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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lenny Ben David: Barack Obama is not the problem for Israel

This assessment has to be mostly correct. Barack Obama is certainly not an anti-Semite and is not the worst US president as regards Israeli policy. However, it is probably not in order to accuse Rahm Emmanuel of being too idealistic, or to lay the blame on any one advisor. Barack Obama is an adult and could make his own decisions. He certainly had input from Hillary Clinton and others. This was not the decision of one person. State Department Middle East experts would not be more pro-Israel, for certain
Nov. 30, 2009
This week a senior respected Israeli analyst asked me to look back and decide, "Are we seeing the worst crisis in US-Israel relations? Is this the worst ever administration from Israel's perspective?" Also this week an Israeli minister termed President Obama's administration "awful," and an Israeli political activist was quoted in Israel's largest circulation paper as saying, "The Obama regime is anti-Jewish and anti-Semitic."
To all, I respond with the strongest possible retorts: balderdash, tripe, silliness and stupidity! There are other serious ideological problems with this US administration which results in rock-bottom popularity for the US president in Israel but the labels of "anti-Semitic" or "the worst" are just bum raps.
Just look at the history.
IN 1957, the Eisenhower administration threatened to come down hard on the fledgling Israel, including removing UJA's tax-exempt status, as a way of pressuring Israel to withdraw from the Sinai Peninsula.
In 1970, Richard Nixon threatened to cut the supply of 50 F-4 Phantoms to Israel because of insults hurled at French Premier Georges Pompidou by Jewish-American activists in New York. The demonstrations led the notoriously anti-Israel columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak to bray, "More than any president since Dwight Eisenhower, Mr. Nixon has shown a tough realism in trying to stake out the correct US policy in the inflamed Middle East without kowtowing to the large and highly influential Jewish vote." [Note Evans and Novak beat by more than 35 years professors Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer, the authors of the 2007 The Israel Lobby a distinctly unoriginal diatribe against Jewish influence on foreign policy. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose (the more things change, the more they stay the same.)]
Observers feared the worst in US-Israel relations in 1975 when the Ford Administration weighed a "reassessment" of American policy in the Middle East, including cutting aid to Israel.
In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan earned a place in history as one of Israel's strongest friends, but his administration included strong critics of Israel such as vice president George H.W. Bush and defense secretary Caspar Weinberger. The sale of AWACS, just the tip of a massive arms sale and a realignment of US policy to embrace Saudi Arabia, took place under Reagan's watch, and the political war cry of "Reagan or Begin" was broadcast to suggest American Jews' dual loyalties. Arms to Israel were embargoed and delayed after the 1981 Osirak reactor bombing and the 1982 Lebanon War. And the Pollard affair pulled the US-Israel relationship to new lows.
Could relations have been worse than when George Bush Sr. went on national TV to challenge 1000 Jewish lobbyists to block $10 billion in housing loan guarantees over the issue of settlements at a time when hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews were flowing into Israel? Actually, yes, they worsened when his secretary of state, James Baker, was quoted as saying, "F*** the Jews, they don't vote for us anyway."
YOU GET the point: Anti-Semitism and crises in the US-Israel relationship have existed in the past, and there is simply nothing like it in the current US administration. Arms embargos and aid cut-offs then truly endangered Israel's security and gave Arab states tangible proof that American support for Israel was assailable. There is no such talk of cuts today. In fact, the strong support given to Israel by Congress and the unprecedented joint anti-missile exercise carried out by US and Israeli armed forces last month should put to rest the canard of an anti-Israel America.
So why the pervasive malaise about the Obama administration - a distrust so deep that Obama's popularity in Israel is equal to the margin of error? Well, Obama's failure to visit Israel doesn't improve his popularity, nor does his repeated cold-shouldering of Israel's prime minister.
Even the appointments of prominent Jews, Rahm Emanuel (chief of staff), David Axelrod (senior advisor), Mara Rudman (NSC/Mitchell's team), Hannah Rosenthal (envoy to monitor anti-Semitism), etc. don't make a difference. They arranged the first ever Seder in the White House, and sent the president to visit a concentration camp. How can anyone accuse these individuals of being "self-hating Jews," when they are members of synagogues, observe Jewish holidays, have relatives in Israel and send their children to Jewish Day Schools?
Because they are "Newest Testament" Jews; Jews who have embraced the new American Jewish religion of tikkun olam [fix the world] liberalism. Tikkun olam is the new overarching mitzva that guides them, even though it was never one of the 613 precepts of the Torah. The founding of Israel and the creation of Palestinian refugees may not have been the Original Sin in their theology as it is to others on the Left, but the settling of the West Bank following Israel's victory in 1967 is definitely viewed by them as Israel's Golden Calf
The translation of Newest Testament universalism into action can be seen in the words and policies of the modern day shaliach tzibbur [leader of the service], J Street.
The policies of J Street - the self-proclaimed "blocking back for Obama" - hold open the option of negotiations with Hamas, oppose Iran sanctions, and embrace the Saudi Plan, now called the Arab Peace Initiative, which demands a return to the 1967 lines, dividing Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
"There will be no peace if the settlements remain in place," wrote one of the Newest Testament prophets, MJ Rosenberg. "Pre-1967 Israel was not terrible at all. In fact it was pretty wonderful," he also wrote. "The secular areas [of Jerusalem] are charming but much of the rest is Jewish Taliban country... No humor, no aesthetics, just lunatics in black."
The Obama administration certainly has committed its share of questionable activities, such as ignoring George W. Bush's assurances on Israeli population centers in the West Bank, being over-confident in the ability of Palestinian security forces, attempting to appointment Chas Freeman to a high intelligence post, and abysmally executing its campaign against Israeli settlements and building in Jerusalem.
Perhaps the biggest mistake of all, however, was the advice given by Obama advisors that the rules of tikkun olam have a place in the compassionless Middle East.
The diplomatic failures led the New York Times editorial board to conclude on November 28, "We don't know exactly what happened but we are told that Mr. Obama relied more on the judgment of his political advisers - specifically his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel - than of his Mideast specialists."
Misguided, perhaps. But to declare the Obama administration to be anti-Semitic is just wrong. Let's keep the debate in the area of policy. Unfortunately, there'll be no shortage of topics to discuss.
The writer served as a senior diplomat in the Israeli Embassy in Washington and a member of AIPAC's staff in Washington and Jerusalem from 1972 to 1997. Today he is a public affairs consultant. He blogs at

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Israeli PM Netanyahu declares 10 month settlement freeze in order to restart peace talks

Those concerned that peace will break out unexpectedly needn't worry, the Palestinians have already rejected the move.

