Friday, June 29, 2007

On the Disastrous Consequences of "Enabling": Pitfalls Ahead of New 'Mideast Envoy'

The psychology of 'Victimhood' is alive and well and continues to get resuscitated by the West. As discussed several blog entries ago, Why "Enabling" Only Perpetuates the Problem, enablement postpones responsible behavior in individuals as well as collectives. Ironically, the well-meaning, would-be do-gooders fall into the trap of accomplishing the exact opposite of their purported goals. Rather than truly empower peoples by alerting them that there will be consequences to misbehavior, they instead reward skullduggery, shameless corruption, brutality, misogyny, and barbaric terrorism. The do-gooders of the West patronize their massive aid recipients, the Palestinians, indifferent to the mammoth evidence of decades of squandered billions. With breathtaking condescension and subconscious racism, it is assumed that the Palestinians cannot really be expected to behave any better. For all the talk about respecting a culture that so values honor and dignity, the dolers of aid are really saying that the Palestinians are incapable of conducting themselves any differently. Is that the way to treat people honorably and in a dignified manner?
Freedom and self-determination don't just happen to a people, nor is it bestowed upon them. It is a historical process that cannot be bought. One of the prerequisites to statehood is the establishment of a monopoly on the use of force. The Palestinians have shown no aptitude, nor appetite, for such a process. All the riches in the world cannot change that fundamental reality.
Real progress may be possible when we stop patronizing the Palestinians and hold them to the same standards we apply to ourselves and the rest of the civilized world.
david brumer

Advice for Blair: Stop Patronizing the Palestinians - Gerald M. Steinberg

Real Israeli-Palestinian peace requires the type of societal transformations that take many years. This process will also require a basic change in international perceptions with respect to Palestinians. In particular, the patronizing and ineffective emphasis on Palestinian suffering and helplessness that has dominated actions since 1948 must end. Palestinians must be given the opportunity and the external push to take control over their own destiny, and stop seeing themselves simply as passive victims.

The rampant corruption and failed leadership in Palestinian society is, to a large degree, a product of the massive welfare system in effect since the Israeli defeat of the 1948 Arab invasion, and the refugees that resulted. At that time, "temporary" camps and housing were created under control of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA). Rather than work to end their refugee status, as in many similar situations of warfare and displacement, (and following Israel's example of integrating hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees who fled violence in Arab countries), this situation was deliberately and cynically perpetuated. The objective was blatantly political - as long as refugees and camps existed, the goal of reversing the UN partition resolution and the establishment of Israel remained alive. In this central respect, nothing has changed in almost 60 years.
Beyond the massive economic cost of maintaining this situation (UNRWA spends hundreds of millions of dollars per year), more damage is caused by perpetuating the image of Palestinian victimization. The Arab defeat in the 1967 war led to the reinforcement of this image, as well as further increases in welfare funding through other aid and development frameworks through European governments, major churches, and powerful via pro-Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Although the PLO was founded in 1964, and came to be accepted as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people", its leaders limited their activities to the political and military struggle against Israel. Yassir Arafat showed no interest in building civil society or ending the dependence and victimization. On the contrary, for decades, he was a major contributor to this syndrome.

The international community, and particularly European governments, perpetuated and widened this process, handing over additional funds, often in bags of cash handed directly to Arafat and his cronies. Officials in London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin, Oslo, Bern, Stockholm, Rome and elsewhere, ignored the obvious evidence of massive corruption and the lack of interest in building institutions or providing services (the report written much later by the EU's watchdog agency OLAF remains a tightly guarded secret, making a mockery of European calls for transparency).
The core reason for allowing huge amounts of European tax revenues to disappear among Palestinian officials was paternalism. European leaders did not expect anything better from Arafat and Fatah, and did not try or condition aid to fundamental changes. After the 1993 Oslo peace framework established the Palestinian Authority and the refugee camps in this territory ceased to exist, the image of victims and helpless refugees continued, and the corruption increased, abetted by the donors.
In parallel, the "Palestinian cause" and the prevalent image of helpless victims was perpetuated among self-proclaimed human rights groups and other NGOs, in the media, in churches, on university campuses, and among politicians. In Britain, powerful groups such as War on Want, Christian Aid, and others held rallies for the Palestinians, collected funds, and demonized Israel through boycott and divestment campaigns. European leaders continued to embrace Arafat until his death, long after his personal corruption and failed leadership was revealed and many Palestinians distanced themselves. By the same token, Palestinians were not expected to behave by the ordinary rules of moral and civilized behavior, or to respect human rights. And no terror attack, including bus bombings and suicide bombers in cafes, was considered repulsive enough by officials in Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch to change in this neo-colonialist image of Palestinian victimhood.

