Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Coverage of Peace Talks? One-sided and....One-sided

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
31 July '13..

As the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations get under way, it's becoming clear that the New York Times and the Washington Post are shaping their coverage to reflect a pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel agenda. The burden to make concessions falls on Israel's back, while Palestinian obstacles go unreported.

Take for example a July 31 New York Times article by Michael Gordon ("Kerry Says Goal Is Mideast Peace Deal Within 9 Months" page A3).

After citing Secretary of State John Kerry's sendoff remarks to the negotiators, Gordon weighs in with his own take -- "American officials said they expected Israel to take steps soon to improve the atmosphere for negotiations" by relaxing security regulations in the West Bank. And with regard to settlement construction, Gordon reports that "American officials made clear that they were hoping for, but not counting on, Israeli restraint."

Nowhere in the article is Gordon able to find any unidentified American officials who just might point out that the Palestinians also are expected to take steps to improve the atmosphere. Nowhere does Gordon opine that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas might also be expected to show "restraint" -- like halting glorification of terrorist killers. Or still clinging to a one-state solution that would eliminate the Jewish state. Or that Hamas's separate rule of Gaza might complicate the job of the negotiators.

In Gordon's view, it's only Israel which needs to show restraint, improve the atmosphere and make concessions.

When prominent American Jews call for painful compromises for peace

...At the very least, one would wonder why signatories of such letters, concerned as they are about Israel’s demographics, do not as actively promote aliyah as they do expulsion.

Eugene Kontorovich..
Times of Israel..
31 July '13..

A group of prominent American Jews released a letter last week, calling on painful compromises for peace. The sacrifices they envisioned potentially include hundreds of thousands of Jews leaving their homes and livelihoods behind, being uprooted and relocated, all for the sake of a Jewish majority in Israel. Similarly, in April 100 prominent American Jews signed a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu also calling for the proverbial “painful sacrifices” for peace. Apparently, such painful concession letters have become a trend.

This summer, thousands of American Jews are making precisely such painful sacrifices for peace. To preserve Israeli democracy, they will uproot themselves, leave everything behind, and move. They do so voluntarily, before the situation has reached a crisis. They do not await or expect compensation from the government.

These are the Jews making aliyah from the U.S this summer. Of course, this is not the “painful sacrifice” the signatories had in mind.

The “demographic argument” for territorial concessions holds that there are too few Jews in the areas under Israeli control. If American Jews worry about this, the most direct and positive solution is increasing the number of Jews in the area. Fortunately, America has some five million Jews, even a small portion of whom would be a real help.

On the other hand, expelling Jews from their homes in the West Bank, where many have lived for generations, will be economically and emotionally devastating for Israel. Moreover, it does not change the number of Jews between the river and the sea, and thus leaves Israel open to secessionist demands on behalf of Israeli Arabs in, say, the Negev and Galil. It is now clearer than ever that the Palestinian authorities continue to claim to represent Israeli Arabs as well– witness the demand for the release of Israeli Arab murderers as a down payment on negotiations. Thus unlike aliyah, expulsions may simply be rearranging the demographic deck chairs on the Titanic.

The So Predictable Ashrawi on CNN - Anti-Israel Vitriol and Distortions

CAMERA Snapshots..
30 July '13..

Palestinian Legislative Council member Hanan Ashrawi, a fluent English speaker with a high news media profile, is a veteran anti-Israel propagandist who habitually shades when she does not shred the truth (see, e.g., here and here).

Ashrawi appeared on Christiane Amanpour's July 23 CNN International show on TV to discuss the position of President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority in negotiations soon to take place. An Israeli spokesperson, Tzipi Livni, Israeli minister responsible for negotiating with the PA had appeared with Amanpour the day before. Transcripts for the appearances of Ashrawi and Livni are available.

Livni’s strongest remark involving Palestinian Arabs was still mild: “The whole idea is to build trust and confidence and not to enter into this blame game that we used to have in the last years.” But Ashrawi, characteristically bending truth into the great Palestinian pretzel, wasn’t as diplomatic and non-combative, let alone accurate. Here’s a sampling:

Settlement activities are illegal. Annexing and stealing land which is not your own is illegal.


We have specific U.N. resolutions, particularly 194, dealing with the Palestinian refugees' right of return. We have the Arab initiative that, in a sense, places the whole issue of refugees in a regional context, which is important, because most of the Palestinian refugees are in neighboring Arab countries.

This is a source of instability. It's a source of tremendous pain throughout the region. And this needs to be resolved in a just and legal manner. So the Arab Peace Initiative talks about a just and agreed-upon solution to the Palestinian refugee question. We are not going to say we will start negotiations by violating international law, relinquishing the rights of the refugees. We have already given up 78 percent of historical Palestine, on which Israel was established. That is a major and painful compromise.

Amanpour failed to challenge any of Ashrawi’s distortions and falsehoods:

Martin Indyk's prior efforts ultimately successful in advancing his career

...Give him his due: His shameless positioning and audacious reversals have been successful where they were intended to count – not in making “the cause of peace his life mission,” as Kerry said about him yesterday, but in advancing his career.

Noah Pollak..
The Weekly Standard..
30 July '13..

Secretary of State John Kerry added to the already ample fanfare surrounding the launch of talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators by holding a press conference yesterday to introduce his new special envoy to the peace process, Martin Indyk.

Indyk, unlike his predecessor George Mitchell, has made a career out of the peace process – first as an active participant in the negotiations during the Clinton administration, where he was a National Security Council official and then as ambassador to Israel, and more recently at the Brookings Institution, where he has written, lectured, advised, and founded the Saban Forum, an annual Brookings conference on the peace process.

