Saturday, October 04, 2008

Syria pulls out of race for IAEA board

From Ynet newws, 3/10/08, by AFP:
Western diplomat says 'It would have been absurd to have a country that is under investigation for suspected secret nuclear activities on the UN atomic watchdog's board'

Syria has backed down in the race for a seat on the UN atomic watchdog's board, leaving Afghanistan to take up the position instead, diplomats said Friday.

Both countries had been vying for the same seat on the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board that had come free for the so-called Middle East and South Asia (MESA) group with the expiry of Pakistan's one-year term.

"For the sake of unity within the MESA group, Syria has decided to drop its candidacy," Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told reporters....There will be only one candidate for the MESA group." ...

... Had the MESA countries been unable to decide on a consensus candidate, the matter would have had to go to a vote by all of the IAEA's 145 member countries.

Syria's bid for a greater say within in the IAEA had run into fierce opposition by the United States, which alleges that Damascus was building a covert nuclear facility at a remote desert site called Al-Kibar until it was destroyed by Israeli bombs in September 2007.

'Victory for the credibility of the IAEA'
... A Western diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that Syria's decision was "a victory for the credibility of the IAEA.....It would have been absurd to have a country on the board that is under investigation for suspected secret nuclear activities..." ...

Iran out to stay nuclear course

From, October 3, 2008, by Aamer Madhani:

NEW YORK — Expressing confidence his country is facing a diminished military threat, Iran's top diplomat said Thursday that Tehran remains committed to its nuclear development program despite international pressure to abandon its uranium enrichment.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki contended that the danger of an Israeli airstrike on Iran's nuclear facilities is waning as the United States—Israel's closest ally — finds itself mired in an economic crisis and Israel is roiled by its own domestic political troubles.

Mottaki's comments came during a 30-minute interview with the Tribune less than a week after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution calling on Iran to comply with international efforts to monitor its nuclear development program.

The resolution, which includes no sanctions, followed an International Atomic Energy Agency report last month criticizing Iran for its lack of cooperation and suggesting that it might be concealing military research linked to the nuclear program.

...Mottaki said during the interview in the offices of Iran's permanent mission to the UN."The current conditions do not allow Mr. Bush to engage in another misadventure."...

... Mottaki said Iran remains committed to producing its own nuclear fuel. ...He said military action by the Israelis "was really no longer in play."

The Israelis reportedly conducted military rehearsals for a potential strike against Iran in June, but the foreign minister said his country's sworn enemy is still reeling from its war in southern Lebanon in 2006 and would not dare strike Iran."They are still contending with and suffering from the reverberations or aftershocks of the 33-day war in Lebanon," Mottaki said.

Ahmadinejad: '...[The Zionists] ...Wipe These Germs of Corruption Off the Face of the Earth'

From MEMRI, Special Dispatch Series - No. 2068, October 2, 2008:

Following are excerpts from statements by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The statements aired on IRINN, the Iranian News Channel, on September 18 and 23, 2008:

Click here to view this clip on MEMRI TV.

Click here to view more MEMRI TV clips of Ahmadinejad.

Sept. 18: "The Zionists... Have Taken Over the Power Centers of the World"
Ahmadinejad: "The Zionists are crooks. A small handful of Zionists, with a very intricate organization, have taken over the power centers of the world. According to our estimates, the main cadre of the Zionists consists of 2,000 individuals at most, and they have another 8,000 activists. In addition, they have several informants, who spy and provide them with intelligence information....But because of their control of power centers in the U.S. and Europe, and their control of the financial centers and the news and propaganda agencies, they spread propaganda as if they were the entire world, as if all the peoples supported them, and as if they were the majority ruling the world."

The Zionists' "Jewishness Is a Great Lie - They Have No Religion Whatsoever"
"That is a great lie - just like their Jewishness is a great lie. They have no religion whatsoever. They are a handful of lying, power-greedy people who have no religion, who only want to take over all the peoples and countries, and to trample the rights of the peoples...I've heard that one of them [PM Olmert] recently said that the idea of Greater Israel is dead. I would like to declare that the idea of 'smaller Israel' is also dead. The very notion of Israel is dead, but they are lagging behind the times. Just as the idea of Greater Israel died 30 years ago, and they did not realize this, and have continued to perpetrate crimes for 30 years... Today, I say to them: The idea of smaller Israel is dead."

"You [Zionists] Sent Them [Jews] to Settlements In Order to Serve As Your Human Shields"
"Let me give them a piece of advice: You would be better off if you stopped your oppression and expressed remorse. If you want to do something good in your lives, leave the land of Palestine, free it from your oppression and occupation. Carry on with your lives....You captivated [Jewish] people with your trickery and lies, and you brought them over there with false promises. You sent them to settlements in order to serve as your human shields, and you continue to perpetrate your crimes. Let me give you some advice: Enough. For 60 years, you have been doing ugly things and committing crimes - leave, and show remorse....You've heard on the news that [the Zionists] established a network for kidnapping people. They kidnap oppressed, destitute, ignorant people from other countries, and bring them to the occupied lands to serve as human shields...."