Netanyahu declares 10-month settlement freeze 'to restart peace talks'
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and Agencies
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday evening that Israel would impose a 10-month freeze on construction in West Bank settlements, saying the move was a bid to restart stalled peace talks with the Palestinians.
"I hope that this decision will help launch meaningful negotiations to reach a historic peace agreement that would finally end the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians," Netanyahu said at a special press conference he held shortly after the security cabinet approved the moratorium.
He added: "We have been told by many of our friends that once Israel takes the first meaningful steps toward peace, the Palestinians and Arab states would respond."
Settlement building has been a key sticking point in U.S. efforts to restart Middle East peace talks; the Palestinians say they will not return to the negotiating table without a complete halt to construction.
During the press conference, Netanyahu said the "far-reaching and painful" move would not be implemented in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem, which is viewed by Israel as a separate issue to be discussed in a final status agreement with the Palestinians.
"We do not put any restrictions on building in our sovereign capital," the premier said.
The freeze applies only to new construction, meaning housing already underway will continue. Also, Netanyahu said, only new homes are included.
"We will not halt existing construction and we will continue to build synagogues, schools, kindergartens and public buildings essential for normal life in the settlements," he said.
Netanyahu concluded with an appeal to the Palestinians to enter into a new round of peace talks.
"Now is the time to begin negotiations, now is the time to move forward towards peace," he said. "Israel today has taken a far-reaching step toward peace, it is time for the Palestinians to do the same."
He added: "Israel's government has made an important step toward peace today, let us make peace together."
Netanyahu: Settlement freeze will prove Israel really wants peace
At the cabinet vote, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau (Yisrael Beiteinu) was the only minister to oppose the move.
Shortly before the cabinet session, Netanyahu said the freeze would prove that Israel genuinely seeks to reach peace with the Palestinians.
"In the international circumstances that have been created, this step will advance Israel's broad international interests. This is not a simple step, nor an easy one; but it has many more advantages than disadvantages," Netanyahu told his aides.
He added: "It will enable us to show the world this simple truth: The Government of Israel wants to enter into negotiations with the Palestinians, is taking practical steps to enter into negotiations and is very serious in its intention to advance peace."
At least one key Security Cabinet member, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, came out in favor of the proposal. "Its aim is to open a window for renewing negotiations with the Palestinians," he said.
"I hope that the Yesha [council of settlements] leadership, which is patriotic, responsible and serious, will understand the need for the decision at this time," Barak added.
"The understandings with the United States are of the utmost importance with regard to negotiations, and guarantees of security and its military supremacy."
An official statement from the Prime Minister's Office on Wednesday said Netanyahu would seek approval for the moratorium from his cabinet in order to boost peace prospects.
"As part of our efforts to give impetus to peace talks with the Palestinian Authority and promote Israel's comprehensive national interests, the prime minister will ask the security cabinet to approve a temporary suspension on construction permits for new residences and the [actual] start of new residential construction for a period of ten months," the statement said.
The move is not unexpected; Netanyahu announced several days ago that he intended to declare a settlement freeze for 10 months. Israel began building in the West Bank in 1967, following the capture of the territory from Jordan during the Six-Day War. Today, more than a quarter of million Israelis live in West Bank settlements.
The freeze will also not apply to construction that has already been authorized or to work on public buildings conducive to normal life in the territories.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told reporters Wednesday that a settlement freeze was unacceptable without halt in construction in Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as the capital of a state.
"What has changed to make something that what was not acceptable a week or 10 days ago [acceptable now]?," he told reporters. "The exclusion of Jerusalem is a very serious problem for us."

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

The truth about the settlement freeze

It seems that the US has broken yet another agreement or understanding with Israel. It is not the first time.
Hillary Is Wrong About the Settlements
The U.S. and Israel reached a clear understanding about natural growth.

Despite fervent denials by Obama administration officials, there were indeed agreements between Israel and the United States regarding the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank. As the Obama administration has made the settlements issue a major bone of contention between Israel and the U.S., it is necessary that we review the recent history.
In the spring of 2003, U.S. officials (including me) held wide-ranging discussions with then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in Jerusalem. The "Roadmap for Peace" between Israel and the Palestinians had been written. President George W. Bush had endorsed Palestinian statehood, but only if the Palestinians eliminated terror. He had broken with Yasser Arafat, but Arafat still ruled in the Palestinian territories. Israel had defeated the intifada, so what was next?
[Commentary] Getty Images
Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Jordan's King Abdullah, June 4, 2003.
We asked Mr. Sharon about freezing the West Bank settlements. I recall him asking, by way of reply, what did that mean for the settlers? They live there, he said, they serve in elite army units, and they marry. Should he tell them to have no more children, or move?
We discussed some approaches: Could he agree there would be no additional settlements? New construction only inside settlements, without expanding them physically? Could he agree there would be no additional land taken for settlements?
As we talked several principles emerged. The father of the settlements now agreed that limits must be placed on the settlements; more fundamentally, the old foe of the Palestinians could -- under certain conditions -- now agree to Palestinian statehood.
In June 2003, Mr. Sharon stood alongside Mr. Bush, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas at Aqaba, Jordan, and endorsed Palestinian statehood publicly: "It is in Israel's interest not to govern the Palestinians but for the Palestinians to govern themselves in their own state. A democratic Palestinian state fully at peace with Israel will promote the long-term security and well-being of Israel as a Jewish state." At the end of that year he announced his intention to pull out of the Gaza Strip.
The U.S. government supported all this, but asked Mr. Sharon for two more things. First, that he remove some West Bank settlements; we wanted Israel to show that removing them was not impossible. Second, we wanted him to pull out of Gaza totally -- including every single settlement and the "Philadelphi Strip" separating Gaza from Egypt, even though holding on to this strip would have prevented the smuggling of weapons to Hamas that was feared and has now come to pass. Mr. Sharon agreed on both counts.
These decisions were political dynamite, as Mr. Sharon had long predicted to us. In May 2004, his Likud Party rejected his plan in a referendum, handing him a resounding political defeat. In June, the Cabinet approved the withdrawal from Gaza, but only after Mr. Sharon fired two ministers and allowed two others to resign. His majority in the Knesset was now shaky.
After completing the Gaza withdrawal in August 2005, he called in November for a dissolution of the Knesset and for early elections. He also said he would leave Likud to form a new centrist party. The political and personal strain was very great. Four weeks later he suffered the first of two strokes that have left him in a coma.
Throughout, the Bush administration gave Mr. Sharon full support for his actions against terror and on final status issues. On April 14, 2004, Mr. Bush handed Mr. Sharon a letter saying that there would be no "right of return" for Palestinian refugees. Instead, the president said, "a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel."
On the major settlement blocs, Mr. Bush said, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949." Several previous administrations had declared all Israeli settlements beyond the "1967 borders" to be illegal. Here Mr. Bush dropped such language, referring to the 1967 borders -- correctly -- as merely the lines where the fighting stopped in 1949, and saying that in any realistic peace agreement Israel would be able to negotiate keeping those major settlements.
On settlements we also agreed on principles that would permit some continuing growth. Mr. Sharon stated these clearly in a major policy speech in December 2003: "Israel will meet all its obligations with regard to construction in the settlements. There will be no construction beyond the existing construction line, no expropriation of land for construction, no special economic incentives and no construction of new settlements."
Ariel Sharon did not invent those four principles. They emerged from discussions with American officials and were discussed by Messrs. Sharon and Bush at their Aqaba meeting in June 2003.
They were not secret, either. Four days after the president's letter, Mr. Sharon's Chief of Staff Dov Weissglas wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that "I wish to reconfirm the following understanding, which had been reached between us: 1. Restrictions on settlement growth: within the agreed principles of settlement activities, an effort will be made in the next few days to have a better definition of the construction line of settlements in Judea & Samaria."
Stories in the press also made it clear that there were indeed "agreed principles." On Aug. 21, 2004 the New York Times reported that "the Bush administration . . . now supports construction of new apartments in areas already built up in some settlements, as long as the expansion does not extend outward."
In recent weeks, American officials have denied that any agreement on settlements existed. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated on June 17 that "in looking at the history of the Bush administration, there were no informal or oral enforceable agreements. That has been verified by the official record of the administration and by the personnel in the positions of responsibility."
These statements are incorrect. Not only were there agreements, but the prime minister of Israel relied on them in undertaking a wrenching political reorientation -- the dissolution of his government, the removal of every single Israeli citizen, settlement and military position in Gaza, and the removal of four small settlements in the West Bank. This was the first time Israel had ever removed settlements outside the context of a peace treaty, and it was a major step.
It is true that there was no U.S.-Israel "memorandum of understanding," which is presumably what Mrs. Clinton means when she suggests that the "official record of the administration" contains none. But she would do well to consult documents like the Weissglas letter, or the notes of the Aqaba meeting, before suggesting that there was no meeting of the minds.
Mrs. Clinton also said there were no "enforceable" agreements. This is a strange phrase. How exactly would Israel enforce any agreement against an American decision to renege on it? Take it to the International Court in The Hague?
Regardless of what Mrs. Clinton has said, there was a bargained-for exchange. Mr. Sharon was determined to break the deadlock, withdraw from Gaza, remove settlements -- and confront his former allies on Israel's right by abandoning the "Greater Israel" position to endorse Palestinian statehood and limits on settlement growth. He asked for our support and got it, including the agreement that we would not demand a total settlement freeze.
For reasons that remain unclear, the Obama administration has decided to abandon the understandings about settlements reached by the previous administration with the Israeli government. We may be abandoning the deal now, but we cannot rewrite history and make believe it did not exist.
Mr. Abrams, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, handled Middle East affairs at the National Security Council from 2001 to 2009

