Saturday, April 30, 2011

Kedar: Possible Scenarios for Syrias Future

Mordechai Kedar
30 April '11

"As long as the regime has military and police forces at its disposal, it will not attempt to drag Israel into battle because Israel is liable to strike hard, in particular disabling its helicopters and preventing it from operating against the masses. Nevertheless, in the event of a total collapse of the governmental apparatus, someone in the Syrian regime might think along the lines of “Let me die with the Israelis” and launch nasty weapons in Israel's direction. In such a case, it will be difficult for Israel to respond effectively for there will be no one to deter and punish. Israel must be prepared for such a scenario, and especially keep its eyes and ears open in light of the weapons of mass destruction in Syrian hands."

Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation)
Bar-Ilan University

Middle Eastern Insights
No. 7, 29 April, 2011

To the Last Syrian
Mordechai Kedar

The sights and sounds emanating from Syria indicate that the sides, both the regime and its opponents, have reached a stage in which they feel desperate and will not waive their demands, regardless of the price to be paid. From the public’s perspective, the threshold of demands rises as more time passes and casualties grow: if, when the protests began, they called for repeal of the emergency law, they now see the regime as the enemy of the people and insist upon its downfall. Knocking down statues of Assad – father and son – and tearing down their portraits has become routine, and the masses do this with obvious enthusiasm.

The turbulent bloodbath is becoming more complex: the one hundred murdered today are the one hundred funerals of tomorrow, each a protest in which more will be killed, and similarly thereafter, with emotions becoming increasingly heated as regime violence intensifies.

Fear is dissipating on both sides: the people are no longer afraid to mass in the streets and – in contrast – the authorities are no longer reluctant to concentrate massive fire at the crowds. The breaches in the ranks of the regime are becoming more widespread: The Mufti of Syria resigned three weeks ago; members of Parliament quit during a live broadcast on Al-Jazeera last week; the editor of a major newspaper was sacked after sharply criticizing the government; senior officers are shedding their uniforms in a sign of protest; soldiers are deserting the army and taking their personal weapons with them; prominent public personalities are openly expressing disapproval of the conduct of the security forces, which received a green light to open fire at demonstrators.

As the circle of Bashar’s supporters becomes smaller, their siege mentality and cruelty will increase. They no longer fight for the regime but to keep their heads from rolling. The blood of the protesters will be washed away by that of the regime’s fighters, if they are caught in uniform. The loyalists are prepared to fight to the last Syrian.

The city of Hama is the symbol of the 1982 uprising of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was crushed with much cruelty and the murder of thousands. The dispatch of troops to Dar’a at the beginning of last week points to the possibility that it will serve as the symbol of the 2011 uprising. The question is how many more thousands have to be killed in Syria before the world begins to take action as in Libya.

To the government of Israel I would propose parachuting medicines into Syrian cities using unmanned drones. This would be an excellent investment for the future.

From Israel: Backward and Forward

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
29 April '11

A glance backward first, because I want to touch upon something that took place while I was away over Pesach.

This painful incident, from almost a week ago, links to recent Israeli history and to the future:

Last Sunday, in the early hours of the morning, three cars with Breslover Chassidim went to pray at Joseph's tomb -- a holy site for Judaism -- which is in PA-controlled territory (area A) outside of Nablus (traditional Jewish Shechem), in Samaria.

Pesach is a traditional time for prayers at the tomb, because the bones of Joseph, traditionally thought to be buried there, were carried out of Egypt by Moses on the first Pesach.

Warning shots were fired at the Chassidm by PA police. They continued to the tomb for prayers, and on their way out, PA police fired at them directly: One man -- Ben Yosef Livnat, called Benyo, father of four and nephew of Minister of Culture Limor Livnat (Likud) -- was killed.

One more good man taken from the midst of the Jewish people. One more widow, four more orphans. Wrote David Wilder of Hevron, who knew Livnat:

"Benyo was a wonderful person, a beautiful Jew and his murder will leave a huge gap in the lives of all who knew him. May his memory be blessed and may G-d comfort his widow, orphans, parents, brothers and sisters and all who knew and loved him."

Four others were wounded, one seriously.

After the Chassidim left the area, Arabs vandalized the tomb.

Netanyahu's time to choose

Caroline Glick
29 April '11

There are many reasons that Netanyahu is incapable of stating the truth and ending the 18-year policy nightmare in which Israel is an active partner in its own demise

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's response to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority's peace deal with Hamas would be funny if it weren't tragic. Immediately after the news broke of the deal Netanyahu announced, "The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both."

Netanyahu's statement is funny because it is completely absurd. The PA has chosen. The PA made the choice in 2000 when it rejected Israel's offer of peace and Palestinian statehood and joined forces with Hamas to wage a terror war against Israel.

The PA made the choice in 2005 again when it responded to Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza with a tenfold increase in the number of rockets and missiles it fired on Israeli civilian targets in the Negev.

The Palestinians made the choice in 2006, when they elected Hamas to rule over them. They made the choice in March 2007 when Fatah and Hamas signed their first unity deal. The PA made the choice in 2008 when Abbas rejected then prime minister Ehud Olmert's offer of statehood and peace.

The PA made the choice in 2010 when it refused to reinstate peace negotiations with Netanyahu; began peace negotiations with Hamas and escalated its plan to establish an independent state without peace with Israel.

Now the PA has again made the choice by signing the newest peace deal with Hamas. In a real sense, Netanyahu's call for the PA to choose is the political equivalent a man telling his wife she must choose between him and her lover, after she has left home, shacked up and had 5 children with her new man.

It is a pathetic joke.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Interview with Yishai Fleisher:“It’s Either Our Land or It’s Not” Interview with Yishai Fleisher

The Middle-East Magazine
28 April '11
Posted before Shabbat

Yishai Fleisher is best known as Israeli National News (INN) radio show host and a Zionist Activist who engages many in his frequent speaking tours in the US. Yishai is also the founder of KUMAH – an activism site which he himself describes as “production house” for new ideas with regard to elevating Jewish pride and Aliyah causes in Israel and all around the world. Middle East Magazine had the distinct pleasure to interview him recently and we hope you find this piece as informative and inspiring, as we did.

It’s great to have you here Yishai. Tell me something, you talk a lot about being of Russian descent, studying in America, and living in Judea Shomron, what exactly does that make you?

I’m Israeli, the proudest identity. An Israeli is a Jew living in the Land of Israel.

