Friday, October 23, 2009

Ostacise J Street and their kind

From The Jerusalem Post, October 22, 2009, by Isi Leibler:

... why make a fuss about an organization, even if it does engage in activities that many would consider offensive?

Besides, blackballing such a fringe group would lead to accusations of attempting to stifle freedom of expression and transform them into martyrs.

However, the fact is that no one is seeking to deny freedom of expression to J Street or other groups hostile to Israel. The issue is whether organizations should be enabled to exploit the Jewish community as launching pads to campaign against the Jewish state whilst presenting themselves as mainstream Jews.

Most Jews would concur that a red line should be drawn between legitimate criticism of Israel and concerted campaigns to pressure the US or any government to force the democratically elected government of Israel to make concessions which could imperil the lives of its citizens.

J Street [and many other publicity-seeking people born as Jews] have crossed that red line even though they continuously recite the mantra that they are "pro-Israel", insisting that whilst they "disagree with certain Israeli government policies our bottom line is that we always support the State of Israel and its future as a democracy".

...they have the chutzpa to openly campaign against Israel on the grounds that they possess a superior understanding of what is best for Israelis. They obscenely spin this by likening themselves to parents who are obliged to employ "tough love" with children who are drug addicts. It is surely unconscionable for Jews resident in America to lobby their government to pressurize Israelis contrary to their will, to take steps that could have life and death implications.
...An even more ominous cause for concern was the recent disclosure that Arab and even pro Iranian elements were funding J Street. One donor and member of the organization's finance committee, Genevieve Lynch, was a participant of the National Iranian American Council, the unofficial lobby group for the Iranian government. Judith Barnett, a former registered agent for Saudi Arabia, is a donor and serves on the J Street Advisory Council. Nancy Dutton, until 2008 an attorney for the Saudi Arabian Embassy, donates to J. Street's political action committees which have been actively financing anti-Israeli Congressional candidates.

In summary, J Street have established a virtually consistent track record of hostility against Israel. One has yet to see them releasing a single statement backing Israel on any substantive issue. They vigorously campaign to pressure the US government to be "tough" and force Israel to make unilateral concessions. They financially support the election of anti-Israeli Congressmen and raise the specter of dual loyalties. They continuously defame mainstream Jewish organizations, depicting them as extremists. They receive financial support and praise from Arabs and foes of Israel. To suggest that such an organization is "pro-Israel" is utterly preposterous.

Today Israel is undergoing a critical phase in its relationship with the US. The pressures on the Jewish state are not limited to calls to freeze settlements. In the aftermath of the toxic Goldstone report, Israelis travelling abroad may now face the threat of prosecution. Israel also faces the challenge of defining defensible borders and addressing the danger of a nuclear Iran. In these and other existential challenges, Israel is largely dependent on United States support which J Street seeks to undermine.

There is no doubt that the vast majority of committed Jews are outraged by a Jewish organization whose principal raison d'être is to lobby the United States to act harshly against Israel. The limited support J Street enjoys comes principally from those uninvolved in Jewish life. Indeed, Ben-Ami even told the New York Times that his members comprised primarily of intermarried youngsters who attend "Buddhist Seders". That probably explains why J Street could endorse the staging of the contemporary anti-Semitic blood libel play "Seven Jewish Children".

No one seeks to deny Israeli bashers freedom of expression. But there is a need to make the public aware that J Street represents an insignificant group of uncommitted Jews. .

..J Street must be exposed as hostile to Israel and marginalized from the Jewish community. If Americans understand this, J Street's ability to undermine Israel will largely be neutralized.

Mitchell's Mission Impossible

From BESA Center Perspectives Papers No. 93, October 22, 2009, by Efraim Inbar*:

...Senator George Mitchell, US Special Envoy to the Middle East, has an impossible task. American clout in the region has waned over the years, and Mitchell faces a situation where a US president advocates a quick end to the conflict, an Israeli prime minister insists on negotiations without preconditions, and a Palestinian society lacks a united leadership – fragmented by Abbas' rule in the West Bank and Hamas' rule in Gaza. ....

...After nine months and many trips to the Middle East, a plethora of meetings with the leaders in the region and even an Obama-Netanyahu-Abbas summit in New York last month, Senator Mitchell seems unable to report success to his boss.

There are several reasons for this outcome...

First, Obama... ...insisted on a comprehensive settlement freeze, which the Palestinians turned into a precondition for sitting at the negotiating table. So far it has backfired....

