Monday, September 30, 2013

How about a simple "Show me your fatwa!"?

...Iran has been making great sacrifices for more than a decade to become a nuclear power, something which it correctly believes will change the balance of power in the Middle East, replacing US influence with that of Iran. Now it is on the verge of completing its project — is it likely to give up now just to end the leaky sanctions that it has borne up to this point? Would the US have scrapped the Manhattan Project in January of 1945?
30 September '13..

Most of my friends have already heard this story, but if you are one of them, don’t skip it. There’s an important parallel.

When I served in the IDF reserve, my job was guard duty at Air Force installations. This is (or was) one of the lowest tasks in the army, being reserved for people who hadn’t done regular service, or who had various ‘problems’. And we were a motley bunch. In particular there was one guy who always wore sneakers instead of boots. He explained to his commanders that he had a ptor, a medical release.

One day in 1987 when we guarding Tel Aviv’s Sde Dov airport, we were informed that a helicopter carrying the Chief of the General Staff was arriving and we were to go out and meet it. With feelings of great importance (and relief from the crushing boredom of guard duty), we surrounded the landing area. The helicopter touched down, and out stepped the highest-ranking officer in the IDF, Dan Shomron, along with other generals, bodyguards, etc.

The first thing he noticed was the sneakers. Before he stepped into his car, he nudged a major, who spoke to my associate.

Major: You. What’s on your feet?
Cpl. X: Sneakers.
M: Why?
X: I have a ptor.
M: Show it to me.

Of course he couldn’t, since it existed only in his mind. There were unpleasant consequences for him.

Which brings us to the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani. (h/t: Elder of Ziyon). Rouhani — and his predecessor Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — have claimed several times that Iran cannot develop nuclear weapons because the Supreme Leader has issued a fatwa [judgment of Islamic law] against it.

In fact, they even succeeded in persuading President Obama, who mentioned it in his speech at the UN last week. But like my unfortunate friend’s ptor, the fatwa seems to be imaginary. Read what MEMRI says about it:

A Novel Idea - The EoZ Peace Plan

...Now, the question is - why aren't the EU, UN and US working towards such a self-evident requirement to establish a real state of trust? How could any shortcut plan possibly work without building trust, that basic prerequisite for peace?

Elder of Ziyon..
30 September '13..

The reason that Israeli Jews don't trust the Palestinian Arabs is self-evident to everyone with eyes: because the PLO has have reneged on agreements in the past, such as Oslo II. They launched a terror war as a response to failed negotiations. The very first promise that Yasir Arafat made in the 1993 exchange of letters with Yitzhak Rabin, where he stated "the PLO renounces the use of terrorism and other acts of violence and will assume responsibility over all PLO elements and personnel in order to assure their compliance, prevent violations and discipline violators" was proven a sham. Even today the terrorist offshoot of Fatah, the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, is still around and still bragging of its terrorist bona fides.

The PA has done little in the intervening years to make Israelis feel that the PLO/PA could ever be trusted again.

In Article 5 of Annex 1 of the Interim Agreement of 1995, known as Oslo II, the PA promised to provide security as well as free access for Jews to visit the holy sites in Area A, namely Joseph's Tomb and the Shalom Al Yisrael synagogue in Jericho.

The PA never lived up to these promises either, and the only way Jews can visit these holy sites today are with scheduled monthly visits coordinated with the IDF under heavy security. There are still violent incidents reported at each site.

My peace plan is very simple. Have the PA adhere to its own signed agreements relative to these two sites - just for starters.

This means that the PA would ensure normal daily access to the holy sites in Area A. They would assure that all Jews who visit are safe and feel safe.


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Exploiting the Iranian nuclear threat as a vehicle to pressure Israel

...It is unconscionable that even during this turbulent period with the upheavals in Syria and Egypt, the Obama administration blinds itself to the real barriers to peace and exploits the Iranian nuclear threat as a vehicle to pressure Israel to maintain this Alice in Wonderland negotiation charade. By demanding that we make further unilateral territorial concessions in the absence of ironclad security (which is currently impossible) the US is pressuring us to gamble with our lives and future.

Isi Leibler..
Candidly Speaking from Jerusalem..
29 September '13..

One might have hoped that Obama’s calamitous mishandling of recent Middle East crises, climaxing with his disastrous response to the Syrian use of chemical weapons, would have taught him a few lessons on regional politics.

Regrettably, his address to the United Nations General Assembly last week proved otherwise. By reverting to his original Cairo speech – insisting that resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian peace “would have a profound and positive impact on the entire Middle East and North Africa”, Obama has caused many Israelis not merely to question his competence but also his real intentions towards Israel.

The notion that the stability of the entire Middle East region hinges on the resolution of the Israeli –Palestinian conflict, is utterly absurd. Our conflict has no bearing on the complex and far more problematic conflicts and pressure points surrounding us: the struggle between Sunnis and Shiites, the resurgence of Al Qaeda, the rise of the Moslem Brotherhood, the persecution and murder of Christians throughout the Moslem world, the threat of a nuclear Iran, the chaos in Libya and Yemen, the upheavals in Egypt, the global Islamic terror attacks extending from New York to Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mali and most recently Kenya, and above all, the carnage in Syria. To place responsibility for regional stability on Israel in the midst of this chaos is a terrible misreading of reality.

To compound matters, President Obama linked the Iranian nuclear threat and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, treating them with equal importance – a clear signal that the US expects Israel to make major concessions to the Palestinians in return for “undertakings” to prevent the Iranians from obtaining a nuclear bomb.

Prime Minister Netanyahu must have been bitterly disappointed. He has bent over backwards in efforts to please Obama. At Obama’s urging he extended a humiliating apology to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan for the killing of the Turkish terrorists seeking to violently breach Israel’s maritime arms blockade against Gaza. Yet, when Erdogan subsequently refused to fulfill his undertakings, Obama failed to even reprimand him.

Netanyahu outraged most Israelis by capitulating to extreme US pressure by releasing Palestinian terrorists, many of whom were mass murderers.

