Saturday, August 11, 2012

"Palestine" is where the Jews are

From JPost, 9 Aug 2012, by Martin Sherman:
I do not think there is a Palestinian nation at all. I think there is an Arab nation. I think it’s a colonialist invention – a Palestinian nation. When were there any Palestinians? Where did they come from? I think there is an Arab nation. – Azmi Bashara
The Palestinian people are an integral part of the Arab nation.... The Palestinian people believe in Arab unity. In order to contribute their share toward the attainment of that objective, however, they must, at the present stage of their struggle, safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity. – The Palestinian National Charter
...Dani Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria...correctly points out something that should be evident to any unbiased observer of the events of the past two decades:
“The insertion of an independent Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan would be a recipe for disaster.”
He warns that “the new state [would become] a hotbed of extremism. And any peace agreement would collapse... Israel would then be forced to recapture the area.”
This is not an implausible scenario, given the precedent of the Hezbollah takeover of Lebanon, the seizure of power by Hamas in Gaza, and the ever-tightening grip of assorted Islamists on Sinai. In the absence of persuasive arguments to the contrary, there is no reason – other than unsubstantiated hope and unfounded optimism – that a similar fate would not – sooner or later – befall the “West Bank,” were the IDF to evacuate it.
The question then arises: Why would any rational person embrace a policy that so clearly threatens to wreak tragedy on Israelis and Palestinians alike?
... the flawed and failed notion of land-for-peace [or “two-state-solution” or "TSS"], whose validity has repeatedly been disproven, but somehow never discredited and certainly never discarded, ...has inexplicably monopolized the debate on the Israel-Arab conflict in general, and the Israel-Palestinian conflict in particular, for decades.
What makes the dominance of the TSS-approach so difficult to fathom is that it is not anchored to empirical fact or to logical consistency, and that the Arabs openly admit that it is nothing but subterfuge...
To understand how unmoored the TSS-approach is from fact and logic, consider how devoid of substance the key elements which allegedly underpin it are, such as the “Palestinian nation” and “Palestinian homeland.”
To illustrate this seemingly far-reaching assertion, suppose for a moment that the Arabs had not launched the war of annihilation against Israel in 1967. Who then would have been the Palestinians? More important, what would have been Palestine?

At the time, the Arab Palestinians resident in the “West Bank” were not stateless. Until 1988, all were Jordanian citizens.
Moreover, the 1964 version of the Palestinian National Charter explicitly proclaimed, not only that the “West Bank” was not part of the Palestinian homeland, but that it was part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. (Article 24). Don’t take my word for it. Check it.So had the Arabs not launched a war of annihilation against Israel, the Arab residents of the “West Bank” would have been Jordanians, and territory of the “West Bank” would have been Jordan.
Of course...the Arabs did launch their overtly genocidal aggression against the Jewish state, which resulted in spectacular failure.
From this mixture of defeat and disappointment, “a seemingly magical process of transformation/creation” began to emerge before our very eyes. Poof! As if by some mysterious alchemist mechanism, Jordanian nationals were transformed into a “Palestinian nation” and Jordanian territory was transformed into a “Palestinian homeland.”

Palestine is where the Jews are
On May 27, 1967, barely a week before the outbreak of the Six Day War, Ahmed Shukairy, Yasser Arafat’s predecessor as chairman of the PLO, bellowed:

“D-Day is approaching. The Arabs have waited 19 years for this and will not flinch from the war of liberation.”
On June 1, he crowed:
“This is a fight for the homeland – it is either us or the Israelis. There is no middle road. The Jews of Palestine will have to leave... We shall destroy Israel and its inhabitants and as for the survivors – if there are any – the boats are ready to deport them.”
Even for the most avid adherent of the TSS-approach, Shukairy’s use of the words “liberation” and “homeland” should be revealing. For they certainly did not –and could not – apply to the “West Bank” (or Gaza), since both were under Arab rule and clearly did not comprise the “homeland” towards which Palestinian “liberation” efforts were directed.
The conclusion appears inescapable.
Rather than defining any specific territory as homeland, “Palestine” is a highly fluid geographical entity used to designate any territory where the Jews exercise control, from which Arabs have a “scared duty” to “liberate” it.
Palestine: Pre-1967 vs post-1967
Following the debacle of June 1967, the thrust of Arab “liberation” efforts changed.
Whereas prior to this date, the focus was on the land west of the “Green Line,” Arab endeavor now switched to that lying east of it, and which had fallen under Israeli control as a result its victory in the defensive war forced upon it – despite Israel’s entreaties to Jordan not to join the planned Arab onslaught against it.
This, however, was only an intermediate aim in a staged strategy to eliminate the Jewish state entirely, whatever its borders.
Perhaps the most explicit – but certainly by no means, the only – articulation of the post-1967 design was that of the oft-quoted, but yet-to-be repudiated, Zuheir Muhsein, former head of the PLO’s Military Department and a member of its Executive Council.
Echoing the identical position set out in the introductory excerpt by Azmi Bishara, a self-proclaimed “Palestinian” who represented the anti-Zionist Arab list Balad in the Knesset until forced to flee because of allegations of treason, Muhsein also opined that

