Saturday, December 12, 2009
Michael Oren, Israeli Ambassador to the United States, has taken an unprecedented swipe at the “pro-peace” J Street lobby ...saying the two-year-old group is “significantly out of the mainstream.”
J Street, heavily funded by billionaire George Soros, has called for Israel to negotiate with Hamas and has criticized the country for the Operation Cast Lead... J Street actively campaigns for Congressional candidates who want Israel to surrender all land restored to the country in the Six-Day War in 1967.
The group supports dividing Jerusalem... [and] has taken a generally dovish issue on the Iranian nuclear threat.
Oren this week told delegates at a conservative Jewish convention that J Street “not only opposes one policy of one Israeli government, it [also] opposes all policies of all Israeli governments. It’s significantly out of the mainstream.”
The ambassador previously rejected an invitation to address the political lobby’s conference in Washington two months ago, stating that J Street’s policies "might impair Israel's interests."
J Street also was one of the few Jewish groups that did not condemn the Goldstone report....
”When it comes to the survival of the Jewish state, there should be no differences of opinion,” Oren staged. “You are fooling around with the lives of 7 million people. This is no joke.”
Friday, December 11, 2009
At the 1993 Oslo signing ceremony in Washington, President Bill Clinton called the Oslo accords a "brave gamble." Actually, Oslo turned out to be a tragic gamble that cost Israel almost 2,000 lives, with thousands more maimed. The reason: a concessionary policy that ignored continuing Palestinian rejection of Israel's existence as a Jewish state and support for terrorist violence against it.
Now, the Obama administration is doing the same thing. And it is Barack Obama's own secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton, who is pretending that Palestinian terrorism -- and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it -- is nonexistent or unimportant.
Recently, Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) wrote to Clinton, stating that he was "deeply concerned" about Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Party conference this past August.
He noted that "posters of children brandishing weapons" were displayed; senior Fatah officials routinely "glorified perpetrators of terrorism"; and leaders addressing the audience "continuously championed the notion that Palestinians maintain the right to commit violence against Israel."
Accordingly, Specter urged that the $800 million in U.S. aid to the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority be "predicated on at least some level of assurance that the beneficiaries are committed to long-term peace."
How did Secretary Clinton reply? With a flat-earth letter of rebuttal to Specter, claiming that the Fatah conference showed "a broad consensus supporting President Abbas, negotiations with Israel, and the two-state solution."
She also claimed that Abbas and Fatah "reaffirmed" their "strategic choice to support a peaceful resolution of the conflict." She noted that "some individual Fatah delegates issued problematic texts and statements ... . It is important to note that those texts and statements did not represent Fatah's official positions."
In fact, as the Zionist Organization of America has documented, the conference reaffirmed Fatah's refusal to accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state and did not commit itself to a nonviolence. On the contrary, Abbas himself declared: "We maintain the right to launch an armed resistance." Jailed Fatah terrorist leader Marwan Barghouti, often touted as future leader, said: "Resistance to the Israeli occupation is a national obligation, and it is a legitimate right."
Another senior Fatah figure, Fahmi Al-Za'arir, said: "It is not possible to rule out or to marginalize the military option. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades [Fatah's armed force and a recognized terrorist group under U.S. law] are the jewel in Fatah's crown."
These are not merely the views of "individual Fatah delegates," as Clinton claims; they are unequivocal statements of support for terror by senior leaders of Fatah from Mahmoud Abbas down.
Moreover, the Fatah platform calls for increased international pressure on Israel, and opposes any normalization of relations between Israel and Arab states. It also calls for a "strategic channel with Iran to be opened," at a time Iran is defying the world by seeking to acquire nuclear weapons.
Moreover, at this conference, Fatah openly honored terrorists, including Khaled Abu-Isbah and Dalal Mughrabi, responsible for a 1978 coastal-road bus-hijacking, in which 37 Israelis, including 12 children, were slaughtered.
In view of these easily ascertainable facts, Clinton's response to Specter is deeply troubling.
