Saturday, March 15, 2008
Australia cannot be bullied out of backing Israel
SIXTY years after its creation by a UN resolution, any discussion about the state of Israel continues to stir heated debate. Kevin Rudd's statement to federal parliament this week, commemorating Israel's 60th anniversary and offering Australia's continued support and goodwill, gave another insight into the depth of emotions that have so far defeated all efforts to broker a lasting peace between Israel and its neighbours in the middle east.... a collection of individuals and groups, including the militant Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union, took an advertisement in this newspaper to dissociate themselves from the bipartisan support given to Israel.
Correspondence to The Weekend Australian has been further proof that deep divisions contine to exist....
...The Jerusalem Post's columnist Amotz Asa-El, who is visiting Australia, is also critical of Western reporting in the Middle East, which is responsible for shaping public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Asa-El argues that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict receives too much coverage at the expense of reporting on the broader social and political issues that dominate life from Damascus to Algiers. He says under-reporting gives a skewed impression that the Middle East is confined to a small number of people concentrated in a confined area, rather than the quarter-of-a-billion people spread over a wide region whose political future has big implications for the rest of the world.
Ironically, Israel's success in building a tolerant First World society is the reason that many Western journalists base themselves there and concentrate on the familiar narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel's success also explains why many academics have chosen to blame Tel Aviv for the continuing conflict rather than the zealots on the other side who have no interest in any settlement that recognises Israel's right to exist. Neither Hamas nor the Iranian leadership in Tehran that sponsors Hezbollah is interested in any settlement that recognises Israel's existence and they are prepared to use the continued suffering of ordinary Palestinians in a propaganda war to win supporters in the West.....
.... Israel was once widely admired in Left circles for its social innovation, such as the Kibbutz movement and its ability to establish vibrant agriculture in what had formerly been barren, arid areas. But many left-wing thinkers have since turned on Israel as a symbol of colonial power. In doing so, they ignore the UN process that established the state of Israel, as outlined by Mr Rudd in his statement to parliament this week. Australia played a key role in the UN debates....
.....One of the most dangerous misconceptions is that Israel is the source of all Arab or al-Qa'ida hostility towards the West. The truth is, if the US withdrew its support for Israel, radical Islam would still find an endless list of reasons to hate the West. Osama bin Laden and al-Qa'ida did not refer to Israel at all until there was a political reason to do so. Such misconceptions about radical Islam support Asa-El's call for a greater sophistication in reporting of Middle East affairs.
The Weekend Australian supports the bipartisan goodwill shown to Israel in parliament this week that acknowledged the unique relationship that exists between the two countries and the shared commitment to democracy, the rule of law and pluralism. ..... As Brendan Nelson told parliament, in a region of the world that is characterised by theocracies and autocracies, the state of Israel is the custodian of the most fragile yet powerful of human emotions, and that is hopeful belief in the freedom of man, freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of assembly.
[Perth-based readers should note that Amotz Asa-el will visit Perth on Tuesday and Wednesday, 18th-19th March]
The Jewish state is not an intruder in the Middle East. It is the extension and the representative of one of the most ancient civilizations of this part of the world.
... Israel is now home to the most numerous Jewish population on earth and, according to all the experts, the majority of the Jewish people will be living on their ancestral land by 2030. That is the most outstanding victory of the Zionist project.
...Zionism today must face a challenge of a completely different nature: the integration of the Jewish state, this time into its regional environment. The peace process alone will not lead to this integration. We have seen that some Arab countries were obliged, at one time in their history, to recognize the Jewish state. They did so, accepting it as an accomplished fact and not as a natural and legitimate regional component. Real global and lasting peace will come the day Israel's neighbors recognize that the Jewish people are on this land de jure, they are not just there de facto. At the same time, we must not lose sight of the fact that the geopolitical stakes of the Jewish state are also those of a region that trying to find its way. The Middle East is seeking its identity.
Pan-Arabism — an ideology that is in ruins since the disappearance of Saddam Hussein's regime and with the weakening of Baathist Syria — did not lead to a project of construction because it did not take into account the diversity of the region, the specificities of its various identities and the communitarian preoccupations of its minorities. The complexity of national construction cannot be limited to the simple use of a single tongue, but also and necessarily reposes on the convergence of a number of political preoccupations and common interests. Its arbitrary conception of the nation —requiring one to be Arab whether one wishes or not, for the simple reason that one uses Arabic — has ignored legitimate national demands in the midst of a Middle East that, in its majority but not exclusively, speaks Arabic.
Like Pan-Arabism, Pan-Islamism is an exclusivist ideology. By rejecting the modern conception of citizenship, it rejects the idea of non-Muslim civilian participation. Its constitution is immutable (divine right), its program cannot be contested since it originates in the Creator of the world. Absolutist by nature, its discourse excludes non-believers and, consequently, non-Muslims, which explains why the flame of Pan-Arabism was often borne by Christian Arabs, uneasy about the hegemonic designs of political Islam. Finally, the transnational and militant nature of its action rapidly made it clandestine, in relation to existing governments. In spite of the diplomatic blackmail that some authoritarian Arab regimes use by brandishing the Islamic threat (“It's me or the deluge”), this ideology has no future because it is devoid of a realistic or coherent project.