He also encouraged AIPAC to support the President in Congress on the Syrian issue – an act which backfired after Obama equivocated, and then withdrew his request for Congressional support.

Yet Obama disregarded all Netanyahu’s efforts and once again left him in the cold. Ignoring the asymmetry of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he complimented both parties for “having demonstrated a willingness to take significant political risks” – explaining that Israel had released large numbers of hard-core terrorists (an act which no US government would conceivably contemplate) and bracketing this with the reciprocal Palestinian “concession” – to engage in negotiations with the Israelis! Does he really believe that Israel releasing mass murderers and the Palestinians consenting to engage in negotiations amount to equivalent political risks?

Why should Israel allow it, when Europe most certainly wouldn't?

...The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs needs to inform every country that gives aid: We embrace your norms. If you don’t fund European refugee NGOs – please don’t do it here, and don’t hide beyond the dubious excuse of “human rights.” And if you don’t understand this in a diplomatic way, as accepted between civilized countries, we will be forced to make legislation that will turn your accepted norms between European countries into our normative standards.

Ben-Dror Yemini..
Times of Israel..
29 September '13..

One of the main claims of human rights organizations is that, regarding democratic behavior, Israel should adopt the norms accepted in democratic countries. That is a justified claim. Even with the assumption that the norms are not uniform, there is a wide, common denominator. This includes freedom of speech, the rule of law, freedom of association, etc. The common denominator includes Israel. Regarding relations between states, the application must be universal. No more double standards, rather mutual norms.

Take, for example, the NGO for the rights of refugees deported from the Czech Republic or Poland under circumstances involving the total confiscation of property left behind by the refugees and acts considered war crimes. This happened at the end of World War II and afterwards. Here and there, organizations were established to deal with the refugees’ rights, such as the Federation of Expellees (BdV). Freedom of speech and association give these bodies their mandate. Those who were deported feel like victims. They think that an injustice was done to them. They demand to correct this injustice.

The question is not whether they are right. We can argue about that. The question is whether foreign countries such as France and England, or international bodies like the EU, would fund those human rights organizations in the name of universal concern for human rights and refugees. And the bigger question: Do sovereign countries have the right to monitor political grants given by foreign governments? Unlike the myths offered sometimes, there is no single answer.

When Saudi Arabia asked to donate money in order to build two mosques in Norway, the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Store, clarified that he would happily receive the donation on condition that Saudi Arabia establishes freedom of religion, allowing for the building of churches. In France there are no limitations on donations for the building of mosques, despite the fact that French law forbids foreign government donations for political activity.

More importantly, even without legislation, there is no country that allows foreign donations for radical political NGOs that undermine the country’s founding ethos. There is not one country in Europe that dreams of funding one of the bodies in Germany dealing with the rights of refugees from central Europe. And of course, there is not one European country that would deliver money to an NGO in the Czech Republic or in Poland promoting the German right of return (if such an organization existed).

Peace Promotion From Our Friends Over at Fatah

Itamar Marcus/Nan Jacques Zilberdik..
Palestinian Media Watch..
29 September '13..

During the current peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, Fatah chose to glorify violence and Martyrdom death as the way to determine "the borders of the homeland":

"My homeland taught me that it is the blood of Martyrs (Shahids) that draws the borders of the homeland."

That text, together with a picture of a man holding a rifle, was posted by the administrator of one of Fatah's official Facebook pages, "Fatah - The Main Page," on Aug. 26, 2013.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The EU direct funding of settlements in occupied territory

The EU knowingly and purposefully provides substantial direct financial assistance to settlements in occupied territory – in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, that is.

Eugene Kontorovich..
Op-Ed Contributor/JPost..
28 September '13..

A delegation of European Union officials arrived in Israel weeks ago to discuss the European Commission’s proposed regulations for discretionary funding to Israeli entities.

Under guidelines prepared earlier this summer, euros would not be allowed to go to Israeli entities located cross the Green Line – or to those that have any operations there. All Israeli entities applying for funding would have to submit a declaration that they do not have such operations.

Europe claims that such a move – unparalleled in its dealings with any other country – is mandated by international law. The EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories, and thus has an obligation to keep its money from going there. Those who celebrated the move said that Israel is finally paying the international price for its occupation.

Yet it turns out that despite the guidelines, the EU still knowingly and purposefully provides substantial direct financial assistance to settlements in occupied territory – in Turkish-occupied Northern Cyprus, that is. So the EU funds the occupation of an EU member state. Turkey’s invasion and occupation of Cyprus in 1974 was condemned the UN Security Council, and the EU’s official policy is that the Turkish occupation is illegitimate, and Turkey must completely withdraw. The EU does not recognize the Turkish government in Northern Cyprus.

Nonetheless, the EU maintains an entire separate program to direct funds to Northern Cyprus.

They even put out a nice, colorful brochure last year.

A sovereign state that would, undoubtedly, be another great gift to Israel and humanity. Hmm...

...Imagine carving out about one-fourth of the U.S. and making it a separate country bordering Washington and a few miles from New York. This country is populated by people who systematically teach their children that the United States has no right to exist and must be destroyed, and name schools, public squares, and summer camps after terrorists who have inflicted mass-casualty attacks on the U.S. No one in his right mind would call that a way to ensure America’s security.

P. David Hornik..
27 September '13..

“Friends of Israel, including the United States,” President Obama said in his speech to the UN on Tuesday, “must recognize that Israel’s security as a Jewish and democratic state depends upon the realization of a Palestinian state….”

Particularly because of its timing, the statement left most Israelis rubbing their eyes.

Transportation Minister Israel Katz of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party called Obama’s words “one of the worst statements by an American president in history. Israel’s existence does not depend on anything, especially not the Palestinians….”

Imagine carving out about one-fourth of the U.S. and making it a separate country bordering Washington and a few miles from New York. This country is populated by people who systematically teach their children that the United States has no right to exist and must be destroyed, and name schools, public squares, and summer camps after terrorists who have inflicted mass-casualty attacks on the U.S.

