Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Wednesday, September 28.
1) Fool me once shame on you; fool me twice, cause I've been listening to Thomas Friedman
First a parable: Once an inquisitive student sought out Rabbi Tom "Hillel" Friedman and asked Rabbi "Hillel," "Please teach me about the Middle East while I stand on one foot." The wise sage stroked his mustache, smiled thinly and said, "It's always Israel's fault. All the rest is commentary. Now go and study." Thomas Friedman's detachment from reason is in full display in his latest column, 2 for 2 or 2 for 1? First he makes some valid observations:
If clashes erupt between Israelis and Palestinians today, there is no President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt to absorb the flames. Now there is a Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, ready to fan them — toward Israel.
But then, a few sentences later writes:
Given these stakes, here is what a farsighted Israeli government would say to itself: “We have so much more to lose than the Palestinians if all this collapses. So let’s go the extra mile. Abbas says he will not come to peace talks without a freeze on settlement-building. We think that is bogus. We gave him a 10-month partial freeze and he did nothing with it. But you know what? There is so much at stake here, let’s test him again. Let’s offer him a six-month total freeze on settlement-building. What is six months in the history of 5,000-year-old people? We already have 300,000 settlers in place. It is a win-win strategy that in no way imperils our security. If the Palestinians still balk, they will be the ones isolated, not us. And, if they come, who knows? Maybe we cut a deal.”
After acknowledging that Israel's situation is worsening independent of anything Israel does, Friedman, of course, blames Israel! Let's recall recent comments by two former national leaders. First Bill Clinton was recently quoted in Foreign Policy:
"[Palestinian leaders] have explicitly said on more than one occasion that if [Netanyahu] put up the deal that was offered to them before -- my deal -- that they would take it," Clinton said, referring to the 2000 Camp David deal that Yasser Arafat rejected.
The parameters of a peace deal are well known and they have already been put on the table. I put them there in September 2008 when I presented a far-reaching offer to Mr. Abbas. According to my offer, the territorial dispute would be solved by establishing a Palestinian state on territory equivalent in size to the pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza Strip with mutually agreed-upon land swaps that take into account the new realities on the ground. ... These parameters were never formally rejected by Mr. Abbas, and they should be put on the table again today. Both Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu must then make brave and difficult decisions.
There are two things to note here. Both these accounts can't be true. If Palestinian leaders are telling Clinton that they'd accept "the Clinton parameters" from Netanyahu, then why did Abbas reject Olmert's more generous terms? Either Clinton heard what he wanted to hear or he's lying. Also this already makes it (at least) twice that the Palestinians have rejected the terms that "everyone knows" will bring peace. What makes Friedman think that the third time's the charm? Furthermore what makes Friedman think that if Abbas rejects a deal the Palestinians will be isolated? They weren't isolated in after Camp David in 2000. They weren't isolated in 2008. Friedman can't believe that. What he must believe is that Israel needs to keep upping their offer until the Palestinians say "yes." Friedman assigns no penalty to the Palestinians for rejecting peace (neither do Clinton nor Olmert) and condemns Israel for Palestinian rejection! We've been here before. As Charles Krauthammer has noticed before Israel's being cajoled into buying the same rug, again and again. In 1995 Krauthammer wrote:
So now, in the "interim" negotiations he is being offered (1) control of Kalkilya, Jenin, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Tulkarm, the major West Bank cities, (2) broad new administrative powers within the West Bank, (3) the pledge of further and complete Israeli redeployment from the vast uninhabited "state" lands on the West Bank.In return for what? Foreign Minister Shimon Peres has gotten Arafat to promise that, within two months of his taking power in the West Bank, the PLO will strike the clauses in its charter calling for the destruction of Israel.This is the second time Arafat has sold Peres the same rug! First time around, he got Gaza and Jericho. Now, the West Bank. Next time, he'll sell it for Jerusalem.
Eight years later, with President Bush in power he wrote:
Abbas pledged there will be no more incitement of hatred against Israel -- another repetition of another Oslo pledge. The Palestinians then spent the next decade poisoning their children with the worst anti-Semitic propaganda since the Third Reich. What then happened at Aqaba? Israel bought the same rug a second time. In 1993, it bought supposed recognition, a supposed end to violence and a supposed end to incitement by recognizing the PLO, bringing Arafat and his terrorists out of Tunis, planting them in the heart of Palestine, giving them control of all the major Palestinian cities, outfitting his army with Israeli rifles, etc. In 2003 the rug was sold again, this time fetching Israeli acceptance of a Palestinian state with contiguous borders in which Israeli settlements are uprooted. This might be the outline of the final settlement. But these were concessions given away before the negotiations even began.
Friedman is half right when he writes in conclusion:
We really are back at the beginning of this conflict. Until each side reassures the other that both of them really do want two states for two people — not just for one — nothing good is going to happen out there, but something really bad might.
The Palestinians are back at the beginning of the conflict and have not budged since 1993. Israel has ceded territory changed its ideological makeup and has gotten terror and contempt in return. It isn't obstinacy to say "enough" and await a change of heart. It's common sense.
But Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu of Israel is in danger of becoming the Mubarak of the peace process. Israel has never had more leverage vis-à-vis the Palestinians and never had more responsible Palestinian partners
(Responsible as in trying to sound like he's addressing the Arab League, as Friedman described Abbas in today's column?) Thomas Friedman from Postcard from Cairo II
I am more worried today about Israel’s future than I have ever been, because I think that at time of great change in this region – and we have just seen the beginnings of it – Israel today has the most out-of-touch, in-bred, unimaginative and cliché-driven cabinet it has ever had.
On Turkey, the Obama team and Mr. Netanyahu’s lawyers worked tirelessly these last two months to resolve the crisis stemming from the killing by Israeli commandos of Turkish civilians in the May 2010 Turkish aid flotilla that recklessly tried to land in Gaza. Turkey was demanding an apology. According to an exhaustive article about the talks by the Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea of the Yediot Aharonot newspaper, the two sides agreed that Israel would apologize only for “operational mistakes” and the Turks would agree to not raise legal claims. Bibi then undercut his own lawyers and rejected the deal, out of national pride and fear that Mr. Lieberman would use it against him. So Turkey threw out the Israeli ambassador.