"If The [Zionist] Occupiers and Invaders Use [Ignorant And Innocent Jews]... As Human Shields, The [Palestinian] People... Must Conduct Resistance"
"If the [Zionist] occupiers and invaders take ignorant people - even if they are innocent - and use them as human shields in order to carry out invasions, the [Palestinian] people, which is on the defensive, must conduct resistance, even if it is against innocent people, who were brought to the scene without being aware of it....At this very moment, hundreds of American exporters are trying very hard to sell products to Iran, but we refuse. The same goes for investors from some European countries that you mentioned, who insist on investing in Iran - but we set conditions..."

Sept. 23: "If [The Zionists] Themselves Do Not Wrap Up Zionism... The Peoples Will Wipe These Germs of Corruption Off the Face of the Earth"
Ahmadinejad: "You [the West] cut off some of our TV and radio satellite channels that brought the message of the Iranian people to some other nations. You thought that the Iranian people would be helpless, but I want to tell you that today, the Iranian people has the technology to build all kinds of satellites, and with God's help, it will launch its first communications and remote-sensing satellite into space.....A Zionist organization with 2,000 [members] and with 7,000 or 8,000 activists has brought the world to a state of confusion. Let me tell them that if they themselves do not wrap up Zionism, the strong arm of the peoples will wipe these germs of corruption off the face of the Earth."

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Jordan’s Outreach to Hamas: The Politics of Distress

From JCPA, Jerusalem Issue Briefs Vol. 8, No. 12, by Pinhas Inbari, 17 September 2008 (synopsis only - follow the link to the full article):

  • Until recently, Jordan was the only Arab country that had boycotted the fundamentalist Hamas movement. However, in 2007 Jordanian intelligence held a series of meetings with Hamas leaders to end hostile relations and start afresh.
  • Jordan's greatest fear is that it be considered the "alternative homeland" for the Palestinians. That is why all political formulas that Jordan is ready to consider are based on the "two-state solution" - a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza and a Jordanian state in the East Bank. Jordan would only consider confederation arrangements with the Palestinians after a Palestinian state is declared west of the Jordan River.
  • Israel's regional policies have thrown Jordan off balance. The tahdiya (calm) agreement with Hamas caused great embarrassment to moderate Arab countries and exploded the policy of isolating Hamas. In addition, in its prisoner deal with Hizbullah, Israel agreed to hand over to Hizbullah the bodies of Jordanians. If Israel, for pragmatic reasons, finds it appropriate to engage with Hamas, why shouldn't Jordan do the same?
  • Traditionally, Jordan has cooperated closely with Israel to maintain the status quo in Jerusalem, and Israel has formally recognized Jordan's role as the sole custodian of the Holy City's Muslim shrines, in line with the 1994 "Arava agreement." However, Israel's preference to work with UNESCO as opposed to Jordan regarding repairs to the Al Aqsa staircase was seen to be aimed at ending Jordan's exclusive role as sole custodian of Jerusalem's Muslim shrines.
  • There is a virtual consensus in the Arab media that Russia has been the winner in its bloody attack on Georgia, while the U.S. and its Western allies failed to protect their Georgian ally. Following the Russian invasion of Georgia, King Abdullah II flew to Moscow and indicated an interest in buying Russian weapons, with all of the implications such a move entails.
  • Hamas influence in Jordan and the West Bank is rising. Iran and Russia are moving to reshape the Middle East. At the same time, Jordan fears it cannot trust the political will of its traditional allies as Israel has diplomatically engaged Jordan's adversaries - Syria and Hamas. Jordan's current policy can best be categorized as a "distress call" - one that should be heeded by Israel and the West before it is too late....

Monday, September 29, 2008


From MERIA, Volume 12, No. 3 - September 2008, by Jonathan Spyer, senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, Herzliya, Israel [excerpts only - follow the link to the full article]:

Deeply embedded in Palestinian nationalism is the notion that Israeli Jewish identity is analogous to that of communities born of European colonialism, which are not seen as having legitimate claim to self-determination. No reconsidering of this characterization took place during the period of the peace process of the 1990s. Hence, the short period of acceptance of the "two-state solution," was a departure by Palestinian nationalism from its more natural stance, and the current trend of return to the "one-state" option is a return to a position more in keeping with the deep view of the conflict held throughout by this trend.

One of the by-products of the eclipse of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process of the 1990s has been the re-emergence into public debate of older strategies for the solution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Perhaps most noticeable among these is the rebirth of the so-called "one-state solution."

According to this idea, the long conflict between Israelis and Palestinians can be solved only by the replacement of the State of Israel as a Jewish state and its combining with the West Bank and Gaza Strip to form a single entity. This entity, according to most versions of the idea, would be ostensibly constituted as a non-sectarian state with no ethno-national character, although given its advocates' support for the return of Palestinian refugees of 1948 and their dependents, the implication is that it will have a Palestinian Arab demographic majority.

