Monday, August 31, 2009

No Peace Without Syria

Michael Totten
31 August 09

“No war without Egypt, no peace without Syria.” — Henry Kissinger

European Union Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana flew to Damascus this weekend to cajole Syria into reentering peace talks with Israel. He’s going to go home disappointed, if not now, then later, just as every other Western diplomat before him has failed to put an end to the perpetual Arab-Israeli conflict. Bashar Assad couldn’t sign a peace treaty with Israel even if he wanted to — and he doesn’t want to.

Assad’s late father and former President Hafez Assad imposed his dictatorial “emergency rule” on Syria in 1963, and he and his son have justified it ever since by pointing to the never-ending war with the state of Israel. Many Syrians have grown weary of this excuse after more than four decades of crisis, but Assad would nevertheless face more pressure to loosen up his Soviet-style system without it.

An official state of war costs Assad very little. His army does not have to fight. His father learned the hard way in 1967 that Israel could beat three Arab armies, including his own, in six days. Assad can only fight Israel through proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah, but that suits him just fine. Gaza and Lebanon absorb Israel’s incoming fire when the fighting heats up.

Assad gains a lot, though, by buying himself some legitimacy with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Syria’s fundamentalist Sunnis have long detested his Baath Party regime, not only because it’s secular and oppressive, but because its leaders are considered heretics. The Assads and most of the Baathist elites belong to the Alawite religious minority, descendants of the followers of Mohammad ibn Nusayr who took them out of mainstream Twelver Shiite Islam in the 10th century. Their religion has as much in common with Christianity and Gnosticism as it does with Islam, and most Syrians find it both bizarre and offensive that the Alawites are in charge of the country instead of the majority Sunnis.

In 1982, the Muslim Brotherhood took up arms against the regime in the city of Hama. The elder Assad dispatched the Alawite-dominated military and destroyed most of the old city with air strikes, tanks, and artillery. Rifaat Assad, the former president’s younger brother, boasted that 38,000 people were killed in a single day. Not once since then have the Muslim Brothers tried to rise up again.

In his book From Beirut to Jerusalem, Thomas Friedman dubbed the senior Assad’s rules of engagement “Hama Rules.” They are the Syrian stick. The carrot is Assad’s steadfast “resistance” against Israel. No Arab government in the world is as stridently anti-Israel, in both action and rhetoric, as Assad’s. There is no better way for a detested Alawite regime to curry favor with Sunnis in Syria and the Arab world as a whole than by adopting the anti-Zionist cause as its own.

Earlier this year, I met with Lebanon’s Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, who asserted that the Alawite regime is actually afraid of signing a peace treaty with Israel. As the leader of a religious minority himself, Jumblatt knows better than most how risky it can be to cross the majority.

“Suppose,” he said, “we go ultimately to the so-called peace. Then later on, what is the purpose of the Syrian regime? What is Assad going to tell his people? Especially, mind you, he is a member of the Alawite minority. This minority could be accused of treason. It’s not like Egypt or Jordan whereby the government has some legitimacy. Here you get accused of treason by the masses, by the Sunnis. So using classic slogans like ‘Palestine will liberate the Golan with Hezbollah’ is a must for him to stay in power.” Syria’s Alawite elites understand this very well, even if Western diplomats like Javier Solana do not.

“When Hafez Assad was about to fix up the so-called settlement through Bill Clinton,” Jumblatt continued, “and before they met him in Geneva, a prominent Alawite officer in the Syrian army came to Assad and said, ‘What are you doing? We will be lost if you make peace. We will be accused of treason.’”

I don’t know for sure whether Syria’s Sunni Arabs — who make up around 70 percent of the population — would actually accuse Assad of treason and seriously threaten to remove him from power if he signed a peace treaty. But that’s how many Alawites see it. As “infidels,” they don’t feel they have the legitimacy to force Sunni Arabs to make peace with Israel. That is a risky business even for Sunni Arab leaders, as the assassination of Egypt’s Anwar Sadat shows.

Most of Syria’s Alawites live along the Mediterranean coast away from the Sunni heartland. They could, at least theoretically, be separated from Syria into their own Alawite nation. The Middle East would probably be a safer place if they were. They did have their own semi-autonomous government under the French Mandate between 1930 and 1937, and again from 1939 to 1944, but their Latakia region has been a part of Syria ever since.

Such a nation almost certainly would make peace with Israel, at least eventually, if it wasn’t ruled by Assad and his thuggish clan. Arab Nationalism would lose its appeal among a people that would no longer need to demonstrate belonging to an ethnic majority to make up for its status as a religious minority. The strident anti-Zionism of the Sunni “street” could likewise ease. A free Alawite state might even be a natural ally of Israel for the same reasons the Middle East’s Christians and Kurds tend to be.

Related: Take the one-minute test proving Syria is an ally of Al-Qaida

Take the one-minute test proving Syria is an Ally of al-Qaida

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
31 August 09

It is an open secret that Syria is behind most of the terrorism in Iraq. The Syrian regime let’s in would-be Sunni terrorists, arms them, trains them, serves as a supply base, and then helps them cross the border. They murder Iraqi civilians and American soldiers alike.

But here’s something else that’s an open secret: Syria is cooperating with Usama bin Ladin’s al-Qaida organization to do so. I can prove that to you within one minute. Ready? Check your watch and read on.

Terrorists get into Iraq almost exclusively through Syria. Syria provides assistance to the terrorists. The U.S. government provides statistics of how many terrorists infiltrate across the Syria-Iraq border every month.

Oh, yes, and the terrorists belong to al-Qaida, the leading organization in the anti-Shia, anti-American insurgency in Iraq.

Therefore: Syria works with the terrorists, the terrorists are al-Qaida, Syria works with al-Qaida.

Beat my deadline by 15 seconds! And no one can refute the previous paragraphs two linkages.

Here’s another logical progression that doesn’t work out so well

The United States says it is at war with al-Qaida and its partners, Syria is a partner of al-Qaida, therefore Washington perceives Syria as part of its war against al-Qaida? No, on the contrary, the United States is seeking engagement with Syria.

Meanwhile, Iraq’s government played a videotape of a captured al-Qaida terrorist, Muhammad Hassan al-Shemari, a Saudi arrested in Iraq as a leader of al-Qaida. He describes an al-Qaida training camp in Syria, headed by a well-known Syrian intelligence agent.

