Thursday, May 31, 2012

May - Whose Middle East Policy Is It, Anyway?

Clfford D. May..
Scripps Howard News Service..
31 May '12..

If we set up an organization to provide health care, over time more people should get well. If we set up an organization to assist the poor, over time more people should earn a living. If we set up an organization to resettle refugees, over time more displaced persons should find permanent homes, acquire citizenship, and cease being refugees.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency was set up in the late 1940s after Palestinian Arab forces, backed by the armies of five Arab nations, rejected a U.N. partition plan — what we now call a two-state solution — and launched a war to destroy the fledgling State of Israel. Initially, UNRWA's mission was to "reintegrate" Palestinian Arabs displaced during the fighting into the normal life of the Middle East.

That mission changed about 1960. In a paper soon to be published in The Middle East Quarterly, Steven J. Rosen, Washington director of the Middle East Forum, documents how UNRWA, for the past half-century, has sought not to diminish the Palestinian-refugee problem but to enlarge it — even while Israel was resettling hundreds of thousands of Jews expelled from Arab and other Muslim lands.

I first wrote about this a few weeks ago, noting Senator Mark Kirk's plan to cut not a dollar of American support for UNRWA but simply to stimulate an honest discussion based on reliable data. He has now done that: Last week the Senate Appropriations Committee, on a unanimous and bipartisan basis, approved legislation requiring the State Department to tell Congress how many of the 5 million Palestinians currently receiving assistance from UNRWA were among the approximately 750,000 individuals displaced during the war against Israel, and how many are their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Jaschik - Boycott Kills an Anthology

Scott Jaschik..
Inside Higher Ed..
31 May '12..

To their credit, while an anthology has been canceled, Kamran Scot Aghaie, and the University of Texas Press have taken a strong stand which they should be applauded for, and this in a time when unfortunately other institutions and individuals of lesser character have failed miserably. Also posting today on this was Evelyn Gordon with University Deserves Kudos, Not Blame, providing some clarity in the wake of some earlier misunderstanding of what had taken place.

For many scholars, a fitting way to honor a deceased colleague is to produce an anthology of related work. At the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, that was the thinking behind plans for a volume of fiction and other writing by women in the Middle East. The anthology was to honor the late Elizabeth Fernea, who in her years at Texas had helped build up the study of the region and who promoted the publication in translation of works from the many countries there.

In the last week, however, the project fell apart -- as the movement to boycott Israel in every possible way left Texas officials believing that they couldn't complete the work.

Darshan-Leitner - North Korea’s forgotten past

Nitsana Darshan-Leitner..
Op-Ed Contributor/JPost..
29 May '12..

In the aftermath of the Israeli strike on the fledgling Syrian nuclear reactor at Deir ez-Zor on September 6, 2007, North Korea’s involvement in fueling Middle East conflict and warfare was revealed publicly to many around the world for the first time. Indeed, the Syrian reactor had been modeled upon similar reactors in North Korea and it is suspected that Pyongyang assisted in both building and outfitting the Syrian facility.

More recently, shipments of North Korea missiles destined for Iran, Libya, Syria and other outlaw regimes in the region have been intercepted or turned back by the United States. Reports have also surfaced of North Korea assisting Hezbollah to build underground bunker systems in southern Lebanon to safeguard its rocket launchers from Israeli aerial attacks.

While today North Korea is finally acknowledged to be a major player in providing support and resources to the terrorist groups infesting our region, its involvement in aiding those extremist organizations that target the Jewish state had begun many decades earlier.

Gordon - University Deserves Kudos, Not Blame

Evelyn Gordon..
31 May '12..

As a country with more than enough real enemies, the last thing Israel needs is for its supporters to start attacking its friends. But that’s what seems to have happened to the University of Texas – which has been attacked as an anti-Israel boycotter for taking a courageous stand against the boycott.

It began when Israel National News published a perfectly fair article with an unfortunate headline: “New Boycott: U. of Texas Cancels Book Including Israelis.” The headline seems to accuse the university itself of boycotting Israelis, and that’s how many people evidently read it: Comments such as “U of Texas Press bows to boycotters,” or the more generic “scandalous!” and “shameful,” soon appeared on Twitter and Facebook.

What actually happened, as the news story makes clear, is that the university’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies wanted to publish a collection of women’s writing about life in the Middle East that would include both Arab and Israeli authors. The problem began when a Palestinian woman who had been invited to contribute threatened to withdraw her own article if the two Israelis contributors weren’t excluded.

The university, quite properly, told her to go ahead and withdraw; the book could live without her contribution. But she countered by persuading other contributors to withdraw their manuscripts as well. Ultimately, according to Inside Higher Ed, 13 of the 29 authors did so, and a few others were wavering. That left the university with four choices:

Shine - The watchdog that bit democracy

Dr. Haim Shine..
Israel Hayom..
31 May '12..

The attorney-general's decision to try Haaretz reporter Uri Blau for the unauthorized possession of confidential material was good, and brave. In a country where the media dictates the national agenda on many issues, courage is required to stop the reckless behavior of journalists who, under the protection of freedom of expression, put Israel in real danger. It is not the attorney-general's job to dictate codes of behavior — that job is reserved for the legislative and judiciary branches of government. The attorney-general's job is to ensure that well-founded indictments are heard by the court. The attorney-general is supposed to treat everyone equally: rich and poor, elected official and common citizen, journalist and any other professional.

The message communicated by the attorney-general's decision to indict Blau is important: Freedom of speech is not freedom to commit national suicide or freedom to abandon judgment. Journalists can be expected to display a fair amount of responsibility and regard for the security of the state and its values. Anat Kamm and Uri Blau are not heroes. Efforts by the radical left-wing media to portray them as such are absurd: They portray an enemy as an ally, liberation as occupation and cowardice as civilian courage.

Frantzman - Occupation: The ‘oxygen’ of the peace lobby

Seth J. Frantzman..
Terra Incognita/JPost..
30 May '12..

(While having some very specific reservations with this piece, on balance there are a number of important points that are brought out and require attention. Yosef)

In its recently released annual report, Amnesty International accused Israel of a laundry list of human rights violations, almost all of which had to do with the occupied Palestinian territories. Most interesting was the list of complaints related to Gaza.

“The humanitarian crisis affecting the Gaza Strip’s 1.6 million residents continued due to Israel’s ongoing military blockade...36 Palestinians were killed in accidents or in Israeli air strikes on tunnels used to smuggle goods between Egypt and Gaza...the Israeli authorities hindered or prevented hundreds of patients from leaving Gaza to obtain medical treatment.”

The continuing saga of Gaza is an important symbol of a larger phenomenon. The occupation of the Palestinian territories can never end because of the vested interest many organizations have in maintaining the fiction of Israeli control, even when control is withdrawn. It is well known that Israel does not control the border between Egypt and Gaza and yet the condemnation for not providing access to hospitals for Gazans assumes that Israel is responsible for providing medical treatment for people in Gaza; once again perpetuating the idea that Israel’s occupation can never be allowed to end.

