Saturday, June 24, 2006

What Jewish Ties to Jerusalem?

From New York Sun, June 20, 2006, by Daniel Pipes, posted at ...

Historically, the religious standing of Jerusalem for Muslims waxed and waned with political circumstances. In a consistent and predictable cycle repeated six times through 14 centuries, Muslims focused on the city when it served their needs and ignored it when it did not.

This contrast was especially obvious during the past century. British rule over the city, in 1917-48, galvanized a passion for Jerusalem that had been absent during the 400 years of Ottoman control. Throughout the Jordanian control of the walled city, in 1948-67, however, Arabs largely ignored it. For example, Jordanian radio broadcast Friday prayers not from Al-Aqsa mosque but from a minor mosque in Amman. The Palestine Liberation Organization's founding document, the Palestinian National Covenant, which dates from 1964, contains no mention of Jerusalem.

Muslim interest in the city revived only with the Israeli conquest of Jerusalem in 1967. Jerusalem then became the focal point of Arab politics, serving to unify fractious elements. In 1968, the PLO amended its covenant to call Jerusalem "the seat of the Palestine Liberation Organization." The king of Saudi Arabia himself declared the city religiously "just like" Mecca – a novel, if not a blasphemous idea.

By 1990, the Islamic focus on Jerusalem reached such a surreal intensity that Palestinian Arabs evolved from celebrating Jerusalem to denying the city's sacred and historical importance to Jews. The Palestinian Arab establishment – scholars, clerics, and politicians – promoted this unlikely claim by constructing a revisionist edifice made up in equal parts of fabrication, falsehood, fiction, and fraud. It erases all Jewish connections to the land of Israel, replacing them with a specious Palestinian-Arab connection.

Palestinian Arabs now claim that Canaanites built Solomon's Temple, that the ancient Hebrews were Bedouin tribesmen, the Bible came from Arabia, the Jewish Temple "was in Nablus or perhaps Bethlehem," the Jewish presence in Palestine ended in 70 C.E., and today's Jews are descendants of the Khazar Turks. Yasser Arafat himself created a non-existent Canaanite king, Salem, out of thin air, speaking movingly about this fantasy Palestinian Arab "forefather."
Palestinian Media Watch sums up this process: By turning Canaanites and Israelites into Arabs and the Judaism of ancient Israel into Islam, the Palestinian Authority "takes authentic Jewish history, documented by thousands of years of continuous literature, and crosses out the word ‘Jewish' and replaces it with the word ‘Arab'."

The political implication is clear: Jews lack any rights to Jerusalem. As a street banner puts it: "Jerusalem is Arab." Jews are unwelcome.

Three key events, Yitzhak Reiter of the Hebrew University argues, transformed this self-indulgent mythology into official ideology:

  1. The Temple Mount Faithful incident of October 1990 saw a Jewish group's unsuccessful effort to lay the cornerstone for the Third Temple leading to a Muslim riot in which 17 rioters lost their lives. This episode increased Palestinian Arab apprehensions about the demolishing of Islamic sanctities, prompting a drive to prove that Jerusalem has always been a Muslim and Palestinian Arab city.
  2. The Oslo accord of September 1993 placed Jerusalem, for the first time, on the table for negotiation. Palestinian Arabs responded by attempting to discredit Jewish connections to the city.
  3. The Camp David summit of July 2000 saw the Israeli government, again for the first time, put forward its demands for sovereignty over parts of the Temple Mount. As Dennis Ross, an American diplomat present at the summit, astringently put it, Arafat "never offered any substantive ideas, not once" at the talks. However, "He did offer one new idea, which was that the Temple didn't exist in Jerusalem, that it was in Nablus." With this, Jerusalem's pseudo-history became formal Palestinian Authority policy.

Palestinian Arab denial of the Jewish connection to Jerusalem has two likely long-term implications.

First, it suggests that the Palestinian Arab focus on Jerusalem has reached such a fervor that it might now sustain itself regardless of politics, thereby breaking a 14-century pattern. Jerusalem appears to have developed into an abiding Muslim interest, one generating feelings of entitlement no longer related to utilitarian considerations.

Second, this denial severely diminishes the prospect of a diplomatic resolution. The Palestinian Arabs' self-evidently false history alienates their Israeli interlocutors even as it lays claim to sole rights over the entire city. As a result, future negotiations over Jerusalem are bound to be yet more emotional, askew, and difficult than past ones.