A third and final regional framework is progressively taking shape, with the slow decline of the former two. It is “Middle Easternism”. Israel, that represents the region's only non-Arab and non-Muslim minority, must orient its diplomacy in this direction today. Non-Muslim Arabs (Christian Arabs, Druses, etc.) excluded from the pan Islamic club, still have an honorable place within Pan-Arabism. And non-Arab Muslims (Turks, Iranians, Kurds), excluded from the Pan-Arab club can still join pan Islamism. But the Israelis, being neither Arabs nor Muslims, are doubly a minority.
Joining the ‘club':
The Jewish state is not an intruder in the Middle East. It is the extension and the representative of one of the most ancient civilizations of this part of the world. Everything links Israel to this region: geography, history, culture but also religion and language. The Jewish religion is the primary theological reference and the very foundation of Islam and Oriental Christianity. Hebrew and Arabic are as close to each other as two languages of Latin origin. The contribution of Hebrew civilization to the peoples of this region is undeniable.
To claim that this country is Western is synonymous with denying the legitimacy of its existence: Israel's salvation can only come from its uprooting. The Middle East is the only regional “club” the Jewish state can belong to. To support this membership is tantamount to moving closer to the more moderate elements in its Arab neighborhood and, in the first place, the minorities. To reject this option is to accept isolation and disappear. Israel has no choice.
Jews worldwide are facing a new form of anti-Semitism disguised by hatred toward Israel, in addition to more traditional forms of anti-Semitism, a new US report said Thursday.
"This new anti-Semitism is common throughout the Middle East and in Muslim communities in Europe, but it is not confined to these populations," the US State Department said in a report for 2007. It said United Nations bodies, for example, are frequently asked to "commission investigations of what often are sensationalized reports of alleged atrocities and other violations of human rights by Israel," it said.
While the motive may be to defuse a crisis or offer a forum to channel anger, the effect of "unremitting criticism of Israel" bolsters the idea that the Jewish state is a leading source of "abuse of the rights of others," it said.
At the same time UN bodies often fail to "pay attention to regimes that are demonstrably guilty of grave violations," it added.
"Comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is increasingly commonplace," said the report from the State Department which is required under legislation passed in 2004 to document and combat anti-Semitic acts worldwide. "Anti-Semitism couched as criticism of Zionism or Israel often escapes condemnation since it can be more subtle than traditional forms of anti-Semitism, and promoting anti-Semitic attitudes may not be the conscious intent of the purveyor," it said.
"Israel's policies and practices must be subject to responsible criticism and scrutiny to the same degree as those of any other country," it said. Critics of Israel have a "responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in prompting hatred of Jews," it said, adding that hostility toward Israel has at times manifested itself in violence toward Jews.
It added that there was a sudden increase in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide during the war between the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and Israel in 2006.
The report singled out a number of leaders, governments and state-sponsored institutions for fanning the flames of anti-Semitism, with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad at the top of the list. It also took to task the Syrian government, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, as well as the government-backed Venezuelan, Saudi Arabian and Egyptian media. "Chavez has publicly demonized Israel and utilized stereotypes about Jewish financial influence and control," it said.
More traditional anti-Semitism remains a problem in Russia, it said. "In France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere, anti-Semitic violence remains a significant concern," it said. "Recent increases in anti-Semitic incidents have been documented in Argentina, Australia, Canada, South Africa and beyond," it added.
NGOs assert that Arab Jerusalemites have no choice but to build their homes illegally since the municipality systematically rejects their applications for building permits. Then they must contend with municipal inspectors who send bulldozers to demolish their homes.
Human rights lawyer Justus Reid Weiner, a scholar-in-residence at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has just completed the first systematic study of illegal construction in Jerusalem. Based on scores of interviews from across the political spectrum - from Mayor Olmert to Sari Nusseibeh, original documents, and on-site inspections, Weiner's heavily illustrated new book discredits the conventional wisdom about the causes and effects of illegal building, and documents a pattern of politically-motivated behavior and criminal profiteering that characterizes much of the construction in the Arab sector of the Holy City.
In the Jewish neighborhoods, illegal construction typically takes the form of additions to existing legal structures - such as closing a balcony or hollowing out under a building to create an extra room. In the Arab sector, however, illegal construction often takes the form of entire multi-floor buildings with 4 to 25 living units, built with the financial assistance of the Palestinian Authority on land that is not owned by the builder.
- Illegal construction has reached epidemic proportions. A senior Palestinian official boasted that they have built 6,000 homes without permits during the last 4 years, of which less than 200 were demolished by the city.
- This frantic pace of illegal construction continues despite the fact that the city has authorized more than 36,000 permits for new housing units in the Arab sector, more than enough to meet the needs of Arab residents through legal construction until 2020.
- Arab residents who wish to build legally may consult urban plans translated into Arabic for their convenience and receive individual assistance from Arabic-speaking city employees.
Both Arabs and Jews typically wait 4-6 weeks for permit approval, enjoy a similar rate of application approvals, and pay an identical fee ($3,600) for water and sewage hook-ups on the same size living unit.
- The same procedures for administrative demolition orders apply to both Jews and Arabs in all parts of the city, as a final backstop to remove structures built illegally on roadbeds or land designated for schools, clinics, and the like.
- The Palestinian Authority and Arab governments have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an intentional campaign to subsidize and encourage massive illegal construction in the Arab sector, seeing this as part of their "demographic war" against Israel.
- Many large, multi-story, luxury structures have been built by criminals on land they do not own, frequently land belonging to Palestinian Christians living abroad.