Human rights organizations and the peace industry are beholden to the occupation, addicted to it – no less than Israel’s most extremist right-wing voices. This may seem a contradiction: how can organizations devoted to ending the occupation in fact support the occupation? The answer: Because the occupation is their raison d’etre and without it they cannot exist. This is typical of the NGO world. For example, those organizations that devote their existence to ending poverty require that poverty be perpetuated because NGOs have become an industry and choice place of employment. That is why we see in the world of NGOs a multiplication of overlapping groups with “mission creep.” This multiplication becomes an intense lobby to support a professional class, to the extent that entire university degrees are now devoted to the phenomenon of the NGO profession.

Abrams - Going Directly To The Wastebasket: Another Plan For The “Peace Process”

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
30 May '12..

Some “peace processors” never give up. In The New York Times today, four of them try an old and very bad idea: forget about negotiations, and substitute the views of some un-elected elderly “statesmen” and of the UN Security Council.

In an op-ed piece entitled “Going Directly to Israelis and Palestinians,” Shlomo Ben-Ami, Thomas Schelling, Jerome Segal, and Javier Solana suggest “a new approach” that isn’t new at all. The heart of it is this:

“The U.N. Security Council…will establish a special committee composed of distinguished international figures acting in their own capacity. Possibly it would be headed by a former American statesman or senator.” Their “first task would be to determine if there is any possible peace agreement that would be acceptable to a majority of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.” To determine this, the panel would “go to the region where, over a period of several months, it would conduct a transparent inquiry into the possibility of genuine peace.” It would hold televised hearings and “conduct public opinion research and study the record of past Israeli-Palestinian negotiations — in particular, the Clinton Parameters and the progress made at Taba and in the Olmert-Abbas round.” Then, and this is the key, the panel “would…develop a draft treaty” which the UN Security Council would approve in a resolution, calling for negotiations based upon it as a starting point. If Israel or the Palestinians object, “the process should go forward even if one government, or both, fails to embrace it.” If the parties fail, the Security Council should “pass a resolution which embodies the…plan and calls on Israel and the Palestinians to announce their acceptance.”

The four authors are optimistic: “Agreement may not be immediate. However, an end-of-conflict plan that emerges from this process will have the staying power of historic resolutions such as 181 and 242. Supported by majorities on both sides, it will be an offer that political leaders cannot indefinitely refuse.”

What’s above is the plan as the authors describe it. Here’s my description.

Greenfield - The Patriotism of Palestinianism

Daniel Greenfield..
Sultan Knish..
30 May '12..

Each century brings forth its own patriots. Once upon a time we had Patrick Henry, today we have Senator Patrick Leahy, who declared in the Senate that his opposition to an amendment that would distinguish how much of the UNRWA's funding goes to actual refugees versus fake refugees was a patriotic act.

"I always look at what is in the United States’ interest first and foremost, and this would hurt the United States’ interests,” Senator Leahy stated firmly. It is of course difficult to find as compelling a national interest as the UNRWA, a refugee agency created exclusively for the benefit of five million Arabs, approximately 30,000 of whom are actual refugees, but all of whom hate the United States.

Senator Leahy, who could not discover a national interest in the Balanced Budget Amendment, drilling for oil in ANWR or detaining Muslim terrorists, all of which he voted against; finally discovered a binding national interest 5,500 miles away in Jordan, where "refugee camps" like Baqa'a (pop. 80,000), which are virtually indistinguishable from local towns and cities, complete with block after block of residential homes, stores and markets, multi-story office buildings, schools, hospitals and assorted infrastructure, must not be looked at too closely.

As a city which will soon celebrate its 50 year anniversary, Baqa'a is older than many modern Israeli cities and is as much a refugee camp as any of them. The only difference between Baqa'a and Ariel, is that no one in Baqa'a does anything for themselves because they are all eternal refugees with an entire UN agency dedicated to wiping their bottoms for them. A unique and singular honor in a world full of authentic refugees who have been driven out by rape squads and genocide, without getting their own minders in blue.

Elder - Some kinds of apartheid are OK

Elder of Ziyon..
30 May '12..

On Tuesday night, Arabs threw a Molotov cocktail through the window of a Jewish-owned house in Jerusalem and it ignited, torching the room and heavily damaging the house.

This was the culmination of two weeks of incessant harassment of the Jewish residents - where they broke many windows of both houses and cars that belong to Jews in the neighborhood.

But unlike the cases when Jews are accused of attacking Arabs - crimes that are universally condemned and referred to as "racist" - these incidents will be ignored.

Collier - When Israel had a champion at the UN

Peter Collier..
Op-Ed Contributor/JPost..
29 May '12..

Jeane Kirkpatrick experienced an epiphany shortly after Ronald Reagan appointed her America’s permanent representative at the UN in 1981 when Israel’s ambassador Yehuda Blum came to her office for his first official visit.

She had been appalled during the previous four years by what she regarded as the Carter administration’s contemptuous attitude toward the Jewish state, and particularly by the way that preceding UN ambassadors Andrew Young and Donald McHenry had, respectively, criticized the Jewish state as “stubborn and intransigent” (and met secretly with the PLO representative), and voted for Resolution 465 condemning Israel’s occupation of “Arab territories including Jerusalem.”

But she didn’t realize how deeply these attitudes had penetrated the US mission until she saw the way the career foreign service officers she inherited from the previous administration dismissively referred to Blum by his first name and rudely interrupted him on this first visit. She sternly pointed out to them that Blum was a Holocaust survivor who spoke nine languages, and angrily ordered them out of the room.

“You can see what it has been like for Israel here,” Blum told her after they sat down. Kirkpatrick replied, “It will be different now. No one will be treated better in this mission than Israel.”

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ahmari/Kirchick - We Are All Persian Grammarians Now

Sohab Ahmari/James Kirchick..
The American Interest..
30 May '12..

As the Iranian mullahs’ nuclearization drive reaches its end goal, Western policymakers face a narrowing range of bad options. There are difficult choices ahead, and those choices are made all the more difficult by Tehran’s long track record of vicious rhetoric directed at Israel—the most notorious example of which was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s call in 2005 for Israel to be “wiped off the map” (as the phrase has frequently been translated in the English-speaking world). It’s no wonder that some in the West, faced with such venom, seek palliatives.

How do you palliate a call for another country’s destruction? Simple: You quibble over minor points of grammar. Instant experts in Persian grammar have been doing this to Ahmadinejad’s speech ever since he delivered it in 2005 (at a conference ominously titled “The World Without Zionism”). The latest round of grammatical henpecking came a short while ago, when Israeli intelligence minister Dan Meridor told Al-Jazeera English that Ahmadinejad’s 2005 utterance did not signal an immediate intent to nuke Israel. In response, Robert Mackey took to his New York Times blog to underline the apparent concession:

A senior Israeli official has acknowledged that Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, never actually said that Israel ‘must be wiped off the map.’ . . . Although there is general agreement . . . that Mr. Ahmadinejad did not commit his country to the project of destroying the state of Israel in [his] 2005 speech, the phrase that was wrongly attributed to him then remains so firmly rooted in the popular imagination that it is frequently used as evidence of Iran’s genocidal intentions.