Regarding the first charge, that Netanyahu is the Mubarak of the peace process read David Pryce-Jones: Mahmoud Abbas should have held elections two years ago, but postponed them from the all too well-founded fear that Hamas, his implacable rivals in Gaza, would win. Throughout the West Bank his own Fatah are loathed and despised for their corruption and arrogance. So Abbas rules by decree, a dictator although on a smaller scale than, say, Assad. The decision to ask the United Nations to endorse a Palestinian state was his and his alone. The Palestinians were not asked for their opinion. A number seem to have backed him, but a silent majority is apprehensive. Abbas cannot really have thought he would succeed in obtaining a state by refusing to make the least concession to Israel. He will never acknowledge a Jewish state, and his assertion that no Jew will be allowed to live in a Palestinian state is racism. So the United Nations delegations gave an ovation to someone without legitimacy, riding roughshod over the concept of consent or representation, and making proposals so one-sided that nothing constructive could come out of them. It will be a matter of luck if this peace process does not end in war. Netanyahu is not the Mubarak of the peace process; Abbas is. (And remember that like Mubarak, Abbas takes care of cronies and kin.) And Friedman wants Netanyahu to make Abbas an offer he can't refuse. Regarding whether Israel should have apologized to Turkey, read Gregg Roman:
Turkey: In trying to deal with the current friction with Turkey, Israel’s government proposed that it express regret for defending itself during the Gaza flotilla – or rather, not for defending itself per se, but for the resulting loss of life. It offered to make donations to a humanitarian fund for the relatives of those killed.The Turkish government responded that it would accept only a full apology, the payment of compensation (an admission of wrongdoing, and based on demands rather than the donors judgment), and an immediate end to the Gaza blockade.The Turkish demand was ironic, coming as it did immediately after a UN commission determined the blockade is legal.So despite trying creative ways to end the conflict, Israeli officials could do nothing. Why? Because, for its own reasons, the Turkish regime doesn’t want to resolve the conflict. All Israel can do is to show its respect for the Turkish people and nation along with willingness to be flexible if the other side is reasonable.
Regardless of what Friedman claims, no apology would appease the Turks. What he means by "unimaginative" is that he disagrees vehemently with Netanyahu. But Netanyahu read the situation and reacted; no he did not use his imagination. But that's a good thing because he's operating in the real world. Friedman should keep his imaginary trends to himself.
The generals once promised to turn over power by this month. But, at best, the parliamentary elections will be completed at the end of February. The presidential election, which would finally end military rule, could come in nine months, some analysts predict; others say it could be put off 18 months while delegates dicker over the new constitution. The great problem here is that elections are the most likely means of arresting the downward spiral. Five of the leading six candidates for president are responsible secular centrists; the runaway favorite, so far, is former foreign minister and Arab League general secretary Amr Moussa. Moussa may be a recent convert to liberal democracy, and he is known for striking populist poses against Israel. But he would almost certainly run a better government than the military and give the economy a chance to recover.True, Islamist parties may win a plurality in the parliamentary elections. Estimates of their potential vote range from 10 to 40 percent. But that still means they would hold a minority of seats; and the Islamists themselves are divided into several factions. The strongest of them recognize that they will not be able to force a fundamentalist agenda on Egypt’s secular middle class or its large Christian minority, at least in the short and medium terms.
If this system is enacted, it will significantly hamper newer parties in the next parliamentary elections. The local nature of these party-list elections -- as opposed to the nationwide systems in other democracies -- makes it unlikely that small and still-forming parties will be able to compete effectively. Even in those districts where they might field multiple candidates, they would have trouble surpassing the relatively high thresholds that the largest remainder system implies. At the same time, the party-list structure significantly advantages the Freedom and Justice Party, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) faction that remains Egypt's only political force with significant organizational capabilities (apart from former NDP parliamentarians). Although the MB recently announced that it would run for only 40 percent of the parliamentary seats, it will likely dominate a much larger share of the legislature through its stewardship of the National Democratic Alliance for Egypt -- an electoral bloc that has attracted more than thirty parties hoping to benefit from the MB's political prowess. Most of these smaller parties stand to win only a handful of seats, however, because the Wafd Party, the MB's primary partner in the alliance, is likely to run for an additional 33.5 percent of the seats. These percentages may grow even larger, especially if the new election laws lead more parties to jump on the MB's bandwagon. For example, the Egyptian Bloc -- a coalition of mostly liberal and leftist parties -- has just signaled that it might want to run in tandem with the Democratic Alliance, providing further indication that the presumptive new system heavily favors the Brotherhood.
One Turkish newspaper, supportive of Mr. Erdogan, called the visits the beginning “of a new era in our region.” An Egyptian columnist praised what he called Mr. Erdogan’s “leadership qualities.” And days later, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu spoke boldly of an axis between Egypt and Turkey, two of the region’s most populous and militarily powerful countries, that would underpin a new order in the region, one in which Israel would stay on the margins until it made peace with its neighbors. “What’s happening in the Middle East is a big opportunity, a golden opportunity,” a senior Turkish official said in Ankara, the capital. He called Turkey “the new kid on the block.”
Turkish hostility has renewed Israel's historically warm relations with the Kurds and turned around its cool relations with Greece, Cyprus, and even Armenia. Beyond cooperation locally, this grouping will make life difficult for the Turks in Washington.
Declaring Israel isolated doesn't by itself, marginalize Israel.
Sorry John, if you support Gilad Atzmon, you're supporting a Nazi
Three days ago, I reported that Israel Lobby author John Mearsheimer had come out of the closet and admitted to his anti-Semitism by writing an introduction to a book by Jewish Nazi Gilad Atzmon. Mearsheimer responded in a lengthy diatribe written on the Foreign Policy blog of his co-author, Stephen Walt, which I tried to read (because it was linked on Memeorandum :-) but found my eyes glazing over within two paragraphs.
Walt’s logic goes like this: if you think his co-author is backing a Nazi sympathiser, you prove their “Israel lobby” theories to be right all along.
But that’s just silly. Atzmon is a Nazi, and Walt and Mearsheimer are now providing cover for him.
Here is Gilad Atzmon expressing a classically fascist/Nazi position on Jewish finance, in his new book The Wandering Who, in a chapter entitled “Credit Crunch or Zio-Punch?” [p.30]:
“You may wonder at this stage whether I regard the credit crunch as a Zionist plot or even a Jewish conspiracy. In fact the opposite is the case. It isn’t a plot and certainly not a conspiracy for it was all in the open.”
In this phrase, Atzmon reveals he thinks “Jewish” and “Zionist” are basically the same. He accuses Jews of openly causing the credit crunch. Remember, this is the book that Mearsheimer describes as “fascinating and provocative”.
In The Wandering Who, Atzmon interweaves his understanding of Jews today, with antisemitic caricatures, writing in The Wandering Who [p.51]:
“Fagin is the ultimate plunderer, a child exploiter and usurer. Shylock is the blood-thirsty merchant. With Fagin and Shylock in mind, the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians seems to be just a further event in an endless hellish continuum.”
We should look closely at what Atzmon is saying here. According to Atzmon, Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians is only the latest chapter in a “hellish continuum” of Jews plundering goods and exploiting children.
This means that however you consider Israeli actions, they are only the latest in a continuum of wicked actions carried out by world Jewry. In Atzmon’s “continuum” Israeli evil carries on from ancient Jewish evil, in which Shylock and Fagin are not vile racist caricatures at all, but accurately reflect Jews. That is why Atzmon can write in The Wandering Who [p.52]:
“Some Jews are rather unhappy with Charles Dickens’ Fagin and Shakespeare’s Shylock, who they regard as ‘anti-Semitic’.