A variant idea proposes the creation of a bi-national state containing guaranteed rights and representation for Jews and Arabs. Another version, supported by Islamist trends among the Palestinians, supports the creation of a single state ruled by Islamic Shari'a law in the area.

The one-state idea is not new. Rather, variants of it have formed the preferred outcome of the conflict for the Palestinian national movement throughout the greater period of its history. The "democratic state" idea became the official stance of the PLO after the eighth Palestinian National Council (PNC) in 1971. It replaced earlier formulations that had hardly related to the issue of statehood at all but that had instead concentrated on the claim of the injustice of the creation of Israel and the proclaimed Palestinian or Arab right to reverse its creation. The Palestinian National Covenant, for example, makes no mention of statehood and appears to favor the expulsion of all but a small minority of Israeli Jews. It states that Jews "of Palestinian origin will be considered Palestinians if they will undertake to live loyally and peacefully in Palestine."

The covenant does not define precisely what Jews of Palestinian origin are, but this is usually understood to refer to Jews whose families were resident in the area prior to 1917. From the early 1970s, however, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) proclaimed itself in support of the idea of a "non-sectarian" state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

From the mid-1970s, the idea of the "non-sectarian state" appeared to be in a long process of decline in the mainstream Fatah organization and among some other groupings within the PLO. It was replaced with the idea of two states. This idea first appeared in the form of the Palestinian desire to create a state in any area of "liberated" territory. After the Algiers PNC of 1988, it was promoted in terms of a peaceful two-state outcome. This position made possible the rapid emergence of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in the 1990s.

Since the abrupt demise of the Oslo process in 2000, however, the idea of the "non sectarian state" has been undergoing a process of revival. Due to the contemporary familiarity of the term "two-state solution" in discussion of the conflict, it has been renamed the "one-state solution," but in all particulars it resembles the earlier stance of the movement. Recent pronunciations by senior Fatah leaders have suggested that a version of it might become the official policy of the movement if it despairs of the possibility of reaching a two-state settlement in line with its aspirations.

Of course, with Palestinian politics today divided between Fatah and Hamas, it is important to note that 40 percent of the Palestinians resident west of the Jordan River already live under the rule of a movement committed to the "one-state solution." Hamas, as its founding charter makes clear, favors a single state to be governed by Shari'a law. This article provides a brief history of the one-state solution and discusses the implications and meaning of the revival of the idea. To conclude, the assumptions behind the idea and the implications of its re-emergence for hopes of a peaceful conclusion to the conflict are considered.

The termination of the Jewish state of Israel and its replacement by a Palestinian Arab state was the openly declared intention of Palestinian nationalism in its earliest incarnations. Following the 1948 war, the former leadership of the Arabs of Palestine expressed itself exclusively in terms of "return," with no serious discussion of the nature of the state to be built following the reversal of the Israeli victory. The first major organizational expressions of an explicitly Palestinian nationalism in the 1950s and 1960s were also unequivocal in this regard. Thus, the Palestinian National Covenant, authored in 1964 and amended at the fourth PNC in July 1968, declares its ambition as the "liberation" of Palestine in order to "destroy the Zionist and imperialist presence."....

...This point of view was further ratified in the 1968-1970 period. It was during this period that the idea recognizable today as the "one-state solution" first rose to prominence and then dominance within the embryonic Palestinian national movement. ...From 1971, the proposal known today as the "one-state solution" was entrenched as the official position of the Fatah-led PLO. ...

...The beginnings of the current, familiar debate in secular Palestinian nationalism between the "two-state" and "one-state" solutions may be dated to the period following the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The idea first surfaced prior to the war, but was very firmly rejected by Yasir Arafat.
Scholars have noted the slow and gradual evolution of PLO policy toward the acceptance of partition. ...

... In opposition to the position of ambiguity adopted by the leadership--which placed the PLO at an imprecise point somewhere between the "one-state" and "two-state" solutions--the leadership was opposed by a PFLP-led opposition within the PLO that vowed continued loyalty to the destruction of the Zionist state of Israel and the creation of the "non-sectarian, democratic" state in place of it.

The policy of ambiguity favored by the Fatah and PLO leadership began to pay dividends in the late 1970s and early 1980s. It made possible the granting of observer status to the PLO at the UN, and PLO leader Arafat's subsequent address to the UN General Assembly. ...

...The peace process of the 1990s became a possibility with the PLO's adoption of the November 15, 1988 Algiers Declaration. The declaration took place at the height of the intifada and was part of the PLO's attempt to secure the leadership of the uprising and to capitalize on the renewed international focus on Palestinian aspirations. The declaration was based on Resolution 181, the 1947 partition resolution, and consisted in effect of a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians. The UN General Assembly subsequently recognized the right of the Palestinians to declare a state according to resolution 181 (which at the time had been rejected by the Palestinian leadership), and 89 UN member states recognized the state of "Palestine" in subsequent weeks.

