Saturday, August 08, 2009
Recently, pressure has been applied by US President Barack Obama to prevent the construction of a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel. If Israel deserves the title "state" it has to stand united in an effort to rebuff this pressure resolutely.
There are several justifications for this strong Israeli stand.
First, the struggle over settlement in Jerusalem is at heart a struggle over Israeli sovereignty in the city, based on 3,000 years of Jewish history in the holy city, long before Washington was the capital of the United States, Paris the capital of France and Cairo the capital of Egypt. Jerusalem, and particularly the area of the Temple, embodies the hopes and is the focus of the prayers of the Jewish people since it went into exile 1,940 years ago.
Zionism is based on the idea of returning to Zion, meaning to Jerusalem, not to Beersheva or Haifa or Jaffa. Every year at this time, during the month of Av, we weep for the destruction of Jerusalem, with mourning for Yavne, Tzippori, Masada and Gamla added to the mourning for Jerusalem. The prophets of Israel prophesied the salvation of Jerusalem and no other city.
Second ...Conceding any portion of the city, especially the Temple Mount, would create a sense of destruction among many Jews. They then might lose their faith in the Zionist enterprise and react in ways that could endanger the unity of Israeli society. ... it would be signaling world Jewry that it has lost its link to Judaism ...many Jews in the world who would consider this an act of treachery against our religion, our history and the Jewish hope of salvation that was realized in part 42 years ago.
Third, Jerusalem never was, even for a day, the capital of a Palestinian or Arab entity. After the Muslim conquest in the seventh century, the capital was Ramleh, located 40 km from Jerusalem. Even Jordan, which ruled East Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967 did not make it its capital. Accordingly, the Palestinian demand to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine has no basis in history.
Fourth, in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict the issue of Jerusalem does not stand alone: if Israel shows even a little flexibility on this question, it will invite pressures to concede "just a little" on the issue of refugees and the crack in the dam will widen and wreak destruction on the entire Zionist enterprise.
Fifth, concessions offered in neighborhoods adjacent to Jerusalem would place the capital of Israel within range of light weapons, enable snipers to target pedestrians and return the city back to the pre-1967 days of protective walls. Today the city is already within range of missiles and rockets from Ramallah and Bethlehem; moving the attackers even closer, within the line of sight of Jerusalem, would only increase their appetite for rendering the lives of Jews unbearable. No one in Israel or beyond can assure us that a future Palestinian government will deal with these attackers efficiently, without the bother of High Court injunctions and appeals from human rights activists.
Sixth, the territory of East Jerusalem was never under Jordanian sovereignty. Hence it is impossible to argue that East Jerusalem is "occupied territory". At most this is disputed territory, to which the non-Jewish contender cannot be defined in sovereign terms since it is not a state. Accordingly, Israel has a considerable judicial advantage in seeking recognition of its annexation. Only politics is delaying this process.
The conclusion that emerges from this discussion is that a concession on Jerusalem or parts of the city constitutes surrender to a baseless Palestinian, Arab and Islamic demand and could endanger both the capital of Israel and the entire Zionist enterprise.
Israel must expand and enrich Jewish residence in the historic capital of the Jewish people in order to eliminate once and forever the possibility of partitioning the city. We don't have to generate superfluous friction by placing Jews in crowded Arab neighborhoods. But housing construction in the Shepherd Hotel location is important, if only because of the link between this structure and the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who volunteered to recruit tens of thousands of Muslims for the Nazi extermination machine.
The entire city of Jerusalem should be developed on the basis of Jewish-Arab equality; interested Arab residents should be granted full Israeli citizenship. Israel should declare for all to see and hear on road signs, in official documents and in the language used by the Broadcasting Authority that the name of its capital is Yerushalaim, not Urshalim and certainly not al-Quds. The Islamic conquest of this country ended with WWI and there is no reason to perpetuate the name that desert tribes gave the eternal city of the Jewish people.
The key strategic process that has taken place in the Middle East in the last half-decade has been the emergence of an Iranian-led bloc of states and movements, committed to undermining the U.S.-led status quo. ...In the course of 2009, however, this Iranian-led alliance has suffered a series of setbacks....
Central to the outlook of the pro-Iranian alliance is the notion of "muqawama" - resistance... challenging what they portray as the declining power of the United States and its allies. Israel, which this bloc views as an artificial remnant of colonialism in the region, is a central target.
For a while, the muqawama bloc appeared to be racking up achievement after achievement. Iran has sidestepped international attempts to limit or slow its nuclear program. Hezbollah, its creation and client, emerged intact - and claimed to be victorious - in its 2006 fight with an ill-prepared and badly led Israel Defense Forces. The same organization went on to defend its independent military infrastructure in Lebanon, intimidating its pro-Western opponents.
In the Palestinian arena, Hamas has been able to maintain its Gaza enclave thanks to Iranian support. This is important because Iran knows the Palestinian issue remains the great legitimizing element for millions in the region. So a plausible bid for ownership of the Palestinian cause is a strategic goal for the bloc.
In the course of 2009, however, the muqawama alliance's winning streak seems to have ended.
- Operation Cast Lead proved that Hamas' belief that it could deter Israel from a major ground operation in Gaza was baseless. The organization's confidence derived from a key item of faith guiding the Iran-led alliance - namely, that Israel is a tired and lost society no longer capable of generating the self-sacrifice necessary for successful national defense.
- In Cast Lead, Israel demonstrated its ability to deliver a telling military blow to Hamas-led Gaza, at minimum cost to itself. In so doing, it also showed that the asymmetric-warfare methods developed by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and applied by Hamas in Gaza are not foolproof. The silence that has emanated from Gaza since the January operation is a mute testimony to the setback suffered by Hamas and its allies.
- The June 7 elections in Lebanon delivered an additional blow to the Iran-led bloc, with the unexpected defeat of Hezbollah and its allies. The movement's rearming in the country's south continues unabated. But there is no doubt that its inability to attain a parliamentary majority struck at the aura of invincibility and inevitability that this movement has worked to weave around itself.
- Perhaps the most decisive setback to the muqawama bloc, however, has been the ongoing unrest in Iran itself. The demonstrations and protests against the rigged presidential elections there have made a mockery of the claim by Iran and its allies that they represent "popular will" in the region against corrupt pro-Western regimes.
The unrest has laid bare the mechanisms of coercion behind power in Iran. The regime is not in any immediate danger, but it is increasingly being seen, both in Iran and across the region, as just another Middle Eastern government holding power against the will of its own people. The ambition for regional hegemony, an article of faith for the radical group that includes President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, probably was always beyond the capabilities of the Islamist regime in Tehran.
Ahmadinejad had hoped to turn the rickety, corrupt regime of the mullahs into a model of successful defiance and development for the region. But this aspiration is looking farther off than it did a year ago.
Of course, the impact of these setbacks should not be exaggerated. The game is not yet decided. Iranian nuclear efforts continue apace, Hamas is holding on in Gaza, Hezbollah maintains its independent infrastructure in Lebanon.
The Arab world and the Middle East have a tendency, every few years, to fall under the spell of bright, shining lies that promise to avenge every humiliation, reverse every defeat, reestablish the rightful order. These ringing untruths and their bearers - Pan-Arab nationalism in its rightist and leftist forms, the Palestinian "guerrillas," even the Saddam Hussein regime in the early 1990s - appear on a wave of rhetoric, ride along splendidly for a while, and then crash on the rocks of reality.
The reality, in this case, is the superior social and economic organization of Western states such as Israel, and the inability of any of these forms of politicized anger to adequately address this fact. The muqawama doctrine of Iran is the latest example. Its defeat may still be distant, but the first indications that it is likely to share the eventual fate of its predecessors have become apparent this year.
Since the 1970s and especially since the early 1980s, important changes have occurred in the Arab world's attitude to Israel.
First of all, most Arab leaders, state and non-state alike, have gradually reached the conclusion that Israel is a fact and cannot be destroyed, both because of its military power and due to the steady commitment of the U.S. to its existence and security.
Furthermore, Egypt's - followed by Jordan's - choice of peace with Israel and withdrawal from the cycle of war, combined with Iraq's downfall in its wars with Iran (1980s) and the West (1991 and 2003), have prevented the formation of an Arab military front against Israel.
The collapse of the Soviet Union dealt the final blow to the military option against Israel by depriving Syria of strategic superpower backing, and leaving the U.S., with its special relationship with Israel, as the sole superpower.
These developments led to the realization among Arab leaders that the conflict with Israel should be ended through diplomacy, because war was neither practical nor to the Arabs' benefit.
In the first half of the 1990s, the very existence of a Palestinian diplomatic channel has contributed to the legitimacy of dialogue with Israel and the creation among moderate Arab governments of an interest in encouraging this process.
