Saturday, January 10, 2015

It’s time Europeans got their shit together

The day after the terrorist massacres in Paris, this, from a July posting by Aboud Dandachi (Syrian)has renewed relevance:

"Pro-Gaza" demonstrators flourishing the Quenelle reverse-Nazi salute, on top of Paris' Place de la République monument. On the centenary of the First World War, European societies seem to lack the resilience and resolve to reign in the extremism running rampant on their streets.
“Pro-Gaza” demonstrators flourishing the Quenelle reverse-Nazi salute, on top of Paris’ Place de la République monument. On the centenary of the First World War, European societies seem to lack the resilience and resolve to reign in the extremism running rampant on their streets.

Dear Europe,
I never thought the day would come when I’d be lecturing other people on the subject of failing societies. But when a Syrian tells you that you are in deep shit, you may rest assured that the shit you are in is deep indeed.

What in heaven’s name happened at Copenhagen [in July]? ...

A group of 250 Jewish and Iranian activists got together infront of the Danish Parliament for a rally, the agenda of which could not have been more laudable; peace for both Israel and Palestine, with both Israeli and Palestinian flags in evidence, and a keynote speech by Denmark’s former Chief Rabbi, Bent Melchior, one of Europe’s foremost figures in interfaith dialogue.

It was exactly the kind of commendable gathering needed for these troubled times.

And, apparently, exactly the kind of rally that is impossible to hold in Copenhagen in this day and age.

Within an hour, the police had to urge the participants to disband their event and flee into the Parliament’s courtyard, as intimidation from a growing horde of “pro-Gaza” Hamas-flag brandishing “kill the Jews Allahu Akbar” thugs grew to such horrendous proportions, that the police felt that they could no longer guarantee the safety of the Jewish and Iranian participants.

"Pro-Gaza" antisemitic thugs taking over the monument at Paris' Place de la République.
“Pro-Gaza” thugs taking over the monuments at Paris’ Place de la République. Note the Swastika graffiti at the base of the statue.

Europe, do you really need someone to tell you how so very, very bad it is when honest citizens can no longer express their opinion...?

Last [July]’s events didn’t just concern some Jews and Iranian dissidents. One of the fundamental pillars on which a civilized community is built on had been violated in the heart of one of Europe’s most civilized societies. The extremists won that day.

And the “pro-Gaza” thugs in Paris, Holland, Germany and London, already openly testing the limits of society’s tolerance for their thuggery, will be enormously emboldened by the precedent set by their reprehensible brethren in managing to disperse a rally by Jews. On the centenary of the First World War, Europe faces a crisis as challenging as any in 1914.

Now, far be it for me to tell the good people of Europe how they should handle the ISIS-flag waving extremists in their midst. But as a matter of fact, I am going to share my unsolicited opinion, as someone who has spent the vast majority of his life living in intolerant societies, the same kind of societies those thugs shouting “death to the Jews” want to impose.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, and a head-check is required if you need a Syrian to remind you of that. If you think that what happens in Copenhagen will stay in Copenhagen, then you haven’t been paying attention. Crap that happens in Gaza is used to justify all manner of extremist shit in Paris, Holland, Berlin, England and Canada.

In Copenhagen, many of the participants were elderly Jews who had survived through the Nazi occupation of their communities during WW2, but then found themselves in 2014 needing to be whisked away from the Danish Parliament in armored police buses.

If that isn’t cause enough for outrage, then frankly Europe deserves whats coming to it. Take my word for it, it isn’t pleasant, I've lived through variations of it throughout my life.

The state, through the law, has to assert itself. But the state can only go so far without becoming draconian. Society has to protect its values by becoming a hell of a lot more judgmental and unforgiving of those who would assault the values it was built on.

The victims of extremist thuggery must never be left to think that they are alone or without support. Just as a matter of principle, for every peaceful demonstration that is assaulted, another must be held in its place, supported by large numbers of like-minded members of the community. Thugs and bullies hell bent on assaulting others on the basis of their speech or religion have a habit of skulking away into the shadows when the numbers aren’t to their favor.

Those political movements and organizations that harbor such extremists must also be judged harshly by the rest of society. To hell with the concept of “just a few bad apples”. Today, those “bad apples” do the dirty work of an approving leadership that never the less craves respectability.

Respectability must be denied them. If a demonstration or organization cannot control its own participants or members, then its leadership must be held to account, every single time. The law can punish the most egregious and blatant offenders, but it requires the participation of broad segments of a society to put an end to the atmosphere and environment that allowed such misfits to flourish.

And for God’s sake, in the case of the “pro-Gaza” hordes, don’t waste anytime on any of their leaders who insist that such matters can be handled internally without resorting to the law; those organizers who call themselves “moderates” claiming to be able to influence and restrain the hotheads.

They do not get to be leaders of such “activist” groups by being “moderate”. That is not how such “activist” groups select their leaders. Do not imagine for a moment that those who would lynch a Jew in broad daylight would accept any less of an extremist mentality from those who lead them.

This summer is going to define Europe for years to come, just as the Great War did a century ago. For too long the extremists in Europe have gotten away with the very kind of barbarism that is regularly practiced in the Middle East. 

It’s time Europeans got their shit together, lest Europe be allowed to turn into something resembling a Middle Eastern shit-hole.