Jacob Richman - Why Aliyah?

Historical Israel Events

August 30, 2009

Hi Everyone!

I made aliyah to Israel on August 30, 1984.
It was the best decision of my life and I highly recommend it.

Over the past 25 years many historical events have taken place in Israel. Below are the ones that left a lasting impression on me.

May the aliyah from all over of the world grow and bring more Jews back to their homeland, Eretz Yisrael.

Have a great day,

(For those not familiar with Jacob Richman, he is an individual who having made aliyah has contributed so much to all of us. One can only imagine what Eretz Yisrael would be today if so many others would follow his example and add their unique talents to the restoration of our people in it's land. Like to follow suit? Click here for Nefesh B'Nefesh, and Jacob will be there to photograph you on the other end)

1984 - 7,500 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted to Israel. The secret airlift was called "Operation Moses".

1985 - The 12th Maccabiah Games brought over 4,000 athletes to Israel from 40 nations to compete in 28 sports. Olympic Champion Mark Spitz carried the Opening Ceremony’s Torch accompanied by three children of fathers murdered at the same Munich Olympics where he won 7 golds in 7 races.

1986 - Refusenik Natan Sharansky was released from the USSR and made aliyah.

1987 - Refusenik Yuli Edelstein was released from the USSR and made aliyah.

1987 - Refusenik Ida Nudel was released from the USSR and made aliyah.

1988 - Israel launched the "Ofek 1" satellite.

1989-1990 - Beginning of mass immigration of Jews from the Soviet Union. Within several years, more than 700,000 immigrants arrived in Israel.

1990 - Israel launched the "Ofek 2" satellite.

1991 - During the last day of "Operation Solomon", 14,000 Ethiopian Jew were broght to Israel in a one day airlift involving 36 El Al and airforce aircraft. Per the Guiness Word Records, the greatest number of passengers carried by a single commercial airliner is 1,088, by an El Al Boeing 747 during Operation Solomon.The figure includes two babies born during the flight. Leaving the plane

1992 - Israel's women's judo champion Yael Arad makes Israeli history by taking a silver medal at the Olympic Games in Barcelona.

1993 - Ministry of Communications grants full Internet licenses to 3 companies: Elron, Darcom and Netmanage

1994 - Yad Sarah was awarded the prestigious Israel Prize, the country's highest honor, for its lifetime achievements and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.

1995 - The number of tourists arriving annually to Israel exceeds two million for the first time

1996 - First direct elections for prime minister

1998 - Israel celebrates its 50th anniversary

1999 - The Ma'ale Adumim Mall - "Canion Adumim" opened

2002 - Lions on the Streets of Jerusalem Lion Photos

2003 - Ilan Ramon z"l became the first Israeli astronaut in space. Articles and Pictures

2003 - IAF jets flew over Auschwitz Photos

2004 - Windsurfer Gal Friedman won Israel's first ever Olympic Gold Medal. Photos

2004 - Shivuk HaShikma (Rami-Levi) opened in Mishor Adumim Opening Day Photos

2004 - The "Menorah of Lights", the world's largest menorah, was built near the entrance to Jerusalem Photos

2005 - Professor Israel Aumann won the Nobel Prize in Economics for his mathematical research into game theory.Photos

2006 - Three airplanes filled with 520 Jewish immigrants from the United States, Canada and England landed in Israel. The day marked a new record in Aliyah from the West. Aliyah Photos

2007 - "Adloyada" Purim Parades Parade Photos

2007 - 40th Anniversary of Jerusalem's Reunification celebrations Parade Photos

2007 - Israeli company Solel Solar Systems closed a deal to sell 553 megawatts of electricity to California's PG & E Corp. from a solar power plant that the company will build in the Mojave Desert.

2008 - The Israeli Public Utility Authority approved a feed-in tariff for solar plants Article

2008 - Intel Electronics dedicated Fab 28 in Kiryat Gat

2008 - Annual Second Hakafot Photos

2009 - Yemenite family makes aliya in secret op Aliyah Photos

Israel, Iran and Obama

Conflict is inevitable unless the West moves quickly
to stop a nuclear Tehran.

Wall Street Journal
31 August 09

The International Atomic Energy Agency has produced another alarming report on Iran's nuclear programs, though it hasn't released it publicly, only to governments that would also rather not disclose more details of Iran's progress toward becoming a nuclear theocracy. Meanwhile, Iran intends to introduce a resolution, backed by more than 100 members of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, that would ban military attacks on nuclear facilities. No actual mention of Israel, of course.

The mullahs understand that the only real challenge to their nuclear ambitions is likely to come from Israel. They've long concluded that the U.N. is no threat, as IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei has in practice become an apologist for Iran's program. They can also see that the West lacks the will to do anything, as the Obama Administration continues to plead for Tehran to negotiate even as Iran holds show trials of opposition leaders and journalists for saying the recent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was fraudulent. The irony is that the weaker the West and U.N. appear, the more probable an Israeli attack becomes.


The reality that Western leaders don't want to admit is that preventing Iran from getting the bomb is an Israeli national imperative, not a mere policy choice. That's a view shared across Israel's political spectrum, from traditional hawks like Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to current Defense Minister and former Labor Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Israelis can see the relentless progress Iran is making toward enriching uranium, building a plutonium-breeding facility and improving on its ballistic missiles—all the while violating U.N. sanctions without consequence. Iran's march to the bomb also alarms its Arab neighbors, but it represents an existential threat to an Israeli nation that Iran has promised to destroy and has waged decades of proxy war against.

This threat has only increased in the wake of Iran's stolen election and crackdown. The nature of the regime seems to be changing from a revolutionary theocracy to a military-theocratic state that is becoming fascist in operation. The Revolutionary Guard Corps is gaining power at the expense of the traditional military and a divided clerical establishment.

On the weekend, Ahmadinejad called for the arrest and punishment of opposition leaders, and last week he nominated Ahmad Vahidi, a commander in Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps, to become defense minister. Vahidi is wanted on an Interpol arrest warrant for his role in masterminding the 1994 attack on a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires. That attack killed 85 people and wounded 200 others. Vahidi's nomination shows that when Ahmadinejad talks of wiping Israel off the map, no Israel leader can afford to dismiss it as a religious allegory.