In all probability, however, inclusion of the Arab world in the peace process can probably take place only after the direct principals in the negotiations - Israel, the Palestinians, and Syria - achieve real progress on their own, which the Arab world can then complement.
U.S. Air Force and Naval forces could do serious damage to Tehran’s nuclear facilities if diplomacy fails. ... U.S. policy makers must prepare for the eventuality that diplomacy fails. While there has been much discussion of economic sanctions, we cannot neglect the military’s role in a Plan B.
There has been a lack of serious public discussion of the military tools available to us. Any mention of them is either met with accusations of warmongering or hushed with concerns over sharing sensitive information. It is important to discuss, within legal limits, such a serious issue as openly as possible. Discussion strengthens our democracy and dispels misinformation.
The military can play an important role in solving this complex problem without firing a single shot.
Publicly signaling serious preparation for a military strike might obviate the need for one if deployments force Tehran to recognize the costs of its nuclear defiance. Mr. Obama might consider, for example, the deployment of additional carrier battle groups and minesweepers to the waters off Iran, and the conduct of military exercises with allies.
If such pressure fails to impress Iranian leadership, the U.S. Navy could move to blockade Iranian ports. A blockade—which is an act of war—would effectively cut off Iran’s gasoline imports, which constitute about one-third of its consumption. Especially in the aftermath of post-election protests, the Iranian leadership must worry about the economic dislocations and political impact of such action.
Should these measures not compel Tehran to reverse course on its nuclear program, and only after all other diplomatic avenues and economic pressures have been exhausted, the U.S. military is capable of launching a devastating attack on Iranian nuclear and military facilities.
Many policy makers and journalists dismiss the military option on the basis of a false sense of futility. They assume
- that the U.S. military is already overstretched,
- that we lack adequate intelligence about the location of covert nuclear sites, and
- that known sites are too heavily fortified.
Such assumptions are false.
An attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would mostly involve air assets, primarily Air Force and Navy, that are not strained by operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, the presence of U.S. forces in countries that border Iran offers distinct advantages. Special Forces and intelligence personnel already in the region can easily move to protect key assets or perform clandestine operations. It would be prudent to emplace additional missile-defense capabilities in the region, upgrade both regional facilities and allied militaries, and expand strategic partnerships with countries such as Azerbaijan and Georgia to pressure Iran from all directions.
Conflict may reveal previously undetected Iranian facilities as Iranian forces move to protect them. Moreover, nuclear sites buried underground may survive sustained bombing, but their entrances and exits will not.
Of course, there are huge risks to military action: U.S. and allied casualties; rallying Iranians around an unstable and oppressive regime; Iranian reprisals be they direct or by proxy against us and our allies; and Iranian-instigated unrest in the Persian Gulf states, first and foremost in Iraq.
Furthermore, while a successful bombing campaign would set back Iranian nuclear development, Iran would undoubtedly retain its nuclear knowhow. An attack would also necessitate years of continued vigilance, both to retain the ability to strike previously undiscovered sites and to ensure that Iran does not revive its nuclear program.
But the risks of military action must be weighed against those of doing nothing. If the Iranian regime continues to advance its nuclear program despite the best efforts of Mr. Obama and other world leaders, we risk Iranian domination of the oil-rich Persian Gulf, threats to U.S.-allied Arab regimes, the emboldening of radicals in the region, the creation of an existential threat to Israel, the destabilization of Iraq, the shutdown of the Israel-Palestinian peace process, and a regional nuclear-arms race.
A peaceful resolution of the threat posed by Iran’s nuclear ambitions would certainly be the best possible outcome. But should diplomacy and economic pressure fail, a U.S. military strike against Iran is a technically feasible and credible option.
*Gen. Wald (U.S. Air Force four-star, retired) was the air commander for the initial stages of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and deputy commander of the U.S. European Command.
THE supposedly "moderate" Palestinian party remains steadfast in its refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. But then, this week's Fatah gathering in Bethlehem won't even help promote the creation of a new Palestinian state.
All of which leaves the Obama plans for the Middle East looking like a road map to nowhere.
It's been 62 years since the UN General Assembly partitioned British-mandated Palestine into two states, defining one as Arab and the other as Jewish. Egypt signed on to peace 30 years ago, and in 1993 Yasser Arafat "recognized" Israel in the Oslo agreement. Six years ago, President George W. Bush envisioned "two states living side by side in peace."
Yet almost all Arabs remain unified in their "outrage" over Israel's renewed demand for recognition as a Jewish state.
It's high time for President Obama to publicly admonish Fatah on this point, just as he pressured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to publicly declare his adherence to the "two-state solution."
Fatah's ...draft of its new platform says Fatah will refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and remains vague on declaring an end to the "armed struggle." Indeed, Fatah sometimes seems eager to outdo the extremism of its rival Hamas.
Yesterday, the party delegates voted to declare, with no tangible proof, that Israel is responsible for Yasser Arafat's 2004 death in a Paris hospital.
In a rambling two-hour speech Tuesday, Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told delegates that Palestinians retain their right to "popular resistance." He also railed against Israeli attempts to erase the "Arab character of Jerusalem," and declared he would never relinquish a "right of return" for Arab refugees and millions of their descendants.
And (encouraged by Obama's public admonitions of Israel), the platform and the 2,000 delegates say that no talks with Israel will start before a complete construction "freeze" in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
Established in Cairo in 1954 by Palestinian secular nationalists who were tired of unfulfilled Arab promises to defeat the Zionists, Fatah under Arafat performed spectacularly bloody stunts, inspiring international terrorists for years to come. But once he gained control of the West Bank and Gaza in the 1990s, Arafat proved inept at creating infrastructure for statehood.
Arafat's successor, the less charismatic Abbas, struggled unsuccessfully to break from his old boss' methods. Hamas then gained popularity and seized power in Gaza, turning it into a Taliban-like state. Now it threatens the same in the West Bank.
...Now it's Obama's turn. So far, he has succeeded only in encouraging Abbas to wait until Washington delivers endless Israeli concessions. It's time to push Palestinians to change their mindset. Insisting they recognize Israel as a Jewish state would be a good start.
The Palestinian families evicted in East Jerusalem had failed to pay their rent – a fact omitted from British media reports
...things are not always what they seem and the eviction of the Hanoun and Ghawi families are an apt example of how an appetite for a certain type of story can create that story regardless of the facts.
As an organisation that follows media coverage of the Middle East closely, we gathered from Sunday and Monday's reporting, such as on the BBC, in the Guardian and in the Times that the two Palestinian families were evicted because Israeli courts had found that the land belonged to Jews, not to the Palestinians living there. Cut to religiously clad Jews busting in to the newly vacated houses and the whole thing is just obvious: Israel mercilessly turfs Arabs on to the street to plant more settlers in east Jerusalem.
It turns out that this is simply not the case. In fact, there is nothing simple about this case at all. There is a long legal history pertaining to the dispute between 28 Arab families and Jewish organisations over the ownership of the land in question. However, one crucial point was omitted from all reporting from the British sources named above (bar a small amendment to the BBC article made yesterday following a communication from us): the two Arab families evicted on Sunday were evicted for failing to pay rent in violation of the terms of their tenancy agreements. The Arab families who have kept to the terms of their tenancy agreement have not been evicted.
It is true that the non-payment of rent is tied up with the dispute over who owns the land, but it is still intensely relevant to the story. It's all very well for the Guardian's Middle East editor, Ian Black, to describe the evictions as "the ugly face of ethnic cleansing" or for Cif contributor Matt Kennard to claim that they represent "a process of racial purification". But without informing readers that the only people being evicted are the ones who refused to pay rent to the landlords they recognised decades ago, they paint a distorted picture.
...This information was public. Furthermore, Ir Amim, the Israeli organisation supporting the position of the evicted families, is straight about the fact that the families are being evicted for not paying rent; a representative stated: "The legal issues surrounding the Sheikh Jarrah evictions are quite complex. In short, the Israeli courts have accepted the settlers' claim of ownership over the property, but recognised the Palestinian residents to be protected tenants. Some of the 28 families continued to pay the rent, but some did not accept the court's ruling and therefore did not pay the rent. Against those, the court issued eviction orders."
So why the collective exclusion of this key fact from British reporting?
...As evidence of its leading role in research and development, Israel has been chosen to head the largest R&D network in the world, the "Eureka initiative," a pan-European, inter-governmental initiative that supports European innovation and sees investments of 1.5 billion euros every year.
Since joining the program in 2000, Israel, the only non-European member country, has been among the most active of the 40 members.
...Israel Shamay, Israel's national project coordinator for Eureka, from the Israeli Industry Center for R&D (MATIMOP)... believes that the vote that led to an Israeli representative being chosen to chair the network was an obvious choice, after Israel proved itself among the member countries.