The Algiers Declaration opened the possibility of dialogue between the United States and the PLO for the first time. However, the United States made it clear that only if the PLO explicitly recognized Israel and renounced terrorism would dialogue become possible. Arafat then made a statement in Geneva publicly recognizing Resolutions 181, 242, and 338, and renouncing terrorism. This statement appeared to settle officially the argument between the "two-state" and "one-state" formulas in the PLO--decisively in favor of the former.

The apparent adoption by the PLO of the two-state solution made possible the rapid emergence of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in the early 1990s. This acceptance (partial and grudging, as many in Israel argued it was) of partition meant that within five years the PLO was in negotiations with Israel, and within six it had achieved the creation and leadership of a sizeable Palestinian Authority (PA) encompassing all of the Gaza Strip and a considerable part of the West Bank. This authority stood on the threshold of sovereignty alongside Israel by the end of the 1990s.

Thus, the abandonment of the "one-state solution" and the apparent acceptance of partition brought rapid diplomatic gains for the PLO and may have saved it from eclipse in the period following the collapse of the USSR and Yasir Arafat's ill-judged embrace of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Disputes remained as to the extent of the partition, and the Oslo peace process of the 1990s of course ended in failure.

...acceptance of Resolution 242 did not lead to a major rethink in terms of the Palestinian national movement's understanding of the nature of the conflict...seeing it as between an entirely illegitimate colonialism (Zionism) and an anti-colonialist Arab resistance movement.

Emblematic of the absence of a real revolution in thinking in the PLO was the failure throughout the greater part of the 1990s to abrogate the clauses in the PLO's founding documents--the Palestine National Covenant and Charter--which called for Israel's destruction. Despite entreaties from both Israel and the United States, this was not undertaken in any form until 1996.

Following U.S. and Israeli pressure, the Palestine National Council met in the first week of May 1996 and declared that "The Palestinian National Charter is hereby amended by cancelling the articles that are contrary to the letters exchanged between the P.L.O and the Government of Israel 9-10 September 1993." In addition the PNC's legal committee was assigned "the task of redrafting the Palestinian National Charter in order to present it to the first session of the Palestinian central council." The statement did not mention which articles had been amended. On May 5, 1996, then Head of the Legal Committee Faysal Husayni announced that within three months, a new, revised covenant would be submitted. No new covenant was ever submitted, and Husayni himself later clarified that "There has been a decision to change the covenant. The change has not yet been carried out." To deflect pressure, PLO Chairman Arafat sent a letter to then President Clinton reaffirming the commitment to amend the charter and to remove the offending articles.

During Clinton's visit to Gaza in December 1998, the PNC was assembled and voted to approve Arafat's letter to Clinton. This was hailed by the world media at the time as constituting the final amendment of those elements of the Palestine National Covenant that called for Israel's destruction and the expulsion of the Jews. It was not. This is made clear by reference to the following fact: The Covenant itself, in article 33, outlined the only means by which it may legally be amended, namely "This Charter shall not be amended save by [vote of] a majority of two-thirds of the total membership of the National Congress of the Palestine Liberation Organization [taken] at a special session convened for that purpose." No such vote ever took place. Rather, vague commitments to the eventual holding of such a vote were put on paper and voted on.

Today, the PLO is a fragmented, nearly irrelevant body. The Palestinian Authority too has fragmented into two, with the Gaza Strip now under control of Hamas. The PA remains officially committed to the Oslo process and a two-state outcome to the conflict. Within Fatah, however, one may identify many open supporters of the one state idea, including very prominent individuals such as Faruk Kaddumi. Senior PA officials have made the argument that unless Israel is willing to accede to the PA's demands on borders for the Palestinian state and Jerusalem, the two-state solution cannot be made a reality. At a certain point, therefore, the Palestinians may decide to abandon the search for a two-state solution and adopt the one-state idea.

In the period since the collapse of the peace process in late 2000, the "one-state solution" has begun to re-emerge to prominence in Palestinian nationalist thinking.

The one state idea did not disappear during the peace process years of the 1990s. ...

...The advocates of the one-state solution then maintain that since Israel has chosen to sabotage the possibility of partition, there is no longer any possibility for the realization of this, and since Israeli settlement activity has de facto created a single entity west of the Jordan River, the appropriate--or perhaps sole possible--response of the Palestinian national movement is to accept this fait accompli and to begin a campaign for integration of the entire population of this area into a single state framework. This case has been made in myriad publications in a variety of languages over the previous half decade.

It is hard to find mention of the fact that this position was in fact the PLO's official stance until 1988. Rather, the impression given is that after a long period of commitment to partition, the Palestinians and the international community must now abandon this position, because Israel's actions have made it an impossibility.