Media plays down Paris Kosher pogrom

From The Commentator, 9 January 2015:

The vile anti-Semitic pogrom at a Paris Kosher supermarket on Friday is being dramatically downplayed by a politically correct mainstream media that cannot handle the reality of widespread Jew-hatred among Islamists


Barely had the slaughter at Charlie Hebdo taken place on Wednesday than the mainstream media nailed the motivation of the attackers. This was a terror attack by Islamists opposed to a satirical outlet that had offended the sensitivities of Muslims by holding Mohammed up to ridicule.

There was more to say, of course, but, in a nutshell, they'd conveyed the right message.

Contrast that with reporting during and immediately after the massacre at a Jewish supermarket on Friday, again by Islamists. The contrast is easy because there has so far been no explanation whatsoever. The truth, of course, is that the Kosher supermarket was attacked solely because it was a kosher supermarket.

Put another way, it was attacked because it was Jewish.

But mainstream British media outlets such as the BBC and Sky can't say that, can they? And they can't say it for two reasons.

First, political correctness struggles with the notion that ethnic minorities can be racist. That is why the vast anti-Semitism all over the Middle East is simply not reported on.

Second, what we at The Commentator like to refer to as the extremist mainstream in Britain and Europe has a problem of its own with the Jews, especially if they have the temerity to assert their right to self-determination via the State of Israel.

Hence the confusion and dissembling that we are witnessing over the pogrom today in Paris.

Right now, as we watch, Sky has started to downgrade the Kosher supermarket to a "Paris grocery" or "Paris supermarket". This is interspersed with references to a "kosher deli". But spelling out the Jewish angle has so far been totally ignored.

They will probably at some point get around to mentioning it.

... while Charlie Hebdo has been billed as an assault on free speech, do not expect Friday's massacre to attract much analysis as an assault on the Jewish people.

Welcome to modern Europe.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Fantasies of an Arab Palestine vs Reality of Israel

From The Australian, 9 Jan 2015, by Bret Stephens:

A DECADE ago... I was simply impressed by Abbas ..., with his grandfatherly mien and progressive rhetoric. “We need clean legal institutions so we can be considered a civilised society,” I heard him say at one well-attended rally in Ramallah, just a day before the election. Also: “We won’t allow any illegal weapons.” And: “We need to make the law the leader in this country, and nobody can be above the law.”

That sounded about right: rule of law; a clampdown on violence; an emphasis on institution building; the end to the toxic cult of personality. All that was needed was a leader who would implement the change, along with the people who would accept it.

But Abbas was not that leader. And Palestinians were not those people. A year after Abbas’s presidential victory, Hamas won a parliamentary victory.

People who are in the business of making excuses for Palestinians — and the apologists are legion — sagely explained that the vote for Hamas wasn’t a public endorsement of a terrorist group sworn to Israel’s annihilation, but rather a vote against the corruption of Fatah, Abbas’s party. As if the two propositions could not both be true.

As if Palestinians were unaware of Hamas’s intentions. As if a vote against venal officialdom palliated a vote for violent ideologues.

So it has been with the rest of Abbas’s serial fiascos over the decade, culminating in his failed bid last week to force a vote in the Security Council over Palestinian statehood.

In 2005, Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, leaving Abbas in charge and giving him a chance to make something of the territory. Gaza dissolved into civil war within months. In 2008, Israel offered Abbas a state covering 94 per cent of the West Bank, along with a compensatory 6 per cent of Israeli territory and a land bridge to Gaza. Abbas never took up the offer.

Last March, Barack Obama personally offered Abbas a US-sponsored “framework” agreement. Again Abbas demurred. The following month, Abbas signed a “reconciliation” pact with Hamas. War came by summer.

Now Abbas has had “the state of Palestine” join the International Criminal Court, chiefly in order to harass and perhaps arrest Israeli military officers and politicians spuriously accused of war crimes. The gambit will fail for the simple reason that two can play the game.

So why does Abbas persevere?

Because, as the late Fouad Ajami knew so well, the pleasures of dreaming are better than the labours of building, just as the rhetoric of justice, patrimony and right is so much more stirring than the fine print and petty indignities of compromise.

Abbas consistently refuses a Palestinian state because such a state is infinitely more trivial than a Palestinian struggle. Becoming is better than being. So long as “Palestine” is in the process of becoming, it matters. Once it exists, it all but doesn’t. How many times will some future president of an established Palestinian state get to visit the White House?

This explains why a Palestinian state — a reasonably peaceful and prosperous one, at any rate — is deeply in Israel’s interest. And why no Palestinian leader will ever accept such a state on any terms.

After the endless stream of Palestinian rejections — from the 1947 UN partition plan to the “Three No’s” of the 1967 Khartoum Resolution to Arafat’s refusal to make a deal at Camp David in 2000, one begins to sense a pattern.

Palestine can never hope to compete with Israel except in the sense that the fantasy of Palestine will always have an edge on the reality of Israel.

...What if Western leaders refused to take Mahmoud Abbas’s calls? What if they pointed out that, in the broad spectrum of global interests, from Eastern Europe to the South China Sea, the question of Palestinian statehood ranked very low — on a par with, say, the prospect of independence for the Walloons? What if these leaders observed that, in the scale of human tragedy, the supposed plight of the Palestinians is of small account next to the human suffering in Syria or South Sudan?

In that event, the Palestinian dream palace might shrink to its proper size, and bring the attractions of practical statecraft into sharper focus. Genuine peace might become possible.