Financial Aid Will Not Change Palestinian Political Perceptions - Yaron LondonThe assumption is that showering the PA with funds will lead to prosperity, and that prosperity will moderate young Palestinians' passion for 72 virgins awaiting them in heaven. This hypothesis is premised on a mistaken assumption that improvement in living conditions can change perceptions, while in fact the opposite is true. Donations save people from starvation and make leaders wealthy, but they do not serve to change the cultures of societies and do not drive them to success. The aid provided to Palestinian refugees and their offspring by UNRWA since 1948 atrophied their ability to rehabilitate themselves and is one of the reasons for their political behavior. Hence, it is doubtful whether increasing economic support to the PA will change anything in the Palestinian political culture. (Ynet News)

The Real Obstacle to Peace: Genocidal Jihad - Saul Singer
The first thing Tony Blair should do is rethink the whole concept of a "Mideast envoy." What the job needs most now is not a mediator but a truth-teller. The more Israel embraced Palestinian statehood, the more violent and radicalized the Palestinians have become. During last summer's war in Lebanon, Blair hit on the real obstacle to peace. He said Hizbullah was not fighting "for the coming into being of a Palestinian state, but for the going out of being of an Israeli state." The struggle for peace is no longer between Israelis and Palestinians. It is between the jihadi axis (Hamas, Hizbullah, al-Qaeda, Syria and Iran) and the West, moderate Arabs and Israel, who want to resolve the Palestinian problem and the Arab-Israeli conflict. Blair's first task for peace should be to expose the real obstacle to peace: the jihadi front's genocidal dream of destroying Israel. (Washington Post)

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Against "Throwing Good Money After Bad"

Since the days of Arafat, we have been waiting for the 'moderates' to take matters into their hands, disempower the radicals in the West Bank & Gaza, demilitarize the gangs, warlords, and militias, and establish a monopoly on the use of violence; in short, for the Palestinians to have their 'Altalena' moment and earn international recognition in the family of civilized nations.
Sadly, Arafat never seized the moment when he still had the opportunity, preferring to divide his people so that he could continue pulling the marionette strings at his discretion. With his death and the ascension to power of Mahmoud Abbas, hope abounded that finally a true moderate would take action against all the divergent militia and terror groups, foremost among them Hamas.
But Abbas always had excuses for inaction. As Michael Oren points out below, Fatah has squandered most of the funds and good will provided by the U.S. and the international community over the past 14 years. Furthermore, Abbas could not assert himself when his party actually was in control of the Palestinian government. What should make us believe that 18 months after losing power to rival Hamas, that he now has any ability whatsoever to rein in the forces of radicalism and anarchy? Well-intentioned as he may be, he has proven to be an impotent leader with little capacity to garner grass-roots support.
david brumer

Fatah Isn't the Answer
Michael Oren
from the Wall Street Journal
June 20th, 2007

The green flags of Hamas are unfurling over Gaza and the Fatah forces trained and financed by the U.S. have ignominiously fled. Fears are rife that Iranian-backed and Syrian-hosted terror will next achieve dominance over the West Bank and proceed to undermine the pro-Western governments of Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf. To avert this catastrophe, the U.S. has joined with the Israelis and the Europeans in resuming the flow of hundreds of millions of dollars in financial aid to the PA under the leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, and accelerating talks for the establishment of a West Bank Palestinian state.
But the policy ignores every lesson of the abortive peace process to date as well as Fatah's monumental corruption, jihadism and militancy. Indeed, the unbridled corruption of the PA and its Fatah headmen served as a principal cause of Hamas' electoral victory in 2006, as well as its takeover of Gaza.