The one-state solution, as has been shown, is a return to the policy advocated by the PLO from the late 1960s, once it moved beyond openly politicidal ambitions regarding the Israeli Jews. ...

...In order to answer in advance the claim that the foundation of such a single state framework would surely usher in disaster for the remaining Israeli Jewish minority, advocates of the "one-state solution" have been concerned to restate the older Palestinian and broader Arab claims as to why Israel should not be included in the normal category of nations and states deserving of existence. In this regard, arguments have been raised regarding the supposedly unique (and uniquely harmful) nature of the state of Israel and of Israeli nationhood. Thus, Virginia Tilley, an advocate of the "one-state solution," writes that the existence of Israel has been "flawed from the start, resting on the discredited idea, on which political Zionism stakes all its moral authority, that any ethnic group can legitimately claim permanent formal dominion over a territorial state."

This argument requires the listener to accept that there is a single state in the world that is based on the idea of the nation state as the realization of the national rights of a particular ethnic national group, and that state is Israel, and such a unique anomaly can therefore not claim the normal, unambiguous right to survival that is usually afforded states.

The claim, however, that Israel is an anomaly in this regard is unsustainable. Both Egypt and Syria describe themselves as "Arab republics". The Egyptian Constitution stipulates in Article 2, Chapter 1 that "Islam is the State religion, Arabic is the official language and the principles of Islamic Shari'a is the principal source of legislation." Both Egypt and Syria require that their president be a Muslim. The Syrian Constitution of 1973 also cites Islamic jurisprudence as the main source of legislation. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan base their entire legitimacy and identity on their Muslim nature. The Palestinian Authority also in its constitution describes the Palestinian people in ethnic and religious terms as "part of the Arab and Islamic nations," declares Islam as the official religion of the Palestinian state, and cites Islamic Shari'a law as a "major source for legislation."

The world is filled with states that derive their legitimacy and identity from the idea of themselves as the expression of the tradition and national rights of the group that makes up the majority of the population. This type of argument, therefore, cannot coherently explain why "one-state" advocates believe that the disappearance of Israel and the nullification of the right of Israelis to self-determination are acceptable and even preferable outcomes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

If the conflict between Israeli Jews and their Palestinian/Arab enemies is seen as a clash between two authentic, historically and culturally rooted national groups, then it is intuitive that a solution to it must rest on the partial realization of the claims of each side, and subsequent coexistence between them. ...

...Long embedded in Arab and Palestinian nationalism has been the notion that Zionist and Israeli Jewish identity is analogous not to that of other "legitimate" nations--such as Palestinian Arabs, British, French, and so on--but rather to illegitimate communities born of European colonialism, who have not in the post-1945 period generally been seen as laying legitimate claim to the self-determination to be afforded to genuine "nations." Examples of this kind of community would be the British settlers of "Rhodesia" in southern Africa, and the French settlers (known as "pieds noirs") in Algeria. In both these cases, the settlers, once faced down by the reality of local, indigenous resistance, made a rational accounting of their own interests and either acquiesced to rule by the indigenous people or departed whence they came.

Palestinian nationalism has long viewed Israeli Jews as analogous to these communities. No reconsidering of this characterization took place during the period of the peace process of the 1990s. Due to the geographical proximity, the example of the Algerian "pieds noirs" has been that most commonly cited. The "pieds noirs" have been of particular interest to Palestinian nationalists because of their large number and more or less complete departure from Algeria back to France following the granting of independence to Algeria.

The view of Israeli Jews as analogous to the "pieds noirs" and others like them--i.e., the view of Zionism as merely a movement of European colonialism--has never undergone revision among Palestinian nationalists. It is a view shared by the most moderate and the most radical circles within this trend. Certain adherents to this view decided on pragmatic grounds in the 1990s that the one-state solution should be abandoned because of prevailing political realities.

The essential rightness and justice of the one-state idea, however, was never questioned. The short period of acceptance of the "two-state solution," therefore, can to a certain extent be seen as a departure by Palestinian nationalism from its more natural stance, and the current trend of return to the "one-state" option is a return to a position more in keeping with the deep view of the conflict held by this trend.

The problem with this outlook is that Israeli Jews have refused to play the role allotted them. One of the notable characteristics of both Palestinian nationalism and broader Arab analysis of Israel has been the tendency to engage in gloomy predictions for Zionism and Israel. Ever since the 1960s, prophecies suggesting that the divide between Sephardim and Ashkenazim, or the "artificiality" of Israeli culture, or the religious-secular divide, or fear induced in "settlers" by Palestinian "resistance" would soon lead to the collapse of Zionism have abounded. Israel, in the meantime, has absorbed immigrants and developed--not without problems, to be sure, but generally successfully.

