Friday, August 31, 2012

Declare diplomatic war on the Two-state Solution

From Martin Sherman, 30 Aug 2012:

...the two-state-solution (TSS) proposal... even if implemented would ...eliminate few of the threats to Israel’s security, and exacerbate many.
.... to sustain itself as the nation-state of the Jewish people, Israel must address two imperatives:
a. The geographic imperative, which implies it cannot make any significant territorial concessions in Judea and Samaria; and
b. The demographic imperative, which implies it cannot incorporate large segments of the Palestinian Arabs, resident in this area, as enfranchised citizens within its sovereign territory.
This leads to the inescapable deduction that if Israel is to be secured as the permanent Jewish nation-state, the only non-coercive option is the relocation of the Palestinian Arabs, induced primarily by generous economic incentives.
... due to decades of dereliction of diplomatic duty – Israel ... has permitted the TSS-concept to become deeply engrained in the international psyche as the only option available to Israel that will allow it to exist as a Jewish democracy and prevent it from becoming either an undemocratic Jewish ethnocracy ...or a non-Jewish state...
...the currently entrenched (mis)perceptions are that Israel must choose between the risk of becoming geographically unviable, or the certainty of becoming demographically unviable. Intellectual allegiance to this misplaced dichotomy ... has come to dominate not only the content of the international debate, but the cultural codex of its conduct.
To challenge its validity – no matter what the substantive basis for such dissent – is to risk being marginalized professionally and ostracized socially...
It will not be easy to shatter this political reality, which due to a noxious mix of neglect, naïveté and nefariousness has, over more than two decades, hardened into the “received wisdom” ...
...a radical revision of how the nation relates to diplomacy – particularly public diplomacy ... [is] required to sustain Jewish sovereignty in the modern era.
This is a need that apparently has not been evident to the Israeli leadership for decades, including the leadership of the Israeli Right, which for the greater portion of almost four decades since it came to power in 1977, has dominated the ruling coalitions.
Diplomacy has been hopelessly starved of resources, with the total budget for Israeli public diplomacy reportedly less than a medium-to-large corporation spends on promoting fast foods and snacks.
...Conceptually, the function of diplomacy should be perceived as essentially similar to that of the classic role of the air force. For just as the latter was traditionally tasked with creating freedom of action for ground forces to achieve their objectives, so should diplomacy been seen as charged with facilitating freedom of action for the nation’s strategic decision- makers, to allow them to achieve the objectives of strategies they formulate.
However, in Israel over recent decades, this has been completely inverted. Instead of national objectives dictating the conduct of diplomacy, diplomatic pressures have dictated the objectives of national policy! Instead of diplomacy being seen as an instrument of policy, diplomatic difficulties have become a determinant of policy. Instead of being seen as a means for producing political realities, diplomacy has become a product of political realities.
The penchant for the passive over the proactive is largely a reflection of personal and professional preferences of many in the country’s diplomatic corps, drawn from social echelons in Israel’s civil society that often seem more sympathetic to the Palestinian narrative than committed to the Zionist one. They thus have little motivation to robustly confront and counter the manifestly mendacious myths that sustain this narrative and provide much of the rationale for the TSS.
Misconduct of diplomacy
So, underfunded, misdirected and largely unmotivated, it is hardly surprising that those charged with the conduct of Israel’s diplomacy have performed inadequately, and that the country’s diplomatic endeavor is ineffective and frequently counter-productive.
Clearly then, the misperceptions of realities that have been precipitated/facilitated by this appalling diplomatic debacle cannot be taken as engraved in stone.
Neither can prevailing public opinion, derived from these misperceptions, be taken as inflexible constraints on Israel’s strategic options, or as determining the inevitable point of departure or end point of that strategy.
It is crucial to understand that the TSS was until the onset of the 1990s vehemently rejected by the entire Zionist establishment, except for marginal left-wing splinters. It has since has attained its position of dominance largely due to Israeli impotence – even capitulation – on the diplomatic front.
Failing to redress this inexplicable but ruinous fiasco has been one of the greatest sins of successive Likud-led governments, with the current one in the ludicrous position of being forced to adopt – even advocate – TSS-compliant positions it once vigorously denounced. cannot win a diplomatic war without the wherewithal to do so – and the endeavor to formulate, promote and implement a sustainable alternative to the TSS is indeed a diplomatic war. To win it, Israel requires an appropriate diplomatic apparatus.
What it has in place today is clearly inadequate for the challenge. Indeed, it would hardly be an exaggeration to assert that it is one of the principle obstacles to attaining this goal.
Accordingly, without such an induced metamorphosis, there is little reason to believe that Israeli decision-making will not remain hopelessly mired in the syndrome of crippling, self-destructive defeatism...
... Israel [must] adequately address its geographic imperative and its demographic imperative by maintaining control over all of Judea and Samaria without permanently incorporating the resident Palestinian Arab population into its society.
The strategic challenge is therefore to devise methods – one hopes non-coercive ones – to achieve this....