Knesset pushing to annex Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria
The leaders of four Knesset factions sent a letter to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Tuesday asking him to consider annexing the Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria, and to sanction the 'Palestinian Authority' for its behavior at the United Nations. Three of the four factions behind the letter are from within Netanyahu's coalition, and one of them is his own party.
The letter, written by caucus leaders Likud faction chairman Ze'ev Elkin and MK Arye Eldad (National Union), as well as the faction chairmen of Shas, National Union and Habayit Hayehudi said that sanctions will show the PA that "Israel will not agree to be its punching bag."
"Israel will defend its interests, and turn the crisis into an opportunity," the letter reads. "Any diplomatic attack will be turned into a victory."
The Land of Israel Caucus called for a gradual annexation of settled areas in Judea and Samaria, as well as increased building and development of the region. The letter also demanded that any Palestinian construction in Area C be prevented, and that funds no longer be transferred to the PA.
"The Palestinian commitment to avoid unilateral steps is the only thing Israel got in return for all it has given up since the Oslo Accords," the MKs wrote. "The PA's unilateral bid for recognition of statehood in the UN is a clear violation of the agreements, which for the last 18 years cost us a high price."
The letter also explains that any country that cooperates with the PA in its statehood bid may no longer serve as a mediator in future peace talks.
If Netanyahu does not take such steps, the MKs wrote, he will "encourage the Palestinians to continue acting against [Israel] in the international arena."
"The international damage to Israel from the UN vote is much smaller than the damage Israel may inflict on itself if we do not follow the principle of 'if they give, they will get, if they don't give, they will not get,'" the letter reads, referring to a well-known quote from Netanyahu's first term as prime minister. "This principle has saved Israel from deteriorating into the abyss opened by the engineers of the Oslo Accords."
I'm all in favor. The fact that the 'Palestinians' have paid no price for their behavior - and that the world continues to oppose Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria - is absurd.
Pam Geller of Atlas Shrugs planned to suesued New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority on Tuesday for rejecting the ad depicted above. This is from the first link.
The ad, which would have cost her $36,000, states, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel. Defeat jihad."
Geller said the MTA took issue with the word “savage,” a stance she said “defies logic,” and is “in violation of the Constitution.”
An MTA spokesman said the agency “does not approve or disapprove of issue-oriented advertisements based on the viewpoint being expressed,” adding it recently approved other ads that focused on the Middle East. “However, our advertising standards do prohibit language that demeans an individual or group.”
Geller had a similar fight with the MTA last year over an ad critical of the Islamic center and mosque near the World Trade Center that showed an image of a plane flying into the Twin Towers. After she sued, the MTA approved a muted version of the ad that just showed the towers without the planes and the words “why there?”
Go Pam go!
Make sure to have a look at some of the advertisements the MTA has accepted here.
Reporters in Gaza (are there still any left?) will now need Hamas-approved fixers to accompany them on their stories.
Hamas authorities in the Gaza Strip are requiring foreign journalists to take on regime-approved “sponsors” while in the coastal area, the latest sign the Islamist group is determined to keep a tight lid on the flow of information from the territory.
Terje Carlsson, a freelance Swedish journalist, left Israel on Sunday for Gaza, first crossing the Palestinian Authority checkpoint at the border of the Strip and a few hundred meters on, the checkpoint run by Hamas.
“They usually check your luggage for liquor, write down your passport number and ask where you’re staying,” he told The Jerusalem Post by phone from Gaza City.
Carlsson has reported from Gaza at least six times over the last two-and-a-half years and never experienced problems getting in or out. But this time, he said, he was denied entry after officials told him his “fixer” in the Strip had not received prior government approval. (A fixer is a local person who sets up interviews with officials and residents, helps reporters take basic security measures and often serves as translator.) After several hours of wrangling, Carlsson was finally let into Gaza, but instructed to find a Hamas-approved “sponsor” the next morning.
The reporter said the demand puts the fixer in a very precarious position.
“I’ve done stories very critical about Hamas – people have told me about things like drug-smuggling corruption. The local fixers give you a lot of information about this. They’ll put you in touch with a lot of people who talk about how bad this government is.
“For me this is reminiscent of the Soviet Union; the authorities are trying to let the fixers know that the only way to make money is not to be too difficult,” he continued.
“This is a way to tighten the flow of information.”
The Post could not independently confirm Carlsson’s claims.
But just give them a state, and they won't need things like that anymore.
Guess who was missing when Erdogan spoke at the UN
When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the UN General Assembly last Thursday, there were a few people missing: The Arabs (Hat Tip: Daily Alert).
While Prime Minister Erdoğan addressed the U.N. General Assembly, I looked to see who was present from other countries.
I was especially looking for Palestinian head of state Mahmoud Abbas and the leaders of some Arab countries. I am sure most had some other appointments. Yet it is usually known who will speak at what time in the U.N.
If the leader of a country who said he would “support you to the end,” if that person has changed his or her general attitude in a dramatic way and if it he or she the leader of a country like Turkey, which has the appeal to both the Arab streets and the Palestinian people, than the minimum courtesy required would be to go to the General Assembly and listen to him speak.
None of them was there and this shows us some realities.
The Arab people like us. But today, the policies of current rulers of the Arab countries are based on competing with each other and hampering each other. We should not take those who are giving us a pat on the shoulder too serious. Our politics should reflect our interests. There should be no room for emotions.
In the end I understood that I was looking for Abbas and other Arab leaders in vain.
Anyone still think Erdogan's support for the 'Palestinians' doesn't stem from the fact that he is an anti-Semite?
You will recall that earlier this week, I reported on a terror attack in which a 25-year old father and his infant son were killed, which was first reported as a 'traffic accident' in an apparent effort not to offend the 'Palestinians.' Now, Honeinu, an organization that provides legal aid for Israeli soldiers and civilians in distress, reveals some chilling details of last Friday's attack (Hat Tip: Gershon D).
It appears that after the murders of the two, a Kiryat Arba couple close to the niftar headed to Yerushalayim, where Asher’s wife Puah was waiting, to notify her as to what occurred. Immediately following the murderous attack, despite evidence on the scene confirming the terror attack, police and IDF officials announced the deaths were due to a one-vehicle accident.
The husband, Shai, who served in the IDF’s elite Sayeret Matkal unit, found himself in a similar situation, fearing for his life and his wife’s, firing his weapon in the air on their way to Yerushalayim. Baruch Hashem, unlike with Asher, Shai succeeded in scaring away his attackers, Arutz-7 reports. Their vehicle sustained light damage as a result of the rocks hurled at them but there were no injuries, not to mention fatalities R”L.