No one in his right mind would call that a way to ensure America’s security.

There are, though, more specific reasons to marvel at (while not being surprised by) Obama’s words.

Over the past week, two Israeli soldiers have been murdered by Palestinian terror. On Friday 20-year-old Tomer Hazan was killed by a Palestinian coworker who lured him to his village near Qalqilya in the West Bank. On Sunday 20-year-old Gavriel Kovi was killed by a Palestinian sniper while guarding civilians in the West Bank town of Hebron.

In the case of Tomer Hazan’s murder, the coworker, Nidal Amar, tried to hide his body in a bid to use it as ransom for Amar’s brother, jailed in Israel on terror charges. Amar was quickly apprehended.

In the case of Gavriel Kovi’s murder, the killer has not yet been found.

No condemnation of these acts was forthcoming from any Palestinian Authority official, including President Mahmoud Abbas—this at a time when Israel is engaged in yet another round of “peace talks” with the PA that Secretary of State John Kerry heavily pressured both sides to launch.

Finally on Monday night, when pressed to do so in a meeting with Jewish leaders in New York, Abbas “condemned” the killings—while adding that he “expected Israel to condemn the deaths of four young Palestinians at the hands of the IDF in recent weeks.”

The Times of Israel notes that

It was not clear to what Abbas was referring, but on Sept. 17, Israeli forces, believing their lives to be in danger, killed one man and wounded at least one during a raid on a refugee camp near Jerusalem to arrest a fugitive, the IDF said.

That is, a “condemnation” that equated outright acts of murder with acts of self-defense by security forces, that was made only in English to a small audience in New York, and that is not really a condemnation at all.

Palestinian Arabs expressing themselves in customary fashion

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
28 September '13..

On Friday afternoon, just as the Sabbath was about to descend onto Jerusalem, we posted here ["27-Sep-13: Clouds"] about signs of increasing violence originating with our Palestinian Arab neighbours. Friday happens to have been the anniversary of the day in 2000 on which an "Intifada" inspired by the now-deceased arch-terrorist Arafat erupted in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

Here's how the rest of Friday developed.

Adiv Sterman writing ["Six Israelis injured in clashes in Jerusalem and West Bank, hours after terror groups call for third uprising"] in Times of Israel on Friday, says "violent demonstrations flared up Friday in several locations throughout Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip" hours after exhortations from Hamas and Islamic Jihad spokespersons calling for a "Third Intifada" against Israel. The results included multiple Israeli injuries.

In Jerusalem, three Israeli border policemen were lightly injured by young Palestinian stone throwers during a protest near the Old City’s Damascus Gate. Thirteen Palestinians were arrested over the disturbances.


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Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Palestinian portrayal of themselves as not only innocent but the most compelling victims in the world

Arguably, the use of propaganda by Palestinians to gain compassion and political support has been their one great success. The Palestinian narrative of victimhood, with its falsifications of history and politics, its portrayal of themselves as not only innocent but the most compelling victims in the world, its staging of events to blame Israel for atrocities they themselves have committed, its deliberate concentration on alleged injuries or deaths of children, and its achievement in persuading much of the media to accept and advance its manipulation of language and action, have all been part of its success in the propaganda war.

Michael Curtis..
The Commentator..
26 September '13..

The use of propaganda has a long history, going back to the Persians in the 6th century B.C. The word itself can be traced back to at least the early 17th century when in January 1622 Pope Gregory XV set up the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith. Its objective was missionary work to oppose the Protestant Reformation.

In general, propaganda is the use of communication to influence the emotions, attitudes, and opinions of people in the attempt to get them to accept a particular political, religious, or economic point of view. It implies, in democratic as well as in non-democratic societies, conscious manipulation of the opinions of those societies.

That manipulation is usually directed at emotion rather than to thought. At its most extreme, propaganda takes the form of the big lie, the repetition of a view of events or history that induces or encourages action. It was Adolf Hitler who clearly explained this manipulation when he wrote: “The most brilliant propagandist technique will yield no success unless one fundamental principle is borne in mind constantly -- it must confine itself to a few points and repeat them over and over.”

That technique takes many forms, appeals to prejudice and to fear, disinformation and presentation of forgeries and false documents, selective truth, scapegoating or demonizing the enemy.

Arguably, the use of propaganda by Palestinians to gain compassion and political support has been their one great success.

The Palestinian narrative of victimhood, with its falsifications of history and politics, its portrayal of themselves as not only innocent but the most compelling victims in the world, its staging of events to blame Israel for atrocities they themselves have committed, its deliberate concentration on alleged injuries or deaths of children, and its achievement in persuading much of the media to accept and advance its manipulation of language and action, have all been part of its success in the propaganda war.

That success is shown by the fact that a considerable proportion of the European population accepts the Palestinian propaganda that Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians, in spite of the reiteration by Palestinian leaders of their determination to eliminate the State of Israel. Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, is held responsible for the problems not only of the area but for those in the world in general.

In contrast, the Palestinians present themselves as helpless, blameless individuals who have been the victims of Israeli brutality and colonialism.

The government of Israel and its legal advisers - Who is the real ruler?

It is time to bring back legal advisers to an advisory role – not a decision-making role.

Dan Illouz..
A Fresh Perspective/JPost..
26 September '13..

One of the central questions that can help us understand whether a certain regime should be considered a democracy is: “Who is making the final decisions?” In a democracy, decisions are made by elected officials representing the people, thus allowing the people to rule themselves – even if it is done indirectly.

In a dictatorship, the people making the final decisions are not elected. In many dictatorships, you might still have elections, and even a functioning parliament. However, the final say on all issues is given to a supreme leader who is not elected. This leader can be a religious leader, such as the ayatollahs in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It can also be a secular leader, such as President Bashar Assad in Syria. However, this leader has the final veto power to decide what can or cannot be done.

It is important to note right from the start that what defines a regime as truly democratic is not the content of the decisions; dictators can make good decisions, while democracies can lead to horrible decisions. However, what defines whether a regime is democratic is the identity of the person making the decisions.