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Jewish life in Egypt ends after 2,000 years

From The Point of No Return, Thursday, August 30, 2012:
The Eliyahu Hanavi (Nebi Daniel) synagogue
For the first time in 2,000 years, this year there will be no Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services at the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria.
The synagogue was the last 'working' synagogue in Egypt. A synagogue has stood on this site since Hellenistic times, although the current building dates back to the 19th century.
The Egyptian authorities have banned High Holiday services for 'security' reasons. The decision, announced on Monday, comes as a blow to Rabbi Avraham-Nino Dayan, an Israeli of Egyptian origin, who every year takes on the task of assembling a minyan (quorum) of volunteers from Israel and abroad.
There are only two Jewish men and some 20 Jewish widows living in Alexandria. Levana Zamir, who heads the International Association of Egyptian Jews in Israel, comments:
"It seems this is really the end of Jewish life in Egypt. The authorities have found a way to take over the last Jewish bastion, since all the remaining synagogues are already archaeological and tourist sites. It is very sad."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Corrie Lawyer: "Nazi Germany's founding was legal but Israel's founding was theft"

by Itamar Marcus


Lawyer for Corrie family on PA TV in July:
"Nazi Germany was a state based on the rule of law
for a short while... the State of Israel was founded
from the start on robbery and theft"
Israel is a "giant monster... we all want to step on its head,
but talking is not enough" 
 Yesterday, an Israeli court ruled that Rachel Corrie's death was a "regrettable accident," but that Rachel Corrie "chose to put herself in danger." Rachel Corrie was killed when she was run over by an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, at a time when Israel was working to curb terrorist activity in the area. Corrie's family sued Israel for "wrongful death." The family's Israeli Arab lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, said in a statement to the press:  
"It's a black day for activists of human rights and people who believe in values of dignity. We believe this decision is a bad decision for all of us - civilians first of all, and peace activists."  [NY Times, August 28, 2012]

...The following is the transcript of Abu Hussein's interview with Israeli Arab actor, Mohammad Bakri, who hosts the weekly PA TV show:
Hussein Abu Hussein, Israeli Arab lawyer:
"Nazi Germany was a state based on the rule of law for a short while and it found refuge in the law. [However,] the State of Israel was founded from the start on robbery and theft of a nation's homeland. Actually, the correct and true legal definition of what happened to the Palestinians is homeland theft...  We suffer from a great injustice from the giant monster. This monster attacks us daily and bites into our flesh in the Negev, the Galilee, the Triangle [region in Israel], Jerusalem, and the occupied territories, the West Bank and Gaza. Every day it bites into our body."
Mohammad Bakri, Israeli Arab actor:    
"I want to step on the head of this monster."

Hussein Abu Hussein, Israeli Arab lawyer:
"We all want to step on its head, but talking is not enough. Everyone has their role."
[PA TV (Fatah), July 2, 2012]

'Breaking the Silence' Recycles the Headlines

'Breaking the Silence' Recycles some 30 self-styled "testimonies" cherry picked from the organisation's 850-case archives (collected gradually over the past seven years) in an attempt to portray the IDF as systematic abusers of Palestinian children
An anthology of stories by former IDF soldiers regarding the treatment of Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza assembled by the controversial left-wing Israeli NGO Breaking the Silence has drawn the attention of Yediot Ahronot in Israel, the UK's Guardian and Independent, Iran's PressTV, as well as News Limited's John Lyons and Fairfax' Ruth Pollard here in the Australian press - but few other journalists worldwide.
This isn't really surprising, as there is evidently little new information contained in the report, which is essentially a repackaging of some 30 self-styled "testimonies" cherry picked from the organisation's 850-case archives (collected gradually over the past seven years) in an attempt to portray the IDF as systematic abusers of Palestinian children.
In addition, about half of the entries in the report don't actually make any allegations of any actual wrongdoings at all, but merely discuss the discomfort voiced by some respondents over the distress experienced by some Palestinian children as the IDF carried out necessary operations.
In such instances, the testimony serves to do little more than portray the IDF as an army with a conscience, such as this account of the temporary detention of young stone-throwing suspects.

Soldier: On the way, at the exit from the village, people waited for us; they actually tried to block our way. Lots and lots of stones were hurled at us - rocks - until we finally got out.
Q: Are you sure those were the kids who threw stones?
Soldier: They were kids who saw an army jeep and broke off in a run. So we said: "Okay, they're running." That's the thought, and so we began to chase them. How do we know they [were the ones who] threw stones? It's hard to tell. We didn't even interrogate these kids afterward. We made them sit for a number of hours at the post and then returned them to the village.
Q: Blindfolded?
Soldier: No. The fact is that as soon as they got there, we soldiers gave them sweets right away and kidded around with them.

This response to what could have been a serious stone-throwing incident could hardly be considered to be heavy-handed, but apparently it was bad enough to be considered among of the 30 worst cases that Breaking the Silence could summon from the past seven years, and it was included in the anthology.
To be sure, there are some accounts in the report which are far more troubling, and these allegations should be investigated and wrongdoing prosecuted. However, even if accurate, they amount to around 15 incidents over six years among the tens of thousands of Israeli soldiers who have served in the territories over that time. Moreover, there is little to be gained by airing them here since, in keeping with Breaking the Silence's policy, crucial details such as the full names of the soldiers and the alleged dates of the incidents have been omitted. In other words, none of the stories in the anthology can be verified, much less investigated.
In all instances, even in cases where serious wrongdoings have been alleged, Breaking the Silence has steadfastly refused to turn over to the IDF the necessary details in order to launch an investigation. The group's critics maintain that the group's failure to process its claims through the justice system - where they could be properly probed - is evidence the organisation exists primarily to tarnish the reputation of the IDF on human rights, and not improve it.
Given the small splash the current report has made outside of Australia and the UK, there hasn't been much attention given to it by either pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian pundits.
However, in February 2011, NGO Monitor produced its own report to rebut a similar anthology of stories that Breaking the Silence released at that time: "Occupation of the Territories-Israeli Soldier testimonies 2000-2010". Most, if not all, of the points used in the rebuttal could be used to debunk the latest report.
In Israel, Breaking the Silence is not only controversial for the reports it produces but for the way it funds itself. Some 75 percent of its operating budget is sourced from European donors. 
In addition, claims by the organisation that its goal is to affect change within the IDF have been undermined by the fact that it devotes considerable resources to producing materials in English, and representatives of the organisation have often accepted offers to lecture abroad.
The organisation drew the ire of even some left-leaning Israelis when it released a collection of (once again, unverified) stories of wrongdoing they had said to have collected from soldiers who had participated in Operation Cast Lead in early 2009.
Some of these allegations were used in the Goldstone Report, which Richard Goldstone himself eventually distanced himself from.
For Haaretz journalist Amos Harel, Breaking the Silence's role in bolstering unverified war crime allegations against Israel crossed a red line that pushed the organisation into the margins.