- This epidemic of illegal construction is similar to illegal building that troubles cities in scores of countries worldwide and where the authorities utilize the law to demolish the structures.
- More than any single factor, the 35-year-long boycott of municipal politics by the Palestinian leadership has resulted in the continued imbalance in municipal services in Arab neighborhoods vis-a-vis Jewish neighborhoods.
- Despite frequent accusations that the city's planning policy seeks to "Judaize" Jerusalem, the Arab population of the city has increased since 1967 from 27% to 32%. Moreover, since 1967 new Arab construction has outpaced Jewish construction.
Who will ultimately bear the burden of chaotic development and an eroded quality of life in the Arab neighborhoods? Are their long-term interests served by the Palestinian Authority's "demographic war" or the profiteering of land thieves?
...Israel recently conveyed a warning to Syria through a third party that it would hold Damascus accountable if Hizbullah launched attacks on the Jewish state...
...sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the warning stemmed largely from Israeli concerns that Hizbullah would launch salvoes of cross-border rockets to coincide with any major Israeli offensive in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
... the message was conveyed in February through at least one European intermediary following the assassination of a top Hizbullah commander and before this month's five-day Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. After the group's senior commander, Imad Mugniyah, was killed in a bombing in Damascus, Hizbullah leader Nasrallah threatened Israel with "open war." ...
“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way when you were exiting from Egypt: how he chanced upon you on the way, and attacked you by smiting the weak who were straggling behind you, when you were tired and exhausted, and he did not fear God. And it will be, when HaShem your God gives you respite from all your surrounding enemies in the Land which HaShem your God gives you as an inheritance to inherit - eradicate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Do not forget.” (Deuteronomy 25:17-19)
Every year, on Shabbat Zachor - the Shabbat of Remembrance, the Shabbat immediately preceding Purim - we read these three verses as the Maftir, the concluding section of the Torah reading....remembering Amalek is appropriate in the run-up to Purim, commemorating the attempt of Amalek’s descendant, Haman, to complete his ancestor’s evil work. ...
...what was important was ...the fact that Amalek wanted to exterminate us all.
...See how they hate us. In every generation - not just the original generation of Amalek, but throughout history. Lest anyone mistakenly believe that Amalek reacted to a chance encounter.... he was willing to travel across a thousand miles of desert in a single night, deliberately to come upon us, just to try to exterminate us....
...Lest anyone think that, given time, Amalek would realise the futility of conflict, half a millennium later he was still trying to exterminate us in Israel in the days of King Saul. And lest we think that Amalek only wants to drive us out of Israel, that he would accept us if only we would be exiled from our land, lest we think that Amalek is only against Zionists, but not against Jews, a millennium after his initial attack his descendants are still trying to exterminate us in exile in Persia.....
...And lest anyone think that Amalek only wants to destroy the religious among us, lest anyone believe that assimilation will bring us respite, know that he attacked not the religious or the Torah scholars, but those of the tribe of Dan who were the furthest from Torah. [Hitler tried to murder anyone with just one Jewish grandparent, regardless of their observance or even awareness of their Jewish connection- SL]
And should you desire to know who has the greatest obligation to fight Amalek, never think that if you are a Torah scholar, a yeshiva student, then you are absolved of this duty. Those who fight must be those “men... who are brave, strong in mitzvot, and victorious in war.” And never believe that it is forbidden to leave the cloistered walls of the yeshiva to defend your fellow-Jews: “Go out from the protection of the Clouds of Glory to wage war against Amalek’s camps.” ...
...And know that whenever and wherever Israel is attacked, whether on the way towards Israel, whether within Israel, or whether in exile, the appropriate Jewish response is not to conciliate the murderous attacker, not to try to make peace with the leaders of the enemy nation, but to chop off the enemy warriors’ heads....
...And know that those who try to exterminate us will themselves be exterminated - utterly, irrevocably, eternally. Irony of ironies: the only way that anyone will even be aware that they existed will be that our history mentions them.
They will be consigned to oblivion, having no remembrance in this world or the next. And irony of ironies: the only way that anyone will even be aware that they existed will be that our history mentions them. Had it not been for the Torah, who would ever have heard of Amalek or of his descendant Haman? They are remembered solely by those whom they wanted to exterminate, and who instead exterminated them, measure for measure.
And just as victory over Amalek is crucial, so too is it crucial to “write this as a remembrance in the Book, and place it in Joshua’s ears” - specifically, to inscribe it in the Book of the Elders. The leaders of Israel must perforce be educated in this war against Amalek, lest they forget its eternal messages, and end up trying to placate evil, to co-exist with murderers, and thereby collaborate in the extermination of Jews.
And just as Amalek attacked us when we were at peace in the desert - after 210 years of exile and slavery we wanted nothing more than to make our way back home - so too, measure for measure, when Amalek will think himself at peace, we are commanded to attack him: “When HaShem your God gives you respite from all your surrounding enemies in the Land which HaShem your God gives you as an inheritance to inherit - eradicate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.”
Do not wait for him to make war before going out to obliterate him: attack him when you are living in peace in Israel. Amalek, through his murderous attack on us, has forfeited any right to his own peace and security. And, as Yonatan ben Uziel paraphrases this final exhortation: “And it will be, when HaShem your God gives you respite from all those who hate you surrounding the Land which HaShem your God gives you as an inheritance to inherit - eradicate the memory of Amalek from under the heavens.....”