Second, in Israel, the Netanyahu government advocated a return to negotiations without preconditions ...This political feat made Israel less vulnerable to outside pressure. Furthermore, Israel gained American promises to secure Arab gestures as a quid pro quo for its concessions. Washington was unable to deliver, indicating again the limits of American clout in the region.

...When American diplomacy is not backed by "hard" power, the "soft" power extolled nowadays by Washington carries only little weight with the realpolitik-oriented Middle Eastern elites. Most capitals of the region regard Obama as weak. This does not augur well for Mitchell, as even the weak Palestinians are able to say "no."

...American diplomacy can hardly make a dent in the schism within Palestinian society that is the main stumbling block for progress in peace-making. As long as Islamist Hamas has a powerful grip on the Palestinian ethos and Palestinian aspirations, and as long as its ruthless rule over Gaza continues, Palestinian politics are hostage to the extremists and are unable to move toward an historic compromise with the Jewish-Zionist national movement. Mitchell cannot even prevent a draft of a Hamas-Fatah reconciliation document that does not conform to Quartet demands (renounce violence, recognize Israel and respect past agreements).

The final obstacle for Mitchell is the nature of his mandate – the pursuit of an outdated paradigm, the two-state solution. ...The Palestinians failed the main test of statehood: monopoly over the use of force. They allowed armed militias to erode law and order in the areas under their control. This culminated in the bloody Hamas takeover of Gaza. Even Hamas in Gaza failed to acquire a monopoly over the use of force: witness the existence of the armed groups Islamic Jihad, elements of al-Qaeda and certain clans.

...Palestinian society, be it in the West Bank or Gaza, is not entertaining reconciliation with the Jews. The "shaheed" (martyr) is still the role model in the Palestinian media and education system.

...Therefore, what is needed is a new policy paradigm. ...Jordan and Egypt are responsible states at peace with Israel that successfully ruled over the Palestinians. They should be induced to share responsibility for regional stability. The Palestinian potential for regional mischief is not only Israel's problem.

*The author is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The return of the Hebrew to his land

A recent posting in the excellent Blog "Point of No Return" dedicated to the forgotten Jewish refugees of Arab lands and preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, has drawn my attention to a brilliant 1978 publication of four articles written in 1977 by Bat Ye'or*. A Jewish refugee from Egypt herself, she has been a prolific writer and has a beautiful florid style.

I'll post only a short excerpt here, but when you have some time, I commend you to the full 25-page publication.

...the expression "dhimmi" designated the indigenous non-Arab and non-Muslim people - Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians (Persians) - whose territories came under Arab-Muslim domination. ...these peoples - in theory if not always in practice - were protected from pillage, slavery, exile and massacre by the specific conditions of an agreed ...Covenant of Umar...

A tax (the kharaj) was levied on lands left to the ...dhimmis...

Each male dhimmi ...had to pay a poll-tax (the gizya) ...

The dhimmis also paid double the taxes of Muslims. In addition ransoms (avanies) were frequently extorted ...

It was forbidden for the dhimmi on pain of death:

  • to carry or posses weapons,
  • to raise a hand against a Muslim, even against an aggressor...
  • to ally himself with the enemies of the Arabs,
  • to criticise Islam, the Prophet or Angles,
  • to convert to any religion other than Islam...
  • to be linked by marriage or concubinage to a Muslim woman,
  • to hold a position of authority over a Muslim,

The dhimmis were obliged:

  • to live seperated...
  • to have lower houses...
  • to practice their religion secretly ...
  • to wear clothes distinguished shape ...[and] specific colours for Jews, Christians and Samaritans...

...This brief summary provides only an outline ..In exchange for these obligations ...the dhimmis ...[were] tolerated... This tolerance was not final. It could be abrogated in two ways: ...exile ...[or] individual or collective reprisals [for infractions] ...ending in pillage or massacre.

...the world today is full of dhimmis: for the system which produces them still at work. ...the victims of terrorism - banishing by death whomsoever blasphemes against Arabism - are also dhimmis. Worse, there is even a dhimmi state: Israel, existing yet denied.

The system of values which produced the dhimmi today decrees that to harass, assassinate, or mutilate the Israeli population and its sympathisers legal and commendable. ...Racialsim, imperialism, colonialism are the hateful cloth of contempt and derision thrown on the State of Israel in order to disarm and ostracise a country, whose population, largely comprised of dhimmi refugees from Arab lands ...struggles for survival.