Ironically, as a senator, Clinton distinguished herself by pointing to the incitement to hatred and murder that permeates the P.A. She stated that such incitement would have "dire consequences for peace for generations to come."
Now, however, confronting this matter and in a position to act, she ignores her own insights and advice. Worse, she praises Fatah for its commitment to peace.
The time has come for American Jewish and pro-Israel organizations to demand conditioning U.S. aid to the P.A. on the dismantling of terror groups, and an end to incitement to hatred and murder in its media, mosques and schools.
*Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.
**Daniel Mandel is director of the ZOA's Center for Middle East Policy.
- According to the 1993 Oslo Agreements, Jerusalem is one of the issues to be discussed in future permanent status negotiations. The Swedish move to have the European foreign ministers back a declaration recognizing eastern Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state clearly pre-judges the outcome of those talks.
- When the EU foreign ministers met on December 8, they issued a statement that only partly softened the Swedish draft. It dropped the reference to the Palestinian state being comprised of "the West Bank and Gaza with East Jerusalem as its capital," but still retained a proposal that envisions "Jerusalem as the future capital of two states."
- The EU statement insisted that the EU "will not recognize any changes in the pre-1967 borders" without the agreement of the parties. Yet by enshrining the 1967 lines as a previous political border, the EU was ignoring that these were only armistice lines and not a recognized international boundary. In fact, it was UN Security Council Resolution 242 which acknowledged that the pre-1967 lines might change.
- By waving the carrot of a statement of support for eastern Jerusalem to be part of a Palestinian state, the Swedes are causing Mahmoud Abbas' advisors to believe that if they avoid bilateral negotiations with Israel, they can create the political environment for third party intervention to their advantage.
- What is needed is an ongoing Israeli diplomatic effort for Jerusalem, underlining Israel's legal rights and its role as the protector of the holy sites. Unfortunately, European states, which once sought to protect the holy sites of Christianity in Jerusalem, today appear to be oblivious to what would happen to their churches were the Old City of Jerusalem to be given to a Palestinian regime under the influence of Hamas.
Click here to read the full article.
*Dr. Dore Gold, Israel's ambassador to the UN in 1997-99, is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Many Palestinians who work with international or Israeli organizations whose job is to promote peace and coexistence in the Middle East are often afraid or reluctant to discuss the nature of their work, even though it is much more important to teach Palestinian children about coexistence, peace and normalization with Israel than to pressure Mahmoud Abbas to return to the negotiating table.
In the West Bank and Gaza Strip, any talk about these is still associated with treason and defeatism. The Palestinian leadership’s actions and words have sent the following message to its constituents: Any person who thinks about normalization or coexistence with the Jewish state will be severely punished.
By cracking down on the Palestinians who are working for normalization and coexistence with Israel, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have prevented the emergence of a real peace camp among Palestinians. Has anyone ever heard of an authentic and serious “Palestinian Peace Now” movement in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip?
Where are all the American, European and local non-governmental organizations that are supposed to use US and EU taxpayers’ money to promote peace, moderation and coexistence?
When the Strings of Freedom Orchestra returned home to the refugee camp of Jenin in the northern West Bank, the musical director, Wafa Yunis, was fired and her studio apartment in the camp was sealed. The Palestinian Authority, whose leaders have been talking to Israel for more than fifteen years, accused Yunis of “exploiting the children for the purpose of normalizing ties with Israel.”
While Israel has seen the creation of scores of organizations that work toward achieving peace with the country’s Arab neighbors over the past thirty years, it is still taboo in the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories to talk about normalization and coexistence between Palestinians and Jews.
A Palestinian woman from Ramallah who works for an EU-funded group that tries to promote peaceful coexistence between the two communities says she has received many warnings from Palestinians that she must quit or face retaliation. Her crime, she has been told, is that she and her group are seeking normalization with Israel.
