke
Molcha zehnshchiny idut.

O, bidonov ikh bryatsanye,
Zvon butylok i kastryul.
Pakhnet lukom, ogurtsami,
Pakhnet sousom Kabul.

Zyabnu, dolgo v kassu stoya,
No pokuda dvizhus k nei,
Ot dykhanya zhenshchin stolkikh
V magazine vsyo teplei.

Oni tikho podzhidayut,
Bogi dobryye semi,
I v rukakh oni szhimayut
Dengi trudnyye svoi.

Eto zhenshchiny Rossii,
Eto nasha chest i sud.
I beton oni mesili,
I pakhali, i kosili.

Vsyo oni perenosili,
Vsyo oni perenesut.

Vsyo na svete im posilno,
Skolko sily im dano.

Ikh obschityvat postydno,
Ikh obveshivat greshno.

I, v karman pelmeni sunuv,
Ya smotryu, surov i tikh,
Na ustalyye ot sumok
Ruki pravednyye ikh.
In the Store

Some in shawls, some kerchiefs,
As if to a heroic feat or labor
Into the store one by one
Women silently enter.

Oh, the clanking of the cans,
The clanging of the bottles and saucepans.
The smell of onions and cucumbers,
The smell of "Kabul" sauce.

I shiver queuing for the cashier
But as I keep moving closer
From the breathing of so many women
It gets warmer in the store.

They wait silently,
The family's kind gods,
As they clutch in their hands
The hard-earned money.

These are women of Russia,
They are our honor and our conscience.
They have mixed concrete
And ploughed and reaped.

They have endured everything.
They will endure everything.

Everything on earth is possible for them,
They have been given so much strength.

It is shameful to short-change them.
It is sinful to short-weigh them.

And, shoving dumplings into my pocket,
I look, solemn and quiet,
At their weary-from-shopping,
Saintly hands.
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Strakhi

Umirayut i Rossii strakhi,
Slovno prizraki prezhnikh let.
Lish na paperti, kak starukhi,
Koye-gde eshcho prosyat na khleb.

Ya ihk pomnyu vo vlasti i sile
Pri dvore torzhestvuyushchei lzhi.
Strakhi vsyudu kak teni skolzili,
Pronikali vo vsye etazhi.
Potikhonku lyudei priruchali
I na vsyo nalagali pechat.
Gde molchat by, krichat priruchali,
I molchat, gde by nado krichat.
Eto stalo sevodnya dalyokim,
Dazhe stranno i vspomnit teper.
Tainyi strakh pered chim to donosom,
Tainyi strakh pered stukom v dver.
Nu, a strakh govorit s inostrantsem,
S inostrantsem to shto, a s zhenoi.
Nu, a strakh bezotchotnyi ostatsya
Posle marshei vdvoyom s tishinoi.

Ne boyalis my stroit v meteli,
Ukhodit pod snaryadami v bo,
No boyalis poroyu smertelno
Razgovarivat sami s sobo.
Nas ne sbili i ne rastili,
I nedarom seichas vo vragakh
Pobedivshaya strakhi Rossiya
Yeshcho bolshi rozhdayet strakh.

Strakhi novyye vizhu, svetleya:
Strakh neiskrennim byt so strano,
Strakh nepravdo unizit idei,
Shto yavlyautsya pravdoi samoi.
Strakh fanfarit do odurenya,
Strakh chuzhiye slova povtoryat,
Strakh unizit drugikh nedoveryem
I chrezmerno sebe doveryat.

Umirayut v Rossii strakhi.

I kogda ya pishu eti stroki
I poroyu nevolno speshu,
To pishu ikh v yedinstvennom strakhe,
Shto ne v polnuyu silu pishu.
Fears

In Russia fears are dying
Like the ghosts of yesteryears.
Only on church steps here and there like old women
They are begging for bread.

I remember fears being in power and force
At the court of triumphant lie.
Fears like shadows slithered everywhere,
Infiltrated every floor.
Gradually they tamed the people
And on everything affixed their seal.
Where silence should be, they taught screaming,
They taught silence, where shouting would be right.
This, today, has become distant,
It is strange even to recall it now.
The secret fear at someone informing,
The secret fear at a knock at the door.
Then, a fear to speak to a foreigner;
Foreigner - nothing, even with one's own wife.
And unaccountable fear, after marches,
To remain alone with silence, eye to eye.

We did not fear to build in snowstorms,
To march into battle under fire.
But we deathly feared at times
To talk to ourselves
We did not get demoralized or corrupted,
And it is not without reason
That Russia, having conquered her own fears,
Spreads even greater fear in her enemies.

I see new fears arising,
The fear of being insincere to the country,
The fear of degrading the ideas
That are truth in themselves.
The fear of bragging until stupor,
The fear of repeating someone else's words,
The fear of belittling others with distrust
And to trust oneself excessively.

In Russia fears are dying.

As I write these lines,
And at times unwittingly hurry,
I write them with the single fear
Of not writing at full speed.
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Karyera

Tverdili pastyri, shto vreden
I nerazumen Galilei.

