Thursday, September 29, 2016

Khamenei’s Slant on WWII: Iran Must Not Go the Way of Germany and Japan

From BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 367, September 28, 2016, by Col. (res.) Dr. Eran Lerman:

ayatollah-ali-khameneiEXECUTIVE SUMMARY: In a speech last week to the Iran Revolutionary Guards Corps, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei spoke of the outcome of World War II in revealing terms. In the context of a debate over the size of the Iranian military, he invoked the humiliation inflicted upon Germany and Japan by the US. Read against the background of Iran’s Holocaust denial, its exterminatory intent towards Israel, and its rejection of Western values, this invocation confirms Khamenei’s totalitarian interpretation of Islam. Iran is in open conflict with the West and with Saudi Arabia too. This raises questions about the facile assumptions of change underpinning the nuclear deal with Iran.
Speaking on September 18, 2016 before commanders of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Supreme Leader of Iran launched into a bitter polemic against Rafsanjani's call to invest more in the economy and less in military build-up. (Ref. MEMRI translation and analytical observations.) The IRGC, Khameini declared, is the key to the success of the revolutionary project. Deterrence can only be achieved if fear of Iran's raw power is instilled in the hearts of her enemies. Neither the JCPOA (the nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 powers) in itself, nor a shift in strategy to more civilian pursuits, can protect Iran. The revolution must be translated into military might.
At this point in the speech, Khameini offered a fascinating point of reference. Look, he suggested, at Germany and Japan at the end of World War II: forced into submission, humiliated, and required to disarm. He made no effort to hide his sympathy. As far as Khameini is concerned, the bad guys won and the good guys lost in 1945, and the time has come to overthrow the entire post-war dispensation.
This position is, after all, in line with Iran’s denial of the Holocaust (recall the caricature competition designed to denigrate and diminish it) and exterminatory stand towards Israel. It is not the personal quirk of Ahmadinejad, who was, in fact, just told by the Leader that he will not be allowed to run for president again this time. It is the position of Khamenei himself and of Khomeini before him: "Khatt al-Imam," the line of the Imam, the ultimate imperative of the revolutionary regime.
According to this line, Iran has a religious (or, rather, ideological) imperative to reject all Western mores. For this to be possible, the Revolution, even more than the State as such, must position itself as a strong military power in regional and global affairs. The alternative is unthinkable. The "values" the West and the US seek to impose include utterly base and noxious notions like homosexuality (with which Iran's present leaders are apparently obsessed). Military weakness would lead to moral weakness, a "cultural invasion," and the loss of all that Khameini and Khomeini have sought to establish.
Khameini told his audience that there are misguided souls in Iran who seek to negotiate with the US even as the Americans themselves seek a dialog with Iran on regional affairs (e.g., on Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen). He rejects this quest not only as poisonous for Iran, but as evidence that America is now a spent force.
With that American weakness in mind, the Iranian leadership is now openly calling for the total destruction of Wahhabism (read: the Saudi state). It makes this call while complaining, as did Foreign Minister Zarif in an op-ed at The New York Times, that "big money is being used to whitewash terrorism." This claim is, of course, extremely rich to anyone with even a smattering of knowledge about Iran’s behavior in recent years.
Iranian arrogance is thus on the rise in the post-deal era, and with it Iran’s hope of steadily undoing Israel and undermining regional and global stability until the true Imam or Mehdi appears on earth. Meanwhile, as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubayr wrote in response to Zarif, it is Iran that remains at the top of the terror lists. It is Iran's ally in Syria, with the help of Iran's proxies in Lebanon, who is now engaging in unprecedented acts of carnage in Aleppo.
The Leader's extolling of military might is thus frightening to all in the region, even as Tehran tries to present itself as the voice of reason in the struggle against the Islamic State (Iran was quick to denounce the assassination in Amman this week of a Christian journalist who "insulted" the IS radicals).
There could be an opportunity here. Neither candidate for the US presidency seems to have bought into the strange notion, implicit (and at times explicit) in the positions taken by Obama and his inner circle, that Iran can serve as a useful counterweight to other forces in the region. Nor have they bought (yet) into the delusion that Iran's revolutionary impulse can be assumed to be benign. The US is thus still able to think of Iran as an enemy, which it is.
If so, the domestic tension and turmoil over the unfulfilled promise of economic relief, and over Khamenei’s demand for more and more sacrifices by the people (a "resistance economy," as he calls it) can provide fertile ground for destabilization of the Iranian regime. Such an opportunity was lost in 2009. It need not be lost again.