Kerry gave a simple reason for selecting Indyk: “He knows what has worked and he knows what hasn’t worked, and he knows how important it is to get this right.” Indyk indeed has cultivated the perception that he has not emerged from decades in the Middle East business empty-handed – itself a shrewd way of transforming his involvement in repeated failure into a story of hard-earned wisdom. In Indyk’s (and Kerry’s) telling, twenty years of trafficking in bad ideas and marching down dead-ends have forged a wise elder statesman, a hard-bitten veteran who won’t make rookie mistakes. Indyk’s memoir of his involvement in the peace process, published in 2009, is self-deprecatingly titled Innocent Abroad.

Unfortunately, this humble and attractive story simply isn’t true. Indyk’s record during the Obama era isn’t one of speaking tough truths earned from years of experience in the field. It is a typical Washington story, that of a careerist trying to advance his prospects with the incumbent administration, navigating toward the hoped-for moment when he will be invited back into a position of power and acclaim. For Indyk, this job has been particularly challenging: In 2008, he supported Hillary Clinton, while his colleague Dennis Ross backed Obama. Ross got an administration job; Indyk stayed at Brookings.

Thus Indyk became a cheerleader for nearly every first-term mistake Obama made in the peace process, right until the moment it became safe to criticize those mistakes. Kerry was famously for the Iraq war before he was against it; Indyk was for the administration’s policies before he was against them, which was before he took a job in the administration so that he could be for them again.

Consider some examples of Indyk’s having it opposite ways:

At yesterday’s press conference, he quoted from Obama’s recent speech in Jerusalem that “peace is necessary, peace is just, and peace is possible” – and added, “I couldn’t agree more with President Obama. It’s been my conviction for 40 years that peace is possible.” Yet in an interview just last year on Israeli radio, Indyk was asked whether peace was possible. “I'm not particularly optimistic because I think that the heart of the matter is that the maximum concessions that this government of Israel would be prepared to make fall far short of the minimum requirements that Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] will insist on,” he replied. “So it may be possible to keep the talks going, which is a good thing but I find it very hard to believe that they will reach an agreement.”

The single most astonishing example of Indyk’s opportunism is the settlement freeze that Obama demanded of Israel as a precondition for talks, today widely acknowledged – including by Obama and Indyk – as having been counterproductive. In 2009, Indyk endorsed Obama’s demand for the freeze as the only way to get the Palestinians into talks:

The Wonderful Wings of Fatah

31 July '13..

The following wry comment appeared yesterday regarding Hezbollah's Wonderful Wings (Excellent!) by Douglas Murray

...It does appear that, unbeknownst to the "political wing," while its members were going about their respectable daily business, with absolutely no private army of their own, some of their colleagues were heading around the globe, committing massacres and terrorist attacks. This must be very embarrassing for them.

With little difficulty the same thought could be quite easily applied in the following piece from yesterday's Algemeiner -

In Effort to Embarrass Abbas as Peace Talks Begin, Fatah’s Military Wing Touts Weapons Capabilities Online
Zach Pontz JULY 30, 2013 10:15 AM

In an effort to embarrass Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as peace talks begin in earnest in Washington on Tuesday, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the unofficial terrorist wing of Abbas’s ruling political party, Fatah, released a series of truculent photos depicting an arsenal of guns, rockets and anti-tank missiles, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.

The photos were accompanied by a statement from the terrorist group that said: “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine, we will continue developing our own weapons to crush the enemy, wherever he is.” (Full article)

This is the sound of Barack Obama dropping the other shoe (on Israel)

It is impossible to imagine that these talks will succeed (here are 22 good reasons why not). But nevertheless, the administration pushes on. Why?

Obama mentor Edward Said
symbolically throws a stone at
Israel across Lebanese border,
July 2000
30 July '13..

With the start of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in Washington, there is one overriding question:

What does the Obama administration think it will get out of this?

We know what the Palestinians want: They hope to see Israel forced to stop construction outside of the Green Line, while they push forward with EU-funded projects to create facts on the ground in Israeli-administered Area C. They hope to make it impossible for Israel to back away from the idea that the 1949 armistice lines are in fact the boundaries of ‘Palestinian land’, and not mere accidents of history. They want to further cement their narrative about history and international law, including fantastic conceptions like ‘right of return’ in the world’s — and America’s — consciousness. They have already gained agreement to the release of many convicted murderers, a humiliating loss of face for Israel and a huge propaganda victory for them.

We also know what Israel wants: To avoid an open break with the Obama Administration at a time of extreme peril for the Jewish state. A confrontation with Iran — or the lack of one, equally dangerous — is certain within the next year. Hizballah’s missiles and Iran’s nuclear program will not go away by themselves. While it would be dreaming to expect the US to take real action against Iran, it is essential to maintain at least nominal American support for Israel’s actions.

In Israel, only the extreme Left, for whom a complete removal of Jews from the territories is literally more important than the survival of a Jewish state, thinks that it would be a good thing for Israel to sign an agreement with the PLO today.

It is impossible to imagine that these talks will succeed (here are 22 good reasons why not). But nevertheless, the administration pushes on. Why?

What Seems to Be the Truth Behind U.S. ‘Peace Process’ Policy by Barry Rubin

Barry Rubin..
30 July '13..

At last, we have an explanation for what has been going on with Israel-Palestinian talks. It is credible, yet ridiculous. And it is very important.

Here is today’s New York Times:

In recent weeks, Mr. Kerry and his aides have outlined several basic arguments for why his efforts might bear fruit. Perhaps the most important one, which Mr. Kerry advanced almost the moment he was picked for the State Department post, is that the United States does not have the luxury of staying on the sidelines.

With the Palestinians poised to take their claim for statehood to the International Criminal Court and United Nations bodies, American officials say the two sides were facing a downward spiral in which the Israelis would respond by cutting off financing to the Palestinian territories and European nations might curtail their investment in Israel, further isolating the Israelis.

Now, what is this saying?

