Friday, September 11, 2009
President Obama’s UN debut is fast approaching. But as he looks forward to his makeover as global conciliator and potentate, all the signs point to a train wreck that has the potential of making health-care reform look easy.
Two problems are putting a wrench in his plans: Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Libyan president Col. Moammar Qaddafi. Both are coming to the UN’s New York headquarters in less than two weeks with to-do lists that don’t include improving Obama’s poll numbers.
Yesterday, Ahmadinejad called the president’s bluff. In mid-summer Obama decided that when the UN met in September, he would become the first American president to preside over a session of the Security Council (the council’s presidency rotates among its members, and this month is the United States’s turn).
Before Obama’s move, the council’s agenda items for September had included “nuclear non-proliferation — Iran” and “nuclear non-proliferation — North Korea.” But after inviting heads of state and government to join him, Obama set a new agenda, described by Ambassador Susan Rice as “focused on nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament broadly, and not on any specific countries.”
The Iranian president saw his opportunity, and yesterday he announced that Iran is ready for talks about “worldwide nuclear non-proliferation” and “global nuclear disarmament.”
Obama undoubtedly added “disarmament” to his council moment to impress a non-American audience. He didn’t care that in UN circles it would be used to change the subject from preventing Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons to disarming Israel and the United States. Fine and dandy with Ahmadinejad.
Furthermore, on Monday the Iranian president said he has no intention of halting uranium enrichment or negotiating over his country’s nuclear “rights.” With Obama running away from naming specific troublesome countries — at a summit of world leaders, at the Security Council, in the middle of New York City — why shouldn’t Ahmadinejad treat Americans as airheads who prefer photo ops too: “Nuclear proliferation — who, me?”
Meanwhile, the Qaddafi problem is getting more “sensitive,” as Ambassador Rice has so delicately put it. Obama’s idea for a summit meeting, which seemed like a harmless international diversionary tactic in the midst of a domestic mess, has the potential to become an image maker’s worst nightmare.
Libya is a member of the Security Council, and Qaddafi is looking for a hug (literally). So now Obama’s people are worrying about how to avoid him, or at least how to keep the cameras away when Obama embraces a man whom Americans understand to be a human-rights low-life extraordinaire. The irony is that it was Obama himself who issued Qaddafi the invitation to the council summit.
The president may also run into the colonel at the General Assembly podium the day before. On September 23 Obama will assume the dais and wax eloquent about the glories of the United Nations. The fantasy won’t last long, though. Libya is the president of this year’s General Assembly, resulting in a speaker order that makes Obama into Qaddafi’s warm-up act.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Why should America support Israel in the first place? That’s a fair question to ask down here in Melbourne, Australia, where the United Israel Appeal of Victoria kindly invited me to address communal, school and civic audiences as well as a large number of smaller groups. Australia’s 120,000 Jews are a tiny community compared to their American counterparts—more Jews live in a couple of neighborhoods in Brooklyn—but they are more engaged with Israel and more observant, and punch far above their weight in Jewish affairs. As a community they are closer to the Holocaust and take nothing for granted.
Jews here in Melbroune are trying to understand, for example why an ostensibly observant Jew like Rahm Emanuel would join in breaking the Bush administration’s quid-pro-quo with Ariel Sharon: in return for withdrawing unilaterally from Gaza, Israel would obtain some flexibility on the natural expansion of West Bank settlements.
Back in 1993, when Rahm Emanuel arranged the White House lawn handshake between Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, Jewish leaders explained that they had no choice but to create a Palestinian government to take the fast-growing Palestinian population off Israeli hands. Otherwise, the much-vaunted “Arab womb” of which Arafat bragged would overwhelm Israeli demographics. Israel’s decline was inevitable as a matter of relative population, the story went, and Israel needed to rope in its mortal enemies for lack of any other prospective government.