Shai reported the incident to the moked emergency dispatcher, as regulations require, arriving back at home in Kiryat Arba shortly before Shabbos. Amazingly, four police cars arrived at his home after Shabbos began and the policemen insisted that he brief them on his incident. He explained the Arabs didn’t back down and he realized that he and his wife were in perilous danger. Once again, Shai is a veteran of the nation’s most elite infantry reconnaissance unit, well trained in the use of weapons, including a handgun. Police informed him that since it was already Shabbos he was not being brought to the police station, but he was instructed to appear immediately after Shabbos ends.
Immediately after Shabbos Shai contacted Honenu, telling of the events that transpired. He was given instructions as how to act and what to say by attorney Adi Kedar. Shai was questioned ‘under warning’, signaling a criminal indictment was likely. His wife was summoned to give her statement as well, on Sunday. Once again, he fired his weapon in the air in self-defense to distance attackers, and there were no injuries resulting from the gunfire.
Honenu officials are accustomed to such instances, lamenting the reality that one who fires a weapon in self-defense shortly after a dear friend and neighbor was murdered in the same area, under the same circumstances, is now a suspect and faces criminal prosecution.
A senior IDF officer in the Judea sector has admitted that the IDF purposely covered up the evidence that Asher Palmer and his infant son Yehonatan were murdered Friday, Arutz Sheva has learned exclusively.
The senior officer admitted Sunday that the IDF falsely described the event to the press as an accident because of concern that nationalists would "inflame" the area, which was tense because of Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas's speech in the United Nations.
Arutz Sheva has learned that IDF Spokesman's Unit personnel were instructed, immediately after the crash that killed the Palmers, to contact all of the reporters that cover Judea and Samaria and to inform them that a check on the ground showed that the crash was an accident that was caused by the driver's speeding, and not a terror attack.
An IDF spokeswoman who spoke to Arutz Sheva immediately after the crash also insisted that the investigation on the ground indicated an accident.
However, versions of events that Arutz Sheva has received from several IDF sources who requested anonymity, indicate that the military purposely covered up the murder, in collusion with the Israel Police.
This testimony has been handed over to nationalist MKs who intend to demand a reckoning by the IDF and police.
The IDF rejected the accusations. "The IDF expresses sorrow and takes part in the family's mourning. The IDF rejects out of hand the claims of falsely reporting the event. An initial scan by IDF Forces who were present on the ground during the event, which also relied on police investigators who arrived on the scene, indicated that no rocks had been thrown at the car from the sides of the road and that it was an accident. As the police investigation progressed new evidence was found and it was presented by the police."
A first responder also said that he reported Asher Palmer's handgun had been removed from its holster and that foul play appears to be involved.
This is simply outrageous. It's time to stop pretending that the 'Palestinians' want peace and to treat them accordingly. And it's time for the Israeli government to take the lead in doing so.
Democrats in Congress, including Gary Ackerman, Nita Lowey and Charles Rangel (yes, that's him front and center in the picture) have warned the 'Palestinian Authority' that they may find themselves cut off if they don't back off their statehood gambit.
Speaking at a gathering of Congressmen and leaders of Jewish organizations outside the United Nations headquarters in New York, Rep. Gary Ackerman, member of the House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia, stressed that "There may need to be a total cutoff of all aid to the Palestinians for pursuing this course of action which is very dangerous and ill advised."
"If they’re willing to consider putting their future in the hands of the United Nations, perhaps they should think about how much aid their friends at the United Nations will provide to accompany whatever meaningless, one-sided UN resolution they might pass," said Ackerman.
"They should think twice, reverse course and get back to the negotiating table where Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu awaits them,” he concluded.
Congresswoman Nita Lowey called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' actions a counter-productive publicity stunt, saying he is not interested in peace. "They [the Palestinians] have not been forced into this position, and the circumstances are not beyond their control. They have chosen to discontinue negotiations with Israel and pursue a counter-productive publicity stunt." she said.
"Abu Mazen’s [Abbas] speech made clear he’s not interested in peace. Peacemakers are not obstinate, cynical, incendiary, and inflammatory. Peacemakers take constructive – not destructive – actions toward the goal of peace."
Lowey suggested Abbas' actions warrant a strong U.S. response. "His action cross a line and should lead to a reevaluation of U.S. assistance for the Palestinian Authority," she said.
U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said the U.S. Administration is still waiting for the Palestinians' "official response", despite comments made by members of the Palestinian delegation that suggest the Quartet's proposal does not meet their demands.
Hmmm. Maybe the Representatives are trying to put some daylight between themselves and Obama on Israel.
If something like this were written in an Israeli newspaper, we'd be castigated for trying to play one side off against the other in the United States. But in Londonistan, this is considered acceptable.
In an article in London's Financial Times, Simon Schama, a professor at Bir Zeit on the Hudson, tars all Right wing supporters of Israel as 'false friends.' Here are a couple of 'highlights' (Hat Tip: Gary P).
Responding to statements made by Rick Perry:
Just setting aside the fact that no-one in Israel (and in the Jewish community world wide) would deny that Palestinians have suffered tragically over the past half century, Mr Perry’s assertion that president Obama treats rocket attacks by Hamas and Jewish settlement construction on the West Bank as “equivalent” threats to peace is manifestly absurd and unfounded.
Really? To which one does Obama object more frequently and more vociferously? Based on what happened with the Gilo neighborhood of Jerusalem on Tuesday, I would say construction in the 'settlements' bothers Obama a heck of a lot more. And by the way, when did he request that the 'Palestinian Authority' enforce a moratorium on rocket fire? Answer: He didn't and they won't.
But then Mr Perry – and others among the evangelicals aspiring to the White House like Michelle Bachmann – share the fundamentalist vision of the settlers themselves that they are fulfilling a Biblical covenant on the “Land of Israel” when they evict Palestinian villagers, demolish their houses, bulldoze their olive groves and embitter the possibility of any future co-existence of the two peoples in their own respective states.
When have 'Palestinian villagers' been evicted? There has not been a new Jewish town in Judea or Samaria in the last 18 years, and nearly all the construction that was done was done on state land (i.e. land that was occupied by the Jordanian government until 1967 and has been owned by the Government of Israel since). When have 'Palestinian' homes - other than those of terrorist murderers - been demolished? When have olive groves been bulldozed except when they were used as cover to shoot at passing Israeli motorists? Lies. Simply lies.
Insisting on “direct negotiations” between the parties, he fails to notice that that is exactly what happened at Oslo and at Sharm el-Sheikh. In both cases the Palestine Liberation Organisation formally recognised Israel’s right to exist and to live in peace and security within mutually-agreed borders.
Let's assume that's true (which it's not - it's a distortion): Why won't the 'Palestinians' come to the table now? And notice how he omits Camp David, Taba and Annapolis, all of which were direct negotiations, and at all of which the 'Palestinians' turned down offers that would have given them nearly everything they wanted.
When he upbraids president Obama for saying that the starting point of those frontiers ought to be the Green Line of 1967; that has been exactly the position of Israeli and US governments (including Republican administrations) for a long time; with adjustments made through territorial swaps. That was the basis on which Ehud Olmert - not exactly a pinko peacenik – and Tzipi Livni negotiated with Mahmoud Abbas in 2008.