Shto nerazumen Galilei,

No, kak pokazyvayet vremya,

Kto nerazumnei, tot umnei,

Uchonyi, sverstnik Galileya,

Byl Galileya ne glupeye,

On znal, shto vertitsya zemlya,

No u nevo byla semya,

I on, sadyas s zhenoi v karetu,
Svershiv predatelstvo svoyo,
Schital, shto delayet karyeru,

A mezhdu tem gubil yeyo,

Za osoznaniye planety
Shol Galilei odin na risk,

I stal velikim on.

Vot eto

Ya ponimayu - karyerist!

Itak, da zdravstvuyet karyera,
Kogda karyera takova,
Kak u Shekspira i Pastera,
Nyutona i Tolstovo,
I Tolstovo.

Lva?

Lva!
Zachem ikh gryazyu pokryvali?
Talant, talant, kak ni kleimi.

Zabyty te, kto proklinali.

No pomnyat tekh, kovo klyali,

Vse te, kto rvalis v stratosferu,
Vrachi, shto gibli ot kholer,
Vot eti delali karyeru!

Ya s ikh karyer beru primer.

Ya veryu v ikh svyatuyu veru.
Ikh vera - muzhestvo moyo.
Ya delayu sebe karyeru
Tem, shto ne delayu yeyo!
Career

The clergy maintained that Galileo
Was a wicked and senseless man.

Galileo was senseless.

But, as time demonstrated,

He who is senseless is much wiser.

A fellow scientist of Galileo's age

Was no less wise than Galileo.

He knew that the earth revolved.

But - he had a family.

And he, stepping into a carriage with his wife,
Having accomplished his betrayal,
Considered himself advancing his career,

Whereas he undermined it,

For his assertion of our planet
Galileo faced the risk alone

And became truly great.

Now this

To my mind, this is a true careerist!

Thus - salute to the career!
When the career is similar
To Shakespeare and Pasteur,
Newton and Tolstoy,
And Tolstoy.

Leo?

Leo!
Why was mud flung at them?
Talent is talent, brand them as one may.

Those who cursed them are forgotten.

But the accursed are remembered well,

All those who yearned for the stratosphere,
The doctors who perished fighting cholera,
They were pursuing a career!

I take as an example their careers.

I believe in their sacred belief.
Their belief is my courage.
I pursue my career
By not pursuing it!

Bibi at "Israeli Technology and Innovation for Africa" Event

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks (9.34 minutes) at "Israeli Technology and Innovation for Africa" event at the UN headquarters, September 2016:


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Obama’s November surprise


From The Hill, 26 November 2016, by Gregg Roman:



... there is growing speculation that President Obama will spring a diplomatic surprise on Israel during the interregnum between the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 and his departure from office in January.
Some say the surprise will be a speech laying down parameters for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or some type of formal censure of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but the scenario generating most discussion is a decision to support, or perhaps not to veto a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state.

This would be a bombshell. Washington’s long-stated policy is that a Palestinian state should be established only through an agreement negotiated directly between the two sides. In practice, this would require that Palestinian leaders agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and concede the so-called “right of return” for refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants to areas within Israel’s borders, a prospect which would mean the demographic destruction of Israel.
For decades, Palestinian leaders have made it clear they won’t do this: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t mince words, telling a gathering of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo in November 2014, “We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.” Efforts to win recognition of Palestinian statehood by foreign governments and multilateral institutions are designed to skirt this precondition for statehood.

Any state that comes into existence without Palestinian leaders formally recognizing Israel will be a brutal, unstable train wreck, with areas under its jurisdiction likely to remain a hotbed of terrorism. On top of whatever existing factors are producing the endemic corruption and autocracy of the Abbas regime (not to mention the Hamas regime in Gaza), unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will vindicate radicals who have been saying all along that there’s no need to compromise.
On the other hand, official Palestinian acknowledgement once and for all that Israel is not just here to stay, but has a right to stay, would deprive Palestinian leaders of time-honored tools for manipulating their constituents – appealing to and inflaming their baser anti-Jewish prejudices, promising them salvation if they’ll only shut up ‘til the Zionists are defeated, and so forth. Instead, they will have to do things like govern well and create jobs to win public support.

Previous American administrations have understood that recognizing Palestinian statehood before Abbas and company allow Palestinian society to undergo this transformation would be the height of irresponsibility. This is why American veto power has consistently blocked efforts to unilaterally establish a Palestinian state by way of the UN Security Council.
Notwithstanding his apparent pro-Palestinian sympathies and affiliations prior to running for the Senate and later the White House, President Obama initially maintained this policy. The expressed threat of an American veto foiled Abbas’ 2011 bid to win UN member-state status for “Palestine.” He settled for recognition of non-member-state status by the General Assembly in 2012.

