Friday, July 04, 2014

If you don’t tell your story, there will be a vacuum

From Algemeiner, 2 July 2014, by Chloe Valdary:

Palestinian identity has been forged out of a vacuum of historical nothingness. It culturally appropriates the history of the other (namely the Jew) and adopts it as its own. Consider the so-called “Nakba” – what the Arabs call the alleged tragic alleged expulsion of Arabs from “their” land and the subsequent mourning and longing to return. Does this sound familiar to you?
It should.
This is nothing more than Jewish history repackaged in 21st century fashion for the politically correct kleptomaniac, i.e. the Omar Barghouti types.
It was Jews who were kicked out of their land and Jews who longed to return to their homes, who had keys, (the real ones, not the fake gigantic ones Palestinian Arabs would have us believe fit into tiny keyholes in 1940) and prayer books, and Torah scrolls, etc. as proof of their history. For 3,000 + years they longed to return and mourned their exiled existence. Palestinian identity merely takes that true story, applies it to Arabs, and Viola! the crime of theft is complete.
Consider the so-called “Occupation,” the completely made up idea that “Palestinian” land is being colonized by those evil Jews. But of course it was JEWISH land that was colonized throughout the centuries (and which is still being colonized today). Once again, Palestinian identity steals from the Jews their own story and adapts it to make it their own. It is the ultimate bait-and-switch tactic.
So, not only is the Palestinian Arab stealing sovereignty from you, he’s also stealing your story. 
Why is it working? Why is it so effective? Because you are not telling YOUR story. You are willing to forego the task of telling your story because you think it’s not pragmatic or too moral sounding to appeal to the masses. But therein lays the irony. Although Palestinian propaganda is based on lies, it invokes a false morality. It appeals to the moral sensibilities of human beings. “Colonialization is bad. Occupation is bad. Resistance is justified when people are occupied.” These are all morally tinged catchphrases. They appeal to the moral inclinations within mankind.
...Talking about start-ups in Tel Aviv in and of itself is not enough. In fact, it’s rather boring. ... if you answer Palestinian propaganda — which is both a lie and morally appealing — with technology centers, you will lose every time because he just called you a baby killer and you responded by saying that you have nice beaches. You are not answering his claim, you are avoiding the central moral question and in doing so, you forfeit your claims to the actual story that HE JUST STOLE FROM YOU. 
If you don’t tell your story, there will be a vacuum. And Palestinian propaganda will fill the void every time.

Insights into Hamas kidnapping

From the Simon Wiesenthal Center, 2 Jul 2014:

Renowned Israeli political commentator Ehud Yaari gives insights into the kidnapping and murder of Eyal Yifrah, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel

TAKE ACTION: Sign the Center's petition to President Obama urging that he withdraw funding for a Palestinian Authority/Hamas Unity Government

Shtetl Mentality in North America?

From Word from Jerusalem, July 1, 2014, by by Isi Leibler:

The debate over the New York Metropolitan Opera’s performance of “The Death of Klinghoffer” raises serious questions about the functioning of American Jewish leadership.

Over the past 40 years one of the most positive features of American Jewish leadership has been its uninhibited self-confidence, assertiveness and willingness to raise its voice with courage and dignity on behalf of Israel and Jewish causes. 

American Jewish leaders prided themselves on having rejected shtadlanut – reliance on silent diplomacy in lieu of public action.

Alas, there are now grounds for concern that this is changing, maybe as a consequence of the adverse pressures emanating from the Obama administration.

How else can one ascribe the pitifully subdued response to the New York Metropolitan Opera’s decision to perform an opera that not merely incorporates vicious anti-Israeli diatribes but which is blatantly anti-Semitic and seeks to romanticize and provide rationalization for the cold-blooded murder of a disabled person solely because he was Jewish. And this is an institution that is disproportionately funded by Jews, in the city with the greatest concentration of Jews in the Diaspora.

Leon Klinghoffer was a 69-year-old wheelchair-bound American Jew who, in 1985 with his wife and 11 friends, celebrated his 36th wedding anniversary on the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro when it was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists. Klinghoffer was taken aside, brutally shot to death and dumped overboard in his wheelchair.

The opera based on these events was composed by John Adams and the librettist was Alice Goodman, a convert from Judaism who is now a priest in the Anglican Church.

The opera was intentionally titled the “death” – not murder – of Klinghoffer and purported to present “both sides of the equation.” The Metropolitan Opera’s general manager, Peter Gelb, said that John Adams sought “to understand the hijackers and their motivations, and to look for humanity in the terrorists, as well as in the victims” and enable the “audience to wrestle with the almost unanswerable questions that arise from this seemingly endless conflict and pattern of abhorrent violent acts.” In other words: present the murderers and their victims with moral equivalence. Indeed John Adams was open about his belief that “in this country, there is almost no option for the other side, no space for the Palestinian point of view.”

The opening scene honors terrorists. With a backdrop of graffiti on a wall proclaiming “Warsaw 1943, Bethlehem 2005,” Jews wearing kippot and headscarves enter the stage and plant trees on what is conveyed to the audience as plundered Arab territory. The Palestinian chorus sings, “My father’s house was razed in 1948 when the Israelis passed over our street.” The Palestinians sing, “We are soldiers fighting a war. We are not criminals and we are not vandals but men of ideals.”

Aside from the rabid anti-Semitism/anti-Israelism encapsulated by the brutal murder of an American Jew, the principal terrorist says, “Wherever poor men are gathered, they can find Jews getting fat. You know how to cheat the simple, exploit the virgin, pollute where you have exploited, defame those you cheated, and break your own law with idolatry.” At one stage, the terrorist leader snarls at Klinghoffer, “America is one big Jew.” What is the relationship between a crippled American Jew and Palestinian terrorists’ grievances against Israel?

