Thursday, April 03, 2008

Bipartisan US House resolution remembers the forgotten refugees

From DEBKAfile, April 3, 2008, 8:52 AM (GMT+02:00):

It was introduced Tuesday by Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Mike Ferguson (R-NJ).

From 1948, 850,000 Jews were attacked, dispossessed and expelled from 10 Arab lands, where some Jewish communities had existed for 2,500 years. The number of Jewish refugees exceeds Arab refugees from Israel by more than 100,000 (United Nations Conciliation Commission, October 23, 1950).

All prior UN resolutions referred only to Arab refugees. The new nonbinding resolution affirms for the first time that the U.S. government must now recognize that all victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict must be treated equally. It further urges that, as a member of the Middle East Quartet, the President and U.S. officials ensure that any reference to Palestinian refugees must henceforth "also include a similarly explicit reference to the issue of Jewish refugees from Arab countries."

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Hamas Incitement grows and grows

From The New York Times, April 1, 2008, by STEVEN ERLANGER:

...Since Hamas took over Gaza last June, routing Fatah, Hamas sermons and media reports preaching violence and hatred have become more pervasive, extreme and sophisticated....

Intended to indoctrinate the young to its brand of radical Islam, which combines politics, social work and military resistance, including acts of terrorism, the programs of Al Aksa television and radio, including crucial Friday sermons, are an indication of how far from reconciliation Israelis and many Palestinians are.

Hamas’s grip on Gaza matters, but what may matter more in the long run is its control over propaganda and education there, breeding longer-term problems for Israel, and for peace. No matter what Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agree upon, there is concern here that the attitudes being instilled will make a sustainable peace extremely difficult.

“If you take a sample on Friday, you’re bound to hear incitement against the Jews in the prayers and the imam’s sermon,” said Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University here.....

....Radwan Abu Ayyash, deputy minister of culture in Ramallah, ran the Palestinian Broadcasting Company until 2005. Hamas “uses religious language to motivate simple people for political as well as religious goals,” he said. “People don’t distinguish between the two.” He said he found a lot of what Al Aksa broadcast “disgusting and unprofessional.”

Every Palestinian thinks the situation in Gaza is ugly, he said. “But what is not fine is to build up children with a culture of hatred, of closed minds, a culture of sickness. I don’t think they always know what they are creating. People use one weapon, language, without realizing that they also use it against themselves.”

....Some Hamas videos, like one in March 2007, promote the participation of children in “resistance,” showing them training in uniform, holding rifles. Recent shows displayed Mr. Abbas kissing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, under the slogan “Palestine doesn’t return with kisses, it returns with martyrs.”

Programs for Children
Another children’s program, “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” has become infamous for its puppet characters — a kind of Mickey Mouse, a bee and a rabbit — who speak, like Assud the rabbit, of conquering the Jews to the young hostess, Saraa Barhoum, 11. “We will liberate Al Aksa mosque from the Zionists’ filth,” Assud said recently. “We will liberate Jaffa and Acre,” cities now in Israel proper. “We will liberate the whole homeland.”

...When Assud first made his appearance, he said to Saraa: “We are all martyrdom-seekers, are we not, Saraa?” She responded: “Of course we are. We are all ready to sacrifice ourselves for the sake of our homeland. We will sacrifice our souls and everything we own for the homeland.”

....Abu Saleh, who asked that his full name not be used because of his critical views, is worried about his children. His eldest son, 13, likes to watch Al Aksa, especially the nationalist songs and military videos. “I talk to them about Hamas, but to be honest, it’s scary and you have to watch it over time,” he said. “When kids are 17 or 18, you don’t know what happens. They get enraged and can attach themselves to radical groups.”

Excluding Reconciliation
The Prophet Muhammad made a temporary hudna, or truce, with the Jews about 1,400 years ago, so Hamas allows the idea. But no one in Hamas says he would make a peace treaty with Israel or permanently give up any part of British Mandate Palestine.

“They talk of hudna, not of peace or reconciliation with Israel,” said Mr. Abusada, the political scientist. “They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine.”
Saraa, the host of “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” is the niece of Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman. ...Mr. Barhoum ...insisted that Israel was illegitimate. ...

The [Hamas] charter is a deeply anti-Semitic document and cites a famous forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as truth.....

Marwan M. Abu Ras, 50, an imam who taught at Hamas’s Islamic University for 25 years, has an advice show on Al Aksa. ...Last month, he criticized Egypt for closing the Gaza border at Israel’s request. He complained, “We are besieged by the sons of Arabism and Islam, as well as by the brothers of apes and pigs.” ...