As moves by the PA to bring the issue of statehood to the UN picked up steam last year, however, it appeared to walk back this commitment. While U.S officials privately maintained there was “no change,” Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power refused – despite the urging of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – to state publicly that the U.S. would use its veto to stop a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.
The conventional wisdom was that Obama’s refusal to make such a public declaration was intended to exert pressure on Netanyahu to tone down his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and later to punish him for it or hold it out to secure concessions. As his presidency enters its final months, it’s clear something even more nefarious is at work.

President Obama’s failure to clarify his administration’s position has greatly damaged prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Even if it is Obama’s intention to veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes up at the UN, his refusal to publicly state this – or, put differently, his determination to go on the record for the history books not saying it – has fueled perceptions among Palestinians and European governments facing pressures of their own that American will is softening.

It is imperative that Congress use the tools at its disposal to make this unwise path as difficult as possible for the Obama Administration.
Ultimately, a one-sided UN declaration such as this serves only to postpone by a long shot the day when Palestinian leaders accept Israel as it is – the homeland of the Jewish people – and allow their subjects to enjoy the lasting peace and prosperity they and their neighbors deserve.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Israel will take its rightful place among the nations.


Remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the 71st sessions of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 22, 2016.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

What I’m about to say is going to shock you: Israel has a bright future at the UN.

Now I know that hearing that from me must surely come as a surprise, because year after year I’ve stood at this very podium and slammed the UN for its obsessive bias against Israel. And the UN deserved every scathing word – for the disgrace of the General Assembly that last year passed 20 resolutions against the democratic State of Israel and a grand total of three resolutions against all the other countries on the planet.

Israel – twenty; rest of the world – three.

And what about the joke called the UN Human Rights Council, which each year condemns Israel more than all the countries of the world combined. As women are being systematically raped, murdered, sold into slavery across the world, which is the only country that the UN’s Commission on Women chose to condemn this year? Yep, you guessed it – Israel. Israel. Israel where women fly fighter jets, lead major corporations, head universities, preside – twice – over the Supreme Court, and have served as Speaker of the Knesset and Prime Minister.

And this circus continues at UNESCO. UNESCO, the UN body charged with preserving world heritage. Now, this is hard to believe but UNESCO just denied the 4,000-year connection between the Jewish people and its holiest site, the Temple Mount. That’s just as absurd as denying the connection between the Great Wall of China and China.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce. So when it comes to Israel at the UN, you’d probably think nothing will ever change, right? Well think again. You see, everything will change and a lot sooner than you think. The change will happen in this hall, because back home, your governments are rapidly changing their attitudes towards Israel. And sooner or later, that’s going to change the way you vote on Israel at the UN.

The UN, begun as a moral force, has become a moral farce.

More and more nations in Asia, in Africa, in Latin America, more and more nations see Israel as a potent partner – a partner in fighting the terrorism of today, a partner in developing the technology of tomorrow.

Today Israel has diplomatic relations with over 160 countries. That’s nearly double the number that we had when I served here as Israel’s ambassador some 30 years ago. And those ties are getting broader and deeper every day. World leaders increasingly appreciate that Israel is a powerful country with one of the best intelligence services on earth. Because of our unmatched experience and proven capabilities in fighting terrorism, many of your governments seek our help in keeping your countries safe.

Many also seek to benefit from Israel’s ingenuity in agriculture, in health, in water, in cyber and in the fusion of big data, connectivity and artificial intelligence – that fusion that is changing our world in every way.

You might consider this: Israel leads the world in recycling wastewater. We recycle about 90% of our wastewater. Now, how remarkable is that? Well, given that the next country on the list only recycles about 20% of its wastewater, Israel is a global water power. So if you have a thirsty world, and we do, there’s no better ally than Israel.

How about cybersecurity? That’s an issue that affects everyone. Israel accounts for one-tenth of one percent of the world’s population, yet last year we attracted some 20% of the global private investment in cybersecurity. I want you to digest that number. In cyber, Israel is punching a whopping 200 times above its weight. So Israel is also a global cyber power. If hackers are targeting your banks, your planes, your power grids and just about everything else, Israel can offer indispensable help.

Governments are changing their attitudes towards Israel because they know that Israel can help them protect their peoples, can help them feed them, can help them better their lives.

Governments are changing their attitudes towards Israel because they know that Israel can help them protect their peoples, can help them feed them, can help them better their lives.

This summer I had an unbelievable opportunity to see this change so vividly during an unforgettable visit to four African countries. This is the first visit to Africa by an Israeli prime minister in decades. Later today, I’ll be meeting with leaders from 17 African countries. We’ll discuss how Israeli technology can help them in their efforts to transform their countries.

In Africa, things are changing. In China, India, Russia, Japan, attitudes towards Israel have changed as well. These powerful nations know that, despite Israel’s small size, it can make a big difference in many, many areas that are important to them.