"In the last three years, Israel became one of the five most active members in Eureka and had the same number of projects compared to [EU] countries, which are much bigger. Out of nearly 300 new projects initiated by Eureka, in 2008, we had 40 with Israeli companies participating in them."
Some of the more successful pairings since Israel joined Eureka are between the Israeli agricultural company Veterix, and DeLaval, a Swedish milk industry giant. Veterix developed a capsule that sits in the stomach of a cow to monitor the health of the animal from within, and worked with the Swedish firm to co-develop the idea.
...Elbit Systems, the Israeli Defense Industries high-tech firm, had several projects in Eureka. One was to take cameras intended for military purposes and develop them for the auto industry. If the windshield fogs up or if there is poor visibility, the camera can still see the road. It's good for truckers, says Shamay.
A third success story is the partnership between Starhome, a Comverse subsidiary in Israel, and Nokia and Alcatel-Lucent to develop a smart home system.
Eureka is the largest joint project R&D initiative in the world. Main objectives are to foster R&D joint ventures between corporations, with financial support matched by representative countries.
Germany is now entering the chair position, with Israel to follow. The project maintains a troika system, with three representatives holding chair positions simultaneously - the past, present and future chairs. The name of the Israeli chairperson has not yet been announced.
SHAMAY IS hoping that Israel's upcoming leading role in Eureka will impact positively on the country's industrial development. "Over this period of one year, Israel will determine the agenda of Eureka and can prioritize along with our national interests," he says, pointing out that Israel could initiate new funding schemes for startups and companies, bring more EU investment banks and investors to Israel and expose EU countries to Israel's binational projects like the Red-Dead canal, proposed between Israel and Jordan.
Chief Scientist Dr. Eli Opper said in an interview with Israel's financial newspaper Globes: "During its year as president of Eureka, Israel will be able to set its agenda, which will enable us to promote important initiatives with European support, such as strengthening R&D in low technology industries or in other priority fields, such as the life sciences, water technologies and the environment."
..."In our case [funding comes from] the Chief Scientist's Office. Eureka provides a platform to initiate this cooperation and provides a legal framework," explains Shamay. "It's important to note it's a national task, so we are involving the President of Israel (Shimon Peres), Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Science and the Israel Venture Association. We invite all of them to take part in this opportunity," he adds.
Israel has other successful partnerships underway in EU R&D programs, in the EU Seventh Framework Programme for R&D, and in Galileo, a global satellite navigation program.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's resolute response to a State Department official's objection to a Jewish building development in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem may actually close a 90-year-old chapter of the Arab-Israeli conflict and bring about a measure of justice. "We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and buy [homes] anywhere in Jerusalem," Netanyahu said.
For much too long Arab states, terrorist groups and Palestinian Arabs believed that they could wage "wars of limited liability" first against the Jews of Palestine and then against the State of Israel. They embraced a fantasy that they could unleash attacks with impunity in an attempt to wipe out Israel, convinced that if they were defeated they could return to a status quo ante, or even achieve diplomatically what they couldn't win on the battlefield. Territories captured by Israel would be returned and not annexed, terrorist leaders would be honored and not condemned, and Jews/Israel would be blamed and never indemnified.
Tragically, that fantasy became reality.
IN 1920, the Balfour Declaration was a very pertinent and relevant document in Palestine. The Turks left Palestine after 400 years, and the British attempted to establish their authority. Jews who had fled the Turkish regime began to return, and they were joined by other Jews - "Zionists" from Russia and Eastern Europe - eager to build the promised "national home for the Jewish people." Arab clans and local groups began to coalesce and compete to fill the vacuum left by the Turks. They found sympathetic British authorities who opposed the establishment of a Jewish home in Palestine and sought to rescind the Balfour Declaration. Together, they opposed Jewish immigration into Palestine and the Jewish purchase of large tracts of land.
The Jewish settlement of Tel Hai in the Galilee was overrun by local Arab marauders in early 1920, and within months, riots and pogroms against Jews erupted across Palestine. According to witnesses, the ax- and sword-wielding mobs, emboldened by their perception of supportive British authorities, yelled, "Addowlah ma'anah! The government is with us! Itbah al-Yahud! Slaughter the Jews!" as they attacked Jewish communities. They were led by the nephew of Jerusalem's mayor, a young rabble-rouser named Haj Amin el-Husseini.
Rather than throw Husseini in prison or hang him, the British appointed him as the grand mufti of Jerusalem. The anti-Semitic terrorist leader used his position to garner a following and a status that he would wield for the next 25 years, culminating in his collaboration with Adolf Hitler in World War II.
WHEN THE British attempted to arrest the mufti in 1937, he fled Palestine, and the British made do with confiscating his property. The Husseini clan owned several well-known buildings in Jerusalem, among them the Palace Hotel on Rehov Mamilla (later Israel's Ministry of Industry and Trade and and now being rebuilt as a hotel), the Orient House (the site of Palestinian Authority attempts to establish its rule in east Jerusalem) and the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah on a plot of land known as Karam al-Mufti, named for Husseini.
The Shepherd Hotel was located on a key roadway; just yards away is the site of the infamous Hadassah Hospital convoy massacre in April 1948. Seventy-nine Jews, mostly doctors and nurses, were killed on that road when their convoy to the Mt. Scopus hospital was attacked by hundreds of Arab terrorists. A meek British military response allowed the attack to continue for many hours throughout the day.
Despite all of the Arab attacks against Jewish communities in Palestine in those years, the British response was to reward Arab aggression and impose draconian restrictions on Jewish immigration. Part of the British Mandate of Palestine, what could have been part of the Jewish homeland, was lopped off in 1922 and given to Emir Abdullah to later form the state of Jordan. Addowlah ma'anah.
The pattern of Arab attacks and rewards would repeat itself time and again. Limited liability - the Arabs paid little for their attacks.
In 1956, Egyptian-commanded fedayeen terrorist attacks caused Israel to join Britain and France in the Sinai Campaign against Egypt. Two days into the war, US president Dwight Eisenhower called prime minister David Ben-Gurion. According to a biographer of Jewish leader Max Fisher, Eisenhower admonished Ben-Gurion, "...You ought not forget that the strength of Israel and her future are bound up with the United States." This was followed by specific threats: If Israel did not leave Sinai and Gaza there would be UN condemnation, US aid would be terminated, the tax-status of charitable contributions would be challenged.
AIPAC's founder, Si Kenan, wrote of the period: "There were long and feverish negotiations between the Israelis and secretary of state [John Foster] Dulles, who tried to divide American Jews, most of whom were backing the Israelis. Dulles invited a group of major Jewish philanthropists, including leading non-Zionists, to use their influence to persuade Israel to accept the US position..."
Sound familiar and contemporary? To a recent meeting with American Jewish leadership, President Barack Obama also invited two leftist organizations highly critical of Israeli policies.
In 1957, US pressure forced Israel to withdraw from Sinai without securing ironclad guarantees against Egyptian aggression and blockades.. In October 1965 Max Fisher visited Eisenhower at his Gettysburg farm. Eisenhower admitted to him, "... looking back at Suez, I regret what I did. I never should have pressed Israel to evacuate the Sinai."
Several casus belli directly led to the 1967 Six Day War. They include Egypt's naval blockade of Israel, the massing of Egyptian troops in Sinai, Jordan's dispatch of tanks into the West Bank and shelling of Jerusalem, and Syria's bombardment of Israel's northern communities.
The American and British drafters of the 1967 UN Security Council Resolution 242 also recognized the madness of returning to the 1949 armistice lines. "We didn't say there should be a withdrawal to the '67 line," said British ambassador Lord Caradon. "We all knew - that the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier... We did not say that the '67 boundaries must be forever; it would be insanity."
Yet, today, under the Arab concept of wars of limited liability, they and the UN demand a complete withdrawal from the West Bank and east Jerusalem - "100 percent" - and a dismantling of the security barrier erected to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers. In other words, there is no punishment, no price to pay and no indemnification for acts of aggression. Addowlah ma'anah.
The actions and words of the Obama administration today elicit from Israel's "peace partners" echoes of that ominous war cry.
"Obama," noted The Washington Post's Jackson Diehl after interviewing the Palestinian Authority's Mahmoud Abbas, "has repeatedly and publicly stressed the need for a West Bank settlement freeze, with no exceptions. In so doing he has shifted the focus to Israel. He has revived a long-dormant Palestinian fantasy: that the United States will simply force Israel to make critical concessions... while Arabs passively watch and applaud." Addowlah ma'anah.
Ironically, Abbas himself recently revealed that once the Arabs of Palestine did not expect the great powers or other Arabs to rescue them, and that indeed they were capable of recognizing the responsibility for their actions. Describing the 1948 flight of his Arab community from Safed, Abbas admitted on Al-Palestinia TV last month, "People were motivated to run away... They feared retribution from Zionist terrorist organizations - particularly from the Safed ones. Those of us from Safed especially feared that the Jews harbored old desires to avenge what happened during the 1929 uprising. This was in the memory of our families and parents... They realized the balance of forces was shifting and therefore the whole town was abandoned on the basis of this rationale - saving our lives and our belongings."