Though Fatah originally aspired to replace Israel with a secular state, it refashioned itself in the 1990s as an Islamic movement, embracing the lexicon of jihad. Hundreds of mosques were built with public funds, and imams were hired to spread the message of martyrdom and the hatred of Christians and Jews. These themes became the staple of the official PA media, inciting the suicide bombings that began in 2000 and poisoning an entire generation of Palestinian youth.
Fatah has never fulfilled its pledges to crack down on terror. Though Mahmoud Abbas routinely criticizes Palestinian terrorist attacks as "contrary to the Palestinian national interest" - not an affront to morality and international law - he has never disavowed the al-Aqsa Brigades, a Fatah affiliate responsible for some of the bloodiest attacks against Israeli civilians.
In view of its performance over the past 14 years, the Palestinian Authority under Fatah can be counted on to squander most or all of the vast sums now being given to it by the U.S. and the international community. More gunmen will be hired and better weapons procured, but in the absence of a unified command and a leadership worth fighting for, PA soldiers will perform no more credibly than they did in Gaza. Abbas will continue to denounce terror while ignoring the terrorist units within his own organization, while PA imams will persist in preaching their jihadist sermons.
Clearly no progress toward Palestinian statehood can be made before Fatah has reformed itself financially, ideologically and structurally. This process is certain to take many years - longer if economic aid and political support are provided to the PA unconditionally.
The U.S., together with its Quartet partners, can work to establish areas of extensive Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank. Security, however, will be jointly administered by Israel and Jordan. The Jordanian involvement is crucial to convincing Palestinians that the status quo of occupation has ended and they may in the future assume full responsibility for their internal defense. Such an arrangement will benefit Jordan as well, by facilitating its efforts to fight radicalism and stem the flight of Palestinians over its borders.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Shalem Center and the author of Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (Norton, 2007).

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Why "Enabling" Only Perpetuates the Problem

In psychology, there is a concept known as "enabling." It is not a positive thing. The connotation is that we do not help the addict/alcoholic/abuser by 'covering' for him, bailing him out of jail, paying his rent, etc. Only by forcing him to face the consequences of his actions and behaviors can we hope to truly help.
It would seem that the West has done the exact opposite for much of the last 40 years with the Palestinians and Arab extremists in general. After but a one-day suspension of the competition following the brutal murder of 11 Israelis in the '72 Munich Olympics, the world saw fit to let the games go on. And international cooperation at bringing the murderers (and the men behind them) to justice was not forthcoming. The Munich massacre was a pivotal moment in world history, arguably marking the birth of modern international terrorism. Had the world taken a firm stand and stated in no uncertain terms that such behavior was completely beyond the pale in the civilized world, things might look different today. Instead, two short years later, Arafat was welcomed at the United Nations like a statesman and the terrorists were off and running.
Today, the European Union, much of the European press, and the American Left perform every possible contortion to 'understand' and explain why Hamas' criminal, barbaric behavior is something that we should strive to accommodate in the hopes of reaching future accords. See two very different takes on this proposition below; one from The Economist (from the Seattle P-I's Sunday paper; the other from The Journal.
Also see Fouad Ajami's piece in Tuesday's Times at bottom
David Brumer
lSmashing Hamas won't bring peace to Palestine or Israel
Is there any point in trying, once the latest bloodshed subsides, to drag Hamas into the business of negotiating with Israel, despite its refusal so far to meet the conditions set by the big outside powers -- the United Nations, the European Union and so on -- as Hamas' price for having the devastating economic and diplomatic boycott against it lifted?
The answer is still yes
. Most Palestinians, notably including even most of those who voted for Hamas, want a two-state solution in which a sovereign Palestinian state and a secure Israeli one must coexist side by side. Hamas knows it cannot ignore that view. Moreover, it did start groping, albeit in a maddeningly crabwise manner, towards meeting those conditions.
On the question of ending violence (the first of the three big ones), it had generally upheld a unilateral cease-fire that it unwisely broke earlier this year because, it says, of Israel killing too many Palestinians; and it has stopped its vile habit of suicide bombings.
At a meeting in February in Mecca, under the auspices of Saudi Arabia, as part of its agreement to join a Palestinian government of national unity with Fatah, Hamas said it would "honor" previous agreements made by the Palestine Liberation Organization (the second big demand), which in turn implied at least a de facto recognition of Israel (the third and perhaps most momentous demand).
So, what next?
Hamas has some way to go. But it has been shifting from its intransigent positions of the past. If it is true that it is too big to be ignored or destroyed and has been edging the right way, it surely follows that efforts must be redoubled to drag it further along the twisty road towards pragmatism and negotiation.