Don’t hold your breath.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

The Mendacious Maps of Mythical "Palestinian Land Loss”

From The Tower, January 2015, by Shany Mor, writer based in Paris; former director for foreign policy, Israeli National Security Council:
You can’t walk very far on an American or European university campus these days without encountering some version of the “Palestinian Land Loss” maps. This series of four—occasionally five—maps purports to show how rapacious Zionists have steadily encroached upon Palestinian land. Postcards of it can be purchased for distribution, and it has featured in paid advertisements on the sides of buses in Vancouver as well as train stations in New York. Anti-Israel bloggers Andrew Sullivan and Juan Cole have both posted versions of it, and it occasionally creeps into supposedly reputable media sources, like Al Jazeera English.
Indeed, it recently appeared as a “Chart of the Day” in the UK’s respected magazine New Statesman. Beneath it was a tiny line of text listing its sources as the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and a CIA atlas from 1973. Given that the maps included information far more recent than 1973, the source struck me as slightly dubious. I contacted the staff writer who created the feature and asked him about it. He was very reluctant to admit that he had lifted it from anti-Israel propaganda sources, so he directed me to the 1973 CIA atlas. Unfortunately, nothing like the series appears in the CIA World Factbook and nothing like it could have appeared in an atlas published decades before several of the events it claims to portray. The writer then apologized for not being able to track down his sources any further and explained that he no longer works at New Statesman. He has moved on to The Guardian, and given that particular publication’s attitude toward Israel, he should have no trouble fitting in.

There is a reason why those who make use of these maps avoid examining their provenance or proving their accuracy: The maps are egregiously, almost childishly dishonest. But they have become so ubiquitous that it is worth taking the time to examine them, and what their dishonesty can teach us about the Palestinian cause and its supporters.
In whatever form they take, the “Land Loss” maps show very little variation. The standard version looks something like this:

001_Shany_Mor_Palestinian_Propoganda_MapSometimes, a fifth map is added, this one dated 1920, showing the entirety of what was once British Mandatory Palestine in a single solid color, labeled “Palestinian.” This accomplishes the seemingly impossible and makes the series of maps even more dishonest than before.
Whether made up of four or five maps, the message of the series is clear: The Jews of Palestine have been assiduously gobbling up more and more “Palestinian land,” spreading like some sort of fungal infection that eventually devours its host.
There are some outright lies in these maps, to be sure. But the most egregious falsehoods transcend mere lies. They emerge from a more general and quite deliberate refusal to differentiate between private property and sovereign land, as well as a total erasure of any political context.

This final point is especially crucial. It goes to the question of whether the Palestinians actually “lost” this land and the context of that alleged “loss.” We could quite easily, for example, make a panel of maps showing German “land loss” in the first half of the 20th century. It would be geographically accurate but, without the political context, it would tell a completely misleading story amounting to a flat-out lie. 

And that is precisely what these maps are: A lie.

Taking each map in turn, it is easy to demonstrate that the first one is by far the most dishonest of the lot. As far as I have been able to determine, it is based on a map of Jewish National Fund (JNF) land purchases dating roughly from the 1920s. The JNF was founded to purchase land for Jewish residents and immigrants in then-Palestine, and was partly funded through charity boxes that were once found in almost every Jewish school and organization in the West. Ironically, this map often adorned those ubiquitous boxes.

These maps have become so ubiquitous that it is worth taking the time to examine them, and what their dishonesty can teach us about the Palestinians and their supporters.
The dishonesty of using an out-of-date map for pre-1948 Jewish land purchases is actually relatively minor. So is not omitting the political context: After 1939, Jews were forbidden from making any further land purchases by British authorities, a measure taken as a sop to Arab terrorism. Even the deceptive use of JNF land and only JNF land as a proxy for the entire Palestinian Jewish presence is but a trifle compared to the epic lie represented by this map: It deliberately conflates private property with political control.

They are not at all the same thing. 

The simple fact is that none of pre-1948 Palestine was under the political authority of Arabs or Jews. It was ruled by the British Mandatory government, established by the League of Nations for the express purpose of creating a “Jewish National Home.” 

It was also—contrary to the claims of innumerable pro-Palestinian activists—the first time a discrete political entity called “Palestine” existed in modern history. And this entity was established in order to fulfill a goal that was essentially Zionist in nature.

But this lie is compounded by another that is even more epic in scope: Labeling every single patch of land not owned by the JNF as Arab or Palestinian. This was quite simply not the case. We have incomplete data on land ownership in modern Palestine, and even less on Arab property than Jewish property, partly due to the very complicated nature of property law in Ottoman times. 

But anyone’s map of private property in Mandatory Palestine from this period would be mostly empty—half the country is, after all, desert. It would show small patches of private Jewish land—as this map does—alongside small patches of private Arab land, as this map shamelessly does not.

The next map is labeled 1947. This is inaccurate, as any other date would be, because the map does not represent the situation on the ground in 1947 or at any other time. Instead, it represents the partition plan adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947 as UN Resolution 181. It called for two independent states to be formed after the end of the British Mandate, one Jewish and one Arab.

Needless to say, the resolution was never implemented. It was rejected by a Palestinian Arab leadership that just two years before had still been allied with Nazi Germany. The day after its passage, Arab rioting began against Jewish businesses, followed by deadly Arab attacks against Jewish civilians. Events quickly escalated into all-out war, with Arabs laying siege to major Jewish population centers—cutting off all supplies, including food and water. In some places, the siege worked, but for the most part, it was resisted successfully.