“the Palestinian people does not exist.”
He elaborated:

“The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity.... It is only for political and tactical reasons that we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct ‘Palestinian people’ to oppose Zionism.”
He then clearly elucidated the rationale of the post-1967 staged strategy, and the crucial role the construct of a “Palestinian identity” had to play in implementing it:

“For tactical reasons, Jordan, which is a sovereign state with defined borders, cannot raise claims to Haifa and Jaffa, while as a Palestinian, I can undoubtedly demand Haifa, Jaffa, Beersheba and Jerusalem. However, the moment we reclaim our right to all of Palestine, we will not wait even a minute to unite Palestine and Jordan.”
...It is a view that has been expressed by many Arabs, Palestinian or otherwise, from Farouk Kadoumi to King Hussein.
More recently it was alluded to by no less a figure than Mahmoud Abbas in his speech at the UN last September, when he implied that the Jews had no connection to the Holy Land, and insinuated that Palestinians had been denied their homeland for 63 years – i.e. since the inception of Israel and not by the alleged post-1967 “occupation.”
But more important, it is a sentiment that permeates the entire Palestinian National Charter, according to which, “The partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time...”But no less significant and revealing is the proviso conveyed in the citation from the Charter in the introductory excerpt above, regarding the need for the Palestinians to “safeguard their Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity,” which is to be limited to “the present stage of their struggle.”
Think of it. What other nation declares that its national identity is merely a temporary ploy to be “safeguarded” and “developed” for the “present stage” alone? Does any other nation view their national identity as so ephemeral and instrumental? The Italians? The Brazilians? The Turks? The Greeks? The Japanese? Of course none of them do.

The merging of ends and means
But what is the purpose of this temporary ruse? The Charter is quite explicit: For Palestinians “ contribute their share to the attainment of [the] objective of Arab Unity.” And Arab unity, to what end? The liberation of Palestine, “illegally partitioned” in 1947, which is both the goal of, and the vehicle for, Arab unity.
Again, check for yourself. Article 13 says it all:

“Arab unity and the liberation of Palestine are two complementary objectives, the attainment of either of which facilitates the attainment of the other. Thus, Arab unity leads to the liberation of Palestine, the liberation of Palestine leads to Arab unity.”
So there you have it: The Palestinians’ political philosophy in a nutshell... and in their own words. The aspiration for the liberation of Palestine – a.k.a. the destruction of Israel – is the force for Arab unity, while the achievement of such liberation/ destruction will provide the impetus for pan-Arab unity – presumably via the sense of empowerment and achievement it will generate.

Debunking a dangerous dichotomy
So while Dani Dayan is right that the implementation of the TSS will in all likelihood bring tragedy to both sides, that is not the only reason to oppose it.
It is a proposal that has no foundation in fact, morality or logic; it is devoid of any justification in history or in present politics.
Dayan makes this case in part, stating,

“Giving up this land in the name of a hallowed two-state solution would mean rewarding those who’ve historically sought to destroy Israel, a manifestly immoral outcome.”...

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Marion Le Pen joins French aryan royalty

From The Australian, August 07, 2012, by Matthew Campbell [subscription required]:
[Fascist] French National Front MP Marion Marechal-Le Pen.
Picture: AP
...the ugliest face of French politics, the far Right is counting on an angelic-looking law student to help broaden its appeal among an electorate disenchanted with mainstream parties.
At 22, Marion Marechal-Le Pen is the youngest MP in modern French history...
...Her 84-year-old grandfather, founder of the [fascist] National Front, was a former paratrooper notorious for his anti-Semitic gibes that resulted in a conviction for Holocaust denial. He handed the party reins to his daughter, [Marine] 44, last year... Despite [Marine]winning 18 per cent in the presidential election this year, she failed to secure a parliamentary seat in the June elections and her niece [Marion], one of only two of the Front's candidates to be elected, became the latest star of a dynasty that has dominated France's far Right for decades.
Marechal-Le Pen, who is doing a law degree while learning the ropes as an MP, says she felt apprehensive at first about entering a parliament so hostile to her party.
The Front has not had seats in parliament since the late 1980s.
....Jean-Francois Cope, leader of the centre-right party, ...refused to shake her hand....
..."One big problem is this law allowing illegal immigrants to have their medical care reimbursed 100 per cent, a measure that costs us E600 million a year," she says. ...She believes her aunt's presidential run helped to focus voters' attention on immigration-related issues. "Now everyone is talking about them. So even if we don't have a lot of MPs, we have a central position on the French political chessboard."
She continues: "...I've had bags and bags of mail from people congratulating me on my victory. I feel a lot of support."
Young people, in particular, had voted "massively" for her and the "renewal" she represents.
Although she insists she is not taking orders from her elders, she can hardly avoid other Le Pens.
"We see each other every day," she says, referring to the hilltop mansion that she shares with her mother, two brothers, her aunt, her grandfather and Pierrette, his first wife, who once posed as a "French maid" in Playboy....

