Friday, January 04, 2019

Spurning Erdogan’s Vision, Turks Leave in Droves, Draining Money and Talent

From NYT, 3 Jan 2019, by Carlotta Gall:

A commuter train in Istanbul passes an election poster for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last June. Mr. Erdogan won re-election with greater powers, but the economy has faltered since then.

ISTANBUL — For 17 years, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won elections by offering voters a vision of restoring the glories of Turkey’s Ottoman past. ...Last year, the economy wobbled and the lira plunged soon after he won re-election with even greater powers. As cronyism and authoritarianism seep deeper into his administration, Turks are voting differently — this time with their feet.

They are leaving the country in droves and taking talent and capital with them in a way that indicates a broad and alarming loss of confidence in Mr. Erdogan’s vision, according to government statistics and analysts.

In the last two to three years, not only have students and academics fled the country, but also entrepreneurs, business people, and thousands of wealthy individuals who are selling everything and moving their families and their money abroad.

More than a quarter of a million Turks emigrated in 2017, according to the Turkish Institute of Statistics, an increase of 42 percent over 2016, when nearly 178,000 citizens left the country.

Turkey has seen waves of students and teachers leave before, but this exodus looks like a more permanent reordering of the society and threatens to set Turkey back decades, said Ibrahim Sirkeci, director of transnational studies at Regent’s University in London, and other analysts.

“The brain drain is real,” Mr. Sirkeci said.

The flight of people, talent and capital is being driven by a powerful combination of factors that have come to define life under Mr. Erdogan and that his opponents increasingly despair is here to stay.

They include fear of political persecution, terrorism, a deepening distrust of the judiciary and the arbitrariness of the rule of law, and a deteriorating business climate, accelerated by worries that Mr. Erdogan is unsoundly manipulating management of the economy to benefit himself and his inner circle.

...Mr. Erdogan has tried to make Turkey more conservative and religious, with a growing middle class and a tight circle of elites who are especially beholden to him for their economic success.

The flight of capital and talent is the result of this conscious effort by Mr. Erdogan to transform the society, said Bekir Agirdir, director of the Konda polling company.

...Ilker Birbil, a mathematician who faces charges for signing the peace petition and left Turkey to take up a position at Erasmus University Rotterdam in the Netherlands, warned that the country was losing people permanently.

...“People who are leaving do not want to come back,” Mr. Birbil said, citing the polarized political climate in the country. “This is alarming for Turkey.”

“I have received so many emails from students and friends who are trying to get out of Turkey,” he said.

Students are despairing of change partly because they have grown up with Mr. Erdogan in power for 17 years, said Erhan Erkut, a founder of MEF University in Istanbul, which teaches innovation and entrepreneurship.

“This is the only government they have seen, they do not know there is another possibility,” he said.

Families are setting up businesses abroad for the next generation to inherit, said Mr. Sirkeci of Regent’s University, adding that many students at his private university fell into that category.

At least 12,000 of Turkey’s millionaires — around 12 percent of the country’s wealthy class — moved their assets out of the country in 2016 and 2017, according to the Global Wealth Migration Review, an annual report produced by AfrAsia Bank.

Most of them moved to Europe or the United Arab Emirates, the report said. Turkey’s largest business center, Istanbul, was listed among the top seven cities worldwide experiencing an exodus of wealthy people.

“If one looks at any major country collapse in history, it is normally preceded by a migration of wealthy people away from that country,” the report said.

...“Billions of dollars have fled Turkey in the last couple of years, especially after the coup attempt when people started to feel threatened,” said Mehmet Gun, the owner of a law firm in Istanbul...

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Asia's Iran crude imports hit more than five-year low in November as sanctions bite

From Reuters, 28 December, by Florence Tan, Yuka Obayashi:

Imports of Iranian crude oil by major buyers in Asia hit their lowest in more than five years in November as U.S. sanctions on Iran’s oil exports took effect last month...

China, India, Japan and South Korea last month imported about 664,800 barrels per day (bpd) from Iran, according to the data, down 12.7 percent from the same month a year earlier.

South Korea cut imports to zero for a third month in November while Japan followed suit. India’s November imports are down about 40 percent from October, the data showed.

Asia’s Iranian oil imports are set to rise from December after the United States granted eight countries waivers from sanctions against Iran’s oil exports for 180 days.

China’s Iranian oil imports rebounded to close to 390,000 bpd in November, up from about 247,000 bpd in October, the lowest in more than five years.

Sinopec, Tehran’s biggest crude buyer, resumed Iran oil imports shortly after China received its waiver in November while China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) will restart lifting its own Iranian oil production in December.

Japan and South Korea are preparing to resume Iranian oil imports in early 2019.

India is expected to restrict its monthly purchases of Iranian oil to 1.25 million tonnes, or 9 m
illion barrels, during the waiver period from November. 

#economics #crude #iransanctions

Israel, Greece, and Cyprus: democratic bloc in the eastern Mediterranean

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,049, December 28, 2018, by Dr. George N. Tzogopoulos:

Benjamin Netanyahu, Nicos Anastasiades, and Alexis Tsipras at Beersheva Summit
Screenshot of video from Facebook page of the Prime Minister of Israel

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel, Greece, and Cyprus are building a democratic bloc in the eastern Mediterranean. The Beersheba trilateral summit highlighted the strong momentum of this initiative, as well as American institutional support for it. Jerusalem, Athens, and Nicosia are expanding their collaboration in fields including defense, cyberspace, energy, and education. The potential construction of an East Med pipeline could be a flagship project contributing to security and prosperity in Europe and the Middle East.

Israel, Greece, and Cyprus are steadily strengthening their partnership in the eastern Mediterranean, with institutional dialogue organized in the form of tripartite summits. Five such meetings have already taken place – the most recent in Beersheba – and the sixth will be held in February 2019 on the island of Crete. In Beersheba, PMs Benjamin Netanyahu and Alexis Tsipras and President Nicos Anastasiades agreed to establish a permanent secretariat to be based in Nicosia. The three countries will also collaborate, inter alia, on cybersecurity, smart cities, innovation with emphasis on supporting young entrepreneurs, education, environmental protection, research on agriculture, meteorology, health, and tourism.

On the economic front, the Beersheba summit was preceded by the first trilateral business forum, which took place in Tel Aviv. Relevant chambers of commerce are expected to further engage the business communities of the three countries. The potential here is enormous. Israeli foreign direct investments in Greece, for instance, remain relatively low, amounting to €26.7 million in 2016 and €32 million in 2017. But the ongoing interest of Israeli companies in the real estate sector, hotels, and the food industry in Greece can lead to an increase in the future. Similarly, some Greek companies are seeking to increase their exports to Israel or invest in the energy sector. Recently, for example, Energean Oil & Gas announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Israel Natural Gas Lines regarding constructing and transferring the onshore and near shore part of natural gas facilities for the Karish and Tanin developments.

The Beersheba summit was significant for another reason: It was the first time the US participated in and publicly expressed support for the initiative. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said a few words on behalf of President Donald Trump, adding gravitas to the trilateral collaboration scheme. He called the partnership “an anchor of stability in the eastern Mediterranean” and spoke about the importance of the East Med pipeline project, which will “help diversify energy sources throughout the entire region…help bring energy security to Europe, [and contribute to] the stability and prosperity of the Middle East and Europe.”

