Saturday, October 18, 2014

Deranged Europeans

From Spengler, 14 Oct 2014:

Coming soon after Sweden’s recognition of a non-existent state of Palestine, the British Parliament’s 274-to-12 resolution to recognize “Palestine” flags a sea-change in European sentiment towards Israel. France is thinking of following suit. The European Community bureaucracy, meanwhile, has readied sanctions against Israel.

One remonstrates in vain. The Gaza War should have taught the world that Israel cannot cede territory to Mahmoud Abbas, now in the 10th year of a 4-year term. Hamas has the support of 55% of West Bank Palestinians vs. just 38% for Abbas, and Hamas openly brags that it could destroy Israel more easily from firing positions in the West Bank. Only the Israeli military keeps Abbas in power; without the Israelis Hamas would displace Abbas in the West Bank as easily as it did in Gaza; and a Hamas government in the West Bank would make war on Israel, with horrifying consequences.

To propose immediate Palestinian statehood under these circumstances is psychotic, to call the matter by its right name. The Europeans, along with the United Nations and the Obama administration on most working days, refuse to take reality into account. When someone tells you that Martians are transmitting radio waves into his brain, or that Elvis Presley really is the pope rather than an Argentine Jesuit, one doesn’t enquire into the merits of the argument. Rather, one considers the cause of the insanity.

The Europeans hate Israel with the passion of derangement. Why? Well, one might argue that the Europeans always have hated Jews; they were sorry they hated Jews for a while after the Holocaust, but they have gotten over that and hate us again. Some analysts used to cite Arab commercial influence in European capitals, but today Egypt and implicitly Saudi Arabia are closer to Jerusalem’s point of view than Ramallah’s. Large Muslim populations in Europe constitute a pressure group for anti-Israel policies, but that does not explain the utter incapacity of the European elite to absorb the most elementary facts of the situation.

Europe’s derangement has deeper roots. Post-nationalist Europeans, to be sure, distrust and despise all forms of nationalism. But Israeli nationalism does not offend Europe merely because it is one more kind of nationalism. From its founding, Europe has been haunted by the idea of Israel. Its first states emerged as an attempt to appropriate the election of Israel....

.... Europe’s nationalisms were not simply an expansion of tribal impulses, but a nationalism refined and shaped by Christianity into a ghastly caricature of Israel’s Chosenness. In turn, each European country asserted its status as God’s new people: France under Richelieu during the 17th century, England under the Tudors, Russia (“The Third Rome”) from the time of Ivan the Terrible, and ultimately the Germans, who substituted the concept of “master race” for the Chosen People.

The flowering of Jewish national life in Israel makes the Europeans crazy. It is not simply envy: it is a terrible reminder of the vanity of European national aspirations over the centuries, of the continent’s ultimate failure as a civilization. Just as the Europeans (most emphatically the Scandinavians) would prefer to dissolve into the post-national stew of European identity, they demand that Israel do the same. Never mind that Israel lacks the option to do so, and would be destroyed were it to try, for reasons that should be obvious to any casual consumer of news media.

Europeans cannot live with their past. They cannot live with their present, and do not plan to have a future, for they do not bear enough children to forestall demographic ruin at the hundred-year horizon. 

With its high fertility, national spirit, religiosity and unabashed national self-assertion, Israel reminds the Europeans of everything that they are not. Much worse: it reminds them of what they once desired to become. The idea of Israel as well as the fact of Israel are equally intolerable to them.

It remains to be seen whether Germany–the one European country that has made a vigorous effort to come to grips with its dreadful past–will allow anti-Israel sentiment to turn into diplomatic isolation. One hopes that Angela Merkel, Germany’s talented and well-intentioned chancellor, will stand in the way of this. Europe may not be quite a lost cause for Israel, but it is at grave risk of becoming one.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Turkey strikes Kurds ... not ISIS...

From VOA14 Oct, by Dorian Jones:

Hakkari province, Turkey

Turkish aircraft pounded Kurdish rebel bases in Turkey on Tuesday for the first time since a peace process began almost two years ago. The attacks follow major unrest across Turkey's predominantly Kurdish southeast over what Kurds see as Ankara's inaction while the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani is under siege by the Islamic State militant group.   
The air attacks against the Kurdistan Workers Party, the PKK, are reported to have occurred in Hakkari province on Iraq’s border.