Olmert is a pinko peacenik, but that's beside the point. No American government until now ever made the 1967 lines the starting point and gave the 'Palestinians' an effective veto on any changes to it.
If not made on the basis of the 1967 frontier, then it is incumbent on the likes of Mr Perry, Mr Romney and Ms Bachmann to say where secure boundaries might lie that would not involve the permanent Israeli occupation of the West Bank, inhabited as it is by a large Palestinian population?
Actually that ought to be a subject for direct negotiations between the parties and not for Perry, Romney or Bachman to say.
No Israeli government with any sense of a secure future – from Menahem Begin to Ariel Sharon to Olmert – has clung to the dangerous fantasy of annexation, involving as it must either the the subjugation of a permanently alienated population or their catastrophic and immoral displacement.
Isn't it funny then that many Israelis are seriously considering annexation as an option? Maybe that's because as between subjugating the 'Palestinians' or dying (God forbid), we have decided that we would rather stay alive?
According to polling done by the Harry Truman Institute of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in May 2010, a clear and growing majority of Israelis are willing to dismantle the majority of West Bank settlements as part of a comprehensive peace policy.
Three answers: Polls like this Truman poll are influencing Israelis to go in a different direction. Dismantling 'the majority of West Bank settlements' isn't the same as dismantling all of them and most Israelis won't accept dismantling all of them while the 'Palestinians' will accept no less than dismantling all of them. When you get to the details of a question like that (which towns yes, and which towns no), the answers tend to fall apart. And by the way, what is a 'comprehensive peace policy' and what do you do about the fact that the 'Palestinians' won't accept one?
Sorry Professor Schama, but those friends on the Right are truer friends than Obama will ever be. Deal with it.
And in this case, Arab countries that have never recognized Israel would implicitly be doing so when they voted to recognize a Palestinian state that envisioned itself beside Israel in a two-state solution to their conflict. That in itself would be a breakthrough, confirming Israel’s solid standing in the region.
This is hopelessly convoluted. Ellison is arguing that Arab votes for statehood for Palestine would implicitly mean that those countries recognized Israel and characterizes that legerdemain as a breakthrough. Who's he kidding? When Thomas Friedman launched the Saudi "peace initiative" the members of the Arab league couldn't even agree to promise normalization with Israel. If the Arab world couldn't come to expressly promise normalization then, how would a vote on a different topic (Palestinian nationhood) mean anything? Later on Ellison writes:
Criticisms of the Palestinian Authority’s desire for the United Nations to act include assertions that this approach to statehood is unilateral and precludes negotiations with Israel. Yet the process of gaining recognition from the United Nations Security Council is multilateral by definition.
Palestinian statehood was to come about by way of bilateral agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. In that context, the UDI as it's called is unilateral. Ellison is simply changing the context. This isn't a serious argument it's sophistry. There's plenty more to argue with. I don't have the stomach to do a complete job.
Mearsheimer is not content to argue, as he does, that he didn’t know Atzmon from a hole-in-the-head, and endorsed the book because he found it provocative and interesting. If he had limited himself to this, he could have then added that he wasn’t aware of Atzmon’s anti-Semitic background and didn’t read the book in that light. Now that he knows, he regrets his association with Atzmon and the book.Nope. Mearsheimer actually defends Atzmon from the charge of anti-Semitism. So here’s my challenge to Prof. Mearsheimer: I will give you space on the Volokh Conspiracy to explain how you can absolve Atzmon from anti-Semitism after reading this excerpt froman interview with Atzmon, not coincidentally hosted on the website of notorious anti-Semite “Israel Shamir”.
After reading the quotes, I don't if anyone could explain that.
The university suspended the Muslim Student Union from campus for the fall semester; each of the offending Irvine students was disciplined. (The university declines to provide details because of federal privacy rights.) Yet the Irvine 11 - as they have become known - now face criminal misdemeanor charges for "conspiracy to disturb a meeting" and one misdemeanor count of "disturbance of a meeting." According to the prosecutor's office, each student could face up to six months in jail, if convicted. In a Feb. 4 news release announcing the charges, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas asserted that the students' actions represented "a clear violation of the law and failing to bring charges against this conduct would amount to a failure to uphold the Constitution." Not true. Prosecutors make judgments all the time about whether justice would be served by trying particular cases. These types of disruptions are most frequently not prosecuted unless they result in threats or physical violence. Mr. Rackauckas has made his point; he should now use the power of his office wisely, give the students a warning and drop the charges. The protesters, too, have much to learn. Some have characterized the episode as trampling on the students' free-speech rights. That would have been the case had police officers tried to keep them from picketing outside of the auditorium during Mr. Oren's visit. That is not what happened. Instead, the students abused their privileges in an attempt to squelch the free-speech rights of others.
Given that the editorial acknowledged that the students went too far, I find it hard to justify the argument to drop the prosecution. Last week ten of the students were convicted. Even with Robert Mackey promoted to the Guardian, The Lede blog at the New York Times can be counted on to give a fair hearing to the anti-Israel side of the story:
Reached after the verdict on Friday, a lawyer for the students, Jacqueline Goodman, said they had acted because it was an opportunity to “speak directly to Michael Oren” about the violence in Gaza. “They couldn’t have foreseen they’d be convicted of a crime,” she said.Ms. Goodman said they planned to appeal the decision.At Sunday’s gathering in Orange County, Ms. Goodman reiterated that pledge. “We’re going to stand up and fight this,” she said, “even if it means going to the Supreme Court.”
The ADL provides background that shows that the Muslim Student Association isn't so innocent. Furthermore:
The university's investigation into the matter uncovered evidence that MSU organized a calculated demonstration at Ambassador Oren's speech in violation of university policy against disorderly conduct, obstructing university activities, furnishing false information and other campus policies.
“Every time there’s an event they’re opposed to, they disrupt it,” said Pam Chozen, a Laguna Beach resident who said she had felt concerned for her personal safety. “No one from the other side would think of disrupting an MSU event.”
Prof Eugene Volokh, though, found the prosecution and conviction to be sound.
I’m inclined to think that the situation here is quite different from that in In re Kay. First, the customs of presentation at universities seem to me to be much less tolerant of heckling; there is plenty of time for audience participation during Q & A, but shouting during the speech is not at all customary. (Perhaps the California Supreme Court got it wrong in interpreting the statute in a way that requires a determination of the particular customs of a certain kind of event; but that seems to be required under the Kay decision.)Second, and relatedly, the university administrators repeatedly stressed to students that such interruptions were improper. To the extent that Kay focused on what was said by the authorities during the meeting as evidence of custom (“Indeed, the principal speaker at the rally, an elected public official, stated that the relevant custom sanctioned the demonstrative conduct of petitioners as a legitimate means of expression”), this cuts the other way here.Third, while it’s hard to tell exactly how disruptive the hecklers were in Kay, it appears from accounts of the Irvine meeting and the court’s account in Kay that the Irvine hecklers were much more disruptive, and did indeed “substantially impair the conduct of the meeting.”