The process has not always been harmonious. Turkish policy in the eastern Mediterranean is creating obstacles. In the Beersheba summit statement, Netanyahu, Tsipras, and Anastasiades reiterated their full support and solidarity with Cyprus in exercising its sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone. Until now, Washington has preferred to publicly adopt a stance of equal distance between Athens/Nicosia and Ankara.  A recent interview with US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell might, however, signal the beginning of a change in that approach. Talking to the Kathimerini newspaper, Mitchell encouraged Cyprus to develop its resources, characterized Turkey’s view as “a minority of one versus the rest of the world,” and expressed his country’s opposition to any kind of harassment in Cypriot waters. While this message is important, it remains to be seen how Washington will react in the blocs of the Cypriot exclusive economic zone where US ships are not involved in drilling.

The construction of the East Med pipeline with America’s blessing would benefit the democratic bloc of Israel, Greece, and Cyprus and cancel plans for the transportation of natural gas from the Levantine Basin to Europe via Turkey. The US may well wish to warn or even punish Turkey for its expansion of its military cooperation with Russia (for example, Ankara’s deal with Moscow for the supply of S-400 missiles). But while the bilateral relationship with Turkey is vexing, Washington still counts on it.

The Department of State recently notified Congress of a proposal to sell the Patriot air and missile defense system to Ankara, which might be an attempt to halt the S-400 purchase. More importantly, the withdrawal of American troops from Syria means better coordination will now be required between Washington and Ankara. According to media reports, Trump has accepted an invitation from Erdoğan to visit Ankara in 2019.

While Washington is endeavoring to find a modus vivendi with Ankara, it still values its allies in the eastern Mediterranean and southeastern Europe. The fundamental strength of American-Israeli relations is largely taken for granted, and this is slowly becoming true for American-Cypriot-relations and American-Greek relations as well.

Russia is a catalyst in that process. The US and Cyprus are improving their bilateral relationship, a step Moscow is not prepared to handle. In November 2018, Washington and Nicosia signed a statement of intent on security affairs, prompting Moscow to react fiercely against what it sees as a US plan to militarize Cyprus. And in December 2018, the inaugural strategic dialogue between the US and Greece was launched. Among other things, Greece is supporting the enlargement of NATO in the Balkans, as the Prespes Agreement paves the way for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to join it. Moscow made very clear that it objects to the deal reached between the governments of Athens and Skopje (FYROM) last June.

While the Israeli-Greek-Cypriot institutionalized dialogue is yielding initial results and creating a strong basis for cooperation in the long term, further grassroots mobilization is necessary. Unacceptable acts such as the frequent vandalism of the Thessaloniki Holocaust Memorial do not align with Israel’s improving image in Greece and Cyprus and are a warning signal. A nexus of collaboration between the communities of the three countries – with the participation of representatives of several sectors, including media and culture – will certainly contribute to better understanding. The respective diaspora communities, as the Beersheba summit statement illustrated, will provide more assistance and depth.

A predictable move in Syria

From Israel Hayom, 21 December, by Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi:

Contrary to popular belief, U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to end America's military presence in Syria in the near future was not a spur-of-the-moment decision. The opposite is true. This is the implementation of a plan that has been formulated for some time, one that was anchored in Trump's original position to disengage from the centers of conflict, war and crisis that he does not believe to present an immediate and tangible threat to American security.

Ever since his election campaign, Trump's view has been that U.S. involvement in Syria, initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama's White House in 2015, embodies the dangerous potential in getting involved in a bloody conflict. It is true that as long as the Islamic State group constituted a central terrorist threat in Syria, the president accepted America's continued presence in the arena, provided it remained limited to the northeastern region, with the Kurdish enclave at its center. Now, with the murderous organization in significant decline, the decision to disengage is a natural move for Trump, who has made his desire to reduce the scope of America's overall commitment and involvement overseas abundantly clear.

The president has repeatedly reiterated his intention to leave Syria and he did not set any preconditions, such as achieving a comprehensive diplomatic resolution in Syria, for the exit of foreign forces from the territory.

In other words, in Trump's minimalist view of the array of U.S. interests, Syria does not meet the requirement for necessary direct military intervention. Against this background, the apocalyptic warning that the disengagement from Syria will cause massive damage to the U.S.'s overall standing appears to be without basis.

Was the minimal presence of 2,000 American military advisers, counselors and security officials in a narrow strip in Syria's northeast enough to project power and dramatically influence what transpires not only in Syria but throughout the region? Moreover, will the withdrawal be enough to undermine the prestige of the American superpower on a front defined by Washington as marginal from the outset and a time in which the White House has yet to delineate the Kremlin a sworn global enemy? It is for this reason that, although one cannot dismiss the price the Kurdish minority may be forced to pay as a result, the U.S. troop withdrawal is not expected to result in any tectonic fractures in the general Syrian court.

And as for Israel, America's disengagement was predictable and could provide Iran with greater room to maneuver and engage in threatening actions. The key to minimizing the damage from America's exit from Syria can be found in both Washington and Moscow. We cannot rule out the possibility that the U.S. administration will decide on taking a conciliatory and trust-building diplomatic step, such as throwing its support behind the initiative now being forged in the Senate to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. As for the Kremlin, the U.S. troop withdrawal could lead to Russia expanding and deepening its strategic coordination with Israel in Syria's skies, not necessarily out of a sense of affinity or excessive sensitivity to Israel's security concerns but rather to ensure the system of checks and balances aimed at preventing Iran's excessive empowerment in the Syrian sphere is preserved.

Also reported:

IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot said on Sunday that the U.S. decision to withdraw its troops from Syria is "significant," but should not be overblown. "For decades, we have dealt with this front [in Syria] alone," Eisenkot said, adding that Israel has acted independently during the entire period. "That's also how it has been over the past four years, during the American and Russian presence [in Syria]. We have been acting in support of Israel's security interests."  

Who is ruining Bethlehem??

From The Australian, 26 December 2018, by Allon Lee:

Image result for anton salman bethlehem
Anton Salman... Bethlehem’s mayor ... shamelessly exploited genuine interest at Christmas in the traditional birthplace of Jesus to advance a dangerous and deluded anti-Israel agenda devoid of fact or historical accuracy.

Since the Palestinian Authority took over the city in 1995, the Christian percentage of the city’s population has plummeted from 40 per cent to 12 per cent. But that central and incontestable fact is a gospel too heretical for Salman to admit; he points the finger of blame for the city’s problems solely at Israel.

In claiming “some have lost all hope for a political solution and opted for immigration instead” but “thousands of Palestinians” have stayed, Salman hides the identity of those who have left — Christians — and those who remain and keep arriving in the city: Muslims. The city’s population of 27,000 in 2017 was 23 per cent higher than in 1998. And it’s not because nature abhors a vacuum.

This two-way migration is a mirror of the wider trends across the Middle East where Islamists in the Muslim majorities are threatening, bullying and attacking Christian minorities.

Moreover, Salman’s claim that Israeli security measures are ­deliberately aimed at preventing people from visiting and spending money in Bethlehem makes it sound as if the city resembles a ghost town. Except it doesn’t because, contrary to Salman’s woe-is-me act, three million people visited bustling, busy Bethlehem last year.

When Salman begrudgingly acknowledges that the city does attract visitors, he laments that they are tourists and not pilgrims, for which, of course, Israel is also responsible.

Propagandists such as Salman try to hide the real reason for Palestinian suffering, instead solemnly intoning that it is Israel’s “walls encircling the city” that stifle economic opportunities. Asserting that “the illegal wall that has been built through the heart of our city is antithetical to justice and freedom”, as Salman does, challenges credulity, given that the separation barrier lies north of the city’s limits and is there to ensure the right of Israelis not to be knifed, car rammed or blown up, which he conveniently ignores.

...The irony of claiming that Bethlehem’s future is at risk from Israel is Orwellian because the only threat to the Church of the Nativity is from Palestinians themselves.