As a Jewish resident of “East” Jerusalem, would you consider yourself a champion of the right wing in Israel? What is your position on how best to achieve peace?

I am not right wing. In the Middle East we need to speak with clarity and assert our rights. We need to wake up and understand we are not Westerners – we are Middle Easterners. We do belong here. This is not a “right wing” argument. It explains how we exist here. “Right Wing” is itself a European term. We should get away from using these concepts. You can’t give up your land – nobody respects that. Land for peace is like, “here is my wife, take her.” In a land where respect and honor are EVERYTHING, how could we possibly enter into any dialogue based on this?

What do you think about the response to the Fogel family murders?

It’s a tragedy. My heart goes out for the family. What bothers me is the response. In only building after this mass murder, we are sending the signal that we will only build if someone, G-d forbid, gets hurt, or even worse. Israel is either our land or it’s not.

What is the best time to build?

When are we going to build for the simple reason that we belong here? We need to fall in love with ourselves again. We need to recognize that our home is the Middle East and that we are a Middle Eastern country. There were many positive things we learned in our 2,000 sojourn in the West, but we are home now – we need to get comfortable and realize that we are not going anywhere.

(Read full interview)

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Hamas-Fatah pact: Is the peace process over?

Jennifer Rubin
Right Turn
Washington Post
27 April '11
Posted before Shabbat

Today (Wednesday), Fatah and the terrorist organization Hamas announced they’ve made a pact. The Jerusalem Post reported:

A spokesperson for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that Hamas has agreed to hold elections within a year, a part of the reconciliation deal it signed in Cairo.

“The two sides signed initial letters on an agreement. All points of differences have been overcome,” Taher Al-Nono, the Hamas government spokesman in Gaza, said.

A Hamas spokesperson said that “all points of differences” between the rival groups have been overcome. He added that officials in Cairo will soon invite top Hamas and Fatah officials for a signing ceremony in the Egyptian capital.

The breakthrough came as a result of talks reported on Tuesday, when a Hamas delegation traveled to Cairo for discussions on a potential Fatah-Hamas reconciliation.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s response was swift: “The PA must choose either peace with Israel or peace with Hamas. There is no possibility for peace with both.”:

The prime minister noted that the Hamas charter calls for the destruction of Israel and that he cannot tolerate a situation like that which exists in Gaza — with missiles, rockets and mortars fired into Israeli territory — to enter the West Bank. “Hamas aspires to destroy Israel and fires rockets at our cities . . . at our children,” he said.

I asked former Israeli ambassador to the U.N., Dore Gold, for his take. He e-mailed:

Hamas is an international terrorist organization, period. That is not just an Israeli determination but the opinion of the EU and the US government. There are no diplomatic acrobatics that are possible which could make an organization that has been committed to suicide bombing attacks and rocketing Israeli civilians into a partner for peace.

The big question that will need to be monitored is how this new pact affects the security situation. Will the PA now release from prison Hamas terrorists who were engaged in attacks on Israel? The PA security apparatus which is generally praised by Western observers will have no value, if those engaging in terroristic activities are not indicted, tried and put into prison, because of the new political ties with Hamas.

An American foreign policy guru puts it this way: “ I don’t see how we can fund the PA if it is in de facto alliance with an organization on the US Terrorist list.”

Elliott Abrams, the former deputy national security director responsible for the Middle East, writes along similar lines today:

This deal, if it is real, will be interpreted in Israel as a choice by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to make peace with Hamas rather than with Israel. It is hard to see how Israel could negotiate with a Palestinian government half or more of which represents a terrorist group dedicated to attacking the Jewish State. . . . As this deal does not appear to require Hamas to change one word of its violently anti-Semitic Charter, the new Palestinian government would hardly be a peace partner.

Other questions arise. Will Salam Fayyad, the current prime minister, maintain his post? If not, how will Congress and other donors feel about continuing the aid flow to the PA? Even if Fayyad remains, will Congress vote aid funds for this new half-Hamas government? What will lawyers at the Treasury and State Departments say about the participation of a terrorist group in the PA government? Will it even be legal to give funds to the PA?

As absurd as it is to foist a “peace deal” on Israel when the PA refuses to negotiate directly and as mad as it is for Israel to take these steps when the region is in flames and the identity of its neighbors is yet to be determined, certainly even this administration wouldn’t demand that Netanyahu, as Abrams put it, “lean far forward in seeking a deal with the Palestinian leadership just when it is leaning away from Israel and toward Hamas?” Well, one would think. But with this administration, facts on the ground have a funny way of becoming irrelevant.

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The New Middle East

Khaled Abu Toameh
Hudson New York
29 April '11
Posted before Shabbat

In the new Middle East, the radicals seem to be winning.

In this new Middle East, Egypt also seems to be moving closer to Iran, raising serious fears in most Gulf countries. For now, it looks as if the new Middle East, which is taking shape in front of everyone's eyes, belongs to Iran and its pawns.

Hamas has finally won recognition as a legitimate authority and player in the Palestinian arena.

Hamas has every reason to celebrate: the unity deal with Fatah is an admission of the failure of US-led efforts to isolate and undermine the Islamist movement.

Thanks to Egypt's new rulers, Hamas is finally being rewarded for its violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007.

The Egyptian-sponsored reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas will allow the Islamist movement to become part of a new interim unity government that would prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Hamas, according to the accord, would also be permitted to maintain its security and civilian control over 1.5 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

Moreover, the agreement does not set conditions for Hamas's participation in the Palestinian government. Hamas is not even required to accept the Oslo Accords, recognize Israel's right to exist or renounce violence, as previously demanded by the Americans and Europeans.

The same mistake that was made in the 2006 parliamentary election is now being repeated once again.

Then, Hamas was allowed to take part in the election unconditionally. The result was that Hamas won the vote, much to the surprise and dismay of the Americans and Europeans.

Ten years earlier, in 1996, Hamas boycotted the same parliamentary vote because, its leaders argued, it was being held under the umbrella of the Oslo Accords, which the Islamist movement does not recognize.

The international community did finally set conditions for dealing with Hamas, but only the day after it had won the election and when it was already too late.

Now Hamas leaders have every right to smile all the way to a unity government with Fatah.

Hamas is not being asked to make any concessions in return for joining a new Palestinian government. As Hamas's Mahmoud Zahar declared, the new government would not conduct peace talks with Israel or recognize the Jewish state.