In Israel, intense judicialization of politics has made it almost impossible for legislators or for the executive branch to make certain decisions.

This judicialization is characterized by increased intervention of the courts in political decisions, a phenomenon which was the subject of one of my previous columns. However, there is also another phenomenon which is no less important in this process, which takes power away from the elected officials and gives it to the bureaucratic branch of government. This phenomenon is the increased intervention of legal advisers in political decisions.

In this column, I want to look at the structure of the roles of legal advisers in Israel in order to understand how problematic it is and why it should be changed.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Freeing terrorists and the Nairobi massacre

In the name of future such victims, as well as in our names, we again ask the State Department and Secretary Kerry to speak up and condemn the calculated confusion of people like Mahmoud Abbas who claim to be pursuing peace and the release of "fighters for freedom and peace" at the same time. If the US government is not clear about the differences between terrorists and freedom fighters, let them tell us how to understand what we have all just witnessed in Nairobi.

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

Regular readers of This Ongoing War know how troubled we are by the ongoing releases from prison - long before the end of their sentences - of convicted Palestinian Arab terrorists. We want peace and, like almost all Israelis, are prepared for our side to make painful compromises in its name. That seems to us to be part of the process. But we utterly reject the idea that the path to peace is somehow connected to the release of murderous terrorists.

Many of the people freed in these past two years from Israeli security prisons, both men and women, are murderers. As far as anyone can tell, they are entirely unrepentant. Many were convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. Several of them were sentenced with strong recommendations by the court that no political decision should ever be made in the future to allow them free again under any conditions.

That's for instance what the court that convicted the woman who engineered our daughter's murder said when passing sentence on her. It was to no avail. That woman is now living free in Jordan, and has been busy these past two years (both via public appearances and also through her own television program that is beamed throughout the Arabic-speaking world) whipping up support for the killing of more Jews, as she had done from prison throughout her ten years of incarceration.


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The ever more bizarre and dangerous world of Hamas

If the leaders of Hamas believe that the Egyptians are determined to undermine or topple their regime, they will not hesitate to initiate a new military confrontation against Israel. Hamas would never dare to initiate one against the Egyptian army. It is easier to fire rockets at Israel.

Khaled Abu Toameh..
Gatestone Institute..
27 September '13..

As Egypt steps up security restrictions along its border with the Gaza Strip, Hamas and some Palestinian terror groups have been holding "military parades" in a bid to show that they are prepared for war.

The parades, which saw hundreds of heavily armed militiamen march through the streets, are mainly intended to send a message of warning to Egypt's new rulers against any attempt to launch a military offensive inside the Gaza Strip.

Some Hamas leaders are convinced that the Egyptians are preparing to launch a military strike against the Gaza Strip under the pretext of combatting terror in Sinai.

However, the show of force by Hamas and its allies is also designed to send a warning message to Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Hamas believes that Israel and the Palestinian Authority are directly involved in an Egyptian-led scheme to overthrow their regime and bring Mahmoud Abbas's forces back to the Gaza Strip.

The parades are also intended to send a warning message to Abbas as to what awaits him and his loyalists if they dare enter the Gaza Strip with the help of Israel and Egypt.

Given Hamas's growing isolation in the aftermath of the downfall of the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Cairo and the Egyptian authorities' severe and unprecedented restrictions along the border, there is no underestimating the threats coming out of the Gaza Strip.

If the leaders of Hamas believe that the Egyptians are determined to undermine or topple their regime, they will not hesitate to initiate a new military confrontation with Israel.

Thanks for the revelations. We have indeed come a long way – backwards.

...Have we anything to show for decades of regression? Not much if we judge by the revelations from Ramallah. Yet they are among the few things these days we can be thankful for.

Sarah Honig..
Another Tack..
27 September '13..

With the Syrian thriller and its spin-off machinations keeping us at the edge of our seats, who had time to at all notice much less care about the volubility of Ramallah’s honchos?

Too much distracting din made it difficult to pay much mind to Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority cronies. But this didn’t keep them from babbling and what they revealed deserved our attention – even if the utterances in question weren’t the sort that the more politically correct in our midst prefer we dwell on.

The Palestinian al-Hayat al-Jadida daily quoted Abbas as bluntly issuing the following ultimatum when addressing a visiting Arab athletic delegation: “We told the present Israeli negotiators that if you want to go back on what was agreed with [former Israeli premier Ehud] Olmert, we will go back on our agreement for a land swap and so we will ask for all of the 1967 land as is.”

Elaborating further, Abbas claimed that Olmert at the time asked for territorial exchanges amounting to 6% of Judea and Samaria while the Palestinians wouldn’t go beyond 1.9%.

According to another PA daily, Al-Quds, Abbas asserted that the current American-sponsored negotiations revolve around fixing borders and that “the Palestinian position is based on the understandings reached with Olmert. However, the Israelis now want to scrap the understandings reached on borders with Olmert.” He threatened to resume unilateral initiatives at the UN.

Abbas was echoed by senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath, who told Ma’an News Agency that “Israel has not proposed anything so far. Since the talks resumed, Israel had showed no flexibility, with some Israeli negotiators even suggesting talks begin from scratch. The Israeli side does not recognize any of the agreements signed previously including Oslo and the Road Map plan which the Palestinian side has fully implemented.”

He added: “Israel wants the US to remain as its ally and not as a mediator in talks, which is why Israel opposes the presence of US envoy Martin Indyk during sessions.”

The Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee, Yasser Abed Rabbo, contributed his two cents during an interview to the Voice of Palestine: “until now there has been no progress. Without American pressure on Israel no breakthrough will be achieved.”

Israel was also upbraided for seeking to derail the talks by raising security issues and for having allegedly proposed a Palestinian state within temporary borders on roughly 60% of the territory Ramallah demands. This was summarily rejected because “the principle of a Palestinian state on the entire disputed territory must be accepted first.”

And, not to forget, numerous PA mouthpieces insist that the phased release of 104 convicted murderers (which Abbas secured for his consent to at all parley) must continue no matter how negotiations turn out. And there’s more: the PA now wants 250 others sprung.