This woman is not alone. A Palestinian man from Jerusalem who was hired by another group to recruit Palestinian children for a joint Arab-Israeli trip to the US says he has received death threats from Palestinian Authority officials. In the end, he says, he was forced to give up the task out of fear for his life.
Such threats by the Palestinian Authority should not come as a surprise given its leaders’ record in this regard. Earlier this year, Palestinian officials disbanded a Palestinian children’s orchestra for performing at the Holocaust Survivors Center near Tel Aviv.
And there is another message, one related to the Holocaust: By punishing the children and their musical director for performing in front of Holocaust survivors, the Palestinian Authority is denying Palestinians any opportunity to learn about that issue.
In this regard, the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank is not much different than the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip, which has announced fierce opposition to including the Holocaust in the local school curriculum.
Over the past two decades, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas have radicalized Palestinians to a point where it has even become to risky to send children to perform at the Holocaust Survivals Center or to bring Palestinian and Israeli women to joint conferences in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Such joint conferences and seminars sometimes do take place, but only in European capitals and resorts or in North America.
Although nearly two decades have passed since the signing of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, there is almost no mention of a real grassroots peace camp in Ramallah or Gaza City.
Those who are passionate about the Israeli-Arab conflict and would like to see an end to the violence and hatred should start searching for ways to encourage the emergence of a serious peace camp in the West Bank and Gaza Strip – one whose leaders and members would be able to stand up to both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.
IDF and Border Police forces thwarted a potential terror attack in Jerusalem on Wednesday afternoon, when they discovered six pipe bombs in a 20-year-old Palestinian man's bag.
The man arrived at the Kalandiya checkpoint in northern Jerusalem shortly after 3 p.m. Border Police guards stationed at the checkpoint searched the man after he raised their suspicions.
Two small pipe bombs were found in his bag, but more a thorough search revealed four other devices.
The man, who resides in the West Bank, was arrested and transferred for interrogation. During a preliminary interrogation at the scene, he admitted to planning to carry out an attack inside Jerusalem.
Police sappers neutralized the bombs in a controlled environment.
There were no casualties reported in the incident.
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Comedian Sacha Baron Cohen's attempt to pretend that he interviewed a notorious terrorist leader in the film Bruno may cost him $110 million in damages - 80 percent of the movie's gross box office earnings.
That's the sum demanded by Ayman Abu Aita, a Palestinian grocer and peace activist from Bethlehem who says his life has been ruined by Baron Cohen's movie.
Abu Aita has filed a suit against Baron Cohen, US talk-show host David Letterman, Bruno director Larry Charles and NBC Universal Studios, demanding $110m. in libel damages.
In the film, Baron Cohen's gay character claims to travel to a refugee camp in Lebanon to meet a leader of the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, and tries to provoke his host into kidnapping him before a translator has Abu Aita saying, "Get out!"
In the movie, a caption describes Abu Aita as "Terrorist group leader, Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade."
In an interview on The Late Show with David Letterman last July, Baron Cohen said his production team had found this "real terrorist" through a CIA contact, and he had taken extra security to the "secret location" because of the threat to his personal safety....
...In fact, the scene was filmed at the Everest Hotel - a well-known tourist spot in Beit Jala, on the outskirts of Bethlehem in the West Bank, in an area under Israeli control and right next to an army base. There was no need for bodyguards.
...Abu Aita is a well-known peace activist who lives in the Bethlehem suburb of Beit Sahur - and contrary to the translation, he never says "Get out!" in the film. He claims he was tricked into meeting Baron Cohen, thinking he was a German filmmaker producing a film about the Palestinian cause.
More seriously, he says he is a firm opponent of the terrorists, and the depiction in Bruno is a harmful slur against his character.
...The father of four, who is a Greek Orthodox Christian and Treasurer of the Holy Land Trust - a peace charity that promotes reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians - says he has received death threats and suffered from depression and anxiety since the movie's release and Baron Cohen's interview on Letterman's talk show. Abu Aita says he now fears for the well-being of his wife and family, both in the West Bank and in the US.