....Hazim el-Sharawi, 30, the original host of the Farfour character on Hamas television, and known as “Uncle Hazim,” ... said. “We wanted to send a message through this character that would fit the reality of Palestinian life....We want to connect the child to Palestine, to his country, so you know that your original city is Jaffa, your capital is Jerusalem and that the Jews took your land and closed your borders and are killing your friends and family.”

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Child on Hamas TV 'kills' US president

From Ynet News, 1/4/08, by Associated Press:

In a Hamas TV production for Palestinian children, a [child] stabbed US President George Bush to death in revenge for American and Israeli actions.

The children's puppet [show] aired Sunday, as part of series called 'Exceptionals.' In the episode, shown talking to a Palestinian child.

The child, with tears in his voice, accuses Bush of killing his father in Iraq, his mother in Lebanon and his brothers and sisters in Gaza with the assistance of the Israelis...."You are a criminal. You deprived me of everything." He adds, "I have to take my revenge with this sword of Islam."

Bush, in a panic, pleads for his life: "I repent. Don't kill me." He invites the child for talks in the White House, but the child counters that the White House has been turned into a mosque, and 'impure Bush' can't enter it.

Then the child stabs him to death....

UK is now European center of anti-Semitism

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Mar. 31, 2008, by Etgar Lefkovits:

Britain has become the epicenter for anti-Semitic trends in Europe as traditional, age-old anti-Semitism in a country whose literature and cultural tradition were "drenched" in anti-Semitism has developed into a contemporary mix of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, an Israeli historian said Monday.

Prof. Robert S. Wistrich

The problem of anti-Semitism in Britain is exacerbated by a growing and increasingly radical Muslim population, the weak approach taken by a timid British Jewish leadership, and the detachment of the British from their Christian roots, said Hebrew University historian Prof. Robert S. Wistrich in a lecture on British anti-Semitism at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

...In a wide-ranging two-hour address, the Cambridge University-educated historian, who has just completed a book on global anti-Semitism, traced the roots of British anti-Semitism to its history, culture and literature going back to medieval times.

"Anti-Semitism in Great Britain is at least a millennial phenomenon and has been around for 1000 years of recorded history," Wistrich said.

He noted that the expulsion of all Jews from Britain in 1290 by King Edward I following years of anti-Semitic violence was the first major expulsion of any Jewish community in Europe. Jews were banned from Britain until 1656, when Oliver Cromwell, who had overthrown the monarchy, authorized their return.

Wistrich noted that a Jewish presence was not required in Britain to produce potent and resonating anti-Semitic stereotypes in classic English literature, including in works by Chaucer, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Dickens, Trollope, T. S. Elliot, and D. H. Lawrence, which he said continues to impact British society hundreds of years later today. "The authors are conveying and transmitting to a future generation an embedded anti-Semitism whose influence is impossible to underestimate," Wistrich said. "English literature and culture is in fact drenched in anti-Semitism," he said, adding that British intellectuals fail to understand the long-term impact of this phenomenon.

During World War II, the British refusal to rescue the Jews of Europe and their decision to close the gates of Palestine stemmed not only from a policy of realpolitik but by anti-Semitic sentiments, he said. "Nothing was to be construed as fighting a Jewish war," he said.

He noted that the famed British wartime leader, Winston Churchill's, record on Zionism was "far from brilliant, rhetoric aside" noting that he promoted the infamous White Paper, which severely limited Jews from immigrating to Palestine during World War II....

....In his address, Wistrich said that today's British media had taken an almost universally anti-Israel bias, especially but not exclusively on the BBC....

...."Palestinian terrorism is portrayed as a minor pin-prick compared to 'massive' retaliation of this 'rogue' state [Israel]," he said. "You cannot read a British newspaper without encountering a variant of the libel that Zionism is racism or Zionism is Nazism," he said, describing a culture of "barely disguised hatred" when the subject of Zionism of British Jewry or Anglo-Israel relations is broached, unless they are "the good anti-Zionists."...

..."The self-proclaimed anti-racists of the [London Mayor Ken] Livingstone brand lead the pack when it comes to the prevailing discourse about Israel and by implication Jews."

"If you bring up the subject of anti-Semitism you are playing the anti-Semitism card and you are [seen as] a dishonest deceitful manipulative Jew or lover of Jews who is using the language of anti-Semitism to disguise hide or silence criticism of Israel," he said.

...Wistrich faulted British-Jewish leadership for taking a "softly softly approach," which he said was "very strange" and did not bear fruit in contemporary times. "There is a long tradition of doing things behind closed doors and it is different to break with tradition but it should be broken," he said.

The historian noted that the straying of the British from their Christian roots ...."The loss of Christian identity in what was the most Bible-believing culture in its day is one of the deeper layers of what has happened here," he said. He noted some of the biblical remarks of prominent British leaders such as Lord Balfour and Lloyd George would be viewed as anathema today.
"You cannot speak or act that way today, or you would be considered the 'biggest threat to civilization' as American evangelicals are."