Citing the Iranian-American pundit and one-time Ahmadinejad interpreter Hooman Majd, Mackey sought to frame Ahmadinejad’s remark as a dire prediction rather than a threat, noting that “in the original speech, the Iranian president had argued that, while the end of Israeli rule over Jerusalem, the third holiest city in Islam, might seem impossible to imagine, the end of the Shah’s rule and the collapse of the Soviet Union both proved that change on that scale was possible.” Viewed in this light, Ahmadinejad’s remarks don’t sound all that different from those of any other proponent of a two-state solution that includes ending Jewish sovereignty over parts of Jerusalem.

Mackey’s foray into Persian grammar fits into a heated and long-running debate originally sparked in part by the New York Times’s own reporting on the infamous speech. In that piece, the Times’s Tehran correspondent, Nazila Fathi, quoted Ahmadinejad as follows: “As the imam [Khomeini] said, Israel must be wiped off the map.” A day later, the Middle East Media Research Institute provided a more accurate translation of the quote: “Imam [Khomeini] said: ‘This regime that is occupying Qods [Jerusalem] must be eliminated from the pages of history.’ This sentence is very wise.”

CAMERA - Citizen Klein and the East Jerusalem Citizenship Stats

East Jerusalem Arabs outside the Ministry
of Interior. Increased numbers are applying
for, and receiving, Israeli citizenship
(Photo by AP)
30 May '12..

Menachem Klein, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University who in the past has accused Israel of practicing apartheid and following a "classical colonial approach" in Jerusalem, of all places, the Jewish people's historic capital, continues to mislead on Jerusalem. In Ha'aretz, he wrote May 25 that following Israel's annexation of eastern Jerusalem after the 1967 war:

it did not automatically grant Israeli citizenship to the Palestinians who live there. Up until the early 2000s, they could apply for citizen's status - though few did - but since Israel amended its citizenship law, it's almost impossible for them to attain it. (Emphasis added)

Further on, he reiterates his assertion that citizenship is practically unattainable for Arabs living in eastern Jerusalem:

But should they desire to obtain Israeli citizenship, their way is almost completely blocked because the government is worried by the demographic implications this would have for the country being a Jewish state and Jerusalem being its capital. (Emphasis added.)

It is unclear what amendment to the citizenship law Klein has in mind, but the B'Tselem board member would have benefited from checking B'Tselem's own site:

Ottolenghi - “The Sword On Our Neck”

Emanuele Ottolenghi..
30 May '12..

Remember when Meir Dagan, upon leaving office as head of Israel’s Mossad spy agency, gave a briefing to the press, where he warned against hasty military decisions and said that “Israel should not hasten to attack Iran, doing so only when the sword is upon its neck”?

In a clear reference to Dagan’s words, Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, has just said, in a lecture delivered earlier today at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies that “the metaphorical sword is now on our neck.”

Israel is the only country in the world that launched, not once but twice, a preemptive strike on an adversary’s nuclear facilities. These words should not be taken lightly by Western policymakers intent on stretching the ongoing negotiating round with Iran at least until the November U.S. presidential elections.

Barak’s speech is a warning then – and one that diplomats reading progress into Iran’s foot dragging last week in Baghdad would be foolish to downplay.


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(Video) The PA message loud and clear. Any questions?

30 May '12..

From Palestinian Media Watch:

"We commit and promise to stand behind you, oh Mahmoud Abbas, until Judgment Day. I am returning to you, the purest land, oh land of the free. No matter how long the nights of exile, I am returning to you, oh land. From Rafah to Rosh Hanikra (northern Israel) our coast, and Beit Shean (Israeli city). Above your soil, oh my land, is a picture of Garden of Eden. From Rafah to Rosh Hanikra our coast, and Beit Shean. Above your soil, oh my land, is a picture of Garden of Eden. From Rafah to Rosh Hanikra, north and south, are the picture's borders. From Haifa (Israeli city) and Tantura to the [Jordan] valley (i.e., all of Israel). I am returning to you, the purest land, oh land of the free."

Note: The following PA officials are shown sitting in the audience: Mahmoud Abbas, PA Chairman, Sultan Abu Al-Einein, Fatah Central Committee, Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Committee, Abbas Zaki, Fatah Central Committee, Al-Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim, President's office Sec. Gen., Yasser Abd Rabbo, PLO Sec. Gen., Ahmad Tibi, Israeli Arab Member of Israeli Parliament.

This video originally aired on Feb. 27, 2011 (Palestinian TV (Fatah) and was rebroadcast twice in May, once in July, 12 times in September, four times in October, once in December, once in January 2012, twice in February, once in April, and on May 12, 2012.

Any questions as to the Palestinian Authority's end game? And yes, MK Ahmad Tibi's presence has been duly noted.

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CAMERA - A (Aeyal) Gross Manipulation

The July 24, 2005 funeral
of Rachel and Dov Kol,
gunned down by a Palestinian
who was subsequently killed
(Photo by Yoav Lemmer/AFP)
30 May '12..

Tel Aviv University's Aeyal Gross redefines the meaning of "manipulation" in his Ha'aretz Op-Ed yesterday ("Security for Israeli settlers, not for Palestinians"). In his column he suggests that the just as the Citizenship Law prevents Palestinians from moving into Israel due to security reasons, so too it should prevent Israelis from moving across the Green Line "in light of their proven tendency to steal Palestinians lands and act violently toward Palestinians," as he puts it.

After he explains that the two recent incidents of shootings near Yitzhar are among

the many other instances of settler violence towards Palestinians, some of which are what are known as "price tag" incidents, including stone-throwing, incursions into Palestinians villages and arson.

He then provides a concrete figure pointing to Israeli violence:

According to statistics provided by the human rights group B'Tselem, since 2000 Israeli civilians have killed 50 Palestinians in the territories, in addition to perpetrating many other non-fatal instances of violence.

Fifty is quite a high figure. (Let's leave aside, for a moment, the fact that it is much lower than the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians in the same time period). Given B'Tselem's historic difficulty in producing reliable casualty statistics, we decided to check out for ourselves the B'Tselem figures that Gross cited. A review of the B'Tselem data reveals the following:

Martino - The Cause of Europeans' Attitude Towards Israel

Laurette Onkelinx 
Peter Martino..
Gatestone Institute..
30 May '12..

Last April, Belgium's Justice Minister, Annemie Turtelboom, and its Foreign Minister, Didier Reynders, went on an official visit to Morocco, where they had an appointment with Morocco's Prime Minister, Abdelilah Benkirane, the leader of the Islamist Justice and Development Party.

Benkirane refused to address Ms. Turtelboom because she is a woman; he talked exclusively to Mr Reynders. Benkirane's misogynous views are rooted in Koranic verses expressing contempt for women, considered only half the worth of men.