What's interesting here, is that Volokh writes that the Oren speech included a scheduled Q & A, as that would be the standard format for such a talk in an academic setting. An account from Stand with Us, confirms that a Q & A session was scheduled. This means that the students' lawyer lied about the heckling being the only way the protesters could address Oren, to The Lede, which, of course, published the statement without challenge. In a related article, Stanley Fish the Opinionator at the New YorkTimes asks Why has the conflict between Israel and much of the Arab world become a third-rail topic in the academy? I would argue that what's happened is that due to a number of factors (Daniel Pipes considers a number of them) the study of the Middle East has become increasingly politicized. Scholarship has been replaced by political correctness. It isn't that the Middle East conflict has become a "third rail" but that those who could challenge the corruption don't.
4) The only thing he should be managing is his anger
The New York Times and Washington Post carried slightly different accounts of Turkish PM Recep Erdogan's encounter with UN security. Neil MacFarquhar reported for the New York Times:
Mr. Erdogan was having a tête-à-tête with President Jalal Talabani of Iraq on the obscure fourth floor of the General Assembly hall — tiny meeting spaces have been tucked into every nook and cranny because the Secretariat Building is gutted for renovations. Learning that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, was making his address demanding full United Nations membership for a state of Palestine, Mr. Erdogan, a big fan, rushed to the nearest entrance to take Turkey’s seat on the main floor. But the fourth floor is actually the visitors’ gallery, with no access to the main floor, and it was packed. So a United Nations security guard refused to let the Turkish leader pass. When Mr. Erdogan pressed forward, the guard pushed him (by most accounts), and then a fracas erupted that was audible four flours below.
A UN security guard was sent to the hospital. According to the New York Times, the Ban Ki Moon apologized to Erdogan. The AP has some additional details but couldn't confirm the apology.
The tumult caused a security alert that led to diplomats outside the General Assembly hall being ordered out of U.N. headquarters to wait in a steady rainstorm until the situation was under control.The sources say that initially as many as nine U.N. security guards were suspended but after a protest, they were called back to work and placed on administrative duty, out of uniform and off the beat as the matter is investigated. It was not immediately known if the Turkish security guards have been similarly reassigned or punished.One diplomat said he witnessed Turkish security officials being involved in another incident during a high-level meeting at the U.N. on Libya last Monday. The diplomat said a Turkish security member went under the rope in a cordoned-off corridor as U.S. President Barack Obama was about to arrive and was confronted by U.N. security guards. There was some pushing and shoving until Turkey’s U.N. ambassador stepped in and calmed the situation, the diplomat said.
I'm sure that the Turkish security guards were not punished. If anything, I'd guess that they were rewarded. It sounds as if Erdogan and company think that the regular rules don't apply to them. Yesterday the New York Times also reported In Riddle of Mideast Upheaval, Turkey Offers Itself as an Answer, a paean to the vision of PM Erdogan:
Not so long ago, the foreign policy of Turkey revolved around a single issue: the divided island of Cyprus. These days, its prime minister may be the most popular figure in the Middle East, its foreign minister envisions a new order there and its officials have managed to do what the Obama administration has so far failed to: position themselves firmly on the side of change in the Arab revolts and revolutions. No one is ready to declare a Pax Turkana in the Middle East, and indeed, its foreign policy is strewn this year with missteps, crises and gains that feel largely rhetorical. It even lacks enough diplomats. But in an Arab world where the United States seems in retreat, Europe ineffectual and powers like Israel and Iran unsettled and unsure, officials of an assertive, occasionally brash Turkey have offered a vision for what may emerge from turmoil across two continents that has upended decades of assumptions. Not unexpectedly, the vision’s center is Turkey.
There are good observations here mixed with an uncritical view of Erdogan's successes. (Omri Ceren recently argued that these successes are somewhat mixed.) But if the recent incidents at the UN are any indication, Erdogan's arrogance may well be his eventual undoing.
YNet reports that the list of 174 IDF soldiers who were reported by Turkish media on Monday to have participated in the Mavi Marmara takeover is a sham.
The list is headed by former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Navy Commander Eliezer Marom and former Commander of IDF Intelligence Branch Major General Amos Yadlin, but the rest of the names are of soldiers who already completed their military service at the time of the 2010 raid.
Among the 174 names listed, many belong to low-ranking officers and soldiers who had nothing to do with the raid, such as a Golani maintenance officer, a Paratroopers' company command and an Artillery battery commander.
The IDF Spokesperson's Office stated in response: "After examining the reports in the Turkish press, it is clear that the names do not belong to soldiers who were involved in the Marmara raid incident, but were rather recycled from previous lists that were published on anti-Israeli websites following Operation Cast Lead.
"The IDF and the relevant governmental offices are closely following these attempts to launch legal proceedings against those who acted on behalf of the State of Israel as part of its war on terror, and are taking the necessary steps," the statement said.
Military officials noted that the report is part of a psychological warfare conducted by the Turks, following Israel's refusal to apologize over the flotilla raid and in wake of the Palmer Report, which recognized the legality of the naval blockade on Gaza.
Well, yes, but here's the problem: If your name is on the list, you had nothing to do with the Mavi Marmara, you travel to European country x, and Turkey finds out and asks x to arrest you, what will happen? I'd think about asking the IDF to issue me a new identity if I wanted to travel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu: No more 'settlement freezes'
Prime Minister Netanyahu has told the Jerusalem Post that he will not impose another 'settlement freeze' in a bid to entice the 'Palestinians' back to the conference table.
“We already gave at the office,” Netanyahu said, referring to the 10- month settlement freeze he initiated in November 2008 that did not succeed in enticing the Palestinians back to talks.
Netanyahu, in a Rosh Hashana interview with the Post – just hours after returning from his five-day trip to the US, where he battled against the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN – said that by coming back to the issue of the settlement freeze, the Palestinians were indicating that they didn’t really want to negotiate.
“It is a pretext they use again and again, but I think a lot of people see it as a ruse to avoid direct negotiations,” he said.
Netanyahu said he had no intention of intervening with the Interior Ministry’s District Planning Committee that is scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss the construction of more than 700 housing units in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood, located over the Green Line, even though the Quartet – in its statement Friday – called on “the parties to refrain from provocative actions if negotiations are to be effective,” a veiled reference to construction beyond the pre-1967 lines.
“I don’t think there is anything new,” Netanyahu said of the plan.
“We plan in Jerusalem. We build in Jerusalem. Period. The same way Israeli governments have been doing for years – since the end of the 1967 war.
“We build in Jewish neighborhoods, the Arabs build in Arab neighborhoods – that is the way the life of this city goes on and develops for its Jewish and non- Jewish residents alike.”