...The air strikes follow last week’s violent protests by Kurds throughout Turkey over the government’s refusal to allow military assistance for Syrian Kurds under siege by the Islamic State in the city of Kobani on Turkey’s border.

At least 35 people were killed in riots last week when members of Turkey's 15 million-strong Kurdish minority rose up in anger at the government for refusing to help defend the Syrian border town of Kobani from an assault by Islamic State militants.

International relations expert Soli Ozel of Istanbul’s Kadir Has University says the Turkish air strikes are part of a wider power struggle between Ankara and Turkey’s Kurdish movement.

"That was the response, to a certain extent, to last week’s riots. That corresponds to what the prime minister said today [Tuesday] --  that they will respond disproportionately to vandalism, to terrorist activities and violence and all that," said Ozel. "And that they in their minds make a distinction, between the peace process which they believe is not defunct and those who try to force Turkey’s hand, by threat or use of violence."

Since March 2013, the PKK has largely observed a cease-fire with the Turkish state as part of a peace process with the Turkish government. The process seeks to end a three decade conflict by the PKK for greater Kurdish minority rights.

But PKK military leaders based in neighboring Iraqi Kurdistan have linked the fate of the peace process to the fate of Kobani.

Kadri Gursel, an expert on the conflict and diplomatic columnist for the Turkish newspaper Milliyet,  warns that Kurdish anger over Kobani is part of a wider disillusionment with the peace process.

"For more than two years nothing," said Gursel. "No concrete step has been taken by the government to advance the so-called peace and solution process. And also there is this Kobani and Rojava situation. There is anger - a growing anger among Kurds."

Observers point out that anger among Turkey’s large Kurdish minority is also growing over reports Ankara is refusing to allow the delivery through its territory of a shipment of arms from Iraqi Kurds to Kurds besieged in Kobani. Syrian fighters have repeatedly said they are in urgent need of military supplies.

There are growing calls internationally for Turkey to open its border to allow military supplies of Kobani. But, Ankara accuses the Syrian Kurds of being terrorists linked to the PKK and has ruled out any delivery of military supplies.

Analyst Ozel warns the government is paying an increasingly high diplomatic price for its stance.

"[They are] pretty isolated but it's also a country that the world system cannot afford to isolate totally," said Ozel. "It's obviously putting itself in a position where it does not have too many friends."

But Ankara’s stance appears to be hardening along with air strikes against the PKK.  Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for similar action to be taken against both the Islamic State group and the Syrian Kurdish fighters, claiming both are terrorist organizations and that Turkey has no interest in the fate of Kobani.  
Political observers warn that is likely to only further alienate Turkey's Western allies as well as its large Kurdish minority. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"My family's story in 1948 - fleeing Jaffa, building a future in Israel."

From YouTube, 1 Oct 2014:

George Deek, Israel's vice ambassador to Norway, giving a lecture in the House of Literature in Oslo,  27 September 2014.

Some excerpts:

...According to the U.N. 711 thousand Palestinians were displaced, we’ve heard that before – some fled and some forcefully expelled.
At the same time, because of the establishment of Israel, 800 thousand Jews were intimidated into leaving the Arab world, leaving mostly empty of Jews.
As we’ve heard before, atrocities from both sides were not uncommon.

But it seems that this conflict was not the only one during the 19th and 20th century that lead to expulsion and transfer.

  • From 1821 to 1922, 5 million Muslims were expelled from Europe, mostly to Turkey.
  • In the 90’s Yoguslavia broke apart, leading to 100,000 people dead and about 3 million displaced.
  • From 1919 to 1949, during the Visla operation between Poland and Ukraine, 150,000 people died, and 1.5 million were displaced.
  • Following World War II and the Potsdam convention, between 12-17 million Germans were displaced.
  • When India and Pakistan were established, about 15 million people were transferred.
  • This trend also exists in the Middle East, For example the displacement of 1.1 million Kurds by the Ottomans,
  • 2.2 million Christians who were expelled from Iraq,
  • And as we speak today, Yazidis, Bahai, Kurds, Christians and even Muslims are being killed and expelled in a rate of 1,000 people per month, following the rise of Radical Islam.