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama in Cairo - We've got plenty of nothing

The full text of US President Obama's speech in Cairo is here among other places. Below are the highlights. This is the first time that a U.S. President has used the word "legitimacy" about Israeli settlements, but regarding both the Israeli-Palestinian issue, as with the Iranian and other problems, Obama offered no plan - just finely balanced rhetoric that will either please everyone or make them angry. Each media outlet will choose to highlight whatever seems important to them: Here is the Israeli-Palestinian nugget:

Palestinians must abandon violence. Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed. For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights... That is not how moral authority is claimed; that is how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build. The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, and to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, and recognize Israel's right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's. The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.

Israel must also live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society. And just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

Finally, the Arab States must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities. The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems. Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state; to recognize Israel's legitimacy; and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs. We cannot impose peace. But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away. Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state. It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true

What does "continued Israeli settlements" mean? Is it a deliberate imprecision? Does he mean continued settlement, or the continued existence of settlements? Is Jerusalem a "settlement?" If he is referring to existing settlements, then Obama's speech directly contradicts the letter of Predident Bush given in 2004. It did take some courage to say, in Cairo, addressing the Arab world, that the bond between israel and the United States will never be broken. This was not a AIPAC meeting after all.

Ami Isseroff

Obama: I'll personally pursue two-state solution
By Haaretz Service

In his long-anticipated Cairo address to the Muslim world, U.S. President Barack Obama reaffirmed Washington's strong backing for a Palestinian state, highlighting his administration's commitment to follow through on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

While reaffirming Washington's "unbreakable bond" with Israel, Obama said that there can be no denying of the right of Palestine to exist, and that he would "personally pursue" the realization of a Palestinian state "with all the patience that the task requires."

"Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's," Obama said.

The president also issued a blunt repudiation of Israel's settlement enterprise in the West Bank, an issue that has strained Washington's ties with Jerusalem.

"The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements," Obama said. "This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop."

"The obligations that the parties have agreed to under the Road Map are clear," Obama said, referring to the multi-stage peace plan agreed to by Israel and the Palestinians during the Bush presidency. "For peace to come, it is time for them - and all of us - to live up to our responsibilities."

"If we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth," Obama said. "The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security."

"That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest," the president said.

In addressing the Iranian nuclear program, Obama acknowledged longstanding Muslim accusations of Washington's double standard in objecting to Tehran's drive for nuclear weapons while tolerating Israel's alleged possession of atomic bombs.

The president reiterated his desire to see a world free of nuclear weapons.

"I understand those who protest that some countries have [nuclear] weapons that others do not," Obama said. "No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons. That is why I strongly reaffirmed America's commitment to seek a world in which no nations hold nuclear weapons."

Obama conceded that Iran has rights to nuclear energy "if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

Obama said his government will close the gap between public pronouncements and difficult truths that are often acknowledged behind closed doors in the halls of power throughout the Middle East.

"America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs," Obama said.

Obama urged Muslims around the world to acknowledge Jewish suffering and to repudiate Holocaust denial. The Arab and Muslim world ought to reconcile with the existence of Israel, the president said.

"Threatening Israel with destruction - or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews - is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve," Obama said.

The president also noted the plight of the Palestinians, who "have suffered in pursuit of a homeland" and who "endure daily humiliations ... that come with occupation."

"Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead," Obama said. "So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own."

The president urged the Palestinians to draw upon the example of African slaves in the United States, arguing that a "peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding" had led to their gaining civil rights.

"Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and does not succeed," Obama said. "For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights."

Obama said the Palestinians "must focus on what they can build." He urged Hamas to accept the Quartet's preconditions for international recognition - recognition of past signed agreements with Israel, recognition of Israel's right to exist, and a renunciation of violence.

"I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect," Obama said.

Obama offered the Arabic greeting of assalaamu alaykum, or "peace be unto you", in the early part of his speech. He also quoted a passage from the Koran and cited his father's Muslim background in a bid to highlight his sensitivity to Islamic grievances against the West.

"America is not and never will be at war with Islam," Obama said. "We will, however, relentlessly confront violent extremists who pose a grave threat to our security."

"The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars," Obama said. "Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims."

"Much has been made of the fact that an African-American with the name Barack Hussein Obama could be elected President," Obama said. "But my personal story is not so unique."

Obama is delivering his long-anticipated speech seeking to turn a new page in Washington's relations with the Arab and Muslim world.

Obama arrived in Egypt hours before giving long-promised speech in Cairo, the ancient seat of Islamic learning and culture.

The U.S. president is hoping to usher in a new era in the United States'
relationship with the world's 1.5 billion Muslims. Aides say Obama will blend hopeful words about mutual understanding with blunt talk about the need for Muslims to embrace democracy, women's rights and economic opportunity.

Obama met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key American ally, at his palace in the capital.

"We discussed how to move forward in a constructive way to bring peace and prosperity to people in the region," Obama told reporters after talks with Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt since 1981 and kept a tight lid on opposition.

"I emphasized to him that the U.S. is committed to working in partnership with countries in the region so all people can meet their aspirations," he said before heading to a mosque in a quarter of Cairo that is full of Islamic architectural gems.

The mosque is a 600-year-old center of Islamic worship and study called the Sultan Hassan mosque. Obama will then tour the Great Pyramids of Giza on the capital's outskirts.

Obama arrived in Egypt from Saudi Arabia, where he stayed overnight at King Abdullah's horse farm in the desert outside Riyadh.

In his Cairo address Thursday, Obama called on Israel and the Arab states to change their approach to the Middle East peace process.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Obama: Honesty with Israel is the best policy - Go for it!

President Obama has said that the 'U.S. Must Be More 'Honest' With Israel. He said there should be no equivocation. That's a really good idea. Let's start with an unequivocal statement that says the United States will honor its written commitments and past agreements, because without that, there isn't going to be any basis for going forward. It doesn't seem to be forthcoming.
Here's part of an interchange with State Department Spokesperson Robert Wood:
QUESTION: The United States, in the form of a letter that President Bush sent to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2004, made certain commitments to the Israeli state. I have tried to ask whether or not the Obama Administration feels bound by the commitments that President Bush expressed in that letter, which the Israelis would certainly feel comprise obligations on the part of the United States that we have made. Does the United States regard itself as - right now, as being bound by those commitments that President Bush made?

MR. WOOD: Look, what we are trying to do, James, is to get both parties to implement their obligations, written obligations in the Roadmap. We're trying to get those implemented. Our vision for a two-state solution cannot happen if these obligations are not, you know, held to. And so what Senator Mitchell has been trying to do is to work with the two sides. Both sides have an interest in meeting these obligations. They both want peace. We have said we will be a partner in trying to help them implement them - implement their obligations.