...Were Palestinian factor into its understanding of Zionism not only those aspects involving settlement and colonization but also such elements as the presence of Jewish sovereignty in the area in antiquity, the unbroken link via Jewish tradition felt by Jews with that ancient sovereignty, the many--sometimes successful--attempts in pre-modernity of Jews to re-establish communities in the area in question, the terrible suffering of Jews in the Diaspora and the notion in Jewish tradition of the "return to Zion" and the centrality of Jerusalem, this might make possible a better understanding of the durability and nature of Jewish and Israeli nationhood. This, in turn, might make the deepening of a more pragmatic outlook more feasible. As yet, however, there are no signs of this happening.

Rather, the conceptualization among secular Palestinian nationalists of Zionism as a colonization movement par excellence and nothing else continues to hold sway. The return to the idea of the "one-state solution" reflects the continued strength of this characterization.

The growth alongside Palestinian nationalism of a newer, Islamist competitor whose very different outlook leads it also to a similar strategy of negation of the opposing side is perhaps the most important development in Palestinian politics over the last two decades. In the current situation, legitimacy in Palestinian politics continues to be judged according to fealty to an idea of the complete defeat of the enemy, and the most potent growing political force is a religious movement committed to this ideal.

Against this backdrop, secular Palestinian nationalism appears to be retreating back down the road it traveled in the 1990s, to the point at which its journey began in the late 1960s. The growing resonance of the old-new idea of the "one-state solution" is the most notable evidence of this process.

The alternative to defeatism and self-delusion

From the, by Caroline B. Glick [my own emphasis added - SL]:

...On Tuesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the heads of UN member states,

"The dignity, integrity and rights of the European and American people are being played with by a small but deceitful number of people called Zionists. Although they are miniscule minority, they have been dominating an important portion of the financial and monetary centers as well as the political decision-making centers of some European countries and the US in a deceitful, complex and furtive manner."

Ahmadinejad then promised that Israel will soon be destroyed - for the benefit of humanity. For these remarks, he received enthusiastic applause from the world leaders assembled at the UN General Assembly.

And how has Israel responded? It hasn't done anything in particular. And it has no intention of doing anything in particular. This point was made clear to the public on Wednesday when Israel's new UN Ambassador, Gavriela Shalev gave an interview to Army Radio. While bemoaning Ahmadinejad's warm reception, she said that the world leaders were probably just being diplomatic. She noted that many of their ambassadors say nice things about Israel to her in private. Israel's woman at the UN devoted most of her interview to defending the UN. In fact, she said she believes it is her duty not simply to defend Israel to the world body, but to defend the UN to Israelis. As she put it, her job is "correcting the UN's image in the eyes of the people of Israel."

Shalev's appointment to the UN was the work of Foreign Minister - and would-be prime minister - Tzipi Livni. And her view of her role as Israel's ambassador is strictly in keeping with what Livni perceives as the job of Israel's top diplomats. They are the world's emissaries to Israel. Livni has spent the better part of the past three years at the Foreign Ministry telling us that the UN is our friend, the Europeans are our friends and that the Americans and Europeans and the UN will take care of Iran for us.

The Palestinians are also our friends. As anti-Semitic forces grow throughout the world, Livni has not communicated one single policy for defending Israel abroad that doesn't involve the kindness of strangers. Her response to Ahmadinejad's speech was case in point. The one thing the woman who believes that she has the right to lead the country without being elected by anyone thinks that Israel should do in response to Ahmadinejad's call for our physical destruction is to object to Iran's bid to join the UN Security Council. Livni's only concrete response to Ahmadinejad's promise to annihilate us was to issue a directive to Israel's embassies abroad telling our diplomats to ask their host governments not to support Iran's bid for Security Council membership.

Livni doesn't actually think Iran is Israel's greatest challenge. The Palestinians are. And as far as she is concerned, giving the Palestinians a state by handing over Judea and Samaria (and Jerusalem, although she never says it outright), as quickly as possible is Israel's most urgent task. We need a two-state-solution and we need it NOW, she says.

Neither Livni nor her colleagues in Kadima, Labor and Meretz, nor her supporters in the Israeli media ever bother to acknowledge the troublesome, inconvenient fact that the Palestinians don't want a state. They want to destroy our state. This basic fact was made clear - yet again - on Tuesday. Tuesday Livni took time out of her busy schedule of political meetings with Labor, Shas and Meretz leaders with whom she is attempting to build a government without being elected by anyone, to meet with Fatah's chief negotiator Ahmad Qurei.

Although Livni refused to tell us what she talked about, she promised that progress was made towards the urgent imperative of forming a Palestinian state. But Qurei was not so enthusiastic. In fact, he was contemptuous of Livni and of the very notion of peaceful coexistence between the Palestinians and Israel. After the negotiating session Qurei told Reuters that if the talks towards an Israeli surrender of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem collapse, the Palestinians will renew their terror war against Israel. In his words, "If the talks reached a dead end, what do we do? Capitulate? Resistance in all its forms is a legitimate right."

Just to make sure he understood Qurei properly, the reporter asked whether that meant that the Palestinians would renew their suicide bombing campaign against Israelis. Qurei responded, "All forms of resistance."