Israel Shifting From Defense to Offense in Fight Against Delegitimization

From Algemeiner, 27 Sept 2016, by Barney Breen-Portnoy:

... Sima Vaknin-Gil —  director general of the Ministry of Strategic Affairs — said the government was using information-gathering as a means to help it thwart the activities of anti-Israel individuals and groups around the world.
...“The government has defined delegitimization as one of the three main threats facing Israel that must be dealt with. While this is a threat that is not critical right now, if you take a long-term look, you see this as one that could develop.”

During the past year, Israel  began implementing a $26 million plan to combat delegitimization efforts — of which the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is one component.

Vaknin-Gil said her ministry, led by Likud minister Gilad Erdan, “sets strategy, puts activities into motion and cooperates with different organizations, both in Israel and abroad. We build the tools and infrastructure to combat delegitimization...”

...Vaknin-Gil warned that 2017 is expected to be a “very problematic” year, due to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Six-Day War — after which Israel took control of the West Bank from Jordan; the Gaza Strip and Sinai Peninsula from Egypt; and the Golan Heights from Syria — and the 100th anniversary of the issuing of the Balfour Declaration, in which the United Kingdom announced its support for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

“These dates are going to be used to intensify anti-Israel activities,” Vaknin-Gil said. “So we are now preparing a plan to handle this. We must be ready.”

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Shimon Peres dies

From JPost, 28 Sept 2016:

Shimon Peres, former president and veteran Israeli statesman, dies at 93
Former PM Shimon Peres dies at 93

Senior statesman dies after suffering a stroke two weeks ago.

Shimon Peres, former president, former prime minister, former defense minister, former foreign minister, former minister of eight other ministries, the last surviving member of Israel’s founding fathers, and winner of the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize died Tuesday after suffering a stroke two weeks ago. He was 93.

Doctors said Peres suffered severe organ failure Tuesday, as well as irreversible brain damage caused by the massive haemorrhagic stroke he sustained on September 13.

Remember Babi Yar

In memory of Babi Yar, 75 years ago:
 "All Jews living in the city of Kiev and its vicinity must come to the corner of Melnikova and Dokhturovska* Street by 8 o'clock on the morning of Monday, September 29th 1941. They are to bring with them documents, money, valuables, as well as warm clothes, underwear etc. Any Jews not carrying out this instruction and who are found elsewhere will be shot..."
Guarded by SS, SD and Ukrainian auxiliaries, the Jews were marched in groups of 100 via the Mel...nikova Street to the Jewish cemetery located near the ravine called "Babi Yar". The entire surroundings of the ravine had been fenced in with barbed wire, and were cordoned off by three rows of troops: The outer circle was manned by Ukrainian police, the second with Ukrainian police and Germans, and the inner circle with Germans only.

 At the killing site the Jews were ordered to undress, stack their belongings, and were then led in groups of 10 to the edge of the ravine. There they were shot (by automatic guns and machine-guns) in front of their fellow sufferers, who were unable to escape.

 Over 34,000 Jews were killed in the ravine at Babi Yar that week.


Symphony No.13 in B flat minor - "Babi Jar"
Dmitri Shostakovich, opus 113

Text by Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Transliteration and translation adopted from Valeria Vlazinskaya

 Russian (transliterated)English







(Solo and chorus)










(Solo and chorus)
Babi Yar

Nad Babim Yarom pamyatnikov nyet.
Krutoi obryv, kak gruboye nadgrobye.
Mne strashno.
Mne sevodnya stolko let,
Kak samomu yevreiskomu narodu.