Israel also looks warily on the Obama Administration's policy of diplomatic pleading with Iran, which comes after six years of failed diplomatic overtures by the European Union and Bush Administration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's suggestion in July that the U.S. would extend a "defense umbrella" over its allies in the Middle East "once [Iranians] have a nuclear weapon" may have been a slip of the lip. But Israelis can be forgiven for wondering if the U.S. would sooner accept a nuclear Iran as a fait accompli than do whatever is necessary to stop it.

It's no wonder, then, that the Israeli military has been intensively—and very publicly—war-gaming attack scenarios on Iran's nuclear installations. This has included sending warships through the Suez Canal (with Egypt's blessing), testing its Arrow antiballistic missile systems and conducting nation-wide emergency drills. U.S. and Israeli military officials we've spoken to are confident an Israeli strike could deal a significant blow to Iran's programs, even if some elements would survive. The longer Israel waits, however, the more steps Iran can take to protect its installations.

The consequences of an Israeli attack are impossible to predict, but there is no doubt they would implicate U.S. interests throughout the Middle East. Iran would accuse the U.S. of complicity, whether or not the U.S. gave its assent to an attack. Iran could also attack U.S. targets, drawing America into a larger Mideast war.

Short of an Islamist revolution in Pakistan, an Israeli strike on Iran would be the most dangerous foreign policy issue President Obama could face, throwing all his diplomatic ambitions into a cocked hat. Yet in its first seven months, the Administration has spent more diplomatic effort warning Israel not to strike than it has rallying the world to stop Iran.


In recent days, the Administration has begun taking a harder line against Tehran, with talk of "crippling" sanctions on Iran's imports of gasoline if the mullahs don't negotiate by the end of September. Rhetorically, that's a step in the right direction. But unless Mr. Obama gets serious, and soon, about stopping Iran from getting a bomb, he'll be forced to deal with the consequences of Israel acting in its own defense.
Related:Here's Your Story: No Engagement Game Because Iran...

Test case looms for Europe’s stance on anti-Semitism as EU foreign ministers are pushed into statement on Swedish bigotry scandal

Robin Shepherd
Think Tank Blog
31 August 09

The recent eruption of anti-Semitic bigotry in Sweden, amid lurid allegations published in the country’s top selling newspaper about Israeli soldiers conspiring with American Jews in harvesting the organs of Palestinian children, has now been pushed to the top of the European agenda. According to a report in Israel’s Haaretz newspaper today, Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini has brokered an agreement with his Swedish counterpart Carl Bildt that a statement will be issued condemning anti-Semitism at a European Union foreign ministers meeting later this week.

However, given the Swedish government’s dissembling on the affair what matters now is whether the statement is as clear and unambiguous as Frattini would like it to be or whether it will be watered down. Frattini told Haaretz that the allegations in Aftonbladet were: “terrible conclusions, lying and hurtful, and they have the power to assist all those who seek to incite against Jews or who oppose the existence of the State of Israel.” Sweden, by contrast, has adamantly refused to condemn the allegations.

The issue arises following allegations in the Aftonbladet newspaper that Israeli soldiers routinely kill Palestinian children to cut out their bodily organs and sell them on the international black market. The reporter of the story himself admitted that he had “no clue” whether the allegations were true, as has the Palestinian source of the allegations, suggesting that the editorial team at Aftonbladet had simply ignored basic journalistic standards in order to smear the Jewish state in a manner reminiscent of medieval blood libels.

The affair has sparked a major diplomatic row between Sweden, the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, and Israel. The Israeli foreign mininstry said it would be watching how the EU handles the situation closely.

Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor was quoted by Haaretz as saying: “Every initiative against anti-Semitism is welcome… But if the declaration is general and does not specifically relate to the article in Aftonbladet, it will not resolve anything.”

To read the full article, click here:

Bibi and Mr. History

Bibi Netanyahu, Obama, and the judgement of history : Dry Bones cartoon.

Israel's struggle for survival is fought on a "minute to minute" basis. Everything is urgent and immediate.

As we watch our current Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, attempt to resist the pressure exerted by yet another American President, I have the feeling that "we've been in this movie before" ...and for one brief moment I wondered how the longer view from the perspective of history will judge him ...and us.

So I drew today's cartoon.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Here's Your Story: No Engagement Game Because Iran Burned Down

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
28 August 09

Gerald Seib’s article in the Wall Street Journal is worth responding to because it symbolizes the curious mentality about Iran prevailing in American policymaking and opinion-making circles. The article is entitled, "Iran Collapse Complicates U.S. Moves."

On the contrary! I think it makes things much simpler and clearer.

But first a story told to me many years ago by famed radio host Barry Farber:

A reporter is dispatched to cover a high school basketball game but doesn’t file a story. As deadline approaches the editor irritably calls the journalist into his office and asks where is the story?

“There isn’t any story,” says the reporter.

“Why not?” asks the editor.

“There wasn’t any game,” the journalist replies.

“Why not?” asks the editor.

“The gym burned down.”

For those of you who are journalists with certain mass media outlets, I should explain the point of the anecdote: The gym burning down was the story.

Now back to Seib.

He explains there is an alleged irony in the fact that, “America's most vexing enemy is plagued by growing internal dissension, a vocal opposition movement that won't die and a crisis of legitimacy.”

What is it?

“The upheaval there actually is making the job of crafting an American strategy more difficult.”


Because, you see, it is harder to engage Iran when it is so busy with domestic matters and in disarray. I’ve heard this from others in Washington as well. And Seib gives us the likely Obama administration conclusion:

“And here's the most likely outcome: The U.S. will leave the door open to engagement with Iran, but won't be trying as hard as before to coax the Iranians into walking through it.”

Well, why are we even talking about this? It is time for a new view of Iran and U.S. policy. Memo to Obama: The situation has changed big-time.

Why engage a country where the most extreme of the extreme have seized power and anyone prepared to make compromises has been kicked out or put on trial (not that they were so moderate either)? There can be no illusion--which Obama himself said he believed--that while the president of Iran is a loudmouth the spiritual guide is a secret moderate.

Why engage a country which has ignored every effort to do so and has gone full speed ahead on nuclear weapons?