Daniel Pipes' writings on Jerusalem may be found at

Friday, June 23, 2006

Stop apologizing

The following article which appeared in Jerusalem Post, 21/6/06 cannot be accessed from the internet because it has been classified as an e-paper exclusive, open only to paid subscribers of the Jerusalem Post internet edition....

June 21, 2006

What a tragic missed opportunity. Over the past month the global media focused on Ehud Olmert as he met heads of state in Washington, London, Paris, Cairo and Amman on his maiden prime-ministerial visit. It was a perfect opportunity for our eloquent premier to depict the nightmarish life that citizens in Sderot and the Western Negev were living as their schools, hospitals, homes and infrastructure faced daily missile barrages from their Palestinian neighbors.
This should have been the ideal setting for Olmert to proclaim to the world that, like any other state, Israel would no longer tolerate its citizens being targeted in this manner, and that those facilitating the missile attacks against Israeli women and children would bear the responsibility for Palestinian civilians harmed in the course of our legitimate efforts to defend ourselves.
Alas, instead of this, the media concentrated almost exclusively on our prime minister’s futile efforts to persuade heads of state to endorse his realignment program.
It is a disgrace that, until recently, the government of Israel has been understating the Kassam rocket as a primitive missile with limited range and low accuracy. In doing so it was implicitly conditioning us to come to terms with these attacks.
The casualty toll since disengagement has been miraculously low. But it is nevertheless obscene to delay more drastic remedial action for the inevitable disaster of a rocket exploding on a school, movie theater or major infrastructure facility. International public opinion is tremendously important, but it must never be subordinated to the potential loss of life of innocent civilians.
If the status quo remains, communities like Sderot will be transformed into ghost towns. Besides, the current primitive rockets are already being upgraded to more advanced models; and the Iranians have been flooding Gaza with more sophisticated missiles, including Katyushas, which will enable more precise targeting and travel greater distances, threatening our major cities.
IN ANY normal country missile launches on civilian population centers would automatically represent a declaration of war. The longer we delay a tough remedial response, the more the Palestinians will acclimatize the international community into accepting rocket attacks on Israeli civilians as routine. Marking time until a disaster forces us to act merely ensures an even more difficult future confrontation with the international community.
We witnessed this in recent days when Palestinian civilians were killed, allegedly by an errant shell from our artillery. The IDF conclusively demonstrated that Israel was not responsible and that, in all likelihood, the Palestinian casualties originated from explosives flowing into Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal.
But despite this, other than from the Americans, the standard one-sided condemnations flowed from the entire world. In what can be described as a classic example of Orwellian doublespeak, Kofi Annan had the gall to condemn Israel for breaching international law by “targeting civilians.” With Gallic hypocrisy the French deplored the “disproportionate” response of the Israelis. The Russians, whose enlightened responses to Chechen terrorism are well known, also complained of a “disproportionate” response.
None of the international chorus of bleeding hearts has expressed moral outrage at Palestinians launching missiles against Israeli civilians. Instead they related to “cycles of violence,” implying moral equivalency by failing to distinguish between those targeting innocent women and children and those seeking to defend themselves.
None noted the extraordinary efforts of the IDF to minimize civilian casualties, in contrast to the Palestinian side, which deliberately targets civilians.
Many Israelis soldiers have died because the IDF frequently opts not to employ its superior fire power out of concern for civilians. None of Israel’s critics noted that the vast majority of Israelis are genuinely distressed when innocent Palestinians are inadvertently harmed; while the Palestinian street invariably erupts into spontaneous street celebrations every time terrorist ghouls successfully maim and kill Israeli civilians.
IT IS TIME to call a spade a spade. No sovereign state in the world would conceivably tolerate a neighbor, whose leaders refuse to inhibit terrorists operating under their jurisdiction, launching missiles at its civilian population. Now – unlike their PA predecessors – Hamas leaders don’t even bother speaking with a forked tongue: They proudly proclaim that their intention is to launch attacks to kill our citizens and destroy us.
Setting aside the effective targeted assassinations which hitherto exempted Hamas leaders, our government exacerbated the situation by issuing hollow threats that were never implemented. Instead vacant buildings and empty fields were bombed – “punitive” responses that terrorists regarded as a joke.
Minister of Defense Amir Peretz, after panicking and halting all artillery bombardments, has now explicitly warned that the Palestinians will face devastation unless they rein in the Kassam attacks. If his warnings are not implemented whatever remains of our diminished deterrent capacity will totally evaporate.
THE TIME is overdue for the Israeli government to take action. Ehud Olmert must belatedly tell the world that Israel will continue making every effort to minimize civilian casualties. But he must proclaim that if the terrorists continue callously disregarding the lives of their kinsmen by exploiting them as human shields – storing weapons in hospitals and schools, and operating from heavily populated areas – they will be responsible for the escalation in civilian casualties.
We realize that when we act the world will not sympathize because they will watch their TV screens and see the horror and devastation that war inflicts on everyone. Our spokesmen must nevertheless stop apologizing and direct the blame for any civilian casualties on those who indulge in terror acts and expose the double standards and hypocrisy of our critics.
As Jews we pride ourselves on being a compassionate people genuinely saddened by the suffering of innocent noncombatants. But if the Palestinians continue in this manner, the point must be reached where Israel will be obliged to sever its remaining links with them.
It is bizarre to expect us to continue providing water and electricity to neighbors who proclaim that their objective is to destroy us and who rain rockets on our civilians. As a preliminary step in this direction Olmert should inform the Palestinians that from now on, every time a Kassam rocket or other missile is launched against Israeli citizens, we will turn off the electricity and water from Gaza for three hours. That will surely be more effective than bombing empty fields and buildings.
Unless our oft-stated concern for the sanctity of human life is intended to exclude our own people, the time for standing by with folded hands is over.