The maps emerge from a more general and quite deliberate refusal to differentiate between private property and sovereign land, as well as a total erasure of any political context.

At this point, with partition rejected by the Arabs and no help from the international community in sight, the Jews declared independence and formed what would become the Israel Defense Forces. The Arab states promptly launched a full-scale invasion, whose aims—depending on which Arab leader you choose to quote—ranged from expulsion to outright genocide. And the Arabs lost. At war’s end in 1949, the situation looked roughly like the third map in the series—the first of the lot that even comes close to describing the political reality on the ground.

I say “close” because it too is remarkably dishonest. It is only because one’s standards of dishonesty have been stretched so far by its predecessors that it almost seems true. But, alas, it is not. The map is dated 1967. What it shows are the so-called “armistice lines,” i.e., the borders where the Israeli and Arab armies stopped fighting in 1949. These lines held more or less until 1967. As far as Israel’s borders are concerned, then, the map accurately presents the situation over those 19 years.

But what lies on the other side of the line, in the territories that are today called the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, is again presented in radically dishonest fashion. These lands were not—not before, during, or after 1967—“Palestinian” in the sense of being controlled by a Palestinian Arab political entity. Both territories were occupied by invading Arab armies when the armistice was declared in 1949, the Gaza Strip by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan. The latter was soon annexed, while the former remained under Egyptian military administration. This status quo lasted until 1967, when both were captured by Israel.

In the 1967 Six Day War, which was marked by Arab rhetoric that was sometimes even more genocidal than 1948, Israel also took the Golan Heights from Syria and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, more than trebling the amount of land under its control. Israel has since withdrawn from more than 90 percent of the land it occupied—mostly in the Sinai withdrawal that led to peace with Egypt. Unsurprisingly, there are no heartfelt “Israeli Land Loss” maps representing this.

The first three maps, then, confuse ethnic and national categories (Jewish and Israeli, Arab and Palestinian), property and sovereignty, and the Palestinian national movement with Arab states that ruled over occupied territory for a generation. They are a masterpiece of shameless deception.

Shameless deception is the only thing that remains consistent in this series.

As we move to the fourth map, shameless deception is the only thing that remains consistent. This map, usually labeled either 2005 or “present,” purports to show the distribution of political control following the Oslo process and the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. The patches of Palestinian land in the West Bank are areas handed over to the Palestinian Authority in the 1990s, mostly under the 1995 Oslo II agreement. Expanding upon the autonomy put in place after previous agreements in the Oslo process since 1993, this agreement created a complex patchwork of administrative and security zones, splitting the West Bank into areas of exclusive Palestinian control, joint control, and Israeli control. It was meant as a five-year interim arrangement, after which a final status agreement would be negotiated.

Final status talks did indeed take place. But no agreement was reached. As in 1947, the principal reason was Palestinian rejectionism. This time, the Palestinian leadership rejected a state on over 90 percent of the West Bank and 100 percent of the Gaza Strip. They then broke their pledge not to return to the “armed struggle” and embarked on a campaign of suicide bombings and other terrorist atrocities that were not only morally indefensible but lost them the trappings of sovereignty they had gained over the previous decade.

After tamping down the worst of the violence, Israel decided to leave the areas of the Gaza Strip it had not evacuated a decade before. The withdrawal took place in 2005. Two years later, the Islamist group Hamas took over the Strip in a violent coup d’etat. Since then, there have been two Palestinian governments—the Hamas regime in Gaza and the Fatah-led regime in the West Bank.

Both of these regimes are marked with the same color on this fourth map, thus failing to acknowledge the split between the two regimes, though it is the first map in the series to correctly label areas under Palestinian Arab political control. Nonetheless, it does not distinguish between the sovereign territory of the State of Israel—or, in the case of East Jerusalem, territory that Israel claims as sovereign without international recognition—and territories in the West Bank that, according to agreements endorsed by both sides, are under Israeli control until a final status agreement.
Taken together, what we have is not four maps in a chronological series, but four different categories of territorial control presented with varying degrees of inaccuracy. Those categories are private property (“1946”), political control (“1967” and “2005”), and international partition plans (“1947”). They are presented in a fashion that is either tendentiously inaccurate (“2005”), essentially mendacious (“1947” and “1967”), or radically untrue (“1946”).

An honest approach would look very different. It would take each of these categories and depict how they developed over time. For example, basing ourselves on the most blatantly deceitful map, 1946, we might want to show the chronological development of private property distribution. But we’d first have to adjust the original series’ 1946 map by labeling only Arab property as Arab, rather than simply filling in the entire country with the desired color. It would be a lot of data to collect, and then we’d then have to repeat the effort for other years appropriate to the discussion: Perhaps 1950, after Israel and Jordan both instituted Absentee Property Laws; 1993, just before Palestinian self-rule began; or 2005, just after the disengagement from Gaza and the northern West Bank. The maps would have to be consistent as well, showing Arab property inside Israel as well as Jewish property in the West Bank and Gaza. I don’t know if anyone has bothered to collect all this data, and I’m not sure what it would show in any case. What argument would it advance? That Jews and Arabs should be forbidden to buy land from each other?

On the other hand, the categories of political control and international partition plans are quite easy to map out over time. Since the concern of those publicizing the maps above is Palestinian control of land, we can illustrate this with a more honest series of maps showing areas of political control, using the same years as the original—adding one for clarity.