The release of hundreds of Hamas detainees from Fatah-controlled jails in the West Bank will only boost the Islamist movement's standing in that area. Hamas's chances of scoring another victory in the new elections, which are supposed to take place in a year, now appear to be much higher.

In the eyes of many Palestinians, the unity deal means that Fatah has moved closer to Hamas and not vice versa. Under pressure from Egypt's new rulers, who have displayed more sympathy toward Hamas than the ousted regime of Hosni Mubarak, Fatah is being forced to accept Hamas as an equal partner in governing the Palestinians.

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Relinquishing Joseph’s Tomb was supposed to be temporary

Michael Freund
Fundamentally Freund/JPost
28 April '11

The Palestinian conduct vis-à-vis the tomb is a clear violation of signed commitments.

Earlier this week, an incident occurred that should have provoked outrage across the civilized world. In an act of wanton slaughter, Palestinian policemen opened fire at a convoy of Jewish worshipers near Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus on Sunday.

The men had just recited morning prayers at the Jewish holy site in honor of Pessah, and were heading home to prepare for the end of the festival. But they never made it.

At a checkpoint near the tomb, our ostensible peace partners killed Ben-Yosef Livnat, 25, and wounded four other Israelis, one of them critically. Livnat, a nephew of Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat, left a wife and four young children.

Even as the Israeli vehicles sought to escape, the Palestinian policemen reportedly continued to fire on them.

Although the IDF initially refrained from labeling the episode an “attack,” it’s clear that that is precisely what it was.

And by Sunday evening, both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak were calling the shooting an act of “murder.”

Palestinian officials were quick to point out that the Israeli worshipers had failed to coordinate their visit in advance – as though that somehow justified shooting at them.

But as Barak rightly noted: “No problem of coordination can justify an incident like this and the shooting of innocent people.”

Even though the identity of the perpetrators is known, none have been detained as of this writing. And given the Palestinian Authority’s track record in punishing those who attack Israelis, there is no reason to suspect that the policemen in question will be made to pay for their crime.

Needless to say, barely a peep was heard from the international community over this brazen assault on the fundamental right of Jews to worship freely. Just imagine what the reaction would have been had Palestinian worshipers leaving a mosque been attacked by Israeli policemen.. We all know how that would have gone down.

Peace process, RIP
28 April '11

So Fatah and Hamas are merging, and will create a unity government for the Palestinian Arabs.

As I wrote yesterday, the differences between Fatah and Hamas fall in the realms of cosmetics and tactics:

Fatah, dedicated to the violent destruction of Israel no less than Hamas, is prepared to say pleasant things in English. Hamas is not.

Fatah is willing to take a state on as much territory as it can get, promise peace, and then move toward its objective, as spelled out in its ‘plan of phases‘. Hamas will only agree to a hudna (temporary truce) if Israel withdraws from all the territories. Then the war will continue.

Ultimately, although they are quite different in the kind of life they will offer the Arabs in their state — Hamas will enforce Islamic law — there is no difference for Israelis. They will be dead or dispersed if either gets its way.

Neither Hamas nor Fatah intend to engage in bilateral talks with Israel. Hamas spokesperson Mahmoud Zahar said yesterday that

Our program does not include negotiations with Israel or recognizing it … It will not be possible for the interim national government to participate or bet on [sic] or work on the peace process with Israel.

Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah/PLO made one of his typically ambiguous statements, which will be jumped on as a ray of hope by peace processors:

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signaled on Thursday that peace talks with Israel would still be possible during the term of a new interim government formed as part of a unity deal with Hamas.

Abbas said the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which he heads and to which Hamas does not belong, would still be responsible for “handling politics, negotiations” …

In his comments, Abbas also addressed reactions by Israeli officials to the Hamas-Fatah unity deal, saying: “Netanyahu and Lieberman said yesterday that I had to choose between Israel and Hamas, but Hamas is part of the Palestinian people, and whether or not you like or agree with them, they are part of our nation and they cannot be extracted from us.”

But Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel until now — for 10 months because the official freeze on construction in settlements did not include Jerusalem (although de facto it did), and after that because Israel refused to extend the freeze. Do you think the presence of Hamas in his government will render him more likely to talk? I don’t. Anyway, he has his heart set on getting everything he wants from the UN without having to give up anything to Israel.

The ‘peace process’ which began with Oslo is now officially dead. May it rest in peace.

Honig: Universalism’s toxic saccharine

Sarah Honig
Another Tack
29 April '11

If a netherworld truly exists, then its most infamous denizen, one Adolf Hitler, must be rubbing his hands in glee. During his lifetime, when he preoccupied the entire world with his war, he never ceased to proclaim hysterically that his paramount aim was annihilating all Jews. Obsessively he reiterated his resolve to cause all nations to unite in recognition of inborn Jewish villainy.

To some extent he already succeeded among his contemporaries. The Allies never sincerely cared about Jews and never fought for them. They protected their own skins. Europe’s Jews were eventually liberated via the much-belated byproduct of Germany’s defeat. The enormity of the Holocaust could have been lessened, but it was nobody’s priority.

The Allies’ indifference derived from their own Judeophobia, albeit of lower grade than the Nazi variety. Mere months before World War II’s outbreak, when the Holocaust was about to be kick-started, Britain published its notorious White Paper ruling out this country as a viable asylum for refugees from Hitler’s hell. Germany’s Jews were already shorn of citizenship and fleeing, stateless, in all directions. Hitler’s threats were well recorded, shouted in the world’s face and hardly kept secret.

The White Paper encompassed all the dubious goodwill the international community could reluctantly muster, lest “changes on the ground” occur that might rile Arabs in and around the Jewish homeland.

Yet the fault wasn’t Britain’s alone. Hitler tauntingly invited all democracies to take his Jews, if they were so fretful about them. He knew that for all their self-righteous rhetoric, these states wouldn’t accept his provocative challenge. After 1938’s Anschluss, their representatives met in Evian-les-Bains, on Lake Geneva’s French shore, to decide what to do with Nazism’s desperate victims, pounding on their gates in search of sanctuary. They never even called them Jews, lest they incur the fuehrer’s wrath.

It turned into a great Jew-rejection fest. Britain bristled at any hint of allowing refugees into Eretz Yisrael, mandated to it to administer as the Jewish National Home. Progenitors of today’s Palestinian terrorists made sure endangered Jews wouldn’t be sheltered, and His Majesty’s government appeasingly assented.