Friday, March 14, 2008
'Those who call on us to negotiate with Hamas are essentially asking us to discuss the measurements of our coffins,' ambassador to Rome says
Israeli Ambassador to Rome Gideon Meir criticized on Thursday Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema's call for talks between Hamas and Israel, saying "it is saddening to hear that during the period of mourning for the eight Mercaz Harav yeshiva students there are those who call for negotiations with barbarians and murderers."
Last Monday the D'Alema told foreign reporters "without engaging in dialogue with the Palestinians who govern Gaza, the peace process will have difficulties in moving ahead. Peace in Ramallah will depend on peace in Gaza," he said. "War and peace cannot be separated by just a few kilometers."
According to Meir, whose response made headlines in Italy, "those who call on us to negotiate with Hamas, are essentially asking us to discuss the measurements of our coffins and the roses that will be placed on them.
"Hamas' stance is known and it has not changed – they want to destroy the State of Israel," he said, "such calls for a ceasefire are simply a step on the way to the realization of Hamas' dream to destroy Israel and establish a religious-fundamental state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea."
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was quick to commend the Italian minister, saying "the European Union's position is improving. They realized that is was a mistake not to negotiate with Hamas. We especially appreciate the statement made by Massimo D'Alema."
Ambassador Meir added that calls for talks with Hamas before the Islamist group complies with the international community's conditions undermine the negotiations between Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud) Abbas.
"The fact that the head of a terror organization (Haniyeh) praises this (D'Alema's) position, does not add much dignity to those who support it," he said.
The clear distinction between civilian and combatant breaks down in a war against terrorists, and international law must acknowledge and deal with this, according to Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz.
"The anachronistic theory that you can clearly tell the difference between civilian and combatant must be updated to deal with the new reality in which terrorists use civilian populations for fighting purposes," Dershowitz told The Jerusalem Post ....
...Dershowitz will discuss redefining the concept of civilian to "what I call the 'continuum of civilianality.' You can rank people on a scale of one to 10, one being an infant baby, 10 being a grown man with a shoulder rocket about to fire. In between, there are those people who allow their homes to be used for rocket launches or storage, imams who encourage suicide bombing, people who make the [explosive] belts." ...
...."International law is a barrier to democracies fighting fairly against tyrants," he told the Post. "There are exceptions, but in general, international law is part of the problem and needs revision." ...
.... "You can't deter a person who wants to die or a nation prepared to sacrifice itself, as some in Iran have suggested they're prepared to do."
The issue is not one of preempting an immediate and obvious threat, a situation which international law and the UN Charter already permit. Rather, it is about "prevention."
"An attack on Iran would be a preventive war, not a preemptive one," Dershowitz believes. "If Britain and France had fought a preventive war against Nazi Germany," it could have prevented the Holocaust.
Preventive war is already recognized in a limited way by international law. "The UN is not opposed to this idea. It just argues that preventive wars need the approval of the Security Council," he said....
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
The Australian parliament commemorated Israel's 60 years of independence Wednesday, and leaders pledged their commitment to the country's security and stated their "respect for the Israeli cause..." ...
The motion was put forward by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and seconded by Opposition leader Brendan Nelson.
...One Labor MP as well as two powerful unions were opposed...
...and from The Australian, by Paul Maley March 12, 2008:
Labor MP boycotts Israel anniversary
...Labor MP Julia Irwin made good on her threat to boycott the motion commemorating the Israel’s founding and the role Australia played in it, by absenting herself from the chamber.
A spokeswoman for Ms Irwin’s office confirmed her absence was a deliberate act of protest.
Ms Irwin has been a frequent critic of Israel’s conduct in the Israel-Palestine dispute and spoke against the motion at a party room meeting earlier this week. She attempted to table an annual report from human rights group Amnesty International which she said made plain Israel’s human rights abuses....
... we are being coerced, or seduced, into agreeing to a temporary truce arrangement with Hamas, enabling the organization to upgrade its missile infrastructure, smuggle in more advanced weapons, send its members for training abroad, and renew hostilities at a time of its choosing....
... Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ...is already hinting that a truce will come into effect as soon as the missile launches ease, and he obviously welcomes the bizarre American-inspired Egyptian offer to mediate a cease-fire. If that fails, similar offers are already in the pipeline from other dubious intermediaries like former US president Jimmy Carter and former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan.
A hudna would indeed create a temporary period of calm. But in the long term, it is a prescription for catastrophe. Taking advantage of the porous Egyptian border, Hamas and its Iranian and Syrian backers would upgrade and replicate Hizbullah's achievements in Lebanon. That would evolve into a disastrous replay of the Second Lebanon War, with the added handicap this time of the IDF possibly simultaneously being engaged on two fronts....
... the IDF withdrawal from Gaza after two days begs the question of whether, beyond temporarily placating domestic public opinion, the incursion served any purpose at all. The subsequent Hamas victory parades certainly do not suggest that it strengthened our deterrence.....
....We must now gird ourselves to end the terrorist abominations, lest what we have been facing in the south engulfs even more of the country. Israel must reject efforts by the international community to reconcile us to an indefinite war of attrition....
...our public diplomacy must respond more effectively to those who mindlessly denounce us for reacting "disproportionately" in exercising our right to self-defense. Their condemnations are irrational, unprecedented and unquestionably reflect the application of double standards against us....
