Thursday, June 07, 2007

Rejectionism fuels Middle East conflict

From The Australian Financial Review, June 7, 2007 [subscription required to view on-line], by Colin Rubenstein [my emphasis added - SL]....

Israel's stunning six-day military victory against its Arab neighbours 40 years ago is today often recalled primarily as the "root cause" of all subsequent Middle Eastern problems - Israeli "occupation" of Arab lands.

Before the war, however, Israel "occupied" no land, yet Arab rejection of its right to exist, as well any direct negotiation with Jerusalem, was almost total. Jordan had annexed the West Bank and Egypt controlled Gaza but there was virtually no talk of setting up a Palestinian state in either. Even the Palestine Liberation Organisation rejected this idea.

... it was Arab rejectionism, not Israeli policy, that turned Israel's military successes into a long-running "occupation". On June 19, the Israeli cabinet voted unanimously to return all of the Sinai and Golan for peace, and to open negotiations about the West Bank. The Arab League responded with a resolution on September 1, vowing "no peace, no recognition and no negotiation with Israel."

In November, UN Security Council Resolution 242, the famous "land for peace" formula, was adopted and accepted by Israel. Its drafters maintain it was intended to encourage a negotiated peace involving Israeli withdrawals to "secure and recognised boundaries" to be agreed.

Subsequently, Israel returned Sinai, 93 per cent of the land captured in 1967, to Egypt, and has made other withdrawals, on the Golan, along the border with Jordan, and from all of Gaza. It has also offered to return to the international border on the Golan, and to evacuate more than 95 per cent of the West Bank for peace.

However, some of the same social and political forces that caused the 1967 war and prevented peace afterwards are still blocking a two-state resolution. The Arab nationalism for which Israel's existence is an insufferable stain on Arab honour has diminished, but it has been replaced by a growing Islamist movement that argues Israel's existence is an intolerable affront to divine law. Groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, backed and financed by Teheran and Damascus, make peace impossible by threatening Arab leaders and openly planning to use any territory Israel evacuates for ongoing attacks.

As in 1967, it is rejectionism, a fruit of the region's many problems, that is still preventing full Arab-Israel peace.

John Howard: Champion for Israel

From JPost, by Isi Leibler, June 7, 2007 ....

Australian Prime Minister John Howard recently received a standing ovation at a Jewish community event, reflecting the admiration felt throughout the Jewish world for his courageous support for Israel.....

....Howard's friendship toward Jews can be traced back to his days as a young lawyer in a legal firm with Jewish principals. He first visited Israel in 1962 and since then has remained a champion of the Jewish state.

His feelings are best reflected in his own words: "The personal affection I have for the State of Israel, the personal regard I have for the Jewish people of the world, will never be diminished. It is something I hold dearly, something I value as part of my being and as part of what I have tried to do with my life."

....My most fascinating encounter with Howard took place in 2000, when I was already a Jerusalemite and he was visiting Israel in his prime ministerial capacity. This was just prior to the first intifada. He invited me and Leon Kempler, visiting head of the Australian Israel Chamber of Commerce, to accompany him on a visit to Yasser Arafat in Gaza.
I was reluctant to go, having until then prided myself on not having joined the stream of Jewish leaders paying homage to Arafat in the wake of the Oslo Accords. My view was that, irrespective of Israeli relations with Arafat, there was no obligation for Jewish leaders to embrace a man who was undeniably a duplicitous murderer.

I was finally persuaded. But in Gaza I tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible. Unfortunately, the Australian PLO representative recognized me, and before the end of the meeting I was called forward to meet Arafat who, to my dismay, publicly embraced me and presented me and the prime minister with huge mother-of-pearl jewelry boxes embossed with "Doves of Peace." He declared that he had always wanted to meet me, but I was in no doubt that my name had only been whispered into his ear a few seconds earlier.

After the event, during a brief stopover on our return to Tel Aviv, Howard took me aside and asked me what I thought of Arafat. I responded unhesitatingly: that despite the nice words Arafat had expressed in support of peace, I did not trust a word he uttered. I told him that despite the fact that the majority of Israelis had convinced themselves that they were on an irreversible path to peace, I had a feeling of dread about the future and was convinced he would betray us.

I clearly recollect Howard's response: "I want you to know that should Arafat ever renege on the commitments to peace he conveyed today, I give you a solemn undertaking that if I am still prime minister, the Australian Jewish community and the people of Israel will never have reason to feel that I forsook them."

Howard kept his word. In subsequent years Australia walked a lonely path, courageously supporting Israel at international forums. I have frequently thought about what he told me then, and on repeated occasions I would reiterate my respect to him for never having deviated from his commitment. Indeed, while most of the world turned fiercely against Israel after the intifada, Howard's support for Israel intensified.

As he recently told a Jewish gathering: "Good friends stand together when it is unfashionable to do so."

We can only hope that in the years to come, other statesmen may emerge who will replicate the courageous and principled stance toward us as exemplified by Prime Minister John Howard.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Ahmadinejad: Countdown to Israel's Destruction Has Begun

From Arutz Sheva, 05 June 07 by Ezra HaLevi ...

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday the countdown to Israel’s destruction has begun.

Ahmadinejad said that Hizbullah began the countdown in its war with the IDF last summer. "With Allah’s help, the countdown button to this regime’s [Israel's] destruction has been pushed by the hands of Lebanon and Palestine’s children,” he said in a speech to foreign guests in Tehran in honor of the 18th anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, Iran’s first Supreme Leader. " By Allah's will, we will witness the destruction of this regime in the near future thanks to the endeavors of Palestinian and Lebanese fighters." ....

Assad Hope For United War
Ahmadinejad spoke with Syrian president Bashar Assad this past week, during which Assad is reported, by Iran’s state-run news agency, to have said that “added coordination between Iran and Syria in confrontation with the Zionist regime and the USA can bear better results in the future.” The Iranian president congratulated Assad on his reelection. Assad ran unopposed and won 97% of the vote....

New Iranian TV Series Outlines Ahmadinejad’s European Israel Idea
Iran’s state-run television has begun airing a docu-drama series outlining Ahmadinejad’s view that the Jews were given Israel due to the Holocaust, and that Europe must create a state of Israel on its own soil instead of on land belonging to the Arabs. The series, "A Zero Degree Turn" is aired weekly at prime time and six out of 22 chapters have aired.The plot focuses on the idea of emigration to Israel being conceived by Nazis, Europeans and non-traditional Jews – featuring a central rabbinic character rejecting a call to move to the Holy Land. "External pressures are trying to settle the Jews and the Muslims together, and it is impossible,” the rabbi in the series says. “The Jewish fate has always been complicated and difficult. The solution is not emigration to Arab countries, where there are Arab citizens." Any mention of Jewish immigration and hassidic sects that made Aliyah (immigrated to Israel) before World War II were omitted.