Monday, March 31, 2008

Thousands of Israeli Arabs mark Land Day

From THE JERUSALEM POST, Mar. 30, 2008, by Yaakov Lappin:

Thousands of Israeli Arabs waved Palestinian flags and chanted slogans in praise of "martyrs" during a march in Sakhnin to commemorate Land Day on Sunday.

A picturesque Galilee backdrop of green hills was punctured by megaphone shouts in Arabic of "Do not worry, mother of martyr, your son did not die in vain," "We are with the youths who throw rocks," and "We do not fear Israel, the terrorist state."

Police kept a low profile, monitoring the event from a helicopter high above and manning a checkpoint at the entrance to Sakhnin. In Hebrew, marchers chanted slogans against Defense Minister Ehud Barak, shouting, "Barak, how many children did you murder today?" ...

.... hundreds of participants shouted, "Palestine is Arab and the Golan is Syrian!" ...

...Basher and Sahab, two young men from neighboring Nazareth, said they considered "suicide bombers from Gaza to be martyrs...." "This is a holy day for us, a day of struggle," Basher said. "Every Israeli government has taken land in the Galilee and the Negev, and we're fighting against that. We want to remind the world that we're under occupation."

Said Hasnen, an editor at the weekly Israeli-Arab newspaper Kul al-Arab...called into question the historical attachment of Jews to Israel, saying, ".... We are the permanent ones here, Israel is the visitor."

His friend, Hussein Kalaila, added, "Why should we be Israelis? I have a Palestinian identity. We are Palestinian Arabs in every way. This land is called Palestine."

A statement released this week in honor of Land Day by the NGO Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, said: "This colonial regime has now been in existence for over 60 years, on the basis of a Zionist ideology to control the 'Land of Israel'... The apartheid regime was overthrown in South Africa... such regimes have no place in this century."

Israel says no to Rice demand for free Palestinian passage from Jenin to Mt. Hebron

From DEBKAfile, March 30, 2008, 11:14 PM (GMT+02:00):

This demand, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, would amount to lifting Israeli restrictions on Palestinian travel from the northern West Bank terrorist stronghold of Jenin all the way through Jerusalem’s outskirts to the southern West Bank Tarkumiyeh terminal, the Palestinian entry point from the Gaza Strip.

... US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice put this stipulation to prime minister Ehud Olmert, defense minister Ehud Barak and foreign minister Tzipi Livni, Sunday, March 30. It was one of three she wanted implemented in the five weeks before President George W. Bush’s attendance of Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations.

...Israel’s top military commanders warned government leaders in the strongest possible terms that the US secretary’s demands if met would ...expose Jerusalem and other Israeli cities to the waves of suicide killers .... The checkpoints were a vital element of their operations to keep Israel’s heartland safe from terrorists.

The Jenin-Tarkumiyeh route, they said, was already targeted by terrorists led by Hamas for two-way smuggling between Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Removing all existing controls would present the Gaza and Jenin terror networks with the gift of a direct, unmonitored link.

The military warning covered Condoleezza Rice’s second stipulation for free Palestinian travel between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israeli commanders dismissed this as an invitation to import Gaza’s smuggling machinery of terrorists, explosives and disassembled rockets to the West Bank.

Rice’s third demand was for Israel to let 12,000 Palestinian security officers to train in Jordan for duty in all the West Bank’s towns. This is twenty times the number Israel proposed to allow.....

...Barak offered instead the removal of 50 dirt roadblocks and the checkpoint outside Jericho, as well as repeating the offer to allow 600 security officers trained in Jordan to deploy in Jenin....

Shelve the Shelf Agreement

From BESA Perspectives Papers on Current Affairs, Perspectives 40, March 26, 2008, by David M. Weinberg, director of public affairs at the BESA Center:

Executive Summary:
The newfangled "shelf agreement" concept which now serves as the basis for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians is unworkable. The concept has no foundation in negotiation theory, especially in the history of Arab-Israeli negotiations. It incautiously assumes best case scenarios regarding the Palestinians which have no basis in reality; when in fact a durable "final status" agreement must anticipate all worst case scenarios. Furthermore, the historical record shows that even if Israel and the PA were to agree on a grand "endgame agreement," the Palestinians would proceed to bargain with Israel for additional concessions as the price of implementation. Moreover, Israel inevitably would be forced to forgive the Palestinians on the needed governmental and security reforms even as the PA unilaterally proclaims statehood. Finally, the two-state paradigm on which the "shelf agreement" concept rests seems an anachronism in the wake of the Islamic takeover of Gaza. Thus, shelf agreement theory is strategically illogical and tactically ill-considered. A performance-based peace process remains the only sustainable model towards a durable final settlement.