The chances of any of those groups to return to their homes, is almost non-existent.
So why is it then,
Why is it that the tragedies of the Serbs, the European Muslims, the Polish refugees or the Iraqi Christians are not commemorated?

How come the displacement of the Jews from the Arab world was completely forgotten, while the tragedy of the Palestinians, the Nakba, is still alive in today’s politics?

It seems to me to be so, because the Nakba has been transformed from a humanitarian disaster to a political offensive.

The commemoration of the Nakba is no longer about remembering what happened, but about resenting the mere existence of the state of Israel.

It is demonstrated most clearly in the date chosen to commemorate it:
The Nakba day is not April 9th – the day of the Deir Yassin massacre,
Or July 13th – the day of the expulsion from Lod.
The Nakba day was set on May 15th – the day after Israel proclaimed its independence.
By that the Palestinian leadership declared that the disaster of the Nakba is not the expulsion, the abandoned villages or the exile – the Nakba in their eyes in the creation of Israel.

They are saddened less by the humanitarian catastrophe that befell on Palestinians, and more by the revival of the Jewish state.

In other words: they do not mourn the fact that my cousins are Jordanians, they mourn the fact that I am an Israeli.

By doing so, The Palestinians have become slaves to the past, held captive by the chains of resentment, prisoners in the world of frustration and hate...

...If the Palestinians wish to redeem the past, they need to first focus on securing a future, on building a world as it should be, as our children deserve it to be.

And the first step in that direction, without a doubt, is to end the shameful treatment of the Palestinian refugees.

In the Arab world, the Palestinian refugees – including their children, their grandchildren and even their great-grandchildren – are still not settled, aggressively discriminated against, and in most cases denied citizenship and basic human rights.

Why is it, that my relatives in Canada are Canadian citizens, while my relatives in Syria, Lebanon or the gulf countries – who were born there and know no other home – are still considered refugees?
Clearly, the treatment of the Palestinians in the Arab countries is the greatest oppression they experience anywhere.

And the collaborators in this crime are no other than the international community and the United Nations.

Rather than doing its job and help the refugees build a life, the international community is feeding the narrative of the victimhood.

While there is one U.N. agency in charge of all refugees in the world – the UNHCR, another agency was established to deal only with the Palestinian ones – UNRWA.

This is no coincidence – while the goal of the UNHCR is to help refugees establish a new home, establish a future and end their status as refugees, the goal of UNRWA is opposite: to preserve their status as refugees, and prevent them from being able to start new lives.

The International community cannot seriously expect the refugee problem to be solved, when it is collaborating with the Arab world in treating the refugees’ as political pawns, denying them the basic rights they deserve.

Wherever the Palestinian refugees were granted equal rights – they prospered and contributed to their society – In South America, in the U.S., and even in Israel.

In fact, Israel was one of the few countries that automatically gave full citizenship and equality for all Palestinians in it after ‘48.

And we see the results: despite all the challenges, the Arab citizens of Israel built a future.
Israeli Arabs are the most educated Arabs in the world, with the best living standards and opportunities in the region.
Arabs serve as judges in the Supreme Court;
Some of the best doctors in Israel are Arabs, working in almost every hospital in the country;
There are 13 Arab members of parliament who enjoy the right to criticize the government – a right that they exhaust to the fullest – protected by the freedom of speech;
Arabs win popular reality shows;
And you can even find Arab diplomats – and one of them is standing in front of you.

Today, when I walk the streets of Jaffa, I see the old buildings and the old port,
But I also see children going to school and university; I see flourishing businesses; and I see a vibrant culture.
In short, despite the fact that we still have a long road ahead of us as a minority, we have a future in Israel.

...rather than reviving the successful approach of tolerance, Arab youth are being taught to hate Jews, using anti-Semitic rhetoric from medieval Europe, mixed with Islamic radicalism.

And once again, what started as hostility towards Jews has become hostility towards anyone who is different.