– The Palestinian Authority (PA) intends to violate all the pledges used over the last 20 years of negotiations and in obtaining the West Bank and, previously, the Gaza Strip. (Not a good precedent for the likelihood of them keeping future commitments.)

– For doing so it is not being punished, but rewarded.

– The PA will seek statehood not through negotiations with Israel, but unilaterally. No Israel agreement will be necessary.

– Note a key assumption here: The United States will either not oppose, or effectively oppose, this effort.

Let’s pause here. You mean the United States cannot lead or pressure such countries as Britain, France, Germany, or Italy in saying ”no”? The New York Times doesn’t point out what a failure of Obama administration influence that would be. Let’s also note the incompetence and failure of that government to stop leading allies at the UN General Assembly to vote for non-member statehood (a non-binding vote) last year, despite a one-year warning the PA would try this.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Abbas - Arabs in Israel With a Judenrein Palestine

...If Palestinians are determined to create an independent state where there are no Jews, why then are they so afraid of agreeing that their neighbors will be a Jewish state? The reason for this is no mystery. More than any compromise on borders, accepting Israel as a Jewish state would be an open acknowledgement that the conflict is finished.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
30 July '13..

While in Cairo yesterday to meet with Egypt’s new leaders, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas let drop a few remarks about the peace negotiations with Israel that began in Washington last night. As the Times of Israel reports, Abbas left no doubt about what his vision of peace entails:

“In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israeli — civilian or soldier — on our lands,” Abbas said following a meeting with interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour in Cairo.

The statement provoked little comment in the Western press, and no wonder. Most of the mainstream media has long accepted the Palestinian formulation that sees the presence of Israelis in the West Bank and Jerusalem as the primary obstacle to peace with the Palestinians. From this frame of reference, the peace equation is simple. No Israelis in Palestine means the conflict disappears. Therefore the sole object of peace negotiations is to leverage Israelis out of the areas that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967.

But the problem here is not just that this is an absurd distortion of reality that ignores Jewish rights and security needs. The Abbas statement provides some important context for the key Israeli demand that the Palestinians refuse to accept: PA acknowledgement of the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state. If Palestinians think there is something racist about Israel being accepted as the sole Jewish state in the world, why is it OK for them to envision an independent state of their own where Jewish communities would have to be destroyed and their inhabitants be evicted?

The elephants in the room, 23 of them, 2013

Elder of Ziyon..
30 July '13..

Now that US has successfully pressured Israel and the PA to attend talks, it seems to be a good time to revisit the list of "elephants in the room" that are still being mostly ignored. The list, sadly, has not changed much since I last did this in 2010.

Elephant 1: Hamas controls Gaza

Every peace plan includes Gaza in a Palestinian Arab state, and none of them has any provision on how to handle the fact that Gaza is a terrorist haven, in much worse shape since Israel uprooted the settlements there, controlled by a terrorist group that is consistently and wholeheartedly against Israel's existence. Peace is impossible with this elephant, so it is easier to pretend it isn't there. (See also Elephant 11.)

Elephant 2: Palestinian Arabs elected a terror government

In the only fair, democratic elections in the territories, the Hamas terrorists were chosen by the people. Poll after poll shows that Palestinian Arabs support terror in Israel itself. (Over 40% still support a violent intifada in 2013.) The elections proved that the conventional wisdom was wrong - and the conventional wisdom proceeded to ignore it.

Elephant 3: The current PA government was not elected

This corollary to Elephant 2 means that the current people negotiating for the Palestinian Arabs do not represent the people. Even if they sound moderate or compromising, they have no mandate. The current PA president is well past his term of office, and the current and previous prime minister were never elected (in fact, he received a tiny percentage of the vote when he did run for election.) Negotiating with the PA is, literally, meaningless.

Similarly, the unelected PLO is the real power behind the PA. The PA officially reports to the PLO, and all negotiations are done by the autocratic, Fatah-dominated PLO, not the PA.

(Continue, 20 to go)

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A monumental failure, but it seems that not everyone has learned this lesson

Zalman Shoval..
Israel Hayom..
30 July '13..

In the 1930s, The Times of London was the main voice of those in Britain who believed in conciliation, who called to appease the Nazi regime or at least to learn to accept it, because "there is no way to stop it regardless." These days it is The New York Times taking a similar stance pertaining to Iran.

Seventy-four years have passed since the conciliatory approach toward dictators and those who threaten world peace was proven, in all its ensuing cruelty, to be a monumental failure, but it seems that not everyone has learned this lesson.

An editorial in The New York Times calls for a determined stance, not against Iran, heaven forbid, but against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other "hard-liners" in Washington, because they are pushing U.S. President Barack Obama to state clearly to Iranian president-elect Hasan Rouhani that the military option is still on the table if the Islamic republic does not abandon its nuclear aspirations. You can read it again and still not believe it.

And what is this strange objection based on? On a new president being elected in Iran, who unlike his predecessor is full of smiles and sweet words toward the West in general and the United States in particular, and therefore "the United States should reach out to Mr. Rouhani, and with its other partners -- Britain, France, China, Russia and Germany -- it should put together a broader nuclear proposal. … That should include a process for acknowledging Iran’s right to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes."

The article also preaches against imposing further sanctions on Tehran, because doing so "would make negotiations impossible."

The newspaper elegantly disregards the fact that Iran's nuclear program is in no way under Rouhani's purview, rather Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calls the shots, and fails to recognize that in Iran's electoral reality, Rouhani cannot function (and perhaps would not have been elected in the first place) without the overt and covert support of Khamenei and the ayatollahs.

The Wonderful Wings of Hezbollah

It does appear that, unbeknownst to the "political wing," while its members were going about their respectable daily business, with absolutely no private army of their own, some of their colleagues were heading around the globe, committing massacres and terrorist attacks. This must be very embarrassing for them.