All this chatter led Jerusalem to lodge a stiff complaint with Washington over the incessant leaks from Palestinian interlocutors. The talks were launched under the understanding that nothing would be divulged about what was being deliberated – not even technical details – and that only the US could brief the media.

So in a way, we need to be grateful for this Arab gabbiness, skewed and tendentious though it is. Ramallah’s breach of secrecy puts us on alert, which is better than being kept entirely in the dark. The above jibber-jabber happens to be instructive. Here are its essential points:

CNN and Rouhani Fever

As news organizations blatantly mischaracterize statements recently made by Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, a number of Farsi-speakers challenge CNN's account of his supposed "acknowledgment" of the Holocaust.

Gilead Ini..
CAMERA Media Analyses..
26 September '13..

It is hard to imagine what would compel a serious journalist to sit at her laptop after Hassan Rouhani delivered his speech at the United Nations yesterday and type the phrase, "The Iranian president's first speech to world leaders was absent anti-Israel rhetoric."

When the Associated Press's national security reporter Lara Jakes wrote this passage, the Iranian president had just finished telling the General Assembly that Israel is guilty of "brutal repression," "structural violence," and "institutionalized aggression" against innocents, to the extent, Rouhani insisted, that "apartheid" is not a strong enough descriptor.

The anti-Israel rhetoric was clearly present.

It is also hard to imagine why a sober reporter would view Rouhani's interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour and claim that Rouhani proffered "frank acknowledgment and condemnation of the Holocaust." Even according to the most sympathetic translation, Rouhani had responded to Amanpour's question about the Holocaust by insisting, clearly and repeatedly, that he couldn't comment on the "dimensions" of Nazi atrocities against the Jews because he is not a historian. In other words, the Nazis did something bad, but he doesn't quite know what it was.

That prompted Marc Tracy to make the following analogy:

Imagine that a company or some other kind of organization with a history of believing that the world is flat appoints a new CEO who is more open to alternative beliefs about the shape of the world. "The world is not flat," he says. But he doesn't then say: "In fact, the world is a globe with a circumference of 24,901 miles." He says: "I don't know whether it is a globe. Maybe it is. Or maybe it is curved. Maybe it is jagged, like one of its many mountain ranges. Maybe it dips, like a crater. Maybe it is a series of steps hurtling through the cosmos. I am not qualified to judge."

Tracy's takeaway: You wouldn't say this person's view conforms to the known facts about the earth — and you can't say that Rouhani acknowledged the Holocaust. "It is Holocaust denial," he bluntly concluded.

Chemi Shalev noted that, according to the criteria laid out by the Holocaust History Project, "Rohani might still be considered a Holocaust-denier, albeit a much smoother one than Ahmadinejad."

And Michael Moynihan likewise concluded, "Using the definition accepted by mainstream scholars of Nazism, Rouhani is a moderate Holocaust denier."

But to New York Times reporters Mark Landler and Thomas Erdbrink, the Iranian president's rhetoric amounted to "frank acknowledgment."

There is something terribly unhealthy in journalism when reporters from two of the most prominent American news organizations feel comfortable seeing something but reporting the exact opposite. In the space between Rouhani's mouth and the journalists' pens, a powerful, distorting force managed to neutralize, and then replace, journalistic ethics and concern for the facts.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A very moderate, reasonable and rational take. Sadly, entirely wrong

This never-ending fight is not one between Israelis and "Palestinians," but between Jews and the much larger Arab world that has persecuted those Jews for centuries. Furthermore, the conflict did not begin in November of 1947 with UN Resolution 181 calling for recognition of the Jewish State of Israel. The timeline for the ongoing war against the Jews of the Middle East begins not in the twentieth-century, but in the 7th century with the rise of Islam, because Islam, itself, has hatred and contempt for the Jew hard-coded into the faith as written within both the Koran and the Hadiths and as acted upon by innumerable Arabs from that day to this.

Michael Lumish..
Israel Thrives..
26 September '13..

Perhaps the biggest problem that we face in understanding the Arab-Israel conflict has to do with focus.

That is, among western liberals the typical understanding of the conflict is that it is one between Israelis and Palestinians fighting over a bit of turf, since November of 1947, on the western edge of the Mediterranean Sea. We tend to think that Israel is largely at fault because it is occupying and causing innumerable sufferings for the indigenous population. We tend to oppose tactics like suicide bombings or the violent targeting of innocent Israeli civilians, but we also tend to understand that a people under occupation will do what is necessary to free themselves, which is what the Palestinians are trying to do.

This, in a broad kind of way, represents the sort-of middle-of-the-road western liberal view of the conflict. This western liberal view, which was my view until fairly recently, seeks balance and even-handedness. It comes from an ideological standpoint in which peoples around the world are viewed as more-or-less the same in that we all want the same things. We all want to live decent lives and have decent jobs and to take care of our families and to get along with our neighbors and to have a little fun now and again. The basic idea is that everyone wants these things and that if we would simply treat one another fairly than we could all get along in peace.

As applied to the Israel-Palestine conflict this means that since the Israelis are the occupying power, who are persecuting the indigenous minority population, it is up to the Israelis to cease and desist in order to bring about a peaceful and just resolution to the ongoing problem. If only Israel would end the occupation then resistance to the occupation would also end and we could see a Palestinian state living in peace and thriving alongside the Jewish state of Israel.

It's a matter of freedom and justice for the Palestinians and security for the Jewish people of Israel.

This is essentially where Barack Obama is coming from and while this view is more or less monolithic on the western center-left it is also significantly present on the western political right. It represents a general consensus among people who bother themselves with the issue and it explains why so many friends of Israel throughout the world, including very many Jewish people, tend to think that both sides are largely to blame, but that the real burden is upon Israel to make the peace.

This very moderate, very reasonable, very rational take on the conflict is also, sadly, entirely wrong.