(Video) Hamas: Israel's new partner

Apr 28, 2011

Hamas: Israel's new partner - חמאס: הפרטנר החדש של ישראל

Following the reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas - let's acknowledge the leaders of the Palestinian Authority new government, which the world expects Israel to negotiate with.

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The Hamas-Fatah Dialogue

Shoshana Bryen
Senior Director for Security Policy
JINSA Report #: 1,084
April 28, 2011

Hamas and Fatah have reportedly smoothed over their differences to present a united front in pursuit of a declaration of Palestinian independence from the UN General Assembly in September. [Side note: most countries declare independence, a la Thomas Jefferson or David Ben Gurion. The Palestinians prefer that someone do it for them, lest they inadvertently recognize Israel in the process.] The two factions met in Cairo. The dialogue was probably something like this:

Abu Mazen (Fatah): The establishment of Israel was a mistake the UN made in 1948 and together we are going to have them reverse it. One step at a time.

Ismail Haniyah (Hamas): You gave up "resistance."

AM: Hey, we never gave up the military option. At the Fatah convention in 2009 we reaffirmed the "right of armed resistance" and "right of return." We called Jerusalem holy to Christians and Muslims - I would have left out the Christians, but Hanan Ashrawi was there. We rejected negotiations with Israel until after it meets a bunch of conditions it will never meet, including lifting the blockade of you guys in Gaza and releasing all the prisoners - and you'll notice we haven't exactly been negotiating since then.

IH: You're giving the Zionists legitimacy just by talking to them, not to mention doing business with them. Kill them.

AM: Uh, you do business with them too. But in case you haven't noticed, one can do both. You killed a kid on a school bus and then the Israeli Air Force raided Gaza. We killed a Jew praying at an old shrine, and said he didn't have our permission to be there. Nothing happened except some Jews started blaming the dead guy for being there in the first place and the Israeli government is going to "investigate" how he got there without permission. Cool, right? Jews need permission to pray. Then we fired at an IDF patrol and said it was an accident. Nothing happened. I must say though, using a Russian anti-tank missile on that bus was nice; we don't have any. But just wait until our army - oops, our "police force" - gets the rest of its training and equipment.

IH: The Americans will give you anti-tank weapons?

AM: No, but once we're independent, we can make alliances with whoever we want - and they will give us anti-tank weapons, just like they give them to you.

IH: The United Nations won't let you have alliances.

AM: "Oom-shmoom" - where have I heard that before? Who's going to stop us? We'll ask for an international force in the West Bank like they have in Lebanon - UNIFIP - UNIFIL has been wandering around Hezbollah-land for years and hasn't found a weapon yet. We'll tell them we're afraid Israel will invade us and ask for a "no fly" zone.

IH: Can we get one too?

AM: Anything I can get, you can get - but you have to let me lead.

IH: You? Lead?

AM: Of course. You are persona non grata everywhere but Tehran and Ankara, not exactly the center of the universe. I, on the other hand, am the darling of European capitals. The Americans are so afraid of the Europeans that they're pushing Netanyahu to give me the moon on a platter to avoid having to vote against our independence in the UN. Bush never had that problem. Obama had to veto the Security Council Resolution on "settlements" and he hated it; that's why the Security Council isn't making us independent. They're leaving it to the General Assembly, but the U.S. still wants a "negotiated settlement." Like that's going to happen.

IH: We made one. In fact, we've made about a dozen of them - despite the fact that we fought a civil war and threw each other's wounded off the rooftops.

AM: That was you throwing us off the rooftops, but good point nonetheless. Just goes to show how much those negotiated settlements are worth. But "negotiated" anything sells in the West - another thing I understand that you (and the Israelis) don't: good press counts for a lot here. We tell them we're responding to the democratic will of the Palestinian people by forming a unity government and you get the benefit of my good press. That's why you have to let me lead.

IH: You? Lead? Uh...

AM: Problem?

IH: silence

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Lying Free Gaza co-founder visits my blog

Elder of Ziyon
28 April '11

I received a comment yesterday from Mary Hughes Thompson, co-founder of Free Gaza, about my post on the terrorist gun-running archbishop who spoke at the funeral of terrorist-supporting Vittorio Arrigoni:

I know this gentle man. Israel tried to frame him, as it has framed thousands of innocent Palestinians. Nobody believes a word that comes out of the mouths of any Israeli leader. Archbishop Capucci is a gentle man, as my friend Vittorio was a gentle man. Israel's lies can never harm men like these. God bless you Vittorio. Your star will shine long after zionist Israel is no more.

Thompson is a serial liar. As far as Hilarion Capucci is concerned, the Washington Post on November 4, 1977 wrote after his release from prison:

There seems to be very little question that Capucci was in fact smuggling arms for the Palestinian Liberation Organization and at least one Israeli is thought to have died as a result. The PLO denies his guilt and has declared him a martyr, but privately many PLO members do not bother to deny his guilt and deplore his carelessness in getting caught.

(Read full "Lying Free Gaza co-founder visits my blog")

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5 Myths of Palestinian Unity

Pesach Benson
Honest Reporting/Backspin
28 April '11

Hamas and Fatah finally reconciled with a national unity deal bringing Hamas into the government. The deal they inked calls for an interim government of technocrats until presidential and legislative elections take place within a year.

The tea leaves were there to be read. A month ago, Khaled Abu Toameh noted that Mahmoud Abbas’s unity efforts “designed to send a message to the Americans and Europeans that unless they step up pressure on Israel he will have to join forces with Hamas.”

Abbas also said he was willing to give up US aid for Palestinian unity. Partnering up with Hamas didn’t happen out of nowhere, and the PA chairman clearly knows the risks he’s taking.

Here are a five media myths to beware.

Myth: Hamas is pragmatic about peace.

Fact: Hamas still wants to destroy Israel. It has always defied calls to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and honor past negotiating agreements. The Hamas charter remains unchanged.

Myth: Ruling Gaza has moderated Hamas.

Fact: Quite the opposite. Hamas is emboldened, imposing Islamic law, smuggling sophisticated weapons, and watching the Muslim Brotherhood’s gains in Egypt. No goodwill gestures for Gilad Shalit from a new and improved PA are on the horizon. Need I go on?

Myth: Palestinian unity paves the way for UN recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Fact: It remains to be seen how durable this unity will really be. The two sides will bury their squabbles till September, but all bets are off afterwards. Remember, Hamas and Fatah already reconciled in 2007, only to see Hamas take over Gaza as Fatah supporters like Mohammed Sweirki were literally thrown off the rooftops. And both sides have other calculations. Fatah lost its biggest patron, Hosni Mubarak, while Hamas faces losing Bashar Assad. Now, they need each other, for better or for worse.