A Hezbollah poster featuring the group's leader,
Hassan Nasrallah. Does the EU consider him
Hezbollah's political, or military, leader?
Douglas Murray..
Gatestone Institute..
30 July '13..

Last Monday the EU bravely managed to ban what it terms the "military wing" of the terrorist group Hezbollah. It has not, of course, banned the "political wing."

As noted here before, nobody in Iran, Lebanon or, come to that, Hezbollah itself, believes that such a distinction exists. The EU -- led by the unimpeachable rationale of the British Foreign Office, among others, has invented this pleasant and convenient little fiction.

Perhaps we ought to ask the EU officials some questions. Now that one part of Hezbollah is a designated terrorist entity and another is not, perhaps they could tell us the following:

Last year in Burgas, Bulgaria, five Israeli tourists and one local Bulgarian bus-driver were murdered by a suicide bomber. The Bulgarian authorities subsequently identified Hezbollah as being behind this attack. Could the European Union let the European and other publics know what knowledge the "political wing" of Hezbollah had of this?

Did their colleagues in the "military wing" not tell them about the attack? Or forget to send the memo? If the "military wing" did indeed go so wildly off-piste without any "political" direction, who was punished for this? Were there resignations, drummings-out or any other such activities?

It can hardly be the case that nobody from the "military wing" boasted about it. After all, one of the Israeli victims was pregnant.

If the EU cannot tell us that, perhaps it can tell us this: In 1983 a Hezbollah attack on a French military barracks in Lebanon killed 58 French peace-keeping soldiers. Can the EU please tell us if it has any information whether the "political wing" of Hezbollah had any knowledge of, or involvement in, this attack? Or was it just one of those communication breakdowns so familiar to everyone who works in an office -- you know, when no one knows what anyone else is doing?

Furthermore, earlier this year, in March, a court in Cyprus convicted and imprisoned a Hezbollah operative who was found to have been scouting the island finding out information on Israeli tourists. Unless Hossam Taleb Yaccoub was a plane-and-bus spotter with some innocent if unquenchable interest in Israeli planes and buses, it would seem -- as the court found -- that he was helping enable some future attack on what is, after all (in the non-Turkish-occupied part of Cyprus) European soil.

Washington Post - Palestinia​n Killers of Israeli Children are NOT Terrorists

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
29 July '13..

The Washington Post stoutly refuses to describe blood-soaked Palestinian murderers of Israeli children as terrorists. Instead, it substitutes a totally inaccurate euphemism, calling such depraved killers "militants."

Why inaccurate? Because "militant" is a non-judgmental, neutral noun. It carries no pejorative connotations. Whereas use of "terrorist" makes it crystal-clear that the writer and/or publication deems such depraved acts as beyond the pale. Which of course they are if they involve deliberate murders of innocent civilians in pursuit of a political agenda -- the basic definition of terrorism.

And yet, that's exactly where the Post keeps turning a blind eye to Palestinian terrorism regardless of the fact that it fits the definition of terrorism to a T. As witness, this top-of-the-front-page article by Jerusalem correspondent William Booth in the July 29 edition ("Mideast peace talks set to begin -- Israel to release 104 Palestinians -- Netanyahu concession paves way for dialogue")

Here's Booth's description of the Palestinian prisoners Israel is willing to release:

"The list of prisoners who may be released in coming days includes militants who threw firebombs, in one case at a bus carrying children, stabbed and shot civilians, including women, elderly Jews and suspected Palestinian collaborators; and ambushed and killed border guards, police officers, security agents and soldiers."

Never mind that children were firebombed on a bus or that Palestinian killers singled out women and the elderly as targets, these killers, Booth insists, are NOT "terrorists"; they are instead "militants." In so writing, Booth washes his hands of any trace of moral turpitude attached to such acts.

O.K., the mother of a ‘pre-Oslo’ monster looks like this. And...

Ateya Abu Moussa murdered Rotenberg as a condition of being accepted into a terrorist organization. Isaac Rotenberg survived a Nazi extermination camp but was murdered by a loathsome terrorist spawned by the woman ‘sensitively’ depicted in a photo carefully selected by Indy editors.

Adam Levick..
CiF Watch..
29 July '13..

The following is a photo published at The Independent on July 29th to illustrate a story about Israel’s recent decision to release 104 Palestinians prisoners – a group of Palestinians (convicted prior to the Oslo Accords) largely consisting of terrorists who murdered or attempted to murder Israeli citizens, soldiers and foreign tourists.

Here’s the Indy caption for the shot taken by Reuters photographer Ibraheem Abu Mustaf:

The mother of Palestinian Ateya Abu Moussa, who has been held prisoner by Israel for 20 years, hugs her grandson upon hearing the news that her son may soon be released.

The mother is rejoicing over the possible release of her son, a Palestinian alternately known as Abu Moussa Salam Ali Atiya who murdered an Israeli named Isaac Rotenberg in 1994. Whilst the Indy caption doesn’t include a word about the crimes of Ateya Abu Moussa or background on his victim, fortunately Almagor Murder Victims Association provides further details:


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The problem is much deeper than drawing a new line on a map.

...a substantial majority of Palestinians still can’t fathom the possibility of mutual recognition and normal relations. How can that be? The reason is very simple and is not something that Kerry or his lead negotiator Martin Indyk (a veteran of numerous diplomatic failures who hasn’t seemed to learn a thing from any of them) can fix.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
29 July '13..

Thanks to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s decision to swallow a painful and embarrassing concession to please the Palestinians, Secretary of State John Kerry had his moment of triumph today. In announcing the start of a new round of Middle East peace talks, Kerry has seemingly justified the way he has concentrated his efforts on an issue that was not in crisis mode and with little chance of resolution while treating other more urgent problems such as Egypt, Syria, and the Iranian nuclear threat as lower priorities. But now that he has had his victory, the focus turns to the talks where few, if any, observers think there is a ghost of a chance of that the negotiations can succeed despite Kerry’s call for “reasonable compromises.”