We have been here of course, a million times before. This is the same threat that Yassir Arafat and his men have made - and implemented - repeatedly since signing the Oslo accord with Israel 15 years ago. They use terror and negotiations in tandem to squeeze Israel into giving away more and more of its land. And it works.

When Livni heard about Qurei's remarks, she called him and reportedly told him that they were unacceptable. So he said he was taken out of context. No skin off his back. He knew Livni wouldn't do anything. At the same time that Livni said his remarks were unacceptable, she pledged to continue negotiating Israel's surrender of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem with him for as long as she remains in power. Today Livni and her colleagues in Kadima, Labor, Meretz and Shas are working fervently towards forming a new government that will continue holding irrelevant but dangerous negotiations with the Palestinians and the Syrians and pretending that Iran's nuclear weapons are not going to be used against Israel. They argue that we need the "political stability" that they can provide us in this dangerous time.

The Israeli media gives these fantasies their full support. Indeed, anyone who notices that the world is sitting back and allowing Iran to acquire nuclear weapons or points out that the Palestinians don't want a state is immediately shot down as an alarmist and an extremist. This national discourse - which has been the only one permitted in the country since the advent of the "peace process" with the PLO 15 years ago -- is Israel's Achilles heel. Until the general public is set clear on the reality of the world confronting the country, there is no chance that Israel will take the necessary steps to defend itself and ensure that it survives.

Understanding this basic fact, former IDF chief of general staff Lt. Gen. (ret.) Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon has taken it upon himself to tell the Israeli public the truth about the world we live in. Ya'alon is a rare bird among Israel's pantheon of current luminaries. He is an honest man who lives by his principles, and he doesn't bend them, ever. Last week Ya'alon published a book called The Longer Shorter Road in Hebrew. Ya'alon, whose tour of duty as chief of staff was unceremoniously cut short by former prime minister Ariel Sharon in June 2005 due to his trenchant opposition to Sharon's planned withdrawal of IDF forces and Israeli civilians from the Gaza Strip, has written a book that sets out the facts of life clearly, credibly and passionately.

The book's title is derived from a speech that Ya'alon's commander Yoram Ya'ir gave to his officers during the first Lebanon War. Ya'ir explained that short-cuts are not necessarily better than long roads. In fact, it is often better to take the longest route. As Ya'ir put it, "There is a long road that is short and there are short roads that are long." Ya'alon uses Ya'ir's point to demonstrate that the Israeli Left's insistence on peace "now" and a solution to the Arab-Israel conflict "now," has placed Israel on a strategic trajectory that has brought it, and will continue to bring it only bloodshed and danger.

Israel's enemies in the Palestinian Authority, Lebanon, Syria and Iran view Israel's insistence on finding immediate solutions to the threats it faces as a sign that Israeli society is collapsing. As a consequence, every step that Israel has made towards appeasing its neighbors -from recognizing the PLO and bringing Arafat and his legions into Judea, Samaria and Gaza; to retreating from Lebanon in 2000 and Gaza in 2005; to failing to properly prosecute the Second Lebanon War in 2006; to doing nothing to combat Hamas's regime in Gaza since 2007; to embracing the false paradigm of peace at Annapolis last November - has strengthened their conviction that Israel can and will be destroyed.

Ya'alon also dwells on the moral collapse of Israel's political and media elite and that collapse's adverse impact on the senior command echelons of the IDF. The abandonment of Zionist values and public and private integrity by our politicians and media has cast and kept Israel on a path of self-delusion where the only thing that matters is immediate gratification. Politicians promise the public "hope" based on illusions of peace-around-the-corner to win their votes. The media support the politicians' lies both because of the media's post-Zionist ideological uniformity and due to their refusal to acknowledge that their populist demands for peace "now" have brought Israel only war and danger.

Ya'alon's book is part memoir and part polemic. He reminds Israelis of what it is about us that makes us a great people worthy of our land and privileged to defend it. At the same time, he chastises our failed leaders who have tricked the public into following a strategic path that endangers us. His book's greatest contribution is not in providing a set path forward, but in courageously and unrelentingly explaining the reality that surrounds us today and in showing the public how it is that we have arrived in our current predicament.

In exposing himself, his values and his beliefs to the public, and juxtaposing his own leadership experience and personal integrity with the corruption and weakness of our political and intellectual leaders, Ya'alon is telling the public in a very clear way that there is an alternative to defeatism and self-delusion, and that he - and we the public -- represent that alternative, that "longer shorter road."

Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and their colleagues on the Left in the Knesset and the media insist that we not take that longer road to security and peace. In fact, they deny that it even exists. They attempt to convince us that elections are unnecessary by arguing that there is no difference between political parties today because their short cut to defeat is the only path available to us.

It must be fervently hoped that Ya'alon will soon enter the political fray. Like the Likud under Binyamin Netanyahu, Ya'alon is proof positive that Livni and her cronies are lying. There are great differences between those that would lead us and the paths they would take. And the only road to safety is the long road that is paved on reality.