Just last week more than 60,000 Kurds fled from Syria towards Turkey, afraid of being slaughtered.
On the same day, 15 Palestinians from Gaza drowned in the sea trying to escape the claws of Hamas;
Bahai and Yazidis are at risk.

And on top of it all, the ethnic cleansing of Christians in the Middle East is the biggest crime against humanity in the 21st century. In just two decades Christians like me have been reduced from 20% of the population of the Middle East to a mere 4% today.

And when we see that the main victims of Islamist violence are Muslims, it is getting clear to everyone –
At the end of the day, hate destroys the hater.
So friends,
If we wish to succeed in protecting our right to be different, if we want to have a future in that region, I believe we should stand together – Jews, Muslims and Christians:

We will fight for the right of Christians everywhere to live their faith without fear, with the same passion with which we will fight for the right of Jews to live without fear.

We will fight against Islamophobia, but we need our Muslims partners to join the fight against Christianophobia and Judeophobia.

...I fail to see a debate questioning the wisdom of the destructive leadership of the Mufti of Jerusalem Hajj Amin al-Hussaini; or the unnecessary war launched by the Arab league in 1948, or any of the wars against Israel, in the years that followed until today;
And I fail to see self-criticism in the Palestinian mainstream today about the use of terrorism, the launching of the second intifada, or the rejection of at least two Israeli offers in the last 15 years to end the conflict.

Self-reflection is not a weakness; it is a sign of strength.
It brings forth our ability to overcome fear and face reality.
It demands us to look sincerely into our decisions, and take responsibility for it.

Only the Arabs themselves can change their reality.
By stopping the leaning on conspiracy theories and the blaming of outside powers – America, the Jews, the West or whoever – for all the problems;
By learning from past mistakes,
And by making wiser decisions in the future...

...We cannot change the past.
But we can secure a future for our next generations, if we want to mend the past some day;
We can help the Palestinian refugees have a normal life;
We can be sincere about our past, and learn from our mistakes;
And we can unite – Muslims, Jews and Christians – to protect our right to be different, and by that preserve our humanity;

Indeed we can’t change the past,
But if we do all that, we will change the future...

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Arab rejectionist "lawfare" wins another symbolic battle in Europe

From JPost, 13 Oct 2014:

Britain’s House of Commons voted in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state late Monday in a move that will not alter the government's stance on the issue, but that carries symbolic value for Palestinians in their pursuit of statehood.

Lawmakers in Britain's lower house of parliament voted by 274 to 12 [and 354 abstentions] to pass a non-binding motion stating: 
"That this House believes that the Government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution."
Britain does not classify "Palestine" as a state, but says it could do so at any time if it believed it would help peace efforts between the Palestinians and Israel. Government ministers were told to abstain and the non-binding vote will not force Britain to recognise a Palestinian state.

The British Parliament votes to recognize a Palestinian state (screen capture)
The British Parliament votes to recognize a Palestinian state (screen capture by Times of Israel)

Nearly 50 MPs [of the 650 members of the House] were in the chamber to hear pro-Palestinian Labor Backbencher Grahame Morris open the four hour debate which he said was a chance for the UK to atone for its historic mistakes...

He and party colleagues knew in advance that with the unprecedented backing of the Labor party – as traditionally the political parties do not tell MPs which way to vote in what is supposed to be backbench business – his motion calling for the British Government to recognise a Palestinian State would be passed, probably by a substantial majority.

Several senior pro-Israel Labor party MPs including a number of members of the shadow cabinet – angered by the decision of party leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander to order Labor backbenchers to back the Morris motion by issuing a ‘three line whip’ - were understood to be ready to defy the instruction and abstain on the vote which was due at 10 p.m. UK time, midnight in Israel.

Former Labor Foreign Secretary Jack Straw successfully moved a manuscript amendment which stated that recognition of a state should be agreed as a ‘contribution’ towards a two state solution. He said if Israel had its way and recognition should be delayed until an agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, that - in effect - would amount to giving Israel a veto over Palestinian statehood.

The Palestinians, he reminded the Commons had no say or veto over the establishment of the State of Israel.