The reason for that is that despite the traditional American belief that the two sides can split the difference on their disagreements, as Kerry seems to want, the problem is much deeper than drawing a new line on a map.

Ironically, proof of this comes from a new poll that some are touting as evidence that both Israelis and Palestinians support a two-state solution. The poll (h/t Shmuel Rosner) was a joint project of the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah. It shows, among other often contradictory results, that:

A majority of Israelis (62%) supports a two-state solution while 33% oppose it. Among the Palestinians, 53% support and 46% oppose the two-state solution.

But the question to ask about this poll and the conflict is what the two sides mean by a two-state solution. The answer comes in a subsequent query:

We asked Israelis and Palestinians about their readiness for a mutual recognition as part of a permanent status agreement and after all issues in the conflict are resolved and a Palestinian State is established. Our current poll shows that 57% of the Israeli public supports such a mutual recognition and 37% opposes it. Among Palestinians, 42% support and 56% oppose this step.

In other words, Israelis see a two-state solution as a way to permanently end the conflict and achieve peace. But since a majority of Palestinians cannot envision mutual recognition even after all issues are resolve and they get a state, they obviously see it as merely a pause before the conflict would begin anew on terms decidedly less advantageous to Israel.

Monday, July 29, 2013

The West, Reality and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

..Unfortunately, the West has still not come to terms with reality when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Despite decades of failed diplomatic efforts, Western leaders are still obsessed with finding a lasting solution, thus appearing oblivious to the daunting challenges such a goal faces in the increasingly ebullient regional environment.

Emanuele Ottolenghi..
July/August '13..

Western policy responses to the growing Middle Eastern turmoil in the last two years have ranged from delusion to paralysis. After prematurely welcoming democracy, Western powers have by and large disengaged. This is not without merits — the region's momentous historical changes are largely beyond the reach of Western influence.

Unfortunately, the West has still not come to terms with reality when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Despite decades of failed diplomatic efforts, Western leaders are still obsessed with finding a lasting solution, thus appearing oblivious to the daunting challenges such a goal faces in the increasingly ebullient regional environment.

Whether peace is attainable remains to be seen. In any case, it requires discarding the following six mistaken assumptions that have driven successive diplomatic efforts to complete failure.

(1) The contours of the solution are known — all we must do is try harder.

Wrong. Twenty years of diplomacy have failed to achieve peace between the two sides. That must mean that the gap is still too wide for a successful bridging compromise. It is all too easy to play the blame game in this context, ascribing failure to "extremists on both sides" — one of the most frequently uttered asinine phrases in Middle East commentaries. In fact, neither side is prepared to settle for what a bridging proposal would look like. In 2000 and 2008, two Israeli prime ministers signed up to a comprehensive solution to the conflict that entailed expansive concessions on Israel's part. A third proposal — the Geneva Initiative — pushed those terms even farther, with the support of Israel's dovish opposition at the time. None was enough for the Palestinian leadership. In a laboratory environment, the repetition of a failed experiment would demand a change of the ingredients and the conditions. In the Palestinian-Israeli dispute, Western diplomats have forgotten their science.


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The State Department v. an infant

Zivotofsky was an infant when this campaign began. His lawyer expressed the hope that it can yet be resolved in his favor by the time he celebrates his bar mitzvah.

Seth Lipsky..
New York Post..
25 July '13..

Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel famously used to warn against deciding the question of Jerusalem in the United States Congress. Nor, it looks like he should have added, in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

That court, the second most important one in the country, has just ruled that only the president can decide the question of Jerusalem. Congress, it decided, has no standing in deciding how to list Jerusalem in documents issued by the US government.

The decision is the latest chapter in one of the most amazing cases now in the American courts. It involves an infant who challenged the State Department, which doesn’t want to bow to a law that says that, when asked, it must issue to an American born in Jerusalem a passport listing his place of birth as “Israel.”

The law was passed 352 to 73 in the House and unanimously in the Senate. But when President George W. Bush signed it, he issued one of his most famous — or infamous — signing statements, saying he wouldn’t enforce the passport part of it because it infringed on his presidential powers. President Obama takes the same position.

They are being challenged by the family of Menachem Binyamin Zivotofsky, who was born in Jerusalem in 2002. When the State Department refused to issue a passport saying he’d been born in Israel, his parents sued to enforce the rights the law had established.

At first the courts tried to dodge the issue, saying it was a political matter and “non-justiciable.” The Supreme Court shut that down emphatically a year ago — noting that the courts weren’t being asked to decide whether Jerusalem was part of Israel, but only to decide what, if any, role the Congress gets to play in deciding that question.

Demanding the release of racist murderers?

...What can I say, the understanding being extended to the Palestinian narrative, which favors terrorists who blow up crowded buses, has become extremely bizarre.

Gonen Ginat..
Israel Hayom..
29 July '13..

The debate over the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Palestinian acquiescence to resuming peace talks has become ridiculous. The biggest opponents of any trace of racism are also the same people who are now the biggest advocates of releasing racist killers. (It sounds odd in the Israeli reality, but yes, targeting Jews is also an act of racism.) The same people who demand all-out war against anyone who spray paints the words "price tag" on a wall are showing magnanimous mercy when it comes to baby killers and dismemberers of bodies.

What can I say, the understanding being extended to the Palestinian narrative, which favors terrorists who blow up crowded buses, has become extremely bizarre. Even the hypocrisy of Yedioth Ahronoth, the paper that has incessantly demanded a resumption of peace talks, but once talks were resumed launched a war against the price Israel had to pay, doesn't exceed the normal levels of hypocrisy over there.