And Salman should know, seeing as he has said that he was there in April 2002 when 200 Palestinian gunmen stormed the church, taking priests and nuns hostage for 39 days, and making a mockery of an agreement with the Vatican to respect one of Christendom’s holiest sites.

But then, under Palestinian oversight, Jewish and Christian holy sites are fair game.

Just outside Bethlehem lies Rachel’s Tomb. According to Jewish tradition, the tomb is the resting place of the Jewish matriarch ­Rachel — a figure not even mentioned in the Koran.

As the mother of Joseph, ­Rachel is central to the course of Jewish biblical history.

In the 1990s and during the Second Intifada, Rachel’s Tomb was attacked on multiple occasions by marauding Palestinian mobs.

Since then Palestinians have won UNESCO endorsement that Rachel’s Tomb is of historic Palestinian significance.

Naturally this raises the question: if Rachel’s Tomb is such a valued Palestinian national treasure, why do Palestinians keep attacking it?

And while you ponder that, think on this too. If Palestine is such a bastion of religious equality, as Salman implies, why does the PA continue to refuse to ­recognise Easter as an official ­holiday?

Salman can promote Bethlehem as a city “of hope”, but if the latest opinion polls are accurate, the leader of the terrorist, Islamist Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, would easily win Palestinian presidential elections.

If the experience of Christians in Gaza during the past decade is any indication — the Christian population there has slumped from 3000 to 1000 — “hope” will be all Salman can count on.

This is the true meaning behind his claim that “Bethlehem is no stranger to the challenges facing all of Palestine”.

It is incumbent on all people of goodwill in this season of goodwill to speak up and call out this dangerous and delusional humbug and demand the PA return to peace talks. This is the only way to secure Bethlehem’s future.

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

The World Can Live Without Iranian Oil

From WSJ, 4 Nov 2018, by Rick Perry:

The U.S. energy boom will help the global supply meet demand.

An offshore oil platform near Lavan Island, Iran, Jan. 5, 2017.
An offshore oil platform near Lavan Island, Iran, Jan. 5, 2017. 

When President Trump ended U.S. participation in the Iran nuclear deal, he promised tough sanctions on the Iranian regime. On Monday our administration will deliver exactly that, reimposing sanctions on more than 700 people and entities in Iran’s energy, shipping and financial sectors.

The president has made clear that the U.S. supports the Iranian people’s aspirations for freedom and prosperity. He firmly opposes Tehran’s efforts to dash those aspirations—and to menace the world by developing ballistic missiles, launching cyberattacks, and funding terrorist proxies to destabilize the Middle East and beyond.

The new sanctions will deliver an unmistakable message to Tehran: Change your ways or suffer the consequences.

The Obama administration’s deal with Iran failed to curb Tehran’s egregious misconduct and ensure the safety of the American people. As the Trump administration exerts maximum pressure on the regime to reach a new deal, Iran’s energy sector is a natural target for sanctions. Iranian leaders use oil money to line their own pockets and fund destructive foreign adventurism rather than address their people’s needs.

The new sanctions will hit Iran’s energy sector hard. But thanks to anticipatory actions taken by the world’s leading producers, including the U.S., to make up the difference, there should be minimal effect on global energy markets.

Iran’s oil exports began to plummet months ago as the seriousness of U.S. policy became apparent. From 2.7 million barrels a day in June, Iran’s oil and condensate exports fell to less than two million barrels a day in September.

In response, major oil suppliers such as Saudi Arabia, Russia and Iraq have increased production. So has the U.S., which became the world’s No. 1 oil producer in August. The U.S. Energy Information Administration expects global oil supply to meet demand in 2019 even without Iranian oil.

The U.S. has powered its energy renaissance with a cascade of innovation. America now produces more energy than anyone would have thought possible a few years ago. Between August 2017 and August 2018, U.S. crude oil production increased by 2.1 million barrels a day, the largest year-on-year increase in U.S. history.

And it only gets better: Crude-oil exports are expected nearly to double by 2020. When infrastructure projects in West Texas’ Permian Basin come online late next year, production will expand further. New cross-border pipelines will help Mexico and Canada increase their supply as well.

The U.S. is rising to world energy leadership at precisely the moment its abundance is most needed. America’s new energy bounty gives us leverage to hold Iran accountable as never before. While entities that flout our sanctions will face the full weight of U.S. economic power, those jurisdictions on a clear path to zero Iranian imports may be granted temporary exemptions to allow time to comply fully.

Empowered by its new energy arsenal that can free the world from reliance on Iranian oil, the U.S. will apply relentless pressure on Tehran until its leaders alter their destructive behavior and return to the negotiating table. Until then, the Iranian regime must remain isolated from the global economy. The international community eagerly awaits the participation of an Iran prepared to abide by basic norms of international conduct.

Iran hit by computer virus more violent than Stuxnet

Tehran strategic networks attacked, Hadashot TV says, hours after Israel revealed it tipped off Denmark about Iran murder plot, and days after Rouhani’s phone was found bugged

Iranian infrastructure and strategic networks have come under attack in the last few days by a computer virus similar to Stuxnet but “more violent, more advanced and more sophisticated...” ....

The report came hours after Israel said its Mossad intelligence agency had thwarted an Iranian murder plot in Denmark, and two days after Iran acknowledged that President Hassan Rouhani’s mobile phone had been bugged. 

It also follows a string of Israeli intelligence coups against Iran, including the extraction from Tehran in January by the Mossad of the contents of a vast archive documenting Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and the detailing by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the UN in September of other alleged Iranian nuclear and missile assets inside Iran, in Syria and in Lebanon.

“Remember Stuxnet, the virus that penetrated the computers of the Iranian nuclear industry?” the report on Israel’s Hadashot news asked. Iran “has admitted in the past few days that it is again facing a similar attack, from a more violent, more advanced and more sophisticated virus than before, that has hit infrastructure and strategic networks.”

The Iranians, the TV report went on, are “not admitting, of course, how much damage has been caused.”

On Sunday, Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran’s civil defense agency, said ...
“Recently we discovered a new generation of Stuxnet which consisted of several parts … and was trying to enter our systems...”
...Earlier Wednesday, Israeli officials said the Mossad provided its Danish counterpart with information concerning an alleged plot by Tehran to assassinate three Iranian opposition figures living in the Scandinavian country. According to the officials, the Mossad gave Denmark information about a plot to kill three Iranians suspected of belonging to the anti-regime Arab Struggle Movement for the Liberation of Ahvaz.

The intelligence reportedly provided by the Mossad prompted the arrest of a Norwegian national of Iranian origin earlier this month. Denmark on Tuesday recalled its ambassador to Iran over the incident.

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Farmers and Fighters: The Making of the Land

From Tablet, October 2018, by Douglas Feith:

The arrival at the 1920 Cairo Conference of Sir Herbert Samuel, H.B.M. high commissioner, etc. Col. Lawrence, Emir Abdullah, Air Marshal Sir Geoffrey Salmond and Sir Wyndham Deedes

...For the 400 years before World War I, Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire, so it was owned by the Turks, not by the Arabs, let alone by the Arabs of Palestine. 

Palestine is an old but imprecise geographical term. It remained imprecise because there was never a country called Palestine. Even when—long ago— it was under Arab rule, Palestine was never ruled by its own Arab inhabitants.

So it’s not accurate to say that Palestine was a country, nor to say it was Arab land. Neither the Jews nor the British stole it from the Arabs. The original Zionists came to Palestine without the backing of any imperialist or colonialist power. They bought the land on which they settled. And before Britain invaded Palestine in World War I, the Ottoman Turks had joined Germany and attacked Allied forces.