Mne kazhetsya seichas - ya iudei.
vot ya bredu po drevnemu Egiptu.
A vot ya, na kreste raspyati, gibnu.
I do sikh por na mne - sledy gvozdei.
Mne kazhestya, shot Dreifus - eto ya.
Meshchanstvo - moi donoschik i sudya.
Ya za reshotkoi. Ya popal v koltso,
Zatravlennyi, oplyovannyi, obolgannyi,
I admochki s bryusselskimi oborkami,
Vizzha, zontami tychut mne v litso.
Mne kahzetsya, ya - malchik v Belostoke.

Krov lyotsya, rastekayas po polam,
Beschinstvuyut vozhdi traktimoi stoiki
I pakhnut vodkoi s lukom popolam.

Ya sapogom otbroshennyi, bessilnyi.
Naprasno ya pogromshchikov moyu.

Pod gogot: "Bei zhidov, spasai Rossiyu!"
Labaznik izbiyavet mat moyu.

O russki moi narod, ya znayu ty
Po sushchnosti internazionalen.
No chasto te, chi ruki nechisty
Tvoim chiteishim imenem bryatsali.
Ya znayu dobrotu moyei zemli.
Kak podlo, shto i zhilochkoi ne drognuv.
Antisemity narekli sebya

"Soyuzom Russkovo Naroda!"

Mne kazhetsya ya - eto Anna Frank,
Prozrachnaya, kak vetochka v aprele,
I ya lyublyu, i mne ne nado fraz,
No nado, shtob drug v druga my smotreli.
Kak malo mozhno videt, obonyat!
Nelzya nam listyev
I nelzya nam neba,
No mozhno ochen mnogo - eto nezhno
Drug druga v tyomnoi komnate obnyat.

"Syuda idut!"

"Ne bosa, eto guly
Samoy vesny. Ona syuda idyot.
Idi ko mne,
Dai mne skoreye guby!"

"Lomayut dver!"

"Nyet, eto ledokhod..."

Nad Babim Yarom shelest dikikh trav,
Derevya smotryat grozno, po-sudeiski.
Zdes molcha vsyo krichit, i, shapku snyav,
Ya chuvstvuyu, kak medlenno sedeyu.

I sam ya, kak sploshnoi bezzvuchnyi krik,
Nad tysyachami tysyach pogrebyonnykh.
Ya - kazhdyi zdes rasstrelyanni starik.
Ya - kazhdyi zdes rasstrelyanni rebyonok.
Nichto vo mne pro eto ne zabudet.

"Internatsional" pust progremit.
Kogda naveki pokhoronen budet
Posledni na zemle antisemit.

Yevreiskoi krovi nyet v krovi moyei,
No nenavisten zloboi zaskoruzloi
Ya vsem antisemitam, kak yevrei.

I potomu ya - nastoyashchi russki!
Babi Yar

Over Babi Yar there are no monuments.
The steep precipice is like a crude gravestone.
I am terrified.
I am as old today
As all Jewish people.

Now I imagine that I'm a Jew.
Here I wander through ancient Egypt.
And here, on the cross, crucified, I perish.
And still I have on me the marks of the nails.
I imagine myself to be Dreyfus.
The Philistine - my informer and judge.
I am behind bars. I am surrounded.
Persecuted, spat on, slandered.
And dainty ladies in Brussels frills,
Squealing, poke their parasols into my face.
I imagine myself the boy from Belostok.

Blood flows, running over the floors.
The rabble-rousers in the tavern commit their outrages
Reeking of vodka and onions, half and half.

Kicked by a boot, I lie helpless.
In vain I plead with the pogrom-makers.

Accompanied by jeers: "Beat the Yids, save Russia!"
A grain merchant batters my mother.