QUESTION: What about the letter?

MR. WOOD: Well, I - look, I speak for this Administration. I've told you exactly what we are doing with regard to trying to get both parties to live up to their written obligations.

QUESTION: What about our written obligations? Do we live up to the ones that we set?

MR. WOOD: Look, we - the United States lives up to its obligations. Right now, we are focused on, as I said, trying to get both sides to adhere to the Roadmap so that we can move forward toward that two-state solution. And it's not going to be easy, as you know. We've spoken to that many times. And we're going to continue to try to do that.

QUESTION: Is the letter binding or not on this Administration?

MR. WOOD: Look, what I'm saying to you, James, is we have - there are a series of obligations that Israel and the Palestinians have undertaken.

QUESTION: I haven't asked about their obligations and what they've undertaken. I've asked about a letter that this country sent to Israel. I'd like you to address that letter.

MR. WOOD: Well --

QUESTION: Is it binding on this Administration?

MR. WOOD: Well, this Administration is - as I said, has laid out its proposals, its strategy for moving forward. And that's about the best I can help you with on that, James.

QUESTION: Does it entail that letter?

MR. WOOD: I've said what I can say on this right now.

QUESTION: Robert, do you realize that by not saying yes, indeed the U.S. Government continues to be bound by the letter that former President George W. Bush sent, you are leaving open in the air the possibility that it does not see itself as bound?

MR. WOOD: I don't believe I'm doing that at all. What I'm saying to you is we have had a series of discussions with our Israeli and Palestinian partners. We've had discussions about their obligations and what both sides need to do. Both sides are well aware of what they need to do, and they know that we are trying to help them meet their obligations. And we'll continue to do that.

And I'm just not going to get into the substance of what a previous administration may have agreed to. I'm focused on what this Administration is trying to do right now. And that's where we are.
Do you understand what U.S. policy is from the above? I don't. Is it unequivocal? If the Bush letter is to be honored, how can the U.S. ask for a complete settlement freeze? What happened to honesty and not equivocating?
Ami Isseroff

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Illegal racist Zionist colonialist settler - Ehav Ever

Here is the sort of Zionist that right thinking (or left thinking) progressive people everywhere will love to exhibit as a racist colonialist western Zionist settler from America intruding on the rights of the oppressed Palestinian people -- the kind of Settler who in media canards is supposed to put on his Kippah and say a blessing before killing an Arab.
As a good right - thinking progressive would see it, Ehav Ever lives in the illegal colonialist Zionist settlement of Maaleh Edumim in the illegally occupied West Bank, next to the illegally occupied Arab city of Arab Jerusalem, which is where Suleiman the Arab Muslim built his temple, right? He is a rich and elitist Electrical Engineering graduate who works for an Israeli hi-tech firm, and he came on Aliya from the United States. The typical Christian Peace Teams stereotype of a male Jew settler. This is clearly the sort of racist colonialist Zionist guy Ken Loach and his friends would love to boycott, especially as Ehav Ever is opposed to a two state solution, which he thinks is besides the point. Go for it!
You can see Ehav Ever's Web log here: Hochma Umusar and you can see his video on Real Zionism too. In the video he explains why Israel belongs to Jewish people.
But in case you are too lazy to check it out (your loss), here's a hint about one fact about Ehav Ever that should be totally irrelevant, but that you might want to know. Here's his picture. When you write your articles and Web logs about the racist Zionist colonialist illegal settlers, be sure to include the picture, so everyone understands your point about racism.

"Zionism is racism" - right?
Ami Isseroff

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Settler Rabbi Arrested for Incitement

The Jerusalem Post

Rabbi Yigal Shandrapi, the head of Yeshuat Mordechai Yeshiva, is expected to be brought before the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on Wednesday for a remand hearing, after police from the Judea and Samaria Division arrested him on Tuesday on suspicion of inciting Jewish youth to riot.

According to the allegations, Shandrapi incited the teenagers two separate cases, the most recent of which occurred two months ago at the Yad Yair outpost, in the West Bank. During that incident, soldiers described being attacked and said that their vehicles were damaged.

Meanwhile, nearly 40 Jewish youth reportedly rampaged through the streets of a Palestinian neighborhood in Hebron overnight Tuesday, puncturing car tires and shattering windows in Arab homes.

The youths were also suspected of spray-painting a Star of David on one of the houses in the area.

While no arrests had been made, police were investigating the incident.

Responding to the latest developments, the chairman of the Knesset Interior Committee, MK Ophir Paz-Pines (Labor), called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter to clamp down on the offenders.

"This is an additional crossing of a red line by organized, dangerous thugs, and it must be responded to with the utmost seriousness and gravity," Paz-Pines said. "The police must immediately initiate a thorough investigation and start a series of arrests in order to put an end to the 'Wild West' in Hebron, and to establish, without hesitation, the rule of law."

Meanwhile, Barak warned on Wednesday that if settlers do not voluntarily evacuate the dispute four-story building in Hebron, known as Beit Hashalom, the defense ministry will evacuate them by force.

Speaking during a tour of the IDF's Hebron brigade, Barak stressed that the evacuation would be carried out by police and that the IDF would provide surrounding support.

Barak also harshly criticized the recent violence and said that any harm inflicted on a soldier or policeman or anyone who represented the state of Israel was a "grave incident which expands the rift which is already harming the gentle fabric of democracy in Israel."

Barak said Israel must "arrest these attackers, punish them with all the severity of the law, since their actions are aimed at undermining the authority of the State."

The defense minister, toured the area with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Shamni.

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Monday, January 7, 2008

Mr. Bush: You are not in Kansas anymore

07.01. 2008
Original content copyright by the author
Zionism & Israel Center

Not much peace is likely to come out of President Bush's upcoming visit to the Middle East. As Hillel Halkin notes, nobody in the Middle East probably really wants peace anyhow.

Unlike Hillel Halkin, I do not think this is a Good Thing. But it certainly seems to be a fact. As I note elsewhere, if US diplomats ever grasp this truth, it may set US policy in the Middle East on a much firmer footing. Since sometime after the Six Day War, the U.S. has held to the same policy in the Middle East. It is based on these principles:
  • Arab-Israeli peace will stabilize the region and open the way to further progress.

  • The various actors in the Middle East really want peace, though they each want it on their terms.

  • Peace can be obtained by using US leverage on Israel to extract territorial concessions from Israel. LI>

    By achieving peace and return of territories, the US can leverage Israeli return of territories into US influence with Arab states.

  • The US can maintain its leverage over Israel by making Israel dependent on US aid and weapons, and likewise, it can use the same mechanism to maintain leverage over other states in the region.

The model that is supposed to have validated the thesis is Egypt. Egypt made peace with Israel and got its territories back, and Egypt and Israel remain firm allies of the US, in part because of hefty foreign aid subsidies. But what if all the above assumptions are false? What if peace between the Arabs and Israelis would violate cultural taboos that have been in place in the Arab world for the last 100 years? What if it would destabilize all the regimes that signed peace treaties with Israel, by labeling them as "Jew lovers" and an easy target for extremists? What if the Israelis, once anxious for peace even in 1967 borders have in the interim gotten used to the "new" situation that has prevailed for 40 years, and are not anxious to trade real estate for flimsy peace agreements like the one with Egypt? What if instability in the Middle East, backward conditions and volatility are the cause of the Israel-Arab conflict rather than the effect?

Continued: Mr. Bush: You are not in Kansas anymore

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Jewish worriers - Open letter to Larry Derfner & Maurice Ostroff about God's Warriors and their correspondence

Dear Larry and Maurice,
I have followed your correspondence regarding the now notorious CNN film as best I could, and tried to make sense of all of it.