.....No country under rocket and missile barrages, least of all one which genuinely respects the sanctity of human life, can be expected to sacrifice its citizens in the name of ensuring a spurious proportionality. And if civilian casualties ensue because Palestinian noncombatants are employed as human shields, the blame must be directed toward the Palestinian belligerents, not the Israeli victims.
We must therefore be prepared to defy our critics and swiftly defeat our foes with force. That was the basis on which Israel warded off its enemies in the past, in the days when our leaders still recognized that their prime obligation was to protect their citizens. Nothing has changed since. Preemption was and remains Israel's cardinal strategy of defense.
One need not be a military genius to appreciate what must be done. Launching missiles against our civilians should be declared an act of war. Immediate action should be taken to cut off the head of the snake and methodically target the Hamas military and political leaders who direct the killings.
Should that fail, we must act more drastically. Following ample notice for civilians to evacuate, we should bombard specific areas from where missiles are being launched. When we are condemned for "responding disproportionately," we should remind the United States and its allies that even in the absence of any threat of missile attacks to their civilians, they had no compunctions about carpet-bombing terrorist locations in Afghanistan and Iraq. NATO did likewise in Belgrade, even targeting residential areas during its botched attempt to assassinate Slobodan Milosevic.
If all else fails, recognizing that maintenance of the status quo would genuinely pose an existential threat to us, we would be obliged to launch a full-scale invasion of Gaza. That would be a calculated decision, not a gut reaction, and would be undertaken with the realization that such a conflict will lead to a major toll in lives on all sides.
Clearly, the vast majority of Israelis have no desire to occupy Gaza or rule over Arabs for longer than is absolutely necessary. But suggesting that we take no action at all because the aftermath will be complex is the worst of all options.
The time for words and threats has long passed. We have no reason to harbor any feelings of guilt because we have explored every conceivable venue to attain a peaceful solution. We realize that those confronting us are more obsessed with achieving our demise than improving their own miserable lot and gaining independence. We must act with determination and take whatever measures are deemed necessary to protect our citizens and the future of this nation.
That will only be achieved if we restore our deterrent abilities. It can be done.
More and more people have been saying to me, "I realize that Jews are facing a major crisis ...everywhere in the world. But what can I do about it?...."
... The confluence of international forces that has gathered against the Jewish people and faith, including the spiritual and intellectual fifth column amongst us, is indeed a formidable adversary. Nevertheless, there are things we can do if we are willing to work together to protect our rights and stand up to the massive defamation campaign waged against us.
One very important thing that all of us can do is to counter the endless lies and distortions of Israel's history and character that appear in the press, mass media, on the Internet, and even in scholarly journals. These distortions and outright falsehoods are a major reason why Israel is in such deep trouble, and in danger of "going under." Because the entire world has been led to believe an inaccurate, grossly distorted "narrative" of the conflict, the government of Israel feels it has no choice but to make concessions to the demands of its enemies, in order to appease world opinion. But these concessions imperil Israel's existence.
Each of us can help to correct this appalling situation by acting immediately, whenever we encounter such a distortion in the press or mass media, to correct it with a letter to the editor ....we can speak up to counter distortions in public lectures and meetings about the Arab-Israel conflict, and even in private conversations. All of this requires work and time, but it really does help. Each of us should devote as much time and energy to these tasks as we possibly can.
But in order to counter the endless flow of lies and distortions about Israel, we must first learn what the true facts of Israel's history are. ....
...The following are some, although by no means all, of the most important ones:
- The Israelis are not colonialists or alien "settlers" in the Land of Israel with no past connection or relationship to the country; on the contrary, we Jews have lived in Israel for at least 3,200 years if not longer. This is far longer than most peoples have lived in their present national homelands. ...
- There has never been a distinctive "Palestinian" Arab people or an Arab "Palestine" state or nation; while it is true that some Arabs have lived in the Land of Israel for many centuries, they have never been ethnically or culturally distinct or different from the Arabs who live in other lands... The Jews, however...originated in the Land of Israel and never had any other national homeland.
- During over a thousand years of Muslim rule, "Palestine" was rarely the name even of an administrative district, let alone a nation. Arabs referred to the entire land that now comprises Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel and the "occupied territories" as "al-Shams" (Syria), which they regarded as one country.
- While the Land of Israel, also called "Palestine" by Romans and Europeans, was densely populated in ancient times, its population steadily declined during over 1,000 years of Muslim rule. In the nineteenth century, Israel/Palestine was very thinly settled.....
- The Arab population of Israel/Palestine only began to grow in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, at the same time that Jews began to resettle the land. Jewish immigrants brought with them modernized agriculture...a market for Arab agricultural goods; employment at Jewish farms and factories; modern hospitals and medicine that saved thousands of Arab lives; the draining of swamps that had caused thousands of deaths from malaria and other insect-born diseases; and vastly expanded Arab education funded by Jewish taxes.
- The Arab population of Palestine has grown extensively, from under 500,000 in 1891 to over 3,600,000 today, partly because of increased life expectancy brought about by the economic and scientific progress introduced by Jewish immigrants/settlers, but also in part because of extensive immigration to Palestine from many Arab countries.
- As a result, many of the Arabs who call themselves, or who are called by other Arabs "Palestinians," have ancestors who originated in Egypt, Syria, what are now Saudi Arabia, the Sudan and other Arab countries. These Arab countries ought rightfully to give these "Palestinians" citizenship, but refuse to do so.