Syrian PM defects

From The Australian, August 07, by AFP [subscription required]: 
Picture: AFP Source: AFP
SYRIAN Prime Minister Riad Hijab announced he was joining the rebels last night after slipping across the border into Jordan during the night in the highest-ranking defection of the nearly 17-month uprising.
Mr Hijab was one of the leading Sunni Muslims in President Bashar al-Assad's minority Alawite-dominated regime.
He accused his former master of carrying out a "genocide" against his own people, and said four decades of Assad family rule were collapsing.
"I announce my defection today from the regime of killing and terror, and I join the ranks of the revolt," Mr Hijab said in statement read by his spokesman Mohammed al-Otri on al-Jazeera from Amman last night. "Syria is passing through the most difficult war crimes, genocide, and barbaric killings and massacres against unarmed citizens."
...Mr Otri said the Prime Minister's defection took "months" to organise and "rebels inside the country have secured this honourable exit for him".
"He put his life on the line for this revolt . . . to tell the world that we were forced to be with this regime and the sword was at our necks," he said. "Our information is confirmed through Riad Hijab that the Syrian regime is collapsing and will definitely fall."
Mr Otri said the Prime Minister was in a "safe haven" with his family and "will soon appear and talk".
The Syrian opposition in Jordan said that Mr Hijab and his family had slipped over the border during the night accompanied by two government ministers and three army officers.
"The Free Syrian Army helped all of them cross the border. They are now in a safe place inside the kingdom. Several other army officers defected and arrived in Jordan last night," said Syrian National Council member Khalid Zein al-Abedin.
Another opposition member in Jordan said: "The opposition and the Free Syrian Army are co-ordinating now to help more army officers and officials defect to Jordan in the coming few days."
The SNC hailed a new blow to Assad, who has already seen no fewer than 31 of his generals cross into Turkey to join the rebellion and a growing number of his ambassadors break ranks.
...The 46-year-old Mr Hijab was only appointed on June 6 following a widely boycotted May 7 parliamentary election that was hailed as a centrepiece of reform by the Assad regime, but dismissed as a farce by Arab and Western governments....

Monday, August 06, 2012

IDF thwarts infiltration attempt by terrorists at Israel-Egypt border

Egyptian APC captured by terrorist after it exploded in Israeli territory
Global Jihad terrorists operating in Sinai killed 10 Egyptian soldiers, took over two APCs, and attempted to infiltrate into Israel. IDF soldiers searching the areaGlobal Jihad terrorists and Egyptian soldiers exchange fire near Rafah: Terrorists in the Sinai region captured an Egyptian military post new Rafah, killed over ten Egyptian soldiers and took over two armored personnel carriers (APC).
One of the APCs exploded at the Israel-Egypt border and the other APC was attacked by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) as it was entering Israeli territory.
IDF Spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Yoav (Poly) Mordechai clarified that “the IDF is ruling out the possibility a solider is missing or was abducted.” Brig. Gen. Mordechai stressed that no injuries were reported as a result of the fire, though IDF soldiers continue to thoroughly search the area to ensure no terrorists infiltrated via the border or are currently in Israeli territory.

Riyadh deports 35 Ethiopian Christians for praying


29 women, 6 men assaulted while in jail for months after being detained for holding an all-night prayer vigil in Saudi Arabia.

Ethiopian Christian Orthodox worshipers [file]
Photo: Baz Ratner / Reuters

BERLIN – Saudi Arabia deported 35 Ethiopian Christians last week after incarcerating them for over seven months for praying in advance of the Christmas season in December 2011...
International Christian Concern [ICC] wrote on its website that
“Saudi Arabia deported the last of the 35 Ethiopian Christians who were detained for holding an all-night prayer vigil. Saudi security officials assaulted, harassed and pressured the Christians to convert to Islam during their incarceration.”

“We have arrived home safe. We believe that we are released as the result of the pressure exerted by ICC and others,” one of the Ethiopians told ICC.
“The Saudi officials don’t tolerate any other religions other than Islam. They consider non-Muslims as unbelievers. They are full of hatred towards non-Muslims.”
On December 15, Saudi authorities raided a private religious function in Jeddah, a city on the Red Sea coast in western Saudi Arabia, and arrested 35 Ethiopian Christian workers. ... the 29 women and six men faced beatings and sexual assault.
...“This incident underscores the troubling reality that there is no religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. The fact is that in Saudi Arabia a person is not free to practice their faith even in the privacy of their own home. While Saudi Arabia strictly bans all public displays of faith that are not Islamic, storming into a private home and imprisoning immigrants exposes the real nature of religious freedom in the kingdom – it doesn’t exist unless you’re a Muslim who practices a government-approved Islamic faith,” Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the Washington- based American Center for Law and Justice, wrote to The Jerusalem Post by email on Saturday.
...“While efforts to protect religious freedom in Saudi Arabia are woefully inadequate, it is our hope that that incidents like this one will call attention to this growing problem in Saudi Arabia and other countries.”