But now I’m going to surprise you even more. You see, the biggest change in attitudes towards Israel is taking place elsewhere. It’s taking place in the Arab world. Our peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan continue to be anchors of stability in the volatile Middle East. But I have to tell you this: For the first time in my lifetime, many other states in the region recognize that Israel is not their enemy. They recognize that Israel is their ally. Our common enemies are Iran and ISIS. Our common goals are security, prosperity and peace. I believe that in the years ahead we will work together to achieve these goals, work together openly.

So Israel’s diplomatic relations are undergoing nothing less than a revolution. But in this revolution, we never forget that our most cherished alliance, our deepest friendship is with the United States of America, the most powerful and the most generous nation on earth. Our unbreakable bond with the United States of America transcends parties and politics. It reflects, above all else, the overwhelming support for Israel among the American people, support which is at record highs and for which we are deeply grateful.

I believe the day is not far off when Israel will be able to rely on many, many countries to stand with us at the UN. Slowly but surely, the days when UN ambassadors reflexively condemn Israel, those days are coming to an end.

The United Nations denounces Israel; the United States supports Israel. And a central pillar of that defense has been America’s consistent support for Israel at the UN. I appreciate President Obama’s commitment to that longstanding US policy. In fact, the only time that the United States cast a UN Security Council veto during the Obama presidency was against an anti-Israel resolution in 2011. As President Obama rightly declared at this podium, peace will not come from statements and resolutions at the United Nations.

I believe the day is not far off when Israel will be able to rely on many, many countries to stand with us at the UN. Slowly but surely, the days when UN ambassadors reflexively condemn Israel, those days are coming to an end.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s automatic majority against Israel at the UN reminds me of the story, the incredible story of Hiroo Onada. Hiroo was a Japanese soldier who was sent to the Philippines in 1944. He lived in the jungle. He scavenged for food. He evaded capture. Eventually he surrendered, but that didn’t happen until 1974, some 30 years after World War II ended. For decades, Hiroo refused to believe the war was over. As Hiroo was hiding in the jungle, Japanese tourists were swimming in pools in American luxury hotels in nearby Manila. Finally, mercifully, Hiroo’s former commanding officer was sent to persuade him to come out of hiding. Only then did Hiroo lay down his arms.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Distinguished delegates from so many lands,

I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms. The war against Israel at the UN is over. Perhaps some of you don’t know it yet, but I am confident that one day in the not too distant future you will also get the message from your president or from your prime minister informing you that the war against Israel at the United Nations has ended. Yes, I know, there might be a storm before the calm. I know there is talk about ganging up on Israel at the UN later this year. Given its history of hostility towards Israel, does anyone really believe that Israel will let the UN determine our security and our vital national interests?

We will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel. The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York.

But regardless of what happens in the months ahead, I have total confidence that in the years ahead the revolution in Israel’s standing among the nations will finally penetrate this hall of nations. I have so much confidence, in fact, that I predict that a decade from now an Israeli prime minister will stand right here where I am standing and actually applaud the UN. But I want to ask you: Why do we have to wait a decade? Why keep vilifying Israel? Perhaps because some of you don’t appreciate that the obsessive bias against Israel is not just a problem for my country, it’s a problem for your countries too. Because if the UN spends so much time condemning the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, it has far less time to address war, disease, poverty, climate change and all the other serious problems that plague the planet.

Are the half million slaughtered Syrians helped by your condemnation of Israel? The same Israel that has treated thousands of injured Syrians in our hospitals, including a field hospital that I built right along the Golan Heights border with Syria. Are the gays hanging from cranes in Iran helped by your denigration of Israel? That same Israel where gays march proudly in our streets and serve in our parliament, including I’m proud to say in my own Likud party. Are the starving children in North Korea’s brutal tyranny, are they helped by your demonization of Israel? Israel, whose agricultural knowhow is feeding the hungry throughout the developing world?

The sooner the UN’s obsession with Israel ends, the better. The better for Israel, the better for your countries, the better for the UN itself.

The sooner the UN’s obsession with Israel ends, the better. The better for Israel, the better for your countries, the better for the UN itself.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

If UN habits die hard, Palestinian habits die even harder. President Abbas just attacked from this podium the Balfour Declaration. He’s preparing a lawsuit against Britain for that declaration from 1917. That’s almost 100 years ago – talk about being stuck in the past. The Palestinians may just as well sue Iran for the Cyrus Declaration, which enabled the Jews to rebuild our Temple in Jerusalem 2,500 years ago. Come to think of it, why not a Palestinian class action suit against Abraham for buying that plot of land in Hebron where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish people were buried 4,000 years ago? You’re not laughing. It’s as absurd as that. To sue the British government for the Balfour Declaration? Is he kidding? And this is taken seriously here?

President Abbas attacked the Balfour Declaration because it recognized the right of the Jewish people to a national home in the land of Israel. When the United Nations supported the establishment of a Jewish state in 1947, it recognized our historical and our moral rights in our homeland and to our homeland. Yet today, nearly 70 years later, the Palestinians still refuse to recognize those rights – not our right to a homeland, not our right to a state, not our right to anything. And this remains the true core of the conflict, the persistent Palestinian refusal to recognize the Jewish state in any boundary. You see, this conflict is not about the settlements. It never was.