As seen above, 1946 has exactly zero land under Palestinian Arab control—not autonomous, not sovereign, not anything—as it was all under British authority. We could go further back in time, to the Ottoman era, for example, and the map wouldn’t change in the slightest. 1947 sees no changes to the map, as Palestine was still under British control. Before the war in June 1967, control is divided between three states, and none of them is Palestinian. The 2005 map would be exactly as it is presented in the original series, showing the very first lands ever be ruled by Palestinian Arabsqua Palestinian Arabs. To clarify this a bit more, I have added a map from 1995, showing the withdrawals undertaken during the first two years of the Oslo process, just up to but not including the 1997 Hebron Protocol.

... the peace process of the 1990s resulted in the first time a Palestinian Arab regime ruled over any piece of land. This occurred in 1994 with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Jericho. That control steadily expanded over more and more land during the years leading up to the failed final status talks. Much of it was then lost during the second intifada, but eventually regained as violence died down, and the Gaza disengagement even expanded it slightly. All of these Palestinian land gains have taken place in the last 20 years and every square meter of it came not from Turkey or Britain or Jordan or Egypt, but from Israel alone; and nearly all of it through peace negotiations.

It is true that this is a smaller amount of land than that controlled by Israel—which is nonetheless an extremely small country by global standards. More importantly, however, it is small compared to what could have been ruled by a Palestinian state had the Palestinians not rejected partition and peace in 1947 and again in 2000. That is, had the Palestinians been motivated by the interests of their own people rather than the wish to destroy another people.

One could very easily create a theoretical series of maps that would begin in 1947 and show the distribution of political control, not as it existed, but as it could have existed. In contrast to the previous series charting political control over the years, this series would map out the international proposals to partition the country. It would begin with the Peel Commission’s 1937 partition plan, through the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) partition resolution, and end with the Clinton Parameters of 2000—which were very close to the rejected offers made by Israeli Prime Ministers Ehud Barak earlier that same year at Camp David and Ehud Olmert eight years later. But these international efforts to partition the land would be incomplete without a word or two about each side’s reaction to the proposal.


Here too there is a continuing trend of losses for the Palestinian side. Not loss of land, but loss of potential. Each successive rejection left the Palestinians with less and less to bargain with. Surely, there is a lesson in this. But it seems that, if the Palestinians are ever to learn it, it will not be with the help of their Western supporters.
We could also make a set of maps that would present a story of Jewish “land loss.” It would begin with the first iteration of the British Mandate, before Transjordan was split off and Jewish land purchases and immigration banned. We are forever being reminded that the Palestinians have supposedly conceded 77 percent of their historic claims already, implicitly saying that all of Israel proper somehow belongs to them. But territorial maximalists on the Israeli side are not wrong when they use the same standards to claim that they have given up 73 percent of what was promised to them, including Transjordan. It is the business of pro-Palestinian activists to privilege one of these claims over the other; but in fact, both are equally wrong: The idea that the Israeli “concession” of Transjordan entitles Israel to 100 percent of the West Bank is as absurd as the Palestinians’ claim that their “concession” of Haifa entitles them to the same.

A series of actual Israeli withdrawals, however, could fill a rather long series of maps. It would include the 1957 withdrawal from Sinai, the Disengagement of Forces agreements in 1974 and 1975, the staged withdrawals stemming from the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty in 1979 and 1982, the withdrawal from most of Lebanon in 1985, the staged withdrawals undertaken according to the Oslo Accords from 1994 to 1997, the unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000, and the complete withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. These maps, unlike those used by pro-Palestinian activists, have the benefit of being accurate, but I am not sure the case for “Israeli Land Loss” would convince anyone but the most partisan and ignorant of Israel’s supporters.
Perhaps the best way to illustrate the bankruptcy of the “Palestinian Land Loss” myth is to compare it to a similar situation elsewhere.

An equally absurd set of maps could be drawn up of the Indian subcontinent before and after the end of British rule. It could start with a 1946 map of the entire subcontinent, labeling any private property owned by Hindus as “Indian” and the rest as “Pakistani.” Hindus, after all, are 80 percent of India’s population today, just as Jews are 80 percent of Israel’s. It is absurd to consider anything not privately owned by Hindus under British rule as “Pakistani” when the state of Pakistan did not yet exist, but that is roughly the same as labeling anything not privately owned by Jews under the Mandate as “Palestinian.”

We could then put up a partition map from 1947, with West and East Pakistan next to a much larger India; as well as a post-partition map—perhaps from 1955—showing the land losses along the Radcliffe Line. Finally, we could draw a map from 1971 with East Pakistan shorn off into Bangladesh. A fervently dishonest person might call this series “Pakistani Land Loss,” but it would be such an obvious piece of fiction that no one could possibly take it seriously.

And no thinking person can take “Palestinian Land Loss” seriously. It is just as absurd and just as much a fiction. But it is also, in its own way, extremely destructive. Because these maps and the lies they propagate only encourage Palestinian rejectionism and violence; and as illustrated above, these have always left the Palestinians with less [potential] than they had before.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Wagner's sickening music

From Mosaic, 5 Jan 2015, by Nathan Shields*:

Wagner and the Jews
Elena Zhidkova as Kundry and Nikolai Schukoff as the title character in the Opera de Lyon's 2012 production of Richard Wagner's Parsifal. Photo by Philippe Merle/AFP/Getty Images.

...In perceiving Judaism to stand ineradicably opposed to his own redemptive project, Wagner in fact perceived rightly.