And where are all the knights who valiantly advocate the rule of law? Why are they suddenly silent as the verdicts handed down to Arab murderers are becoming mere abstract recommendations? What will the release of all these prisoners do to the families of the victims? After all, we are all the family of the victims: We all cried with them. We all recoiled from the atrocities together.

AGAIN whitewashing the ethnic cleansing of Jews

For the second time in a week the Guardian has attempted to expunge from the public record an indisputable saga regarding the ethnic cleansing of Jews – innocent victims of Arab malevolence who reluctantly continue to assume the role of history’s forgotten refugees.

Adam Levick..
CiF Watch..
28 July '13..

We recently posted about a stunning omission at the Guardian, an entry at their data blog which in effect erased the plight of hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees in the latter half of the 20th century from the pages of history. The July 25th report, edited by Mona Chalabi, was titled ‘What happened to history’s refugees?‘, and included, in a supposedly complete list of history’s refugees, the following events: Israelites: Canaan (740 BC), Edict of Fontainebleau (France 1685), Muhacirs (Ottoman Empire 1783), Pogroms (Russia 1881), WWI (Europe 1914), WWII (Europe 1945), and the Nakba (Palestine 1948).

It then skipped right over the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Arab lands and listed, as the next refugees crisis in the 20th century, Idi Amin’s Order (Uganda 1972) – Amin’s expulsion of more than 50,000 Asians from the country.

The Guardian data blog completely omitted the expulsion of more than 800,000 Jews from Middle Eastern and North African countries between 1948 and 1972, an undisputed event in which Arab leaders (beginning in 1948) conspired to target the Jewish populations in their respective countries. This antisemitic persecution included confiscating Jewish property and assets, and stripping Jews of their citizenship – forcing them to flee their homes and surrender their nationalities. Whereas in 1948 there were 850,000 Jews in Arab states, today there are less than 7,000.

This Arab collective punishment against innocent Jews was initiated of course to exact revenge for the ‘sin’ of the Jewish state’s rebirth.


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The 9/11 Attackers and Boston Bomber to Go Free?

...But it should be remembered that as much as Israel could have said no to Kerry, this is an outrageous Palestinian demand that was championed by the United States. That means Americans should pause and wonder whether they would ever give a moment’s consideration to doing what their government is twisting Israel’s arm to do. Would we ever think of releasing any of those convicted and currently serving long jail sentences for involvement in the 9/11 attacks or any other terrorist assault on the United States and its citizens? Not a chance.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
28 July '13..

Most Americans aren’t paying that much attention to Secretary of State John Kerry’s effort to re-start Middle East peace talks. To the extent that they are, they understand there’s almost no chance the effort will succeed and that the country would be far better off if Kerry were devoting his efforts to more urgent and dangerous issues such as Egypt, Syria, or the nuclear threat from Iran. But even given that, there is a sense that an all-out push for more negotiations will do no harm and is an intrinsic good no matter what must be done to get them going. But there is one condition to achieve this goal that has been pushed by the secretary that should prick the conscience of the American people: the U.S. demand that Israel release more than one hundred Palestinian terrorists, including many with blood on their hands.

In an effort to avoid getting blamed for spoiling Kerry’s party, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has agreed to this painful concession. Despite the furious opposition of many in his Cabinet and government as well as the families of the victims of terrorist attacks, he has reluctantly mustered a majority for the measure. As I wrote last week, unlike the mass release of prisoners in order to ransom prisoners like kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, which is defensible, it is hard to justify Netanyahu’s decision from an Israeli point of view. But it should be remembered that as much as Israel could have said no to Kerry, this is an outrageous Palestinian demand that was championed by the United States. That means Americans should pause and wonder whether they would ever give a moment’s consideration to doing what their government is twisting Israel’s arm to do. Would we ever think of releasing any of those convicted and currently serving long jail sentences for involvement in the 9/11 attacks or any other terrorist assault on the United States and its citizens? Not a chance.

That’s a point that is never raised in the news accounts of Kerry’s negotiations or even posed to the secretary when he deigns to be questioned by a diplomatic press corps that has given him kid-glove treatment. Yet why not?

The fact is the United States would never consider such a request for a minute, no matter the diplomatic gains to be garnered from that sort of concession elsewhere in the globe. The American position is, as the Obama administration likes to put it, that anyone who attacks U.S. citizens will be chased down to the ends of the earth and either be snuffed by a drone attack that has the personal approval of the commander in chief or be locked away for good if they are captured.

The European Union's closed feedback loop

Itai Reuveni..
Israel Hayom..
28 July '13..

The EU's decision to halt economic cooperation with Israeli institutions beyond the Green Line was highly influenced by lobbying efforts on the part of dozens of local political nongovernmental organizations funded by the EU.

How does an NGO turn into an extension of interested third parties, under the cover of acting to help society at large? For European countries, government funding (sometimes secret) to dozens of Israeli and Palestinian NGOs, is a central method for advancing their interests. Their goal is to change Israeli policy while circumventing democracy and diplomacy.

These same organizations work to undermine Israel's relations with the rest of the world. They want to force their agenda on the Israeli public. Any issue related to the conflict is oversimplified and used to vilify Israel. Under these absurd circumstances, senior European officials are fed unreliable, inaccurate and distorted information from organizations that they themselves fund (under the pretense that they represent Israeli "civil society"). On the basis of these falsehoods, they criticize Israel and make policy decisions that are disconnected from reality. It is a closed feedback loop that turns Europe's decision-making process into a failure. It prevents educated discussion and raises the question of whether it is appropriate for political NGOs and European governments to influence the Israeli and Palestinian publics.