The Shelf Agreement Concept
The new "shelf agreement" concept, advanced by US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud to negotiate an "agreement in principle" on an "endgame" solution with moderate Palestinians, but then place this agreement out of their reach – high up on a "shelf" where the Palestinians can see it, but not yet attain it. Only when the Palestinians have matured and fulfilled all their "implementation" obligations will the transcendent trophy come down off the shelf.

The negotiations are predicated upon the realization that Palestinian leaders currently are completely unable to deliver on any of their obligations under the "old" road map. Consequently, parties to the conflict are ignoring the messy here and now and instead turning their attentions to the political "horizon." In the context of shelf agreement theory, the parties seek to give the Palestinians a clear picture of the big prize awaiting them in the future (the "horizon")....

....All this makes for nice, but seriously flawed and completely untested, theory.

Erroneously Assuming Best Case Scenarios
To begin with, the shelf agreement negotiations assume best case scenarios regarding the intentions and capabilities of a future Palestinian state. .... Endgame talks ought to take into account all worst case scenarios....

.... how can Israel, for example, sign a sustainable endgame shelf agreement with workable border crossing arrangements if it does not know the character or capabilities of the future Palestinian entity....? ....To simply assume – as the current negotiations do – that the planned Palestinian state will have outstanding, professional, loyal and determined anti-terror fighting convictions, is to flirt with folly.

This is just one example. There are hundreds of similar matters that currently cannot be assessed, because Israel is negotiating against itself in a vacuum with a phantom Palestinian partner. Israel is seeking to will into existence a "moderate, stable, capable and democratic" Palestinian government – that does not yet have a foothold even in the in West Bank, not to mention Gaza.

Contrary to shelf agreement theory, it should be obvious that a final status agreement only can be negotiated the other way around: with a Palestinian partner that has proven its mettle over time. In the absence of this, it will be impossible to reach sustainable agreements even on "small ticket" technical matters – never mind the major issues.

Ignoring the Historical Record
Shelf agreement theory unhappily fails in a second critical area: it ignores the historical record. Experience attests that with the Palestinians, negotiations are never over.

Even if Israel and the PA were to grasp the fabled horizon, and royally set the grand "final status" agreement in a jeweled case high up on a shelf of honor – the Palestinians would not begin "implementation"; they would proceed to bargain with Israel for additional concessions as the price of implementation.

For example, if Israel promises to forgo half of Jerusalem and dozens of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria – it might still be expected to yield further concessions in order "to keep the process alive and the Palestinian moderates in power."

And thus, Washington and the world community will demand that Israel go beyond the "ultimate" sacrifices it already had made in order to secure the supposedly "final" shelf agreement.

In sum, there will be nothing "final" about an agreement with the Palestinians. They will "pocket" Israel's verbal and written concessions, then press for more as the price for "implementation" on their part, or as the price of "buying in" other Palestinian factions.....

A Disincentive for Implementation
...a shelf agreement would prove a disincentive to Palestinian implementation. The dynamic set in place by a shelf agreement would lead the Palestinians to "grab" statehood unilaterally and Israel would be forced to forgive the Palestinians on their implementation.

...How many times have "moderate" Palestinian governments promised to collect weapons, disband militias, arrest terrorists, reform government and educate for peace – yet failed to do so. Years later, Palestinian leaders make the same promises again in exchange for more Israeli concessions.....

....Only strong leaders, such as Begin and Sadat or Rabin and Hussein, can make the reciprocal concessions needed to reach a genuine peace agreement; and then successfully implement them. Abbas has no ability to withstand Hamas accusations of "treason" should he concede to Israel on anything significant....

The Gaza Conundrum
...Gaza has become a mini-Palestinian state unto its own, and it answers to no other Palestinian "Authority." ...the Hamas-Israel conflict inevitably will yet involve a significant military confrontation, a reality that will make Israeli-Palestinian rapprochement in the West Bank tenuous at best....

...Israelis have little incentive to offer "endgame" maximal concessions to a Palestinian Authority that does not control Gaza and cannot guarantee quiet on that front too.

...Contrary to the hopes of its inventors, a shelf agreement could be a disincentive to peace.

Of course, the maintenance of some sort of "peace process," no matter how flimsy, is beneficial to everybody in the Middle East.....

...However, Palestinian-Israeli relations have suffered enough from all kinds of failed experiments in negotiations. A performance-based peace process remains the only proven and sustainable model towards a durable final settlement. There is little choice but to tough it out the old-fashioned way: building confidence between the parties by measured, verifiable and concrete steps along a road map towards stability.