Was it an injustice for Britain to issue the Balfour Declaration in favor of a Jewish national home in Palestine? The question is of more than historical interest for it relates to the current controversy about Israel’s nation-state law, which was adopted this past July. Among other controversial things, that law said,
“The fulfillment of the right of national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.”
Consider the Balfour Declaration’s context. When the British war cabinet approved it on Oct. 31, 1917, the world was more than three years into the Great War, the catastrophe now known as World War I, which ultimately destroyed four major empires. Britain was fighting for its life and, because the war was going badly, the government of British Prime Minister H.H. Asquith had fallen at the end of 1916 and David Lloyd George had come to power.

Lloyd George was singularly attuned to the importance of propaganda. He was the first British prime minister in history who had grown up poor. His childhood home didn’t have running water. His political rise testified to the democratization of politics and the power of public opinion.

Within 48 hours after he became prime minister, his cabinet resolved to review British propaganda worldwide. He hoped to win more popular support for the Allies in Greece, Italy, Russia, America and elsewhere. Among British propaganda’s many target audiences was world Jewry. Not unreasonably, the Jews generally were seen as pro-Zionist, with useful influence especially in revolutionary Russia and in Woodrow Wilson’s America.

By embracing Zionism, the British government wanted to give Jews a particular interest in Allied victory. In his memoirs, Lloyd George explained that the Balfour Declaration was “part of our propagandist strategy,” its timing “determined by considerations of war policy.”

In other words, colonialism didn’t bring Britain to Palestine. Britain didn’t seize Palestine from an unoffending native population. It conquered the land not from the Arabs, but from Turkey, which (as noted) had joined Britain’s enemies in the war. The Arabs in Palestine fought for Turkey against Britain. The land was enemy territory.   

Supporting Zionism appealed to Lloyd George, Balfour and other officials not just on strategic grounds, but also for moral reasons. They sympathized with the Jewish national cause. Zionism was an answer to the historical Jewish question, a way to remedy some of the harm shamefully done to the Jewish people over history. And it would give Jews an opportunity to normalize their place in the world, by building up a national center and a refuge, a country in their ancient homeland where they could become the majority and enjoy self-determination as a people

When those officials were young men, George Eliot, in her influential 1876 novel Daniel Deronda, foresaw the creation of a movement to create a “new Jewish polity.” The Jews then, she wrote, in the voice of a Jewish character, “shall have an organic centre” and “the outraged Jew shall have a defense in the court of nations, as the outraged Englishman or American. And the world will gain as Israel gains.” That character continued, “[L]et there be another great migration, another choosing of Israel to be a nationality whose members may still stretch to the ends of the earth, even as the sons of England and Germany, whom enterprise carries afar, but who still have a national hearth and a tribunal of national opinion. . . .  Who says that the history and literature of our race are dead? Are they not as living as the history and literature of Greece and Rome, which have inspired revolutions . . .? These were an inheritance dug from the tomb. Ours is an inheritance that has never ceased to quiver in millions of human frames.” Lloyd George, Balfour, Winston Churchill and other British leaders in the Great War era echoed the lyrical pro-Jewish sympathy of Eliot’s best-selling novel.

The Balfour Declaration, like Israel’s recent Jewish nation-state law, distinguished between a people’s national rights and the civil and religious rights of individuals. After endorsing “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people,” the Balfour Declaration said, “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Critics have argued that it wronged Palestine’s Arabs to deny them a national home in Palestine and it was arrogant to think that they’d be content with civil and religious rights within a Jewish-majority state. But there are other ways of seeing the matter. How did the British decision makers view it at the time?

They didn’t consider Palestine in isolation. It was a small part of a vast region that British forces were conquering from the Turks. Though most Arabs had fought for the Turks, the Allies would put the Arab people on the path to independence and national self-determination throughout that vast region. But the tiny Holy Land had a unique status. It was territory in which Christians and Jews worldwide had profound interests. 

That the Arabs composed a single people was a basic principle of the Arab nationalist movement. In February 1919, for example, the first Palestinian Congress took pains to explain why Palestine was not a country. Its resolutions said that Palestine had never been divided from Syria. It declared that Palestinians and Syrians were one people connected “by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.” Palestine’s Arabs were not viewed–neither by British officials nor by their own leaders—as a separate nation. (This changed later, of course, but that was later.)

The idea that a small segment of the Arab people – the Palestinian Arabs – would someday live in a Jewish-majority country was not thought of as a unique problem. There were similar issues in Europe. After World War I, new nations were created or revived: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Hungary, for example. Inevitably, some people would have to live as a minority in neighboring states. Seven hundred thousand Hungarians would become a minority in Czechoslovakia, almost 400,000 in Yugoslavia and 1.4 million in Romania. Where they were a minority, they would have individual rights, but not collective rights. That is, ethnic Hungarians would not have national rights of self-determination in Romania, but only in Hungary.

The principle applicable to European minorities applied also to the Arabs of Palestine. In any given country, only one people can be the majority, so only one can enjoy national self-determination there. The Arab people would eventually rule themselves in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Arabia. They were going to end up in control of virtually all the land they claimed for themselves. They naturally wanted to be the majority everywhere. But then, the Jews could be the majority nowhere. The victorious Allies did not consider that just. 

If Zionism succeeded, Palestine’s Arabs would eventually live as a minority in a democratic Jewish-majority country. This was an imposition, but as British leaders saw it, a relatively minor one for the Arab people as a whole. In 1922, Arthur Balfour addressed the criticism that Britain had been “unjust to the Arab race.” “Of all the charges made against this country,” he said, that “seems to me the strangest.” It was, he recalled, “through the expenditure largely of British blood, by the exercise of British skill and valour, by the conduct of British generals, by troops brought from all parts of the British Empire . . . that the freeing of the Arab race from Turkish rule has been effected.” He went on, “That we . . . who have just established a King in Mesopotamia, who had before that established an Arab King in the Hejaz, and who have done more than has been done for centuries past to put the Arab race in the position to which they have attained—that we should be charged with being their enemies, with having taken a mean advantage of the course of international negotiations, seems to me not only most unjust to the policy of this country, but almost fantastic in its extravagance.”

In the British war cabinet debates about Zionism, one of the main opponents of the Balfour Declaration was the brilliant conservative aristocrat Lord Curzon. He described Palestine as a “poor land,” small and arid, abounding in “malaria, fever, opthalmia and other ailments,” and ruined by “centuries of neglect and misrule.” He said it would be unable for many years to support a substantial increase in its population, which was around 700,000. He saw the Jews as particularly unsuited to Palestine’s requirements. The land’s challenges, he said, called for the agricultural skills of a people “inured to agriculture.” He added archly that the Jews are “to a large extent trained in other industries and professions.”

...The Jews would not be able to defend themselves, he implied, so they would indefinitely be a burden on the British. “A long vista of anxiety, vicissitude and expense lies before those who desire to rebuild the [Jewish] national home,” he predicted.

... according to Curzon, Zionism was doomed because the Jews couldn’t farm and couldn’t fight. He set out his analysis in a memorandum that was eloquent, reasonable and hard to contradict. But it was wrong. The degree to which the Jews disproved Curzon’s skepticism is, I think, astonishing. They learned how to farm and how to fight.

In fact, their military skills have driven their enemies to concentrate on political battlefields. Hence the ideological war now being waged against Israel–at the United Nations, on university campuses, in newspapers and elsewhere. The campaign to delegitimate Israel has been scoring successes. The efforts to counter that campaign have often proven inept. That too I find astonishing.