Why engage a regime which has just appointed a wanted terrorist involved in killing Americans as its defense minister, who will have control over nuclear weapons?

Why engage a country whose ambitions are clearly regional hegemony and is making gains in that direction precisely because of perceived U.S. weakness?

What the United States needs now is not an engagement policy or even a sanctions' plan (though that is a part of it) but a strategy to compete with Iran and its allies throughout the region and defeat their ambitions. (Just because George W. Bush thought that way does not mean it's wrong, a concept it is vital for the Obama administration to grasp.)

What comes next? The United States gets increased sanctions in September and the regime ignores or circumvents them. Iran goes further and further down the road to nuclear weapons and in implementing its regional ambitions.

It is time for the debate to get beyond engagement. Of course, there’s a reason that isn’t happening: because then the problem of what to do and its costs becomes more serious and expensive and dangerous.

But that debate better begin.

I’ve got news for you. There is a story: Iran burned down.

Israeli Left: Don’t Confuse Us With Logic
29 August 09

Someone had to do it. Hats off to on his venture to understand the fantastical world of Yariv Oppenheimer and Co. (Peace Now)

When I first read the following story, I thought it might be satire. But who could make this up?

The Israeli Left reacted with dismay over the weekend to the results of a Jerusalem Post-sponsored Smith Research poll published on Friday that found only 4 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that US President Barack Obama’s policies are more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian.

The survey, which was featured prominently on Fox News in the United States and picked up by media outlets around the world, reported that 51% of Jewish Israelis considered Obama’s administration more pro-Palestinian than pro-Israel, 35% called it neutral and 10% declined to express an opinion…

“It is terrific for Israel that there is an American president with vision, and it is a pity that most Israelis don’t realize that,” Meretz faction chairman MK Ilan Gilon said. “Israelis think that Christian evangelists who rubber-stamp everything Israel does are the only Americans who are pro-Israel. But what is really good for Israel is a solution to the conflict, and Obama is doing what it takes to bring it about.”

In other words, he thinks that Jewish Israelis don’t know what’s good for them — well, maybe 4% of them do — and need to be forced to accept a solution! Of course, that solution will meet the priorities of the Obama administration, not Israel. And high on Obama’s priority list seems to be improving American relationships and image in the Muslim world.

One outspoken representative of Israel’s Left seems to agree with me, but still thinks it’s good for Israel:

Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer saidwhat mattered more at this stage of the peace process was Obama’s reputation in the Arab world, and not in Israel. [my emphasis]

“Despite the results of the poll, the Israeli interest is that Obama will be popular in the Arab world, so he could bring about a peace agreement with Israel,” Oppenheimer said. “Bush was popular in Israel and hated around the world, and his policies did not help Israel end the Palestinian conflict or quell the Iranian threat. If he succeeds in his goals of advancing Middle East peace, I am sure he will become much more popular with Israelis.”

Earth to Gilon and Oppenheimer: An important goal for Arab regimes and Iran is to weaken Israel so as to hasten her demise. Really making peace would work against that, so there’s reason to be suspicious of policies that make them happy.

Regimes like those in Syria and Iran — as Barry Rubin has argued persuasively – find the conflict with Israel very useful for their own internal goals, such as keeping a lid on reformers and justifying repression and economic exploitation of their population. They are not motivated to give it up. Remember, the interests of the people of Syria, for example, are not the same as the interests of Bashar al-Assad and his circle, but it’s the latter that makes policy.

Oppenheimer seems to be suggesting that Israel should make concessions to demands like the settlement freeze so that Arabs will like Obama, and thus be more disposed to make peace with Israel. Huh? Good for him that he never took my logic class.

The real explanation of what’s behind Obama Administration policy is not obvious to me yet. There are those who think thatthe Saudi tail is wagging the American dog, and others who think that the administration is simply naive. Yesterday I suggested that maybe they are getting bad advice. As I said to a commenter on the previous post: are they dumb, ill-advised, or evil?

Tune in again in a few weeks or months to find out.

Bilin Journal

In Village, Palestinians See Model for Their Cause

Ethan Bronner
New York Times
30 August 09

(As Ethan Bronner seems to be captive to his own mind's narrative, in conjunction with the "Elders" arrival on location, a closer look may be in order. Perhaps a simple Youtube on location could provide a more accurate picture of the weekly setting. Ni'ilin is a neighboring village just down the road)

BILIN, West Bank — Every Friday for the past four and a half years, several hundred demonstrators — Palestinian villagers, foreign volunteers and Israeli activists — have walked in unison to the Israeli barrier separating this tiny village from the burgeoning settlement of Modiin Illit, part of which is built on the village’s land. One hundred feet away, Israeli soldiers watch and wait.

The protesters chant and shout and, inevitably, a few throw stones. Then just as inevitably, the soldiers open fire with tear gas and water jets, lately including a putrid oil-based liquid that makes the entire area stink.

It is one of the longest-running and best organized protest operations in the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and it has turned this once anonymous farming village into a symbol of Palestinian civil disobedience, a model that many supporters of the Palestinian cause would like to see spread and prosper.

For that reason, a group of famous left-leaning elder statesmen, including former President Jimmy Carter — who caused controversy by suggesting that the Israeli occupation of the West Bank amounted to apartheid — came to Bilin on Thursday and told the local organizers how much they admired their work and why it was vital to keep it going.

The retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, also on the visit, said, “Just as a simple man named Gandhi led the successful nonviolent struggle in India and simple people such as Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King led the struggle for civil rights in the United States, simple people here in Bilin are leading a nonviolent struggle that will bring them their freedom.”


A Soldier and a Wedding

A Soldier's Mother
Paula R. Stern
26 August 09

I went to a wedding last night. It was beautiful, as hopefully all weddings should be. It was sweet; it was romantic; it was exciting, it was fun and touching on so many levels. There was great joy and honor given to the grandparents and young children playing and having fun.

The food was good, the music a bit loud. The bride was beautiful; the groom so handsome. I was close enough to the family to love watching them; distant enough to feel at times that I could watch from the outside. At one point, a soldier arrived. He was in uniform, M16 strapped to his back. He entered the wedding already in progress, the ceremony long over. His boots were dirty; he looked tired and I have little doubt he came straight from base to join his friends.