The conflict raged for decades before there was a single settlement, when Judea Samaria and Gaza were all in Arab hands. The West Bank and Gaza were in Arab hands and they attacked us again and again and again. And when we uprooted all 21 settlements in Gaza and withdrew from every last inch of Gaza, we didn’t get peace from Gaza – we got thousands of rockets fired at us from Gaza.

This conflict rages because for the Palestinians, the real settlements they’re after are Haifa, Jaffa and Tel Aviv.

The issue of settlements is a real one and it can and must be resolved in final status negotiations.

Now mind you, the issue of settlements is a real one and it can and must be resolved in final status negotiations. But this conflict has never been about the settlements or about establishing a Palestinian state. It’s always been about the existence of a Jewish state, a Jewish state in any boundary.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel is ready, I am ready to negotiate all final status issues but one thing I will never negotiate: Our right to the one and only Jewish state.

Wow, sustained applause for the Prime Minister of Israel in the General Assembly? The change may be coming sooner than I thought.

Had the Palestinians said yes to a Jewish state in 1947, there would have been no war, no refugees and no conflict. And when the Palestinians finally say yes to a Jewish state, we will be able to end this conflict once and for all.

Now here’s the tragedy, because, see, the Palestinians are not only trapped in the past, their leaders are poisoning the future.

I want you to imagine a day in the life of a 13-year-old Palestinian boy, I’ll call him Ali. Ali wakes up before school, he goes to practice with a soccer team named after Dalal Mughrabi, a Palestinian terrorist responsible for the murder of a busload of 37 Israelis. At school, Ali attends an event sponsored by the Palestinian Ministry of Education honoring Baha Alyan, who last year murdered three Israeli civilians. On his walk home, Ali looks up at a towering statue erected just a few weeks ago by the Palestinian Authority to honor Abu Sukar, who detonated a bomb in the center of Jerusalem, killing 15 Israelis.

When Ali gets home, he turns on the TV and sees an interview with a senior Palestinian official, Jibril Rajoub, who says that if he had a nuclear bomb, he’d detonate it over Israel that very day. Ali then turns on the radio and he hears President Abbas’s adviser, Sultan Abu al-Einein, urging Palestinians, here’s a quote, “to slit the throats of Israelis wherever you find them.” Ali checks his Facebook and he sees a recent post by President Abbas’s Fatah Party calling the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics a “heroic act”. On YouTube, Ali watches a clip of President Abbas himself saying, “We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem.” Direct quote.

Over dinner, Ali asks his mother what would happen if he killed a Jew and went to an Israeli prison? Here’s what she tells him. She tells him he’d be paid thousands of dollars each month by the Palestinian Authority. In fact, she tells him, the more Jews he would kill, the more money he’d get. Oh, and when he gets out of prison, Ali would be guaranteed a job with the Palestinian Authority.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All this is real. It happens every day, all the time. Sadly, Ali represents hundreds of thousands of Palestinian children who are indoctrinated with hate every moment, every hour.

This is child abuse.

Imagine your child undergoing this brainwashing. Imagine what it takes for a young boy or girl to break free out of this culture of hate. Some do but far too many don’t. How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?

How can any of us expect young Palestinians to support peace when their leaders poison their minds against peace?

We in Israel don’t do this. We educate our children for peace. In fact, we recently launched a pilot program, my government did, to make the study of Arabic mandatory for Jewish children so that we can better understand each other, so that we can live together side-by-side in peace.

Of course, like all societies Israel has fringe elements. But it’s our response to those fringe elements, it’s our response to those fringe elements that makes all the difference.

Take the tragic case of Ahmed Dawabsha. I’ll never forget visiting Ahmed in the hospital just hours after he was attacked. A little boy, really a baby, he was badly burned. Ahmed was the victim of a horrible terrorist act perpetrated by Jews. He lay bandaged and unconscious as Israeli doctors worked around the clock to save him.

No words can bring comfort to this boy or to his family. Still, as I stood by his bedside I told his uncle, “This is not our people. This is not our way.” I then ordered extraordinary measures to bring Ahmed’s assailants to justice and today the Jewish citizens of Israel accused of attacking the Dawabsha family are in jail awaiting trial.

Now, for some, this story shows that both sides have their extremists and both sides are equally responsible for this seemingly endless conflict.

But what Ahmed’s story actually proves is the very opposite. It illustrates the profound difference between our two societies, because while Israeli leaders condemn terrorists, all terrorists, Arabs and Jews alike, Palestinian leaders celebrate terrorists. While Israel jails the handful of Jewish terrorists among us, the Palestinians pay thousands of terrorists among them.

So I call on President Abbas: you have a choice to make. You can continue to stoke hatred as you did today or you can finally confront hatred and work with me to establish peace between our two peoples.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hear the buzz. I know that many of you have given up on peace. But I want you to know – I have not given up on peace. I remain committed to a vision of peace based on two states for two peoples. I believe as never before that changes taking place in the Arab world today offer a unique opportunity to advance that peace.