In the arena of argumentation, the Jews are practiced, having continuously honed their debating skills since Abraham questioned God about Sodom. They should be formidable in explaining why Israel is not colonialist and refuting other calumnies. Yet they’re often beaten into retreat by anti-Zionist polemicists. There’s no excuse for it.

Supporters of Zionism should learn their history and reacquaint themselves with the reasons that Zionism became a movement. They should study afresh the case for the Jewish state in the Jewish homeland. If Jews could learn to farm and fight, they can remember how to read a history book.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Replacing UNRWA in Jerusalem

From Times of Israel, 24 Oct 2018:

Nir Barkat walks the streets of Shuafat, meets city sanitation workers who enter Palestinian neighborhood for the first time, as part of plan to replace UNRWA in capital

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, center right, arrives for a tour in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Shuafat. October 22, 2014. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, center right, arrives for a tour in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Shuafat. October 22, 2014. 
(Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat visited Shuafat in East Jerusalem on Tuesday as part of his drive to push the United Nation’s Palestinian refugee organization out of the capital and replace its operations with municipal services.

Barkat met with city sanitation workers who entered the Palestinian neighborhood for the first time ever to carry out trash removal and other cleaning services.

...According to the city, workers found hundreds of tons of untended garbage and construction waste. They will start entering the camp daily to gradually take over what the city called UNRWA’s “inadequate services.”

The municipality will also start to provide “far superior” education, health, and other services to the area, to replace UNRWA, it said in a statement.

While Shuafat is within the Jerusalem city limits, municipal workers, police, and others have never entered ...[the area] which is situated beyond the West Bank security barrier, leading to charges of official neglect. Barkat, who has been mayor since 2008, has blamed the shortfall in services on UNRWA, which has recently had its funding slashed by the US, amid accusations that it serves as a political tool against Israel.

“The era of UNRWA in Jerusalem is over,” Barkat said during his visit. “The time has come to stop the refugee lie in Jerusalem. There are no refugees in our city, only residents. They must receive their services from the municipality like any other resident.

“We are implementing the first phase of the UNRWA evacuation plan by taking responsibility for the cleanliness of the camp, and in the near future, together with the government, we will also provide education, welfare, and health services there until full sovereignty is achieved,” he added. “The United States does not want UNRWA, Israel does not want UNRWA, and the residents do not want UNRWA.”
Earlier this month, Barkat detailed his proposal, according to which the seven UNRWA-run schools — with a total of 1,800 students — that operate without a license from the Education Ministry will be closed at the end of the current academic year, and the pupils absorbed into existing municipal schools.

The municipality will also issue closure orders for UNRWA’s medical centers, which operate without approval from the Health Ministry, and construct a new public health center in their place, Barkat said.

Existing UNRWA-run welfare programs operating within Shuafat and nearby Kufr Aqeb will continue, but will be transferred to the governance municipality welfare and employment services, according to Barkat’s plan.

The Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem. 
(Miriam Alster/Flash90)

...The United States was the biggest contributor to the agency’s budget in 2017, donating $350 million. The US State Department said recently it would no longer fund UNRWA because it was “irredeemably flawed.”

In its announcement of the cuts to UNRWA, the US State Department castigated the agency for what it called “failed practices,” and indicated that it rejected the criteria by which UNRWA defines Palestinian refugees, conferring refugee status not only on original refugees, but on their millions of descendants.

UNRWA has provided aid to millions of Palestinians since it was established nearly 70 years ago, just after Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.

UNRWA recognizes over 5 million Palestinians as refugees, even though there are only several tens of thousands of original Palestinian refugees still alive. Palestinian leaders demand a “right of return” to today’s Israel for all these millions — a demand Israel sees as a bid to destroy Israel as a majority-Jewish state. Because UNRWA, uniquely, confers refugee status on descendants of the original refugees, Israel charges UNRWA with perpetuating that demand for a “return” of millions. Under the UN’s global criteria, it is estimated that there would be only some half a million recognized Palestinian refugees.

The money that disappeared

Historian Kobby Barda has found a lost chapter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: After World War II, the U.S. gave Israel and Arab nations $1.5 billion to solve the Middle East refugee problem. But only Israel lived up to its end of the deal.

Palestinian refugees leaving the Galilee, November 1948 |  Photo: AP

Kobby Barda couldn't believe what he was seeing. While researching the establishment of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee under the auspices of the Ruderman Program for American Jewish Studies at the University of Haifa, Barda found his way to the personal archive of one Isaiah Leo "Si" Kenen, a Canadian-born lawyer, journalist and philanthropist who was one of the founders of the pro-Israel lobby.

Researcher Kobby Barda: The American aid deal rebalances the historical narrative
Photo: Tal Givoni

Among the many documents that record in detail Kenen's work in the first years of Israel's existence as a state, Barda discovered a lost chapter in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the start of the 1950s, in addition to pouring money into the Marshall Plan to rehabilitate Europe after World War II, the U.S. decided to provide money to Arab states and Israel so they could find a solution to the refugee problem created by the 1948 War of Independence.

The American aid earmarked to solve the issue of Middle East refugees was supposed to have been split evenly between Israel and the Arab states, with each side receiving $50 million to build infrastructure to absorb refugees. The money to take in the Arab refugees was handed over to the U.N. agency founded to address the issue of Palestinian refugees, and the Americans gave Arab countries another $53 million for "technical cooperation." In effect, the Arab side received double the money given to Israel, even though Israel took in more refugees, including ones from Arab nations – Jews who had been displaced by the regional upheavals. The amount Congress allocated to provide for Middle East refugees – Jewish and Arab – at the request of then-President Harry Truman was equal to $1.5 billion today.

"When I saw the documents, I was in complete shock," Barda says.

"The U.S. undertook to fund a solution to the refugee problem in the Middle East. A message Harry S. Truman sent Congress explicitly says that this is where the matter ends. It was a commitment the president made in a letter to convince Congress to vote for the aid bill. In other words, an important chapter in the history of the conflict has been lost, simply swept away by history. The people who worked on it aren't alive anymore, and there's no one who will put it back on the table. Now, when the Trump Administration is coming up with new ideas to solve the conflict and address the refugee issue, the information takes on new relevance.

"In hindsight, the Americans have already paid to have the Palestinian refugees accommodated, but they are still defined as refugees and still living in refugee camps. Israel, on the other hand, has taken in [Jewish] refugees from Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Morocco, given them citizenship, and ended the matter. In Jordan, where most of the Palestinian refugees wound up and which signed the aid deal with the U.S. – unlike Syria, which refused – there are still Palestinian refugee camps. This is the asymmetry that has been created in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it's very important to the historical narrative and to any future attempt to reach an agreement," Barda explains.
...In May 1952, Truman sent a message to Congress explaining the importance of passing a law for international aid and laying out his vision for the Middle East. Truman said that Israel and the Arab countries needed a regional approach to basic problems of economic development, which he called "vital" to easing existing tensions that were mainly the result of a satisfactory solution to the refugee problem.

Truman said that the aid he was proposing for Arab nations would allow them to produce more food and develop their water infrastructures, whereas the aid to Israel would help the young state sustain its economy in a crucial time of national development. Moreover, the president argued, aiding Arab refugees from Israel would serve three purposes: It would help their new home countries; strengthen the countries where they settled; and help Israel and the Arab countries by eliminating the refugee problem, which he said presented a "serious threat" to peace in the region.