Myth: Abbas is displaying real statesmanship.

Fact: Salam Fayyad’s state-building efforts were the PA’s main source of credibility in the West. The closer we get to September, the more the PA needs to tout Fayyad’s program. Instead, Abbas is throwing Fayyadism under the bus. That’s stupidity, not statesmanship.

Myth: Israel must prove its willingness to make peace by negotiating with a unified Palestinian government.

Fact: What’s to negotiate when the other side wants to destroy you?

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The Israeli-Palestinian Streetlight

Peter Wehner
28 April '11

In a recent Financial Times op-ed, Brent Scowcroft writes, “The nature of the new Middle East cannot be known until the festering sore of the occupied territories is removed.”

This is an absurd claim. Whatever one thinks of the settlements, the Arab Spring has shown that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not—as people like Scowcroft, who served as national security adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, have been arguing for years now—at the core of the troubles plaguing the Arab Middle East. The so-called “occupation” is not the obstacle to free and flourishing Arab societies. It is not the irritant that is causing unrest within Arab societies. In fact, what is striking about the revolution sweeping the Arab world is how totally beside the point Israel is. The uprisings in Iran, Syria, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and elsewhere are driven not by animus toward Israeli or solidarity for the Palestinian cause; they are a reaction against Arab despotism. What is happening in the Middle East, in fact, utterly undermines Scowcroft’s thesis. But Scowcroft is wed to a theory he embraced long ago and has hermetically sealed off from evidence. Bad theories, like bad habits, die hard. Maybe harder.

I’m reminded of the joke about the police officer who finds a drunk man late at night crawling on his hands and knees on a sidewalk under a streetlight. When confronted by the police officer, the drunk tells him he’s looking for his wallet. When the police officer asks if he’s sure that he dropped the wallet under the streetlight, the man replies that he thinks he more likely dropped it across the street. The puzzled officer asks why the man is looking for the wallet under the streetlight. “Because the light’s better here,” the drunk man replies.

For Brent Scowcroft and those who think like him, the light is always better around the Israeli-Palestinian settlements streetlight, even if the truth lies elsewhere.

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Meltzer: Debunking the 2-state myth

Yoel Meltzer
Israel Opinion/Ynet
28 April '11,7340,L-4061566,00.html

Op-ed: Counting on Palestinian state to improve our security situation is absolute madness

One of the assumed benefits of the proposed two-state solution is that the creation of a Palestinian state will finally make the Palestinians fully accountable for their actions. Thus, any acts of aggression from the new entity against Israel will be considered an attack on Israel from a sovereign country rather than from a terrorist organization. Moreover, it is this distinction, so we are told, that will not only allow Israel to forcefully respond to any acts of Palestinian aggression but also do so with the full support and understanding of the international community.

Although such line of reasoning sounds very enticing and has even managed to win over some former skeptics, we shouldn’t buy it. In fact, a quick survey of the last 20 years seems to indicate otherwise.

At the height of the Gulf War in 1991, Iraq launched scud missiles at Israel in an attempt to draw it into the conflict. This was a classic case of a sovereign Arab country attacking Israel with powerfully destructive missiles, aimed at some of its most populous regions. Nonetheless, despite the numerous missiles that landed in Israel, due to various geopolitical considerations and behind-the-door pressure Jerusalem did not respond.

Roughly 10 years later, Israel speedily removed all of its troops from southern Lebanon. At the time we were promised that Israeli positions would be taken over by the South Lebanese Army (SLA) in order to prevent Hezbollah forces from stationing themselves within spitball range of Israel’s northern border. In addition, we were assured by then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak that should Hezbollah ever commit an act of aggression against Israel our response would be very painful.

Like usual, Israel fulfilled its side of the agreement while the Arabs failed to uphold their part. As a result, rather than having the SLA parked across the border we received Hezbollah. This change of events afforded Hezbollah the opportunity to closely watch our troop movements, something they quickly cashed in on. After a mere few months of up-close surveillance, Hezbollah men dashed across the border and kidnapped three Israeli soldiers.

Israeli restraint

However, despite our hard-earned justification to retaliate to such an unprovoked act of aggression and even the prime minister's own guarantee to respond with might in such situation, in the end we did very little. Thus, the promises meant nothing and unfortunately the kidnapped soldiers were killed.

Five years after the tragic kidnappings in Lebanon, Israel removed all Jewish presence from Gaza. At the time we were told that the removal of Israeli troops from the Strip would shift the burden of accountability to the Palestinian Authority, thereby forcing it to rein in the various terrorist organizations. This, like every other promised benefit, turned out to be false as attacks against Israel only increased.

While Israel did eventually reenter Gaza at the end of 2008 as part of Operation Cast Lead, this happened only after thousands of missiles were fired at Jewish communities close to the Gaza border. Moreover, the promised admiration of the world we supposedly were to acquire following our unilateral pullout quickly melted away, as many in the international community hypocritically condemned Israel for its actions in Gaza.

Although there were times when Israel responded forcefully to cross-border attacks, such as in the Second Lebanon War, the growing trend through the years has been for a limited Israeli response or total restraint. Moreover, rather than winning the world's approval based upon our polite and considerate behavior, this trend has been accompanied by the growth of an increasingly hostile anti-Israel environment worldwide.

This being the case, why should we believe that things will be different next time? It is far more plausible to assume that acts of aggression emanating from a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria will be met with the usual limited Israeli response. Moreover, even in the rare instance where Israel responds more forcefully, it is safe to assume that the world will quickly condemn the Jewish state regardless of the circumstances.

In light of the above, how on earth can we use an unproven assumption as the basis for severely weakening our national security, something which is sure to happen if a Palestinian state is created in Judea and Samaria? Indeed, it's absolute madness.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

From Israel: Back on Track

Arlene Kushner
Arlene from Israel
28 April '11

Me, that is. Certainly not this part of the world. I'm post-Pesach, post a major writing assignment, and ready to look at this part of the world (oi!) via my postings...


The big news now is the purported unity agreement between Fatah (the PA) and Hamas that has been secretly brokered by Egypt.

As I share information please keep in mind that it's all a bit nebulous and "iffy," with conflicting reports coming from different sources.