The conflict is much longer in time and much wider in scope than the typical well-meaning western liberal understanding of it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jerusalem Dig Strikes Rare Gold

...That means the perpetrators of the campaign are rigorously blind to the beauty of the Jewish people’s reencounter with its roots, digging deep in long-abandoned ground and finding… itself. Peace will come when Islam as a whole can acknowledge other loci of light, all having the same source even if filtered through different prisms.

P. David Hornik..
22 September '13..

This year Israel received a wonderful New Year’s (Rosh Hashanah) gift from a team of archeologists led by Eilat Mazar.

She announced that, at the foot of the Temple Mount, the team had found a large gold medallion, “remarkably well kept and glittering,” with reliefs of a seven-branched menorah, a shofar, and a Torah—timeless fundaments of Judaism well familiar in Israel and much of the Jewish world today.

The medallion was in a fabric bag; along with it was another fabric bag containing 36 gold coins and other artifacts.

Mazar assessed that the medallion and coins were abandoned in 614 CE, the year of the Persian conquest of Jerusalem. She added:

The position of the items…indicates that one bundle was carefully hidden underground, while the second bundle was apparently abandoned in haste and scattered across the floor….

[T]he most likely explanation is that the findings were earmarked as a contribution toward the building of a new synagogue at a location that is near the Temple Mount….

What is certain is that their mission, whatever it was, was unsuccessful, and its owners couldn’t return to collect it.

Mazar believes the medallion was an ornament for a Torah scroll, which would make it “the earliest such archeological find in history.” As for the coins, an Israeli expert said they “can be dated to the reigns of different Byzantine emperors, ranging from the middle of the 4th century CE to the early 7th century CE.”

Also this year Mazar’s team discovered the oldest known inscription in Jerusalem—from around 1000 BCE at the time of King David, a period of Jewish sovereignty in Israel. The medallion, however, comes from almost half a millennium after the loss of Jewish sovereignty and attests to the ongoing attachment to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

An attachment that continued up to the astounding restoration of Israel in our era.

The Unleashing of Moral Indignation by Brave EU Diplomats on ... Guess Who?

It's anyone's guess how many died in Syria this past week. But what really riled European diplomats like Marion Fesneau-Castaing and her boss Lady Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, were a bunch of Israeli soldiers standing around to ensure that demonstrators - including European diplomats - didn't get out of hand while illegal dwellings were dismantled.

CAMERA Snapshots..
24 September '13..

This past week has had its share of Islamist violence.

Boko Haram Islamists massacred 159 in Nigeria.

Suicide bombers in Iraq killed 96 attending a funeral.

A bombing of a church in Pakistan killed 81.

Terrorists took over a mall in Kenya and killed up to 68.

56 soldiers and policemen in Yemen were slaughtered by Islamic extremists.

It's anyone's guess how many died in Syria this past week.

But what really riled European diplomats like Marion Fesneau-Castaing and her boss Lady Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, were a bunch of Israeli soldiers standing around to ensure that demonstrators - including European diplomats - didn't get out of hand while illegal dwellings were dismantled. Ms. Fesneau-Castaing punched a young Israeli soldier in order to flaunt her sacrosanct diplomatic status. Undoubtedly, she is basking in her courageous act of defiance, secure in the safe confines of Israel and far removed from places like Nigeria and Pakistan where real courage is required.

Original Title: In a Week Filled With Islamist Slaughters, Brave EU Diplomats Unleash Moral Indignation on Israeli Soldiers

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Incitement - The Very One-Sided Obstacle to Peace

...The path to peace is not as simple as merely saying both sides have rights–though any formulation that accepts that Israel has rights in the dispute over Jerusalem and the West Bank rather than just security concerns, as Obama indicated, would be an improvement. But what is truly necessary is for the West to make it plain to Abbas and the PA that it cannot go on subsidizing terrorists like the Aqsa Brigades or eulogizing them when murderers are released from Israeli jails at the behest of the U.S.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
24 September '13..

During the course of his speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations, President Obama repeated his evenhanded mantra about the Middle East peace process. The short version of it is to say that if you want Israel to survive you also have to support a Palestinian state. Both sides of the conflict have a right to live “in dignity and security” and both sides should be urged to make compromises and accept peace. But the problem with this formulation, which was repeated by many other world leaders at the UN podium, is that it reflects a false moral equivalence between the two sides. That false balance was reflected in the events last weekend that led to the murders of two Israeli soldiers in terrorist incidents.

As the Times of Israel’s David Horovitz wrote yesterday, these were not the acts of isolated extremists trying to undermine the peaceful intentions of Palestinian leaders. Responsibility for one of the murders was taken by the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, the military wing of the Fatah Party led by Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who was praised by President Obama for engaging in talks with Israel. The PA condemned neither killing. But even if it did issue some statement of regret, it would be pure hypocrisy since such acts are encouraged every day by the PA’s official media and education system which continues to laud terrorism and to treat murders of Jews and Israelis as the duty of every Palestinian.

Yet neither the Obama administration nor anyone at the UN ever bothers to point out that there is only one side in this contract that devotes its resources to inciting hatred and violence against their antagonists: the Palestinians. Until that imbalance is corrected, all the evenhanded rhetoric heard at the UN or anywhere else will be a waste of time.

EU - What's Unacceptable for Israel is Just Fine for Spain

...Then there are the Basques, whose oft-proclaimed desire for independence can’t be tested in a vote because Spain repeatedly bars pro-independence parties from running on the grounds of alleged ties to the Basque terror group ETA. That also doesn’t bother anyone in Europe, even though Europe objects vociferously when Israel refuses to talk to Palestinian parties that actively support terror, like Yasser Arafat’s PLO during the second intifada.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
24 September '13..

Recent news reports from Spain beautifully illustrate why nobody should take the European Union’s pretensions to moral superiority seriously–and especially not when it comes to Israel. Spain is now committing virtually every “abuse” the EU sanctimoniously accuses Israel of, without a peep of protest from its European peers.