Barda sees this as an enormous miss for Israeli foreign policy and public diplomacy.
"This information completely changes the perspective on the matter of [the Palestinians'] right of return. There are two nascent sides, both of whom a rich uncle agreed to pay so they could solve their problems about the refugees once and for all, just like what happened in the population exchanges between Greece and Turkey after World War I, and in the spirit of the action taken to rehome the German refugees in central and eastern Europe, who after World War II were returned to Germany, partly through the Marshall Plan. Both sides received hefty sums of money and were told: take compensation and let's move on," Barda says.
"Israel took in refugees from Arab countries and didn't perpetuate their status by giving them any different status [here]. Arab counties didn't do that – even though it was clear that the Americans had given them the money so they could feed the refugees, develop agriculture, provide housing and employment for them – in addition to the aid that was transferred directly to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency.
"If today [U.S. President] Donald Trump really wants to make a move toward creating a mechanism of compensation for the refugees, particularly with Jordan, where most of them live, he can take into account that any additional compensation will in effect be superfluous. This story could be a very powerful card to play, as Jordan and other countries have already received money to take in refugees," Barda says...
An exclusive agency for the Palestinians
Only a few days before the law passed, Deputy Secretary of State George McGhee addressed the Senate and told legislators that the regional economic plan included three parts: direct aid to Arab countries, direct aid to Israel, and helping the U.N. coordinate the matter of refugees from Arab countries.

Barda says that this is exactly the idea Kenen was pushing for in the first place.

"UNRWA was established in 1949, started operating in 1950, and in 1960 declared that its work was done. But then, under pressure from Arab countries, it was decided to extend its mandate. It's a unique organization because there is a high commission in the U.N. that deals with refugees from all over the world, and a special authority established to handle only the Palestinian issue. On the other hand, no one established any agency for Jewish refugees in Israel.
"The American aid plan rebalances the historical narrative. The U.S. undertook to pay both sides to put an end to the refugee issue. Israel also played a part in the equation. There was drama the entire time it took to get the aid approved, which was the first U.S. foreign aid to Israel. They were always trying to cut down the amount. This story doesn't exist in history books. In contemporary journalism, it is mentioned offhand. Kenen's archive opened my eyes and let me see the full picture and understand what happened and why it provides us with a lot of armor,"
Barda says.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

U.S. Told Palestinians “The Double Game is Over”

From TheTower, 13 Sept 2018:

...“the double game is over.”

Image result for devious abbas

... the PA’s leadership has, during the past four years, “abandoned” any pretense of negotiating peace with Israel, as required by the Oslo Accords. Instead... “they’ve attempted to attack Israel through third parties, through international organizations, like the UN, and like the European Union.”

By closing the PLO offices in Washington, the Trump administration was “pushing back,” and telling the PA that “the double game is over.” ...U.S. was telling the PA, “You cannot pretend to be involved in a peace process when you have not sat down at a table and negotiated for the last four years, all the while using international forums to bash Israel and to sponsor and support terrorism against Israelis.”

... the PA’s “pay to slay” program, where the families of jailed terrorists are given lifetime stipends. ... incentivizes terror, as it pays greater rewards to terrorists who are convicted  of murder.

An organization that pays rewards to terrorists... “is not an organization that is committed to peace,” rather it “is an organization that sponsors terror.”

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has consistently rebuffed demands from President Donald Trump to stop funding terror, and insisted that he will continue paying those who kill Israelis.

“For years the Palestinians have had it both ways,” ...“They’ve been treated with international diplomatic status on the one hand, by the West, for participating in this peace process, while actually engaging in terror and not sincerely negotiating.”

The PA... has rejected the Trump administration’s peace plan, sight unseen, showing that “they are not serious about negotiating for peace.” The administration, in turn, has made it clear to the PA that if it supports terror and refuses negotiations, “there will be consequences.”...

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

New Israel Fund tries to block deportation of terrorist’s family

From World Israel News,  October 2, 2018:
“It is delusional that the governments of Europe and the New Israel Fund provide legal protection to lowly terrorists,” said the parents of terror victim Shir Hajaj.

New Israel Fund behind effort to block deportation of terrorist’s family
Herzl Hajaj, father of terror victim 
(Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

HaMoked Center for the Defence of the Individual, a New Israel Fund-supported legal group, is assisting relatives of terrorist Fadi al-Qanbar, who murdered four Israeli soldiers in a truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem in January 2017.

The Jerusalem appeals court on Tuesday ruled that al-Kanaber’s relatives, who are not Israeli citizens, be deported. The family is also considered a security threat as some have ties to ISIS, according to state information.

...The Hajaj family submitted a request to be added as respondents to the appeal alongside the government. They are being assisted by Im Tirtzu, a pro-Israel NGO based in Jerusalem.

...First Lieutenant Shir Hajaj, 22, [is] one of the four victims murdered by al-Qanbar during an officer training course at the Haas Promenade in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem. 

Also killed were 

  • Lt. Yael Yekutiel, 20, from Givatayim; 
  • Shira Tzur, 20, from Haifa, and 
  • Erez Orbach, 20, from Alon Shvut.

Rethink 'The Israeli Solution'

From Arutz Sheva, 13 Sept 2018, by Martin Sherman:

...Events of the past weeks have highlighted the incipient disloyalty—or at least the evident passive lack of loyalty—of significant sectors of the Israeli-Arab population to Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and a clear rejection of the fundamental precepts on which the State of Israel was founded.

It also cast grave doubts on the feasibility—and advisability—of most of the currently touted “Right” -wing proposals for the extension of Israeli sovereignty over Judea-Samaria.

A catalog of repudiation of Jewish sovereignty
Following the racist cacophony of the Israeli-Arabs in the wake of the legislation of the Nationality Bill in July, denying the Jewish people the right to a sovereign nation-state (despite the constitutional assurance of civil equality for non-Jewish minorities), a series of several other disturbing events took place.
  • In the coastal Arab village of Jisr-al-Zarka, about 40 km south of Haifa, two incidents of assault on state symbols by local residents took place. The one involved shots being fired in early August on the police station in the village, recently established as part of a wider initiative to bolster enforcement of law and order in the largely lawless Arab sector. The other entailed an attempt, on August 15, by two other residents to remove the Israeli flag flying over the station.
  • Two days later, Ahmed Muhammad Mahameed, a resident of another Israeli-Arab town, Umm-al-Fahm, attempted to stab an Israeli policeman in Jerusalem, and was shot dead.
  • Despite the family’s undertaking to hold a small, unobtrusive burial, the funeral swiftly developed into a mass demonstration, with crowds brandishing Palestinian flags and loudly chanting anti-Israel slogans.

Significantly, this public display of anti-Israeli sentiment was strongly reminiscent of the events that took place in Umm-al Fahm, just over a year ago, at the funerals of three residents of the town who were killed after they gunned down two Israeli police officers on the Temple Mount.

  • Then, just a few days ago, it was reported that Arab Knesset members of the Joint List were colluding with members of the Palestinian delegation at the UN to initiate measures of censure against Israel.

Sustained support for the enemy
Clearly then, after over seven decades of living under Israeli sovereignty, after benefiting hugely from the civil equality afforded them (despite repeated instances of expressed affiliation with Israel’s most vehement foes), Israeli Arabs still find it difficult to accept—never mind, identify with—foundational fundamentals on which Israel was established—as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Despite having experienced the societal and economic advantages those fundamentals have brought them—particularly compared to the penury and violence in the surrounding states, founded on very different ones—they continue to demonstrate that they cannot abide the notion of Jewish sovereignty over the land.

In the 2015 elections, well over 80% of the Arab electorate voted for the overtly anti-Zionist Joint List, a motley amalgam of political factions... whose only common ideological bond -- its very raison d’etre—is the rejection of the Jewish character of Israel.
Thus, in the 2015 elections, well over 80% of the Arab electorate voted for the overtly anti-Zionist Joint List, a motley amalgam of political factions, ranging from radical communists to Muslim fundamentalists, whose only common ideological bond –indeed its very raison d’etre—is the rejection of the Jewish character of Israel.