In an email to the Post on Saturday, Ben Cohen, a New York-based journalist who has written extensively on persecution of Christians, wrote,
“The history of relations between the Saudis and the West is a shabby history of collusion with religious intolerance.... In March this year, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al ash-Sheikh, declared that it was necessary to ‘destroy all the churches in the region.’...”
...Cohen, who co-wrote an article in The Wall Street Journal last week on Iran’s persecution of Christians, added, “This week, you have Secretary of State Hillary Clinton saying, ‘Religious freedom is a cherished constitutional value, a strategic national interest, and a foreign policy priority.’ These are fundamentally contradictory messages, and I don’t see that the Saudi monarchy and clerics are remotely sensitive to our standpoint – and they won’t be until we start exercising real diplomatic and economic pressure.”...On ICC’s website, the organization’s Jonathan Racho said,
“Saudi Arabian officials clearly demonstrated their utter disregard for religious freedom by arresting, mistreating and deporting the Christians for holding a prayer meeting. The Saudis deceive the international community by pretending to promote tolerance among followers of different religious beliefs; however, in reality they don’t tolerate any other religion besides Wahhabi Islam. The international community must pressure Saudi Arabia to respect religious freedom.”

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Tom Friedman: ‘Robbed Cossack’?

From JPost, 2 August 2012, by Martin Sherman:
Robbed Cossack’: Hebrew idiom for a villain who complains about the wrongs (imaginary or not) done to him that he has done to others.

Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided
– Sen. Barack Obama (D-Illinois) at the annual AIPAC conference, June 4, 2008
Congress maintains its commitment to relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and urges the President, pursuant to the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995... to immediately begin the process of relocating the United States Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.... None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act may be available for the publication of any official government document which lists countries and their capital cities unless the publication identifies Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
– Section. 212 of the “Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2002 and 2003,” relating to “United States policy with respect to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” sponsored by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Delaware), cosponsor of the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act.

Whereas in 1990, the US Senate and House of Representatives overwhelmingly declared that Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, “must remain an undivided city”... therefore, be it – Resolved by the Senate (the House of Representatives concurring) That the Congress... strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the religious rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel during the past twenty-five years; and calls upon the President and the Secretary of State to issue an unequivocal statement in support of these principles.
– Resolution S.CON.RES.113 (June 18, 1992) co-sponsored by Sen. Joseph R Biden Jr. (D-Delaware)

Keep these excerpts in mind – their relevance will soon become evident.

The cry of the ‘robbed cossack’?
It is, of course, possible to conceive of more deplorable examples of shoddy and shallow journalism than Tom Friedman’s mendacious and misleading rant, titled, “Why not in Vegas?” against Mitt Romney’s visit to Jerusalem this week. However, I must confess, none springs readily to mind.
Friedman launches into his derogatory diatribe by accusing Romney of (gasp) fund-raising. Of course, coming from an Obamaphile, that is rich.
After all, while there may be many reasons for Obama’s victory over Sen. John McCain in 2008, clearly far from the least significant among them was Obama’s massive funding advantage, outdoing his rival by a ratio of over 3:1 – and half-a-billion dollars – after opting out of the public funding option, despite a pledge not to.
So now Friedman is griping at Romney’s efforts to somewhat level the financial playing field. Imagine the impudence of the GOP upstart! How dare he? Would “hypocritical” be an appropriate epithet here?

People in glass houses
Friedman seems to be particularly upset by the support of Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson for Romney.
He attempts to wax sarcastic:
“Since the whole trip was not about learning anything but about how to satisfy the political whims of the right-wing, super pro- Bibi Netanyahu, American Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, why didn’t they just do the whole thing in Las Vegas?...I mean, it was all about how big a jackpot of donations Adelson would shower on the Romney campaign in return. Vegas would have been so much more appropriate than Jerusalem. ...“They could have constructed a plastic Wailing Wall and saved so much on gas.”
Putting aside the tone of misplaced contempt for a moment, one might get the impression that Obama lacks support from like-minded plutocrats such as the shadowy George Soros, who has donated heavily to Obama-philic causes.
So why the disdain? Or is it just that Friedman feels that political opponents have no right to their positions and, hence, all attempts to enlist resources to promote them are to be belittled and besmirched.
Obama has engaged in intensive efforts to raise funds abroad. According to one source, “Obama has out-raised [Romney] almost 3:1 from ‘off-shore donors.’” The Wall Street Journal reported that an “invitation for an August fund-raiser asked guests to join “Americans Abroad for Obama and special guest George Clooney for a reception in Geneva,” with dinner costing $20,000 a head, or $30,000 a couple.
The Hollywood Reporter also mentions the Clooney event, and gives details of Obama’s fund-raising efforts in... China.
These are headed by Robert Roche, an entrepreneur who was appointed in 2010 by Obama as a member of the Advisory Committee for Trade Policy and Negotiations and today is co-founder and chairman of a Shanghai-based marketing corporation called “Acorn [I kid you not] International.”
So perhaps a plastic replica of the Great Wall of China in Hollywood would suffice?