He stood for a moment and watched, almost as if he was gathering the strength to join in. Some of the boys noticed him and walked towards him, just as he began to walk towards the dance floor. There was pats on the back, hand shaking, hugging. He walked into the far corner of the hall, beyond my sight and returned a few minutes later without his gun. Clearly, he had found some place safe to stash it, or someone to watch it.

He joined the dancing and within minutes, was hugged by the groom. Whatever strength he was lacking before he began to dance returned. He was with his friends and as the group circled around, I realized that though he was the only one in uniform, these are all soldiers.

I looked at the bride's oldest brother - he was one of my middle son's best friends for years as they grew from childhood to the towering men they are becoming. He was dancing with his new brother-in-law, laughing and having fun, and I realized that although he isn't a soldier now, he will be in just 7 months - he, like Shmulik, will enter the army as Elie leaves.

I sat and watched the wedding, an insider and an outsider wrapped in one. At one point, the soldier left the dance floor with another young man; they moved to the side and began talking. I know enough of uniforms and boots and berets to know that he was a paratrooper; the three bars indicating that he's a sergeant.

I don't know how long he's been in the army, when he will get out, what base he came from, where he serves. I can't tell if he fought in Lebanon or in Gaza, if he has sisters and brothers. He is a nameless soldier, in the Israeli army, hated by many simply for wearing a green uniform; and loved by many others, perhaps for the same reason.

I don't know his name, where he lives, if his mother has a blog, if his father worries. But there was something in the way the soldier and his friend stood there and talked, something in the way their bodies were positioned, their heads leaning towards each other as they spoke. It is an intensity that I have seen in Elie when he talks to other soldiers.

I saw it when he stood on the side and spoke to his cousin, another soldier in artillery. I saw it when he stood with our friend's son, Oren, beside the Sea of Galilee. It's a feeling that I have, that they are "talking army."

They stood there to the side, the soldier and his friend at a wedding for about 15 minutes and then one slapped the other on the shoulder and they went back to dance and celebrate, the green uniform a whirl of color in a circle of past soldiers, current soldiers and future soldiers.

International Justice (1998)

Dry Bones cartoon: The Double Standard in International Justice (1998).

Today's Golden Oldie is from ten years (11) ago this month. July 1998.

Saying that Israel is judged by a double standard is a waste of time. We know it. They know it. So in this cartoon I tried to wring a wry laugh out of the unfair and ugly situation.

A classic goal of much of Jewish Humor.

Everyone Seems to Agree That Israel Must Solve the "Iranian Problem"

JINSA Report #: 919
August 26, 2009

They say nothing happens in Washington in August - the President is away, Congress is out, even traffic is easy. But it isn't true. In Washington in August, everyone is getting ready for September. Word is out that the Obama Administration is working on a grand strategy to present at the UN when the General Assembly opens. The rumored outlines:

Israel agrees to a settlement freeze of some sort and some duration, allowing the administration to claim that it has done the world a favor and beaten Israel into submission.
Some Gulf States agree that people with Israeli stamps on their passport (though not necessarily Israelis) can enter their countries, and agree to accept limited trade with Israel. Others do not. Saudi Arabia's failure to publicly object allows the administration to claim that Israel has been accepted in the region and has nothing to fear from additional concessions to the Palestinians.
Abu Mazen agrees to accept the additional concessions from Israel, allowing the administration to claim it is on the way to a Palestinian State. The question of who Abu Mazen represents is papered over. The Hamas-Fatah (-al Qaeda?) civil war in Gaza - complete with suicide bombers, rockets fired into and out of mosques and dozens of civilian casualties - is papered over.
It doesn't sound like much of a deal for Israel - Syria, which is busily funneling al Qaeda fighters into Iraq and partying with Ahmadinejad in Tehran - is not involved; Egypt has declined; the Palestinians are no closer to agreeing in public or private that they will settle for a rump split state wedged between a hostile Israel and a hostile Jordan - its own two parts not talking to each other. So what does Israel get? An anonymous administration source is reported to have said, "Settlements are not strategic; Iran is strategic."

So in exchange for fuzzying up its red lines, a series of papered over semi-agreements, and an excellent photo op with the President at the UN, Israel gets stronger American rhetoric on Iran? Or, some sort of American green light for Israel to take care of the problem itself?

No, they don't say it that way, of course, but you didn't think the administration was actually going to DO something about Iran, did you? The administration has been saying Iran faces some deadline in September and the administration is committed to some Arab-Israeli grand deal, but where they come together is problematic.

Russia and China as yet have no incentive to enter a U.S.-led deal on serious Iran sanctions. (The opposite is true of China - they need Iranian energy and want the Iranians to refrain from fueling the Uighur fire. This makes the basis of a Chinese-Iranian deal.) Even the Europeans have no real incentive to terminate their lucrative trade with Tehran - check out the dollar volume of the German-Iranian deal guaranteed by the Merkel government. The President knows this.

But if everyone can agree that ISRAEL is now responsible for solving the "Iranian problem" and that Israel had actually gotten something in exchange for creating the Palestinian state the Americans and the Europeans so desperately appear to want - much more than the Palestinians seem to want it - then everyone could agree that August had been well-spent.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Déjà Vu Diplomacy

Rick Richman
28 August 09

The day before George Mitchell met with Benjamin Netanyahu in London this week, in the continuing effort to meet Palestinian preconditions for new final-status negotiations, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced a plan to create a Palestinian state within two years—“regardless of progress in the stalled peace negotiations with Israel.”

For those familiar with the history of the peace process, the Palestinian announcement and its timing provided a sense of déjà vu.

In the spring of 1998, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was stalled. Prime Minister Netanyahu was seeking “reciprocity” from the Palestinians before further Israeli withdrawals from West Bank territory. Arafat was offering the umpteenth Palestinian promise to “crack down” on terrorism and agreed—“in principle”—to produce a detailed security plan in exchange for a further Israeli withdrawal that met his demands and a move to final-status negotiations.

That was good enough for the State Department, which turned to Netanyahu and told him it needed a “second yes.” Netanyahu raised concerns about the scope of the withdrawal—and Arafat threatened a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state. On April 28, 1998, Hanan Ashrawi, then the Palestinian minister of higher education, spoke at the National Press Club in Washington and said Palestinians would declare statehood in one year regardless of where the peace process then stood.