Compared to some of the great failures of vision in Jewish history this one may seem small, but it was devastatingly wrong nonetheless. Israel’s fertility rate has risen steady to nearly 3, by far the highest in the developed world, and not only because of large ultra-orthodox families. The Palestinian birth rate is in a tailspin. We don’t know how low it has fallen because the Palestinian Authority has inflated its population to a fictitious 3.5 million from an actual 2.4 million.
That was why the Israelis went along with Arafat; then Deputy Foreign Minister Yossi Beilin, Rahm Emanuel’s alter ego in Israeli politics, did so out of fanatical socialist universalism. What motivates Emanuel besides an extreme sort of narcissism, I will leave to the psychiatrists.
That was the Clinton administration story: both sides are converging on a peace agreement with America as the mediator. That crashed and burned in the Second Intifada of 1998 and the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, when Israel stood out as America’s most reliable ally in a mostly hostile region.
Why should the US support Israel? There are two reasons.
The first is strictly practical: Israel has the strongest military in the region and America wants to ally with strength. Washington should use its own resources to neutralize Iran’s capacity to build nuclear weapons, in my view, but the fact that Israel has the capability to do so gives America the capacity to achieve just this result without taking directly responsibility if it so chooses. Iran’s nuclear capacity is only the most obvious area in which Israeli capability benefits America (think also of the North Korean nuclear reactor installed in Syria which Israel destroyed last year).
By the same token, it is in American interests to monopolize Israeli friendship as much as possible. If (as the Lebanon Star’s Michael Young suggests) the blunders of the American administration and its failure of will lead to “terminal irrelevance” in the region, the vacuum will be filled by Russia, India and China—and Israel will adjust its policies accordingly. That would make the world a more dangerous and less stable place, and America is far better off having Israel inside the tent shooting out.
But there is a far more fundamental reason for America to support Israel. Israel is part of America’s DNA. As Michael Novak showed so effectively in his book On Two Wings, America’s founding drew on the uniquely Hebrew concept of holiness of the individual and divine love for the weak and powerless, as much as it did on the natural law tradition of Grotius and Locke. The destiny of the United States of America and the people of Israel are inextricably intertwined for that reason, and America’s affinity for Israel and deep interest in the welfare of the Jewish people are bred in American marrow.
From this point of view, what is sacred about America is a reflection of the holiness of Israel. If America succeeds in banishing the sacred from public life – and that is the broader agenda of the liberal Democrats– there will be little reason for America to have a special relationship with Israel except for military convenience. And if this banishment of the sacred from public life were to coincide with a demoralized retreat from the exercise of power in Western and Central Asia, there would be little reason at all for a special relationship.
America’s Jewish leadership has failed on all counts.
The liberal left with its smarmy universalism has demanded that Israel make any concession required to appease the paranoia of the Arab world. But this is a paranoia that cannot be appeased, for the patient really is dying.
The secular right argued that because Israel is the region’s only democracy, it deserves a special relationship, and argued further that imposing democratic governments on other countries would lead to cheer and goodwill everywhere. But Americans never cared enough about whether other countries were democratic to make it the criteria for a special relationship (how about Iceland?), and project of imposing democracy on the Arab world came to a horrible end.
The religious leadership should have had the most to say about Israel’s holiness and the American character. Not only did it fail to make this argument, but it stuck its fingers in its ears and turned its back when Christians made this argument—Michael Novak, for example. Rather than make common cause with the Christians who sought Jews out in friendship in the clear belief that the welfare of the Jewish people was of existential importance for the United States, the religious community for the most part dwelt on past injuries. That, perhaps, is the most disappointing of all.
Obama’s betrayal of Israel forces a reconsideration of Jewish policy in general. It exposes the left the rage of the majority of the Jewish organizations (weighted by donors), although younger secular Jews will continue to pursue their pipe-dreams.
It will drastically reduce the influence of war-horses like Alan Dershowitz and Martin Peretz, who vouched for Obama at a point when other warned about precisely this outcome and when Jewish opposition might have made a difference.