Netanyahu said Americans “know this; they have followed this a long time. There is really nothing new.”
The full interview will be in the Post on Wednesday.
It will be interesting to see how this issue came up. I suspect that it came up because Netanyahu told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Friday that he was willing to talk about it. Hopefully, one of his advisers told him that was not a great idea, and now he has backtracked from it.
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro told Army Radio on Tuesday that he also does not believe that a 'settlement freeze' ought to be a precondition to talks.
American hiker detained in Iran has Jewish Israeli parent
Now that US hikers Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer have been released, US and Israeli media are spilling a secret that they kept for the last two years out of fear of endangering his life: Josh Fattal is the son of a Jewish Israeli father (Hat Tip: Zvi S).
Josh's father, Jacob Fattal, was born in Iraq and moved to Israel before ultimately settling in the United States. Josh Fattal became a Bar Mitzvah at Rodeph Shalom's suburban campus. He traveled to Israel several times, the last time just before meeting up with his friends in Syria and going on to Iraqi Kurdistan, where they crossed the border to Iran and were arrested.
It's no accident that the Jewish side of the story has largely been kept under wraps, according to family friend Brian Gralnick and others familiar with the situation.
And it doesn't take much imagination to guess the reasons why: The Iranian government is virulently anti-Israel and has a history of charging Jews with spying for Israel.
While it stands to reason that Fattal's captors knew his religion or learned it during interrogations, his family did not want to take any chances and risk having information get out into the public sphere that could endanger their son even further.
And, since the families of the three captives worked so closely together, forming a united front, the idea was to keep the focus on three American citizens who were wrongly imprisoned, rather than single out one because of his Jewishness.
So, despite the fact that Laura Fattal appeared frequently in the media as she and the other families waged a public campaign for their children's release, she and other family members declined to be interviewed by the Jewish Exponent. The family also rejected offers of several Jewish organizations to intervene.
The Jewish Exponent chose to refrain from reporting on the story altogether, let alone detail Fattal's Jewish connection, until the hikers were freed.
"When it comes to someone's physical safety, we'll always err on the side of caution, even if it means suppressing such a dramatic and important story," said Lisa Hostein, the Exponent's executive editor.
"It's the best gift we could have received for the (Jewish) New Year," Fattal's father told Yedioth Ahronoth.
His aunt, who lives in Israel, said: "We've prayed for his safety for the past two years. We went crazy. We talked to him and were able to notice he was very thin. He promised to come visit Israel, but now he's going to undergo a rehabilitation process."
If only we could channel some of this Jewish activism into activism on behalf of Jews and Israel.
Turkey begins exploring for gas in Cypriot territory
Risking a confrontation with Cyprus, Israel and possibly even the United States, Turkey has sent a ship to start exploring for natural gas in Cypriot territorial waters.
A Turkish ship began exploring for gas off the coast of Cyprus on Monday, the Turkish Cypriot government said, an announcement that escalates a confrontation between Cyprus, Israel and Turkey over huge Mediterranean gas reserves.
The Greek Cypriot government said last week it had started drilling for gas at a site south of the island, infuriating Turkey which supports a separate Turkish Cypriot government on the north of the island.
On Monday, Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Irsen Kucuk said a Turkish exploration vessel had started exploration. He did not give the exact location, but said the Piri Reis ship was working in "the AR/KKTC/G authorized zone". KKTC is the Turkish abbreviation for the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.
A Greek Cypriot defense source said the Piri Reis was sailing in international waters south of the island earlier on Monday, about 80 km (50 miles) from the Noble Energy gas rig and between two plots Cyprus has mapped out for future exploration. The Piri Reis left the Turkish Aegean port of Izmir on Sept. 23.
Cyprus has 12 plots in all, but has given a concession to just one at the southernmost point of its maritime economic exploitation zone (EEZ).
Turkey occupies northern Cyprus and has since 1974.
Cyprus has been divided since 1974 into a Greek side recognized internationally and a Turkish region recognized as a separate state only by Turkey. Peace talks between the sides are due to resume on Tuesday.
Turkey insists no gas should be pumped until the island's fate is resolved. Turkish Prime Minister RecepTayyip Erdogan last week called the Israeli and Cypriot gas drilling "madness".
And for those who have forgotten, here's why the US is also involved in this.
Tension rose after Cyprus announced last week that drilling had started offshore, close to a gas field in Israeli waters. Texas-based Noble Energy is carrying out the drilling in the Cypriot block and also drills for Israel.
Turkey has said it will drill on behalf of Turkish Cyprus if the Greek Cypriots do not abandon their plans. The Greek Cypriot government says it has a sovereign right to explore for energy.
Erdogan isn't just seeking war with Israel - he is apparently seeking a world war.
The leader of Turkey's Kemalist opposition party, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, has announced that his party is opposed to NATO stationing x-band radar on Turkish soil, calling the radar an 'Israel shield' (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
“The CHP [Republican People’s Party] is opposed to the idea of an ‘Israel Shield,’ which will be established only to protect the benefits of Israel,” Kılıçdaroğlu wrote on Monday on his official Twitter account.
The main opposition leader also said his party has launched a nationwide protest campaign against the radar base.
A memorandum of understanding signed last week by Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and U.S. Ambassador to Ankara Francis J. Ricciardone earlier this month envisions the deployment of a U.S. AN/TPY-2 (X-band) early warning radar system at a military installation at Kürecik in the eastern province of Malatya as part of the NATO missile-defense project.
As part of the project, missile shield interceptors and their launching system will be deployed in Romanian and Polish territory, in 2015 and 2018, respectively.
Of course, one cannot expect the Obama administration to try to bring the Turks into line. After all, they're a sovereign country....
Why are Kampeas, (JJ) Goldberg and (Laura) Rozen covering for the PLO ambassador to the United States?
You may recall that I reported nearly two weeks ago that the PLO Ambassador to the United States said that 'Palestine' must be Judenrein. That's something that American Jewish supporters of a 'Palestinian state' don't want to hear. And so, JTA's Ron Kampeas, the most prolific writer of the largest American Jewish news service, is trying really, really hard to make it disappear.
Go here and here for the entire story including an amazing Twitter exchange between Challah Hu Akhbar and Kampeas.
Here's Soccer Dad's Middle East Media Sampler for Monday, September 26, 2011.
1) An ad Thomas Friedman would support. Wouldn't he?
Thomas Friedman is forever complaining about America's "addiction" to oil. It's a silly use of the term, though others (including President Bush) have adopted. A new ad promoting the recovery of oil from oil sands "vexes the Saudis." I sure can see why.
Advocates of oil sand production are arguing that the human rights record of Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern oil exporters makes oil sands a more ethical energy source, particularly for the United States. How successful they will be with Americans remains to be seen. But their argument has clearly caught the attention of the government of Saudi Arabia. Canada’s largest private broadcaster, CTV, has refused to show a television commercial produced by the Ethical Oil Institute, an oil sands advocacy group, after receiving a threat of legal action from a lawyer representing the Saudis. Lawyers for the Saudis have contacted other broadcasters as well in an effort to block the 30-second advertisement. So far, the main result of the Saudis’ effort has been unexpected publicity for the ad, which had previously been seen only by a relatively small cable television audience, and as a minor diplomatic dispute.