... in Parsifal, Wagner’s final opera, ...we encounter Kundry, the one character in all of his operas who is explicitly Jewish. Kundry is the archetypal Jew of medieval legend, the wandering Jew Ahasuerus, cursed to roam the world eternally for mocking Christ on the cross. To music of an inexpressible weariness, she confesses: “I saw Him—Him—and laughed!” For this sin of laughter she is damned to wander “from world to world,” seeking a redemption that always eludes her. Like the Jews of Das Judentum in Musik [Wagner's notorious and disgusting antisemitic pamphlet], she longs for community but remains forever outside it. Desperate for salvation, she is cursed by her sensuality, her worldliness, to be nothing but a source of corruption. When her salvation does at last arrive, in the grand reconciliation of Parsifal’s third act, it is followed immediately by, or is consummated in, her death. As the holy grail casts its healing light over the assembled congregation, Kundry falls to the ground, thus seeming to fulfill perfectly Wagner’s chilling interdiction at the end of Das Judentum in Musik: “one thing only can redeem you [Jews] from the burden of your curse: the redemption of Ahasuerus—Going under!”

With this, something striking about Wagner’s anti-Semitism comes into focus ...not merely a compulsive racial prejudice but a crucial intellectual and moral tool. Through the adversary symbol of the Jew, Wagner sought to make sense of the world and of mankind’s place in it: this much he has in common with such anti-Jewish predecessors as Martin Luther.

But what is frightful about Wagner, what separates him entirely from Luther, is that in perceiving Judaism to stand ineradicably opposed to his own redemptive project, he perceived rightly....

*Nathan Shields is a composer whose works have been performed by numerous vocalists and chamber-music groups. He earned his doctorate at the Juilliard School in New York, and teaches there and at the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. He is the recipient of the 2014 Charles Ives fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Israeli group files war crimes suit against Palestinian officials

From Israel Hayom, 6 Jan 2015, by Edna Adato, Shlomo Cesana, The Associated Press and Israel Hayom Staff:

Shurat HaDin Law Center files complaint at International Criminal Court against PLO leaders Jibril Rajoub, Majid Faraj and Palestinian PM Rami Hamdallah • Move follows Palestinian appeal to join the ICC to pursue war crime charges against Israel.
Shurat HaDin's founder and director, attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Photo credit: Yossi Zeliger
Shurat HaDin's founder and director, attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner
Photo credit: Yossi Zeliger

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Palestinian Breach Means Oslo Accords No Longer Valid

From Algemeiner, January 5, 2015by Ben Cohen

Palestinian actions mean Israel is no longer bound by the Oslo Accords, according to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Photo: Wikimedia

A leading Israeli think-tank has concluded that “Israel has the legitimate right to declare that the Oslo Accords are no longer valid and to act unilaterally in order to protect its essential legal and security interests.”

Signed in September 1993 between the late Israeli Prime Minister, Yitzhak Rabin, and the late PLO leader, Yasser Arafat, the Oslo Accords – which earned both men a Nobel Peace Prize – committed Israel and the Palestinians to a land for peace deal and an end to terrorist attacks. The Accords stipulated that a final agreement would be negotiated after an interim five-year period; by 1998, however, the Palestinians were shifting away from negotiations, and by 2000, had wrecked the peace process by launching a second intifada.

More than a decade later, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has published “Ten Points Regarding the Fundamental Breach by the Palestinians of the Oslo Accords,” by Ambassador Alan Baker, a former deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Baker described the accords as a “contractual framework of obligations between Israel and the Palestinians, signed as witnesses and guarantors by the King of Jordan, the Presidents of the U.S. and Egypt, the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Norway, the EU and endorsed by the UN.”

But now that the Palestinian Authority is aggressively pursuing a unilateralist strategy, Baker said, by “petitioning the UN, the International Criminal Court and international organizations to recognize them and accept them as a full member state, and by their unification with the Hamas terror organization, the Palestinians have knowingly and deliberately bypassed their contractual obligations pursuant to the Oslo Accords in an attempt to prejudge the main negotiating issues outside the negotiation.”

Baker argued that, as the “injured party,” Israel “is freed from any further obligations pursuant to the agreement or contract.”
...“The fundamental breach of the Oslo Accords by the Palestinians is indicative of their conscious decision to undermine them and prevent any possibility of their implementation. As such they have rendered the Accords void…Israel has the legitimate right to declare that the Oslo Accords are no longer valid.”

Fundamental Breach by the Palestinians of the Oslo Accords

From JCPA, 5 Jan 2015, by :