Indeed, its elected officials, arguably among those who have benefited most from the socio-political order, have been the most vehement in their overt support for Israel’s most virulent enemies.
Thus, Azmi Bishara, founder of the Balad party, currently part of the Joint List, gave a speech in Umm al-Fahm in 2001—as a Knesset member—deploring Israel's victory in the Six-Day War.

Praising Hezbollah
Later the same year, he visited Syria, giving a speech mourning the death of Syria's President, Hafez al-Assad, and expressing solidarity with Syria's and Hezbollah's fight against Israel. (Significantly in light of the current debate of the role of the judiciary in the political process, the Israeli Supreme Court refused to remove Bishara’s parliamentary immunity to allow his prosecution for aiding an enemy state and terror organization.)

Shortly after the 2006 Second Lebanon War, Bihsara arrived again in Syria and together with other members of his Balad party (including Jamal Zahalka , currently head of Balad) visited Lebanon, where they met the Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora. The Israeli Knesset members expressed their support for Hezbollah, praising the terror organization’s military action against Israel, informing the Lebanese PM that it had "lifted the spirit of the Arab people[sic]”.

It was thus not totally unexpected to hear that in 2007, Bishara had fled the country under suspicion of aiding Hezbollah during the Second Lebanon War, later resigning his seat in the Knesset.

Then, of course, there is Haneen Zouabi, who chose to participate in the infamous flotilla initiated by the terrorist-affiliated jihadist Turkish organization, IHH on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, endeavoring to break the security cordon imposed on Gaza. Zouabi, another Balad member, and currently an  MK of the Joint List, is on recordproclaiming that the very concept of a Jewish state was "inherently racist" and expressing support for Iran’s nuclear program, which she endorsed as necessary to balance Israel’s military power, which she identified as the major regional danger.

Smuggling cellphones to terrorists
Another Joint List MK, Basel Ghattas, was caught, in late 2016, smuggling cell phones and SIM cards to convicted terrorists in an Israeli prison under cover of his parliamentary immunity. Ghattas resigned his Knesset seat and is currently serving a prison sentence for aiding a terrorist organization and a string of other offences.

Just months ago, Jamal Zahalka , who succeed Bishara as head of Balad, (today also a Joint List MK), declared that he “would rather die than sing the Israeli national anthem”—i.e. rather die than sing the anthem of the country in whose parliament he serves. As for the national flag he declared: “It’s a lot worse than a rag”.

Last but not least, there is Ahmad Tibi, who before being elected as an MK, served as a political advisor to the arch-terrorist, Yasser Arafat. Tibi, today also a Joint List MK, is a declared anti-Zionist who opposes Israel's character as a Jewish state, claiming that its self-definition as Jewish is racist. He rejects, across the board, elements that reflect the Jewish nature of Israel—including the Law of Return, the flag, and the national anthem. Tibi, as an Israeli legislator, opposes the recruitment of Arab citizens of Israel into the IDF while supporting the Palestinian right of return, calling it a prerequisite for reconciliation.
An incandescent “red light”
The reason that I catalogue these instances is to underscore the political sentiments of the Israeli-Arabs as a collective, reflected in the parties and the individuals they vote for. After decades of life as fully enfranchised citizens under Israeli sovereignty, they—and certainly their elected representatives—resist and resent the Jewish nature of the state, in which they live and which has bestowed on them such far-reaching societal benefits—notwithstanding their clear sentiments of affiliation with Israel’s implacable foes.

The fact that incipient enmity exists—indeed, persists--despite the relative social and material advantages the Israeli-Arabs enjoy relative to those of their kinfolk across Israel’s borders, should serve as an incandescent red light to well-meaning proponents of extending Israeli sovereignty over Judea-Samaria together with the Arab population resident there.
One of the best known proposals—arguably, the best known—is that of the prominent columnist, Caroline Glick, which she elaborates on in her 2014 book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.

To briefly summarize the gist of her proposal, in her own words, Glick writes: The mechanics of the policy are fairly straightforward. Israel will apply its laws to Judea and Samaria and govern the areas as normal parts of Israel…Contingent on security concerns…Palestinians will have the right to travel and live anywhere they wish within Israeli territory…Palestinians will have the same legal and civil rights as the rest of the residents and citizens of Israel… Those that receive Israeli citizenship in accordance with Israel’s Citizenship Law will also be allowed to vote in national elections for the Knesset.

Unfounded optimism vs. bitter experience
Glick bases her proposal on “alternative” demographic assessments that the Muslim population in Judea-Samaria is grossly inflated. But even granting that this is correct, her proposal involves doubling the current number of Muslims in Israel’s permanent population. Moreover, as Glick acknowledges herself, this additional population has for generations, been “fed…a steady diet of jihadist and Nazi-style anti-Semitism” by means of the “Palestinian school system and media and appointed imams in mosques”.

 Glick appears to be alive to the problematic potential this entails, writing: … suddenly reducing the Jewish majority from 75 percent to 66 percent will undoubtedly have unforeseeable consequences on Israeli politics.” However, I fear that the consequences may well be entirely foreseeable and equally detrimental.

Optimistically, she predicts: “an Israeli assertion of central authority over the areas will likely have a significant moderating impact. Once the population feels there is a central governing authority in place, that sense of order will likely neutralize a significant amount of opposition momentum spurred by anti-Israel animus.”

This of course stands in stark contrast to the evidence of recent weeks among Israeli-Arabs, which offers persuasive proof that despite decades of assertion of central authority” this has done little, if anything, “to neutralize …anti-Israel animus”. Indeed, one can only wonder with grave concern just how such anti-Israel animus might be spurred by doubling the Muslim population, fed for generations with “a steady diet of jihadist and Nazi-style anti-Semitism”.

The irrelevance of initial Jewish majority
After all, even if the optimistic demographic assessments are correct, her prescription will still entail a Muslim minority of 35-40%. This, in itself, will have far reaching implications both for budget allocations and the socio-economic fabric of the country.

Clearly, with a recalcitrant minority of this size, including many of whom (as Glick herself acknowledges) have been taught for decades to hate Jews and who vehemently reject the Jewish character of the state, its symbols, calendar and conduct of public life, it will be impossible to forge a coherent and cohesive society. Rather, the result is likely to be pervasive inter-ethnic strife, even violence, and the Lebanonization of Israeli society.
Moreover, as I have pointed out elsewhere, the addition of the Arab residents of Judea-Samaria to Israel’s permanent population will compel a massive diversion of resources to reduce, in some measure, the yawning gaps in the socio-economic conditions that exist between the Muslim population beyond the pre-1967 lines and the rest of the Israel. This will inevitably siphon off funds currently utilized for enhancing infrastructure, welfare, education and so on, dramatically lowering the standard and quality of life for the existing citizenry.
The combination of deteriorating economic conditions and increasing interethnic friction will give rise to a detrimental demographic dynamic—making Israel an increasingly less attractive destination for Jews abroad and a decreasingly appealing place of residence for the Jewish population in Israel. The almost certain result will be diminished Aliyah (Jewish immigration) and accelerated Yeridah (Jewish emigration), eroding the Jewish numerical majority and imperiling the Zionist electoral majority—especially in the light of the recent behavior of Left wing factions in the wake of the “Nationality Bill”.

Evacuation-Compensation for Arabs as sole Zionist-compliant policy
Accordingly, the prescription advanced by Glick in calling for a “A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East”entailing extension of Israeli sovereignty over Judea-Samaria—including the Arab population—will jeopardize the Zionist enterprise no less—arguably more so—than the two-state paradigm, which she rightly repudiates with great force and eloquence.
As the year draws to a close I would urge her to rethink the positions she has hitherto adopted and consider charting a different course.