The great problem here is that elections are the most likely means of arresting the downward spiral. Five of the leading six candidates for president are responsible secular centrists; the runaway favorite, so far, is former foreign minister and Arab League general secretary Amr Moussa. Moussa may be a recent convert to liberal democracy, and he is known for striking populist poses against Israel. But he would almost certainly run a better government than the military and give the economy a chance to recover.True, Islamist parties may win a plurality in the parliamentary elections. Estimates of their potential vote range from 10 to 40 percent. But that still means they would hold a minority of seats; and the Islamists themselves are divided into several factions. The strongest of them recognize that they will not be able to force a fundamentalist agenda on Egypt’s secular middle class or its large Christian minority, at least in the short and medium terms.What about Israel? Moussa was recently quoted as saying that the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty is “untouchable” and that thesacking of the Israeli embassy in Cairo this month was “unacceptable.” Every major political party in Cairo has denounced the embassy attack, and while some have called for renegotiating the treaty’s security provisions, none wants to cancel it. The mob that attacked the embassy was largely composed not of political revolutionaries but of soccer hooligans who had gathered in the center of Cairo because they were angry at being harassed by police. When they marched on the embassy,police at first did nothing to stop them.
Diehl is a pretty serious journalist, so it's disappointing that he falls back on the otherwise apolitical "soccer hooligan" story when, in fact the embassy raid was approved by the Muslim Brotherhood (at least after the fact). Recent reports also suggest that Diehl's confidence about the security of the Coptic population is misplaced. Victor Davis Hanson asks Can Israel survive?
The Arab Middle East damns Israel for not granting a “right of return” to Palestinians who have not lived there in nearly 70 years. But it keeps embarrassed silence about the more than half-million Jews whom Arab dictatorships much later ethnically cleansed from Baghdad, Damascus, and Cairo, and sent back into Israel. On cue, the Palestinian ambassador to the United States again brags that there will be no Jews allowed in his newly envisioned and American-subsidized Palestinian state — a boast with eerie historical parallels. By now we know both what will start and what will deter yet another conflict in the Middle East. In the past, wars broke out when the Arab states thought they could win them and stopped when they realized they could not. But now a new array of factors — ever more Islamist enemies of Israel such as Turkey and Iran, ever more likelihood of frontline Arab Islamist governments, ever more fear of Islamic terrorism, ever more unabashed anti-Semitism, ever more petrodollars flowing into the Middle East, ever more prospects of nuclear Islamist states, and ever more indifference by Europe and the United States — has probably convinced Israel’s enemies that finally they can win what they could not in 1947, 1956, 1967, 1973, 1982, and 2006.
While the Iranian threat looms larger, is Israel really more isolated now? In late 2000 after Arafat started the "Aqsa intifada" and Hezbollah violated the international border to kidnap and kill three Israeli soldiers, things seemed rather bleak. (I believe that Yossi Klein Halevi wrote an article then about the sense of foreboding over the various threats.) In 2002, when Israel finally struck back against Arafat's suicide factory, charges of Israeli brutality were broadcast non-stop, Arab leaders claimed that their people were horrified by the destruction they saw and everyone, advised restraint. Years of Israeli forbearance were quickly forgotten. (Israel did eliminate a terror threat, something tacitly acknowledged when reporter and pundits praise the Palestinian police force for keeping the peace. Omitted is any explicit acknowledgment that Defensive Shield made maintaining order possible.) I'm convinced that despite the current problems, Israel isn't going to worry about winning popularity contests and will be focused on surviving. For 18 years now, Israeli concessions have been cheerfully accepted only to be forgotten quickly when someone needs a reason to explain the failure of the peace process. As Barry Rubin recently wrote:
The Western world has shown Israel that it makes no sense for Israel to make more concessions or take risks because in general they are not going to change their perception that Israel is at fault for the lack of peace and has not shown its desire for peace after 20 years of strenuous Israeli efforts to negotiate peace. This is also despite the fact that Israel has made huge concessions, withdrawn from territory, and advocated talks on almost a daily basis. You are about to betray every previous commitment to Israel made in the peace process in exchange for its risks, concessions, and compromises--risks that have brought the death of hundreds of Israelis.
So yes, Israel is facing dangers. But I think that Israel has learned the risks of depending on its friends.
According to the American Jewish Committee's annual survey, American Jews are finally starting to understand that their President is an incompetent boor. Here are some highlights of the survey (written by me).
Majorities disapprove of Obama's performance as President generally, and his handling of the US - Israel relationship in particular. Far more American Jews approve of Israel's Right wing government, led by Binyamin Netanyahu, than approve of President Obama. Obama does not break 60% of the Jewish vote against any Republican candidate - a number that could be fatal to his reelection chances, as it was to Jimmy Carter's.
Significantly, most American Jews disapprove of the establishment of a 'Palestinian state' 'in the current situation.' A huge majority disapprove of 'Palestinian' unilateralism at the United Nations, but a large majority also oppose dividing Jerusalem, and a mere 8% favor dismantling all of the 'settlements' as part of a 'peace agreement.' Large majorities agree that the conflict is existential and that the United States should withhold aid from the 'Palestinian Authority' if it forms a unity government with Hamas. And 96% believe that the 'Palestinians' should be required to recognize Israel as a Jewish state as part of a final peace settlement.
A majority disapprove of Obama's handling of Iran, and a huge majority believe that there is little or no chance of sanctions against Iran working. A majority would support US military action against Iran (which Obama would never do) if sanctions fail, and an even larger majority would approve of Israel doing so.
A plurality of American Jews think the US is losing in Iraq, and a large majority think it's losing in Afghanistan.
“The AJC poll reinforces what we saw in the special election in New York’s 9th congressional district two weeks ago – that President Obama is losing Jewish support,” said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks. “In fact, the approval numbers that President Obama got in this poll put him at near-Jimmy Carter levels of disapproval among American Jews. For the first time, a plurality or majority of respondents disapproved of the President’s handling of key issues such as the economy and the U.S.-Israel relationship. These numbers show why Democrats are scrambling to shore up their support in the Jewish community.”
Brooks concluded, “These results demonstrate on a national scale what the vote in NY-9 showed us on a local scale. Despite the Democrats’ spin to the contrary, there can be no dispute now that President Obama has a serious problem among Jewish voters.”
If the President’s team was exposed to numbers similar to the ones presented in the AJC poll, it makes the effort invested in the Jewish community in recent weeks much more understandable. If these are the real numbers of Jewish support than NY-9 was not an outlier, it was reality.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-two years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 10 to 30 years and six grandchildren. Our eldest daughter and eldest son are married! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com