It is apparent why this is coming about now:

The PA wants to go to the UN in order to be recognized as a state in September. Its leaders believe their chances of pulling this off are better if they can say they are seeking a state that encompasses all Palestinians, not just half of their people.

Hamas, for its part, is concerned with increased international credibility. Without a doubt, Hamas is also watching the instability in other nations -- Egypt, Syria -- with which it has links and seeking to maximize its own stability.


An aside here: Even though the PA is much more like Hamas than most people perceive -- both want Israel destroyed, etc. etc. -- there is one significant difference. Fatah is still a nationalist movement, while Hamas, as a jihadist movement, is interested in an international caliphate.


The impetus for striking the deal was apparently Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Hamas's politburo, and Fatah Central Committee member Azzam al-Ahmad. Announcement was first made by Egyptian intelligence via the Egyptian state news agency, MENA.

What is known about the deal at this point is that both sides have initialed an agreement, with signing to take place soon in Cairo. A caretaker government of neutral professionals -- persons who would satisfy both parties -- is slated to take over shortly, with this government then making preparations for presidential and legislative elections in a year. The election committee will be decided upon by both factions. Political prisoners will be released.

Hanania wants compensation - and so do I

Point of No Return
28 April '11

Oh the injustice. Over at the Jerusalem Post the Palestinian Christian columnist Ray Hanania has been berating the Israelis for treating his family unfairly, by refusing to compensate his family for their land in Jerusalem. Here is an extract of his piece, followed by my comment:

"My family owns 33 dunams – about eight acres – adjacent to Gilo, the Jerusalem “suburb” many around the world consider a settlement, which was founded several years after the 1967 War. That’s about 33,000 sq.m. It’s in a valley that faces Malcha and the sports stadium, surrounded by homes. It’s called the “Tarud” land, and was purchased by my cousin’s grandfather in the 19th century. Most of the brothers and sisters who owned the land have died, and only one cousin remains. He’s given me power of attorney to represent it.

I have tried. Israeli officials know that I own the land as its representative. Yet the government continues to announce plans to develop in that area. They have never contacted me or my cousins. The various reports on expansion have said new construction will take place on land owned by the Jewish National Fund and private land. “Private land?” What does that mean to Israelis? This whole conflict is about how we treat each other. And while Israelis always complain about how Palestinians treat them, only a few care about how they treat us. Jews have been severely mistreated and have had their land and property taken from them in European and Arab countries.

Many have already received compensation from European countries. As part of ending this conflict, perhaps those who fled or were forced out of Arab lands will also be compensated."

Read article in full

My comment: Yes, it is unfair that the Hanania family has not been compensated for land in Jerusalem. And I sympathise with Hanania's efforts to fight for compensation. He is relatively lucky, however: the Israelis are aware of Hanania's claims and he has been free to visit the property he claims is his.

ln what circumstances did he lose this land exactly? Gilo was under Jordanian occupation until 1967. So Hanania's land was not taken over by Israel in 1948. It could have been taken over in 1967, when Jordanian forces launched a second war of aggression.

There is this telling paragraph in Hanania's piece:

The mukhtar [leader] of the village of Sharafat has repeatedly refused to meet with me – an indication of the growing tension between Christians and Muslims in Palestinian territories that we are not supposed to discuss. It seems there’s discrimination from every direction.

Perhaps Hanania is not telling us the full story. Could it be that in the absence of the Hanania clan, like many Palestinian Christians who have for decades been living abroad, Muslim settlers from Sharafat have moved in onto Ray's land?

Be that as it may, there is enormous injustice on both sides of the Israeli-Arab divide.

My family lost two homes with large gardens in a prosperous district of Baghdad, a cafe, an office building, and acres of oil-rich date plantations in the Basra area.

Given that there were once 150,000 Jews in Iraq, multiply these losses many times over. Bear in mind the property lost across 10 Arab countries by almost one million Jews, and you get a devastating picture of mass spoliation.

Because Jews have received compensation from European countries, Hanania suggests that Palestinians should receive compensation from Israel, as if Europe had anything to do with the Arab-Israeli conflict, and as if there is no cost for having instigated wars of aggression in 1948 and 1967.

Hanania rather cavalierly suggests that 'perhaps' Jews from Arab countries will be compensated for property they lost simply for being Jews. But Arab states have not even recognised the legitimacy of Jewish claims many times greater than Palestinian claims, let alone provided any compensation. Hanania's is a very big 'perhaps'. Even though Iraq is now nominally a democracy which respects civil rights, the chances of my family obtaining compensation for our property is, I'll admit, as likely as a snowstorm in August.

So perhaps Hanania and I should call it quits.

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Feiglin: The Dangers of Make-Believe

Moshe Feiglin
Manhigut Yehudit
24 Nissan, 5771
(April 28, '11)

Rabbi Moshe Talbi, may G-d avenge his blood, was murdered on the same day that the bomb exploded near Jerusalem's Binyanei Ha'umah. His body was discovered near Revava in the Shomron. The police hurried to announce that he had committed suicide, opened the roadblocks that had already been put into place and caused immeasurable pain and grief to the widow, orphans and murder victim's relatives and friends. Actually, after the Arabs murdered Rabbi Talbi, the police murdered his memory once again. The beleaguered family, however, did not give up. They hired professional investigators, who brought undeniable evidence that Rabbi Talbi had indeed been murdered. This week, the police were forced to re-open the conveniently closed Talbi file.

"The IDF rightfully relates to the incident as a serious mishap and not as an act of terror," the Ha'aretz editorial explained how to relate to last week's murder of Ben Yosef Livnat, may G-d avenge his blood, in Shechem.

The approach that shows understanding for the murder of Jews and places the blame on the victims is not new. "What were they doing there in the first place?" asked former Labor party minister Chaim Bar Lev after six yeshiva boys were murdered in Hebron back in the eighties.

"He went to look for a bargain on eggs," PM Yitzchak Rabin scoffed after Chaim Mizrachi, may G-d avenge his blood, from Beit-El was murdered while trying to do business with his Arab neighbor.

In all these cases, reality was studiously disregarded. Let us claim that in one case the victim committed suicide, in another it was his fault in the first place and in a third that he was being greedy (and that he deserved what he got). We will hide behind sophisticated technology and we will make believe that there is no problem at all.

The pathological response that avoids the truth at all costs, blaming the victim to ensure that the facts do not get in the way of our perceptions - is not new. It is the same pathology that motivated a group of local celebrities to declare 'Palestinian' statehood in Tel Aviv last week. The flip side of the same pathological coin invents dubious solutions for Israel's security, like missiles against missiles instead of exacting a steep price of our enemies every time a rocket explodes in one of Israel's cities or towns.