- The Arabs, including and especially the Palestinian Arabs, have been the aggressors throughout the nearly 100 years of the Arab-Israel conflict. This "one long war" began with the communal violence that convulsed Palestine between 1920 and 1948, even before Israel was founded.
- Palestinian and other Arabs organized and carried out massive pogroms against the Jews of Palestine in 1920, 1921 and 1929, waged a sustained terrorist campaign against them from 1936 through 1939, and a full-scale jihad against them in 1947-48. Thousands of Palestinian terrorist/guerillas, the regular armies of six Arab states, and "volunteers" from throughout the Arab and Muslim worlds all participated in this aggressive war. Before the 1947-48 Arab attack against the Palestinian/Israeli Jews there had been few if any displaced Palestinian Arabs. The Palestinian Arabs were not innocent bystanders in the war that made them refugees. They initiated the war in which some, although not all, of them fled from parts of Israel in 1948. They killed over two thousand Jews in that war. The six invading Arab states killed over 4,300 more Jews.
- The Israelis defended themselves as best they could against these unprovoked attacks. But they did not expel the Palestinian Arabs. Many Arab leaders as well as ordinary Palestinian Arabs have admitted that Arab leaders urged the Arabs living in Palestine to flee, promising them that Arab armies would soon defeat the Jews and allow them to return to their homes. Despite this bad advice, many Palestinian Arabs never left Israel, and became Israeli citizens, with full rights of citizenship. Today there are over one million Arab citizens and residents of Israel -- more than there were in 1947, before Israel was established.
- Following this first major Arab-Israel war, the Arab states induced the United Nations to keep the Palestinian Arabs refugees and their descendants in "refugee camps" (actually segregated towns) for generations. All of the Arab states except Jordan denied the Palestinian Arabs citizenship and equal rights. Arab governments and the refugee camp administrations taught the Palestinians that it was their Arab duty to wage war against Israel in order to gain back the homes in what is now Israel where (some) of their ancestors had lived before 1948. This segregation and indoctrination of the Palestinian refugees, as well as their descendants to the third, fourth and all later generations, is the true origin of Palestinian terrorism, not Israeli "oppression" or "occupation."
- Also following the Arab-Israel war of 1947-49, the Arab nations refused to sign peace treaties with Israel, sponsored Palestinian Arab terrorist raids into Israel in which hundreds of Israelis were killed, and waged war by economic boycott and propaganda as well. Last but not least, Egypt waged war by blockading Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal and in the Gulf of Aqaba (also called the Gulf of Eilat by Israelis). These acts of war severely damaged the Israeli economy in addition to causing widespread loss of life and injury to Israel's citizens.
- Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks on, and raids into, Israel have been continuous since 1949. Whatever reprisal raids and counterterrorist operations Israel has conducted over these years against the Palestinian terrorists have been reluctant responses to aggression against Israeli civilians and soldiers--not deliberate attacks on Arab civilians, as Arab spokesman and much of the press in the West have misrepresented them.
- Israel only "occupied" the so-called "occupied territories" in 1967 as a necessary act of self-defense, in response to a whole series of acts of aggression by the Arab world: two and a half years of Palestinian Arab terrorist raids sponsored by Syria; decades of Syrian shelling of Israeli border villages from artillery positions on the Golan Heights, the forced removal of United Nations peacekeepers from the Sinai by Egypt's President Nasser: a reinstatement of the Egyptian blockade of Israeli shipping in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba: the mobilization of the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armies along Israel's three borders, and public declarations of war on Israel by Egypt's Nasser, the government of Syria and other Arab regimes. Israel "occupied" these territories only as a means of forestalling the publicly proclaimed, imminent Arab invasion, and to stop the Jordanian shelling of Israeli Jerusalem. This Jordanian barrage had killed 17 Israelis and wounded many more before Israel moved to occupy the "West Bank," (more accurately known as Judea and Samaria).
- Israel has now withdrawn from 90% of the territories that it occupied in 1967, including all of the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza region, large parts of Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank"), and part of the Golan Heights. But these very substantial concessions have failed to persuade the Arab world to make peace with Israel.
- All of the other Arab-Israeli wars were also initiated or heavily provoked by Arab states, usually working in tandem with the Palestinian Arab terrorist groups whom they sponsored. Egypt forced a war with Israel in 1956 by sponsoring Palestinian terrorist raids deep into Israeli territory for more than two years, and by blockading Israeli shipping in the Suez Canal and Gulf of Aqaba. In 1973, Egypt and Syria launched an unprovoked surprise attack on Israel on the holiest day of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur (the timing was surely no coincidence). Israel invaded Lebanon in 1981 only after years of Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks originating in that country; Israel withdrew completely from Lebanon in 2000, but was forced in 2006 to deal with renewed terrorist attacks into its territory from Lebanon -this time, by a Lebanese, not a Palestinian, terrorist organization, Hezbollah. Israel quickly withdrew from Lebanon again following a ceasefire.
- Jewish settlements established since 1967 outside the pre-Six Day War ceasefire lines are not "illegal." The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, issued in 1922 with the unanimous support of the League member states and with the additional support of the United States (although it was not a member of the League), requires that the administration of Palestine "shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency . . . close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes" (article 6). The International Court of Justice has ruled in a similar case (that of Southwest Africa) that the Mandate documents issued by the League of Nations remain international law, even though the League itself was disbanded in 1946, and its responsibilities transferred to the United Nations. The United Nations Charter (Article 80) states that the "rights of peoples" in the League of Nations Mandate documents remain in force, as well as the documents themselves.