For instance, Spain recently erected checkpoints along its border with Gibraltar that are creating real hardship. The checkpoints have lengthened travel times from 45 minutes to two hours for cross-border commuters and also increased costs, since people who used to drive now combine foot travel and taxis to reach work on time. These are precisely the complaints Europeans routinely level at Israeli checkpoints: that they undermine the Palestinian economy by increasing the time and expense of commuting to work or moving cargo.

But unlike the Spanish checkpoints–which blatantly violate the EU’s open-border rules–Israeli checkpoints are perfectly legal under international law, even if you accept the EU’s definition of the West Bank as “occupied territory” (which Israel doesn’t; it considers the area disputed territory). Under the laws of belligerent occupation, an occupying army is entitled to take reasonable military measures within the occupied territory to ensure its country’s security; it isn’t restricted to operating along the border. And Israel’s checkpoints were established to stop Palestinian suicide bombers.

Spain’s checkpoints, in contrast, are officially there to stop cigarette smuggling, though Gibraltar claims they are pure retaliation for its efforts to curb Spanish overfishing in its waters. By any standard, stopping suicide bombers is a stronger justification. Yet the same European officials who vociferously condemn Israel’s checkpoints have nothing to say about the Spanish ones.

Then there are the hundreds of thousands of Catalonians who formed a 250-mile human chain this month to demand independence from Spain. Catalonians also gave an absolute majority to pro-independence parties in last year’s provincial elections. Yet Spain adamantly refuses to let the province hold a referendum on secession.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Belittling Hebron's Jewish footprint at the Washington Post

The next time the Post has occasion to refer to Jews in Hebron, it would behoove its editors and reporters to give readers a fuller and fairer account than its one-sided, pro-Palestinian spin in the Sept. 23 edition.

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
24 September '13..

One of two IDF soldiers killed by Palestinian terrorists over the weekend, Sgt. Gabriel Koby, 20, was manning a military post that guards the Jewish community in Hebron. In its account by correspondents Ruth Eglash and William Booth, the Washington Post reports that it's near "the holy site known to Jews as the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahim Mosque."

The Post's correspondents then proceed to opine that Hebron is among "Jewish settlements in the West Bank that are considered by Palestinians and much of the world to be illegal under international law." In other worlds, Jews don't belong in Hebron. Out with Jews -- they have no business settling and living in Hebron ("Troops deaths put strain on Mideast peace talks," page A7, Sept. 23).

Unfortunately, this description of the Jewish presence in Hebron leaves much to be desired. There's far more to Hebron's history and religious importance.

So let's fill in the empty blanks left by the Post:

- Hebron is one of Judaism's four holy cities. The other three are Jerusalem, Safed, and Tiberias.

- Hebron is also the oldest Jewish community in the world.

- While the article acknowledges Abraham's purchase of the Cave of Machpelah, it fails to point out that this is the burial site of the Jewish patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the matriarchs Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah. In contrast, Muslims can claim only a single tie to the Tomb: Abraham. After Abraham, the generational family tree divides between the next Jewish patriarch, Isaac, and the separate forbear, Ismael, who is not Jewish and not buried in Hebron. Jews have much greater biblical claims to Hebron than Muslims. By a margin of 6 to 1. Giving them equal status with Jews doesn't tally with the Book of Genesis.

- Hebron's Jewish renown also includes the crowning of King David and his seven-year reign in Hebron before moving to Jerusalem.

- Jews lived in Hebron almost continuously for a thousand (1,600+) years throughout the Byzantine, Arab, Mameluke, and Ottoman periods.

On The Way To A New Intifada?

Although Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and some of his aides have been telling Israelis, Americans and Europeans that they are opposed to violence and terror attacks against Israel, they continue to incite Palestinians against Israel on an almost daily basis.

Khaled Abu Toameh..
Gatestone Institute..
24 September '13..

A connection seems to exist between the resumption of the peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, and the recent upsurge in violence in the West Bank, which reached its peak with the killing of two Israeli soldiers this week.

The resumption of the U.S.-sponsored negotiations has been accompanied by increased calls from Palestinians to launch a new intifada against Israel.

Calls have been coming not only from Hamas and other extremist groups, but also from Palestinians representing various PLO groups in the West Bank, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's own Fatah faction.

Earlier this week, representatives of several Palestinian groups met in Ramallah and launched a public campaign to stop the negotiations and wage an intifada against Israel.

That the meeting was held a few hundred meters away from Abbas's headquarters is significant. It shows that opposition to the peace talks is not only coming from the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, but also from the largely secular and relatively moderate city of Ramallah.

A few days earlier, a group of masked men marched in the city calling for a third intifada against Israel. The Palestinian Authority police did not intervene to stop them because, Palestinians say, they were Abbas loyalists from Fatah.

Calls for a new uprising against Israel are also being issued by senior officials of Fatah in the West Bank. These officials argue that stepping up the "popular resistance" against Israel is possible even as the peace talks continue.

"Popular resistance will increase pressure on the Israeli government and draw the world's attention to the conflict," explained a top Fatah official.

By supporting a new intifada against Israel, Fatah is seeking to send a message to its critics that, despite Abbas's decision to resume the peace talks with Israel, its members have not abandoned the option of violence as a way of extracting concessions from the Israeli government.

BDSers - hypocrites, antisemites, or provably both?

So the Israel-haters will want to ensure that this product is boycotted, right? One slight problem, though.

Elder of Ziyon..
23 September '13..

Another Israeli innovation:

The next revolution in personal computing could very well come from the northern Israeli town of Yokne’am, where SolidRun...has developed a $45 PC that can do almost anything a “big boy” computer can do – with all design and manufacturing done in Israel.

“Our goal is to supply anyone anywhere who needs one with a low-cost, high-capability computer that has a low carbon footprint and can do just about anything the average person would need,” said [the] CEO of SolidRun. “That’s been our dream for a long time, and with our new CuBox-I computer, that dream is becoming a reality.”

The Cubox-I can be used for all sorts of things a regular PC can be used for – dedicated or general purpose – and save loads of energy, because it can replace computers that require a lot more power.

So the Israel-haters will want to ensure that this product is boycotted, right?

One slight problem, though.