...Bethar, where once stood the fortress of the courageous Bar Kochba, the last stronghold of ancient Hebrew resistance. The stones testify in silence, for the earth cannot lie in an open book ...A square tower ...typical Hebrew architecture of the first Temple period ...Over there a wall and tower built by Herod...Here on the 9th of Ab in the year 135 the Hebrew resistance was annihilated by the Roman army.

...Michael Meshorer, chief curator of archeology at the Israel Museum...:

"...Between the years 70AD and the Arab invasion and occupation in 640, these hills were dotted with Hebrew towns and villages where an intense national, religious and cultural life prospered....

...The Arab occupation scarcely modified the Hebrew place names, and the Jewish inhabitants, now considered as dhimmis, remained on their land. It was only later ...colonisation gradually wiped out the indigenous population ...a progressive Arabisation of the soil."

...nowhere else is the tragedy of history so poignant as in Shomron-Sebastia in Samaria. Nowhere else is the devastation so sinister as in the ruins of this ancient capital of the northern Kingdom of Israel, founded about 880BC ...There are the fortifications and palaces of Omri, Ahab, Jezebel, the granaries of Jeroboam II (787-749). Herod built here an avenue bordered with columns. A theatre, a stadium, a city wall with gates and towers testify to the solid, elegant, Hebrew architecture of this period.

Today Shomron-Sebastia is nothing more than a miserable village where 1300 Arabs camp among the ruins. The church built by the Crusaders, in which lie the ancient tombs attributed to the Hebrew prophets Elisha and Obadiah, has become their mosque. ...Foreigners to this past, the present inhabitants ignore it and cover their misery in the ruins. These columns, these sculptured stones are merely used as material for repairing their poor hovels. Human distress and the cataclysms of history are brought together here to make of Shomron-Sebastia the symbol of the greatness and extermination of a people...

...This is the simple explanation of the historical anomaly of a Samaria without Samaritans and a Judaea without Jews...

...Up until 1948, Jewish inhabitants were massacred or expelled and the right to reside was prohibited them until 1967. The Arabisation of the region resulted in a judenrein Arab province...

...Yet since 1967, these peaceful villagers, with unperturbed consciences, who justified their Arab rights established by the martyrdom of the banished or annihilated native peoples, are now experiencing a nightmare. The Hebrew, exiled in the wake of successive waves of occupation and its sequels returns longer as a dhimmi ...but as a man...

...Thus the Hebrew returns...with care he searches among the ruins and brings to light thousand-year-old documents bearing Hebrew inscriptions ...monuments and coins... The Hebrew ...reaches out to the soil which yields up its history...

The present Arab populations are faced with a choice: acceptance of peaceful coexistence and a relationship of equality...; or a continuance of the traditional Jihad in massacring, exiling or dominating the legitimate heir in a renewed effort of total Arabisation...

*"Bat Ye'or" (בת יאור‎, meaning "daughter of the Nile") is a pseudonym of Gisèle Littman, née Orebi, an Egyptian-born British scholar. She was born in Cairo, Egypt from a middle class Jewish family, but she and her parents were forced to leave Egypt in 1957 after the Suez War, arriving in London as stateless refugees. Beginning in 1958 she attended the Institute of Archaeology at University College, London and in 1959 became a British citizen by marriage. She moved to Switzerland in 1960 to continue her studies at the University of Geneva.

She described her experiences in the following manner:

"I had witnessed the destruction, in a few short years, of a vibrant Jewish community living in Egypt for over 2,600 years and which had existed from the time of Jeremiah the Prophet. I saw the disintegration and flight of families, dispossessed and humiliated, the destruction of their synagogues, the bombing of the Jewish quarters and the terrorizing of a peaceful population. I have personally experienced the hardships of exile, the misery of statelessness − and I wanted to get to the root cause of all this. I wanted to understand why the Jews from Arab countries, nearly a million, had shared my experience."

Monday, October 19, 2009

The End of the "Peace Process"

From GLORIA, October 16, 2009, by Barry Rubin:

The UN Human Rights Council has now endorsed the Goldstone Report ...... the end of the peace process era that began in 1993....

...What does it say about the UN that it condemns Israel but says not a word and does not a deed against Hamas, which is guilty of aggression, terrorism, seizure of power by force, calls for genocide, antisemitism, indoctrination of children to become suicide bombers, oppression of women, systematic use of civilians as human shields, and a range of war crimes.

Trying to present the Goldstone report in a more favorable light, Western media overstated its “evenhandedness,” playing up a few mentions of Hamas to pretend that both sides in the conflict were condemned. The UNRC drops this pretense and only speaks of Israel, totally removing the factors that forced a reluctant Israel to launch an operation on the Gaza Strip.