Ten Points Regarding the Fundamental Breach by the Palestinians of the Oslo Accords
Bill Clinton, Yitzhak Rabin, Yasser Arafat at the White House
  1. The peace negotiation process as set out in the Oslo Accords was intended to lead to peace between Israel and the Palestinian People and mutual recognition of each other’s “mutual legitimate and political rights” (Preamble, Oslo I and Oslo II).
  1. In this context Israel was prepared to compromise on the historic and legal rights of the Jewish People in the area, through agreement for peaceful relations. To this end the parties agreed in the Oslo Accords not to initiate or take any steps that will change the status of the territories pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations (Oslo II, Article 31(7)).
  1. Yasser Arafat, in his September 9, 1993, letter to Yitzhak Rabin, declared that “all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.”
  1. This overall series of commitments and obligations constitutes a contractual framework of obligations between Israel and the Palestinians, signed as witnesses and guarantors by the King of Jordan, the Presidents of the U.S. and Egypt, the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Norway, the EU and endorsed by the UN.
  1. By petitioning the UN, the International Criminal Court and international organizations to recognize them and accept them as a full member state, and by their unification with the Hamas terror organization, the Palestinians have knowingly and deliberately bypassed their contractual obligations pursuant to the Oslo Accords in an attempt to prejudge the main negotiating issues outside the negotiation.
  1. This, together with their attempts to delegitimize Israel among the international community and their attempted actions against Israel’s leaders, has served to frustrate any possibility of realization of the Oslo Accords, and as such the Palestinians are in material breach of their contractual obligations.
  1. By the same token those countries supporting them are in breach of their obligations and guarantees as witnesses.
  1. By all legal standards, according to the accepted and universally recognized laws of contracts and international agreements, a fundamental breach enables the injured party to declare the agreement void and is freed from any further obligations pursuant to the agreement or contract.
  1. Therefore the fundamental breach of the Oslo Accords by the Palestinians is indicative of their conscious decision to undermine them and prevent any possibility of their implementation. As such they have rendered the Accords void.
  1. In such a situation of fundamental breach and according to all accepted rules of contracts and agreements, Israel has the legitimate right to declare that the Oslo Accords are no longer valid and to act unilaterally in order to protect its essential legal and security interests.

With Israel ‘war crimes’ gambit, PA risks loss of US funding

From Times of Israel, January 2, 2015, by Rebecca Shimoni Stoil:

Members of Congress have been calling for months to stop annual $400m. aid to Ramallah; Abbas’s latest moves at the ICC may tip the scales

WASHINGTON — In initiating a war crimes probe against Israel with the International Criminal Court, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas may fall afoul of US legislation that would mandate defunding the PA. The US funds the PA to the tune of some $400 million per year.

An unidentified Palestinian source claimed that Abbas signed a request Thursday asking the ICC to investigate war crimes allegedly “committed in Palestine” since the summer. This action may tip the scales in Washington, where there is already bipartisan frustration with Abbas’s decision to put a Palestinian statehood resolution before the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, and, after the resolution was defeated, to sign on to the ICC on Wednesday.

Even if Abbas’s ICC investigation gambit does not play out — and Palestine’s route ahead at the ICC is strewn with legal obstacles — it is viewed by many leaders of the incoming Republican-controlled Congress as the latest justification to reexamine the PA’s American funding.

Aaron David Miller, a former presidential advisor and a distinguished scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, believes that PA funding will be increasingly at risk in the Republican-controlled Congress that will be sworn in later this month.
“I think the odds of defunding are higher than they ever were before ... A whole new reality has now been created and I suspect that they are going to close any loopholes that may exist regarding the funding. The world in Washington is about to change.”
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have had staffers looking into whether there is any legal basis for penalizing the United Nations and its affiliated institutions, as well as the Palestinian Authority itself, for either the ICC move or the failed UN Security Council resolution. Those checks seemed to come up largely empty-handed, but a PA move to initiate war crimes investigations against Israel may catalyze further efforts.

The stop-gap funding bill passed by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama last month contains language that stipulates that no State Department economic support funding may be given to the PA if “the Palestinians initiate an International Criminal Court judicially authorized investigation, or actively support such an investigation, that subjects Israeli nationals to an investigation for alleged crimes against Palestinians.”

...Ros-Lehtinen responded to Abbas’s ICC membership bid by calling on the Obama administration “to show Abu Mazen (Abbas) and the PA that there will be consequences for their irresponsible behavior and continued efforts to undermine the peace process.”
“Congress must do everything in its power to block funds to the PA and to any UN entity that recognizes a non-existent State of Palestine to make it clear to Abu Mazen that there will be consequences to his schemes at the United Nations and other international organizations like the International Criminal Court” ...
...Unlike other defunding provisions included in the funding bill, the ICC clause does not include a waiver by which the defunding can be avoided due to American national security interests (the waiver system requires that the president certify that it is important to the national security interests of the United States to waive the provisions restricting PA funding).

Since the formation of the Fatah-and Hamas-backed Palestinian national unity government in the spring of 2014, calls in Congress to defund the Palestinian Authority have become increasingly common.

The ICC clause, Miller suggested, “is going to present a significant funding problem and the administration will probably not have any alternative but to comply.”

“This is one of the many million headaches that this move is going to produce,” Miller added.

In recent months even before the November congressional elections, Republican and Democrat members of Congress called repeatedly for a reexamination – or even freeze – of funding to the Palestinian Authority. In September, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) submitted a bill together with ten Republican co-sponsors to cut all US funding to the PA until “the PA has stopped providing funds or rewards to terrorist organizations; and working with terrorist organizations, including Hamas.”

Following the Security Council vote on Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) posted a lengthy message on his Facebook page in which he said that “we should make clear that continuing these efforts will result in the immediate freeze in American financial support to the PA.”

Washington is...a key funder for the Palestinian Authority and budgetary legislation traditionally places a series of conditions on the continuation of funding.

The “continuing resolution” passed in December by Congress in lieu of a budget repeats prior year language that no economic assistance may be provided to the Palestinian Authority if the Palestinians obtain the same standing as member states or full membership as a state in the United Nations or any specialized agency.