Abu Aita was imprisoned by Israel, but never found guilty of any offense. He says he is "a peace-loving person who abhors violence" and a regular visitor to the United States - something that would be impossible if he were on a terrorist watch list.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Incidents of assault, arson attacks, face-to-face harassment and vandalism which are broadly defined as "attacks" were recorded at the third highest rate on record, just below the two previous 12 month periods. The total was more than double the previous average. Threats, conveyed through the telephone, mail, leaflets, posters or e-mail, were recorded at a rate just over three times the previous average and at the highest ever level....
A promising, independent Palestine is quietly being developed, with Israeli assistance.
Pictures of a new shopping mall in the West Bank town of Jenin.
It is difficult to turn on a TV or radio or pick up a newspaper these days, without finding some pundit or other deploring the dismal prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace or the dreadful living conditions of the Palestinians....
...[the West Bank's largest city, Nablus] ...is bursting with energy, life and signs of prosperity, in a way I have not previously seen in many years of covering the region.
... the Nablus stock market was the second best-performing in the world so far in 2009, after Shanghai. ...
...Wandering around downtown Nablus the shops and restaurants I saw were full. There were plenty of expensive cars on the streets. Indeed I counted considerably more BMWs and Mercedes than I've seen, for example, in downtown Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.
And perhaps most importantly of all, we had driven from Jerusalem to Nablus without going through any Israeli checkpoints. The government of Benjamin Netanyahu has removed them all since the Israeli security services (with the encouragement and support of President George W. Bush) were allowed, over recent years, to crush the intifada, restore security to the West Bank and set up the conditions for the economic boom that is now occurring. (There was one border post on the return leg of the journey, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but the young female guard just waved me and the two Palestinians I was traveling with, through.)
The shops and restaurants were also full when I visited Hebron recently, and I was surprised to see villas comparable in size to those on the Cote d'Azur or Bel Air had sprung up on the hills around the city. Life is even better in Ramallah, where it is difficult to get a table in a good restaurant. New apartment buildings, banks, brokerage firms, luxury car dealerships and health clubs are to be seen. In Qalqilya, another West Bank city that was previously a hotbed of terrorists and bomb-makers, the first ever strawberry crop is being harvested in time to cash in on the lucrative Christmas markets in Europe. Local Palestinian farmers have been trained by Israeli agriculture experts and Israel supplied them with irrigation equipment and pesticides.
A new Palestinian city, Ruwabi, is to be built soon north of Ramallah. Last month, the Jewish National Fund, an Israeli charity, helped plant 3,000 tree seedlings for a forested area the Palestinian planners say they would like to develop on the edge of the new city. Israeli experts are also helping the Palestinians plan public parks and other civic amenities.
Outsiders are beginning to take note of the turnaround too. The official PLO Wafa news agency reported last week that the 3rd quarter of 2009 witnessed near-record tourism in the Palestinian Authority, with 135,939 overnight hotel stays in 89 hotels that are now open. Almost half the guests come from the U.S or Europe.
Palestinian economic growth so far this year—in a year dominated by economic crisis elsewhere—has been an impressive 7% according to the IMF, though Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayad, himself a former World Bank and IMF employee, says it is in fact 11%, partly helped along by strong economic performances in neighboring Israel.
In Gaza too, the shops and markets are crammed with food and goods. But while photos from last Friday's Palestine Today newspaper, for example, depict sumptuous Eid celebrations, these are not the pictures you are ever likely to see on the BBC or Le Monde or the New York Times. No, Gaza is not like a "concentration camp," nor is the "humanitarian crisis in Gaza is on the scale of Darfur," as British journalist Lauren Booth (who is also Tony Blair's sister-in-law) has said.
In June, the Washington Post's Jackson Diehl related how Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told him why he had turned down Ehud Olmert's offer last year to create a Palestinian state on 97% of the West Bank (with 3% of pre-1967 Israeli land being added to make up the shortfall). "In the West Bank we have a good reality," Abbas told Diehl. "The people are living a normal life," he added in a rare moment of candor to a Western journalist.