This defective policy planning also manifests itself in the EU's connection to international organizations. If we study the language of the Europeans' latest directive, we cannot ignore the striking resemblance to the recommendations published by 22 European and international NGOs in a report from October 2012. Most of these organizations are funded by the EU itself. In addition, the EU itself admitted to have adopted some of the recommendations.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

How to go backward and how to go forward in Israel

...There are many contrasts between Tsofen and BDS. One seeks to create jobs, the other seeks to destroy Israel’s economy. One looks to a high-tech future in which Arabs and Jews both prosper, while the other looks to the pre-1948 past. One engages primarily in constructive activity, while the other engages primarily in propagandizing. But perhaps the most striking difference concerns their disposition toward the truth.

Jonathan Marks..
Commentary Magazine..
28 July '13..

Two recent stories show how to go backward and how to go forward in Israel. The first is a comic gem out of the boycott, divestment, sanctions (BDS) movement, which has declared a major “Victory!” in its long campaign against SodaStream. BDS is bent on punishing SodaStream for locating production facilities in the West Bank. Their “victory” comes courtesy of TIAA-CREF, a financial services company best known for managing college and university retirement funds. BDS reports that the company has dropped SodaStream from its portfolio.

But wait: Nobody knows why TIAA-CREF dropped SodaStream. Some investors have not been high on the stock of late, so perhaps it was dropped because now seemed a good time to sell. Or perhaps TIAA-CREF will reveal that they divested from SodaStream out of concern for its operations in the West Bank, but BDS isn’t waiting around for announcements or actual reporting. Sydney Levy of WeDivest says that “no matter the reason TIAA-CREF dropped SodaStream, we view this as a conscientious decision.” Anna Balzer of the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, agrees that it doesn’t matter why TIAA-CREF sold its shares of SodaStream: “regardless of TIAA-CREF’s reasons, I think what we’re seeing is that it is increasingly unacceptable to associate in any way, to invest in, to sell products that are produced in illegal Israeli settlements.” I guess that means that if I stop eating Sabra hummus because it goes straight to my thighs, I am a participant in the BDS movement.

BDS needs to declare any victory it can because it is founded on the fantasy that Israel will one day admit that it does not deserve to exist and give up the Jewish state. What BDS wants, in other words, is to turn back the clock to before 1948, when Israel was established.

The second story, by Tablet contributor Yoav Fromer, in contrast, looks cautiously forward. Stef Wertheimer, an Israeli businessman, former Knesset member, and billionaire, recently built an industrial park in Nazareth, a city populated mainly by Israeli Arabs. The industrial park was built to “promote Arab-Jewish economic cooperation and coexistence by providing ‘quality employment’ in export-oriented industries.” Amdocs, an Israeli software and telecommunications company, is the first major outfit operating in the park. It has also been, predictably, a target of the BDS movement. The Nazareth Industrial Park is “the next great hope for social activists and business entrepreneurs who have labored to integrate Arabs into Israel’s ever-expanding high-tech sector.”

At Malki's graveside on the 12th anniversary of the Sbarro massacre

...So long as we have the strength, we will continue to avail ourselves of whatever channels there are to put back behind bars the freed mass murderer who executed the killings at Sbarro. To paraphrase the Biblical injunction (Deuteronomy/Devarim 16): Justice, justice we shall surely pursue.

Malki (left) and her mother,
 Frimet, April 2001
Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
28 July '13..

This afternoon in Jerusalem, commencing at 5 pm, the friends and families of Malki Roth and Michal Raziel will gather to mourn their lost lives. Frimet Roth, Malki's mother, will deliver a brief speech in Hebrew [text here]. The following is its translation into English.
Malki, know that even though we appear to be living so-called normal lives, celebrating happy events and laughing, the longing to be with you once again, to hug you, to kiss you as we so loved to do, remains tremendously strong. The pain that your murder evokes in us remains as heavy as ever, as deep as it was on that most bitter of days twelve years ago.

And now, during these past two years, an additional dimension to that suffering has emerged: the sheer injustice brought upon us by the state so loved by you, by Michal and by so many other victims.

On this difficult day, we have learned of an additional release of killers which our prime minister is very determined to carry out.

Forgive me for saying it this way, but justice – the justice to which you were so entitled – appears not to interest our current leaders.

Justice for you, Malki, was a most important value.


Updates throughout the day at If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Check-it out!.

Released terrorists return to killing and hurting us. That is how it was, how it is, and how it shall be.

Nadav Shragai..
Israel Hayom..
28 July '13..

Beyond the grave immorality involved in releasing murderous terrorists from prison -- not in exchange for a living or dead soldier or within the framework of a peace agreement -- but only so that the Palestinians will sit in the same room with us to talk; and beyond turning the law and the court's decision into a "joke," the bitter taste, humiliation and insult felt by the bereaved families about to witness their children's killers set free by the Israeli government -- is one fact that must serve as the determining factor, even for those who are ignoring all the other good reasons: Released terrorists return to killing and hurting us. That is how it was, how it is, and how it shall be.

Our distant history is familiar: Many of the perpetrators and murderers of the two intifadas and multitude of terrorist attacks were released in previous peace deals and "gestures." Recent history is less known: Dozens of the prisoners released in the last deal, for Gilad Schalit, have also returned to involvement in terrorist activity. Some have already been detained again.

One of the more prominent figures among them is Hamas operative Iman Alshrawni, who in 2002 was sentenced to 38 years in prison for his involvement in a terrorist attack that wounded 20 people in Beersheba. He was released in October 2011, signed an agreement to refrain from terrorist activity, but returned to his old ways and was arrested again at the beginning of 2012. In prison he began a hunger strike and Israel allowed him to go to Gaza. He recently told a Lebanese television station that he is back to working for Izzedine al-Qassam, Hamas' military wing.

From Fresnozionism, A letter to the Prime Minister

Memorial to Ofra and Tal Moses,
burned to death in 1987 when
Mohammed Dawd threw a firebomb
into their car. Dawd is scheduled
to go free in the upcoming prisoner release.
28 July '13..