O my Russian people, I know you
Are innately international
But often those whose hands were vile
In vain used your purest name.
I know the goodness of my land.
What base lowness - without a quiver of a vein
The anti-Semites proclaimed themselves

"The Union of the Russian People!"

I imagine myself as Anne Frank,
Transparent as a sprig in April,
And I love, and have no need for phrases,
But I do need for us to gaze into each other.
How little one can see, or smell!
Leaves - we cannot have,
Sky - we cannot have,
But there is so much we can have -
To embrace tenderly in a darkened room.

"They're coming!"

"Don't be afraid, those are the booming sounds
Of Spring itself. It's coming here.
Come to me,
Quickly, give me your lips!"

"They're breaking the door!"

"No, it's the ice breaking..."

Over Babi Yar the wild grasses rustle.
The trees look sternly as if in judgement.
Here everything screams silently and, taking off my hat
I feel I am slowly turning grey.

And I myself am one long soundless cry.
Above the thousand thousands buried here.
I am every old man here shot dead.
I am every child here shot dead.
Nothing in me will ever forget this.

The "Internationale" - let it thunder
When forever will be buried
The last of the anti-Semites on earth.

There is no Jewish blood in mine,
But I am adamantly hated
By all anti-Semites as if I were a Jew.

That is why I am a true Russian!


(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)








(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)

Tsari, koroli, imperatory,
Vlastiteli vsei zemli,
Komandovali paradami,
No yumorom, no yumorom ne mogli.
V dvortsy imenitykh osob,
Vse dni volzezhashchikh vykholenno,

Yavlyalsya brodyaga Ezop,
I nishchimi oni vyglyadeli.

V domakh, gde khanzha nsledil
Svoimi nogamig shchuplymi,

Vsyu poshlost Khodzha Nasreddin
Sshibal, kak shakhmaty, shutkami.

Khoteli humor kupit.

Da tolko evo ne kupish!

Khoteli yumor ubit.

A yumor pokazyal kukish.

Bortsya s nim - delo trudnoye,
Kaznili evo bez kontsa.

Evo golova obtrublennaya
Torchala na pike streltsa.

No lish skomoroshi dudochki
Svoi nachinali skaz,
On zvonko krichal: "Ya tutochki."

I likho puskalsya v plyas.

V potryopannom kutsem palitshke,
Ponuryas i slovno kayas,
Prestupnikom politicheskim
On, poimannyi, shol na kazn.
Vsem vidom pokornost vykalzyval,
Gotov k nezemnomu zhityu,
Kak vdrug iz paltishka vyskalzyval,
Rukoi makhal

I tyu-tyu!

Yumor pryatali v kamery,
Da chorta s dva udalos.

Reshotki i steny kamennyye
On prokhodli naskvoz.
Otkashlivayas prostuzhenno,
Kak ryadovoi boyets
Shagal on chastushkoi-prostushkoi
S vintovkoi na Zimni dvoryets.

Privyk on ko vzglyadam sumrachnym,
No eto yemu ne vredit,
I sam na sebya s yumorom
Yumor poroi glyadit.

On vechen.
On lovok.
I yurok.

Prodyot cherez vsyo, cherez vsekh.

Itak, da slavitsya yumor!
On - muzhesvennyi chelovek.

Tsars, kings, emperors,
Rulers of the world,
Commanded parades
But humor - humor they could not.
To the palaces of the eminent
Who, well groomed, all day reclined.

Came the vagabond Aesop
And before him all appeared impoverished.

In homes where a hypocrite left traces
Of his puny feet,

And this banality Hadji Nasr-ed-Din
Swept aside with his jokes like a chessboard.

They wanted to buy humor.

Only he cannot be bought!

They wanted to kill humor.

But humor thumbed his nose.

To battle him is tough business.
They executed him endlessly.

Humor's severed head
Was stuck on a warrior's pike.

Just when the buffoons' pipes
Would start their tale
He would brightly cry: "I'm here."

And would break into a dashing dance.