So, while I completely concur with her that Israeli sovereignty must be extended from the “River to the Sea,” I call on her to endorse a vigorous program of incentivized emigration (a.k.a. Evacuation – Compensation) for the Arab residents in Judea-Samaria as the only non-“kinetic” policy prescription that can adequately address Israel’s geographic imperative and its demographic one—if it is to endure as the nation state of the Jewish people.
After all, the principle of “Evacuation – Compensation” is often advanced for the removal of Jewish residents in Judea-Samaria—to facilitate the establishment of yet another homophobic, misogynistic Muslim-majority tyranny (a.k.a. a Palestinian state).

So why not rather advance the same principle for the evacuation-compensation of the Arab residents of Judea-Samaria–-to prevent the establishment of such a homophobic, misogynistic tyranny…?

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Jeremy Corbyn and the Socialism of Fools

From WSJ, Sept. 10, 2018, by Walter Russell Mead:

At the root of his bigotry is a Marxist hatred of capitalist U.S. ‘imperialism.’

Jeremy Corbyn, Sept. 10.
Jeremy Corbyn, Sept. 10. 

That Jeremy Corbyn, who hopes someday to occupy the office previously held by Winston Churchill, Benjamin Disraeli and William Pitt, is an anti-Semite seems no longer in question. No anti-Israeli terrorist entity is too drenched in Jewish blood for him to cheer on. Hamas, Hezbollah, the mullahs of Iran—their sins against freedom of speech, against freedom of assembly, and against women and gays may be crimson, but if they hate the Jewish state enough, Labour has a leader who will wash them as white as snow.

But not all anti-Semites are alike. Different forms of anti-Semitism can have very different consequences. What kind does Jeremy Corbyn profess, and how does it relate to the rest of his worldview?

Mr. Corbyn and his colleagues in the hard-left Labour elite are, above all, modern. They don’t hate the Jews for killing Christ as medieval Christians did. They don’t think the Jews use the blood of gentile children to make matzoh. Whatever some of the less enlightened members of Mr. Corbyn’s base among the British Muslim community may think, the secular Labour elite doesn’t blame the Jews for rejecting Muhammed.

Nor is their hatred racial. Mr. Corbyn’s worldview is blinkered and sadly skewed, but he is neither wicked nor delusional enough to imagine that the Jewish “race” is competing with the “Aryan” Anglo-Saxons to dominate the world.

It is Zionism that drives Mr. Corbyn’s anti-Jewish passion. He is not anti-Israel because some or even many of Israel’s policies are wrong. He is existentially anti-Zionist. He does not believe that the Jewish people are a nation. From this point of view, the notorious U.N. Resolution 3379 of 1975 got it exactly right: Zionism is racism, and the Jewish state is racist to the core.

What elevates the Jewish state from an irritation to an obsession in the Corbynite world is Israel’s relationship with the U.S. The U.S. is the center of international capitalism. Destroying American capitalism and the imperialist system it imposes on the world is the overarching goal of the Marxist zealotry that drives Mr. Corbyn’s worldview and justifies his sympathy for otherwise dubious regimes. The Iranian mullahs may hang homosexuals and stone the occasional adulteress, but in the all-important struggle against American imperialism and its Zionist sidekick, they are a natural and necessary part of the Resistance.

It’s a short step for hard-left Labour from hating Israel to finding “Zionist” conspiracies on every side. Marxism typically rejects liberal democracy as a sham. Rich and powerful capitalists make all the big decisions: They control the political parties, they control the press, and they use the facade of democratic politics to amuse, befuddle and ultimately control the masses. From this standpoint, conspiracy thinking isn’t a sign of ignorance or emotionalism; to the contrary, perceiving the hidden plots of our true rulers is a necessary and vital step in seeing through the myth of liberal democracy.

The hard-line Marxist and the classic anti-Semite agree that the world is really run by a cabal of greedy men behind closed doors. But where the Marxist sees capitalist string-pullers, some of whom may happen to be Jewish, the anti-Semite sees only Jews. This is the meaning behind the famous statement, once popular on the European left, that anti-Semitism is the “socialism of fools”: the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories are too narrow and miss the real point.

But for Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour colleagues, the perceived special relationship between American imperialism and Zionism collapses the distinction between the socialism of fools and the “real” thing. The urban legend that “the Jews” control America’s Middle Eastern policy and that Jewish power forces the U.S. to march in lockstep with right-wing Israeli governments is also an organizing principle of the Corbynite worldview. The supposed control exerted by Zionist Jewish billionaires over American politics makes the fight against imperialism also a fight against a powerful Jewish conspiracy.

Those ideas, as any serious student of American politics or of the American Jewish community knows, are nonsensical. In every presidential election of the 21st century, American Jews have given significantly more money and votes to Democratic than to Republican candidates. If the American Jewish community controlled American politics, President Trump would still be hosting a television show and there would be no U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem.

Yet myths are no less powerful because they are false. Mr. Corbyn’s outlook will lead any government he forms into deep trouble and frustration, but that in itself won’t keep him out of Downing Street. Liberalism today may face its deepest crisis in the country that gave the liberal tradition to the world.

Shutting Down the PLO

From WSJ, Sept. 10, 2018, by The Editorial Board:

The U.S. stops indulging Palestinian hostility to Israel.

The Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
The Washington office of the Palestine Liberation Organization. 

The Trump Administration is blowing the whistle on the Palestine Liberation Organization, and it would be hard to identify a more overdue reality check in U.S. foreign policy.

The Administration announced Monday that it is closing the PLO’s Washington office, citing lack of progress on peace negotiations. The PLO began as a terrorist organization but was allowed to open an office in Washington in 1994 after the Oslo accords produced hope for a new era of reconciliation between the PLO and Israel.

That hope has never been fulfilled, notably since the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat began the second intifada after walking away from the historic and generous Israeli peace offer brokered by Bill Clinton in 2000. Long-term indulgence of the PLO’s recalcitrance has had the effect of allowing a toxic and reflexive anti-Israel sentiment to build in international institutions, not least among academics and students on U.S. campuses.

The Trump Administration has tried to revive the Israeli-Palestinian talks, but it has also shown less tolerance for Palestinian resistance. Last November Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas used his speech at the United Nations to call for the investigation and prosecution of Israeli officials by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Trump Administration said then that the PLO’s Washington office was at risk of closure.

Mr. Abbas’s call for an investigation of Israel by the ICC was consciously provocative, and the PLO’s Washington office would have known that. The U.S. Congress said in 2015—before Donald Trump became President—that the Secretary of State was required to certify that the PLO wasn’t trying to use the ICC against Israel.

In a speech Monday to the Federalist Society, White House National Security Adviser John Bolton made clear the U.S. will push back hard against any ICC investigation involving members of the U.S. military or the country’s allies.
“The United States... will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court. We will not cooperate with the ICC.”
Meanwhile, late last month the U.S. announced it is permanently cutting funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, or UNRWA, a primary source of Palestinian financial support for decades. The numbers are significant. The U.S. decision will cut off more than $300 million from UNRWA’s $1.24 billion budget. By now the U.N. agency is essentially a shadow government in the Palestinian-held territories. In Gaza alone, there are 274 UNRWA schools with a student population of 280,000.

The point of all this isn’t to be vindictive but to show Mr. Abbas and the PLO that they can't continue to underwrite anti-Semitic textbooks and anti-Israel terrorism without consequences. If the Palestinians want to be treated with the respect of a peace partner, they have to first show a desire for peace.