And it will put an increased burden on the observant community, which has the closest ties of family as well as spirit to Israel. It is an astonishing thing that Christians have taken the lead in asserting the importance of Israel to the United States, and that observant Jews have viewed them with suspicion. The fact is that observant Jews have more in common with devout Christians than with the secular left wing, just as devout Christians have more in common with observant Jews than with the late Ted Kennedy, for example.
That portends the end of the “Jewish lobby” as such. The divisions within the Jewish community likely are irreparable, and the functional alliances will cross lines of religion and denomination to assert the most fundamental principle of all: the sacred must not be banished from American public life.
Minister [Yaalon] for strategic affairs attends 25th anniversary celebration at West Bank settlement of Eli, says Jewish people's right to settle the land undisputable
"The Jewish people's right to settle anywhere in their historic land in undisputable," Minister for Strategic Affairs Moshe Yaalon said Wednesday, during a ceremony celebrating the 25th anniversary of the West Bank settlement of Eli, north of Ramallah.
Eli is home to some 700 families, both religious and secular. About 1,000 people gathered at the local amphitheater to celebrate the community's quarter-century mark, including Yesha Council's Danny Dayan and Pinchas Wallerstein and Zeev Hever of the Amana settlement movement.
"It is time that the Israeli public understands what has really been going on here for the past decades… The one thing that's clear is that the continuing withdrawals have only whetted our neighbors' appetite, giving them the impression that what we have built here is temporal." ...
...Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper on Wednesday alleged that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Moscow earlier this week, where he is believed to have discussed new weapons deals between Russia and Iran.
...Ynet has learned that the prime minister leased a private jet ...because he feared that any flight on an IAF jet would be too vulnerable to Russian and Israeli media exposure.
... Monday morning Netanyahu left his office without reporting where he was headed, his schedule was mysteriously cleared, and his whereabouts were unknown for a several hours....
...Ties have been warming between Moscow and Jerusalem in recent months, and it is believed the Russians are showing their gratitude to Israel for responding to their request last year and calling off the sale of tanks and unmanned aircraft to Georgia.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told Israeli President Shimon Peres during his last visit to Russia that he had ordered a review of all weapons deals with Syria and Iran, this after Peres presented him with information showing that weapons sold to these countries had been obtained by Hezbollah and Hamas.
"Russia objects to Iran holding nuclear weapons," Medvedev stressed to Peres. "This situation is disturbing to all of us, and we have no doubt that if Iran achieves nuclear weapons, this will lead to a nuclear race in the Middle East, which is the worst possible scenario."
Medvedev also promised to do everything possible to ensure Russian weapons sold to Syria do not reach Hezbollah....
Also see the following previous JIW posts on this subject:
The creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel would be a major step in the escalation of the Arab war against Israel even if the resumption of that war is delayed for a brief time while the world celebrates the outbreak of a Potemkin peace in the Middle East, produced by the end of Israeli "occupation" of Palestinians.
Like the famous Potemkin villages that were all façade with no substance, the two-state solution would prove to be nothing more than the signal of the commencement of the next Middle East war.
...Obvious truths about the Middle East need to be restated because they are under assault by so many dishonest men.
... the Middle East conflict is extraordinarily simple to understand. Its causes and issues have not changed at all in 60 years. That which produced the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948 is exactly the same thing that stands in the way of any real peace settlement today.
There is one — and only one — cause of the Arab-Israeli conflict, even if that single cause is buried beneath an avalanche of media mud designed to obfuscate and confuse. That single cause is the refusal of the Arab world to come to terms with Israel's existence within any set of borders whatsoever.
THE MIDDLE EAST CONFLICT IS NOT ABOUT the right of self-determination of Palestinian Arabs, but rather about the total Arab rejection of self-determination for Israeli Jews.
The Arabs today control 22 countries and territory nearly twice the size of the United States (including Alaska), whereas Israel cannot even be seen on most globes or maps. Arabs as an ethnic group control more territory than any other ethnic group on earth. And they refuse to share even a fraction of one percent of the Middle East with the Jews, in a territory smaller than New Jersey.
Without the West Bank, Israel at its narrowest is not even 10 miles wide, about the length of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. The main reason the Arab world demands that Israel relinquish the West Bank is so that it can be used to attack Israel.