In a threadbare scanty coat,
Crestfallen and as if repenting,
Caught as a political prisoner
He would go to his execution.
His appearance displayed obedience,
Ready for his life hereafter,
When suddenly he would slip out of his coat
Waiving his hand

And bye-bye!

They hid humor in cells,
But like hell they succeeded.

Iron bars and stone walls
He would pass right through.
Cleaning his throat from the cold,
Like an ordinary soldier
He marched as a simple ditty
With a rifle for the Winter Palace.

He is used to stern glances,
But it does not hurt him.
And humor looks upon himself
At times with humor.

He is everlasting.
He is smart.
And nimble.

He will walk through everything and everybody.

And so, glory to humor!
He is a courageous fellow.




(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)


V magazine

Kto v platke, a kto v platochke,
Kak na podvig, kak na trud,
V magazin poodinochke
Molcha zehnshchiny idut.

O, bidonov ikh bryatsanye,
Zvon butylok i kastryul.
Pakhnet lukom, ogurtsami,
Pakhnet sousom Kabul.

Zyabnu, dolgo v kassu stoya,
No pokuda dvizhus k nei,
Ot dykhanya zhenshchin stolkikh
V magazine vsyo teplei.

Oni tikho podzhidayut,
Bogi dobryye semi,
I v rukakh oni szhimayut
Dengi trudnyye svoi.

Eto zhenshchiny Rossii,
Eto nasha chest i sud.
I beton oni mesili,
I pakhali, i kosili.

Vsyo oni perenosili,
Vsyo oni perenesut.

Vsyo na svete im posilno,
Skolko sily im dano.

Ikh obschityvat postydno,
Ikh obveshivat greshno.

I, v karman pelmeni sunuv,
Ya smotryu, surov i tikh,
Na ustalyye ot sumok
Ruki pravednyye ikh.
In the Store

Some in shawls, some kerchiefs,
As if to a heroic feat or labor
Into the store one by one
Women silently enter.

Oh, the clanking of the cans,
The clanging of the bottles and saucepans.
The smell of onions and cucumbers,
The smell of "Kabul" sauce.

I shiver queuing for the cashier
But as I keep moving closer
From the breathing of so many women
It gets warmer in the store.

They wait silently,
The family's kind gods,
As they clutch in their hands
The hard-earned money.

These are women of Russia,
They are our honor and our conscience.
They have mixed concrete
And ploughed and reaped.

They have endured everything.
They will endure everything.

Everything on earth is possible for them,
They have been given so much strength.

It is shameful to short-change them.
It is sinful to short-weigh them.

And, shoving dumplings into my pocket,
I look, solemn and quiet,
At their weary-from-shopping,
Saintly hands.







Umirayut i Rossii strakhi,
Slovno prizraki prezhnikh let.
Lish na paperti, kak starukhi,
Koye-gde eshcho prosyat na khleb.

Ya ihk pomnyu vo vlasti i sile
Pri dvore torzhestvuyushchei lzhi.
Strakhi vsyudu kak teni skolzili,
Pronikali vo vsye etazhi.
Potikhonku lyudei priruchali
I na vsyo nalagali pechat.
Gde molchat by, krichat priruchali,
I molchat, gde by nado krichat.
Eto stalo sevodnya dalyokim,
Dazhe stranno i vspomnit teper.
Tainyi strakh pered chim to donosom,
Tainyi strakh pered stukom v dver.
Nu, a strakh govorit s inostrantsem,
S inostrantsem to shto, a s zhenoi.
Nu, a strakh bezotchotnyi ostatsya
Posle marshei vdvoyom s tishinoi.

Ne boyalis my stroit v meteli,
Ukhodit pod snaryadami v bo,
No boyalis poroyu smertelno
Razgovarivat sami s sobo.
Nas ne sbili i ne rastili,
I nedarom seichas vo vragakh
Pobedivshaya strakhi Rossiya
Yeshcho bolshi rozhdayet strakh.