After seeing the opera, Klinghoffer’s daughters, Ilsa and Lisa, were “outraged at the exploitation of our parents and the cold-blooded murder of our father.” They claimed that the opera “perverts the terrorist murder of our father and attempts to romanticize, rationalize, legitimize and explain it.”

How can any decent human being justify the performance of an opera that romanticizes the case for the perpetrators of such a hideous hate crime? It is beyond belief that such a production can be performed in 2014 in “civilized” New York without major protest. The anti-Semitic outbursts it contains could well qualify for insertion in Der Sturmer, the Nazi Jew-baiting publication.

Could one visualize the New York Metropolitan Opera presenting a performance that, in the name of artistic freedom, humanizes or rationalizes the bigotry of white supremacists or homophobes? Or an opera in which African-Americans are lynched alongside a validation and humanization of the Ku Klux Klan perpetrators? Or even perhaps an opera recounting Kristallnacht while rationalizing the anti-Semitic frenzy of the Nazis?
It is inconceivable that any other ethnic or religious group would be subject to such treatment. But alas, when it comes to Israel or the Jews, even in the U.S. today anything is permissible.
The opera premiered in Brussels in 1991 and in various locations in the U.S. It was cancelled after 9/11 in Boston but in 2014 the Metropolitan Opera scheduled a major global launch. In addition to the performances in New York and more than 70 U.S. theaters, the plan was to globally simulcast the production to 2,000 theaters in 66 countries -- a potential audience of millions.

Amazingly, the leading American Jewish organizations failed to protest. Were it not for the vigorous remonstration of the Zionist Organization of America, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), the Simon Wiesenthal Center and other smaller bodies and individuals, nobody seemed to care.

Indeed, prominent Jewish “liberals” even praised the opera. Rabbi Gary Bretton-Granatoor, vice president for philanthropy of the global Reform Jewry movement, stated that “trying to portray both sides and show that they are not monsters but human beings who did awful things to advance their cause, shows it was a horrific event. If by producing this, these questions are raised again, is that a bad thing? Discussions need to be had.” Wow! God help us if we are burdened with Jews purporting to be spiritual leaders who can utter such obscenities about Jew-killers.

The Anti-Defamation League became “engaged” but stressed that it did not resort to protests. Ultimately, it triumphantly claimed to have achieved a “compromise”: The program would incorporate a statement expressing the indignation of the Klinghoffer daughters for the manner in which the opera exploited the memory of their father and it was agreed that the simultaneous productions would not proceed, on the grounds that the opera contained “sensitive” content which could exacerbate anti-Semitism, especially in Europe.
The ADL proudly reiterated that it had not interfered with artistic freedom or called for the performances to be cancelled, but was pleased that the Metropolitan Opera had reviewed the position and decided of its own accord (sic!) not to extend the performance to a potentially huge global audience.

This is unfathomable. Why did the ADL not call for the cancellation of performances in New York? If an anti-Semitic opera glorifying murderers is inappropriate for wider audiences, why should it be performed in New York?

For the Jewish establishment, and expressly an organization like the ADL, to feel inhibited about condemning such a performance because it interferes with artistic freedom is descending to the lowest level of pseudo-liberal political correctness. How can one reconcile entertainment with justifying outright murder and hate crimes?

This opera is an abomination and an offence not only to Jews but to all Americans and all decent people who oppose terrorism and racism. It has no bearing on the rights or wrongs of the Arab-Israeli conflict or alleged grievances of Palestinians which can be debated at other levels.

If Jewish leaders feel inhibited from raising their voices on such issues, they are betraying their mandate and moving backward to the “trembling Israelite” role that American Jews assumed in the 1930s.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Why Do Terrorists Target Children?

From PJ Media, 2 July 2014, by Dr. Anna Geifman*:

In blessed memory of  Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Fraenkel, HY”D