A counter argument was put forward by another former Foreign Secretary the Conservative Party’s Malcolm Rifkind who told MPs that it was not possible to recognize a state which has no boundaries, no army, nor a government. The Palestinians he said, currently have two administrations and simply did not qualify for ‘recognition’.

Also he noted wryly, Britain did not recognize the State of Israel until 1950 when its borders and government and been well established.

An amendment which had been proposed on an all party basis by members of the Conservative and Labor Friends of Israel and which would have made recognition conditional on the successful conclusion of a two state solution negotiation, was not selected by the Commons Speaker John Bercow.

As a result MPs were instead faced with a choice of voting for recognition “as a contribution” towards peace or voting against. Many Conservative MPs - who along with the Government Ministers were given a ‘free vote’ by their party managers – stayed away – in effect abstaining. 
A leading supporter of Israel Guto Bebb summed the political choice he faced in an article in Monday’s Daily Telegraph, pointing out that regardless of the vote, the British Government’s position would not change and international opinion would not be swayed by a few squabbling MPs on Britain’s opposition benches.

He suggested that he and his Conservative colleagues should stay away from the vote whilst the Labor Party “turns the Commons chamber into its own policy forum”. And with it being the first day back from a recess, many MPs appeared to have taken a similar decision rendering the voting figures relatively meaningless.

That argument however was countered by Jack Straw, who made clear the symbolism of the vote regardless of how it was achieved was far more important and the message to all beyond the UK would be very clear.

Both the government Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood and the Labor Shadow spokesman Ian Lucas were due to address MPs during the debate, with the Minister expected to say that the UK wanted to see the establishment of a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

But he was due to tell MPs that only through a negotiated process and an end to the occupation could Palestinian statehood become a reality. As far as the current government was concerned they would choose when it was the most appropriate time to grant recognition and that would be when they considered it would best provide for a full peace.

The vote therefore was expected to give the Palestinian lobby both in the UK and further afield a feeling of historic victory but being symbolic and non binding, as Grahame Morris noted, it would not change the facts on the ground.

...David Cameron ...will – in all probability just ignore last night’s vote as he has done on the three other occasions backbench votes have resulted in defeats for his government’s policies.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Another "Massacre" Myth debunked

From Mosaic, 6 July 2014, by Efraim Karsh:

How a confusing urban battle between two sides was transformed into a one-sided massacre of helpless victims
The Uses of Lydda
Lydda and the Church of St. George, taken between 1900 and 1920. From the G. Eric and Edith Matson Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.
InWhat Happened at Lydda,” Martin Kramer has performed a signal service by putting to rest the canard of an Israeli massacre of Palestinian Arab civilians in that city in July 1948. 

The charge has been most recently circulated by Ari Shavit in his best-selling My Promised Land. But Lydda is hardly the only instance of such allegations at the time of the founding of the Jewish state—or, for that matter, long afterward. 