Strakhi novyye vizhu, svetleya:
Strakh neiskrennim byt so strano,
Strakh nepravdo unizit idei,
Shto yavlyautsya pravdoi samoi.
Strakh fanfarit do odurenya,
Strakh chuzhiye slova povtoryat,
Strakh unizit drugikh nedoveryem
I chrezmerno sebe doveryat.

Umirayut v Rossii strakhi.

I kogda ya pishu eti stroki
I poroyu nevolno speshu,
To pishu ikh v yedinstvennom strakhe,
Shto ne v polnuyu silu pishu.

In Russia fears are dying
Like the ghosts of yesteryears.
Only on church steps here and there like old women
They are begging for bread.

I remember fears being in power and force
At the court of triumphant lie.
Fears like shadows slithered everywhere,
Infiltrated every floor.
Gradually they tamed the people
And on everything affixed their seal.
Where silence should be, they taught screaming,
They taught silence, where shouting would be right.
This, today, has become distant,
It is strange even to recall it now.
The secret fear at someone informing,
The secret fear at a knock at the door.
Then, a fear to speak to a foreigner;
Foreigner - nothing, even with one's own wife.
And unaccountable fear, after marches,
To remain alone with silence, eye to eye.

We did not fear to build in snowstorms,
To march into battle under fire.
But we deathly feared at times
To talk to ourselves
We did not get demoralized or corrupted,
And it is not without reason
That Russia, having conquered her own fears,
Spreads even greater fear in her enemies.

I see new fears arising,
The fear of being insincere to the country,
The fear of degrading the ideas
That are truth in themselves.
The fear of bragging until stupor,
The fear of repeating someone else's words,
The fear of belittling others with distrust
And to trust oneself excessively.

In Russia fears are dying.

As I write these lines,
And at times unwittingly hurry,
I write them with the single fear
Of not writing at full speed.




(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)


(Solo and chorus)







(Solo and chorus)


Tverdili pastyri, shto vreden
I nerazumen Galilei.

Shto nerazumen Galilei,

No, kak pokazyvayet vremya,

Kto nerazumnei, tot umnei,

Uchonyi, sverstnik Galileya,

Byl Galileya ne glupeye,

On znal, shto vertitsya zemlya,

No u nevo byla semya,

I on, sadyas s zhenoi v karetu,
Svershiv predatelstvo svoyo,
Schital, shto delayet karyeru,

A mezhdu tem gubil yeyo,

Za osoznaniye planety
Shol Galilei odin na risk,

I stal velikim on.

Vot eto

Ya ponimayu - karyerist!

Itak, da zdravstvuyet karyera,
Kogda karyera takova,
Kak u Shekspira i Pastera,
Nyutona i Tolstovo,
I Tolstovo.


Zachem ikh gryazyu pokryvali?
Talant, talant, kak ni kleimi.

Zabyty te, kto proklinali.

No pomnyat tekh, kovo klyali,

Vse te, kto rvalis v stratosferu,
Vrachi, shto gibli ot kholer,
Vot eti delali karyeru!

Ya s ikh karyer beru primer.

Ya veryu v ikh svyatuyu veru.
Ikh vera - muzhestvo moyo.
Ya delayu sebe karyeru
Tem, shto ne delayu yeyo!

The clergy maintained that Galileo
Was a wicked and senseless man.

Galileo was senseless.

But, as time demonstrated,

He who is senseless is much wiser.

A fellow scientist of Galileo's age

Was no less wise than Galileo.

He knew that the earth revolved.

But - he had a family.

And he, stepping into a carriage with his wife,
Having accomplished his betrayal,
Considered himself advancing his career,

Whereas he undermined it,

For his assertion of our planet
Galileo faced the risk alone

And became truly great.

Now this

To my mind, this is a true careerist!

Thus - salute to the career!
When the career is similar
To Shakespeare and Pasteur,
Newton and Tolstoy,
And Tolstoy.


Why was mud flung at them?
Talent is talent, brand them as one may.

Those who cursed them are forgotten.

But the accursed are remembered well,

All those who yearned for the stratosphere,
The doctors who perished fighting cholera,
They were pursuing a career!