Acts of terror against the young are the unadvertised “latest trend” in global political violence.  For the first time since the Holocaust, slaying children has turned into a modus operandi.  Since 9/11, they are terrorists’ preferred targets.
Terrorists are nihilists par excellence:  they strike at the foundation of the mainstream culture, seeking to wipe out its pivotal symbols and meanings.  In the new millennium, amid a raging sea of conflicting concepts, pluralistic connotations, confusing priorities, habitual skepticism, intellectual and ethical relativism, perhaps our only enduring value is concern for children.  Whatever else we believe, we believe unconditionally in securing the  welfare, health, and security of children. No sane person will claim that while it is not nice to hurt children, there is another side to the argument. [But many still do...] Today, children are the last consecrated absolute.  For its part, militant nihilism strives to ruin first and foremost what their contemporaries hold sacred.
Episodes of child-directed violence occurred as early as May 1970 in Israel, when thirty-four children were killed and wounded in the Avivim school bus massacre.  In May 1974 hostage-takers in Ma’alot detonated hand grenades and sprayed high school students with machine-gun fire.  In April 1980, terrorists took hold of the nursery in kibbutz Misgav Am, killed an infant and injured four children.  In July of that year, in Antwerp, Belgium, a Fatah member cast hand grenades into a group of Jewish schoolchildren at a bus stop.
After the outbreak of the Al-Aqsa Intifada in September 2000, casualties among the Israeli young multiplied.  In a single episode in June 2001, twenty-one teenagers lost their lives in the “Delphinarium” discotheque in Tel Aviv. By mid-2002, child-targeting become systematic: a bomb explosion in Jerusalem next to a group of women with baby carriages (March 2); the bombing of a discotheque in Tel Aviv (May 24); children killed in a Petah Tikva ice cream parlor (May 27).
When zoomed-in on selected Israeli localities, the picture becomes grim indeed.  In Itamar, a gunman shot to death two students playing basketball outside the Hitzim school and then killed three more teenagers inside in May 2002. About a month later, two militants broke into the home of the Shabo family, killed the mother and her children, ages fifteen, twelve, and five, and severely wounded a ten- and a thirteen–year olds.  In another month, a terrorist broke into another private home, stabbed the husband and wife and them ran his knife through the empty beds of their eight children, away with grandparents. The March 2011 the Fogel family was slaughtered:  along with their parents, stabbed to death was a boy of eleven, his four-year old brother, and their three-month old sister; at the trial, terrorists regretted not to have noticed two other sleeping children
Itamar is a settlement, where “Jewish fanatics” are said to “provoke victimized Arabs” to kill children in the response to occupation.  But Sderot is not a disputed terroritory.  “A present for the start of the new school year,” the Islamic Jihad website flaunted first of their September 2007 missile strikes, which sent twelve Sderot kindergarteners to the hospital to be treated for shock. Terrorists send 3,200 Qassam rockets against this Israeli town in 2008.[ii] Residents reported that the shelling intensified when children were on their way to and from classes.
Attacks on schools and yeshivas in Israel reached their peak with the massacre at Merkaz HaRav in Jerusalem in March 2008.  All but one of the children had just gotten off a yellow school bus in Sa’ad on April 7, 2011 when a targeted missile hit, mortally wounding the remaining boy.  On March 19 the following year, a self-styled Al-Qaeda operative opened fire in a Jewish school in Toulouse, France.
“If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them? Of course not. . . . They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine,” some Islamist clerics admit openly and urge:  we will “annihilate them, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth.” 
It is as if the Biblical Amalek has finally broken portentous silence to speak his mind about the annihilation of Israel–his raison d’être.  According to the tradition, Amalek attacks from the rear, slaying the least protected, especially children.  Yet, while Amalek’s hate is for Israel alone, his accomplices today do not spare any children.
Muslim children are among their first victims.  In Iraq they are assaulted in school buildings and on playgrounds—in Baghdad, Ramadi, Tuz Khurmato, and Ba’qubah  (July 13, 2005, December 3, 2006; January 28, 2007, October 12, 2007, January 22, 2008, and December 7, 2009), to list a few cases.  On May 6, 2007 the Islamists bombed a UN-run elementary school in the Gaza refugee camp of Rafah during a sports festival, which the extremists had declared un-Islamic.  A suicide car school bombing on December 28, 2008 in Khost, Afghanistan, was one of 1,153 Taliban acts against young students in two preceding years—via shootings, torture, acid, arson, grenades, mines, and rockets.  Boko Haram of Nigeria has been targeting schools since 2010.  Thousands of children have been unable to attend classes as a result; hundreds have been killed to confirm the Jihadists’ stand against westernized education.  More than 200 girls kidnapped on the night of 14-15 April, 2014 are still missing:  Boko Haram terrorists oppose female education; in the past, they have used abducted schoolgirls as sex slaves.
When Thailand Muslim militants assailed a school bus in Ratchaburi province in June 2002, no one saw the atrocity as a sign of a new trend.  Yet, in the decade that followed targeting children turned into a tactic that crossed all geographical and ideological lines.  On July 2011 a self-styled “crusader” against European leftists and Muslims killed 69 people in a shooting spree in the Norwegian youth summer camp on Utøya island; 50 victims were 18-years old and younger.

Why the Young? 
Terror stipulates unceasing acceleration.  When successful, perpetrators seek to take advantage of intensifying anxiety and strive to build up momentum.  Random, en masse brutality against civilians—emblematic for the 20th-century terror–culminated in a spectacular act of apocalyptic destruction on 9/11.  It made conspicuous that real targets are not those who die.  The violent act is a ghastly message whose purpose is to intimidate the broader public, physically unaffected by bloodshed.  The next round of sustained terrorization required increasingly severe psychological and emotional impact, not necessarily measured by casualty count.
On September 1, 2004, amid the festivities on the “Day of Knowledge,” 32 terrorists held hostage 1,200 children, parents, and teachers inside School No. 1 in the town of Beslan in North Ossetia.  The hostage-takers declared their unattainable demand for Russia’s evacuation of Chechnya and their real intention:  “We are the terrorists, we’re here to slay.”[vi]  What followed “probably was the single most horrific act since the downfall of National Socialism.”[vii]  Indeed, the terrorists turned the school into a mini-replica of a death camp, denying children food, water, and medications for three days.  Dozens of little hostages perished in flames when a bomb detonated inside the building; dozens were shot in the back as they jumped out of windows and ran for their lives after the security forces attacked.  Among at least 334 fatalities, 186 were Christian and Muslim children; over 700 were wounded in this “carefully planned mass murder operation.”
“Nothing horrifies more than the murder of children” because it “is the ultimate rejection of life.”  Among the suicide terrorists there are those “who not only wish to destroy their own life, but life in general.  These are the candidates for mass killings,” particularly child killings because children are the quintessence of vitality, of sparkling aliveness, the most vibrant and spontaneous of the living, emblematic of life itself.  They are also our connection to the future, a link to immortality; by attacking children, terrorists seek to destroy life as it is and our hopes of continuing life beyond our own span of years..
Death Worship
Terrorists repeatedly declare that they “love Death” and love it as much as others love life.  They slaughter children as the designated, most pure, and perfect sacrifice to death, which they worship:  “Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were killed by people who believed in death”.
Modern death-worship is part of a long tradition.  “Even their sons and their daughters do they burn in the fire to their gods” (Deuteronomy 12:31).  Throughout the past century, this biblical characterization has been repeatedly fulfilled:  be it the Nazi Hitlerjugen or the Iranian Basij project—various ideologies have validated child-sacrifices.  The Jihadists offer Muslim children to Moloch as suicide bombers and human shields.  