The acquisition of the Shepherd Hotel site was carried out according to the letter of the law. The land, first confiscated by the British, was administered by the Jordanian government after it illegally annexed the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 1950. Under international law, the Israeli government became custodian after the 1967 war. For the Past 15 years the building stood abandoned. Soon the piece of real estate will house the descendants of those whom Haj Amin el-Husseini tried to kill in Palestine, or the grandchildren of those European Jews who escaped Husseini's ally, Adolf Hitler.
Maybe, just maybe, there are consequences for aggression.
[AND IT'S ABOUT TIME - SL]
Friday, August 07, 2009
Jewish congressional members and lobbying groups are protesting President Obama's decision to award the Presidential Medal of Freedom to former Irish leader Mary Robinson, who they say has a long record of harshly criticizing Israel.
... the Robinson award is the latest in a series of recent disagreements with Obama, and some Jewish leaders are growing skeptical of his commitment to Israel.
... several members of Congress -- including two Jewish Democrats -- had rebuked the decision to bestow the country's highest civilian honor on Robinson ....
Among their concerns was her role as the United Nations' high commissioner on human rights in the 2001 World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. ...Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a member of the Jewish caucus to the conference, said Thursday that Robinson "allowed the event to be hijacked by extremists who had no interest in peace."
The episode, Cooper said, "degraded" the global human rights effort, setting the stage for the second racism conference, held this spring, in which a keynote speaker was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad...
...Robinson "simply did not have the guts . . . to step into the fray and say it can't be this way," Cooper said. ...
...Rep. Shelley Berkley (D- Nev.) said Thursday that the "biased views expressed by Mary Robinson against the nation of Israel remain deeply troubling, and her tarnished record of actions on this issue cannot be erased with the awarding of the Presidential Medal of Freedom."
Berkley blamed Robinson for the "highly charged anti-Jewish attacks against Israel and its supporters" at the 2001 conference and said her actions "deserve to be condemned."
Another Jewish Democrat, Rep. Eliot L. Engel of New York, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Robinson was a "screw-up" and a "mistake." ...
...the controversy looked to be growing.
The World Jewish Congress on Thursday accused Robinson of an "endorsement of Palestinian violence as legitimate political activity, and the outrageous equating of the Holocaust to the suffering of the Palestinians," adding that Robinson's record "renders her unqualified to receive the nation's highest civilian honor."
...the late Rep. Tom Lantos of California, a Holocaust survivor and delegate to the Durban conference, ...said that Robinson's conduct "left our delegation deeply shocked and saddened" by her remarks about Israel.
JERUSALEM — Senior US Republican Congressman Eric Cantor said on Thursday that the world should stop pressuring Israel over settlements and concentrate instead on the threat from a nuclear Iran.
Cantor, Republican Whip in the House of Representatives, said the main obstacle to Middle East peace is the Palestinian refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state and not the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
..."We believe the focus should be on the existential threat to Israel from a nuclear-armed Iran," said Cantor, who is leading a 25-strong delegation of Republican lawmakers on a weeklong visit.
...Cantor insisted Washington should push for tough sanctions on the "terrorist regime" in Iran.
"We share the view with Prime Minister Netanyahu that we do not want to see undue pressure placed on Israel...and the Palestinians have to accept, that Israel is a Jewish state," he said.
...A similar delegation of 30 Congressmen from President Barack Obama's Democratic party is to travel to Israel next week.
Jerusalem refuses to wait for Security Council resolution, launches diplomatic campaign aimed at pressuring series of leading countries to act against Islamic republic....
Time is running out, and Israel has decided not to depend on the United Nations in terms of sanctions on Iran . The Foreign Ministry has launched extensive diplomatic activities aimed at pressuring a series of the world's leading countries to impose sanctions on Iran, even if the Security Council fails to make such a decision.
Israel is trying to get the United States, Australia, Canada and some leading European countries to tighten the economic blockade and sanctions imposed on the Islamic republic. The goal is to undermine the stability of the Iranian regime, which is weaker than perceived by the world so far, in order to force it to choose between preserving its regime and halting its nuclear program.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have been holding discussions recently on "the day after" the talks between the Obama administration and the Ahmadinejad regime fail. This is scheduled to happen next month, according to a timetable set by the Americans.
...the foreign minister said there was a possibility that China – and perhaps Russia as well – would prevent the UN Security Council from imposing severe sanctions on Iran.
...If Obama's dialogue with Iran fails, and China and Russia thwart tough Security Council sanctions, Lieberman believes Israel must aim to have a separate blockade imposed by each Western country, ...[including] the European Union countries and the organization in Brussels, Canada, Australia and of course the US, which would lead the entire move.
..."Only tough sanctions, which will not allow the Iranian regime to continue ignoring the world, will make it possible to stop the nuclear plan," the foreign minister said.
...such effective action is the only way to really threaten Ahmadinejad's regime, which is weak as it is, ahead of the possibility of forceful action.
Israel believes that an effective blockade could lead to one of two outcomes: Causing Ahmadinejad to halt the nuclearization process – in order not to lose power in Tehran, or replacing the Ayatollah regime by the Iranian people, who are aware of the atmosphere in the free world, as seen following the recent presidential elections.
In addition, Israel hopes, such a situation will also harm Iran's satellite organizations – Hamas and Hezbollah.
A Hezbollah-run Arabic station could soon be broadcasting in Australia.
...This is the implication of a just-released investigation by [Australia's peak communication regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority] ACMA of al-Manar, the Arabic satellite television station run by the Lebanon-based but Iranian-funded and controlled terrorist group Hezbollah.
According to ACMA, under the current regulations, there are only two things such a TV station is not allowed to do.
- It cannot directly recruit people to join a terrorist organisation, which under new standards it promulgated in December 2008 is only judged to occur when the media outlet gives contact details on how to join or obtain terrorist training material. So Hezbollah - or JI or al-Qaeda, for that matter - are free to urge people to support the "resistance" and promote it as a religious obligation to participate in its activities - as long as phone numbers are not provided.
- Secondly, it may not do anything reasonably construed as "soliciting funds for a terrorist organisation", which again is interpreted as meaning only to provide information such as bank account details. ACMA did not see any problem with an advertisement on al-Manar soliciting donations for the al-Emdad charity, which is used primarily for supporting the families of Hezbollah fighters. Giving it money is effectively indistinguishable from giving money to Hezbollah, which is illegal in Australia.
While ACMA looked at al-Manar's programming for only a single week last year, this decision essentially declares that terrorist television is allowed in Australia - unlike the US, Canada, France, Germany, and the EU, all of whose authorities have banned al-Manar.
Al-Manar is reaching much of Australia's east coast via a satellite feed from Indonesia. The programs reviewed by ACMA included a laudatory portrait of assassinated Hezbollah terror mastermind Imad Mughniyeh, plus several profiles of Lebanese people who assisted Hezbollah. The individuals featured said things such as "[I] would love to die as a martyr".
Al-Manar has videos of children undergoing military training accompanied by a rousing chorus singing, "Death, death, death to Israel" and others singing to their mothers asking them for stories about their fathers martyred fighting Israel. Animation segments have portrayed Jews as turning into apes and pigs. This segment is an example of the blatant anti-Semitism on al-Manar - almost certainly contravening Australian racial hatred laws.
The station broadcast a 30-part series in 2003 during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan based explicitly on the famous anti-Semitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and also portrayed rabbis as plotting to slaughter non-Jewish children to use their blood for Passover matza. Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah described Jews on air as "Allah's most cowardly and greedy creatures".
It would seem simply good policy and morality that terrorist organisations should not be allowed to operate television stations in Australia regardless of whether they cross an arbitrary line between merely encouraging people to join and provide funding or actually listing the contact details. It is clear that changes made last December to broadcasting guidelines with regard to terrorism - designed to protect free speech and fair reporting - went too far. There can be absolutely no public interest in allowing terrorist groups to air their own television stations, such as al-Manar, in Australia.
As we saw this week with the arrest of a group of citizens allegedly planning a terrorist attack on a Sydney army base, there are still Australian residents and citizens vulnerable to recruitment by terrorist organisations to commit violence in Australia.
Do we really want to give these groups extra help to radicalise such individuals by allowing them to beam their TV propaganda directly into people's homes?
JERUSALEM — Israel's defence minister claimed on Thursday that the militant Lebanese Hezbollah group has stockpiled 40,000 rockets and warned [that] the Jewish state would get tough in case of a conflict with Lebanon.
"We cannot accept that a neighbouring UN member state should have in its government representatives of a militia that has more than 40,000 rockets," Defence Minister Ehud Barak told Israeli public radio.