Dear Mr. Prime Minister,

I will be returning to Israel next year, after more than 25 years in the US. So now that I will be an Israeli again, I think I am allowed to take the gloves off:

What you did by agreeing to release more than 100 Arab prisoners who have been convicted of crimes including multiple murders is beyond wrong. It is shameful. It is disgusting. It is immoral. And it is stupid.

I admit that I am shocked. I admired you. I thought that you learned Zionism from your father, and I know that you put your body on the line more than once for the state of Israel. So how could you do it?

I understand that the murderous insects to be released are older, they will be carefully watched, etc. So maybe they will be unlikely to hurt anyone again (although maybe not).

But look what you have done:

You have betrayed the families of the victims of these terrorists, who were shot, burned, stabbed, blown up and beaten to death. They believed that they had received justice, even if they would never get their loved ones back. Now they will watch their killers grin and make victory signs on television as our ‘peace partners’ celebrate their heroic return. For what?

Text of PM Netanyahu's open letter on releasing terrorists plus IMRA observation

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
27 July '13..

PM Netanyahu's Open Letter to Israeli Citizens Ahead of the Proposal to Resume the Diplomatic Process that will be Presented at Tomorrow's Cabinet Meeting

[IMRA: Comments follow the letter]

(Communicated by the Prime Minister's Media Adviser)

Following is the text of an open letter to the citizens of Israel from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the proposal to resume the diplomatic process, that will be submitted to the Cabinet tomorrow (Sunday, 28 July 2013):

"From time to time, prime ministers are called on to make decisions that go against public opinion – when the matter is important for the country.

In order to make decisions that are supported by the public, there is no need for prime ministers.

At the present time, it seems to me that it is very important for the State of Israel to enter into a diplomatic process. This is important both in order to exhaust the chance of ending the conflict with the Palestinians and
in order to establish Israel's position in the complex international reality around us.

The major changes in our region – in Egypt, Syria and in Iran – not only place challenges before the State of Israel but they also create considerable opportunities for us.

For these reasons, I believe that it is important for the State of Israel to enter a diplomatic process that will continue for at least nine months – in order to check if it is possible to reach an agreement with the Palestinians during this time.

The Gratuitous Nature of European Union’s Israel Policy

...From time to time the EU will attempt to portray its actions as upholding justice and the law. But that is manifestly untrue, as is any claim the EU is acting in its own self-interest. EU leaders are following their hearts, and their hearts are telling them to take a swing at Israelis from time to time, just to remind them who their true friends are–and who they aren’t.

Seth Mandel..
Commentary Magazine..
26 July '13..

When the European Union announced new restrictions on its dealings with Israeli entities in Jerusalem and the West Bank, there was some confusion, thanks to the initial reporting by Haaretz, of what the new rules meant in practice. But clearing up the confusion does not seem to have done the EU and its regulations any favors. Yair Rosenberg read through the document and explained that the EU rules did not amount to a full-blown economic boycott of Jews living where the EU doesn’t want Jews to live. That is true enough; I wrote about the new rules and preferred to call them a “move toward boycotting Jews in the West Bank and parts of Jerusalem,” which it plainly was.

And Wednesday at the Times of Israel, American law professor Eugene Kontorovich made the sensible point that because the new rules don’t restrict trade but rather apply to grants and the like, the regulations won’t harm EU economies the way a trade boycott would. Kontorovich was not writing in defense of the morality of the EU’s discriminatory action; he was simply noting that withholding grants and barring trade are two very different things. Nonetheless, the newfound clarity on the rules should not inspire a sense of relief. If anything, Kontorovich’s explanation of the regulations shows the EU’s policymakers to be not just intent on discriminating against Jews in their current and historic capital but also ignorant of international law even while using their interpretation of such law as the basis for their collective actions:

The Europeans regard Israel as an occupier in the West Bank, despite the illegitimacy of the previous Jordanian presence there. They also see Jewish communities there as violating the Geneva Conventions prohibition on the “occupying power… transferring its civilian population” into the occupied territory, despite the fact that Jews living in the West Bank there were not “transferred” by Israel in any meaning of the word; they just moved themselves.

Set such quibbles aside. Let’s assume the European position on settlements is correct. Even so, international law does not forbid or restrict the operations of private groups based in or operating in the West Bank. International law prohibits governments from “transferring” settlers to occupied territory; it does not make the settlers themselves illegal, international lepers, or legitimate objects of discrimination. It does not prohibit business from operating in occupied territory, or require the denial of services to “transferees” and their descendants. Such a broad reading of international rules finds absolutely no support in the treatment of any other occupation. Indeed, in an important recent decision concerning a company involved in building the Jerusalem light rail, a high-level French court held that international law does not restrict companies from doing business across the Green Line, or even working on Israeli government-funded projects.

To defeat the terrorists, what one thing must a government never do?

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
27 July '13..

[The text below is excerpted from a longer post we published here just six days ago ["21-Jul-13: In the debate over whether Israel should free convicted terrorists, one key argument is mostly ignored"]. Tonight's news and the public letter from Israel's prime minister in which he shares with us the burden of having to "make decisions that go against public opinion – when the matter is important for the country" make it imperative, in our view, that the backstory is better understood.]

What appears to have happened is that the political echelon has taken upon itself to usurp decisions properly and constitutionally made by the judiciary - and not for the first time. Yet we are able to see no acknowledgement by any of the relevant sectors of society - not the media, not the opposition, not the NGO sector - that this is what has happened.

Why has such an extraordinary decision, one that brutally overturns basic notions of justice, met with such thundering silence? The answer cannot be that there is no other way. We are certain there is another way, and we have strong support from the acknowledged leading thinker in the field of how to deal with the terrorists.