Under Jihadist indoctrination, between 72 and 80 per cent of children living in the Palestinian Authority yearn to die as martyrs.  When in power, as in Gaza, terrorists construct for children under their control an official, prescribed culture in which death is preferred to life.
The Biblical commandment to “choose life” entails a possibility to opt for death.  Militant nihilists do so, and the roots of their destructiveness are infinitely deeper than any political dispute.  
“That is the difference between a culture of life and one of death, and this has become the battle of our time, not only in Israel but in Syria, in Iraq, in Nigeria and elsewhere.”  
This battle, in fact, has been waged for thousands of years, and—invariably—“cultures that worship death, die, while those that sanctify life, live on. . . . May the God of life, in whose image we are, teach all humanity to serve Him by sanctifying life.”

*Dr. Anna Geifman teaches history at Bar-Illan University. She moved to Israel in 2007 after a distinguished career at Boston University. In 2010 she published the definitive modern history of Bolshevik terrorism, Death Orders: The Vanguard of Modern Terrorism in Revolutionary Russia. 

Arabs want the right to kill Jews with impunity

From JPost, 3/7/14, by EVELYN GORDON:

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy released a stunning new Palestinian opinion poll last week. The headline finding was that 60% of all Palestinians, including majorities in both the West Bank and Gaza, now openly say their goal isn’t a two-state solution, but “reclaiming all of historic Palestine, from the river to the sea” – aka eradicating Israel. 

Yet that isn’t actually news for anyone who’s been paying attention: A 2011 poll, for instance, found that even among ostensible supporters of two states, 66% didn’t consider this a permanent solution, but only a step toward the ultimate goal of a single Palestinian state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea (a finding the new poll replicates). In short, Palestinians are now merely saying aloud what they believed all along.
Thus I was more struck by another finding: Contrary to the international dogma that Israeli construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem is the biggest obstacle to peace, Palestinians didn’t consider that top priority. Their main complaint, by a large margin, was Israel’s unwillingness to free Palestinian terrorists -  so they could kill again.
Asked what they considered “the one thing Israel could do to convince Palestinians that it really wants peace and a two-state solution," 
  • fully 45% said Israel “should release more Palestinian prisoners.” 
That’s more than twice the proportion who chose either 
  • a settlement freeze beyond the security fence (19.7%) or 
  • willingness to share Jerusalem (17.3%); 
indeed, it’s significantly more than both combined. 
  • The last-place choice (13.8%) was increasing Palestinian freedom of movement and cracking down on settler attacks – two other issues the world deems high priority.
If the Palestinians’ goal were truly a state alongside Israel with its capital in East Jerusalem, one would expect the opposite order of priorities. After all, significantly expanding settlements due to be evacuated under any deal (as opposed to settlements expected to remain Israeli) would make a two-state solution harder to implement. In contrast, jailing terrorists in no way undermines a two-state solution, and might even facilitate it: By reducing Palestinian terror, it increases Israeli willingness to make territorial concessions.
Yet this order of priorities makes perfect sense if the goal is “reclaiming all of historic Palestine.” Once you’re aspiring to remove millions of Jews from Tel Aviv, Haifa and Jerusalem, a few hundred new houses in isolated settlements are irrelevant. But freeing Palestinian terrorists is crucial. 
First, on a practical level, Palestinians credit “resistance” – aka terror – with driving Israel from both Lebanon and Gaza (Palestinian pollster Khalil Shikaki terms the Gaza pullout a “victory for violence”). That’s why 64% of respondents said “resistance should continue until all of historic Palestine is liberated.” Yet as Israel’s defeat of the second intifada proved, arresting or killing enough terrorists can dry up the supply of recruits: Once the likelihood of ending up dead or behind bars becomes too high, terror starts looking unattractive to all but the most fanatic. Thus to mount a terrorist campaign massive and deadly enough to “reclaim historic Palestine,” it’s vital to make terrorism low-risk by getting Israel to release imprisoned terrorists.
No less important, however, is the psychological impact: By releasing terrorists, Israel is effectively saying Jews can be killed with impunity, and thereby returning Jews to the status of dhimmis – second-class citizens – that they occupied in the Mideast for centuries. To quote Matti Friedman’s incisive June essay in Mosaic, 
“Israel is an intolerable affront to so many of its neighbors ... not because Jews are foreign here but in large part because they are not foreign—they are a familiar local minority that has inverted the order of things by winning wars and becoming sovereign.”  
Thus the first step toward reversing this affront is to make Jews revert to feeling like helpless victims, just as they were before Israel’s establishment. 
That’s precisely why, as The Jerusalem Post reported last summer, the Palestinians rejected Israel’s offer to freeze construction outside the settlement blocs under the US-brokered deal that restarted Israeli-Palestinian talks. Instead, they demanded a different bribe: the release of 104 veteran prisoners, most of them vicious murderers.
This also explains another surprising finding of the poll: While a narrow majority of Palestinians supports boycotting Israel, a larger majority wants Israeli companies to provide more jobs in the territories and over 80% want more Palestinians to be allowed to work in Israel. The Washington Institute interprets this (not unreasonably) as “pragmatism.” But it also reflects the Palestinian view that the Jews’ proper role is to serve their Palestinian masters: It’s their duty to provide Palestinians with a living, but Palestinians have no obligation to provide anything in return; they should be free to boycott those who feed them – and to kill them with impunity.
Granted, you don’t need polls to know Palestinians are uninterested in peace; they’ve proven that by rejecting repeated Israeli offers because none met 100% of their demands, including the demand to eradicate the Jewish state demographically by relocating millions of Palestinians to it. Had their priority truly been a state of their own, they would have settled for less than 100% to obtain one, just as the Jews did. 
Nevertheless, the “international community” remains obsessed with settlement construction as the major obstacle to peace. This would be absurd even if Palestinians actually wanted peace, since as Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot recently demonstrated, the overwhelming majority of settlement construction occurs in areas that every deal ever proposed has allotted to Israel, and consequently doesn’t undermine prospects for an agreement at all. But it’s even more absurd given that no obstacle to peace could possibly outweigh one party’s unaltered desire to annihilate the other.
And that’s why the poll’s findings about prisoners are so important. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas excels at making moderate statements, as he did recently by condemning the kidnapping of three Israeli teens. But as long as Abbas and his countrymen demand that the perpetrators of such crimes walk free, such statements are mere lip service. For nobody who demands the right to murder Jews with impunity can be a genuine peace partner for the Jewish state. 