The writer chairs the Diaspora-Israel Relations Committee of the Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs and is a veteran international Jewish leader.

The Global Range of Iran's Ballistic Missile Program

From Jerusalem Centre for Public affairs, JERUSALEM ISSUE BRIEF, Vol. 5, No. 26, 20 June 2006, by Uzi Rubin*....

[This is a summary only. Follow this link to the full article.]
  • The Iranians know they cannot win a war against the United States. Their stated policy is to deter the U.S. and its allies by threatening a war that will cause such damage at such a price that this option will become unacceptable. With this perspective, they are investing very smartly in deterrence enhancers and force multipliers instead of replacing obsolete equipment.
  • What does Iran invest in? Precision strike munitions, anti-ship missiles, nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and space capabilities. The newer Shahab 3ER missile (based on the North Korean No Dong), with a reach of 2,000 km, can threaten Ankara or Alexandria, giving Iran leverage over the entire Middle East.
  • Iran has acquired eighteen BM25 land-mobile missiles with launchers from North Korea, which can strike targets in Europe. In the past, the BM25 has been produced in two models: one with a range of 2,500 km and the second with a range of 3,500 km.
    Well-substantiated reports indicate that the Iranians managed to smuggle out of Ukraine several Russian Kh 55 strategic cruise missiles, probably not to be deployed but to be emulated and copied.
  • In 1998 Iran announced a space program. A space launcher that can orbit a satellite weighing 300 kg can be altered into an ICBM that could drop more than 300 kg on Washington.
  • Iran's political leadership is now aiming toward global power projection in the name of Islam, demanding recognition that Islam comprises 25 percent of humanity and should occupy its rightful place in decision-making in world affairs. Statements like this are not about self-defense.
...Follow this link to the full article.

*Uzi Rubin has been involved in Israeli military research, development, and engineering programs for almost forty years. Between 1991 and 1999 he served as head of Israel's Missile Defense Organization, and in that capacity he oversaw the development of Israel's Arrow anti-missile defense system. He was awarded the Israel Defense Prize in 1996. This Jerusalem Issue Brief is based on his presentation at the Institute for Contemporary Affairs on April 6, 2006.

Next Steps in Arab-Israeli Peacemaking

From Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Jerusalem Viewpoints No. 543, 5 Sivan 5766 / 1 June 2006 by Zalman Shoval* ...