"If there is a conflict on our northern border, we will use all necessary force," he said.
"What happened in the second Lebanon war will not happen again ... at the time a message from the United States indicated we must spare Lebanon's infrastructure," the minister said.
..."Hezbollah continues arming itself and we must ensure certain types of weapon should not enter Lebanon," Barak said.
The Fatah General Assembly on Thursday unanimously adopted a resolution according to which the negotiations with Jerusalem will not renewed until Israel releases all the Palestinian prisoners held in its jails, Israel Radio reported.
...Senior Fatah official Nabil Sha'ath said that the committee in charge of determining the movement's policy approved 14 conditions for the renewal of negotiations with Israel, including lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip and halting settlement construction.
In an interview with a Web site linked with the Islamic Jihad, Sha'ath added that Fatah had not denounced the armed resistance, though it had not yet lost faith in the negotiations.
The decision came amid mounting tensions between rival camps in the movement at the Bethlehem conference.
...Israel has released some 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in a number of goodwill gestures since the summer of 2007. Some 9,000 Palestinian prisoners are currently in Israeli jails.
Thursday, August 06, 2009
•Many observers are watching to see to what extent Fatah's Sixth General Congress will advance or retard the prospects for re-launching the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. In this regard, the crucial question is: Is Fatah going to waive its historical principle of "armed struggle" and devote itself to peace negotiations based on compromise?
•The two relevant documents to be discussed and approved by the Fatah Congress are the Political Program and Fatah's "Internal Order." The Political Program might be seen as reflecting progress in terms of accepting a political solution and rejecting violence - but it falls short of waiving the principle of armed struggle.
•The real problem lies in the Internal Order document, which restores all of the phrases that were omitted in the Political Program. While the Political Program sought to subordinate the struggle to the need for "international legitimacy," the Internal Order is very clear in rejecting all international peace initiatives.
•In the Internal Order document, Fatah retains the armed struggle as a strategy in order to liberate the whole of Palestine and eliminate Israel. Article 12 calls for "the liberation of Palestine completely and the elimination of the state of the Zionist occupation economically, politically, militarily, and culturally."
[Note that these are a verbatim quotes - SL]
•Article 13 calls for "establishing a sovereign democratic Palestinian state on the entire Palestinian territory." While the Political Program lists the "one-state solution" as an option in case the "two-state solution" fails, the Internal Order document mentions the "one-state solution" as the only solution.
•Should there be any question regarding Fatah's objectives, Article 17 states: "The armed popular revolution is the only inevitable way to the liberation of Palestine," while Article 19 notes: "The struggle will not end until the elimination of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine." ...
Two Documents: One for International Consumption and the Other for Internal Use
The two relevant documents to be discussed and approved by the Fatah Congress are the
- Political Program and
- Fatah's "Internal Order."
The Political Program might be seen by many as reflecting progress in terms of accepting a political solution and rejecting violence - but it falls short of waiving the principle of armed struggle...
Fatah's Internal Order Presents a Different Face
... the real problem lies in the Internal Order document.
...While the Political Program sought to subordinate the struggle to the need for "international legitimacy," the Internal Order is very clear in rejecting all international peace initiatives:
"The projects, agreements, and resolutions that were issued or will be issued by the UN or group of states or any separate state on the Palestinian problem that waives the rights of the Palestinians on their homeland is null and void."
Furthermore, Article 22 calls for:
"objection by force to all political solutions that are offered as an alternative to the extermination of the occupying Zionist entity in Palestine and all the projects that aim for the elimination of the Palestinian problem, or seek to internationalize it or put an outside custodian on its people from any possible party."
This article is in contradiction to the call in the Political Program for greater international involvement in the problem and its welcome for the involvement of international forces in Palestine.
Article 9 states clearly that
"the liberation of the Holy Land and the defense of its holy sites (that are forbidden to infidels) is an Arab, Muslim, and humanitarian duty."
Fatah Retains the Strategy of the Armed Struggle
And here we come to the essence: Fatah retains the armed struggle as a strategy in order to liberate the whole of Palestine and eliminate Israel.
Article 12 calls for
"the liberation of Palestine completely and the elimination of the state of the Zionist occupation economically, politically, militarily, and culturally."
(Indeed, one of the methods mentioned in the Political Program for the "peaceful intifada" is an economic boycott of Israel.)
Article 13 calls for
"establishing a sovereign democratic Palestinian state on the entire Palestinian territory that will preserve the legitimate rights of the citizens on the basis of justice and equality without discrimination on the basis of race, religion and belief, and Jerusalem will be its capital."
While the Political Program lists the "one-state solution" as an option in case the "two-state solution" fails, the Internal Order document mentions the "one-state solution" as the only solution.
Article 17 says:
"The armed popular revolution is the only inevitable way to the liberation of Palestine."
Finally, Article 19 notes:
"The armed struggle is a strategy and not just a tactic and the armed revolution of the Arab Palestinian people is a decisive factor in the war of liberation and the elimination of the Zionist existence, and the struggle will not end until the elimination of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine."
While Fatah's Political Program tries to accommodate international expectations and seems designed to mobilize international legitimacy for the re-launching of a "peaceful intifada," Fatah's "Internal Order" reminds us how deeply ingrained in Fatah is its ideology from the 1960s and 1970s.
The idea of gestures of 'normalization' from Arab states to Israel is a central component in the US administration's plan for reviving the Mideast peace process...
...According to reports, the US is now in the final stages before the announcement of its new, comprehensive peace plan. In the past week, meanwhile, three Arab states appear to have rejected the possibility of gestures of normalization.
...the score-card for gestures of normalization from the Arab states to Israel stands at close to zero. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Kuwait are all close allies of the US. Yet none have yet been willing to make a positive gesture in Washington's direction on this issue. What lies behind their refusal?
...Arab rejection of incremental measures has not been solely predicated on Israel's refusal of a comprehensive freeze on all construction in West Bank settlements. Rather, the very principle of normalization in the period prior to a final-status accord between Israelis and Palestinians appears to be rejected.
The rejection of this idea derives from two elements. Firstly, the near-universal, though rarely expressed, belief that the current attempt to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is doomed to failure. Secondly, the distinct lack of urgency felt in Arab capitals regarding this issue.
Regarding the first issue, the factors that caused the failure of the peace process in the 1990s have not disappeared. They are waiting to trip up any negotiation should final-status talks begin.
The demand that Palestinian refugees and their descendants be permitted to make their homes in Israel, the demand for exclusive Muslim sovereignty over the holy places in Jerusalem, the refusal to countenance recognition of Israel as a Jewish state - all these remain part of the non-negotiable core position of the Palestinian national movement. Indeed, in so far as the situation on the ground has changed since 2000, it is for the worse.
The split in the Palestinian national movement between nationalist Fatah and Islamist Hamas increasingly has the look of permanency about it. And since militancy against Israel remains the currency of legitimacy in Palestinian politics, the effect of this is to induce the ageing Fatah movement to dress itself up in radical array once again.
This may currently be seen at the Fatah congress in Bethlehem. There is simply no prospect in the foreseeable future of a united Palestinian leadership willing to make the compromises with reality which alone would render a repartition of the country feasible.
For Arab countries aligned with the US, this situation is not so terrible. They suffer no tangible consequence as a result of it. But the Palestinian issue remains the great mobilizing cause for the populations of the Arab states.
Since this is the case, Arab regimes do not consider it in their interests to appear to be making concessions to Israel. On the contrary - given that from the Kuwaiti, or Saudi, or even Jordanian point of view there is no urgent practical need to resolve the conflict, the leaders of these countries have an obvious interest in playing to the gallery of their own publics by striking occasional militant poses.
These poses must not go beyond a certain point, of course. The American protector must not be unduly provoked. But the Obama administration has made abundantly clear that there will be no price to be paid by the Arab states for their refusal to get on the Obama peace wagon.
As a result, these states may happily continue their comfortable stance of verbal support for the Palestinian cause and refusal to undertake any potentially detrimental gesture of rapprochement toward Israel, while continuing to enjoy the benefits of American patronage.
The fact is that, as everyone in the region knows, there is no chance of a final-status accord between Israelis and Palestinians any time soon. And the absence of such an accord is very far from being the most urgent problem facing the region. All sides now await the moment that this knowledge finds its way to the US administration.
*The writer is a senior researcher at the Global Research in International Affairs Center, IDC, Herzliya.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
JERUSALEM (AP) — After surviving the Holocaust as a child, Israel Meir Lau — a former Israeli chief rabbi — spent decades searching for the man who saved his life.
That journey ended with an Associated Press report about a recently discovered Nazi document confirming the identity of the teenager who shielded him from German gunfire when his concentration camp was liberated.