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

We have every right to the Land of Israel

In the last two days one thought persists in my mind: how would I feel if any of the three school children abducted and murdered in Israel were my children?

But in fact I feel they are my children. They are children of Hashem, and they are the children of every decent person...

My heart goes out to their parents.

I'm also angry at the response of the media. Many refer to the victims as "settlers". Not only is this not true, because the children lived within the "Green Line", but so what if it were true, and they lived beyond the Green Line. So what??? Does that justify their cold-blooded murder? 

And, as usual, the media focus is not on the despicable murder and its perpetrators, but on Israel and its response.

How do we respond to this grief?

My response is to redouble my efforts to defend Israel and the Jewish people. To renounce the lies and expose the bullshit.

Those Arabs, Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians and others who now call themselves “Palestinians”, are engaged in a terrorist war to claim what they consider to be their "occupied homeland". Their aim is a fantasy based on gross myths and lies... 

We must remedy what has become an intolerable situation that threatens the Jewish people with the loss of their one and only homeland.

The following is a "tour d'horizon" of previous postings on this blog on the Jewish People's right to the Land of Israel.

....The so-called "Green Line" is not a border but is where the contending armies stopped fighting and accepted a cease-fire in the war of 1948-49. It has no administrative, geographical, or topographical significance.... 

The international community appears to have forgotten the clear statements of the various Armistice Agreements of 1949 which provided that the Armistice Demarcation lines were "not to be construed in any sense" as political or territorial boundaries." No provision of those Agreements was in any way to prejudice the rights and claims of the parties in "the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine problem." The Israeli presence in the disputed areas is lawful until a peace settlement, because Israel entered them lawfully in self-defense.

See The Legality of Israeli Settlements for more

...As part of the settlement in which the Arabs received most of the lands formerly under Turkish sovereignty in the Middle East, the whole of Palestine, on both sides of the Jordan, was reserved exclusively for the Jewish people as their national home and future independent state...

The moment of birth of Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty thus took place at the same time Palestine was created a mandated state, since it was created for no other reason than to reconstitute the ancient Jewish state of Judea in fulfillment of the Balfour Declaration and the general provisions of Article 22 of the League Covenant...

The San Remo Resolution is the base document upon which the Mandate was constructed and to which it had to conform. It is therefore the pre-eminent foundation document of the State of Israel and the crowning achievement of pre-state Zionism. It has been accurately described as the Magna Carta of the Jewish people. It is the best proof that the whole country of Palestine and the Land of Israel belong exclusively to the Jewish people under international law....

The decisive moment of change came on May 14, 1948 when the representatives of the Jewish people in Palestine and of the Zionist Organization proclaimed the independence of a Jewish state whose military forces held only a small portion of the territory originally allocated for the Jewish National Home. The rest of the country was in the illegal possession of neighboring Arab states who had no sovereign rights over the areas they illegally occupied, that were historically a part of Palestine and the Land of Israel and were not meant for Arab independence or the creation of another Arab state. It is for this reason that Israel, which inherited the sovereign rights of the Jewish people over Palestine, has the legal right to keep all the lands it liberated in the Six Day War that were either included in the Jewish National Home during the time of the Mandate or formed integral parts of the Land of Israel that were illegally detached from the Jewish National Home when the boundaries of Palestine were fixed in 1920 and 1923. For the same reason, Israel cannot be accused by anyone of “occupying” lands under international law that were clearly part of the Jewish National Home or the Land of Israel. Thus the whole debate today that centers on the question of whether Israel must return “occupied territories” to their alleged Arab owners in order to obtain peace is one of the greatest falsehoods of international law and diplomacy....

[The August 31, 1947, the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP)  partition plan which recognized Arab national rights in western Palestine] lent credence to the false idea that Palestine belonged to both Arabs and Jews, which was an idea foreign to the San Remo Resolution, the Mandate and the Franco-British Boundary Convention of December 23, 1920. The Jewish Agency should have relied on these three documents exclusively in declaring the Jewish state over all of Palestine, even if it was unable to control all areas of the country, following the example of what was done in Syria and Lebanon during World War II....

The gravest threat to Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty over the Land of Israel still comes from the same source that has always fought the return of the Jews to their homeland, namely, the medley of Arabic-speaking Gentiles who inhabit the land alongside the Jews. They no longer call themselves Arabs or Syrians, but “Palestinians”....

The Arabs of the Land of Israel have ignited a terrorist war against Israel to recover what they consider to be their occupied homeland. Their aim is a fantasy based on a gross myth and lie that can never be satisfied, since that would mean the conversion of the Land of Israel into an Arab country. It is up to the government of Israel to take the necessary steps to remedy what has become an intolerable situation that threatens the Jewish people with the loss of their immutable rights to their one and only homeland.