At the time, no American administration had ever endorsed a Palestinian state. A week later, as Dennis Ross was traveling to Israel to meet with Netanyahu, Hillary Clinton spoke (via satellite hookup arranged by the State Department) to Arab and Israeli teenagers attending a “peace summit” in Switzerland. In response to a student who asked about her use of the word Palestine, Hillary used the word state nine times, sayingit would be “very important” for “Palestine to be a state.” In case Israel missed the significance of her words, the American embassy in Tel Aviv immediately released a report entitled “Hillary Clinton: Eventual Palestinian State Important for Mideast Peace.”

The White House said she was “not reflecting any administration policy”—only a “personal view.” But William Safire wrote in the New York Times that the explanation was “laughably implausible” and was “a calculated move by both Clintons to ratchet up the pressure on Israel” by warning that American policy might change if Netanyahu did not promptly move the process forward.

Now flash forward 11 years. A U.S. peace negotiator travels to meet with the Israeli prime minister to seek his concurrence in the latest Palestinian demands regarding final-status negotiations. The Palestinian “peace partner” announces a plan for a Palestinian state within two years without a peace agreement. The American consul general in Jerusalem, alerted ahead of time, tells the New York Times it is the first time he has seen such a “concrete plan” and that the Palestinians are working in a practical way toward their goal.

Undoubtedly, his apparent comfort with a unilateral Palestinian plan is simply his personal view.

Column One: The Rigged Game

Caroline Glick
28 August 09

On Tuesday the Guardian reported that the Obama administration is now making Israel an offer it can't refuse: In exchange for a government order to freeze construction for Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, the administration will adopt a "much tougher line with Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program."

German Foreign Minister Frank...

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prior to their meeting in Berlin, Thursday.
Photo: AP

Israel should refuse this offer.

What the Guardian account shows is an Obama administration looking to blame Israel for the failure of its policy of attempting to appease the likes of Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Come September, US President Barack Obama is going to have a difficult time of it. He set a September deadline for his strategy of diplomatically courting the mullahs. This policy involves deferring further sanctions against Teheran and all but openly renouncing the option of using military force to destroy Iran's nuclear installations while waiting politely for the mullahs to sit down for tea with US officials.

Far from accepting Obama's offer, the Iranians have spit on it. Indeed, they have been too busy brutalizing their own people and building bombs and missiles to even respond to him directly. Instead, they have signaled their contempt for Obama by promoting known arch-terrorists to high office. For instance, Ahmadinejad just appointed Ahmad Vahidi, the suspected mastermind of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia where 19 US servicemen and women were murdered to serve as defense minister.

In support of Obama's appeasement efforts, both the House and the Senate Foreign Relations committees set aside veto-proof bills that would place sanctions on companies exporting refined fuel to Iran. But Congress, now on summer recess, reconvenes in September and members are anxiously awaiting a green light from the White House to put the bills before a vote.

So unless something saves him, Obama will look like quite a fool next month. His appeasement policy has given the mullahs eight precious months of unimpeded work at their nuclear installations. Their uranium enrichment facility at Natanz is now operating some 5,000 centrifuges, with another 2,400 centrifuges about to go on line. That is an eightfold increase in centrifuge activity from a year ago.

Obama now turns to Israel to avoid embarrassment. If he can convince Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the White House will only get serious about Iran's nuclear weapons program if Netanyahu freezes Jewish building in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem, then Obama can present his sudden willingness to sign on to veto-proof congressional sanctions legislation not as a consequence of his own failure, but as a result of Israeli pressure.

If Obama succeeds in getting Netanyahu on board, the American media discussion of sanctions will focus on the issue of Israeli power over US policy. The so-called Israel lobby will be pummeled as pundits argue about whether Obama was right or wrong to succumb to Israeli pressure to support congressional sanctions. No one will remember that Obama was forced to support the sanctions because he had no other choice, since next month his engagement policy will become indefensible.

On the other hand, if Israel refuses to play ball and doesn't provide Obama with a concession which he will be "forced" to pay for with a harder line on Iran, then he will still have to adopt a harder line. In this case, however, it will be attributed to the failure of his appeasement policy toward Iran rather than to the success of his Middle East diplomacy against Israel.

Obama's apparent interest in setting Israel up as the fall guy for the failure of his engagement policy is the same policy he will doubtless follow if matters continue on course and Teheran acquires nuclear weapons. At that point, Obama can be counted on to claim that it was Israel's recalcitrance in the negotiations with the Palestinians or the Syrians or the Lebanese that forced the mullahs' hands. That is, he will say it is the absence of "progress" in the "peace process" due to whatever imagined Israeli intransigence that made it impossible for the Iranian "moderates" to convince the "hardliners" to give up their nuclear weapons program.

Obama Administration’s Arab-Israeli Policy Adjustment: Out of the Frying Pan Into the…Saucepan

Barry Rubin
The Rubin Report
28 August 09

The Obama Administration is slowly adjusting its policy on Arab-Israeli issues but doing so in a way that ensures it still won't work. They understand they were doing it wrong, they still don’t understand what they were doing wrong.

Briefly, in phase one the administration demanded Israel unilaterally stop construction on settlements in the West Bank, activity which not only all previous U.S. presidents in practice accepted but so did the Palestinians. By accepted, I don’t mean the Palestinians didn’t complain about it but that fact never stopped the negotiations’ process for 15 years. Obama has now achieved a full stop to the bilateral talks.

Once the United States raised the bar, the Palestinian Authority and Arab states could do no less. Now negotiations are frozen while construction isn’t.

In phase 2, U.S. policy did more unintentional damage, even though the shift was in the right direction. It asked Arab states and the Palestinians to give some confidence-building measure to Israel. They said “no,” and probably they would have done so under any conditions. That was predictable but it leads to an interesting and extremely important point.

Everyone speaks of how popular President Barack Obama is, and when it comes to the Middle East this is exaggerated. But the key word here isn’t “popular” but “credible.”

“I like you but I’m not going to bet on you,” is the way it could be expressed. If you are perceived as weak, it doesn’t matter if they think you’re a nice guy. In Middle East politics, nice guys really do finish last.