After Ms. Turtelboom had returned home, she admitted that although she had felt insulted, she had deliberately not responded to the humiliation to "avoid a diplomatic row." Indignant female Belgian parliamentarians of Moroccan origin demanded that the Belgian government protest the treatment of the minister. But both the minister and the government preferred to remain quiet and forget the incident.

Last week, when Laurette Onkelinx, the Belgian Minister of Health, attended the annual world health conference in Geneva, she was greeted by her Israeli counterpart, Yaakov Litzman, a Hassidic Jew, who politely refused to shake Ms Onkelinx' hand, and explained that religious stricture prevented him for doing so. Ms Onkelinx is making a great fuss about this. "My hands are clean!" she posted on her official Facebook page, comparing the Israeli minister to an Iranian official. "This kind of fundamentalist attitude, connected to a certain perception of religion and women, troubles me deeply," she wrote.

The difference in the responses of the Belgian government ministers during the two incidents is striking. The personal insult to a female minister by the Islamist Prime Minister of Morocco was downplayed in order to "avoid a diplomatic row." No such caution was taken into consideration when the Hassidic Israeli minister declined to shake the hand of his female Belgian colleague. On the contrary, it would seem that the latter incident is deliberately being blown out of proportion.

Fresnozionism - The schoolyard scenario
29 May '12..

Yesterday I described how Iran was making fools of the West, and why Israel cannot depend on the US to protect it.

Today, Brett Stephens reminds us that Iran has been doing the same thing since 1979, and our side keeps falling for it. In a highly memorable simile, he says

Altogether, the regime has treated the West the way a shark would a squid: with the combination of appetite and contempt typically reserved for the congenitally spineless.

He also makes another point, which had occurred to me too:

The Iranians may also be gambling that any Israeli strike will prove costly, unpopular and ineffectual, thereby tagging Israel as the aggressor while crippling its deterrent power in the long run. That’s more of a gamble, but from the Iranian perspective it may be one well-worth taking.

It is indeed a big gamble, taking on the Israeli Air Force and special forces. But on thinking further about it, it may not be as crazy as it looks.

(Video) Jerusalem - Beauty and Joy of Israel's Heart

May 29, 2012

The streets of Jerusalem on the special day celebrating the city's reunification. A celebration of youthful energy, enthusiasm, and love of the Jewish homeland. Everyone is included and dancing together from all backgrounds in an overflowing expression of unity. Original footage shot by Jewish Press's own Jerusalem based videographer Natan Epstein. Music by Shlomo Katz, "There Will Be Heard".

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Law – Fini

Jon Haber..
Divest This!
29 May '12..

One of the most powerful objections one could raise to the critique I’ve been making regarding Israel and international law would be that it is a “shooting the messenger” – style argument. “So what if the institutions condemning Israel as being in violation of international law are flawed or even corrupt?” the argument goes. “If Israel is guilty of what they say, then it shouldn’t matter who is making the accusations.”

This is actually a strong argument, which also implies another one that says it doesn’t matter if other nations (including Israel’s accusers) are guilty of even greater human rights “crimes,” since the question under discussion is Israel’s guilt (or innocence) of the charges.

Israel’s supporters need to treat this argument with respect since Israel does not stand alone with regard to the developing framework of international institutions and rules, so should not be quick to dismiss the entire edifice as illegitimate.

In order to counter this argument, one would need to demonstrate that there exist objective standards for judging whether these accusations are unfair or not. And fortunately, we can go back to our original discussion of the nature of law to find such standards.

If you recall, this analysis began by describing the rule of law (based on consent and enforcement) representing a pact between generations to believe (and raise their children to believe) that the law is fair and thus worth preserving. And there are some situations which have reasonably shaken this belief, (regardless of the societies in which these situations have emerged).

The first is inequality before the law. After all, the law is meant to be impartial (and blind), applying equally to rich and poor, aristocrat and worker, well-connected and isolated. And if can be demonstrated that law is applied unequally on a systematic basis, that is a strong foundation for challenging its legitimacy.

Inequality before the law can take two forms: a law that can clearly be applied to many instead being applied to just an unfortunate few. Alternatively, law can be written so selectively and precisely that it is designed to prosecute just a few specific individuals or groups. The non-stop (and systematic) condemnation of Israel by international bodies made up of nations far more guilty of the crimes they accuse Israel of committing fall into the former category. And the increasingly narrow definitions of “Occupation” (which didn’t apply to Jordan and Egypt when they occupied the West Bank and Gaza, but are now considered the worst crime on the planet, just short of genocide) is an example of the latter.

Desperate anti-Israel boycotters at it again in the U.K.

Richard Millet/Nick Gray..
The Commentator..
29 May '12..

Is there anything left for the anti-Israel (supposedly Palestinian-supporting) boycott organisations to boycott? In recent days, their target has been Israel’s national theatre company, Habima.

Habima actively promotes Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and co-operation through its ongoing projects and has an Arab-Israeli theatre in Jaffa, so you would imagine it would pass the boycott filter.

But no, Habima’s unforgivable sin was to accept an invitation to play in Ariel - an “illegal settlement” built on “stolen Palestinian land”. Some Israeli theatre professionals had declared they would not play in Ariel or other settlements and so Habima now has pariah status in the international BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) community.

Shakespeare’s Globe theatre in London invited Habima to perform here in London as part of their “Globe to Globe” festival; 37 plays in 37 languages, including the Palestinian Ashtar company playing Richard II and Habima playing The Merchant of Venice (apposite, we suppose)!

Again, you would think the balance of both companies performing would be good enough, but, again, no. The Globe had the courage to resist boycott calls by David Calder, Trevor Griffiths, Jonathan Miller, Emma Thompson and other British thespians in March this year and Habima has just played to a sell-out house.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Stephens - On Iran, We'll Probably Get Fooled Again

Brett Stephens..
Wall St. Journal..
28 May '12..

In May 1981, John Kifner, a reporter for the New York Times who had covered the Iranian hostage crisis from start to finish, wrote a lengthy story seeking to explain how the embassy seizure had come about and why it dragged out for 444 agonizing days. Thirty-one years later, it still makes for timely reading:

"The early attempts at negotiations," Mr. Kifner wrote, "all sank on the rock of Ayatollah Khomeini's moral absolutism. 'This is a war of Islam against blasphemy,' [Khomeini] said. He dismissed the possibility of armed attack, saying that much of the population was 'looking forward to martyrdom,' and he brushed off the threat of economic sanctions: 'We know how to fast.'"

Give the late ayatollah his due: He had the courage of his convictions—and he had the West's number. So does his regime. The Islamic Republic has insisted all along that nuclear enrichment is its right. It has consistently responded to threats and sanctions by expanding its nuclear program, bearing the economic sacrifice while forcing the West to bargain for less and less. Yes, the regime is almost certainly lying when it says it has no interest in nuclear weapons. But since when have nations laid bare their secrets or revealed their intentions to the enemy?

Altogether, the regime has treated the West the way a shark would a squid: with the combination of appetite and contempt typically reserved for the congenitally spineless.

Ostroff - Playing ducks and drakes with the apartheid canard

Maurice Ostroff..
The Times of Israel..
29 May '12..