Resolution 242 is the cornerstone for what it calls “a just and lasting peace.” It calls for a negotiated solution based on “secure and recognized boundaries” – recognizing the flaws in Israel’s previous temporary borders – the 1948 Armistice lines or the “Green Line” by not calling upon Israel to withdraw from ‘all occupied territories,’ but rather “from territories occupied.” [...and it has done that, in the entire Sinai, which is larger than all the territories it now holds, combined ]...

Arab declarations about destroying Israel were made preceding the war when control over the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as Sinai and the Golan Heights, were not in Israel’s hands, and no so-called Israeli occupation existed.
That is why the UN Security Council recognized that Israel had acquired the territory from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria not as a matter of aggression, but as an act of self-defense....

Resolution 242 speaks of “a just settlement of the refugee problem,” not ‘the Palestinian or Arab refugee problem.’ The history of the resolution shows that it was intentional and reflected recognition that the Arab-Israeli conflict created two refugee populations, not one. Parallel to the estimated 600,000 Arabs who left Israel, more than 899,000 Jews fled from Arab countries in the aftermath of the 1948 war – 650,000 of them finding asylum in Israel....

Golda Meir announced and repeatedly explained. Israel and Jordan were the two state successors to the British Mandate, she noted, and
there is no room for a third. The Palestinians must find the solution to their problem together with that Arab country, Jordan, because a Palestinian State between us and Jordan can only become a base from which it will become even more convenient to attack and destroy Israel.”
The various policies developed by the major parties after 1967 could be summarized as follows:
  • There was bi-partisan support for retaining control of the Territories until a secure peace could be negotiated;
  • There was bi-partisan opposition to the concept of a Palestinian State;
  • There was bi-partisan refusal to negotiate with the PLO;
  • There was bi-partisan support for the principle that any future negotiation would result in new “secure and recognized boundaries” which would differ from the 1949 Armistice lines.
  • Labour governments permitted Jewish settlement in essential security locations;
  • Likud governments actively encouraged settlement throughout the Territories
The policy of exchanging territory for peace was actually put into effect by a Likud government led by Menahem Begin with the Peace treaty of 1979, under which the whole of the Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982...

The official approach of both the major parties, supported by the mass of the Israeli public, continued to be based on the hope for a solution based on “territory for peace”, and to reject proposals to cede territory unilaterally....

At present the rights of the parties, including settlements, are governed by the terms of the agreements implementing the Oslo Accords which set up the Palestinian Authority. These provide that the issue of “Settlements” is to be a subject of the “final status negotiations” and that meanwhile Israel is to be responsible for the security of “Israelis and Settlements”.

Barack Obama and his followers talk constantly about “The Settlements.” Obsessing over this pretends the conflict began in 1967....

Reducing the conflict to the settlements is an act of historical vandalism, defaming the memory of nearly 30,000 Israelis, very few of whom died in settlement-related violence – most of whom died because of the continuing Arab refusal to accept Israel’s existence....

We also know that traditionally, when countries fight, the winner keeps the territory. I challenge my historian colleagues, asking them to name one example when a country won a defensive war then voluntarily returned the territory it conquered, if it had a prior claim to the land. The only answer is Israel, returning the Sinai to Egypt in 1979, relinquishing control under Oslo in 1994 and leaving Gaza in 2005...

...Fighting delegitimization is fighting for peace. Just as the Palestinians, and many Israeli and international NGOs, complain each time a Jew breaks ground outside the Green Line, Israel, the US and the entire pro-peace infrastructure must complain every time a Palestinian delegitimizes Israel, denies its right to exist or attacks the Jews. There must be zero tolerance for such language, which only discourages compromise.

...we need a coalition of conscience fight demonization from all sides and to work for peace, improvising a solution based on mutual accommodation rather than stubbornly and artificially freezing boundaries in one random historical moment or another.

Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, the misnamed occupied territories, are not the obstacle to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. They are the acid test of peace. To argue that peace is conceivable unless the bulk of the settlements remain in place constitutes stupidity or hypocrisy. 

Leave aside the issue of whether Jews have the right to live in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. 

Ignore the fact that the settlers live overwhelmingly on what was waste land and turned into gardens, vineyards, and industries which have uplifted the lives of Palestinian Arabs more than all the aid that has passed through (or rather stuck to) the fingers of the kleptocrats of the PA. 

Leave aside also Israel’s requirement for defensible borders: that is a critical issue but not identical to the continued presence of settlements.

Accepting the settlements is the sine qua non of any viable peace agreement. It does Israel no good to defend Israel’s right to exist but to condemn the settlers...

...the Israeli settlers have built a garden and a workshop where before there were bare rocks, and thriving communities that are integral parts of Israeli society. It takes longer to get crosstown in Manhattan in traffic than it does to drive from the center of Tel Aviv to Ariel, the largest town in Samaria. This is yet another accomplishment of Jewish ingenuity and industriousness, and it is (or should be) an inspiring example to all who hope for a better life for the peoples of the Middle East. We will know that the Palestinians want peace when they admire rather than abhor this effort....

... to achieve a durable and robust peace by abandoning the settlements ... is a delusion: we will make ourselves immeasurably less secure by abandoning the settlements than by holding fast to them.

See Keep the Settlements for more

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

In Memoriam: Eyal, Gilad and Naftali

From Arutz Sheva, 30 June 2014, by Former Chief Rabbi Lord Sacks:

Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were killed by people who believed in death.

This past Shabbat we read the parsha of Chukkat with its almost incomprehensible commandment of the red heifer whose mixed with "living water" purified those who had been in contact with death so that they could enter the Mishkan, symbolic home of the glory of God. Almost incomprehensible but not entirely so.

The mitzvah of the parah adumah, the red heifer, was a protest against the religions of the ancient world that glorified death. Death for the Egyptians was the realm of the spirits and the gods. The pyramids were places where, it was believed, the spirit of the dead Pharaoh ascended to heaven and joined the immortals.