The Arab world controls such vast amounts of territory and such vast amounts of wealth (thanks to petroleum) that it could have created a homeland for Palestinian Arabs anywhere within its territories at any time.
From 1948 until 1967 the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were both under the rule of Arab states (Jordan and Egypt, respectively). They could easily have set up a Palestinian homeland in those areas. They did not.
The fact is, no Palestinians before 1967 demanded any "homeland," though they did demand that the Jews be stripped of theirs. This is because Palestinians are not a "people" at all, at least as far as the term has been understood throughout human history.
Until relatively recent times, Palestinians never had any real interest in their own state, and in fact rioted violently in 1920 when the geographical entity called Palestine was detached from Syria by the European powers.
Indeed, the term "nakba" ("catastrophe" in Arabic and in leftist newspeak), used exclusively now to refer to the creation of Israel, actually was coined to refer to the outrage expressed by Palestinians separated from their Syrian homeland.
IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE SIX-DAY WAR, a sudden need for a Palestinian state was fabricated by the Arab world as a gimmick to force Israel back to its pre-1967 borders. The Arab world began agitating for a Palestinian state so that the Palestinians could serve the same role the Sudeten Germans did in the late 1930s. That role was to provide a pretense of legitimacy for the war aims and aggression of a large fascist power.
The term "self-determination" has been repeated as a rhetorical inalienable right for so long that few people recall now that pursuing self-determination can also serve as a tool of aggression on the part of barbarous aggressors and totalitarian powers.
When Hitler decided to embark on a war of conquest in the late 1930s, he dressed up his intentions in the cloak of legitimacy, claiming he was merely interested in "helping disenfranchised and oppressed people attain self-determination." He distorted the plight of ethnic Germans living in the Czech Sudetenland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, inventing tales of their oppression and mistreatment.
In reality, of course, these ethnic Germans already had the option of self-determination within the neighboring sovereign German nation-states, and in fact enjoyed far more freedom and rights than did Germans inside Germany.
Germany's invasion of Czechoslovakia was prepared through postured indignity over the mistreatment of Germans by Germany's neighbors. Hitler insisted he was simply seeking to relieve the "misery of mistreated ethnic Germans," supposedly suffering inside democratic Czechoslovakia.
"Self-determination" was also the pretense when Germany attacked Poland and other countries.
Like Germany before World War II, the Arab world used the method of the Big Lie, with its infinite and mindless repetitions, to invent a fairy tale about Palestinians being mistreated and oppressed by Israel.
...The real goal of the Arab aggressors, as they readily concede to anyone willing to listen, is nothing less than Israel's extermination. And those who think the state of Israel can be eliminated without a second Holocaust taking place are deluding themselves.
...It is hard to come up with the words needed to mock the ludicrous nature of the complaints about Israeli mistreatment of Arabs. These complaints come from the very people who are apologists for genocidal Islamofascist terrorist movements and for Arab fascist states, regimes that are among the most barbarous and oppressive on earth.
Israel even agreed in principle, foolishly as it turns out, to recognize the legitimacy of Palestinian national ambitions and to relinquish lands to the Palestinian Authority. What it got in exchange was a genocidal fascist Hamastan on its borders, with other terrorist militias operating in the suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
Since the Oslo "peace process" began in the early 1990s, the working hypothesis endorsed by nearly everyone on the planet (including large numbers of IQ-challenged Israeli politicians) has been that the most urgent task at hand is to end the Israeli "occupation" of Palestinian Arabs.
The problem is that any Palestinian state, regardless of who rules it, will produce nothing but escalated violence, terror and warfare in the Middle East, certainly not stability or peaceful relations. It will seek war with Israel and will attempt to draw the entire Muslim world into that war. It will be indifferent to the economic and social problems of its own citizens.
The Israeli left and its amen chorus in the international media have been repeating for so many years that the ultimate cause of Palestinian terrorism and Arab grievances is the "occupation" of "Palestinian lands" by Israel that few are capable any longer of thinking about that assertion critically. But the assertion is wrong. The main cause of anti-Israel terrorism today is the removal of Israeli occupation from Palestinian Arabs.