As Kramer suggests at the outset of his investigation, 
“time and again over the decades, Israeli soldiers have stood accused of just such wanton killing when in fact they were doing what every soldier is trained to do: fire on an armed enemy, especially when that enemy is firing at him.”
Indeed. In late 1947, a violent Arab attempt was made to prevent the creation of a Jewish state in line with November’s UN partition resolution. No sooner had the Haganah rebuffed it than it was accused of scores of nonexistent massacres. The same happened in the run-up to the establishment of the state in May 1948 and the ensuing war launched by the Arab nations to destroy it. The fall of the city of Haifa in April 1948 gave rise to totally false claims of a large-scale slaughter that circulated throughout the Middle East and reached Western capitals. Similarly false rumors were spread after the fall of Tiberias (April 18), during the battle of Safed (in early May), and in Jaffa, where in late April the mayor fabricated a massacre of “hundreds of Arab men and women.” Accounts of a massacre at Deir Yasin (April 9), where some 100 people died, were especially lurid, featuring supposed hammer-and-sickle tattoos on the arms of Jewish fighters and fictitious charges of havoc and rape.
In later years, Palestinians and supporters of the Palestinian cause have even invented retroactive atrocities, unknown to anyone at the time of their supposed occurrence. A notable instance is the “Tantura massacre” of May 1948, an event glaringly absent from contemporary Palestinian Arab historiography of the war. And this is not to mention more recent trumped-up allegations of atrocities committed by Israel in, most notoriously, Jenin (2002) and Gaza (2009).
It is into this crowded field that the prominent Israeli journalist Ari Shavit has stepped. “In 30 minutes, at high noon, more than 200 civilians are killed,” Shavit writes dramatically; “Zionism carries out a massacre in the city of Lydda.” But as Kramer conclusively shows, it is likelier that there was no massacre: only casualties of war, killed or wounded in the fierce fighting between the small Israeli force in the city and the numerically superior force of local Arab fighters supplemented by Transjordanian troops and armored vehicles.
In its broad contours, the story of the conquest of Lydda, followed by the exodus of most of the city’s residents, was a matter of public knowledge shortly after the July 1948 events about which Shavit writes; in subsequent decades, Israeli historians filled in the remaining gaps. But then, beginning in the late 1980s, revisionist Israeli “New Historians” successfully transformed what the New York Times had described at the time as “heavy casualties,” incurred in the course of “considerable [Arab] resistance,” into a massacre of hapless victims.
Since Lydda (together with the simultaneously captured twin town of Ramleh) also constitutes the only case in the war where a substantial urban population was displaced by Israeli forces, the massacre trope won a position of pivotal importance in the larger Arab claim: namely, that there was a premeditated and systematic plan to dispossess and expel the Palestinian Arabs. Shavit has picked up this latter misrepresentation as well, writing that “the conquest of Lydda and the expulsion of Lydda” were “an inevitable phase of the Zionist revolution” (emphasis added).
If, however, there was anything inevitable about the expulsion of Lydda, the cause lay not in Zionism but in the actions of Palestinian Arab leaders and their counterparts in neighboring Arab states. Had these notables accepted the UN partition resolution calling for the establishment of two states in Palestine, there would have been no war and no dislocation in the first place. As for Lydda itself, no exodus was foreseen in Israeli military plans for the city’s capture or was reflected in the initial phase of its occupation. Quite the contrary: the Israeli commander assured local dignitaries that the city’s inhabitants would be allowed to stay if they so wished. In line with that promise, the occupying Israeli force also requested a competent administrator and other personnel to run the affairs of the civilian population.
All this was rendered irrelevant when the city’s notables and residents, rather than abiding by their surrender agreement with the IDF, attempted to dislodge the Israelis by force. The IDF, its tenuous grip on Lydda starkly exposed, thereupon decided to “encourage” the population’s departure to Arab-controlled areas a few miles to the east, so as not to leave behind a potential hotbed of armed resistance. In an area where Jordan’s Arab Legion was counterattacking in strength, it was essential to prevent any disruption of ongoing war operations.
As it happens, this spontaneous response by the IDF to a string of unexpected developments on the ground was uncharacteristic of general Israeli conduct. Then and throughout the war, inhabitants of other Arab localities who had peacefully surrendered to Israeli forces were allowed to remain in place. In this respect, Lydda was an one of the very few exceptions that proved the rule, not—as Shavit argues—the rule itself.
Those few exceptions, moreover, accounted for but a small fraction of the total exodus. Vastly more Palestinians were driven from their homes by their own leaders and/or by Arab military forces than by the Israeli army. In fact, no contemporary sources describe the collapse and dispersal of Palestinian society as, in Shavit’s words, “an inevitable phase of the Zionist revolution.” Here, from June 1949, is the (somewhat surprised) report of a senior British official from a fact-finding mission among Arab war refugees in Gaza:
While [the refugees] express no bitterness against the Jews (or for that matter against the Americans or ourselves), they speak with the utmost bitterness of the Egyptians and other Arab states. “We know who our enemies are,” they will say, and they are referring to their Arab brothers who, they declare, persuaded them unnecessarily to leave their homes.
Martin Kramer is to be congratulated for helping to reclaim these historical truths, distorted by decades of propaganda and revisionist history. In disposing of the Lydda “massacre” canard, he has also exposed the disingenuous and shoddy scholarship underlying the ongoing endeavor to rewrite Israel’s history.