I commend President el-Sissi of Egypt for his efforts to advance peace and stability in our region. Israel welcomes the spirit of the Arab peace initiative and welcomes a dialogue with Arab states to advance a broader peace. I believe that for that broader peace to be fully achieved the Palestinians have to be part of it. I’m ready to begin negotiations to achieve this today – not tomorrow, not next week, today.

President Abbas spoke here an hour ago. Wouldn’t it be better if instead of speaking past each other we were speaking to one another? President Abbas, instead of railing against Israel at the United Nations in New York, I invite you to speak to the Israeli people at the Knesset in Jerusalem. And I would gladly come to speak to the Palestinian parliament in Ramallah.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While Israel seeks peace with all our neighbors, we also know that peace has no greater enemy than the forces of militant Islam. The bloody trail of this fanaticism runs through all the continents represented here. It runs through Paris and Nice, Brussels and Baghdad, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, Minnesota and New York, from Sydney to San Bernardino. So many have suffered its savagery: Christian and Jews, women and gays, Yazidis and Kurds and many, many others.

Yet the heaviest price, the heaviest price of all has been paid by innocent Muslims. Hundreds of thousands unmercifully slaughtered. Millions turned into desperate refugees, tens of millions brutally subjugated. The defeat of militant Islam will thus be a victory for all humanity, but it would especially be a victory for those many Muslims who seek a life without fear, a life of peace, a life of hope.

But to defeat the forces of militant Islam, we must fight them relentlessly. We must fight them in the real world. We must fight them in the virtual world. We must dismantle their networks, disrupt their funding, discredit their ideology. We can defeat them and we will defeat them. Medievalism is no match for modernity. Hope is stronger than hate, freedom mightier than fear.

We can do this.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Israel fights this fateful battle against the forces of militant Islam every day. We keep our borders safe from ISIS, we prevent the smuggling of game-changing weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon, we thwart Palestinian terror attacks in Judea and Samaria, the West Bank, and we deter missile attacks from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

That’s the same Hamas terror organization that cruelly, unbelievably cruelly refuses to return three of our citizens and the bodies of our fallen soldiers, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin. Hadar Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simcha Goldin, are here with us today. They have one request – to bury their beloved son in Israel. All they ask for is one simple thing – to be able to visit the grave of their fallen son Hadar in Israel. Hamas refuses. They couldn’t care less.

I implore you to stand with them, with us, with all that’s decent in our world against the inhumanity of Hamas – all that is indecent and barbaric. Hamas breaks every humanitarian rule in the book, throw the book at them.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The greatest threat to my country, to our region, and ultimately to our world remains the militant Islamic regime of Iran.

The greatest threat to my country, to our region, and ultimately to our world remains the militant Islamic regime of Iran. Iran openly seeks Israel’s annihilation. It threatens countries across the Middle East, it sponsors terror worldwide.

This year, Iran has fired ballistic missiles in direct defiance of Security Council Resolutions. It has expended its aggression in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen. Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism continued to build its global terror network. That terror network now spans five continents.

So my point to you is this: The threat Iran poses to all of us is not behind us, it’s before us. In the coming years, there must be a sustained and united effort to push back against Iran’s aggression and Iran’s terror. With the nuclear constraints on Iran one year closer to being removed, let me be clear: Israel will not allow the terrorist regime in Iran to develop nuclear weapons – not now, not in a decade, not ever.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I stand before you today at a time when Israel’s former president, Shimon Peres, is fighting for his life. Shimon is one of Israel’s founding fathers, one of its boldest statesmen, one of its most respected leaders. I know you will all join me and join all the people of Israel in wishing him refuah shlemah Shimon, a speedy recovery.

I’ve always admired Shimon’s boundless optimism, and like him, I too am filled with hope. I am filled with hope because Israel is capable of defending itself by itself against any threat. I am filled with hope because the valor of our fighting men and women is second to none. I am filled with hope because I know the forces of civilization will ultimately triumph over the forces of terror. I am filled with hope because in the age of innovation, Israel – the innovation nation – is thriving as never before. I am filled with hope because Israel works tirelessly to advance equality and opportunity for all its citizens: Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, everyone. And I am filled with hope because despite all the naysayers, I believe that in the years ahead, Israel will forge a lasting peace with all our neighbors.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am hopeful about what Israel can accomplish because I’ve seen what Israel has accomplished. In 1948, the year of Israel’s independence, our population was 800,000. Our main export was oranges. People said then we were too small, too weak, too isolated, too demographically outnumbered to survive, let alone thrive. The skeptics were wrong about Israel then; the skeptics are wrong about Israel now.