A May 24 article in The Times of Israel titled “Bibi, there’s a duck in our backyard,” by the co-founder of Forum Tzora, Jonathan Zausmer, calls to mind the phrase “playing ducks and drakes,” defined by the Oxford dictionary as treating a subject frivolously.

The author’s frivolous and inaccurate claim that, apart from Bibi, “everyone else” recognizes the duck in our backyard as apartheid is vigorously contested by a sizable group of concerned citizens who have extensive knowledge and experience of the subject and who have been in correspondence with the author, expressing a diametrically opposite view that is very widely shared.

This group’s considered opinion is that while there is much to criticize in Israel, as in most countries, there is absolutely no justification for the lazy attitude of adopting the language of Israel’s enemies in falsely accusing Israel of apartheid within or beyond the Green Line. The group contends that the declared aims of the Forum to uphold the liberal spirit of Israel’s Declaration of Independence and actively opposing ultra-nationalist and anti-democratic forces should be addressed without resorting to the totally unnecessary, irrelevant and unjustified “apartheid” bogeyman that is “born of ignorance” as described by persons more qualified than most of us to comment on the subject.

Kushner - From Israel: UNRWA

Arlene Kushner..
29 May '12..

For years I have been part of a small cadre of determined individuals who saw clearly the damage being done by UNRWA -- the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestinian Refugees. Damage to prospects for peace in this region, and damage directly to Israel.

There is so much wrong with this agency that it's impossible to document it all in this post. Suffice it to say the following:

UNRWA is the only international refugee agency in the world dedicated to one group of refugees -- the Palestinian Arab "refugees." All other refugees are tended to by the UN High Commission for Refugees. And what's astounding is that UNRWA's rules for "its" refugees are different from the rules for all those other refugees.

UNHCR works to get refugees resettled as quickly as possible -- even if the only alternative is settling them permanently in the place to which they had fled or to a third place -- so that they might get on with their lives.

UNRWA, however, which is functioning from an orientation that is highly politicized and heavily anti-Israel, says that "its" refugees continue to be refugees even if they get citizenship elsewhere. ONLY "returning" to Israel would eradicate that status. What is more, UNRWA says descendants of refugees are also refugees, indefinitely via the patrilineal line. Which means UNRWA promotes "return" to Israel of people who have never been here, and whose parents or even grandparents have never been here either.

So, while other refugee populations diminish over time, the rolls of UNRWA have grown exponentially. Hey! the idea here is to invade Israel by demanding that "right" for some roughly five million counted locally, or seven million world-wide. A good way to conquer Israel without lifting a machine gun.

Roth - Terrorism from up close: low-intensity attacks continue

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
29 May '12..

The chronology below picks up where we left off a week ago ["24-May-12: Terrorism from up close: the past few days"]. Like the earlier data, this is based on the Tayar Security Report, compiled by Yehudit Tayar.

Thursday May 24, 2012

- The village of El Arub, southwest of Bethlehem on the Bethlehem-to-Hebron road: A bottle is hurled at an IDF post
Hawara, south of Shechem (aka Nablus): Rocks are thrown at Israeli vehicles. A bus is damaged.
- The vehicle of one of the Jewish residents of Hebron is blockaded on the main road between Kiryat Arba and Hebron. The driver is fortunately able to extricate herself from a potentially very harmful situation.
- The Jewish section of Hebron: A bottle is thrown at an Israeli bus
- Near El Fuar in the Southern Hebron Hills: A rock attack on an Israeli bus
- El Arub (again): Rocks are hurled at vehicles traveling on the Gush Etzion-Hebron arterial road
- Bet Umar, notorious site of a large number of rock throwing attacks: Additional such attacks directed at vehicles traveling the Gush Etzion-Hebron road
- The road between Turmus Aya and Shilo in the Benjamin region: One again, rock attacks on Israeli vehicles
- Kiryat Arba in the vicinity of the Palestinian Arab neighbourhood of Jebel Johar: A rock-throwing attack on the nearby IDF security post

Fresnozionism - Buying time for Iran
28 May '12..

The talks last week between the Iranian regime and representatives of the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany (the “P5+1″) went more or less like this:

P5+1: We’ll reduce sanctions if you stop enriching uranium.

Iran: How about we enrich uranium and you reduce sanctions?

Unnamed US official: “We’re getting to things that matter.”

Another meeting has been set for July 18.

Ho hum, almost another month, more uranium enriched to (at least) 20% and the Fordow facilities get more centrifuges and become more difficult to hit. I suppose that ultimately the P5+1 will get tough, and ‘force’ Iran to agree to something more substantial than yet another meeting date. But since their initial bargaining position was considered by many (including Israeli PM Netanyahu) inadequate to prevent Iran from preparing a “fast breakout” position in which weapons could be built on short notice, how much less adequate will the final deal be?

Phillips - Zionism and bigotry

Melanie Phillips..
Daily Mail..
28 May '12..

In the wake of the festival of Shavuot, when Jews have been celebrating the giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai from where he presented them to the Jewish people camped at its foot, I have been brooding over the fact that Zionism has become a dirty word in Britain and the west.

For many in these societies, Zionism has now become equated with racism. This group libel, once regarded with revulsion by decent people when the Soviet-Arab axis got the UN to endorse it in 1975, has now become the prism through which the BBC, academia, the artistic and theatrical world and much of the rest of the cultural establishment now frame all references to Israel.

This helps explain the attempted boycott of the Israeli theatre company Habima, playing Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice at London’s Globe theatre this evening in conditions of the tightest security (apparently the expected interruptions by bigots have so far been relatively minor). The profound malice and ignorance behind such reflexive demonisation of Israel are rendered all the more hallucinatory by the sanctimonious and unchallenged assumption of the moral high ground which these idiots believe they occupy.

This is as grotesque as it is terrifying. Zionism is no more nor less than the self-determination of the Jewish people -- as a people, and not just as adherents of the Jewish religion. Jews are in fact the only people – as a people -- for whom Israel (ancient Judea and Samaria) was ever their national homeland. Those who deny Zionism thus deny Jewish peoplehood and the fundamental right of Jews to live as a people in their own ancestral homeland, Israel.

Shavit - The world should focus on Obama, not Netanyahu

Ari Shavit..
24 May '12..

President Barack Obama is a cool-headed leader. For the past 40 months he has known that history will judge him by his actions and failures vis-a-vis Iran. If he blocks the Iranian nuclear program, he will become a national hero like John F. Kennedy after the Cuban missile crisis. If he doesn't, he will become a grotesque figure.

And yet, the man sitting in the Oval Office is ignoring the possibility that his inaction will make the Middle East go nuclear and undermine the world order. He doesn't care that he might be responsible for losing the United States' superpower status and turning the 21st century into a century of nuclear chaos.

The dispassionate man from Chicago is proving every day what rare stuff he's made of. The president sees how the Iranians mock him - and does nothing. He sees radical Islam approaching the nuclear brink - and does not budge. With amazing courage Barack Obama watches the tsunami rolling toward America's shores - and smiles.