"Breaking the Silence...has a clear political agenda, and can no longer be classed as a ‘human rights organization.' Any organization whose website includes the claim by members to expose the ‘corruption which permeates the military system' is not a neutral observer. The organization has a clear agenda: to expose the consequences of IDF troops serving in the West Bank and Gaza. This seems more of interest to its members than seeking justice for specific injustices."
There are some signs that, even today, Breaking the Silence continues to be perceived as a marginal group by a substantial portion of Israel's peace camp.
It is worth noting that Haaretz, a newspaper which has historically taken a strong editorial stance against Israel's presence in the West Bank, passed on reporting on Breaking the Silence's latest release entirely.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Deflating the Beatification of St Rachel

From The Telegraph, 28 August 2012, by Brendan O'Neill:
A court in Israel has ruled that the death of Rachel Corrie, a Palestinian solidarity activist who was crushed by an Israeli bulldozer in Rafah in 2003, was accidental rather than being caused by the negligence of the Israeli army. The ruling will not please Corrie’s supporters.
Over the past decade they have elevated her to saintly status, turning her into a paragon of virtue who wanted merely to “protect Palestinians” from Israel’s raging war machine. They have long depicted her death as a simple case of “murder” by the marauding forces of the Israeli state, which apparently is not only happy to kill uppity Palestinians but also virtuous white Americans who want only to “help Palestinians”.
This secular beatification of Corrie, who has effectively been turned into St Rachel of the Put-Upon Palestinians, captures everything that is wrong with modern-day solidarity with Palestine.
Corrie’s cheerleaders – which includes actor Alan Rickman, who turned her writings into a hit play – seem unaware of how much their sanctification of Corrie echoes the old crusading Christian desire to save foreigners from wickedness. Corrie is treated as a uniquely good Westerner whose sole motivation was to “save” Palestinians, especially Palestinian children, from what Corrie herself described as Israel’s attempt to “erase” them. So one writer praises Corrie’s purity of soul, the fact that she eschewed “having a good time experimenting with drugs, booze and sex”, and even turned her back on her “Ivy League University”, in the name of travelling thousands of miles and “giving her life to save Palestinian homes and families”. Here, Corrie is turned into a kind of Christ-like figure, rejecting the shallow joys of Western privilege in favour of venturing into the desert to “give her life” for others.
Corrie is a “blessed and generous spirit”, we are told. “She died for them”; she committed a “sublime sacrifice”. “I thought people like Rachel Corrie only existed in books and movies”, writers gush. This “human shield” for Palestinian families was “brimming with idealism” and a determination to halt Israel’s “chronic, insidious genocide”. Part-Oskar Schindler, part Rudyard Kipling, part Jesus of Nazareth, Corrie is depicted as a blessed individual who gave herself up in order to save the less fortunate, the destitute and the downtrodden of “Over There”, from the brutal forces of repression.
The transformation of Corrie’s life and death into a black-and-white morality tale – featuring a well-off white American who was pure of heart, poor little brown people who have no hope, and a Zionist entity that is supremely evil – sums up the boneheadedness of modern-day Palestinian solidarity.
There was a time when supporting Palestine meant looking upon Palestinians as a people capable of governing their own lives, even of running their own state, free from the meddling or bossing-about of outsiders. Now, Palestinian solidarity is all about treating Palestinians as the ultimate victims, as helpless, hapless, sad-eyed creatures who need decent Westerners, ideally well-educated ones brought up in Amnesty-supporting households, to come over and “save” them, in a not dissimilar way to how Bible-wielding white folk once tried to saved the savages of Africa.
Palestinian solidarity has become creepily anthropological. It increasingly treats Palestinians, not as a people who simply need more political independence, but as a threatened tribe that must be protected from further harm by “human shields” from the enlightened west.
Decked out in Arafat-style keffiyehs (a PC form of blacking up), and possessed of a conviction that it falls to white-skinned, iPhone-armed westerners to expose Israel’s “genocidal” crimes to the world media, solidarity activists who travel to Palestinian territories are becoming more and more like secular versions of the crusaders of old.
They are effectively going to Palestine to find themselves, to try to give meaning to their potentially shallow lives through imagining that they can “save” an entire people and halt a “genocide” by standing in front of a tank or writing some blog posts about how tragic are the lives of cute Palestinian children. It is a peculiar form of solidarity that reduces an entire foreign people to the level of child-like victims who need the likes of St Rachel to save them.

Chaim Herzog's Response to the "Zionism is Racism" libel

From the Address by Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Chaim Herzog to the General Assembly of the United Nations, November 10, 1975 (old as it is, it's still brilliant and very relevant today):