[This is a summary only. Follow this link for the full article]
  • The U.S. military victory in Iraq did at first create a more congenial atmosphere among Palestinians for peace with Israel. However, the present situation in Iraq, as well as Iran and Muslim fundamentalism in general, have caused matters to move in the opposite direction. The Palestinians are further away from a spirit of reconciliation and compromise than ever before. Terrorists everywhere are feeling emboldened by what they see, at least for now, as an American failure.
  • While pragmatic Westerners tend not to give too much weight to ideological statements by Palestinians, this is a mistake. Article 6 of the Hamas covenant says that the organization "strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine." Just like the rantings of Iran's president, this should not be seen as some bizarre religious, extremist oration, but as the concrete Islamist "roadmap" and action plan it is.
  • There are those in the West who believe that once Hamas has had to face the realities of governance, it will moderate its intransigent views. But neither the Taliban, the Iranian ayatollahs, nor Saddam and the two Assads grew moderate while in office. Neither did Arafat.
  • Contrary to what is often claimed, only a fraction of the Palestinians voted for Hamas because of its promise to clean up the corruption and inefficiency of the previous Fatah regime. Palestinians voted for Hamas because they identified with Hamas' aims against Israel - including terror. They clearly recognized that they were electing a party that ruled out any form of permanent peace with Israel.
  • There is a growing tendency within the Palestinian body politic to de-emphasize the quest for separate Palestinian statehood, and to aim for a state in the whole of Palestine after having eliminated the State of Israel. Even prior to the Hamas victory, a two-state solution didn't necessarily mean that the Palestinians wouldn't continue to try to undermine the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Unfortunately, experience has shown (and I was a supporter of "disengagement") that Israeli withdrawals and concessions do not bring about Palestinian moderation and reduce the conflict but actually create escalation....

*Zalman Shoval, a member of the Board of Overseers of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, served as Israel's Ambassador to the United States from 1990 to 1993 and from 1998 to 2000. A veteran member of Israel's Knesset (1970-1981, 1988-1990), Ambassador Shoval was a senior aide to the late Moshe Dayan during his tenure as foreign minister in the Begin government, including during the first Camp David conference. An abbreviated version of this Jerusalem Viewpoints was presented at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington on May 10, 2006.

Follow this link for the full article

Bring the enemy to its knees

From Ynet News, 22/6/06, by Rabbi Yisrael Rosen, head of the Tzomet Institute in Alon Shvut ...

...Jewish tradition and law require us to respond to enemy fire in like kind

The Qassams are blasting away at Sderot...The terrorist state of Hamas has declared war on us and the deadly bombs are raining down on our civilians, fired from amongst a supportive and encouraging civilian population. Is it really out-of-bounds for us to use a similar weapon? ....

The absurdity of it all screams out to the heavens when the "world is silent" about the storm of Qassams on a peaceful Israeli city, yet cries out to demand a commission of inquiry over an Arab family killed on the Gaza beach. ....

Jewish lessons
From a Jewish perspective, if not a democratic ( the right of self defense) or humanitarian (yes, even the people of Sderot deserve some humanitarian consideration) perspective – the IDF call openly for residents of northern Gaza to leave the area immediately, and that Israel will bear no responsibility for their safety if they fail to do so.

The lying international media will defend the Palestinians regardless of what Israel does, as will the Israeli left. At least we would gain back Sderot and other cities and town in the area by such a move.

Jewish ethics are saturated with the ethical message "if someone comes to kill you, kill him first." The Torah and the prophets, Jewish law, rabbinic tales and Jewish thought all treat war as a struggle between two peoples, not between two individuals who happen to have guns.

Bring the enemy to its knees
And in war as in war. Civilians get hurt in war – including women, children and the elderly. Only a population that forcibly vomits out terrorists from its midst, that waves a white flag, that expresses strong protest against being dragged into violent conflict – only such a population will be protected, according to any measure of Jewish morality.

More than that, one of the most meaningful sayings in the Jewish ethical lexicon... is to be found in the Book of Samuel: "And plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear (Sam. II 23:21). In other words: We must use the weapons of the enemy.

This is exactly what David did in his legendary battle with Goliath: And David ran, and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw that their mighty man was dead, they fled. (Sam. I 17:51)

Our sages used these verses to teach a lesson for the ages: Don't be afraid to use the enemy's weapons against them. It is legitimate, and therefore moral.

Artillery vs. Qassams
Anyone who feels a bit of humanity for his brothers, anyone who has been freed from hatred for his people and the tendency to beat ourselves over the head, anyone who gains his moral teachings from Jewish sources, anyone who is prepared to learn from the general history of warfare and anti-Israel warfare in particular, anyone with open eyes and who looks to the future, anyone who loves life and wants to do good by his people and his land – all these should send a clear message to the IDF: Artillery vs. Qassams.

Of course, we must warn people and allow them to escape, in accordance with halacha (Jewish law), derived from verses in the Torah. As Maimonides wrote nearly 1000 years ago: "When we lay siege to a city in order to capture it, do not encircle it on all sides. Rather, you must allow the enemy room to flee, in order to save their lives.