Reality Test: Will Fatah-Hamas PA Release Gilad Shalit?

Dr. Aaron Lerner
Weekly Commentary
28 April '11

Let’s keep this simple.

Palestinian terrorists kidnap and hold Israelis as hostages.

A legitimate Palestinian governing body doesn’t.

This is nothing new.

Even at the most strained points of relations, the Ramallah PA never traded Israelis.

That’s not to say that they didn’t murder Israelis. But it was never an official policy that they openly adopted and implemented.

It appears that the new Fatah-Hamas government – if it is indeed formed - will try to present the world with a western civilized face by appointing technocrats as ministers.

But a cabinet of Palestinian Oxford and Harvard professors won’t be able to hide a very simple fact:

Until now, the Hamas government ruling in Gaza has been holding Gilad Shalit hostage.

And the moment that a Fatah-Hamas government is responsible for both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that government is directly responsible for Gilad Shalit.

What should Israel have to “trade” with a Fatah-Hamas government to gain the release of Gilad Shalit?

Absolutely nothing.

Because Palestinian terrorists kidnap and hold Israelis as hostages.

A legitimate Palestinian governing body doesn’t.

It is as simple as that.

While many important Western nations have already indicated their misgivings about a Hamas-Fatah coalition, there are various countries in the world that have relations with Israel that see Fatah-Hamas unity as a positive development.

Israel may not be able to convince them otherwise. But Jerusalem should make it very plain and clear that it expect those same governments to require the Fatah-Hamas government they are so optimistic about to immediately and unconditionally release Gilad Shalit.

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Consider This….

Yarden Frankl
Crossing the Yarden
28 April '11

The formulation is used so often that you might miss it when reading the latest news stories about Israel. It’s a way that the media can use the “terrorist” label without actually going out on a limb and calling blood thirsty killers claiming some vague political purpose to be, well… “terrorists.” How do they do it? Like this (from today’s Washington Post):

both (the U.S. and Israel) of which consider Hamas a terrorist organization

Oh, that clears that up. So it is simply an opinion that Hamas is a bunch of terrorists. Because when you write that some people consider them terrorists, what you are really saying is that YOU do not. Sort of like saying “Frankl is considered by his mother to be the favorite to win the Boston Marathon next year.” Would that get me on the cover of SI?

I can just imagine the Hamas PR guy feeling the frustration and wondering just what in the world they need to do to be accepted as a bona fide terrorist group. I mean could you imagine the Post or anyone else writing:

Thousands of people were killed when the World Trade Towers in New York were attacked by Al Quada — who many consider a terrorist organization.

Hamas themselves proudly boast of acts of terrorism. When you fire a laser designated weapon at a yellow school bus and rejoice when a boy is killed, what else besides a terrorist can you be “considered?

Hamas, which many consider to be an advocacy organization with unusual tactics that are not welcomed universally…

I guess all I can do is keep reporting on papers like the Washington Post, who some consider objective journalism….

Yarden Frankl is an avid blogger, biker and runner, though not necessarily at the same time or in that order. He produces short films, long-term media analyses, and other efforts related to media bias for HonestReporting as their Special Media Projects Manager. Yarden’s blog, Crossing The Yarden, can be read at He currently lives in Neve Daniel, Israel with his family, bikes, and dog.

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Gary Younge’s tunnel vision

CiF Watch
27 April '11

Children’s hospital wards are often quite noisy places with sick babies crying, attending mothers chatting, toddlers playing and visitors constantly arriving and leaving. So in the early hours of the afternoon of April 6th 1994, I didn’t actually hear the explosion. It was only the third or fourth consecutive wailing ambulance siren which distracted my attention from the I.V. line I was setting up at the time and activated that all-enveloping sixth sense that something, even in a busy hospital like HaEmek in Afula, was very wrong.

Seconds later the ward’s head nurse put her head around the door. She only needed to say one word – pigu’a – which means terror attack in Hebrew. That word activates an entire system. A skeleton staff remains on the wards whilst the rest of us report to pre-determined places and take up our pre-assigned and well-drilled roles. That day was the first time in my professional life that I witnessed the immediate aftermath of what later turned out to be the first car bomb detonated inside pre-1967 Israel.

Seven gas cylinders, five hand-grenades, 1,100 carpentry nails and the fuel in the tank of the car itself combined to rip through the metal and glass of the number 348 bus whilst it stood at the bus-stop in central Afula with passengers boarding, including many teenagers who had just got out of school for the day. Eight people were killed and forty wounded. For months afterwards I used to see some of the wounded teenagers coming almost daily to the hospital for further treatment, mostly for the severe burns they had sustained.

(Read full "Gary Younge’s tunnel vision")

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The Munich Three Find Their Target: Israel

Kenneth Levin
27 April '11

In 1938, the leaders of Britain, France and Germany met in Munich to decide the fate of Czechoslovakia. Czechoslovakia was not invited. The three conferees agreed to strip the targeted nation of the Sudetenland, whose population consisted largely of ethnic Germans, and transfer that territory to German control. This deprived the victim state not simply of land but of those areas – mountainous, fortifiable - necessary for Czechoslovakia to be able to defend itself.

See also: Speech given in Defense of the Munich Agreement, 1938 Neville Chamberlain

Today, the same three nations are doing the same vis-a-vis Israel. They are discarding UN Security Council Resolution 242, passed unanimously in the wake of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war and since then the cornerstone for all Middle East negotiations. They are ignoring the language of the resolution and the explicit declarations of its authors that Israel should not be forced to return to the pre-1967 armistice lines; that those lines left defense of the country too precarious and should be replaced by “secure and recognized boundaries” to be negotiated by Israel and its neighbors.

Lord Caradon, Britain’s ambassador to the UN at the time and the person who introduced Resolution 242 in the Security Council, told a Lebanese newspaper in 1974: “It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of June 4, 1967, because those positions were undesirable and artificial. After all, they were just the places where the soldiers of each side happened to be on the day the fighting stopped in 1948. They were just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them, and I think we were right not to…”

Arthur Goldberg, the American UN ambassador, made much the same point, stating that the reference to “secure and recognized boundaries” intentionally pointed to the parties negotiating new lines entailing a less than complete Israeli withdrawal and that “Israel’s prior frontiers had proved notably insecure.” Lyndon Johnson, then President, declared Israel’s retreat to its former lines would be “not a prescription for peace but for renewed hostilities.” He advocated new “recognized boundaries” that would provide “security against terror, destruction, and war.”