President Obama is an intrepid leader. For a year the man seeking a second term in the White House has known that a conflagration in the Middle East could determine the 2012 election campaign.

He is aware that due to an amazing coincidence, the technological, operative and strategic timetables are converging toward the end of this year. The president hears Israel telling him loud and clear that if the United States does not defuse the ticking bomb this summer, the Israel Air Force will have to do it. The president hears his best experts telling him loud and clear that the situation is very serious and Israel is very serious, so this summer is the summer of truth. And yet, the steely president is not batting an eye.

IMRA - Hamas restraint: Israeli deterrence or desire to enhance weapons without interference?

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
29 May '12..

Senior Israeli ministers, among them former COS Minister Moshe "Bogie" Ya'alon, who support the "quiet for quiet" policy towards Hamas according to which Israel will not respond to the importation or construction of essentially any weapons system by Hamas in the Gaza Strip as long as Hamas doesn't use it (a radical change from the rhetoric that if "balance breaking" weapons were deployed that Israel would respond [that's rhetoric because in practice Israel never actually specifically responded to a long series of "balance breaking" advances]) point to the decision of Hamas not to openly participate in attacks against Israel as some kind of evidence of Israel's deterrent strength.

As the excerpt below from a report of The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center indicates, there is an alternative narrative: namely that Hamas isn't shooting now out of a "desire to buy time to build up its military might without interruption, and especially to improve its capabilities to hit the Israeli heartland with long-range rockets."

Consider this disturbing alternative interpretation: by the same token that Israeli officials can take comfort in the notion that Hamas is not shooting rockets at Israel because of Israel's "deterrent strength" can Hamas take comfort in the notion that Israel is not interfering with their massive weapons programs because of Hamas' deterrent strength?

Bringer - Stealing Their Way to Statehood - Part 4

Gil Bringer..
27 May '12..

This is Part IV of a meticulously researched article that describes in detail how Bedouins of the Jordan Valley are used by the Palestinian Authority to take over territory in Area C surreptitiously.

Read Part I here.
Read Part II here.
Read Part III here.

Sixth Stop: Private Initiative

The only ray of light in the whole story is the Regavim Movement (regavim = clods of earth), which repeatedly takes over legal activity where the state should have been involved. Regavim now participates as a friend of the court in the Abu-Hindi case.

"This is just one example of many similar cases showing how the Palestinians implement Fiyad's plan, in an orderly and well-thought-out way, down to the smallest detail. This is how they intend to unilaterally establish the infrastructure of the Palestinian state by circumventing the need for negotiations with Israel", claimed Betzalel Samotritch, General Manager of Regavim. "The impressive logistical preparations, the precise timing, doing it during the intermediate days of the holiday when the overseer's unit isn't working, the perfect execution of the "operation", the lightning-quick construction of dozens of buildings, topped off with an appeal to the High Court immediately after the holiday - all of this tells us that we are up against a well-oiled and well-funded machine, which operates professionally to establish facts on the ground and to present Israel with a reality that will severely limit its political maneuverability.

Confronted with this dangerous activism most of the Israeli authorities still react like amateurs, perhaps even with criminal negligence. The Israeli failure to take action in the face of the hyperactive activity of the Palestinians is turning the current political discussion in Israel about whether to establish a Palestinian state into a farce. The Palestinian state is being established right in front of our eyes and the way back is becoming more difficult and dangerous from day to day.

The Israeli High Court serves, knowingly or unknowingly, as a tool for the implementation of the Palestinian aspirations for a state. By easily approving the interim injunctions and because the Prosecutor's office neglects its obligation to defend the demolition orders and react to petitions promptly, political facts on the ground are established and you don't hear a peep from anyone.

In response to our questions, the Ministry of Justice delivered this message: "The prosecutor has not yet received the IDF's reaction to the petition. We suggest that you appeal to the spokesman of the IDF."

Kushner - From Israel: First, a Call for Prayer

Arlene Kushner..
28 may '12..

I've done this a few times lately, and each time the situation has been a crisis. But the urgency of this situation transcends every other situation I've written about.

There is a boy of nine here in Israel who has been diagnosed with an aggressive cancer around his heart. It was discovered because he had a persistent cough that would not go away. Every major medical center -- including top flight places in the US -- that has had its doctors review the pictures (MRI, whatever), has said that it is inoperable. They will not touch it.

The prognosis is so grim that the mother has made a decision to decline chemotherapy, so that he should not be made totally miserable in his last weeks or months.

There is, then, nothing but prayer. And I ask it of each of you, and that you put out the word as extensively as possible. Miracles do happen, and we cannot turn our back to that possibility.



I know of his case because his father lives across the street from my daughter, in Beit Shemesh. I know that Jay is a lively, active little boy who just days ago was riding his bike. He is aware -- as much as a nine-year-old can be aware -- of his medical problem, but he is restless and bored in his hospital bed and wants to go back to riding that bike. He does not understand that he may never leave his bed. He has a seven year old brother who is deeply attached to him.



And then, on to the news...

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta declared during an interview with ABC News yesterday that the military option to hit Iran is available and ready if needed. This echoes a statement made recently by US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

However, Panetta made clear, the preference is still to go with negotiations


Just a day before Panetta provided this throw-away statement, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, vice president of Iran and head of its Atomic Energy Organization, said that Iran has "no reason" to stop enriching uranium at 20%.

Abbasi-Davani also announced that "Iran will build a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr next year," near Iran's sole existing nuclear power plant.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Levick - Lies through statistics: Harriet Sherwood’s master class in shoddy journalism

Adam Levick..
CiF Watch..
27 May '12..

On May 23rd, we commented on a Guardian report by Harriet Sherwood titled “Palestinian Paralympians visit Jerusalem holy site”, May 21st, about disabled athletes from Gaza (who are going to compete in the Paralympics in London this summer) visiting the al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

However, this was anything but a ‘feel good’ story about sport transcending politics or a humanitarian decision by Israel to allow citizens of a state whose government literally seeks their destruction to enter their capital.

Nobody familiar with Sherwood’s crude Israeli caricature could possibly expect the story to be framed in such a morally intuitive fashion.

The narrative pivoted from a sports human interest story to anti-Israel agitprop when Sherwood quoted a paralympian Hatam Zakut who said:

“We consider ourselves representatives of all disabled athletes in Gaza. Thanks to the Israelis, there are a lot of us.”

Adding to Zakut’s vague charge, Sherwood wrote:

“[In fact] tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza are disabled as a result of Israeli military operations.

Catz - National Geographic Traveler Veers Off Track

Sarit Catz..
CAMERA Media Analysis..
25 May '12..

The May issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine features an article by Michael Rosenfeld, "Jerusalem by the Book." (Though the article is not available online, you can see the tearsheets on the Web site of the photographer.) The premise of the piece is summed up in the subtitle:

Toting a travel guide his parents wrote in the 1950s, a son revisits the city he knew well as a child -- and discovers a new one along the way.