The company is run by, and the computers manufactured by, Israeli Arabs.

Uh-oh. Does the CuBox-I computer go on the boycott list or not?


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!

Having the Wisdom to Review the Protocols of 1993

...Instead of repeatedly going over the secret protocols of 1973, Israelis would be wise to review the non-confidential protocols of 1993.

Hagai Segal..
Israel Opinion/Ynet..
22 September '13..

The 40th anniversary of the Yom Kippur War and the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords were marked at about the same time this year. It's a shame that President Shimon Peres, who served as a minister in both the Golda and Oslo governments, did not take advantage of his status to do some brave national soul-searching about both affairs. Once again, Israel chose to focus solely on the sins (real or imagined) of the 1973 war.

We missed an opportunity to find out, for instance, that the Israeli arrogance which allowed the Egyptians to surprise us on Yom Kippur is very similar to the arrogance that allowed Arafat to move his headquarters from Tunis to Ramallah. Rabin and Peres assumed that, if needed, the IDF would easily be able to restore the previous situation, and apparently they did not believe that Arafat's presence here would create an irreversible situation, from a security standpoint.

More than 1,000 Israeli households joined the family of the bereaved before the army managed to regain control over the West Bank cities during Operation Defensive Shield and dramatically reduce the number of funerals. To this day the army is having a hard time eradicating the rocket fire from Gaza. Not one rocket was fired from Gaza before the Oslo agreement.

One Man’s Message in Memory of Staff Sgt. Gabriel Kobi

A former member of the Givati Brigade’s Rotem Battalion, in which Staff Sergeant Gabriel Kobi – shot in the course of routine security duty in Hebron on Sunday – served, offers a personal tribute to the young man he never knew.

Ido Antar..
23 September '13..

“Yesterday evening, the name of the soldier killed in Hebron was released to the public – Staff Sergeant Gabriel Kobi, who served in the Rotem Battalion of the Givati Brigade.

I didn’t know him.

Two years have passed since I was released, and he only then enlisted.

I won’t be at the funeral, and I probably also won’t attend the shiva. I will not be reciting the mourner’s Kaddish.

Today, I will go for a run like every other day, and I will go to the gym like every other day. But instead of wearing a Nike or Adidas shirt like on a normal day, I pulled out from the depths of my closet the shirt of the Rotem battalion.

Every person that I pass by on my run – I will point behind me with my thumb so that they will all know. So that they’ll know that the IDF as a whole, and the Rotem Battalion in particular, are strong, tough, and remember every single fighter. That’s my small tribute for all to see.

But not so that they’ll be proud of me – but rather proud of him.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Failure of Talks Is Foreordained as Palestinian Leaks Continually Show

...In short, the Palestinian claim of “no progress” is evidently independent of whatever actually happened in the talks, and Palestinian officials don’t even care who knows it: They have no problem espousing mutually contradictory explanations.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
23 September '13..

Palestinians have killed two Israeli soldiers in planned attacks over the last three days; the armed wing of Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party has proudly claimed responsibility for both killings (though Israeli officials are skeptical); and the Palestinian Authority that Abbas heads–Israel’s so-called peace partner–has yet to muster even a lukewarm condemnation of the murders. In a normal universe, this might raise doubts about the prospects of the current Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. But anyone who has been following the negotiations already knows these prospects are nonexistent: Aside from all the reasons I listed three weeks ago, the constant stream of PA leaks about the talks is a dead giveaway.

Ever since negotiations resumed in late July, PA officials having been giving the media gloomy progress reports on an almost daily basis, thereby violating the explicit commitment both sides gave Secretary of State John Kerry not to talk about what happens at the negotiating sessions. That alone attests to bad faith. But what’s really remarkable is that while all the Palestinian leaks agree the talks are going nowhere, they offer blatantly contradictory reasons for this conclusion. In other words, the “facts” on which this conclusion is supposedly based can’t possibly be true.

Over the space of just a few days earlier this month, one Palestinian official said Israel had done nothing for the past six weeks but present the issues it wants to discuss; another said Israel had proposed an interim deal for a Palestinian state with temporary borders on 60 percent of the West Bank; and a third said Israel had made an unacceptable final-status offer that would give Palestinians 90 percent of the West Bank while leaving Israel in control of the border crossings with Jordan. These three statements are clearly mutually exclusive: If, for instance, Israel has done nothing but outline the issues it wants to discuss, it can’t have offered either temporary or permanent borders. Similarly, if Israel has made a final-status offer, then it hasn’t just proposed an interim deal.

As the Times pumps up a kind of breathless warning a la The Jews Are Coming

Bottom line: Another example of selective, anti-Zionist journalism as practiced by Rudoren and the Times, which resent Jews standing up for their rightful claims in the Holy Land.

Leo Rennert..
American Thinker..
23 September '13..

The New York Times has paid scant attention to Palestinian vandalism and attacks on Jewish religious shrines -- whether in east Jerusalem or in the West Bank. Protecting the Western Wall or Joseph's Tomb near Nablus or Rachel's Tomb near Hebron is not high on the Times' coverage agenda.

What does concern the Times and warrants an alarming two-page spread in the Sept. 22 edition is Jewish presence on Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest site. Jerusalem bureau chief Jodi Rudoren pulls out all the stops in warning that any increase in Jewish visitors is bound to be seen as a provocation by Palestinians -- with God knows what consequences. The headlines set the tone: "Claiming the Heart of Jerusalem" and "Jews Increasingly Challenge Rules to Claim Heart of Jerusalem."

A bit of background history. Temple Mount is where the Bible says Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Temple Mount is the place where stood the First and Second Jewish Temples. Still, in a magnanimous gesture, Israel has delegated administration of the site to a Muslim Wafq. Tens of thousands of Muslims -- whether Israeli or Palestinian -- can pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque or visit the Dome of the Rock.

Contrast this with Palestinians hurling stones on Jewish worshipers at the Western Wall below Temple Mount. Or repeatedly targeting Joseph's Tomb and Rachel's Tomb. Yet, Rudoren gives Palestinians a pass.