- The Israel "occupation" of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is also legal according to international law, for three reasons:
- Israel only occupied these territories in a defensive war;
- her enemies continue to wage an aggressive war of terror from these territories, requiring a continued Israel military presence in them for self-defense.
- Israel has a better title to these territories than any other nation, since the League of Nations Mandate document for Palestine, which has never been rescinded, specifies that the administration of these territories "shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national home," The British Mandatory power ceased when the State of Israel was born but the rights of the Jewish people to the land remain intact, since they are a "sacred trust of civilization," as defined by the Covenant of the League of Nations, Art. 22. These permanent rights are enshrined in the Trusteeship Chapter of the UN Charter [Chapter XII, Art. 80]
There are many, many additional salient facts about the conflict that supporters of Israel should learn in order to combat the campaign of defamation and slander waged against her throughout the world. Here we have had space only to summarize a few of the most important points. But learning even these few important facts makes a useful start for those who wish to be activists in correcting the lies and distortions about Israel's history and character. They make important "talking points" for responding to these lies and distortions, whether in the mass media, on the Internet, at lectures and public meetings, or in private conversations....
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
A Hamas leader admits hundreds of his fighters have travelled to Tehran
....Speaking on the record but withholding his identity as a target of Israeli forces, the [Hamas]commander... said Hamas had been sending fighters to Iran for training in both field tactics and weapons technology since Israeli troops pulled out of the Gaza strip of Palestinian territory in 2005. Others go to Syria for more basic training.
...So far, 150 members of Qassam have passed through training in Tehran, where they study for between 45 days and six months at a closed military base under the command of the elite Revolutionary Guard force.
...According to the commander, a further 650 Hamas fighters have trained in Syria under instructors who learnt their techniques in Iran. ...But what Hamas values most is the knowledge that comes directly from Iran. Some of it was used to devastating effect by the militant group Hezbollah against Israeli forces in Lebanon in 2006.
“They come home with more abilities that we need,” said the Hamas commander, “such as high-tech capabilities, knowledge about land mines and rockets, sniping, and fighting tactics like the ones used by Hezbollah, when they were able to come out of tunnels from behind the Israelis and attack them successfully.
...Nodding in agreement was his companion, another senior Qassam fighter, from Hamas’s manufacturing wing. ...his job entailed “cooking” – putting together the explosive mixture that Hamas inserts into Qassam rockets.....
The commander was particularly impressed with advances made using Iranian technology. “One of the things that has been helpful is that they have taught us how to use the most ordinary things we have here and make them into explosives,” he said. Such technology had been most useful of all in developing the Qassam rocket and mines deployed against Israeli tanks....
...Fundamentally...the real problem may be that much of Hamas seems willing to fight on for “liberation”, no matter how hopeless the cause.
The conflict is further complicated by the role of Iran which, by supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, has created two potential fronts for Israel....
...first from PMW, by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook, Mar 9 2008:
Mahmoud Abbas's official Palestinian Authority daily newspaper has honored the killer of the eight high school students gunned down this week with the status of Shahid - Holy Islamic Martyr. In so doing, the PA is sending its people a straightforward message of support for the terror murders and the murderer. According to the PA interpretation of Islam, there is no higher status that a human being can achieve today than that of Shahid.
The official PA daily Al Hayat Al Jadida prominently placed a picture of the killer on the front page, with the caption, "The Shahid Alaa Abu D'heim." In a Page One article on the terror killings, his act is again defined as a "Shahada achieving" action....
....This honoring of terror and terrorists by the PA [remember - they're the "moderate partners for peace"] has significant financial ramifications, particularly at this time. Last week the US Administration sent a request to Congress to allocate $150 million to the Palestinian Authority.
...Congress made it illegal for the US to give money to entities that "advocate" terror, as follows:
"[The US] shall terminate assistance to any individual, entity... which she has determined to be involved in or advocating terrorist activity." Congress further legislated that "none of the [US] ... assistance under the West Bank and Gaza Program may be made available for the purpose of recognizing or otherwise honoring individuals who commit, or have committed acts of terrorism." -2008 Foreign Operations Bill Sec. 657.B - C.1
Since a society's honoring of terrorists is one of the greatest terror promotions, and as the budget for the PA newspaper comes from the PA's general budget, the incessant honoring of this and all recent terrorists by Abbas's PA as Holy Islamic Shahids should render the Palestinian Authority ineligible to receive any American money under the terms of US law....
...then from The Washington Times, by Joel Mowbray, March 7, 2008:
A showdown could be looming between Congress and the Bush administration over a $150 million request for emergency aid for the Palestinian Authority government led by President Mahmoud Abbas.
At issue is whether or not Mr. Abbas has either the capacity or desire to bring Palestinians closer to a peace deal with Israel, and it was his own words that triggered congressional wrath.
In an interview with Jordanian newspaper Al-Dastur last week, Mr. Abbas spoke with pride of violence he had waged in his past, suggested that terrorism could start anew in the future, and essentially backed away from repeated statements that he “recognizes” Israel's right to exist. A top congressional appropriator, Foreign Operations Chairman Nita Lowey, said flatly, “President Abbas' recent statements cast doubt on his willingness to take the steps necessary for peace with Israel.”...