Larry Derfner wrote:
But on the subject of the Israeli-Arab conflict, you are, according to my definition, a hardline right-winger. I say that because your view, or at least your stated view, of the conflict is that in 100% of the disputes between Israel and the Arabs, Israel is 100% and the Arabs are 100% wrong.
This is a continuation of the sort of argument you used in your article, is it not? "It is right wing, and therefore it is wrong." Serious analysts don't base arguments on calling names. Leave that to Stalin in the sessions of the Politburo. It doesn't matter if Maurice is an agent of the reactionary kulaks, a right-deviationist, a wrecker of the five year plan or a left deviationist. It doesn't matter if CAMERA is composed of third-temple fanatics or A.N.S.W.E.R. advocates. What matters is the logic of their criticism.
If Maurice is a hardline right-winger, then what might Benjamin Netanyahu be? You don't seem to have much gradation in your scale. Such distinctions are usually the mark of superficial minds that want to substitute labeling for analysis, and to dismiss uncomfortable and inconvenient facts by painting them with the stigma of "wrong opinion" or "not PC." Churchill was a "hard line right winger" but he was right about Nazism, and his opponents were wrong. They got away with discrediting him for many years just by using labels like "war monger."
There are some simple propositions that are central to our problems: Settlements are wrong, terrorism is wrong, and Jihadist fanaticism is a danger to civilization of all types. It is hard to make all three statements without being labeled a leftist self-hating Jew and a traitor by one group, an Islamophobic neocon by the other side, and a Zionist war monger to boot. I happen to hold all three beliefs. I don't know where that puts me on the Larry Derfner political scale, and I don't care either. Until we get all those self-serving fools and fanatics out of the room, we cannot have a real discussion.
Propositions have to be considered independently of who is saying them, and independently of other ideological baggage they might bring with them. You need to learn to stick to the issues, and to teach your readers to think rather than to lob labels at each other like grenades. If Aumann or Haniyeh say that the Sun is shining, then the way to prove if they are right or wrong is to look out the window, rather than arguing about whether they are right-wingers or left-wingers. Forgive me for saying that it is an embarrassing and juvenile sort of argument. It may sell newspapers. You are in business to do that. But it makes heat, and not light.

The gab-fest benefits the film itself, because any publicity is good publicity, and it benefits the organizations who are dumping on the film, and who will get more donations from their loyal followers. It does nothing to advance either truth or the cause of Israel, regardless of whether these are the same or different. No neutral or anti-Israel person is going to be convinced by CAMERA or Honest Reporting, and there is no way to ascertain the facts without seen the film and doing the research. Reading these reviews adds nothing. I know who Osama Bin Laden is and I know what he wants. I don't need Honest Reporting or Christianne Anampour to tell me. By now I suspect that only about three dozen people care about that film. It was just another bit of vacuous entertainment with no more truth value (maybe less) than an episode of The Shield or House, and less entertainment value. Discussing it gives it publicity.

The last time there was a similar dustup it was about Spielberg's film, Munich. Reading the criticism of Jewish organizations, I thought that Spielberg must have joined the PLO or maybe the Hamas. Then I saw the film, which was largely sympathetic to Israel and the Zionist cause, and portrayed humanistic and humanitarian Zionists tortured by the necessity of killing, contrasted with fanatic and one-dimensional Arabs. I have learned not to trust the moral standards and aesthetic and professional judgements of these organizations and to form my own judgement.

That said, any film that shows, at the same time, and as part of the same problem, the Jihadist threat along with Zionist and Christian extremists, is showing a lie. Nobody disputes that Amanpour does that. There is a difference between a movement that is morally wrong and theoretically a problem, and a political movement that is an active problem and a clear and present danger. Anti-abortionist fanatics and third temple builders are not my favorite people, but they haven't yet the power or the announced intention to destroy Western civilization. They are not a danger of the same order of magnitude as Al-Qaeda and other Jihadist extremists. There is no way to make Baruch Goldstein into Osama Bin Laden, or to turn Mr. Hagee into the equivalent of Ahmadinejad. Hagee doesn't run a state. He isn't building an atom bomb, and he hasn't declared the intention to make a world without anyone. Goldstein and his friends and supporters represent a morally reprehensible cause. Fortunately there are not a lot of them, and they have no power. They are not a threat to the United States, Western Civilization or Israel. Not yet. The proposition that Bin Laden has something to do with Israeli settlements is intellectual rubbish. Bin Laden's last message didn't even mention Israel. Some people don't want to admit what the real problem is. There is no reason to assist them in their self-delusion.

Larry wrote:

But the question she raises is, if the settlements are a bad thing (a point of view she supports with factual material), and every U.S. government has spoken against them to some degree, why doesn't the U.S. back up its sentiments with action - by pressuring Israel monetarily and politically to stop building settlements? And her answer is: because of the Israel lobby.

But the question I raise, is what do settlements have to do with Islamist fundamentalism in Afghanistan or the price of hay in China? Just because Bin Laden may say it is an issue, doesn't mean it is so. Bin Laden and his followers are not against settlements in the West Bank. They are against the existence of Israel. Just because Jack Kelley wrote that settlements are due to the activities of religious fanatics, doesn't make it so either. The evil of Jim Crow in the United States did not justify, and was not equivalent to, the evil of Stalinism in the USSR. Some people did equate them. It is clear now that they were as wrong as those who equated Stalin and Hitler and insisted that the US and Britain should stay out of World War II.

In any case, a lot of very unreligious people support those settlements. So what is the point? What is the connection to God's Warriors?

Bin Laden and his friends are also against loose morals in women, such as allowing divorce and parading about without a Hijab. So what? Why should this issue even be raised? Who cares what these people claim they support? Their "issues" are all just excuses for taking power by violent means.

And the other question I raise is, if the Israel Lobby is so all-powerful as you and Mearsheimer and Walt and Amanpour pretend, then why hasn't the US taken an unequivocally pro-Israel stance on so many critical issues for Israel, even when Israel is clearly in the right (that happens too sometimes)? How do they screw us? Let us count the ways:

- Boycott - United States continues to do business with Gulf and other countries that maintain primary boycotts of Israel, and the US keeps making believe it doesn't happen.

- Israel's right to exist - US does business with, and supports, numerous regimes that deny and have denied the right of Israel to exist.

- Refugee problem - the perpetuation of the Palestinian refugee problem and the entire mechanism of UNRWA is possible only because of the support of the United States and its allies. No other group of refugees is treated in the same way as Palestinian refugees. An entire mechanism, funded by generous contributions of US and European taxpayers, has been created solely to perpetuate the conflict and the misery of the refugees. The United States has never lifted a finger to change this reality, never threatened to cut off support to the UN, never tried to cajole allies into changing the status of UNRWA.

- Jerusalem - the United States, despite the efforts of the vaunted Israel lobby, does not recognize even West Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Congressional resolutions, promises of Presidential candidates, all avail nothing.

It may not suit either AIPAC nor Mearsheimer and Walt and their friends to admit it, but the effectiveness of the Israel lobby is close to zero. The US government does what it sees fit to do, and then justifies it in terms of support for Israel, or not.

Concerning the legality or illegality of settlements, it is a red herring issue, Maurice. You have to decide whether you want to fight Islamism with clean hands or defend settlements. You cannot have both. By raising this issue, you are playing right into the hands of those who want to equate Israeli actions with those of Osama Bin Laden. The whole settlement issue simply didn't belong in a documentary of that type, and its presence there is bizarre. The Tal lawthat exempts Ultraorthodox Jews from the draft is also wrong, and it is religiously motivated, but that doesn't have much to do with Jihadism either.