Doubletalk, double standards
Friedman seems to have taken particular umbrage at Romney’s statement designating “Jerusalem [as] the capital of Israel.” He jeered that “it was all about money – how much Romney would abase himself by saying whatever the Israeli right wanted to hear.”
Really, Tom? Take a look at the introductory excerpts above, espoused by the president and vice president – not only designating Jerusalem as the capital of Israel but averring that it should remain undivided.
Were these statements – at least as, if not more, explicit and far-reaching than Romney’s – merely disingenuous pandering to the “Israeli Right”? Were they no more than manipulative trickery to gain the support of Jewish voters? It would certainly seem so – given the fact that today the White House not only refuses to name the capital of Israel but seems unable to acknowledge that it has a capital at all.
Indeed, in light of these unequivocal declarations as to the indivisible unity of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, would Friedman suggest that the Obama-Biden duo were “abasing themselves by saying whatever the Israeli Right wanted to hear” when they made them? Or were they “abasing themselves by saying whatever the Israeli Left (and the Palestinians) wanted to hear” when they went back on them?

Shades of Walt and Mearsheimer
Friedman continues his Stephen Walt- John Mearsheimer-compliant Judeophobic bluster that he began when he alleged that the standing ovations Netanyahu received during his 2011 address to the US Congress were “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby.”
In his new article, he writes: “The main Israel lobby, AIPAC, has made itself the feared arbiter of which lawmakers are ‘pro’ and which are ‘anti-Israel’ and, therefore, who should get donations and who should not – and you have a situation in which there are almost no brakes, no red lights, around Israel coming from America anymore.”
So there you have it. According to Friedman, the Jews control US foreign policy and America is no more than a banana republic, where elected representatives are willing to sell their nation’s – and hence their constituents’ – interests to the highest bidder and can be bought by conniving Judeo-plutocrats – with hooked noses? What more could subscribers to the Walt-Mearsheimer doctrine ask for? But perhaps – just perhaps – Friedman, in his (il)liberal arrogance, is missing a point that Romney isn’t.

Compatible spirits?
Perhaps the members of Congress, as the elected representatives of the American people, have a better feel for the instincts of their electorate, instincts that are reflected in the sentiments Romney conveyed in his Jerusalem address:
“Our two nations are separated by more than 5,000 miles. But for an American abroad, you can’t get much closer to the ideals and convictions of my own country than you do in Israel. We’re part of the great fellowship of democracies.
“We speak the same language of freedom and justice, and the right of every person to live in peace. We serve the same cause and provoke the same hatreds in the same enemies of civilization.”
Yes, it may be pre-election rhetoric, but it does seem to express a fundamental spirit of kindred ideals that have underpinned the relationship between the two countries – and explains its durability and warmth far better than Friedman’s alleged Shylock-syndome.

Whining about wedges
Friedman whines: “In recent years, the Republican Party has decided to make Israel a wedge issue.”
Actually it was quite the opposite.
After all, it was none other than Barack Obama who explicitly adopted “wedgeinserting” as a policy. In July 2009, while hosting a group of American Jewish leaders at the White House, he informed them that he sought to put “daylight” between America and Israel.
In fact he underscored that this was a measure to contrast his approach with that of his Republican predecessor, remarking that “For eight years [during the George W. Bush administration], there was no light between the United States and Israel.”
Clearly, the idea of placing a wedge between the US and Israel was a deliberate choice of the current Democratic administration. And it is not entirely implausible to surmise that – judging from the tenor of some of his previous articles – Friedman had a role to play in the conception of the “wedge/daylight policy.”
Having helped create the problem, he now bemoans the consequences.

Political amnesia?
Friedman complains that since “the GOP decided to ‘out-pro-Israel’ the Democrats by being even more unquestioning of Israel... this has pulled the Democratic Party to the right on the Middle East and has basically forced the Obama team to shut down the peace process and drop any demands that Israel freeze settlements.”
What a short memory you have, Tom! Have you forgotten that it was the Obama administration which, for the first time ever, made the settlement freeze an issue in the “peace process,” which previously had been conducted without any such demand of the Palestinians.
In fact, the “right-wing” Netanyahu is the only Israeli leader, who – against his own domestic political base – agreed (unwisely) to such a freeze, which, however, elicited no response from the Palestinians – other than a demand that it be extended.
So if there is a culprit to be identified for “shutting down the peace process,” perhaps it should be the Obama administration for creating greater Palestinian intransigence.