...Appearing much less careful than when speaking in English, Mr. Abbas last week told the Arabic-language Al-Dastur, “I was honored to be the one to shoot the first bullet in 1965,” the year his organization, Fatah, initiated terrorism against Israel. (Transcript provided by PMW.)
The renowned “moderate” Palestinian leader then explained his pride in “having taught resistance to many in this area and around the world ... including Hezbollah, who were trained in [PLO] camps.”...
....Most concerning to Congress, however, was ...[on] the question of whether or not Hamas must “recognize” Israel, Mr. Abbas explained, “I don't demand that the Hamas movement recognize Israel. I only demanded of the [Palestinian] national unity government that would work opposite Israel in recognition of it.”...
Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, on Sunday welcomed the killing of the eight yeshiva students in Jerusalem and lashed out at Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for condemning the shooting attack....
...Expressing its full support for the attack, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades described it as an "heroic" operation ...[and] called for carrying out more attacks against Israel.
The group expressed "astonishment" over a statement that was issued by Abbas condemning the Jerusalem attack. It urged him to release all the Aksa Martyrs Brigades gunmen who were being held in PA security installations in the West Bank and to hand them back their weapons so they could resume their attacks on Israel.
Palestinian celebration of murder dooms hope for peace
...The pictures from Jerusalem were horrifying: Dead and injured students being wheeled out of a Jewish religious school after an Arab gunman went on a rampage.
Other images were disturbing in a different way: These were the pictures of Palestinians celebrating the massacre. They shouted jubilantly from cars and danced in the streets of Gaza. Men fired bursts of automatic weapons skyward. Some kneeled on the ground to pray. In Lebanon, crowds of Palestinians also rejoiced, with a Reuters photo showing a man holding a startled looking child in one hand and a pistol in the other.
...the sickening contrast of Thursday's massacre and celebration.....too many Palestinians embrace a culture of death. It is a culture stuck in the Dark Ages of ancient hatreds and unspeakable violence.
The evidence lies in missing pictures. Why no photos of Palestinians marching to condemn the massacre? Where are the Palestinian young people sympathizing with dead and maimed students their own age? Where are the Palestinian parents grieving for the Israeli parents who lost their children?
... There were no pictures of sad Palestinians because there were no marches or wide expressions of sympathy. Apart from the obligatory disapproval mumbled by the government, there was no condemnation. More typical was a message from Hamas, the terror group: "We bless the operation. It will not be the last."
Every society has its madmen, its gangsters and killers. But in functioning societies, they are shunned and punished as an example of how not to behave. Not so in Palestinian society or in too much of the Muslim world. Celebrations of death, as they did Thursday, soon become odes to martyrs. In less than a day, pictures of the lone gunman in the massacre appeared on posters glorifying his death. Behind his clean-shaven, ordinary face were a mosque and messages of heroic defiance.
... how is Israel supposed to make peace with them? This is, after all, a society that perverts Mickey Mouse into a hate-spewing children's character. It turned a cuddly rabbit character into a monster who says he will "eat the Jews.".... Other shows glorify songs and dance about jihad and martyrdom. Children are taught that it is their religious duty to kill themselves and as many Jews and other "infidels" as possible.
You can't really make peace with that culture. .... For try as you can, you can never understand a culture that celebrates death.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Israel places Lebanese, Syrian, Gaza borders, its cities and highways on high terror alert
The annual intelligence report submitted to the Israeli government Sunday, March 9, predicted grave dangers to Israeli security in the coming year. However, even in the short term ... police and security forces are on guard for stormy events in the second half of March.
1. ...Israeli intelligence has warned that ...Hamas and Jihad Islami would make every effort to ignite the Gaza front in order to unite the Arab rulers behind a dramatic Arab resolution [at the Damascus Arab League summit on the 29th March] in support of the Palestinian Islamists. This tactic would transfer the Gaza issue’s center of gravity from Cairo, which is brokering a Hamas-Israel ceasefire deal, to radical Damascus..... Hamas was poised to generate a flare-up at any time that it suited ...Syria and Iran. Nevertheless, Israel has scaled down its anti-rocket operations in the Gaza Strip.
2. ... the coming Arab League summit will for the first time host an Iranian head of state. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be seated beside Syrian president Bashar Assad as guest of honor to parade the Tehran-Damascus axis’ pre-eminent role in Arab Middle East affairs, with Iran setting the pace.....Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak suddenly declared Monday, March 10, that Israel continues to be responsible for the Gaza Strip after its pull-out and its status in both Gaza and the West Bank is that of an occupation force. In an interview, he endorsed the Hamas line which called on Israel to halt military operations not only in Gaza but also on the West Bank.....
....Israel’s new national intelligence report affirms that the United States’ declining role in the region has left a vacuum for radical elements to fill. Its authors, the chiefs of military intelligence, the Mossad, Shin Bet and the foreign ministry’s intelligence unit, warned of the heightened threat from missiles in the arsenals of a future nuclear-armed Iran (within two years) and Syrian. A Hizballah attack and a stronger Hamas were also in prospect.
In the coming two weeks, Syria, Iran, Hizballah and Hamas will be further tightening the military and terrorist loop around Israel – to the north, the south, and among Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, at the expense of Israel’s deterrent strength.
According to our military sources, Hizballah is completing its preparations for revenge on Israel, whom it accuses of killing its military commander Imad Mughniyeh last month. The latest estimate is that the Shiite terrorists will strike on the border and/or inside Israel, rather than hit overseas targets....