World Jewish demography

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Sep. 25, 2008, by Matthew Wagner:

Natural population growth in Israel that was partially canceled out by negative growth in the Diaspora resulted in a net increase in the past year of 70,000 Jews, according to data released Thursday by the Jewish Agency ahead of Rosh Hashana.

There are 13.3 million people around the world who define themselves as Jewish and who do not belong to any other faith.

Jewish Agency Chairman Ze'ev Bielski said the data proved that a "tangible danger of assimilation was hanging over the Jewish people."

The survey was conducted by Prof. Sergio Della Pergola from the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute and the Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University.
Over the past year, the Jewish population in Israel grew by 85,000, while there was a decrease of 15,000 in the Diaspora.

There are 5.55 million Jews in Israel and 7.75 million in the Diaspora, meaning 41.3 percent of World Jewry now resides in the Jewish state.
  • The United States is next, with 5.3 million Jews, or 39.8%, then
  • France with 490,000,
  • Canada with 375,000,
  • Britain with 295,000,
  • Russia with 215,000 (340,000 in the entire FSU),
  • Argentina with 183,000,
  • Germany with 120,000,
  • Australia with 107,000 and
  • Brazil with 96,000.

There are about 1.5 million people in North America who are either Jews married to a non-Jew or are the offspring of a mixed Jewish-non-Jewish couple. According to the Jewish Agency, this is proof that assimilation is growing.

Bielski said the agency would "step up its efforts to provide Jewish education in Diaspora communities and to strengthen the Jewish identity of the new generation and tighten the ties between Israel and the Diaspora."

Other data released by the agency: There is one Jew living in Afghanistan, 95 countries have 100 or more Jews, there are 11 million people living in the US who are eligible for automatic citizenship under the Law of Return, and another million in the FSU.

Iran, Iran Iran

From The Australian Editorial, September 29, 2008:

... What to do about Iran's nuclear weapons program will be one
of the most difficult challenges to face the next occupant of the White
House. A nuclear-armed Iran would spark an atomic arms race in the Middle
East, threaten the world's oil supplies and embolden Iran-sponsored
extremist groups such as Hezbollah.

As reported in The Weekend Australian, a bipartisan report written by Middle East expert Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute gives little ground for optimism when it comes to preventing Iran acquiring nuclear weapons.

According to Mr Rubin, only sanctions that are tough enough to make the cost of pursuing nuclear weapons too great will be effective. At the same time, Iran must be given sufficient incentives to make normalisation attractive to Tehran.

While Mr Rubin does not think that a military strike is a good option, he believes the threat needs to be kept up if diplomacy is to be given a chance to work. Merely talking with Iran, as Senator Obama would prefer, would do nothing to change the minds of Iran's leaders. As Mr Rubin points out, Iran built much of its covert enrichment program under its reformist president Mohammed Khatami during a period of maximum engagement with the West. The sudden reversal by North Korea on shutting down its nuclear enrichment program only underlines the danger of giving dictatorial regimes too much rope.

...The problem now is that getting the consensus of the European Union, Russia, China and the Persian Gulf states to take tougher action has become much harder. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a number of his Western counterparts that Moscow had gone cold on international efforts to reign in the nuclear ambitions of Iran. Mr Lavrov cited the decision by the US and its allies to punish Russia for its invasion of Georgia by cutting Kremlin officials out of G8 talks for Moscow's change of heart. This is unfortunate, as a co-ordinated response to Iran's nuclear program is urgently needed. The current policy approach is not working. The UN Security Council has imposed three rounds of watered-down sanctions to force Iran to suspend a uranium enrichment program. Instead, Tehran has expanded its centrifuge cascades, which refine uranium into bomb-grade plutonium, to more than 4000 machines.

No wonder Iran's leaders are reading the West's weak and divided approach as proof that the world is prepared to tolerate their nuclear ambitions.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

16 violins rescued from Holocaust play again

From Yahoo News, by SHAWNA OHM, Associated Press, Thu Sep 25:

Sixteen violins found in Nazi concentration camps and abandoned Jewish communities after World War II have made music together for the first time in a concert outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City.

The violins were restored by Israeli violin maker Amnon Weinstein, who repairs violins left behind by Jews who were taken away by Nazis ...

...The concert began with Weinstein picking up each of the 16 violins and handing it to the violinist who would be playing it....

...A centerpiece of the event was a violin organizers say was once owned by a 12-year-old boy named Motele. They said Motele played for German officers while hiding with a group of Jewish rebels on the Russian front. He is said to have hidden his violin in the German compound and used its case to smuggle in explosives to help the Russian Jewish irregular forces retake the town.

The concert ended Wednesday evening with a 12-year-old boy playing the Israeli national anthem on Motele's violin in commemoration of Israel's 60th anniversary this year....