...It is symbolic that this debate...should take place on November 10. Tonight, thirty-seven years ago, has gone down in history as Kristallnacht, the Night of the Crystals. ... It was the night which led to the most terrifying holocaust in the history of man.
It is indeed befitting Mr. President, that this debate, ...born of a deep pervading feeling of anti-Semitism, should take place on the anniversary of this day ...that the United Nations, which began its life as an anti-Nazi alliance, should thirty years later find itself on its way to becoming the world center of anti-Semitism. Hitler would have felt at home on a number of occasions during the past year, listening to the proceedings in this forum, and above all to the proceedings during the debate on Zionism.
It is sobering to consider to what level this body has been dragged down if we are obliged today to contemplate an attack on Zionism. For this attack constitutes not only an anti-Israeli attack of the foulest type, but also an assault in the United Nations on Judaism -- one of the oldest established religions in the world, a religion which has given the world the human values of the Bible, and from which two other great religions, Christianity and Islam, sprang. Is it not tragic to consider that we here at this meeting in the year 1975 are contemplating what is a scurrilous attack on a great and established religion which has given to the world the Bible with its Ten Commandments, the great prophets of old, Moses, Isaiah, Amos; the great thinkers of history, Maimonides, Spinoza, Marx, Einstein, many of the masters of the arts and as high a percentage of the Nobel Prize-winners in the world, in the sciences, in the arts and in the humanities as has been achieved by any people on earth? . . .
The resolution against Zionism was originally one condemning racism and colonialism, a subject on which we could have achieved consensus, a consensus which is of great importance to all of us and to our African colleagues in particular. However, instead of permitting this to happen, a group of countries, drunk with the feeling of power inherent in the automatic majority and without regard to the importance of achieving a consensus on this issue, railroaded the UN in a contemptuous maneuver by the use of the automatic majority into bracketing Zionism with the subject under discussion.
I do not come to this rostrum to defend the moral and historical values of the Jewish people. They do not need to be defended. They speak for themselves. They have given to mankind much of what is great and eternal. They have done for the spirit of man more than can readily be appreciated by a forum such as this one.
I come here to denounce the two great evils which menace society in general and a society of nations in particular. These two evils are hatred and ignorance. These two evils are the motivating force behind the proponents of this resolution and their supporters. These two evils characterize those who would drag this world organization, the ideals of which were first conceived by the prophets of Israel, to the depths to which it has been dragged today.
The key to understanding Zionism is in its name. The easternmost of the two hills of ancient Jerusalem during the tenth century B.C.E. was called Zion. In fact, the name Zion, referring to Jerusalem, appears 152 times in the Old Testament. The name is overwhelmingly a poetic and prophetic designation. The religious and emotional qualities of the name arise from the importance of Jerusalem as the Royal City and the City of the Temple. "Mount Zion" is the place where God dwells. Jerusalem, or Zion, is a place where the Lord is King, and where He has installed His king, David.
King David made Jerusalem the capital of Israel almost three thousand years ago, and Jerusalem has remained the capital ever since. During the centuries the term "Zion" grew and expanded to mean the whole of Israel. The Israelites in exile could not forget Zion. The Hebrew Psalmist sat by the waters of Babylon and swore: "If I forget three, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning." This oath has been repeated for thousands of years by Jews throughout the world. It is an oath which was made over seven hundred years before the advent of Christianity and over twelve hundred years before the advent of Islam, and Zion came to mean the Jewish homeland, symbolic of Judaism, of Jewish national aspirations.
While praying to his God every Jew, wherever he is in the world, faces towards Jerusalem. For over two thousand years of exile these prayers have expressed the yearning of the Jewish people to return to their ancient homeland, Israel. In fact, a continuous Jewish presence, in larger or smaller numbers, has been maintained in the country over the centuries.
Zionism is the name of the national movement of the Jewish people and is the modern expression of the ancient Jewish heritage. The Zionist ideal, as set out in the Bible, has been, and is, an integral part of the Jewish religion.
Zionism is to the Jewish people what the liberation movements of Africa and Asia have been to their own people.
Zionism is one of the most dynamic and vibrant national movements in human history. Historically it is based on a unqiue and unbroken connection, extending some four thousand years, between the People of the Book and the Land of the Bible.
In modern times, in the late nineteenth century, spurred by the twin forces of anti-Semitic persecution and of nationalism, the Jewish people organized the Zionist movement in order to transform their dream into reality. Zionism as a political movement was the revolt of an oppressed nation against the depredation and wicked discrimination and oppression of the countries in which anti-Semitism flourished. It is no coincidence that the co-sponsors and supporters of this resolution include countries who are guilty of the horrible crimes of anti-Semitism and discrimination to this very day.
Support for the aim of Zionism was written into the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and was again endorsed by the United Nations in 1947, when the General Assembly voted by overwhelming majority for the restoration of Jewish independence in our ancient land.
The re-establishment of Jewish independence in Israel, after centuries of struggle to overcome foreign conquest and exile, is a vindication of the fundamental concepts of the equality of nations and of self-determination. To question the Jewish people's right to national existence and freedom is not only to deny to the Jewish people the right accorded to every other people on this globe, but it is also to deny the central precepts of the United Nations.
As a former Foreign Minister of Israel, Abba Eban, has written:
"Zionism is nothing more -- but also nothing less -- than the Jewish people's sense of origin and destination in the land linked eternally with its name. It is also the instrument whereby the Jewish nation seeks an authentic fulfillment of itself. And the drama is enacted in twenty states comprising a hundred million people in 4 1/2 million square miles, with vast resources. The issue therefore is not whether the world will come to terms with Arab nationalism. The question is at what point Arab nationalism, with its prodigious glut of advantage, wealth and opportunity, will come to terms with the modest but equal rights of another Middle Eastern nation to pursue its life in security and peace."
The vicious diatribes on Zionism voiced here by Arab delegates may give this Assembly the wrong impression that while the rest of the world supported the Jewish national liberation movement the Arab world was always hostile to Zionism. This is not the case. Arab leaders, cognizant of the rights of the Jewish people, fully endorsed the virtues of Zionism. Sherif Hussein, the leader of the Arab world during World War I, welcomed the return of the Jews to Palestine. His son, Emir Feisal, who represented the Arab world in the Paris Peace Conference, had this to say about Zionism:
"We Arabs, especially the educated among us, look with deepest sympathy on the Zionist movement.... We will wish the Jews a hearty welcome home.... We are working together for a reformed and revised Near East, and our two movements complement one another. The movement is national and not imperialistic. There is room in Syria for us both. Indeed, I think that neither can be a success without the other."
It is perhaps pertinent at this point to recall that when the question of Palestine was being debated in the United Nations in 1947, the Soviet Union strongly supported the Jewish independence struggle. It is particularly relevant to recall some of Andrei Gromydo's remarks:
"As we know, the aspirations of a considerable part of the Jewish people are linked with the problem of Palestine and of its future administration. This fact scarcely requires proof.... During the last war, the Jewish people underwent exceptional sorrow and suffering. Without any exaggeration, this sorrow and suffering are indescribable. It is difficult to express them in dry statistics on the Jewish victims of the fascist aggressors. The Jews in the territories where the Hitlerites held sway were subjected to almost complete physical annihilation. The total number of Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazi executioners is estimated at approximately six million....
"The United Nations cannot and must not regard this situation with indifference, since this would be incompatible with the high principles proclaimed in its Charter, which provides for the defense of human rights, irrespective of race, religion or sex....
"The fact that no Western European State has been able to ensure the defence of the elementary rights of the Jewish people and to safeguard it against the violence of the fascist executioners explains the aspirations of the Jews to establish their own State. It would be unjust not to take this into consideration and to deny the right of the Jewish people to realize this aspiration."
How sad it is to see here a group of nations, many of whom have but recently freed themselves of colonial rule, deriding one of the most noble liberation movements of this century, a movement which not only gave an example of encouragement and determination to the peoples struggling for independence but also actively aided many of them either during the period of preparation for their independence or immediately thereafter.