‘You didn’t get there on your own’
Friedman’s bile and bias are evident in his attempt to belittle Israel’s technological achievements and entrepreneurial culture; and his chiding Romney for comparing it favorably with the Palestinian culture. Although he does acknowledge that “Israel today is an amazing beehive of innovation [and] something Jews should be proud of,” he attributes this – in the best “you didn’t get there on your own” tradition – in large measure to “an influx of Russian brainpower [and] massive US aid.”
But the Palestinians have received massive international aid for over two decades and have not been able to achieve anything approaching economic stability. So maybe it is a cultural thing, which by the way is why there was such an influx of Russian brain power.
Some cultures – as in Israel – embrace their refugees, integrate them into their society and turn them into valuable contributing citizens; others – as in the Arab world – refuse to integrate them, preserve their suffering and exploit them deliberately as political pawns.
Maybe this, more than anything else, encapsulates the essence of the conflict.
Until Friedman realizes this, he will not be able to make any useful contribution to the discussion, beyond the fatuous, feckless and fraudulent offerings he has provided up to now.

Some plain facts about the "settlers"

There is so much bullshit published, and often accepted as fact, about the  territories Israel captured in 1967, that it's timely to review the actual history.

From IJS:
The land described as “the Territories”, sometimes referred to as the “Palestinian Territories” or by Palestinians as the “Occupied Territories” is the land which came into Israel’s possession in the Six-day War. Originally that comprised the Sinai desert, the Gaza strip, the West Bank, the Golan and East Jerusalem, including the holy places in the Old City.

Source: Website of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

This article looks at the various policies of the Israeli political parties towards the possession of the Territories.
The atmosphere in Israel after the 1967 war was euphoric. The nation’s existence was no longer precarious and problematical. The country had survived a threat of attack by its three surrounding neighbours, and the Territories now in its possession created a “strategic depth” which provided a sense of security which had not been known since the state was established.
East Jerusalem had a special national and religious significance and the return of the Temple Mount to Jewish sovereignty after nineteen hundred years was considered a high point in Israel’s history. Between 1967 and 2000 the indivisibility of a united Jerusalem under Israeli sovereignty remained a central doctrine across the political spectrum, almost universally supported by Israelis and the Jewish Diaspora, and not withstanding repeated condemnation at the United Nations.For Muslims, on the other hand, the Temple Mount is the Haram as-Sharif, the “Noble Sanctuary”, housing the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque, and the second most holy site in Islam. The issue of sovereignty therefore remains a flashpoint of conflict, and every successive Israeli government has conceded effective control over the surface of the Temple Mount to the Islamic authorities, and prohibited Jewish prayer in that area.
As far as the remaining Territories were concerned, the 1967 national unity government in which both the Labour Party and the Likud were represented, under the leadership of a Labour Prime Minister, Levi Eshkol, immediately offered to return “land for peace”. In effect the offer was to exchange territory for full recognition with diplomatic relations.

In September 1967 the Arab League held a Conference at Khartoum to consider the issue. The Conference issued a statement which incorporated the phrase which came to be known as the “Three No’s of Khartoum” - “No peace, no negotiations, no recognition.” (See Khartoum Resolutions 1967.)
At this time Eshkol's Deputy Prime Minister, Yigal Allon, who had been Commander of the Palmach commando force in the war of 1947-9 and a leading figure in the left-wing coalition which eventually became the Labour Party, proposed a plan for territorial compromise in the event of peace. The aim of the “Allon Plan” was to ensure that Israel would always be protected by a defensive barrier along the valley adjacent to the river Jordan and in the area to the south of Jerusalem. In practice, although the Plan never became official policy, and no map was published, under Labour governments permission for settlements was generally limited to the areas which Allon sought to retain.
After Eshkol’s death in 1969, the government of Golda Meir led a Labour government. The Meir government therefore allowed ten small settlements in the Jordan Valley and the rebuilding of four settlements in the “Etzion Bloc” south of Jerusalem which had been destroyed by the Jordanians in 1947. Settlements were also established in the Golan Heights after 1967 as a defensive barrier in the absence of peace with Syria.
In the absence of any prospect of a permanent peace treaty, the Meir government developed policies for a benevolent administration of the Territories in the hope that the inhabitants might find this preferable to the previous rule of Jordan and Egypt. The Israeli administrative presence was reduced to a minimum and funds were provided for infrastructure and economic development. (See article on
Golda Meir for more detail).
The result was that between 1968 and 1972 agricultural production in the Territories more than doubled. Per capita income in the West Bank increased by 80% and unemployment in Gaza was reduced to about 2%.
All this occurred within the context of an official policy of opposition to the concept of a Palestinian state as part of any peace settlement, which Golda Meir announced and repeatedly explained. Israel and Jordan were the two state successors to the British Mandate, she noted, and
there is no room for a third. The Palestinians must find the solution to their problem together with that Arab country, Jordan, because a Palestinian State between us and Jordan can only become a base from which it will become even more convenient to attack and destroy Israel.”
The various policies developed by the major parties after 1967 could be summarized as follows:
  • There was bi-partisan support for retaining control of the Territories until a secure peace could be negotiated;
  • There was bi-partisan opposition to the concept of a Palestinian State;
  • There was bi-partisan refusal to negotiate with the PLO;
  • There was bi-partisan support for the principle that any future negotiation would result in new “secure and recognized boundaries” which would differ from the 1949 Armistice lines.
  • Labour governments permitted Jewish settlement in essential security locations;
  • Likud governments actively encouraged settlement throughout the Territories
The policy of exchanging territory for peace was actually put into effect by a Likud government led by Menahem Begin with the Peace treaty of 1979, under which the whole of the Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982.
Meanwhile the policy of retaining possession of the Territories until a peace could be negotiated, was giving rise to disquiet. The “Peace Now” movement emerged in Israel and in the Jewish diaspora during the late 1980’s, with campaigns opposing the Israeli presence. It was argued that it would be impossible to keep the Territories indefinitely without giving its inhabitants equal democratic rights, and that the result would be a demographic time bomb in which Israel would lose its identity. There was also a revulsion against the need for young conscripts to act as policemen in the area, particularly after the outbreak of the first Intifada in 1987.