Ami Isseroff
Posted at Israel News

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Palestinian murderers of settler confess

Last update - 19:51 26/02/2007
A murder a day, keeps peace away. Settlements did not bring security for the victim, and terror will not bring freedom for the murderers.

Two Palestinians arrested for murder of Israeli in West Bank

By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondents

Israel Defense Forces troops have arrested two Palestinian youths for the murder of an Israeli whose body was found north of the West Bank city of Hebron late Sunday, the Shin Bet security service said Monday.

Mudar Abu-Dia and Mousaa Ahalil, both 18, were arrested overnight in a village near the site of the murder. During their questioning, both confessed to having stabbed to death Erez Levanon, 42.

They said they had planned the murder in advance and visited the site a few times in order to follow the movement of settlers in the area.

The motive of the murder was nationalist, but the suspects said they acted out of their own interests and not on behalf of any terrorist organization. The suspects were arrested by soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces' Shimshon Battalion.

Police had said earlier Monday that the man was killed by Palestinian terrorists, but did not give an explanation, "The murder was carried out on the basis of a terrorist attack," Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. "He was stabbed several times."

No Palestinian group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Security forces found the body of the man, a resident of a West Bank settlement, late Sunday night near Beit Omar, north of the West Bank city of Hebron.

He had been missing since late Sunday afternoon and was found near a local spring by Palestinian residents of the area.

Rosenfeld did not say how police knew that militants were behind the attack.

At about 10 P.M., Palestinians reported to police that the man's body had been seen between the settlement of Bat Ayin West in Gush Etzion and the Palestinian village of Beit Omar.

The man apparently sustained stab wounds all over his body, and his vehicle was later found overturned nearby.

A large number of police and Israel Defense Forces troops conducted searches in nearby villages in an attempt to locate the assailants.

An Israeli was last killed by Palestinian militants in the West Bank in August when gunmen shot a soldier at a military checkpoint. Israeli security forces found the body of an Israeli civilian in a Palestinian village in the West Bank earlier this month. Police said he had died in an accident.

IDF raid in Nablus
The largest Israeli raid in the West Bank for months entered its second day Monday, with tens of thousands of Palestinians confined
to their Nablus homes as soldiers searched for militants and arms.

In the operation, which involved four IDF battalions and a large contingent of Border Police, the forces raided the city's old market and uncovered an explosives laboratory, the second in 24 hours.

A full curfew was imposed on tens of thousands of residents of the market area.

The defense establishment decided on the move following an increase in the number of alerts which suggested that various Nablus terror networks were planning attacks. The Shin Bet security service is concerned about an improved ability by the Palestinians to produce explosives and an increased motivation to carry out attacks.

The most-wanted list includes six high-level activists of the Fatah's Tanzim movement as well as a few dozen militants from Tanzim and the Islamic Jihad. The IDF took over the city's radio and TV stations for a few minutes and called on the six wanted men to surrender. They also distributed leaflets to residents asking them to tell the IDF where the wanted men were by calling a special phone number.

Three of the men have been arrested so far, and a number of residents have been detained for questioning. Two soldiers were lightly wounded by shrapnel when an explosive charge was thrown at them.

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Muddled thinking about Israel, "Leftists" and Gaza

I generally like Bradley Burston's analyses, even if I do not always agree with them. They evince an intelligent, unhysterical, undogmatic and pragmatic humanism, reminiscent of the intellectual posture of Mark Twain.

Sometimes, though he is way wide of the mark. For example, here is a "legitimate" reason for hating Israel according to him:

"4. Because Israel, even in withdrawing from Gaza, has left it to die"

Perhaps Bradley has inadvertantly stumbled upon the root causes of anti-Semitism here. He is really on to something. For 2,000 years the Jews neglected the Holy Land, and left all those poor folk to fend for themselves. Palestinian Arabs lived here in peace and harmony, enjoing the benefits of illiteracy, trachoma, malaria and typhus. With no Jewish doctors and hospitals around, many of the poor Arabs lived lives that were short, nasty and brutish. There was no work other than agriculture, because there were no Jewish investors either. There were no Zionist irrigation works either, so there was no water. No wonder everyone hates those cruel Jews.

Consider the facts, friend Bradley. Palestine was traditionally the armpit (or an unmentionable part) of the Turkish Empire. The Jews of Jerusalem were the poorest among all those who dwelt in the land, and their main industry was begging. Even in 1920 the Jews of Palestine were so poor that they were leaving in droves. By 1936, greedy evil colonialist imperialist Zionist investment had made the Jewish community richer than the Arab Palestinian community, but the Arab community by then was also among the richest in the Middle East. Wages of Arabs in Palestine were higher than in most neighboring countries.

When the Peel plan proposed to give 25% of the land to the approximately 450,000 Jewish inhabitants, it was proposed seriously that the much larger and more populous Arab state would not be economically self-sufficient, and that therefore the tiny Jewish state with its small community, that was also expected to absorb millions of immigrants, would need to subsidize the Arab state in perpetuity! All this was due to Zionist investment, since except for a bit of money spent on the port of Haifa, the British did not invest anything in Palestine. All the wealth had to come from taxes. By the year 1948, the Arabs of Palestine had improved their status quite a bit more, thanks also to British investment during WW II. However, the Jews of Palestine now produced four times as much as the Arabs, and paid four times as much taxes, even though the Arabs were twice as numerous!

The Zionists built the national water carrier. British experts insisted that it would never be economically feasible to pump irrigation water from the Sea of Galilee. "Never" was about 30 years in coming. In onde day, the national water carrier pumps more water than was used in all of Palestine in the entire year of 1948. Without that water, it would not be possible to maintain 7 million people in Israel at a near-Western European standard of living.

Consider the next crime of the evil Zionists. In 1967, the per capita income of the West Bank and Gaza was in the neighborhood of $360. By 1993, it was over $2,400. Then the evil Zionists gave the Palestinians self rule. By 2000, the per capita income of the West Bank and Gaza was only $2,000. Still, it is a fact that Palestinian Arabs were crossing the border illegally from Jordan in order to live in the oppressive and evil Zionist occupation and work in Israel. I met some of those Arabs. Then the Intifada started. The evil Jews did not permit the Palestinians to import suicide bombers into Israel, and the Palestinian GDP plumetted.

Now the evil Zionists committed the crime of withdrawing from Gaza. Jewish philanthropists paid so that Palestinians could own the green houses that the greedy evil Zionists left behind. The Palestinian Arabs trashed the green houses or used them as termini for arms smuggling tunnels. Then the Palestinians voted for the nice progressive Hamas, which wants to make a nice progressive Islamic state in all of "Palestine." According to Bradley Burston, the Zionists have an obligation to encourage subsidy programs for purchase of Qassam rockets and pay the salaries of the people who launch them. As Bradley wrote:

It is not lost on leftists that many Israelis reap a distinct satisfaction from the Palestinians' inability to help themselves, govern themselves, save themselves.

I don't know many such Israelis. There are a few. Maybe Bradley moves in different circles. Mostly I found that the misuse of the green houses, the internecine fighting, the lost opportunities for peace and development, are all causes for alarm and concern. It may mean we can never have peace with our neighbors, and that would be really terrible.
Bradley continues:

Leftists may note that Israel has done everything in its power to convince the world to deny much-needed aid to a democratically elected government, and that Israel has not acted as a neighbor whose primary concern is an eventual peace.