Nablus stock exchange head Ahmad Aweidah went further in explaining to me why there is no rush to declare statehood, saying ordinary Palestinians need the IDF to help protect them from Hamas, as their own security forces aren't ready to do so by themselves yet.
The truth is that an independent Palestine is now quietly being built, with Israeli assistance.
So long as the Obama administration and European politicians don't clumsily meddle as they have in the past and make unrealistic demands for the process to be completed more quickly than it can be, I am confident the outcome will be a positive one. (The last time an American president—Bill Clinton in 2000—tried to hurry things along unrealistically, it merely resulted in blowing up in everybody's faces—literally—and set back hopes for peace by some years.)
Israelis and Palestinians may never agree on borders that will satisfy everyone. But that doesn't mean they won't live in peace.
Not all Germans and French agree who should control Alsace Lorraine. Poles and Russians, Slovenes and Croats, Britons and Irish, and peoples all over the world, have border disputes. But that doesn't keep them from coexisting with one another.
Nor—so long as partisan journalists and human rights groups don't mislead Western politicians into making bad decisions—will it prevent Israelis and Palestinians from doing so.
Monday, December 07, 2009
A small Islamophobic group, called Stop Islamisation Of Europe (SIOE), has called for 1,000 Jews to attend its forthcoming demonstration at Harrow mosque; and for each Jew to bring an Israeli flag.
This is strikingly similar to appeals that have also been made in recent months by the English Defence League (EDL). It is also essentially the same as opportunistic attempts by British National Party ....
...A demonstration against Harrow mosque under the banner “Stop the Islamisation of Europe”, is as stupid and offensive as a demonstration against Harrow synagogue, under the banner “Stop the Zionisation of Europe”.
This has nothing to do with the necessary and legitimate work to counter extremism and antisemitism wherever and whenever it genuinely occurs. CST has raised awareness of the activities of extreme Islamist groups in the UK for many years. But to demonise an entire community, every Muslim and every mosque, in the way that SIOE does, shows exactly the kind of bigotry from which Jews have suffered so often in our history. For SIOE to appeal to Jews to support them shows a complete ignorance of the Jewish experience of being on the receiving end of exactly this type of politics.
It is ludicrous to imagine that one form of racism can be fought by employing another form of racism. Take, for example, the unprecedented wave of antisemitic incidents that British Jews experienced during Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza and Southern Israel in January 2009. Here we had Israel being accused of racist bloodshed – by people who were themselves committing racist attacks against British Jews. Similarly, whatever differences of opinion British Jews and British Muslims may have over Israel/Palestine, and however alarmed Jews are – quite rightly – at the antisemitic agitation of groups like al-Muhajiroun or Hizb ut-Tahrir, nobody should be fooled into supporting SIOE’s incitement against all Muslims.
This is by no means the first occasion on which CST has stressed why Jews should not be fooled by anti-Muslim bigotry, even when it dresses itself up in pro-Jewish guise. As we stated previously:
…this is the politics of hatred and division, which has nothing positive to offer any part of society. The fact that Muslims are the current target simply means that it is Muslims who should be the recipients of anti-racist solidarity.
Hatred, division, cycles of inter-communal violence, intimidation and polarisation feed the extremists on every side. They encourage social division and leave all minorities vulnerable. Anti-Muslim bigotry is a vital recruiting sergeant for both the far right, and its Islamist extremist counterparts. It generates votes for the BNP and, at the furthest ends of this political spectrum, it even provides the fuel for terrorism. British Jews should have no part of it.
20 -year study of antisemitism in Australia reveals:
- Unprecedented number of anti-Jewish incidents in latest 12-month period;
- latest technology employed to spread ancient hatred;
- "rhetorical red-lines" crossed;
- political and religious extremists co-operate to distort public debate.