Such views were opposed by those who saw the West Bank (“Judea and Samaria”) as the ancient Biblical heartland of the Jewish people, and strongly felt that Jews should not be denied the right to live there.
In fact neither the attitude of the “peaceniks” nor those who supported the religious settlers represented a mainstream view.
The official approach of both the major parties, supported by the mass of the Israeli public, continued to be based on the hope for a solution based on “territory for peace”, and to reject proposals to cede territory unilaterally.
Indeed this was precisely the rationale of the Shamir-Rabin Peace Plan proposed by a national unity Likud-Labour government in 1989, which sought to promote the Palestinian election of a new leadership prepared to negotiate a peace settlement.
The critical moment arrived with the Oslo Accords of 1993. The Labour government of Yitzhak Rabin agreed that the Territories would come under the autonomous administration of the Palestinian Authority, on the faith of Yasser Arafat’s recognition of Israel and renunciation of violence. After the Accords came into effect, the difference in policy between the major parties was reflected in the contrast between Rabin’s refusal to let the peace be undermined by the enemies of peace, and Netanyahu’s insistence on “reciprocity”, making territorial progress dependent on the elimination of violence and security co-operation with the Palestinian Authority.
With Israel’s acceptance of the “roadmap” in 2003, the ultimate goal of a Palestinian state [which would be the "third state" in Palestine] was formally recognized. And then, in 2005 and 2006, a new policy of unilateral withdrawal without any peace agreement was instituted by Ariel Sharon as Likud Prime minister, opposed within the Likud by Netanyahu, and continued with the creation by Sharon of his new Kadimah party.
The new approach was to ensure that firstly, the Territories were to be separated from Israel by a physical barrier. Then, if no agreement could be reached for a permanent peace with the Palestinians, Israel would withdraw unilaterally. In August 2005 a first stage of unilateral withdrawal was put into effect in Gaza. It is arguable whether this withdrawal was seen by the Palestinians as a reward for militancy and that this may have been one contributing factor in the Hamas election victory at the 2006 Palestinian election. Certainly the unilateralist policy had majority support in Israel, reflected in the 2006 election results, and resulting in the formation of a Kadimah government.

After the withdrawal from Gaza the firing of rockets into Israel continued, as did the smuggling of armaments. In July 2006 after the kidnap of an Israeli soldier, Israeli troops invaded in force. By December 2006 Gaza had become the centre of a de facto civil war between forces supporting the Hamas government and the forces of the Fatah, supporting President Mahmoud Abbas.
At the time of writing (July 2007) it seemed unlikely that any unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank area would take place. 