This is so obvious that it is a major intellectual challenge to explain why so few people understand it, but here are the facts:
Israel ended its occupation of the Gaza Strip in its entirety in 2005 and evicted all the Jews who had been living there. The Israeli withdrawal produced a barrage of many thousands of rockets aimed at Israeli civilians inside Israel (not the "occupied territories" that, we are told, are at the heart of Arab anger with Israel) — a barrage that eventually forced Israel's reluctant leaders to carry out a full-scale operation against Gaza terrorism earlier this year.
The Israeli occupation of southern Lebanon was unilaterally ended in 2000 by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The direct result of that fiasco was the launching of 4,000 Katyusha rockets from Lebanon against northern Israel in the summer of 2006 — and several times that number now poised to strike Israel.
The worst waves of Palestinian suicide attacks were directly triggered by the early Oslo withdrawals — before which there had been no suicide bombings.
There can be no doubt that a complete Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and a return to pre-1967 borders in order to make way for a Palestinian state would trigger a massive rocket and terror assault against the remaining areas of Israel, launched from the "liberated" West Bank. The same thing would result from Israel relinquishing the Golan Heights to Syria.
The promotion of a "two states for two peoples" solution has radicalized most Israeli Arabs, who now identify with and openly support Arab parties and politicians calling for violence against Jews and the destruction of Israel. Even the "moderate" factions within the PLO keep insisting that after such a plan is implemented they will never recognize the right of Jews to have their own state anywhere in the Middle East.
The Arabs still condition any two-state solution on Israel agreeing to being flooded with Arab immigrants purporting to be Palestinians, so that it will morph demographically into the 24th Arab state.
That such a two-state Potemkin solution will not end the conflict, but only signal the commencement of its next stage, has long been the quasi-official position of virtually all Palestinian groups.
The Palestinians tell each other, in their newspapers, their mosques and their internal political debates, that any two-state solution is but a stage in a "plan of stages," after which will come additional steps ultimately aimed at ending Israel's existence as a Jewish state.
Why shouldn't we believe them?
*Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at the University of Haifa. His book "The Scout" is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
...Obama has been pressuring Israel to freeze every brick and widow-frame of all settlement construction as a precondition for the US “getting tough” with Iran. This has caused Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to walk a diplomatic tightrope. But it is arguably President Obama who has the rope around his own neck.
Israel’s supposed policy of expanding the settlements was supposed to be the major stumbling-block to peace with the Palestinians and Arab support against Iran. This was absurd, and indeed Obama is now softening his stance.
... the idea that Israeli concessions were needed to bring the Arabs on side against Iran was ridiculous. The Arabs are desperate for the Iranian nuclear threat to be removed because Iran is an overwhelming threat to their existence.
The settlements are irrelevant to the Iran crisis — which has predictably become even more acute because Obama’s policy of appeasing the Arab and Muslim world has gone belly-up.
In response to his hand of friendship, the Iranian regime rigged its election, tortured and murdered its internal opponents and turned even more extreme.
As for Israel, Netanyahu faced down Obama over his attempt to define Jewish houses in east Jerusalem as “settlements” and to freeze construction there, too. Having united virtually all of Israel against him (only four per cent of Israelis think Obama is pro-Israel) the US President grovelled to the Arabs for a sign of some move towards peace with Israel. They refused.
He begged the Iranians to “engage” with him. In response, they have now appointed as defence minister Ahmad Vahidi, a terrorist wanted for the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires and who was also involved in the 2006 bombing of the Khobar Towers complex which killed 19 American soldiers. Meanwhile, Iran continues to develop the nuclear capability which threatens not just Israel but America and Europe.
In any event, Obama has already said that he will get tough with Iran if it remains intransigent by this autumn. .... And then what? When Plan B fails, what is Obama’s Plan C? ...“living with a nuclear Iran” or: the surrender of the west.