Israel’s population has grown tenfold, our economy fortyfold. Today our biggest export is technology – Israeli technology, which powers the world’s computers, cellphones, cars and so much more.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The future belongs to those who innovate and this is why the future belongs to countries like Israel. Israel wants to be your partner in seizing that future, so I call on all of you: Cooperate with Israel, embrace Israel, dream with Israel. Dream of the future that we can build together, a future of breathtaking progress, a future of security, prosperity and peace, a future of hope for all humanity, a future where even at the UN, even in this hall, Israel will finally, inevitably, take its rightful place among the nations.

Thank you.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

An Inside Look at Israeli National Security Strategy

From The Washington Institute, Policy Forum 2693:



On September 15, former Israeli defense minister and military chief of staff Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute. The following is a rapporteur's summary of his remarks.


The ongoing earthquake in the Arab world over the past five years has reoriented the political landscape and contributed to deep instability that will likely persist for the foreseeable future. This realignment is due to the collapse of the nation-state system imposed by colonialist powers, with artificially constructed states such as Syria, Iraq, and Libya breaking apart and creating dangerous power vacuums. These broken states are unlikely to put themselves back together again; instead, they will probably be reconstituted into ethnically homogenous cantons or loose confederations.

Israel must be sober and realistic in addressing its dangerous neighborhood, and its response should follow a few clear principles. First, it should not engage in wishful thinking or patronizing behavior by trying to impose democracy or a nation-state framework onto countries that are unwilling to accept such arrangements. Real democracy means more than just holding elections -- it requires a long process of education and socialization, which these countries have yet to undertake.

Second, Israel does not wish to intervene in internal Arab conflicts, though it will act decisively when its interests are threatened and retaliate in clear, predictable ways. It learned this lesson in part from the events that followed its support for Lebanese president Bashir Gemayel during the 1982 war. Today, the Israeli government has deliberately adopted a neutral stance by not taking a public position on whether Bashar al-Assad should remain in power in Syria. At the same time, it will not allow violations of its sovereignty in the Golan Heights, delivery of advanced weapons to its enemies, or delivery of chemical weapons; the Israel Defense Forces have already demonstrated that they will respond firmly to such actions. In tandem with this strategy, Israel also provides humanitarian aid in Syria, including food, medical treatment, and fuel, in order to ameliorate the difficult conditions for victims of violence and prevent the refugee problem from growing worse.

Israel has employed a similar approach with Hamas: retaliating after rockets are fired, but otherwise seeking to avoid escalation and provide humanitarian support to the people of Gaza, including water and electricity. Elsewhere, Israel's unprecedented strategic cooperation with Egypt and Jordan contributes to its overall security in the region.

Altogether, this strategy has led to a fairly calm security situation despite the regional turmoil. Hezbollah has been reluctant to pursue conflict with Israel, and there has not been a single cross-border attack by Sunni jihadists in Syria, including the Islamic State. Moreover, since Israel has been holding Hamas responsible for all rocket fire from Gaza, such attacks are now infrequent; the wave of stabbings that began a year ago has largely dissipated as well.

Israel's biggest threat comes from further afield, in Iran. Although the nuclear deal lengthened Tehran's timetable for building a bomb, it came with a host of negative consequences too. The Iranians will retain some of their nuclear infrastructure, and thus the capacity to build a weapon in the next ten to fifteen years. They also continue to make regular conventional weapons deliveries to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East, including Hezbollah, radical Shiite militias in Iraq and Syria, and the Houthis in Yemen. In all, Iran has helped establish terrorist infrastructure on five continents -- a fact that belies its portrayal as moderate under the leadership of President Hassan Rouhani. Some see Tehran as part of the solution to the roiling regional conflicts because of its willingness to fight the Islamic State. Yet its opposition to that Sunni jihadist group should not be viewed as anything more than a ploy to remove an ideological rival and gain a greater foothold in the region.

Despite these threats, the geopolitical earthquake has created opportunities for Israel as well. Currently, the Middle East is divided into four broad camps:
  • Iran's Shiite axis, including the Assad regime, Hezbollah, and Yemen's Houthis;
  • the Muslim Brotherhood camp, led by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but also encompassing elements in Egypt and Hamas;
  • the global jihadist camp, including the Islamic State and al-Qaeda; and
  • the Sunni Arab camp, which comprises Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and others.
Israel and the latter camp share several common adversaries, and while their cooperation is already robust (albeit quiet), it is in their mutual interest to increase it even further.

The United States should join Israel in publicly aligning with the Sunni Arab camp. One recent step in this direction was the signing of a bilateral Memorandum of Understanding in which Washington will grant Israel $38 billion in military assistance over the next decade.

Yet Sunni states have echoed Israel's frustration with the Obama administration for not addressing their concerns about the nuclear deal, for allowing Iranian proxies to stir up trouble in the region, and for wavering in its commitment to Sunni leaders, including Hosni Mubarak and Abdul Fattah al-Sisi in the wake of Egypt's revolutions.

To be sure, these states are not asking the United States to deploy ground troops to the region -- they just want Washington to be more engaged by supporting partners on the ground with airstrikes and intelligence and making their alliances known more openly.