In an emotional ceremony on Tuesday, the [Yad Vashem] Holocaust memorial Lau now chairs posthumously granted Feodor Mikhailichenko Israel's highest honor for non-Jews ["Righteous Among The Nations"].
"This closes a circle of 64 years. You look for this person, to whom you owe your life, and you don't know whom to thank," said Lau, 72. "He was my childhood hero. A man with a huge soul and a heart of gold."
Lau had previously identified a fellow inmate, a non-Jewish Russian named Feodor, as his savior in the Buchenwald concentration camp, but he never learned the 18-year-old's full name. He said Feodor stole and cooked potatoes for him, knitted him wool earmuffs to protect him from the bitter cold and lay on top of him as gunfire erupted when the camp was liberated on Apr. 11, 1945.
At the time, Lau was an eight-year-old boy nicknamed Lulek.
"Feodor, the Russian, looked after me in the daily life like a father would for a son. His concern and feeling of responsibility gave me a sense of security," Lau wrote in his 2005 autobiography.
Mikhailichenko grew so close to Lau that he wanted to adopt him as a son. But Lau kept his word to his murdered family and emigrated to pre-state Israel on a ship of orphaned refugee children. He lost track of Mikhailichenko and despite many efforts could never trace him again.
The mystery began to unfold in June 2008 when Holocaust researcher Kenneth Waltzer of Michigan State University discovered the man's true identity through a Nazi document he discovered in a recently opened secret archive in the small German town of Bad Arolsen.
The document had been stashed away for more than six decades.
Lau first learned the full name of his rescuer through an AP report about the discovery.
Mikhailichenko returned to Russia where he became a prominent geologist. He died of cancer in 1993 at the age of 66. But his daughters, Yulia Selutina and Yelena Belayaeva, were quickly tracked down and confirmed that their father often spoke lovingly about a young Jewish boy name Lulek in Buchenwald.
After last year's discovery, Lau invited both daughters to Israel and had them at his home for dinner. There, he introduced them to many of his eight children, 50 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
"I told them, 'all of this I owe to your father. If it wasn't for your father, none of them would exist,'" he said. "I looked for him for decades and I never forgot him for a single day."
Selutina teared up Tuesday as she accepted a medal and a certificate on her father's behalf. She said her father never forgot Lulek either, and traveled to Buchenwald a year before his death seeking information about him.
Mikhailichenko was featured in a 1992 Russian documentary detailing how he and other Russian inmates helped Lau survive by doing his chores and protecting him from the wrath of German guards.
Mikhailichenko's daughters met with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Tuesday.
"There are not a lot of daughters in the world who can be as proud of their father as you can. Your father acted with ultimate humanity when he saved one soul and risked his life," Peres told them. "The entire state of Israel is proud of you and your family and will be grateful to you our entire lives."
Nearly all of the Polish-born Lau's family members were exterminated in Nazi concentration camps. Lau's older brother Naftali cared for the young boy until the two were separated upon arrival at Buchenwald in January 1945.
Mikhailichenko was already a veteran inmate of the camp, having been arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 for robbery. He knew the ropes and watched over Lau.
When Buchenwald was liberated by American troops, Lau was among its youngest surviving prisoners. He went on to become one of Israel's most prominent spiritual leaders. He served as the country's chief rabbi between 1993-2003 and is currently the chairman of the Yad Vashem Council, an advisory board to Israel's official Holocaust memorial.
Over 22,700 non-Jews have been recognized by Yad Vashem as "Righteous Among the Nations" since the designation was created in 1963. Those include Oskar Schindler, whose efforts to save more than 1,000 Jews were documented in the film "Schindler's List," and Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who is credited for having saved at least 20,000 Jews.
Mikhailichenko's name is now engraved alongside theirs in a garden at the memorial honoring their roles.
About 6 million European Jews were killed by German Nazis and their collaborators during World War II.
Lau said Mikhailichenko proved the goodness that exists in humans, regardless of nationality, religion or gender.
"You see through him that there is a chance for humanity, there is hope for the world," he said. "Feodor is a lesson of morals, of ethics, of humanity."
"Now we know the lesson that even in a dark tunnel, in the midst of the dark tunnel, there is a light. The light is Feodor."
On July 30 The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel ranked 141 out of 144 countries on the Global Peace Index published by the Australia-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), making Israel out to be less peaceful than Sudan, Iran and Pakistan. By the logic and methodology employed, Stalin's Russia and Hitler's Germany would have scored well.
...The IEP ...sifts through mountains of data and then reduces each data set into 23 "indicators." The indicators are then divided into three categories; "measures of ongoing domestic and international conflict, measures of safety and security in society and measures of militarization."
... This system, which is popular in the social sciences, means quantifying such abstract concepts as people's "perception of criminality in society."
This is open to a form of fraud. Israelis may think their society is violent, just as South Africans do, but the murder rate here is 2.65 for every 100,000, whereas in South Africa it is 38. Perception of violence says nothing about violence.
Similarly the index measures the ease of access to weapons, military sophistication and number of heavy weapons - all figures which have no connection to actual levels of violence. But perhaps the indicator with the greatest chutzpah is the "potential for terrorist attacks," which actually punishes a country because people might target it.
IN COMPARING the Sudan, which scored 140 out of 144, the level of idiocy disguised as banality becomes clear. Sudan, which has caused the deaths of more than 300,000 of its own citizens and displaced millions of them to Chad, scores exactly the same as Israel under the category "number of displaced people as a percentage of population."
Perhaps the score for Sudan is the same as Israel because Sudan has achieved a complete genocide of its black Muslim Darfuri population and thus there aren't any displaced left? This isn't exactly a measurement of "absence of violence," which is what the Index claims to measure.
...This jury-rigged statistical nonsense leads to a morally bankrupt result. The insinuation of the survey is clear: Israel is one of the most violent places in the world. This jives with the typical surveys in Europe where people place Israel on the top of the list of countries "threatening world peace."
BY CONTRAST, countries currently involved in mass human rights violations, genocides and even outright slavery can be considered "peaceful." Countries that resemble one large prison, such as North Korea, are positively wonderful to live in, according to the index. Lebanon, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and the Congo, all of which have central governments that barely function, are doing better than Israel. Egypt, where tourists are forbidden from visiting much of the country, where tourist attractions are like armed police camps and where tourists must travel on special trains for safety, is considered 54th out of 144 countries, a prime place to live, "absent of violence." It is 'absent of violence' apparently because neither the media nor foreigners can visit much of it.
In the 21st century, genocide masquerades as peace. It is tempting to want to boil every country down to a neat number, but when bias and thoughtlessness is built into the system of doing so, the results are no different than Durban II.
...Mohammad Ahmadinejad talking to students at Columbia University:
If [the Holocaust] is a reality, we need to still question whether the Palestinian people should be paying for it or not. After all, it happened in Europe. The Palestinian people had no role to play in it. So why is it that the Palestinian people are paying the price of an event they had nothing to do with?...The Palestinian people didn’t commit any crime. They had no role to play in World War II. They were living with the Jewish communities and the Christian communities in peace at the time.The conclusion that is supposed to follow from this “fact” is that the establishment of Israel in the wake of the Nazi genocide of the Jewish people was unfair to the Palestinians. Central to this claim is that neither the Palestinian people nor their leadership bore any responsibility for the Holocaust, and if any reparations are owed the Jewish people, it is from Germany and not from the Palestinians. The propounders of this historical argument suggest that the West created the Jewish state out of guilt over the Holocaust. It might have been understandable if a portion of Germany (or Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, France, Austria, or other collaborator nations) had been allocated for a Jewish homeland—but why Palestine? Palestine, according to this claim, was as much a “victim” as were the Jews.
I hear this argument on university campuses around the United States, and even more so in Europe.
The truth is that the Palestinian leadership, supported by the Palestinian masses, played a significant role in Hitler’s Holocaust.
The official leader of the Palestinians, Haj Amin al-Husseini, spent the war years in Berlin with Hitler, serving as a consultant on the Jewish question. He was taken on a tour of Auschwitz and expressed support for the mass murder of European Jews. He also sought to “solve the problems of the Jewish element in Palestine and other Arab countries” by employing “the same method” being used “in the Axis countries.” He would not be satisfied with the Jewish residents of Palestine—many of whom were descendants of Sephardic Jews who had lived there for hundreds, even thousands, of years—remaining as a minority in a Muslim state. Like Hitler, he wanted to be rid of “every last Jew.” As Husseini wrote in his memoirs, “Our fundamental condition for cooperating with Germany was a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world. I asked Hitler for an explicit undertaking to allow us to solve the Jewish problem in a manner befitting our national and racial aspirations and according to the scientific methods innovated by Germany in the handling of its Jews. The answer I got was: ‘The Jews are yours.’”