Unfortunately, Rosenfeld does not stick to the paths laid out in his parents' book. When he ventures into territory liberated by Israel in 1967, the author steps into politics and outside the confines of journalistic accuracy. In the Old City:

I step through the door and into a spacious café. The owner serves me coffee, then stands in the center of the room, his arms outstretched...

We are on the border of the Jewish and Muslim Quarters, he tells me. "I am the UN for both of them." It is an exaggeration, of course, but I notice some Jewish Israelis having coffee in this Arab shop. As it so often does here, the conversation turns to the situation. "Why you don't tell your people the truth?" the shop owner asks. "Why I am not free? I am under occupation more than 42 years."

Rosenfeld lets this assertion stand unanswered. He does not mention that, when Israel reunified Jerusalem, Israeli citizenship was offered to all residents of all religions. Most of the Arabs declined citizenship then, though many are availing themselves of it now. Even self-described "anti-occupation" blog +972 reports:

As an East Jerusalem resident, I am struck by a recent trend: many of my friends and acquaintances who hold Jerusalem identification cards -- documents of permanent residency rather than Israeli citizenship -- are quietly applying for and obtaining Israeli passports.

It's not immediately clear why. Current residents of East Jerusalem -- numbering over 350,000, or 38% of the city's total population -- already go about their daily lives, shop at Israeli malls, use Israeli services, frequent Israeli restaurants and bars, send their children to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and receive Israeli social and health benefits. What does "upgrading their status" from East Jerusalem residents to citizens of Israel add? Why did East Jerusalem residents refuse the Israeli offer of citizenship in 1967, and why are they actively seeking to obtain it now, especially given that citizenship requires them to pledge the controversial oath of allegiance to the Israeli state?

So, the café owner is "not free" but he is free to shop at Israeli malls, use Israeli services, send his children to Israeli schools and universities, and receive Israeli social and health benefits. And he is also free to apply for and obtain Israeli citizenship.

(Read full "National Geographic Traveler Veers Off Track")

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Bedein - Genesis of an anti-Semitic state

David Bedein..
The Times of Israel..
28 May '12..

Imagine, if you would, if a nascent nation-state, somewhere in the world, was in formation, and that it had taken on these features:

* Selling land to a Jew would be a capital crime.

* Its new constitution would not allow for any juridical status for Judaism. Jews would not even be allowed to live in the country.

* The new school system would inculcate children to make war on the Jews.

* Those who murder Jews would become the heroes of the new country.

* The designated head of state earned his PhD. on the thesis that millions Jews who were murdered during World War II were executed en mass by the Zionists were allies of the Nazis.

The reaction to such a nation state in formation would be an outcry from Jewish groups that monitor anti-Semitism.

Yet we have seen no outcry from most Jewish groups in the case of the proposed Palestinian Arab state, even though it possesses all the horrific six characteristics described above.

However, there are a few prominent non Jews who have expressed concern about the anti-Semitism of the nascent Palestinian Authority.

Marquadt-Bigman - Targeting the Jewish State: the kind of culture BDS loves

Petra Marquadt-Bigman..
The Warped Mirror..
28 May '12..

As part of London’s Globe Theatre World Shakespeare Festival, Israel’s Habima Theatre will perform The Merchant of Venice in Hebrew on Monday and Tuesday of this week. A Palestinian theatre company from Ramallah has already given a performance of Richard II.

Unfortunately, it seems that so-called pro-Palestinian activists didn’t have much time to take pride in the Palestinian performance, because they have been terribly busy with an unsuccessful campaign to pressure the Globe Theatre into cancelling the Habima performance.

This campaign is part of the broader BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) efforts that have targeted Israel for quite some time in the hope to isolate and delegitimize the Jewish state.

While BDS advocates usually like to present themselves as defenders of Palestinian rights who only oppose Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, most of them actually oppose Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state.

A good example is anti-Israel activist Ben White, about whom I have already repeatedly written (there is also a recently posted list of some of his more openly antisemitic views at Harry’s Place). In April, White penned a piece published in the New Statesman, where he attempted to explain “Why a cultural boycott of Israel is justified.”

Werdine - Leading From Behind: Obama, Israel, and Iran

Robert Werdine..
The Times of Israel..
26 May '12..

Simply put, President Obama genuinely believes that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are the principal cause of the perpetuation of the Israel/Palestine conflict. Remove the settlements, he undoubtedly believes, and peace and harmony will reign supreme.

Animated by this conviction, he has stressed this repeatedly since the beginning of his presidency, nagged Israel into a futile 10-month settlement freeze, publicly picked a fight with Netanyahu over the construction of a Jerusalem housing project in March 2010, and then subsequently re-emphasized his displeasure on the matter by receiving the Israeli Prime Minister to the White House later that month with all the warmth and civility accorded to a Prohibition-era saloon keeper dragged to a gangster’s lair. These actions seem to me strong evidence of a definite conviction on his part. Were he able to support the anti-settlements resolution tabled before the UN Security Council back in February 2011 without paying an unacceptable domestic political price, he surely would have. Anyone who witnessed American UN representative Susan Rice’s disgraceful speech on the occasion could see that she was literally straining at the leash to scream “We’d love to vote with the majority, but the Israel Lobby just won’t let us. Walt and Mearsheimer can explain.”

The President’s foreign policy views in general have always had a strong whiff of the university faculty lounge about them; he is, like Susan Rice and the now-departed PJ Crowley, a child of the left-liberal foreign policy establishment. There is no question in my mind, from his actions and statements, that he, like most on the liberal left, considers the settlements to be the principal obstacle to peace, and, in the main, blames the Israelis for the impasse. To Obama the equation is simple: Remove settlements = Peace. (Apparently to Obama, the conflict only began in 1967).

Such Israel-friendly statements as the President has made recently before AIPAC and elsewhere, are principally aimed at his Jewish donor base and the wider Jewish vote, which, despite some slippage, he still seems to hold securely. His remarks are an acknowledgment by him that he has trouble there, and he is tending to it. The statements themselves are so lifelessly mouthed, so perfunctory, and in such contrast to his spirited denunciations (both public and private) of the Jewish state (and its Prime Minister) as to lack any semblance of genuine conviction. He resembles nothing so much as a bad actor reading lines in a screen test.

As Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post has commented, the President is more interested in disposing of the Israel/Palestine conflict than actually solving it. He just wants it out of his hair. He blames the conflict for all his troubles in the Middle East that distract his attention from “nation building at home,” and he blames Israel for the conflict. He also blames Israel for high gas prices at home, which he attributes to “loose talk” of a military strike on Iran.

Fresnozionism - A lesson about peace from the Turks
25 May '12..

In the early morning of May 31, 2010, Israeli commandos boarded the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which was carrying international activists in an attempt to break the blockade of Gaza. On board the ship was a contingent of approximately 40 members of the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (İHH), who met the Israelis with ‘cold’ but deadly weapons — metal bars and pipes, knives, axes, etc.