Here you have a movement which is the embodiment of a unique pioneering spirit, of the dignity of labor, and of enduring human values, a movement which has presented to the world an example of social equality and open democracy being associated in this resolution with abhorrent political concepts.
We in Israel have endeavored to create a society which strives to implement the highest ideals of society -- political, social and cultural -- for all the inhabitants of Israel, irrespective of religious belief, race or sex.
Show me another plualistic society in this world in which despite all the difficult problems, Jew and Arab live together with such a degree of harmony, in which the dignity and rights of man are observed before the law, in which no death sentence is applied, in which freedom of speech, of movement, of thought, of expression are guaranteed, in which even movements which are opposed to our national aims are represented in our Parliament.
The Arab delegates talk of racism. What has happened to the 800,000 Jews who lived for over two thousand yeras in the Arab lands, who formed some of the most ancient communities long before the advent of Islam. Where are they now?
The Jews were once one of the important communities in the countries of the Middle East, the leaders of thought, of commerce, of medical science. Where are they in Arab society today? You dare talk of racism when I can point with pride to the Arab ministers who have served in my government; to the Arab deputy speaker of my Parliament; to Arab officers and men serving of their own volition in our border and police defense forces, frequently commanding Jewish troops; to the hundreds of thousands of Arabs from all over the Middle East crowding the cities of Israel every year; to the thousands of Arabs from all over the Middle East coming for medical treatment to Israel; to the peaceful coexistence which has developed; to the fact that Arabic is an official language in Israel on a par with Hebrew; to the fact that it is as natural for an Arab to serve in public office in Israel as it is incongruous to think of a Jew serving in any public office in an Arab country, indeed being admitted to many of them. Is that racism? It is not! That, Mr. President, is Zionism.
Zionism is our attempt to build a society, imperfect though it may be, in which the visions of the prophets of Israel will be realized. I know that we have problems. I know that many disagree with our government's policies. Many in Israel too disagree from time to time with the government's policies ... and are free to do so because Zionism has created the first and only real democratic state in a part of the world that never really knew democracy and freedom of speech.
This malicious resolution, designed to divert us from its true purpose, is part of a dangerous anti-Semitic idiom which is being insinuated into every public debate by those who have sworn to block the current move towards accommodation and ultimately towards peace in the Middle East. This, together with similar moves, is designed to sabotage the efforts of the Geneva Conference for peace in the Middle East and to deflect those who are moving along the road towards peace from their purpose. But they will not succeed, for I can but reiterate my government's policy to make every move in the direction towards peace, based on compromise.
We are seeing here today but another manifestation of the bitter anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish hatred which animates Arab society. Who would have believed that in this year, 1975, the malicious falsehoods of the "elders of Zion" would be distributed officially by Arab governments? Who would have believed that we would today contemplate an Arab society which teaches the vilest anti-Jewish hate in the kindergartens?... We are being attacked by a society which is motivated by the most extreme form of racism known in the world today. This is the racism which was expressed so succinctly in the words of the leader of the PLO, Yassir Arafat, in his opening address at a symposium in Tripoli, Libya: "There will be no presence in the region other than the Arab presence...." In other words, in the Middle East from the Atlantic Ocean to the Persian Gulf only one presence is allowed, and that is Arab presence. No other people, regardless of how deep are its roots in the region, is to be permitted to enjoy its right to self-determination.
Look at the tragic fate of the Kurds of Iraq. Look what happened to the black population in southern Sudan. Look at the dire peril in which an entire community of Christians finds itself in Lebanon. Look at the avowed policy of the PLO, which calls in its Palestine Covenant of 1964 for the destruction of the State of Israel, which denies any form of compromise on the Palestine issue and which, in the words of its representative only the other day in this building, considers Tel Aviv to be occupied territory. Look at all this, and you see before you the root cause of the twin evils of this world at work, the blind hatred of the Arab proponents of this resolution, and the abysmal ignorance and wickedness of those who support them.
The issue before this Assembly is neither Israel nor Zionism. The issue is the fate of this organizaiton. Conceived in the spirit of the prophets of Israel, born out of an anti-Nazi alliance after the tragedy of World War II, it has degenerated into a forum which was this last week described by [Paul Johnson] one of the leading writers in a foremost organ of social and liberal thought in the West as "rapidly becoming one of the most corrupt and corrupting creations in the whole history of human institutions ... almost without exception those in the majority came from states notable for racist oppression of every conceivable hue." He goes on to explain the phenomenon of this debate:
"Israel is a social democracy, the nearest approach to a free socialist state in the world; its people and government have a profound respect for human life, so passionate indeed that, despite every conceivable provocation, they have refused for a quarter of a century to execute a single captured terrorist. They also have an ancient but vigorous culture, and a flourishing technology. The combination of national qualities they have assembled in their brief existence as a state is a perpetual and embittering reproach to most of the new countries whose representatives swagger about the UN building. So Israel is envied and hated; and efforts are made to destroy her. The extermination of the Israelis has long been the prime objective of the Terrorist International; they calculate that if they can break Israel, then all the rest of civilisation is vulnerable to their assaults....
"The melancholy truth, I fear, is that the candles of civilisation are burning low. The world is increasingly governed not so much by capitalism, or communism, or social democracy, or even tribal barbarism, as by a false lexicon of political cliches, accumulated over half a century and now assuming a kind of degenerate sacerdotal authority.... We all know what they are...."
Over the centuries it has fallen to the lot of my people to be the testing agent of human decency, the touchstone of civilization, the crucible in which enduring human values are to be tested. A nation's level of humanity could invariably be judged by its behavior towards its Jewish population. Persecution and oppression have often enough begun with the Jews, but it has never ended with them. The anti-Jewish pogroms in Czarist Russia were but the tip of the iceberg which revealed the inherent rottenness of a regime that was soon to disappear in the storm of revolution. The anti-Semitic excesses of the Nazis merely foreshadowed the catastrophe which was to befall mankind in Europe....
On the issue before us, the world has divided itself into good and bad, decent and evil, human and debased. We, the Jewish people, will recall in history our gratitude to those nations who stood up and were counted and who refused to support this wicked proposition. I know that this episode will have strengthened the forces of freedom and decency in this world and will have fortified the free world in their resolve to strengthen the ideals they so cherish. I know that this episode will have strengthened Zionism as it has weakened the United Nations.
As I stand on this rostrum, the long and proud history of my people unravels itself before my inward eye. I see the oppressors of our people over the ages as they pass one another in evil procession into oblivion. I stand here before you as the representative of a strong and flourishing people which has survived them all and which will survive this shameful exhibition and the proponents of this resolution.
The great moments of Jewish history come to mind as I face you, once again outnumbered and the would-be victim of hate, ignorance and evil. I look back on those great moments. I recall the greatness of a nation which I have the honor to represent in this forum. I am mindful at this moment of the Jewish people throughout the world wherever they may be, be it in freedom or in slavery, whose prayers and thoughts are with me at this moment.
I stand here not as a supplicant. Vote as your moral conscience dictates to you. For the issue is neither Israel nor Zionism. The issue is the continued existence of this organization, which has been dragged to its lowest point of discredit by a coalition of despots and racists.
The vote of each delegation will record in history its country's stand on anti-Semitic racism and anti-Judaism. You yourselves bear the responsibility for your stand before history, for as such will you be viewed in history. We, the Jewish people, will not forget.
For us, the Jewish people, this is but a passing episode in a rich and event-filled history. We put our trust in our Providence, in our faith and beliefs, in our time-hallowed tradition, in our striving for social advance and human values, and in our people wherever they may be. For us, the Jewish people, this resolution based on hatred, falsehood and arrogance, is devoid of any moral or legal value.
[at this point Chaim Herzog tore up his copy of the disgusting resolution...]