This is not merely another of the many ritual condemnations of Israel but a demonization. Israel is now accused of massive war crimes on a remarkably flimsy basis. Of course it is all political but this is a step toward delegitimization. The Arabic-speaking, Muslim-majority, and left-wing governments that supported the resolution see this as a step not toward a compromise peace but an elimination of Israel altogether.

...Why should they—including the Palestinian Authority—settle for a stable two-state solution when they believe they can get far more without giving up anything?

...It marks not only the end of the peace process but the end of the peace process era. Arabic-speaking, Muslim-majority, and some states governed by left-wing governments (Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua in Latin America and others) seek a one-state solution in which Israel no longer exists. It marks a return—in thinking but not in military practice—to the pre-1993 period where there is nothing to talk about.

The most important country that voted for passing the Goldstone resolution in the UNHRC, Russia, doesn’t think that way, nor does China. European states also do not support such a development. Loud sectors in intellectual life and media do, though these do not set policy. But the point is that these countries also won’t act to stop it. The many abstentions on the vote is symbolic of the fact that most Western democracies and countries that don’t support directly endorse this campaign are, at best, bystanders, at worst, appeasers...

...Finally, there is the lesson for Israel. Let’s cut away all the obvious points about relying on itself, mistrusting the world, and so on. There is one item of overriding importance:

Israel knows that if it yields territory and is attacked from that territory, no matter how great the provocation, it cannot depend on international support but can rather know it will face international condemnation.

What does this say about a two-state solution? Israel pulls out of the West Bank, a Palestinian state is created (either on the West Bank or that plus the Gaza Strip), that state either attacks Israel or allows (and encourages) terrorists to do so across the border.

Israel has no response to defend itself that isn’t highly costly.

Bottom line: No Israeli government will make such a deal; the Israeli people will not support such a deal.

Along with myriad other reasons, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas can now argue persuasively that they enjoy broad international support for wiping out Israel altogether. They have no incentive--since both are indifferent to the welfare of their people--to make any compromise peace.

Good-bye hope for peace. I now declare the window of opportunity that had seemed to open in the late 1980s, which met and failed the test of the Oslo process, and yet which continues to inspire false hope for many people to be fully and officially closed.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Case For Demographic Optimism.

From The "Middle East and Terrorism" Blog, Sunday, October 18, 2009, by Yoram Ettinger:

...Anyone claiming that Jews are doomed to become a minority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is either dramatically mistaken or outrageously misleading.

An audit of Palestinian and Israeli documentation of births, deaths, school and voter registration and migration certifies a solid 67% Jewish majority over 98.5% of the land west of the Jordan River (without Gaza), compared with a 33% and an 8% Jewish minority in 1947 and 1900, respectively, west of the Jordan River.

The audit exposes a 66% distortion in the current number of Judea & Samaria Arabs - 1.55 million and not 2.5 million, as claimed by the Palestinian Authority. In 2006, the World Bank exposed a 32% bend in the number of Palestinian births. Inflated numbers have provided the Palestinians with inflated international foreign aid and inflated water supply by Israel. It has also afflicted Israeli policy-makers and public opinion molders with fatalism and erroneous demographic assumptions, which have impacted Israel's national security policy.

Refuting demographic fatalism, the robust growth of Israel's Jewish fertility (number of births per woman) has been sustained during the last 15 years, while Arab fertility and population growth rate (birth, death and migration rates) experiences a sharp dive.

...Arab fertility rate in Judea & Samaria declines rapidly (toward 3.5 births), as has been the case in all Muslim countries except Afghanistan and Yemen: Jordan (twin-sister of Judea & Samaria)) – 3, Syria – 3.5, Egypt – 2.5, Saudi Arabia – 4, Algeria – 1.8 and Iran – 1.7 births per woman.

...The current 67% Jewish majority west of the Jordan River (without Gaza) could expand to 80% by 2035, leveraging the aforementioned Jewish demographic tailwind and the potential Aliya resulting from the global economic meltdown and the rise in anti-Semitism (e.g. half a million Olim during the next ten years from the former USSR).

Baseless demographic fatalism has played a key role in shaping Israel’s state of mind and national security policy. It has eroded the level of confidence in the future of the Jewish State. However, well-documented demographic optimism now confirms that there is no demographic machete at the throat of the Jewish State, that demographic scare tactics are hollow and that Israel's challenge is not a "demographic time bomb," but rather a demographic "scare crow."