The mufti was apparently planning to return to Palestine in the event of a German victory and to construct a death camp, modeled after Auschwitz, near Nablus. Husseini incited his pro-Nazi followers with the words “Arise, O sons of Arabia. Fight for your sacred rights. Slaughter Jews wherever you find them. Their spilled blood pleases Allah, our history and religion. That will save our honor.”
Not only did Husseini exhort his followers to murder the Jews; he also took an active role in trying to bring about that result. For example, in 1944, a German-Arab commando unit, under Husseini’s command, parachuted into Palestine and with the intention of poisoning Tel Aviv’s wells.
Husseini also helped to inspire a pro-Nazi coup in Iraq and helped to organize thousands of Muslims in the Balkans into military units known as Handselar divisions, which carried out atrocities against Yugoslav Jews, Serbs, and Gypsies. After a meeting with Hitler, he recorded the following in his diary:
The Mufti: “The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends…. They were therefore prepared to cooperate with Germany with all their hearts and stood ready to participate in a war, not only negatively by the commission of acts of sabotage and the instigation of revolutions, but also positively by the formation of an Arab Legion. In this struggle, the Arabs were striving for the independence and the unity of Palestine, Syria and Iraq….”
Hitler: “Germany was resolved, step by step, to ask one European nation after the other to solve its Jewish problem, and at the proper time direct a similar appeal to non-European nations as well. Germany’s objective would then be solely the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere under the protection of British power. The moment that Germany’s tank divisions and air squadrons had made their appearance south of the Caucasus, the public appeal requested by the Grand Mufti could go out to the Arab world.”
Hitler assured Husseini about how he would be regarded following a Nazi victory and “the destruction of the Jewish element residing in the Arab sphere.” In that hour, the mufti would be the most authoritative spokesman for the Arab world. It would then be his task to set off the Arab operations that he had secretly prepared.
Husseini’s significant contributions to the Holocaust were multifold:
first, he pleaded with Hitler to exterminate European Jewry and advised the Nazis on how to do so;
second, he visited Auschwitz and urged Eichmann and Himmler to accelerate the pace of the mass murder;
third, he personally stopped 4,000 children, accompanied by 500 adults, from leaving Europe and had them sent to Auschwitz and gassed;
fourth, he prevented another two thousand Jews from leaving Romania for Palestine and one thousand from leaving Hungary for Palestine, who were subsequently sent to death camps;
fifth, he organized the killing of 12,600 Bosnian Jews by Muslims, whom he recruited to the Waffen-SS Nazi-Bosnian division.
He was also one of the few non-Germans who was made privy to the Nazi extermination while it was taking place. It was in his official capacity as the leader of the Palestinian people and its official representative that he made his pact with Hitler, spent the war years in Berlin, and worked actively with Eichmann, Himmler, von Ribbentrop, and Hitler himself to “accelerate” the final solution by exterminating the Jews of Europe and laying plans to exterminate the Jews of Palestine.
Not only did the Grand Mufti play a significant role in the murder of European Jewry, he sought to replicate the genocide against the Jews in Israel during the war that produced a so-called Nakba. The war started by the Palestinians against the Jews in 1947, and the war started by the Arab states in 1948 against the new state of Israel, were both genocidal wars. Their goal was not merely the ethnic cleansing of the Jews from the area but their total annihilation. The leaders said so and the actions of their subordinates reflected this genocidal goal. They were aided in their efforts by Nazi soldiers—former SS and Gestapo members—who had been given asylum from war crime prosecution in Egypt and who had been recruited by the grand mufti to complete Hitler’s work.
It is also fair to say that Husseini’s pro-Nazi sympathies and support were widespread among his Palestinian followers, who regarded him as a hero even after the war and the disclosure of his role in Nazi atrocities. The notorious photograph of Husseini and Hitler, together in Berlin, was proudly displayed in many Palestinian homes, even after Husseini’s activities in the Holocaust became widely known and praised among Palestinians.
Husseini is still regarded by many as “the George Washington” of the Palestinian people, and if the Palestinians were to get a state of their own, he would be honored as our founding father is. He was their hero, despite—more likely, because of—his active role in the genocide against the Jewish people, which he openly supported and assisted. According to Husseini’s biographer, “Large parts of the Arab world shared [Husseini’s] sympathy with Nazi Germany during the Second World War…. Haj Amin’s popularity among the Palestinian Arabs and within the Arab states actually increased more than ever during his period with the Nazis.”
In 1948, the National Palestinian Council elected Husseini as its president, even though he was a wanted war criminal living in exile in Egypt. Indeed, Husseini is still revered today among many Palestinians as a national hero. Yasser Arafat, in an interview conducted in 2002 and reprinted in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds on August 2, 2002, called Husseini “our hero,” referring to the Palestinian people. Arafat also boasted of being “one of his troops,” even though he knew Husseini was “considered an ally of Nazis.” Today many Palestinians in East Jerusalem want to turn his home into a shrine. (Ironically, it is this home that was bought by a Jew to build the controversial Jewish housing development in East Jerusalem.)
It is a myth, therefore...that the Palestinians played “no role” in the Holocaust. Considering the active support by the Palestinian leadership and masses for the losing side of a genocidal war, it was more than fair for the United Nations to offer them a state of their own on more than half of the arable land of the British mandate.
The Palestinians rejected that offer and several since because they wanted there not to be a Jewish state more than they wanted their own state...
Thomson reports that Sarah was "thrown in a Jerusalem jail and forced to subsist on bread and water".
However Sarah seemed to regard her one-day stay in prison as quite an adventure, including a diet that included several Israeli foods. Sarah's own Blog reports:
...1-3pm – separated, interrogated, fingerprinted, waited, read my book, interrogated, advised of 24 hour arrest, paperwork...
...Fed at 5:30pm (bread, cream cheese, Israeli couscous) ...
...8am ... breakfast (white bread, boiled egg, weird jam, olives, triangle cheese) ...
...12:15 – 1pm – court case...
...1:30pm … I had a “shower” under the pipe from the wall. The pressure was good but I have some complaints about the temperature adjustment which got very hot. I did some yoga. We’re told we missed lunch because we were in court. Excuse us our foolish schedule! but we had bread remaining from breakfast – bread and water! prison! ... [my own emphasis added - this is apparently the "hardship" part that so horrified Chris Thompson - SL]
...5pm – THE END!
I tried to post the following comment on Sarah's Blog a few days ago. It's still "awaiting moderation" Actually, I'm also "awaiting moderation" from hysterical, misguided partisans like both Sarah and Chris...
Here's my (hitherto) unpublished comment:
If you are going to get involved in foreign disputes, please try to understand all sides of the issue. This excerpt from The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, 27/7/09, by Nadav Shragai, pre-dates the current controversy surrounding evictions in the Sheik Jarrah neighbourhood, but is very relevant to them:
During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, 78 doctors, nurses and other Jews were murdered on their way to Hadassah Hospital when their convoy was attacked by Arabs as it passed through Sheikh Jarrah. Mt. Scopus was cut off from western Jerusalem and remained a demilitarized Israeli enclave under UN aegis until it was returned to Israel in 1967. The area discussed here has for decades been a vital corridor to Mt. Scopus.
…Many observers incorrectly assume that Jerusalem is comprised of two ethnically homogenous halves: Jewish western Jerusalem and Arab eastern Jerusalem. Yet in some areas such as Sheikh Jarrah-Shimon HaTzadik, Jerusalem is a mosaic of peoples who are mixed and cannot be separated or divided according to the old 1949 armistice line.
In the eastern part of Jerusalem, i.e., north, south and east of the city’s 1967 borders, there are today some 200,000 Jews and 270,000 Arabs living in intertwined neighborhoods. In short, as certain parts of eastern Jerusalem have become ethnically diverse, it has become impossible to characterize it as a wholly Palestinian area that can easily be split off from the rest of Jerusalem.
… For hundreds of years the Jewish presence in the area centered around the tomb of Shimon HaTzadik (Simon the Righteous), one of the last members of the Great Assembly (HaKnesset HaGedolah), the governing body of the Jewish people during the Second Jewish Commonwealth, after the Babylonian Exile. His full name was Shimon ben Yohanan, the High Priest, who lived during the fourth century BCE, during the time of the Second Temple.
… Shimon HaTzadik and his pupils are buried in a cave near the road that goes from Sheikh Jarrah to Mt. Scopus. He appears as the author of one of the famous verses in Pirkei Avot (Sayings of the Fathers) which has been incorporated into the Jewish morning prayers…
For years Jews have made pilgrimages to his grave to light candles and pray, as documented in many reports by pilgrims and travelers. While the property was owned by Arabs for many years, in 1876 the cave and the nearby field were purchased by Jews, involving a plot of 18 dunams (about 4.5 acres) that included 80 ancient olive trees. The property was purchased for 15,000 francs and was transferred to the owner through the Majlis al-Idara, the seat of the Turkish Pasha and the chief justice. According to the contract, the buyers (the committee of the Sephardic community and the Ashkenazi Assembly of Israel) divided the area between them equally, including the cave on the edge of the plot.