Between October 1, 2008 and September 30, 2009, an unprecedented 962 reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation were received by Australian Jewish organisations", Australia's leading researcher into antisemitic activity, Jeremy Jones, told the Annual Meeting of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) in Sydney today (Sunday November 29).
"It is important to emphasise that my research over 20 years indicates Australians are fundamentally tolerant and opposed to discrimination, vilification or harassment of Jews and other segments of the population, but that a relatively small number of fanatic and offensive individuals are increasingly active in trying to diminish the quality of life of Jewish Australians", he noted.
"Internationally, Australia scores very well as a successful multicultural society".
..."However, the latest twelve-month period saw the highest ever tally of reports of anti-Jewish violence, vandalism, harassment and intimidation, at a rate more than twice the annual average, mainly due to new peaks in abuse and harassment in public streets and via email".
"More than in any other 12-month period, Jewish Australians walking to and from synagogue were abused by passing motorists, Jewish people were confronted with incitement against them in Australian cities, and abusive, offensive and intimidatory emails were received by Jewish Australians at their homes and workplaces", he said.
“On the positive side of the ledger, there was a marked decrease in reports of physical violence against Jewish individuals and property, with 27 incidents compared with 58 and 46 in the previous two years. 27 is the average in this category over 20 years".
"Telephone threats, hate mail and graffiti were also reported at below average rates", he added.
Mr Jones, the Director of International & Community Affairs for the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council and a former president of the ECAJ, has maintained a comprehensive database of anti-Jewish attacks since 1989, during which time he has logged 7,513 incidents which are defined by Australian government agencies as "racial violence" against the Jewish community.
He also noted that "anti-Jewish propaganda in fringe publications and from extremist organisations remains an ongoing concern; conspiracy theories abounded on the internet and these included a disturbing proportion which were overtly or implicitly antisemitic; and there is particular concern at the negative impact of material from a variety of overseas sources which has as its thesis an eternal enmity of Muslims towards Jews."
He reported that "the period in review included the 2008/9 "Operation Cast Lead", in which Israel fought HAMAS in Gaza, a time when anti-Jewish emails and public abuse reached unprecedented levels. However, the abuse of synagogue-goers commenced its dramatic increase months prior to that event".
He applauded the fact that "public discussion on the extradition request by Hungary to Australia for alleged Nazi War Criminal Charles Zentai, the Federal Court contempt hearing process under the Racial Hatred Act concerning Fredrick Toben and discussions of Middle East politics has generally been passionate without being racially abusive, despite the efforts and activities of some organised political groups who seek to create conflict and division."
He listed “The most significant developments over the past 20 years” as
• the crossing of a variety of "red lines" in anti-Jewish rhetoric, particularly from sections of the political Left, relating to false and offensive comparisons of Israel/Jews with Nazis/Nazism and unashamed association with fascist and antisemitic groups such as HAMAS;
• the growth of a diverse, dynamic Muslim community which has segments which are actively anti-Jewish (as well as those who are actively opposed to antisemitism);
• the continued failure of far-right groups to gain traction, despite outbursts of xenophobia beyond the far right extremes;
• the diminution in significance of Eastern and Central European post-war migrants as a base of antisemitism;
• a number of positive developments from Australian Churches in attitudes to Jews and Judaism;
• the introduction of Federal, and development of State and Territory, legislation designed to give recourse to victims of racism and religious discrimination/harassment;
• the internationalisation of a number of strands of antisemitic activity, through improved communication technology and also movements of individuals and populations;
• the enlistment of persons who identify as Jewish in support of a variety of anti-Jewish slurs;
• the exponential growth and now pervasiveness of on-line technology, which has changed the modes and ease by which antisemites can abuse, harass and intimidate, reshaped and improved the relationships between local, regional, national and international antisemitic groups, resulted in the dissolution of the concept of common information, provided isolated and alienated individuals with the ability to broadcast their views widely, and forced those concerned with racism and antisemitism to re-evaluate strategies for containment of, and response to, these negative and destructive concepts."