Once the whole Arab world plus Iran plus Israel defies you and you just smile and nod and don’t do anything about it, you’re credibility is even lower. Perhaps it will stay that way for four or eight years.

Now we are in Phase 3, characterized by bubbly optimism from Washington—everything’s going well, everyone’s cooperating—but still quite out of tune with reality. I have noted that false optimism--pretending progress is being made when it isn’t--can in part be a good strategy. But the administration is going about it in a way that ensures failure.

How? In the “Godfather,” Don Vito Corleone made people an offer they couldn’t refuse. If they do, they know he will back up his proposals with power. Obama makes people offers they’ll never accept. Not only do they know they'll get away with it but they can expect he will offer them even more afterward.

Don Corleone said, "Keep your friends close and your enemies closer." Obama says, in effect, treat your friends badly and your enemies well. As a result, friends are going to think about moving into a less close relationship.

In addition, you don’t set preconditions on Arab-Israeli negotiations if you ever want them to get started. Since both sides aren’t eager to negotiate they will seize on the preconditions as excuses or use them to demand more. Successful negotiations--the first Camp David meeting, the 1991 Madrid conference--were held without any serious preconditions.

And so it sends the wrong signal when State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said August 27 that the United States would be flexible on pre-negotiation conditions for the parties because it is signalling that conditions can exist.

Middle East translation: I can use the fact that there are pre-conditions to say “no” and I can use the fact that you are flexible to ask for more.

President Obama, if you want negotiations, get rid of preconditions and bring the parties together. (It wouldn’t work any way but you’re the one who wants talks so make them happen.)

Crowley also said:

"We put forward our ideas, publicly and privately, about what it will take for negotiations to be restarted, but ultimately it'll be up to the parties themselves, with our help, to determine whether that threshold has been met."

Ah, so the administration is leaving it in Palestinian hands to decide if they’ve gotten enough to talk? That’s an open invitation to get all sorts of demands from them. The problem that Obama hasn’t understood yet is that when you basically renounce force and threats, apologize, and say that the United States is just another partner in the world, you’ve given away the power you need to get things done.

Finally, the administration has no idea that even if Israel were to give a partial freeze, the Palestinians would demand a full one. If Israel gave a full one, the Palestinians would make up stories about construction or add in a demand for no remodeling or renovations on existing apartments.

The situation regarding the Obama administration in the Middle East today is something like putting a child who is still learning the rules up against the world’s greatest poker players. For the first six months of a new president that is an understandable problem but if it continues longer the feeble condition of this administration's foreign policy starts to seem permanent.

Reportedly, the administration wants a breakthrough in September. Why? It will look good during the UN General Assembly session and, more important, it will be in place when Obama asks for tougher sanctions against Iran.

Good luck.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Virgin boss Richard Branson play on the Holocaust to advance case against Israel

Richard Shepherd
Think Tank Blog
28 August 09

Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Virgin boss Richard Branson play on the Holocaust to advance case against IsraelIt is a sign of the corrosiveness of the anti-Zionist agenda that even some of the most admirable and well-regarded of international luminaries feel no compunction these days about using the greatest crime against the Jewish people as a convenient weapon against the Jewish state. Holocaust inversion has now entered the mainstream. No-one, it seems, is immune from its temptations.

Enter former anti-apartheid campaigner, Nobel laureate, and Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who has used an interview with the liberal-Left Israeli newspaper Haaretz today to make some typically ill considered remarks of his own:

“The lesson that Israel must learn from the Holocaust is that it can never get security through fences, walls and guns,” he was quoted by the paper as saying. “…in South Africa, they tried to get security from the barrel of a gun. They never got it. They got security when the human rights of all were recognized and respected.”

This is crass even by Tutu’s standards when talking about Israel. But it was nothing compared to the truly disturbing comments made earlier this week by Virgin Atlantic boss and international NGO financier Richard Branson.

Asked to draw on his business and public relations skills to advise Israel on how to improve its image, he said:

“I think it’s something similar to what happened after 9/11. You know after 9/11 the world had enormous sympathy for America, and you know that sympathy was somehow lost. And obviously after the Second World War, the world had enormous sympathy for the Jewish people. Over a number of decades, that sympathy has been lost …. You’ve got a great country, but you’ve just got to hold the hands of your neighbors, and then you’ll get back on top again.”

I have remarked on a number of occasions on how submersion in the anti-Zionist agenda leads otherwise reasonable and sane individuals to say things which make them look ridiculous. But “you’ve just got to hold the hands of your neighbours, and then you’ll get back on top again.”? Don’t these people ever think about what they are saying? The mind boggles.

That aside, the first thing to note about Branson and Tutu is that it is obvious that neither of them has any idea of what they are talking about. They seek to pronounce on a matter of great complexity while demonstrating that the history and basic facts of the conflict are simply lost on them. All we are left with is the standard UN/NGO narrative in which a belligerent and colonialist Israel is juxtaposed with oppressed third-world freedom fighters struggling against all odds for justice and recognition.

Tutu in particular has form in this regard. As an attentive reader reminded me earlier today, he made some particularly vicious remarks in a commentary in the Guardian along such lines in April 2002. In an article tellingly entitled Apartheid in the Holy Land he said of the struggle against Israel:

“For goodness sake, this is God’s world! We live in a moral universe. The apartheid government was very powerful, but today it no longer exists. Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Pinochet, Milosevic, and Idi Amin were all powerful, but in the end they bit the dust.”

Well, I’m glad that Desmond Tutu thinks we are living in a “moral universe”. And one trusts he is confident that, when confronted with the higher authority he invokes, his Faustian pact with the forces of anti-Zionist bigotry is not held against him.

As for Richard Branson, one really has to marvel at his audacity. I am not Jewish myself, but I would venture to say that “sympathy” is not quite what the Jewish people were looking for in establishing their state after the Holocaust.

Even so, if defending that state against extremism is all it has taken for all that “sympathy” to evaporate I am not convinced that it was all that deeply rooted in the first place.

Friday, August 28, 2009

An Open Letter

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Sir:

In your Cairo speech [June 4, 2009] you referred to the West Bank as "occupied" by Israel. You implied that the Palestinian Arabs were being denied the sovereign rights to their homeland. But the West Bank was never a sovereign state to Palestinian Arabs. In the ancient world, Judea and Samaria belonged to what was then a sovereign Jewish state, a state from which the Jews were repeatedly driven by foreign conquerors: among them Babylonians, Romans, and Christian crusaders. However often they were driven from their ancient homeland, Jews always returned.