More self-hating Jews: "Breaking the Silence"

From Israeli researchers on recipients of New Israel Fund ("NIF") support (in this instance, the organisation whose allegations have received prominence in the Australian media recently, and which is financially supported by NIF, the EU, the NGO Development Center, Holland, Britain and Spain):

“Breaking The Silence” (BTS) is a fringe group of former Israeli soldiers who served in the Territories during the height of the Intifada. They claim they support Israel, but they charge that IDF operations have no purpose but to humiliate Palestinians and that IDF soldiers are callous and unethical, and commit gross human rights abuses. In short, they create one-sided, anti-IDF presentations that distort facts by omitting the context of Israel’s counter-terrorist war, by focusing only on their own unverified allegations, and by ignoring the IDF’s efforts to uphold high moral standards while fighting a difficult terrorist war.
BTS’ goal is not to bring offending soldiers to justice or even to encourage reforms in IDF policy. Instead, BTS wants to put international pressure on Israel to unilaterally and immediately pull out of the rest of the Territories and hope to do so by vilifying one of Israel’s most revered institutions, the IDF. Unilateral withdrawal is a legitimate topic of debate, but instead of arguing the merits of this position, BTS chooses to vilify the IDF.
BTS speakers claim that their allegations of brutality are regular occurrences. Their claims blacken the reputations of the vast majority of young Israeli soldiers who did not lose their moral or ethical compass. BTS hunts for former soldiers who will testify that they saw or committed abuses.
A recent interview with a founder of Breaking the Silence, Yehuda Shaul, is typical. His one-sided presentation does not give an informative picture of the actions, attitudes or policies of the entire Israeli army, yet he implies that it does.
Even the name of the group, "Breaking the Silence," is misleading. The implication is that the speakers will unveil the "real" story about IDF abuses because Israel’s press and politicians do not air controversies about IDF policies when in fact they do, and that the IDF does not punish soldiers who violate moral standards when in fact they do. The implication is also that the IDF would not be responsive to these soldiers’ concerns when in fact it has been trying to develop more humane policies to deal with an enemy that attacks Israeli citizens and then embeds itself among Palestinian civilians. BTS speakers even fail to acknowledge that as a result of their presentations in Israel, the IDF considered resuming official probes into each Palestinian death.
Instead, you will hear disconnected observations made by individual soldiers. The campaign of Palestinian terrorism is ignored, even though many of these men served at the height of the Intifada in 2002. Such programs, with their unqualified moral denunciations of the IDF, have become part of the larger anti-Israel propaganda war. In Israel, where most of the population has served in the IDF, audiences can reasonably evaluate BTS claims, compare them to their own experiences and put them into proper context. That is not true around the world where obsevers are often ignorant and are regularly inundated with malicious anti-Israel charges.
If BTS members were sincere, they would be presenting accurate facts about terrorism, the goals expressed in the charters of HAMAS, PLO and Hezbollah, the anti-Israel incitement, and the ways the Palestinians have contributed to perpetuating the conflict and to harming the lives of ordinary Palestinian civilians. If they were sincere, they would be raising awareness about the moral dilemmas the IDF faces.