According to Burston's logic, the Palestinian Arabs democratically chose genocide for the Jews, so the Jews must encourage subsidies for this program, because it is a democratic choice. Presumably, in World War II, the Jews should have encouraged Roosevelt to send railway cars to Eichmann to expedite the transport of Jews to Auschwitz.
How could subsidizing the Hamas bring eventual peace? Didn't the allies blockade Germany in World War II? Does that mean that they were not interested in eventual peace? Right now, the primary concern is immediate survival. If you are dead, eventual peace doesn't matter. Therefore, stopping the suicide bombers and the rockets is the first order of business.
The implications are clear. The assumptions of Bradley Burston and the unnamed "leftists," which are racist assumptions, are that if the Jews leave, the economy of Palestine will inevitably degenerate into something like that of Syria. The fate of the glass and steel towers in Herzliya Pituach and Ramat Gan will be as the fate of the green houses in Gaza, or as the fate of the farm buildings of Gush Etzion in 1948 or the Ruttenberg electric plant and the potash works in the north of the Dead Sea. The national water carrier will cease to function. It will all rot in the sun and be ravaged by vandalism, like the grandeur of Rome after the invasion of the Goths and the Vandals.

Under Arab rule, in the present state of development of Palestinian society, and under the racist assumption of Arab Palestinian helplessness that is built in to the viewpoint of the so-called "leftists," it is questionable whether this land could support more than one or two million Palestinian Arabs, just as the British experts predicted in the 1930s. Therefore, the course of action is clear. The evil greedy Jewish sons of apes and dogs will not be allowed to leave the Islamic Paradise. We will have to stay here and create wealth for our Islamist masters.

An alternative to consider is that left to their own devices, the Palestinians will in time become a people like any other. They will learn to stand on their feet. They will stop making suicide bomber belts and Qassam rockets, and start manufacturing goods and services that the world, including Israel, want. With freedom and democracy, come responsibility.

Here are two other reasons why "Leftists" are right to hate Israel, according to Burston:

1. Because Israel's policies are frequently marked by gratuitous
humiliation of and disdain for the Palestinians.
2. Because Israelis can live with this.

I have to dispute both assumptions. A great part of the humiliation suffered by Palestinians at checkpoints, or at the hands of settlers, is due to individual loutishness or to incompetence of IDF and border police officials. It is not policy. And many Israelis cannot live with it. That is why there is Peace Now, and Gush Shalom, and the Machsomwatch movement that reports on doings at checkpoints, and that is why there is the "Breaking the Silence" group, soldiers protesting against the occupation, and that is why there is Betselem, that is why there are refuseniks, that is why Zionist Kibbutz members go out to protect Palestinians harvesting olives from settlers, and that is why there is a very long list of other groups protesting the occupationn. What is peculiar, and what Bradley doesn't mention, is that no "leftists" are upset by the fact that Palestinian policies are often marked by gratuitous murder of Israeli citizens and by the fact that many Palestinians cannot only live with it, but rather celebrate the death of every suicide bomber who kills Israelis. There is no Palestinian "Shahid watch" that reports when a suicide bomber kills innocent children in a supermarket "gratuitously." There is no Palestinian Peace Now movement to protest against Palestinian incitement. How do we explain the fact that this does not upset any of these so-called leftists?

Ami Isseroff

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved. Please link to this article and cite it. Do not copy it to your Web site without express permision.

Ten reasons the left hates Israel - five good, five bad
By Bradley Burston

A few thoughts engendered by the controversy over Alvin H. Rosenfeld's article "'Progressive'" Jewish Thought and the New Anti-Semitism."

Five of the following are reasonable. Five are not.


Why does the left hate Israel? Here are five good reasons:

1. Because Israel's policies are frequently marked by gratuitous humiliation of and disdain for the Palestinians.

2. Because Israelis can live with this.

If the policies hinted at in 1. above are associated with a status quo which Israelis find tolerably calm and Palestinians find unbearable, even lethal, Israel's leaders often view this as a viable and even optimal outcome.

3. Because Israel, in practice, values settlements more than it values social justice.

The right will tell you that there is [Bradley meant to write "no" here A.I. ] contradiction between settlements and social justice. Which would be true if there were no Palestinians, and if the Palestinians did not view the land occupied by settlements as theirs, historically, legally, and morally. And which would be true if the same consideration offered settlers in fixing the route of the West Bank fence were applied to Palestinians, that is, were farmers not cut off from their fields, pupils from their schools, and close relatives from one another.

The right will tell you that the settlements are no obstacle to peace. But that same right will also argue that the settlements are the only real bulwark between the Palestinians and an independent Palestine.

4. Because Israel, even in withdrawing from Gaza, has left it to die.

It is not lost on leftists that many Israelis reap a distinct satisfaction from the Palestinians' inability to help themselves, govern themselves, save themselves. Leftists may note that Israel has done everything in its power to convince the world to deny much-needed aid to a democratically elected government, and that Israel has not acted as a neighbor whose primary concern is an eventual peace.

5. Because of the propensity of Israel's leaders to demonstrate arrogance, claim a monopoly on the moral high ground, set non-negotiable demands to which Palestinian politicians cannot agree, then condemn Palestinians for intransigence.


Here, then, are five bad reasons:

1. The Palestinian cause is inherently progressive.

As currently constituted, Palestinian governance is marked by institutional graft, widespread human rights violations, curbs on press freedoms, tribalism, blood feuds, murders of women on the basis of contentions of preservation of family honor, and celebration of the targeting and killing of non-combatants as a legitimate form of resistance to occupation.

2. Israel remains the sole root cause of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the reason it remains unresolved.

As root causes go, both sides have demonstrated profound intransigence, both sides have violated agreements with abandon, both sides suffer from extremists whose power to destroy a peace process far outweighs their proportion of the population.

In addition, the contention that Israel is solely responsible suggests that the solution of the Mideast conflict is the dissolution of Israel. This brings us to:

3. Israel is a Jewish state.

For a vocal minority of leftists, this fact alone - coupled with the following two arguments - is enough to call into serious question Israel's right to exist. This argument, which holds that the formally Jewish nature of the state enshrines an unconscionable level of racism, dovetails with:

4. Israel is an apartheid state.

Occupation: It's horrid, but it's not apartheid

5. Israel's actions are comparable to those of Nazi Germany.

This contention may be the genuine litmus test for anti-Semitism on the left.

In the end, the compulsion to accuse Israel of genocide, while turning a blind eye to wholesale slaughter in Darfur and elsewhere, tends to say a great deal more about the accuser than the accused.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Coming to terms with Gush Etzion

Coming to terms with Gush Etzion
The varieties of compassion and national grief.

We are told by those who know, that we must have compassion for the suffering of others, and indeed we do. The whole world must know by now of the death of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. Sheikh Yassin was head of the Hamas, a blameless "militant" spiritual leader, cut down mercilessly by the evil and greedy Zionists, while he was engaged in the worthwhile pursuit of planning to send more evil Jews to meet Allah. Everyone mourns the tragic death of the blameless Rachel Corrie, who came to Gaza to defend Palestinian weapons smuggling tunnels against the heartless IDF. Who can forget little Muhamed Al-Dura, who was certainly killed by someone in front of the artful cameras of French television?

Every Palestinian child, and every politically correct and compassionate advocate, knows the names of all the Zionist massacres that ever took place, and of several that did not, and the numbers of countless victims, real and imaginary. Who does not know of Deir Yassin? What Counterpunch reader will not be able to tell you that in Jenin, the Zionists murdered 500 innocent Palestinians? No matter that actually 56 Palestinian Arabs died in Jenin. No matter that most of them were armed guerillas (or terrorists or "militants" if you like). No matter that these guerillas and their friends were responsible for murdering over a hundred Israelis in the previous month. Mohammed abu Nimr, a Palestinian who professes peace, explained that the Israelis murdered 500 Palestinians in Jenin, while the Palestinians were only engaged in nonviolent actions. Nobody remembers the names of those murdered Israelis except their relatives and friends. Mohamed Abu Nimr is going to bury the fact of their death as well.