The single most striking thing about the Torah and Tanakh in general is its almost total silence on life after death. We believe in it profoundly. We believe in olam haba (the world to come), Gan Eden (paradise), and techiyat hametim (the resurrection of the dead). Yet Tanakh speaks about these things only sparingly and by allusion. Why so?

Because too intense a focus on heaven is capable of justifying every kind of evil on earth. There was a time when Jews were burned at the stake, so their murderers said, in order to save their immortal souls. Every injustice on earth, every act of violence, even suicide bombings, can be theoretically defended on the grounds that true justice is reserved for life after death.

Against this Judaism protests with every sinew of its soul, every fibre of its faith. Life is sacred. Death defiles. God is the God of life to be found only by consecrating life. Even King David was told by God that he would not be permitted to build the Temple because dam larov shafachta, “you have shed much blood.”

Judaism is supremely a religion of life. That is the logic of the Torah’s principle that those who have had even the slightest contact with death need purification before they may enter sacred space. The parah adumah, the rite of the red heifer, delivered this message in the most dramatic possible way. It said, in effect, that everything that lives – even a heifer that never bore the yoke, even red, the colour of blood which is the symbol of life – may one day turn to ash, but that ash must be dissolved in the waters of life. God lives in life. God must never be associated with death.

Eyal, Gilad and Naftali were killed by people who believed in death. Too often in the past Jews were victims of people who practised hate in the name of the God of love, cruelty in the name of the God of compassion, and murder in the name of the God of life. It is shocking to the very depths of humanity that this still continues to this day.

Never was there a more pointed contrast than, on the one hand, these young men who dedicated their lives to study and to peace, and on the other the revelation that other young men, even from Europe, have become radicalised into violence in the name of God and are now committing murder in His name. That is the difference between a culture of life and one of death, and this has become the battle of our time, not only in Israel but in Syria, in Iraq, in Nigeria and elsewhere. Whole societies are being torn to shreds by people practising violence in the name of God.

Against this we must never forget the simple truth that those who begin by practising violence against their enemies end by committing it against their fellow believers. The verdict of history is that cultures that worship death, die, while those that sanctify life, live on. That is why Judaism survives while the great empires that sought its destruction were themselves destroyed.

Our tears go out to the families of Eyal, Gilad and Naftali. We are with them in grief. We will neither forget the young victims nor what they lived for: the right that everyone on earth should enjoy, to live a life of faith without fear.

Bila hamavet lanetzach: “May He destroy death forever, and may the Lord God wipe away the tears from all faces.” May the God of life, in whose image we are, teach all humanity to serve Him by sanctifying life.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Negotiating with Iranian Liars

From PJ Media, 27 June 2014, by Claudia Rosett:

...a confidential 14-page report [was] produced by the United Nations Panel of Experts on Iran sanctions, and obtained this Friday by Reuters — whose Louis Charbonneau has written a story disclosing some of its contents, under the headline “Exclusive — U.N. experts trace recent seized arms to Iran, violating embargo.”
The particular Iranian duplicity on which this UN report focuses is the shipment earlier this year of weapons hidden among bags of cement aboard a Panamanian-flagged ship, the Klos C. The weapons — including rockets, fuses, 120 mm mortar shells and roughly 400,000 bullets — were loaded onto the Klos C in an Iranian port. The Klos C then called at the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr, before heading to the Red Sea, where the ship, making for Sudan, was intercepted by Israeli naval forces.
According to Reuters, the UN panel’s confidential report confirms that the weapons hidden aboard the Klos C were shipped from Iran, in violation of UN sanctions. (Apparently the report does not speculate on the ultimate destination for the weapons — which the Israelis said was Gaza. Nor could the UN experts confirm the Israeli account that the weapons were smuggled into Iran from Syria, before being loaded aboard the Klos C. Perhaps Israeli authorities have better intelligence on Syria, Iran and Gaza than do the eight experts on the UN panel? But the UN report does confirm that the weapons were shipped from Iran).
Sanctions-violating arms consignments from Iran are quite bad enough. But what makes the Klos C shipment particularly interesting is the timing. That shipment, seized by the Israelis on March 5, was already on its way from Iran as the U.S. and its partners held the first round of Iran nuclear talks Feb. 18-20 in Vienna. Following the Israeli seizure of the ship, Iran’s foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator, Javad Zarif, repeatedly ridiculed Israeli accounts that the Klos C had been carrying weapons from Iran, suggesting the Israelis were telling, as Zarif put it, “same failed lies.”
The UN report in effect confirms that Zarif — Iran’s main man at the Vienna nuclear talks — was lying. As I wrote in a March 7 article on “The Amazing Coincidences of Javad Zarif,” just after the news broke about the Israeli interception of the Klos C, its hold stuffed with weapons hidden under bags of cement: “If Zarif knew anything about this, that’s damning. If he was clueless, that’s alarming. Which is it?”
In public, at least, U.S diplomats have given Zarif a pass on his lies about the arms bound for Sudan aboard the Klos C. There has been no demand that Zarif account for his own swaggering mendacity. That, right there, is a major concession to Iran — a signal that lies, however brazen, will be tolerated. That ought to be a matter of profound alarm — perhaps not to our diplomats, but at least to the American public — as the parties to the Iran nuclear talks prepare for a marathon bargaining finale in Vienna, starting next Wednesday, July 2, with the professed aim of reaching a final nuclear deal by the deadline of July 20. What lies from Tehran are in the offing, concealed under stacks of diplomatic drafting paper, official pronouncements and that grin with which Zarif likes to survey U.S. envoy Wendy Sherman and European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, at the bargaining table?