Finally, while the world's focus has largely shifted to wider Arab issues in recent years, the Palestinian question still occupies a good deal of attention. Solving the conflict would be ideal, but it is not solvable at this time. Contrary to conventional wisdom, the core of the conflict does not stem from the disputed territories captured by Israel in the 1967 war, but from the fact that the Palestinians are not willing to accept the presence of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. As long as they are unwilling to recognize Israel's legitimacy, there is no value in making territorial concessions. This line of reasoning also dispels the idea that unilateral Israeli withdrawals would create the political momentum for a peace plan.

Since the gaps are too wide to bridge at this time, Israel should manage the conflict rather than trying to solve it. To move toward a political resolution, Israel should focus on building Palestinian society from the bottom up by improving economics, infrastructure, law enforcement, and governance in the Palestinian Authority. Ultimately, the Palestinians will also have to make sweeping changes to their education system, stop demonizing Jews, and concede that Israel has a right to at least some of the land. In other words, they cannot advance the cause of peace while also claiming that Tel Aviv is a settlement. These broad changes to Palestinian society are a prerequisite to real negotiations.

This summary was prepared by Aryeh Mellman.

Friday, September 16, 2016

At the UN, The Earth is flat, and only Israel is an ‘Occupying Power’


What about Russia in Crimea, Armenia in parts of Azerbaijan, or what Vietnam did in Cambodia?

Image result for uninvolved in peace photo
 
The United Nations began its annual session this week, and Israel will be prominent on the agenda. Many fear the Security Council may consider a resolution setting definite territorial parameters, and a deadline, for the creation of a Palestinian state.
President Obama has hinted that in the final months of his term, he may reverse the traditional U.S. policy of vetoing such resolutions. The General Assembly, meanwhile, is likely to act as the chorus in this drama, reciting its yearly litany of resolutions criticizing Israel.
If Mr. Obama is seeking to leave his mark on the Israeli-Arab conflict—and outside the negotiated peace process that began in Oslo—there is no worse place to do it than the U.N. New research we have conducted shows that the U.N.’s focus on Israel not only undermines the organization’s legitimacy regarding the Jewish state. It also has apparently made the U.N. blind to the world’s many situations of occupation and settlements.
Our research shows that the U.N. uses an entirely different rhetoric and set of legal concepts when dealing with Israel compared with situations of occupation or settlements world-wide. For example, Israel is referred to as the “Occupying Power” 530 times in General Assembly resolutions. Yet in seven major instances of past or present prolonged military occupation—Indonesia in East Timor, Turkey in northern Cyprus, Russia in areas of Georgia, Morocco in Western Sahara, Vietnam in Cambodia, Armenia in areas of Azerbaijan, and Russia in Ukraine’s Crimea—the number is zero. The U.N. has not called any of these countries an “Occupying Power.” Not even once.
It gets worse. Since 1967, General Assembly resolutions have referred to Israeli-held territories as “occupied” 2,342 times, while the territories mentioned above are referred to as “occupied” a mere 16 times combined. The term appears in 90% of resolutions dealing with Israel, and only in 14% of the much smaller number of resolutions dealing with the all the other situations, a difference that vastly surpasses the threshold of statistical significance. Similarly, Security Council resolutions refer to the disputed territories in the Israeli-Arab conflict as “occupied” 31 times, but only a total of five times in reference to all seven other conflicts combined.
General Assembly resolutions employ the term “grave” to describe Israel’s actions 513 times, as opposed to 14 total for all the other conflicts, which involve the full gamut of human-rights abuses, including allegations of ethnic cleansing and torture. Verbs such as “condemn” and “deplore” are sprinkled into Israel-related resolutions tens more times than they are in resolutions about other conflicts, setting a unique tone of disdain.
Israel has been reminded by resolutions against it of the country’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions about 500 times since 1967—as opposed to two times for the other situations.
In particular, the resolutions refer to Article 49(6), which states that the “Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” This is the provision that the entire legal case against Israel settlements is based upon. Yet no U.N. body has ever invoked Article 49(6) in relation to any of the occupations mentioned above.
This even though, as Mr. Kontorovich shows in a new research article, “Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories,” all these situations have seen settlement activity, typically on a scale that eclipses Israel’s. However, the U.N. has only used the legally loaded word “settlements” to describe Israeli civilian communities (256 times by the GA and 17 by the Security Council). Neither body has ever used that word in relation to any other country with settlers in occupied territory.
Our findings don’t merely quantify the U.N.’s double standard. The evidence shows that the organization’s claim to represent the interest of international justice is hollow, because the U.N. has no interest in battling injustice unless Israel is the country accused.
At a time of serious global crises—from a disintegrating Middle East to a land war and belligerent occupation in Europe—the leaders of the free world cannot afford to tempt the U.N. into indulging its obsessions. Especially when the apparent consequence of such scapegoating is that the organization ignores other situations and people in desperate need of attention.
Mr. Kontorovich, a professor at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, heads the international law department at the Kohelet Policy Forum, a think tank where Ms. Grunseid is a researcher.