Also from IJS:
The Israeli “Settlements” in the Territories have been heavily criticised as an “obstacle to peace” and they have also been denounced as “illegal”.
This article briefly describes the Settlements in the area described by the Jordanians as the “West Bank” and the processes which led to their creation.
As at 2005 the region had a total Palestinian population of 1,561,000, and an Israel settler population of 210,000.
The settler movement began after the Six-day War in 1967, when an ultra-religious "Land of Israel Movement" was founded by Rabbi Moshe Levinger, with the aim of promoting Jewish settlement in the ancient Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria on the West Bank. In 1968, adherents of the movement, in disguise as tourists, infiltrated the Arab city of Hebron, which is the site of the tombs of the Hebrew patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, holy to both Jews and Muslims. Hebron had always been a religious centre with a small Jewish population until the Jews were massacred in the riots of 1929, and it had great ideological significance for the movement.
The Israeli government, moved the infiltrators to a nearby army base, and eventually permitted the establishment of a Jewish suburb on the outskirts of the city. Over ten years later, in 1979, Rabbi Levinger and his family and a group of supporters, moved into the Hadassah Clinic in the centre of town, which was one of the places where Jewish residents had lived in 1929.
By 1975, the settlement movement had adopted the name Gush Emunim (the “Bloc of the Faithful”). The movement followed the teachings of the religious Zionist philosopher Rabbi Abraham Kook, who held that the redemption of the Land of Israel was divinely ordained, and that it could occur even before the coming of the Messiah. As the Gush leader Israel Medad interpreted the teachings of Rabbi Kook’s son, “the main purpose of the Jewish people is to attain both physical and spiritual redemption by living in and building up a complete Land of Israel. The territory of the Land of Israel is assigned a sanctity which obligates its retention…as well as its settlement, even in defiance of government authority.”
In December 1975 the movement organised marches and demonstrations throughout the West Bank, including sit-ins at the site of proposed settlements, which were broken up by the army. Their first major success came after a tent city had been removed seven times by the army, with permission to establish a settlement at Eilon Moreh near Nablus. Shortly afterwards the Rabin Labour government agreed to the establishment of a town in a strategic position four miles east of Jerusalem The town, Ma’ale Adumim, eventually became a major industrial centre with a population of about 30,000.
Settlements, both religious and secular, now appeared throughout the Territories.
Under Labour governments, most conformed to a conception of Israel’s strategic needs, as outlined by Labour leader Yigal Allon in the unofficial proposal described as the "Allon Plan", and were away from centres of Arab population.
After 1977 the Likud government of Menahem Begin, with Ariel Sharon as Defence Minister and later as Agriculture Minister, actively encouraged the development of settlements in Gaza and on the West Bank, to the extent of offering housing benefits and tax concessions.
By 1985 there were some 40,000 settlers, and by 1996, the number had risen to about 140,000.
As at 2005 the Israeli population in the Territories was over 210,000, about 3% of Israel’s population. Among the settlements on the West Bank are a number of substantial towns, some secular and some religious. There are also small villages, and tiny unauthorised outposts of people living in caravans.
A typical such settlement is the small modern town of Efrat located at about 15 minutes’ drive south of Jerusalem. It was established in 1980, and as at 2005 it had some 7,500 residents. Efrat's population is mostly religious Zionist, and includes many “Modern Orthodox” Jews who have emigrated from the United States. It is in the area of the Etzion Bloc of Jewish villages, most of whose inhabitants were killed by the Arab Legion of Transjordan in 1948 and which were rebuilt after 1967.

The Begin-Sadat Centre for Strategic Studies has prepared this summary of the population of the West Bank settlements:

“Greater Jerusalem: This includes Gush Etzion, the city of Ma'aleh Adumim, the local authorities of Givat Zeev, Betar Ilit, Efrat, and Har-Adar, and additional rural settlements belonging to the Benjamin regional council. There are a total of 20 settlements in Greater Jerusalem, containing a total population of 52,000.

West Samaria: This includes the local authorities of Ariel, Emmanuel, Karnei Shomron, Kedumim, Elkana, Oranit, Alfei Menashe, and additional rural settlements belonging to the Samaria Regional Council. West Samaria contains a total of 18 settlements, with a total population of 44,000.

West Benjamin: This includes the local authorities of Kiryat Sefer and Beit Arieh, and additional rural settlements belonging to the Benjamin Regional Council. There are a total of 12 settlements in West Benjamin, with a total population of 14,000.

The Jordan Valley and Judean Desert: This includes the Ma'aleh Efrayim local authority, and additional settlements belonging to the Jordan Valley, Megilot, Benjamin, and South Mt. Hebron Regional Councils. It consists of a total of 44 settlements with a total population of 17,000.

The Richan-Dotan Bloc: This lies in northern Samaria adjacent to the Green Line (by Wadi 'Ara) and includes five settlements with a total population of 1,500.

The 'Einav-Sal'it Bloc: This lies in northwest Samaria adjacent to the Green Line (near the Israeli seaside city of Netanya) and includes four settlements with a population of 2,000.

The Eshkolot-Shim'a Bloc: This lies in southern Judea next to the Green Line (near the Israeli desert cities of Beer Sheva and Arad) and includes five settlements with a population of 1,000.

Aside from these blocs there are 16 isolated settlements that are not included in typical settlement blocs, with a total population of 13,000. The largest of these are Hebron-Kiryat Arba (population 5,750) and Beit El, near the Arab city of Ramallah, (population 3,400).”

The settlements are fiercely opposed by the Palestinian leadership, and they have been described as illegal in UN resolutions.
The legality argument is based on Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in time of War – “The occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territory it occupies”.
It is a proposition which is highly arguable since the Territories are not "occupied" in the sense that they do not belong to any sovereign state other than Israel. Also Article 49 arose historically in the context of the Nazi deportations of the Second World War, and its original aim was to protect the humanitarian rights of those who might be “transferred” or “deported”. [Note that no-one has been forcibly transferred to the territories, and the only people forcibly removed have been Israelis, both in Gaza and the West bank - SL]
At present the rights of the parties, including settlements, are governed by the terms of the agreements implementing the Oslo Accords which set up the Palestinian Authority. These provide that the issue of “Settlements” is to be a subject of the “final status negotiations” and that meanwhile Israel is to be responsible for the security of “Israelis and Settlements”.

[Is that clear now? - SL]