...Already unhappy with Abbas for his pursuit of a Security Council resolution, Jeff Rathke, director of the department’s Office of Press Relations, spared few words Wednesday in condemning Abbas’s initial application to the ICC. Rathke described the move as “an escalatory step that will not achieve any of the outcomes most Palestinians have long hoped to see for their people” and as a “counterproductive” action that “does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.”

According to Rathke, the State Department believes that the ICC move “badly damages the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.” ...

Israel prepares war crimes suits against PA leaders

From AFP, 3 Jan 2015:

AFP/Gali Tibbon - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office on December 28, 2014

Israel is considering filing war crimes suits overseas against Palestinian leaders in response to their application to join the International Criminal Court and press such charges against the Jewish state...

Legal proceedings at courts in the United States and elsewhere are being weighed against Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, his Palestinian Authority and other senior officials...

... the basis of the complaints would be that Abbas's partnership in a Palestinian consensus government with Hamas makes him complicit in the militant Islamist group's rocket attacks from Gaza against civilians inside Israel.
"In recent days officials in Israel stressed that those who should be wary of legal proceedings are the heads of the PA who cooperate within the unity government with Hamas, a declared terrorist organisation which like the Islamic State (jihadist group) carries out war crimes -- it fires at civilians from within population centres."
...The Palestinians formally presented a request to the United Nations on Friday to join the International Criminal Court (ICC), a move firmly opposed by Israel and the United States.

The move is part of a shift in strategy for the Palestinians, who are seeking to internationalise their campaign for statehood and move away from the stalled US-led negotiation process.

The US has branded the move to seek ICC membership "counterproductive" and warned it would only push the sides further apart.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is to review the so-called instruments of accession and notify state members on the request within 60 days.

The Palestinian national consensus government took office in June following a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah movement, ending seven years of rival administrations in the West Bank and Gaza.

Hamas remains the de facto power in the Gaza Strip and fought a bitter summer war with Israel, which took the lives of 73 people on the Israeli side and of nearly 2,200 [Arabs in Gaza]...

... Hamas fired 4,562 rockets during the fighting in July and August, reaching as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Brussels must confront revival of fascism in Eastern Europe

From i24, 1 Jan 2015, by EFRAIM ZUROFF:

Croatia's Ante Pavelic, founder of Ustasha movement, was personally responsible for group's genocidal policies

Adolf Hitler greets Ante Pavelic, leader of the Croatian puppet state, upon his arrival at the Berghof for a state visit. (June 9, 1941)

... only two days ago in Zagreb [Croatia] ... several hundred people attended a memorial mass in memory of Ante Pavelic, the head of state of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), established by the Germans and Italians after the occupation of Yugoslavia in April 1941, and one of the biggest mass murderers in the history of World War II. 

Pavelic was the founder of the Ustasha, a fascist movement he established in the late twenties, and which was installed as the ruling party in the satellite state created in 1941. He was personally responsible for the genocidal policies implemented by the Ustasha throughout the area under their control, where hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma were brutally murdered, mostly in concentration camps established throughout Croatian territory, the largest of which was Jasenovac, where at least 100,000 innocent victims were murdered and which was nicknamed "the Auschwitz of the Balkans."

After the war, Pavelic was able to escape to Argentina via the infamous "ratlines," the escape network established by Austrian bishop Alois Hudal with the help of Croatian priest Krunoslav Draganovic, to assist Nazi war criminals to reach safe havens in South America and the Middle East. He was tracked down to Buenos Aires by Yugoslav intelligence and was wounded in an assassination attempt, the results of which he subsequently died from in Madrid two years later in 1959.

To this day, however, Pavelic remains a hero to many Croatians, which helps explain this past Sunday's memorial mass. One would assume that almost a quarter of a century after Croatia became a democracy, and having been recently accepted as a full member in good standing of the European Union, that such adulation for one of World War II's biggest mass murderers would have been a thing of the past, but unfortunately a strong vestige of Ustasha nostalgia remains among part of Croatian society, and ceremonies like Sunday's mass are still celebrated with many in attendance.

In that respect, the fact that two senior priests led the ceremony is also cause for concern. One of the them, the Dominican Vjekoslac Lasic is notorious for initiating this mass, as well as for his eulogy at the funeral of former Jasenovac commander Dinko Sakic, in which he noted that although Sakic did not observe all the Ten Commandments [Though shalt not commit murder, for example-E.Z.], he still can serve as a model for Croatia. 

This type of preaching by clergy helps foster the Ustasha ideology of hatred for Croatia's supposed enemies, the Serbs, Jews, Roma, and anti-fascist Croatians, all of whom were victimized by Sakic and his fellow murderers at Jasenovac and the other less-famous Ustasha concentration camps.

As of the writing of this op-ed, not a single Croatian political or religious leader or public figure has condemned Sunday's ceremony, which is another indication of the failure of the country's leadership to help eradicate the vestiges of fascism and intolerance.

It might be possible to attribute their silence to the current presidential elections, the first round of which ended without a winner, but that is a very sad commentary on the state of affairs in a member country in good standing in the European Union.

The time has come for Brussels to finally confront the resurgent fascism and ultranationalist sentiment, which rather than being eliminated once and for all by liberal European democracy, has actually been revived in post-Communist Eastern Europe.

*Efraim Zuroff is the chief Nazi-hunter of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and director of its Israel Office. His most recent book is "Operation Last Chance; One Man's Quest to Bring Nazi Criminals to Justice." His website is: and he can be followed on Twitter @EZuroff