IDF preparing for possible Gaza offensive

Armored brigades have been instructed to prepare for the possibility of being transferred to the Gaza Division, while the Air Force has deployed additional Iron Dome batteries.

The IDF is preparing for a possible significant offensive in Gaza, a year and a half after Operation Pillar of Defense. Armored Corps brigades have been instructed to prepare for the possibility of being transferred to the Gaza Division, while the Air Force has deployed additional Iron Dome batteries.

More than 40 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel since the beginning of Operation Brother's Keeper to find three Israeli teenagers who were abducted some two weeks ago. 24 of them fell inside Israel, out of which 11 were fired over the weekend. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted seven of the rockets.  [Note: More than 200 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza since the beginning of 2014].

The IDF believes the success of the Hamas terror cell in Hebron is heating up the Strip as well, encouraging rogue terror groups to open a second front against Israel.
The IAF attacked three hidden rocket launchers in the central Gaza Strip on Saturday night in response to four rockets fired at southern Israel, one of them hitting a factory that caught fire and was burned to the ground.
The military wing of the Popular Resistance Committees took responsibility for the rocket fire, saying it was a response to the IAF's targeted killing of two of its operatives on Friday.
The army was expected to continue responding to the rocket fire throughout the night....

Conjuring the ghost of Richelieu

From The Asia Times, 28 June 2014, by Spengler:

...."Make it brief," said [the ghost of] Armand Jean du Plessis, Cardinal-Duc de Richelieu... 

"We are a bit confused about Syria," I began. "Its leader, Bashar al-Assad, is slaughtering his own people to suppress an uprising. And he is allied to Iran, which wants to acquire nuclear weapons and dominate the region. If we overthrow Assad, Sunni radicals will replace him, and take revenge on the Syrian minorities. And a radical Sunni government in Syria would ally itself with the Sunni minority next door in Iraq and make civil war more likely." 

"I don't understand the question," Richelieu replied. 

"Everyone is killing each other in Syria and some other places in the region, and the conflict might spread. What should we do about it?" 

"How much does this cost you?" 

"Nothing at all," I answered. 
"Then let them kill each other as long as possible, which is to say for 30 years or so. Do you know," the ghastly Cardinal continued, "why really interesting wars last for 30 years? That has been true from the Peloponnesian War to my own century. First you kill the fathers, then you kill their sons. There aren't usually enough men left for a third iteration." 
"We can't go around saying that," I remonstrated. 

"I didn't say it, either," Richelieu replied. "But I managed to reduce the population of the German Empire by half in the space of a generation and make France the dominant land power in Europe for two centuries. 

"Isn't there some way to stabilize these countries?" I asked. 

Richelieu looked at me with what might have been contempt. "It is a simple exercise in logique. You had two Ba'athist states, one in Iraq and one in Syria. Both were ruled by minorities. The Assad family came from the Alawite minority Syria and oppressed the Sunnis, while Saddam Hussein came from the Sunni minority in Iraq and oppressed the Shi'ites. 

It is a matter of calculation - what today you would call game theory. If you compose a state from antagonistic elements to begin with, the rulers must come from one of the minorities. All the minorities will then feel safe, and the majority knows that there is a limit to how badly a minority can oppress a majority. That is why the Ba'ath Party regimes in Iraq and Syria - tyrannies founded on the same principle - were mirror images of each other." 
"What happens if the majority rules?," I asked. 
"The moment you introduce majority rule in the tribal world," the cardinal replied, "you destroy the natural equilibrium of oppression. 
"The minorities have no recourse but to fight, perhaps to the death. In the case of Iraq, the presence of oil mitigates the problem. 
The Shi'ites have the oil, but the Sunnis want some of the revenue, and it is easier for the Shi'ites to share the revenue than to kill the Sunnis. On the other hand, the problem is exacerbated by the presence of an aggressive neighbor who also wants the oil." 
"So civil war is more likely because of Iran?" 

"Yes," said the shade, "and not only in Iraq. Without support from Iran, the Syrian Alawites - barely an eighth of the people - could not hope to crush the Sunnis. Iran will back Assad and the Alawites until the end, because if the Sunnis come to power in Syria, it will make it harder for Iran to suppress the Sunnis in Iraq. As I said, it is a matter of simple logic. Next time you visit, bring a second bottle of Petrus, and my friend Descartes will draw a diagram for you." 
"So the best thing we can do to stabilize the region is to neutralize Iran?" 
"Bingeaux!" Richelieu replied. 

"But there are people in the United States, like the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who say that attacking Iran would destabilize everything!" 

"Such fools would not have lasted a week in my service," the cardinal sniffed. "Again, it is a matter of simple logic. If Iran's capacity to build nuclear weapons is removed by force, upon whom shall it avenge itself? No doubt its irregulars in Lebanon will shoot some missiles at Israel, but not so many as to provoke the Israelis to destroy Hezbollah. Iran might undertake acts of terrorism, but at the risk of fierce reprisals. Without nuclear weapons, Iran becomes a declining power with obsolete weapons and an indifferent conscript army." 
Richelieu's shade already had lost some color. 
"What should the United States do in Syria?" I asked. 

"As little as possible," he replied. "Some anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles from Gaddafi's stockpiles, enough to encourage the opposition and prevent Assad from crushing them, and without making it obvious who sent them." 

"And what will become of Syria?" 

The cardinal said sourly, "The same thing will happen to the present occupants of Syria that happened to the previous occupants: the Assyrians, and the Seleucids, and the Byzantines before them. You seem to think the Syrians are at existential risk because they are fighting to the death. On the contrary: they are fighting to the death because they were at existential risk before the first shot was fired. They have no oil. They do not even have water. They manufacture nothing. They cling to ancient hatred as a drowning man grasps a stone." 

"Isn't there anything we can do about it?" I shouted...