I take as an example their careers.

I believe in their sacred belief.
Their belief is my courage.
I pursue my career
By not pursuing it!

Bibi at "Israeli Technology and Innovation for Africa" Event

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's remarks (9.34 minutes) at "Israeli Technology and Innovation for Africa" event at the UN headquarters, September 2016:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Obama’s November surprise

From The Hill, 26 November 2016, by Gregg Roman:

... there is growing speculation that President Obama will spring a diplomatic surprise on Israel during the interregnum between the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8 and his departure from office in January.
Some say the surprise will be a speech laying down parameters for a final settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute or some type of formal censure of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but the scenario generating most discussion is a decision to support, or perhaps not to veto a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state.

This would be a bombshell. Washington’s long-stated policy is that a Palestinian state should be established only through an agreement negotiated directly between the two sides. In practice, this would require that Palestinian leaders agreed to recognize Israel as a Jewish state and concede the so-called “right of return” for refugees of the 1948 war and their descendants to areas within Israel’s borders, a prospect which would mean the demographic destruction of Israel.
For decades, Palestinian leaders have made it clear they won’t do this: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas doesn’t mince words, telling a gathering of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo in November 2014, “We will never recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel.” Efforts to win recognition of Palestinian statehood by foreign governments and multilateral institutions are designed to skirt this precondition for statehood.

Any state that comes into existence without Palestinian leaders formally recognizing Israel will be a brutal, unstable train wreck, with areas under its jurisdiction likely to remain a hotbed of terrorism. On top of whatever existing factors are producing the endemic corruption and autocracy of the Abbas regime (not to mention the Hamas regime in Gaza), unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state will vindicate radicals who have been saying all along that there’s no need to compromise.
On the other hand, official Palestinian acknowledgement once and for all that Israel is not just here to stay, but has a right to stay, would deprive Palestinian leaders of time-honored tools for manipulating their constituents – appealing to and inflaming their baser anti-Jewish prejudices, promising them salvation if they’ll only shut up ‘til the Zionists are defeated, and so forth. Instead, they will have to do things like govern well and create jobs to win public support.

Previous American administrations have understood that recognizing Palestinian statehood before Abbas and company allow Palestinian society to undergo this transformation would be the height of irresponsibility. This is why American veto power has consistently blocked efforts to unilaterally establish a Palestinian state by way of the UN Security Council.
Notwithstanding his apparent pro-Palestinian sympathies and affiliations prior to running for the Senate and later the White House, President Obama initially maintained this policy. The expressed threat of an American veto foiled Abbas’ 2011 bid to win UN member-state status for “Palestine.” He settled for recognition of non-member-state status by the General Assembly in 2012.

As moves by the PA to bring the issue of statehood to the UN picked up steam last year, however, it appeared to walk back this commitment. While U.S officials privately maintained there was “no change,” Obama and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power refused – despite the urging of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid – to state publicly that the U.S. would use its veto to stop a resolution recognizing Palestinian statehood.
The conventional wisdom was that Obama’s refusal to make such a public declaration was intended to exert pressure on Netanyahu to tone down his opposition to the Iran nuclear deal, and later to punish him for it or hold it out to secure concessions. As his presidency enters its final months, it’s clear something even more nefarious is at work.

President Obama’s failure to clarify his administration’s position has greatly damaged prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Even if it is Obama’s intention to veto any resolution on Palestinian statehood that comes up at the UN, his refusal to publicly state this – or, put differently, his determination to go on the record for the history books not saying it – has fueled perceptions among Palestinians and European governments facing pressures of their own that American will is softening.

It is imperative that Congress use the tools at its disposal to make this unwise path as difficult as possible for the Obama Administration.
Ultimately, a one-sided UN declaration such as this serves only to postpone by a long shot the day when Palestinian leaders accept Israel as it is – the homeland of the Jewish people – and allow their subjects to enjoy the lasting peace and prosperity they and their neighbors deserve.