What Obama may yet come to realise is that he might need Israel to save him from electoral meltdown at home. ...The failure to stop Iran going nuclear on his watch could destroy his presidency. We may find, therefore, that the attitude towards Israel of the most hostile President in living memory soon undergoes rapid reprogramming.
President Obama is now between a rock and a hard place.... a possible choice between war against Iran and a mortal threat to his presidency....
A nuclear weapons development project is three pronged:
- the production of the fissile material for the core of the nuclear explosive device,
- the design and manufacture of the device into which the core is inserted and
- the weapons delivery system.
For the first part, the core for an Iranian nuclear explosive device could be ready in short order, in about a year, given the instruction to do so. This was achieved because the engineers and scientists were given two things: money and sufficient time to accomplish this task.
For the explosive mechanism, Iran already had a design, received from abroad, which was proven to work in several nuclear tests.
Fitting the explosive mechanism unto a medium-range missile warhead is no mean feat, but the Iranians apparently have already worked that out. And they have their missiles.
The fly in the ointment for the Iranians was that the nuclear program had to be inspected, because of international obligations, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in charge of the international inspections, had to be persuaded that there was no evidence that Iran was developing nuclear weapons. As things went, this was not a very difficult task, since there was little chance that a "smoking gun" could be uncovered.
There were three reasons for this:
a) There apparently was never a direct order, orally or in written form, given to assemble a complete nuclear weapon;
b) An effort was made to conceal all evidence, direct or circumstantial (not always successfully) and;
c) The inspection organization, the IAEA was powerless to do all it wanted to uncover evidence.
THE FACT that the outgoing head of the IAEA, Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei, is a lawyer and not a technical person clinched the matter for Iran. To his mind, apparently, circumstantial evidence was not evidence, not even to arouse suspicion. In an interview in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists September/October 2009 issue ElBaradei said: "Probably because I'm a lawyer, that goes against my core principles. I don't see how you can accuse someone of something without showing them the evidence. We have to apply due process and not a Kafkaesque process."
It must be noted that the very strong technical evidence collected by his own organization did not seem enough for him to even warrant an opinion that something was basically very wrong, even without any additional evidence. And so, in due course, and because international reaction was weak (not in small part because of the attitude of the IAEA), Iran achieved the capability to produce at least one deliverable nuclear weapon within a relatively short period of time. The nightmare is slowly becoming a reality.
The basic presumption of innocence is good for as long as no strong evidence is brought to light that can become the basis for an indictment. In a court of law, it is then the burden of the defense to refute the evidence or to show that there is a basic reasonable doubt in the accusation, to bring about an acquittal. However, in cases where the actions of states are in question, and where the evidence is worrying, to say the least, the international community can take preventive action.
Iran's breaches of obligations were seen sufficient to warrant action by the UN Security Council. The existing evidence was enough to impose sanctions on Iran. And yet ElBaradei was insisting that "we have not seen concrete evidence that Teheran has an ongoing nuclear weapons program. But somehow, many people are talking about how Iran's nuclear program is the greatest threat to the world. In many ways, I think the threat has been hyped." Given facts noted under the heading of "Possible Military Dimensions" in his reports on Iran to his Board of Governors, ElBaradei's statement seems more like wishful thinking than one that could calm the world.
BUT THE situation is worse than that. This is a serious matter where the right to remain silent in the face of evidence given to persons cannot be permitted in this serious case. The burden of proof is now upon Iran and not the IAEA. ElBaradei, an attorney (for the defense?) to whom it does not matter that much evidence is presented, is not frightened by the possible consequences of his deeds.
True, the potential to produce nuclear cores and assemble nuclear weapons is present in several countries. The main difference is that these other countries are doing all they can to comply with the demands of the inspectors. Moreover, these countries behave in a responsible international fashion, so that they are not actively feared. They do not come out with vituperative statements demanding the demise of another nation, and they are not actively amassing an arsenal of huge proportions and amazing range, including weapons of mass destruction.