Due to poor intelligence the Israelis were not prepared for a violent reception, and actually landed on the deck carrying paintball guns and stun grenades. These ‘weapons’ had no effect on the IHH militants, and soon the Israelis found themselves in danger of their lives. Several were seriously injured. At this point they drew their deadly weapons and fired in self-defense. Nine of the IHH members were killed and one critically injured.

A UN commission ruled that the blockade and enforcement thereof were legal, but that Israel used ‘excessive force’. Since the alternative to the said use of force would have been the death of the Israelis, it’s hard to see how they could have done otherwise. Of course this is the UN, and the fact that they found the blockade itself legal under international law is remarkable.

As I wrote at the time, the commission bent over backwards to find some culpability on the Israeli side:

Sherman - Stupidity – on steroids

Martin Sherman..
Into the Fray/JPost..
24 May '12..

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me
– A proverb of disputed origin

Stupid is as stupid does
– From the movie, Forest Gump

There is something about the discourse on the Palestinian issue that seems to induce the total evaporation of the mental faculties of otherwise ostensibly intelligent human beings.

Perplexing questions

How else can we explain the occurrence of so many perplexing – and vexing – phenomena? For example: Why is it that the feasibility of Palestinian statehood has been repeatedly disproven, but somehow never discredited – and certainly never discarded? How can it be that the land-for-peace formula has been undermined neither by the accumulation of past failures nor the accumulating evidence of its future implausibility? What makes any professed Zionist advocate a policy whose prospects for success are so slim and whose chances of ruinous failure so great?

Why do so many, who purportedly endorse rationality in human behavior, embrace such irrationality in their political credos?

But even more disturbing questions as to the conduct and motives of adherents/advocates of Palestinian statehood and the landfor- peace formula arise from their determined denial of the failure of their dogmatic doctrine and the devastation that endeavors to implement it have wrought.

Joffe/Romirowsky - Palestinian refugees forever?

Alex Joffe/Asaf Romirowsky..
25 May '12..

Palestinian identity is founded in on three parts. One is that resistance to Israel is permanent and holy. Another is that Palestinians are, individually and communally, refugees, made so at the hands of Israel. The third part is that the world, specifically the United Nations and Western countries, must support these refugees until they can return to a future Palestine and to homes in what is now Israel.

Since 1950 the vehicle for Palestinian refugees to be supported has been the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. Costing almost $1 billion per year, with funding provided by the U.S. and European states, UNRWA is an open-ended, educational, social welfare system for millions of Palestinians, primarily in the West Bank, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. But in what sense are any of these individuals refugees?

Publicly, UNRWA defines a Palestinian refugee as anyone whose "normal place of residence was Palestine during the period 1 June 1946 to 15 May 1948 and who lost both home and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 conflict."

In reality UNRWA has continually expanded the definition to include "the children or grandchildren of such refugees are eligible for agency assistance if they are (a) registered with UNRWA, (b) living in the area of UNRWA's operations, and (c) in need."

The best estimates are that perhaps 700,000 Palestinians became refugees in 1948-49. By UNRWA's accounting, however, virtually every Palestinian born since that time is also a refugee. That number reaches into the millions.

Abrams - Peace Was Not At Hand

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
25 May '12..

In The Weekly Standard I commented recently on the account former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has given of the peace negotiations he led near the end of his term in office. Here are some excerpts; the article is found here.

Here is Olmert, describing his negotiations with PLO chairman and Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas:

I was within touching distance of a peace agreement. The Palestinians never rejected my offers. And even if on the thousandth time there are people who are going to try to say that they rejected my offers, the reality was otherwise. They didn’t accept them, and there’s a difference. They didn’t accept them because the negotiations weren’t concluded; they were on the verge of conclusion….The gaps were very small, we had already reached the very last final stretch.

This account is plain wrong. At the time, back in 2008, Olmert explained his proposal to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. In her memoir No Higher Honor, she recounts what happened:

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Ettinger - JerUSAlem - American people vs. White House

Yoram Ettinger..
Israel Hayom..
25 May '12..

Jerusalem has been one of the most dramatic issues of discord between the will of the American people and Congress on the one hand, and State Department-driven presidential policy on the other hand.

In contrast to most Americans and their state and federal representatives, who cherish Jerusalem as the indivisible capital of the Jewish state, all U.S. presidents have embraced Foggy Bottom’s denial of Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital, or even as part of Israel. Moreover, the U.S. foreign policy bureaucracy has disavowed the 1947 non-binding U.N. General Assembly Partition Plan, but for one segment — Jerusalem, which the U.N. designated as an international city.

Israel is the only country in the world whose (3,000 year old) capital is not recognized by the State Department and by the presidents of the U.S. However, the American people consider Israel to be the second most trusted and dependable ally of the U.S. (after Britain), and 71% support (and 9% oppose) Jerusalem as Israel’s indivisible capital.

President Barack Obama has gone further than any U.S. president in implementing the Jerusalem policy of denial. He is pressing for an unprecedented construction freeze in Jerusalem beyond the 1949 ceasefire lines, and is trying to eliminate any reference to “Jerusalem, Israel” in present and past official documents and communications.

Jarallah - What CBS Does Not Want to Hear

Hisham Jarallah..
Gatestone Institute..
25 May '12..

A few weeks ago, veteran CBS News correspondent Bob Simon reported on the plight of Christians of the Holy Land who have been leaving the region for many years.

In large part, Simon blamed the Christian exodus on Israel.

But had Simon visited the Christian village of Taybeh in the West Bank, he would have heard "the other side to the story."

This is a village whose population is 100% Christian. It is surrounded by a number of Muslim villages, some of which are extremely hostile.

The number of Christians living in Taybeh is estimated at less than 2,000. Residents say that another 15,000 Taybeh villagers live in the US, Canada and Europe, as well as South America.

Over the past few years, the Christian residents of Taybeh have been living in constant fear of being attacked by their Muslim neighbors.

Such attacks, residents say, are not uncommon. They are more worried about intimidation and violence by Muslims than by Israel's security barrier or a checkpoint. And the reason why many of them are leaving is because they no longer feel safe in a village that is surrounded by thousands of hostile Muslims who relate to Christians as infidels and traitors.

Eydar - Bypassing the government

Dror Eydar..
Israel Hayom..
25 May '12..

The story of the disputed neighborhood of Ulpana is a test of loyalty for Likud. The greatly anticipated so-called arrangement law (which is supposed to retroactively authorize the construction of Jewish homes on private Palestinian land while awarding compensation to the original owners) does not bypass the court. As far as I can recall, the High Court of Justice is supposed to protect the laws of Israel. Now we find ourselves facing an uncompromising pursuit of justice (the High Court has ordered the evacuation and demolition of five apartment buildings in Ulpana after having ruled that they were built on private Palestinian land). Since the threat of destruction looms over Jewish homes, the decision is now back in the legislature's hands, and the legislature is the Knesset, not the court. What can you do?

Only in Israel can a law passed by a sovereign parliament be termed a "High Court bypass law." The people generating this kind of discourse are the same ones who support the court over the elected government. These people aren't standing up for the rule of law; they are standing up for their freedom to bypass both the legislative and the executive branches.