You know who Muhamed Al Dura was. Probably you heard of Rachel Corrie. Do you know Amil Almalich? Michael Ben-Sa'adon? Israel Samolia? They were killed by a suicide bomber in Eilat just now. In a month, who will remember their names? Who will remember that they died? It was another "nonviolent action" of the Palestinians. If Israel decides one day, that it must take up arms to stop suicide bombing, won't the usual people write about another 500 imaginary Palestinian victims, and entirely ignore the real Israeli victims?

In the pages of Los Angeles Times, the 500 imaginary victims of the imaginary Jenin massacre were compared by a warped Jewish writer to the very real Jewish victims of the Nazi SS in the Warsaw Ghetto. It is not permissible for Jews to discuss the Holocaust in the context of the death of Jews, as that is part of the "Holocaust Industry," but it is perfectly fashionable to expound upon the imaginary Holocaust of the Palestinian Arabs. Without a shred of proof, the hysterical proponents of misguided compassion insist that the evil Zionists are perpetrating genocide and ethnic cleansing against the Palestinians. The facts don't matter to these disciples of Jose Saramago, of Ilan Pappe and other fiction writers. What matters is emotion.

The required emotion is hatred for Israel and Zionists. Compassion for imaginary victims is one byproduct, outrage at the imaginary crimes of the Zionists is another. Never mind that almost all the Palestinian Arabs are still very much alive, except for the ones who blow themselves up in our cities and become "martyrs." No less a person than Spanish Nobel Prize winner Jose Saramago, likewise compared the imaginary victims of Jenin to victims of the Holocaust. It is fitting, since Senor Saramago is a writer of fictional novels.

In past years, the Palestinian Authority, in order to educate its people to accept peace with their Israeli neighbors no doubt, staged a yearly Nakba ceremony, to commemorate the disaster that overcame the Palestinian Arabs in 1948, when their leaders induced them to try to exercise their sovereign right to annihilate the Jewish people. The effort failed, and the perpetrators suffered. While we Israelis mark our days of mourning with a minute of silence, Palestinian commemorations seem to require gunfire and rioting. True pluralists must appreciate the varieties of grief. The Palestinians made the commemoration of this event into an organized expression of constant grief and of hate for the Jews. None of us are not allowed to forget the Nakba in writing, in art exhibits and in demonstrations. A genuine Nakba industry sprang up, with people bused to demonstrations, carrying signs of their native towns, keys of their houses. The Nakba must be remembered. Only the causes of the Nakba, like the cause of the Israeli "massacre" in Jenin, must never be examined too closely.

When did Israelis, expelled from the old city of Jerusalem and from Hebron in 1936 and 1948, ever demonstrate with keys to their houses? When did the hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees expelled from Arab lands demonstrate with keys to their houses?

Palestinian grief is a public affair. It demands compassion. It is politically correct to have compassion for Palestinian Arabs and to describe their suffering in the minutest detail.

Israeli grief must be handled differently however. In the past, Jews were weak. It was not fitting to mourn for Jews, because that was after all, the fate of Jews. No sense getting upset over the deaths of a few more unfortunate Jews in Kishinev or Ukraine or wherever, is there? But now the Jews in Israel are no longer victims. Now it is not fitting to mourn for Jews because we are strong. We are therefore, "the oppressors." Jews don't get compassion.

All you folks who know about Rachel Corrie and Mohamed al-Dura, here are pictures of evil Zionist colonialist imperialist racist oppressors killed by "militants" of the Palestinian "resistance." Can you identify even one of them?

See to find the names of these Zionist victims and many others. They are our honored dead.

Very probably you heard of Deir Yassin. Every Palestinian knows this place, where berserk Jewish underground fighters apparently killed about 100 civilians. Have you heard of the Lamed Heh? Don't be ashamed. A poll showed that 50% of Israelis never heard of the Lamed Heh either. The Lamed Heh were thirty five young men of the Haganah, sent to bring supplies on foot to Gush Etzion in January of 1948. The story told of them, is that they were seen by an Arab shepherd on the way, and though they knew he might inform on them and call out an ambush, they would not kill him. True or not, this story was repeated to every Israeli child, not as a warning of the cruelty of the enemy, but as an example of the moral values of Israeli fighters.

The facts that are known for certain: they were ambushed at dawn and murdered. They were never given a chance to surrender of course. Their mutilated bodies were photographed by a British soldier, who left his film in a Jerusalem shop to be developed. He never came to pick it up. About 50 years later, the film was discovered by chance. It was decided that the pictures were too gruesome to be shown to the public. It is not politically correct, from the anti-Zionist point of view, to have compassion for Jews. >From the Zionist point of view, It is demoralizing to show casualties.

It is not politically correct either to mention that massacre outside Gush Etzion or the one that took place in May in Gush Etzion, where a large number of soldiers (Jewish of course) who had surrendered were mowed down. It is not politically correct either, to mention the (Jewish of course) civilians were murdered in Hebron or Jerusalem in 1929 or 1936.

This young man below is Danny Mas. He was the leader of the Lamed Heh. He probably died because he would not kill an Arab shepherd.

You never heard of him before, did you? The compassionate people of Counterpunch and the Nation never heard of him either. Naomi Klein, who writes fiction about Jewish Nazis in Jenin, never heard of him. He was a Palestinian martyr, more Palestinian than Izzedin al Qassam who was a Syrian. But Danny Mas was a Jewish Palestinian, so there are no Danny Mas terrorist squads named after him.

That is our fault. The fault of Israelis and Jews. Jews never liked to dwell on unpleasant things. In Jewish history, time was allowed to obliterate catastrophes. We always wanted to believe that the previous expulsion, the previous pogrom was the last one in history. Now we are safe. Those things always happened in the bad old country. Here in this new place, we are safe. This country after all, is not like Czarist Russia or medieval Poland or medieval Spain, is it? Nothing bad can happen to Jews here. This country is modern, moderate, democratic and progressive Weimar Germany.

In Israel, or Palestine, news of Arab atrocities was hushed up. We, the evil "Israel Lobby" don't want that news to get out. Palestine was, and Israel is, supposed to be a safe haven for the Jews. If we told people that Jews die here, they would say that Zionism is a failure. And indeed, when the fiction writers of Counterpunch and the Nation mention Israeli casualties, they invariably explain that these casualties are "proof" of the failure of Zionism.

So how can we come to terms with Gush Etzion, with the death of the Lamed Heh, with the deaths of over a hundred children in the recent Palestinian "nonviolent actions," with the deaths of three people in Eilat in the most recent suicide bombing? How are these Jewish deaths different from all those others, in the other countries, that we don't want to think about?

They are different. Imagine if there had been an IDF in 1942, and Israeli paratroopers could have rescued the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto, killing their Nazi guards. No doubt the Jose Saramagos and Mohammed Abu Nimrs of the world would explain that the Jews committed a massacre in Warsaw, while the Germans had performed only nonviolent actions. No doubt a Naomi Klein would explain that Jews ought to have compassion, and that the Israelis had made her ashamed to be a Jew. But it would still be worth it, no?

Please don't have compassion for Danny Mas and the Lamed Heh, or for the sisters and wives of these victims or for the parents of those poor dead children. They don't want your compassion or your pity. These people deserve your respect and love. They made their sacrifice so that we Jews could be a free people in our own land. If you are Jewish, even if you are a writer of anti-Zionist fantasies in the Los Angeles Times, they died so that you could be free too.

That is how we must come to terms with Gush Etzion.

Ami Isseroff

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