By his inaction, based on flawed principle, the outgoing director-general of the IAEA is actually assisting Iran in its endeavors to obtain nuclear weapons. If the rumors that the IAEA is holding out on evidence relevant to the above-mentioned military dimensions are true, this would compound the above grave charges.
Let us hope that his successor, Japanese diplomat Yakiya Amano, does repair the damage in short order. Time is running out.
JERUSALEM — Yousef Majlaton moved into the Jerusalem neighborhood of Pisgat Zeev for such comforts as proper running water and regular garbage pickup. ...Majlaton, his wife and three kids are among thousands who have crossed the housing lines to Pisgat Zeev and neighborhoods like it ...
...This is much more than a simple matter of real estate. Demographics could figure heavily in how Jerusalem is partitioned in a future peace deal. If that happens, it is expected the city will be split along ethnic lines — Jewish neighborhoods to Israel, Arab neighborhoods to Palestine.
Palestinians see east Jerusalem as their future capital. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vows the whole city will remain united as Israel's capital.
...In 2007, the latest year with available statistics, about 1,300 of Pisgat Zeev's 42,000 residents were Arabs. In nearby French Hill, population 7,000, nearly one-sixth are Arabs, among them students at the neighboring Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Neve Yaakov, with 20,000 people, had 600 Arabs, according to the Israel Center for Jerusalem Studies, a respected think tank.
Weeks after the 1967 war, Israel annexed east Jerusalem with its major Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites ...
...Netanyahu says Arabs have the right to live anywhere in the city, and so should Jews, though the Old City's Jewish Quarter is closed to Arabs.
Jerusalem's mayor and city councilors are all Jewish. Almost all the city's Arabs refuse to vote or run in municipal elections, saying that would be recognition of Israeli rule. But it deprives them of clout in competition for city spending.
Today, while west Jerusalem is overwhelmingly Jewish, the eastern half is an ethnic checkerboard. More than 180,000 Jews live there, most in places like Pisgat Zeev but also in enclaves in Arab areas. Nearly all the city's 220,000 Palestinians live in eastern neighborhoods.
Ironically, much of the Arab migration was set off by the separation barrier which Israel started building through the West Bank in 2002 during a wave of suicide bombings. Its Jerusalem segment meanders to scoop up as many Jewish areas as possible and make several Arab neighborhoods a part of the West Bank.
The wall stranded tens of thousands of Jerusalem Arabs on the "West Bank side," and many moved to Arab neighborhoods on the Jerusalem side for easier access to jobs and schools. But a housing shortage in those districts is pushing the overflow into Jewish areas, residents and real estate agents said...
The [proposed] next head of Unesco has a [disgusting] record that speaks for itself...
To Farouk Hosni's fans, it seems the only conceivable objection to crowning him global protector of culture is his public habit of making anti-Israel slurs, notably last year's offer to burn Hebrew books. ...
But there is another reason to pause before appointing Egypt's Culture Minister as Unesco head: namely, the unbroken social, political and cultural repression in Egypt under his tenure.
...Human-rights activists are not the only ones reeling at the thought of one of Egypt's pre-eminent censors being named standard-bearer in Unesco's self-described goal to "build peace in the minds of men." One can only imagine the peace in the minds of thousands of Egyptian writers, bloggers, artists, musicians, filmmakers, lecturers, broadcasters and other culture-purveyors who have been tortured, harassed, imprisoned or banned in Egypt since Mr. Hosni took office in 1987. Or the 100-plus heavy-metal fans arrested there over the last decade for their supposed Satanism. Or any of the remaining 80 million Egyptians regularly denied access to any new ideas their government deems harmful.
... It would seem that in Mr. Hosni's hands, "culture" must either bolster the state, or carry no intelligible message at all. Would that all Egyptian creators were so savvy.
On his Web site, Mr. Hosni implores the world to dismiss his vow to destroy Israeli literature: "Do not look at one sentence. Review twenty-seven years spent in the service of culture and make an assessment of what I did in the service of humanity, creativity, writers and books."
One can only hope that Unesco's executive council does just that.