Subsequent American presidents have reiterated Israel’s right to defensible borders.

The dangers for Israel of a return to the pre-1967 cease-fire lines are evident from even minimal consideration of the region’s topography. Such a withdrawal would not only reduce the nation to a width of nine miles at its center but would entail Israel’s handing over to people who continue to call for her ultimate dissolution control of hill country entirely dominating the coastal plane that is home to some 70% of Israel’s population.

It would also give potential hostile forces beyond the Jordan River untrammeled access to those heights.

This was what the drafters of Security Council Resolution 242 sought to preclude. And this is what the Munich Three now choose to ignore by calling upon the Quartet or the UN to abandon the emphasis on negotiations between the parties and to present a plan of its own based on Israeli retreat to the pre-1967 lines.

In the wake of the 1938 Munich agreement, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain declared, of course, that the parties had achieved “peace in our time.” But Britain and France also offered solemn promises that, should Germany unexpectedly violate the agreement and move against what remained of Czechoslovakia, they would come to the rump nation’s defense.

Less than six months after Munich, Hitler conquered the rest of Czechoslovakia. Britain and France did nothing.

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An Archaeological Battle Over Tel Shiloh

Yisrael Medad
My Right Word
27 April '11

Seems Tel Shiloh (yes, with an "h" as it is written in Hebrew as שילה - shin yud lamed hey) is in the news.

First, the good news:

New Archeological Effort Seeks To Unearth Mishkan's Secrets

The Israeli government has authorized a large scale archeological dig at Tel Shiloh, the ancient biblical site that housed the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and served as the Jewish nation's spiritual capital under the leadership of Joshua and the Judges for nearly 370 years.

Tel Shiloh, which is located north of Beit El in the Binyamin Regional Council (Samaria), adjacent to the modern settlement of Shilo, has become a popular attraction for local and foreign tourists.

While the goal of the dig is to showcase the life and times of ancient Israel, Tzofia Dorot, manager and public relations director of the Tel Shiloh tourist site, acknowledged that the location (in the heart of the Ephraim Hills) could prompt an international uproar.

"No doubt, this is going to make political waves, on a local and international scale," she told The Jewish Press. "And it couldn't come at a more crucial time with everything that is going on in the region, with the international community clamoring for Israel to make concessions.

"The effort to discredit and delegitimize our connection to the Land of Israel is gathering steam. It has been particularly intense since Arafat denied that the Jewish Temple ever existed in Jerusalem. But even before the announcement of the large-scale dig, we were been seeing more and more local and foreign visitors here every day. I am certain that once we begin the actual work the interest and visits will increase exponentially."

Remnants of ancient Shiloh's ramparts were uncovered in previous excavations, including parts of the city walls, homes, wine and oil presses, cisterns and huge warehouses containing enormous earthen jars that once contained oil, wine and flour destined for use in the Mishkan.

A number of residents of modern day Shiloh, which was re-established in 1977 [8 actually], have picked up where their forefathers left off, engaging in a variety of agricultural endeavors. Several boutique wineries in the region have been lauded by local and international wine experts as being among the best in the country.

Dorot is actively engaged in raising funds for a new Tel Shiloh educational and historical visitor's center in anticipation of headline-making discoveries. "Recently," she said, "we had three companies present their ideas for development of a major visitor center. I believe that once we've uncovered the secrets buried here for over 2,000 years, many people will come forward to help us create a magnificent center."

Implications of a Hamas-Fatah Unity Accord

David M. Weinberg
A Citadel Defending Zion
27 April '11

There are many severe and game-changing security/diplomatic implications for Israel of a Hamas-Fatah unity accord. Prepare for war.

Hamas-Fatah unity accords, including those negotiated by the Saudis, have been announced several times before and frizzled overnight. Teheran is known to be opposed to Hamas reconciliation with Fatah, and Abbas has been arresting, not coddling, Hamas activists in the West Bank. So this accord may amount to nothing.

If the unity accord takes root, however, there are many severe and game-changing security/diplomatic implications for Israel:

1. The terms of such an accord would undoubtedly include Egyptian agreement to open its border with Gaza, which has been one of Hamas’ key demands. This has wild implications for the import of Iranian weapons into Gaza, and would put the next Israel-Hamas clash on the fast-track.

2. The accord reportedly includes a military chapter. Will Hamas be integrated into the PA security apparatus? If so, Israel-PA security cooperation inevitably will come grinding to a halt, and so could the PA’s economic growth.

3. The heart of the reported accord is an agreement for mutual Hamas-Fatah prisoner releases, and for integration of Hamas into PLO parent institutions. What will the release of Hamas activists in the West Bank mean for Israeli security? What will Hamas involvement in PLO party organs mean for Fatah’s sustainability as a party that favors reconciliation with Israel?

4. Hamas is openly committed to Israel’s destruction; its charter is violently anti-Semitic; it possesses significant military capabilities that are in violation of every Palestinian accord with Israel; and it says that its army units are aimed at “liberating” all of Israel. What diplomatic concessions could Netanyahu possibly offer the PA now, in any American-brokered negotiations, which would head off confrontation with the unified PA in the fall after a Palestinian declaration of independence or after UN recognition of statehood? (Abbas will feel strengthened going to the UN claiming to represent all Palestinians, including Gaza). What Israeli leader, from Labor to Kadima to Likud, could advocate West Bank withdrawals to anything near the 1949 lines in such grim circumstances?

5. What does all this mean for the negotiations to free Gilad Shalit? Might this improve the chances of his release, or bury them?

6. What are Israel’s options? One option is acquiescence to Palestinian and international demands for immediate Palestinian statehood and the start of long negotiations over withdrawals, security borders and guarantees. I think it highly unlikely that the Netanyahu government (or any other Israeli government) would agree to this in the present circumstances. The other alternative is to hunker down; call for national unity in Israel; to tell the Israeli public that “blood, sweat and tears” will be necessary to withstand the ill winds of change billowing around Israel — from Cairo, Damascus, Gaza and Ramallah; to call upon Israel’s friends in Washington, Ottawa and elsewhere to stand by Israel in this time of testing; and to quietly prepare Israel for war. I suspect that Netanyahu will use his upcoming Yom Haatzmaut and Knesset speeches, and then his planned Congressional speech, to do the latter.

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