The millennial claims of the Jews contrast with the fact that the Palestinian people of today have no such historic claims. In fact, the Palestinians whose national identity you recognize did not exist before 1967. The West Bank was conquered in 1948 by Jordan, which subsequently annexed it and then later de-annexed it. It was de-annexed when the King of Jordan discovered he had added to his kingdom Palestinians who wanted to overthrow his monarchy. For the same reason, Israel does not want to add enemies to its body politic.

During the 19 years that Jordan controlled the West Bank, not a word was heard of a Palestinian people. After Israel's victory in 1967, Palestinian nationalism was a creation of the larger Arab world, which saw in a Palestinian state a platform from which to launch Israel's ultimate destruction. But they recognize that that victory will never come until America's support of Israel is sufficiently undermined.

To be sure, the idea of statehood for Palestinian Arabs has a history. It was proposed by the Peel Commission in 1937, in parallel with the then Jewish Homeland. It was proposed again in 1947 by the United Nations, which partitioned Palestine into two states. In both cases partition was accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs. In 1948 the Arabs thought they could destroy Israel, and possess the whole of Palestine. Today they accept what they had formerly rejected, but only as a means to the same end: the destruction of Israel.


Harry V. Jaffa
Claremont, CA

Harry V. Jaffa (born 1918) is an author, Professor Emeritus at Claremont McKenna College, and distinguished fellow of the Claremont Institute, a California think tank. He obtained a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from Yale University and a Ph.D. from The New School. Jaffa's most noted book, Crisis of the House Divided examines the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.

Mr. Obama, Hebron is an eternal home for Jews

Eighty years after a massacre of Jews here and despite ongoing Arab threats, we yearn for peace. But will Obama's pressure on settlements force us to leave?

The Obama administration is pressuring Israel to agree to a total building freeze of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). It may not be long before Israelis are forced to withdraw from places such as Hebron, in order to "prevent terror" and "achieve peace."

It's commonly thought that "if only" Israel would give up all land outside the 1967 borders, then peace would be at hand. However, Arab terror against Jews did not begin after the Six-Day War in 1967.

Eighty years ago today, Arabs massacred 67 Jews in Hebron and wounded 70 more. Incited by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, and shouting "Kill the Jews!", the perpetrators raped, mutilated, tortured, beheaded, or dismembered men, women, children, and even babies in a two-day spree of violence. The victims were guilty of no crime. Jews had lived there for hundreds of years in peace with their neighbors. But Arab instigators preached hateful sermons and spread malicious rumors that boiled over into bloodshed.

Of the many accounts of betrayal and courage that day in 1929, here are two:

Ben-tzion Gershon, a doctor and pharmacist who treated Jews and Arabs in Hebron, defied his wife's warnings and opened the door to an Arab woman who feigned that she was about to give birth. The woman moved aside, and a murderous mob stormed in and gang-raped his wife. When Dr. Gershon begged them to stop, they answered: "If you don't want to see it, you don't have to" – and gouged his eyes out before killing him, according to the testimony of one of Gershon's daughter.

Some Arabs showed great courage in protecting Jews that day. One Arab landlord refused to allow his Jewish tenants to be murdered. He stood fast outside the door of their home, even when a fellow Arab put a sword to his throat and drew blood. The landlord refused to budge and finally the mob relented.

As British High Commissioner Sir John Chancellor put it: "I do not think that history records many worse horrors in the last few hundred years...."

Three days after the massacre the ruling British expelled the surviving victims from Hebron, leaving the city without a Jewish presence for the first time since 1260.

It wasn't until 1967, following the Six-Day War, that Jews returned to Hebron. They did not occupy a foreign city; rather they came back home, to the first Jewish city in the land of Israel. They returned to worship at the Caves of Machpela, the second-holiest site in the world to Jews, after Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This site had been declared off limits to Jews and Christians for 700 years. Today it is open to all who desire to visit this hallowed burial ground for the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hebron is not just the source of Judaism. It is the source of monotheism for all peoples of the world.

The only reason that the Caves of Machpela are still accessible to Jews is because there is a permanent Jewish presence in the city. The disappearance of the Jewish community of Hebron would be tantamount to abandoning the founders of our people. Would any American dream of abandoning Philadelphia, Boston, or Mount Vernon to the Taliban or Al Qaeda, "in the name of peace"? Today, I proudly live in Hebron, along with hundreds of other Jews. Despite media reports, our goal is not to expel the Arabs living here. Anyone of any race or religion should be able to live in Hebron.

However, we demand that our Arab neighbors accept the fact that the Jews have an eternal, legitimate right to live in the first Jewish city in the land of Israel. This is our goal: to live normal lives, just as anyone else, anywhere in Israel. Our goal is to ensure that our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be able to live in Hebron. Our goal is to make sure that all Jews will have access to the caves, that Jews will never again be told that this holy site is off limits. Eviction from Hebron, the first Jewish city in Israel, would be tantamount to acquiescence that can only be defined as a reward for terrorism, continuing in the footsteps of el-Husseini.

In 2000, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak wrote a letter to Hebron's Jewish community, declaring: "The right of Jews to live tranquilly in the city of the Forefathers securely, protected from all danger, is not disputed. The test of the renewed Hebron Jewish community, which is the same test of the Arab majority, is the ability to develop good neighborly relationships."

Hebron's Jewish community could not agree more with this statement. The time has come for our Arab neighbors to stop shooting at us, to stop trying to kill us for no other reason than we are Jews living in Hebron. Perhaps they believe that by killing us, or by attempting to, they will scare us away. They could not be further from the truth, because Hebron is the heart of the Jewish people, the lifeblood from which the Jewish people derives its sanctity. This is a simple truth that everyone should not only understand, but also accept. We truly hope and pray for the day when true peace will prevail, both in Hebron, throughout the land of Israel, and all over the world.

Eighty years later, Hebron's Jewish community symbolizes the eternity of the Jewish people in the land of Israel and a clear victory over Arab terror. In Hebron, the Jews have returned home.

David Wilder is the spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron.

Related: Remembering the Hebron Massacre