For more, refer to NGO Monitor's report
Breaking What Silence? A Critical Reading of Allegations from "Breaking the Silence"


"Raus mit Uns" - the self-hating Jews are still with us

From Israeli researchers on recipients of New Israel Fund ("NIF") support (in this instance on The Israel Committee against House Demolitions ("ICAHD"), which received funds from NIF, Spain the NGO Development Center, and the EU):

The Israel Committee against House Demolitions ("ICAHD") is composed of activists who claim they have accumulated first-hand knowledge of the "brutality of the Occupation," and also operate against the expansion of the settlements, the expropriation of land, the closure and separation policy, the uprooting of olive trees, etc.
ICAHD supports and calls for the boycotting of Israel, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, until the end of the Occupation.
Thus, for example, the organization petitioned Finland and Norway to boycott Israel. In practice, ICAHD initiated various activities, including
  • activities against the demolition of Palestinian houses,
  •  assisting Palestinians with legal advice and in filing complaints with the Israel Police,
  • in dealing with the Israeli authorities,
  •  rebuilding,
  • disseminating info on the "Occupation policy" to diplomats, the public and the mass media,
  • guided tours of the Occupied Territories,
  • connections with other organizations and participation in international conferences at which they distribute the organization's reports.
ICAHD wrote a special report on the situation of "the occupied Palestinian territories," including numerous accusations against Israeli state policy in the areas of east Jerusalem and "Judea and Samaria," with statements declaring many of Israel's actions illegal under international law.
The complaints were submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of the Internally Displaced, to the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing and to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.
The complaints were based on the No Home, No Homeland: A New Normative Framework for Examining the Practice of Administrative Home Demolitions in East Jerusalem report written by ICAHD. This report was written by Emily Schaeffer, with editing and legal advice from Michael Sfard. The report states that in most cases the demolition of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem constitutes a war crime of property destruction. In demolishing homes, restricting the possibility to build legally and in denying the permanent residency status of the Palestinians – Israel is effectively instituting a process of forced emigration based on ethnicity, and is thereby violating international law and probably also perpetrating a war crime. The report adds that there is evidence that the gamut of activities and policies implemented by Israel against the Palestinians in East Jerusalem are aimed at preserving the demographic balance of a Jewish majority in the city, and that this motive is prohibited and invalid.
In November 2011 ICAHD published a report titled Nowhere Left to Go: Arab al-Jahalin Bedouin Ethnic Displacement. In this report ICAHD claims that the Bedouin who live in East Jerusalem are facing "forced ethnic displacement" by the Israeli authorities. The report's authors claim that the reason for the transfer of the Bedouin settlements is Israel's desire to expand the Jewish settlements in this region, such as Ma'aleh Adumim. Such expansion, ICAHD claims, will harm the Bedouin's way of life and their ability to develop a future Palestinian state.
On 28-29 June, 2011, UN representatives convened in Brussels to deliberate Europe's role in advancing the establishment of the Palestinian state and the promotion of the Middle East peace process. ICAHD co-director general Itay Epshtain participated in the conference on behalf of the organization, along with Palestinian representatives and representatives of many European countries and UN bodies, such as UNESCO, UNRWA and UNRIC. Speakers at the conference included Avrum Burg, a former Knesset speaker who at the time of the conference was the co-chair of the New Israel Fund's International Council, and  Neve Gordon of the Department of Politics and Government at Ben Gurion University of the Negev.

Fairfax media: crude propaganda and double standards

From a statement by the President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, Dr Danny Lamm, 27 August, 2012, about a story alleging maltreatment of children by the Israel Defence Forces which appeared in Fairfax newspapers:
How sad it is that once-great broadsheets like the Fairfax newspapers: Sydney Morning Herald and The Age; have been reduced to featuring crude propaganda on their front page.
Their story alleging maltreatment of children by the IDF relied on statements supposedly made by ex-IDF personnel to the veterans’ group ‘Breaking the Silence’. ...
The statements ... were characterised by the Herald and the Age as “testimonies” but in fact they are anonymous, non-specific as to times and places, devoid of critical detail and untested by any kind of cross-questioning. The photographs of crying children lack any detailed explanation or context and are calculated to play to the emotions of readers, not to inform.
It is impossible for the IDF, or any organisation, to investigate allegations of such a generalised nature, especially while Breaking the Silence insists on maintaining the anonymity of all of its sources and with-holding other relevant information. One suspects that their complaints are not being made with a view to having them investigated and
addressed but solely for their propaganda effect.
If Breaking the Silence is genuine in its complaints and is not simply seeking to pursue a political agenda, it has a moral duty to make all relevant material available to the office of the Attorney General or the Military Advocate, who have repeatedly offered to investigate any complaints as soon as they have something concrete to investigate. They have never shrunk from investigating, and where appropriate prosecuting, specific allegations of wrong-doing that have been referred to them.
Sadly, many Australians will have read this story in a superficial way or merely viewed the headline and the photographs. They are being left with the false, indeed ridiculous, impression that the IDF is a serious abuser of children’s rights, indeed the most serious abuser of such rights in the Middle East.
There is not a word in the story about the systematic indoctrination of Palestinian children at school and through the media and the deliberate use of children as combatants and terrorists by armed Palestinian organisations.
It was also telling that a genuine and substantiated report about a massacre of approximately 300 civilians by the Asad regime in Syria the previous day was relegated to a minor story on page 7 of the Herald and was unaccompanied by photographs of dead and dying Syrian children, which are distressingly easy to find online.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sinai and the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty

  • The peace relationship established in 1978-9 between Israel and Egypt constituted a significant and groundbreaking change in the entire mindset of the international community, in general, and in Middle East relationships, in particular. It was a revolutionary change in the entire concept of Middle East political, military, economic, and social relationships that laid the foundation for the ensuing Middle East peace process between Israel and its other neighbors.
  • In Article III of the peace treaty, Egypt and Israel undertake: "to ensure that acts or threats of belligerency, hostility, or violence do not originate from and are not committed from within its territory, or by any forces subject to its control or by any other forces stationed on its territory."
  • Thus, both states are obligated to prevent the use of their territory for acts of terror against the other. In the context of the present situation in Sinai and the enhanced terror activity by such organizations as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda, this means that Egypt has the full sovereign responsibility and obligation to act in order to prevent any such terror activity which could pose a threat to Israel.
  • The semi-demilitarization of Sinai, while considered necessary and agreed-upon in 1979, clearly did not visualize the possibility that thirty years hence the area would become a haven for arms smuggling and terror infrastructure. In order to cope with just such eventualities, the treaty enables various mechanisms to handle situations that crop up on an ad-hoc basis and there is no express need for formal amendment to the peace treaty itself. Conversely, any changes in the level of forces of the Egyptian army in Sinai without Israel's agreement would constitute a violation of the treaty.
  • Click here to read the full article

High Court was wrong to stop 'war crimes' extradition

From the Canberra Times, August 27, 2012, by Professor Gregory Rose, director of the Institute for Transnational and Maritime Security at the University of Wollongong:
In 2005, the Australian government and ALP opposition stated their firm principled position on war criminals:  extradite or prosecute.  War criminals are not welcome to live freely in Australia. As the High Court has recently blocked a war crimes extradition, it has left the government with a difficult potential prosecution.
Hungary had requested the Commonwealth government to extradite Charles Zentai to stand trial for a war crime committed in 1944. Allegedly, while a member of the Hungarian Royal Armed Forces, Zentai recognised Peter Balazs, an 18-year old-youth, as a Jew who was out on the street without wearing the yellow star required to be sewn and displayed on his outer garments.
Hungary already had murder on the statute books but in 1945 also passed retrospective law to recognise such acts by its armed forces as war crimes so that they could be prosecuted as part of the post-war rendering of national justice.
The former minister for home affairs, Brendan O'Connor, stood by Australian bipartisan government principles in 2009 and decided to extradite Zentai to Hungary. The extradition has been in the courts since then, until last week. On Wednesday, the High Court decided not to extradite.
When Zentai first appealed, a single judge of the Federal Court held that the minister could extradite. Then, on appeal, judges of the Full Federal Court held, by a two-to-one majority, that the minister could not. In the High Court, the five-to-one majority decision was that extradition is impermissible. Chief Justice French delivered a separate judgement, while that of Justices Gummow, Crennan, Kiefel and Bell was a joint judgement. Justice Heydon dissented. The diversity of opinions appears to reflect competition between the judges' humanitarian impulses and respect for the Australian constitutional doctrine of separation of powers between the executive and judiciary.
Zentai is 90 years old and the minister could decide not to extradite on humanitarian grounds. It is the minister's call and not the High Court's. In its decision, the court found its own way to exercise the minister's role while dressing this action as an exercise of judicial function. Its problematic reasoning for preventing the minister from exercising the power to extradite is actually a cover for the breach of Australia's constitutional separation of roles. Sadly, the cloth is perfectly transparent.
The majority of the court interpreted the Australian-Hungarian extradition treaty as preventing extradition for two reasons: the war crime was proscribed retrospectively; and a murder crime was not explicitly specified in the extradition request. The former issue requires an examination of the relationship between international law and Hungarian law, such as whether the war crime already existed in Hungary, through its reception of customary international law, and whether Hungarian law allows a retrospective law to be effective. The High Court majority did not bother to consider these matters but simply expressed an antipathy to retrospective criminality; this is remarkable given that Australia has recognised both crimes under customary international law and also retrospectivity as being available in Australian law.
In relation to the second argument, asserting insufficient evidence of intention to murder, Justice Heydon was blunt: ''First, it is wrong. Second, it is immaterial.'' He points out that Hungary had advised that murder was committed. Further, the treaty expressly allows extradition for crimes of similar but not identical kind. Justice Heydon got it right.
The High Court majority's obtuse reasoning around this was artificial. It rescues an old man from trial in Hungary and maintains Australia's historic record of inaction against World War II criminals who migrate here.  
Yet international law provides that, for international crimes such as these, the country with custody over the alleged offender must either extradite or else itself conduct the prosecution. The Hungarian government might amend its extradition request to specify a murder charge. Alternatively, the Commonwealth government has full legal authority to prosecute Charles Zentai here, if it has the political will.
Back over to you, Attorney-General.