Dozens of Jewish families built homes on the property. On the eve of the Arab Revolt in 1936 there were hundreds of Jews living there. When the disturbances began they fled, but returned a few months later and lived there until 1948. When the Jordanians captured the area, the Jews were evacuated and for nineteen years were barred from visiting either their former homes or the cave of Shimon HaTzadik….
Note that 15 judges in courts all the way to the High Court have been satisfied that the evicted people are illegal squatters.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
The Arab-Israel conflict seems to have been around forever. It certainly attracts a lot of attention in the world media. Almost every week we hear of another terrorist act, violent coup or some political machination in the region.
Our guest today is Steve Lieblich, an active member of the Jewish community in Perth. We’re going to get his point of view about this intractable conflict....
Trish then goes on to ask the following questions.
1. What does being a Jew mean for you in Australia?
2. What does Israel mean to Jews in Australia/worldwide?
3. How did modern Israel come to be established?
4. When did the Arab-Israel conflict start?
5. We’ve heard a lot recently about pressure for Israel to freeze the growth of settlements in the West Bank. Will Israel do that?
6. Why do you think the Arabs continue to oppose Israel?
7. Can Israeli and Arab aspirations be reconciled?
Click here to download the full 22-minute interview (42MB), complete with a brief musical interlude.
Pres. Barack Obama has decided to let Iran acquire nuclear arms. Unless Israel acts in self-defense against the president’s wishes, the world’s most dangerous regime will command the world’s most dangerous weapon.
Notwithstanding the White House’s misinformation campaign to the contrary, the evidence of the president’s agenda is incontrovertible.
Number one. Obama knows that the U.N. will not prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb. In June 2003 the International Atomic Energy Agency first reported that Iran was breaching its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Six years and five minimalist Security Council resolutions later, the adoption of serious sanctions by the council remains a non-starter. Russian president Dmitry Medvedev said in early July that more sanctions would be “counter-productive.” ...The latest development in burgeoning Chinese-Iranian ties was an Iranian July 13 announcement that China has agreed to invest $40 billion to increase Iran’s gasoline-refining capacity — a move that would hardly be an incentive to buy into new sanctions.
Number two. Heavy-duty sanctions imposed beyond the U.N. would require a serious and prompt push by the E-3 — France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. But ...“around 50 German firms have their own branch offices in Iran and more than 12,000 firms have trade representatives in the country. . . . With some $5.5 billion annual trade, Germany is Iran’s major European trading partner and the third worldwide.” ...British foreign secretary David Miliband described the EU hurry-up-and-wait preference while in Washington on July 29: “...as soon as the new government is formed in Tehran, we look forward to that government addressing . . . the clear package that was put to Iran some 15 or 16 months ago.”
Number three. President Obama himself is refusing to back strong, immediate sanctions in response to Iran’s umpteen violations of the NPT and human rights. On the contrary, after the July 10 G-8 meeting, he declared: “This notion that we were trying to get sanctions . . . is not accurate.” Defense Secretary Robert Gates reiterated on July 27 that sanctions are still not on Obama’s agenda. All he could say was that “if the engagement process is not successful, the United States is prepared to press for significant additional sanctions.”
Number four. Obama’s only concrete plan for dealing with what even Gates has called “the greatest current threat to global security” is more talk. Without an end date. On May 18, Obama declared that deadlines would be “artificial.” ...“My expectation would be that if we can begin discussions soon, shortly after the Iranian elections, we should have a fairly good sense by the end of the year as to whether they are moving in the right direction. . . . That doesn’t mean every issue would be resolved by that point.” ....
Worse, the potential year-end review of the yakkety-yak policy was based on the premise that the yakking had already started. On May 18, the president maintained that the Iranian “elections will be completed in June, and we are hopeful that, at that point, there is going to be a serious process of engagement.” Two months of silence later, on July 23, Secretary Clinton admitted: “Well, we haven’t had any response...they are so preoccupied right now...The internal debates going on within Iran have made it difficult, if not impossible, for them to pursue any diplomatic engagement. . . . I don’t think that they have any capacity to make that kind of decision right now.” Yes, brutal suppression takes time — but somehow, finding the hours and capacity for enriching uranium hasn’t been a problem.
Number five. No amount of butchery by Iran’s government has had any effect on Obama’s enthusiasm for breaking bread with the regime. Widely denounced show trials for more than 100 people began August 1. Agence France-Presse reported August 1 that 2,000 people had initially been arrested and 250 remain behind bars. U.S. and U.K. papers reported on July 29 that Tehran hospitals registered 34 bodies of protesters on June 20 alone, while 150 corpses have been counted in hospitals. New stories of torture surface regularly, with the New York Times reporting on July 28 that “some prisoners say they watched fellow detainees being beaten to death by guards in overcrowded, stinking holding pens.”
... On June 15 [Obama] said: “We will continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries, and we’ll see where it takes us...There is a path available to Iran in which their sovereignty is respected, their traditions, their culture, their faith is respected. . . . We don’t know how they’re going to respond yet, and that’s what we’re waiting to see.” Evidently, it never occurs to Obama that what makes his desired interlocutors criminals also decimates their capacity to conduct genuine dialogue, let alone keep any promises made.
Number six. With nothing moving “in the right direction” — no genuine dialogue, no legitimate counterpart, no hope of a tough U.N. resolution, no strong sanctions in place or in sight — Obama has attempted to take military action off the table for both Israel and the United States. On July 7, CNN asked the president if the U.S. had given Israel a green light for a preemptive strike against Iran’s nuclear sites, to which he responded, “absolutely not.” Last week Obama followed up by dispatching to Jerusalem a parade of emissaries instructed to make the same point — carrying no shame about bullying a democratic ally on a matter of its life and death.
As for U.S. action, Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak prompted Defense Secretary Gates on July 27 to keep “all options on the table.” Gates’s non-response to the plea said it all. On July 16 Gates, speaking in oblique terms about the military option, declared: “If something is done to prevent them [Iran] from getting one, the consequences of that are . . . very bad” — as bad or worse, he intimated, as the consequences of Iran actually getting the bomb. His reasoning was unlikely to have soothed Israelis: “Iran’s going to have the capability to deliver nuclear weapons to the people in their region a lot sooner than they’re going to have the capability to deliver them to us.”
Number seven. In late July while in Thailand, Secretary Clinton spelled out a promise of a U.S. defense shield that would accompany the Iranian acquisition of a nuclear bomb. “We want Iran to calculate what I think is a fair assessment, that if the United States extends a defense umbrella over the region. . . . [Iran] won’t be able to intimidate and dominate, as they apparently believe they can, once they have a nuclear weapon.” Discussing plans for a post-Iranian nuclear world at this juncture would not occur if the administration’s policy were to prevent it from happening, period.
Number eight. The Iranians know a blowhard when they see one. As columnist Amir Taheri notes, an Iranian newspaper with close ties to the government editorialized on July 26 that Obama doesn’t have the stomach for a major confrontation with Iran: “The Obama administration is prepared to accept the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. . . . They have no long-term plan for dealing with Iran. . . . Their strategy consists of begging us to talk with them.” In other words, Iran has called Obama’s bluff.
Iran is not the only one with Obama’s number. Israel, Russia, China, France, Germany, and Great Britain all know. This president has accepted a nuclear-armed Iran. Obama can label it anything he likes: “waiting to see,” “hoping for a response,” “taking stock,” “remaining ready to engage,” standing by until the “preoccupation” with oppression ends, “pressing” others to allow “additional sanctions.” But it all amounts to the same thing.
Unless Israel exercises its right of self-defense and decides to risk the wrath of President Obama as the lesser of two evils, there will be an Iranian nuclear bomb...
Monday, August 03, 2009
...The [Israel Democracy Institute] 2009 Democracy Index was handed to President Shimon Peres Monday. The survey was carried out in March 2009 on a sample representative of the adult population in Israel of 1,191 respondents. The respondents were interviewed in three languages: Hebrew, Arabic, and Russian. The sampling error is 2.8%.
...54% of the general public (Jews and Arabs) agrees that “only citizens who are loyal to the state are entitled to benefit from civil rights” (56% of the veterans, 67% of immigrants and 30% of the Arabs)...
...48% of Israelis are not prepared to evacuate any settlements within the framework of a permanent agreement; 37% are prepared for the evacuation of isolated settlements; and 15% are prepared to evacuate all the settlements over the green line.
The position of the immigrants from the FSU is more hawkish than that of the general Jewish public: 64% are not prepared for settlements to be evacuated in the framework of a permanent agreement; 30% are prepared for the evacuation of isolated settlements; and 6% are prepared to evacuate all the settlements...