Arafat's Children: Gaza's Mayhem Is the Bitter Fruit of Terror as Statecraft -
Editorial (Wall Street Journal)
The cult of violence that has typified the Palestinian movement for much of its history has been tolerated and often celebrated by the international community. If Palestinians now think they can advance their domestic interests by violence, nobody should be surprised: The way of the gun has been paying dividends for 40 years.
In 1972 Palestinian terrorists murdered Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics. Yet only two years later Arafat addressed the UN General Assembly - the first non-government official so honored. In 1970 Arafat attempted to overthrow Jordan's King Hussein and tried to do the same a few years later in Lebanon. Yet in 1980, the European Community, in its Venice Declaration, recognized Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization as a legitimate negotiating partner.
In 1993, Arafat was welcomed in the White House for the signing of the Oslo Accords with Israel. That same year, the British National Criminal Intelligence Service reported that the PLO made its money from "extortion, payoffs, illegal arms-dealing, drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud."
In 2000, Arafat rejected an Israeli offer of statehood midwifed by President Clinton and instead initiated the bloody intifada that left 1,000 Israelis and 3,000 Palestinians dead.
Pressure will surely mount on Israel and the U.S. to accept Hamas' ascendancy and begin negotiations with its leaders. But is it wise to negotiate with a group that kills its fellow Palestinians almost as freely as it does Israelis? And what would there be to negotiate about? A suspension of hostilities in exchange for renewed international funding would simply give Hamas time and money to consolidate its rule and rebuild an arsenal for future terror assaults.
A society that has spent the last decade celebrating suicide bombing has inevitably become a victim of its own nihilistic impulses. It is the bitter fruit of the decades of dictatorship and terrorism as statecraft that Yasser Arafat instilled among Palestinians.

Brothers to the Bitter End - Fouad Ajami

Some envision a secular Fatah-run state living peacefully alongside Israel and a small, radical Gaza hemmed in by Israeli troops. But in this case it's sheer fantasy. No other national movement has had the indulgence granted the Palestinians over the last half-century, and the results can be seen in the senseless violence and the inability of a people to come to terms with their condition and their needs. An accommodation with Israel is imperative - if only out of economic self-interest and political necessity - but the Palestinians, in a democratic experiment some 18 months ago, tipped power to a Hamas movement whose very charter is pledged to the destruction of the Jewish state and the imposition of Islamist rule. (New York Times)

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Chavez and Ahmadinejad United—Against Israel

Chavez and Ahmadinejad United—against Israel
By George Jochnowitz

About the Author
George Jochnowitz is a professor emeritus of linguistics whose specialty is Jewish languages, in particular the dialects of the Jews of Italy and southern France. He taught for many years at the College of Staten Island, CUNY, and was an exchange professor at Hebei University in Baoding, China, during the spring semesters of 1984 and 1989. His interests range far and wide, and include politics, music, the Bible, and humanity itself.
see his website:

On April 22 and 23, 2007, a conference was held at Queens College in New York City entitled “Is It 1938 Again?” The question asked in the title of the conference referred to Israel’s safety in a world where Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is amassing nuclear capability and has called for the destruction of Israel.
President Ahmadinejad’s greatest ally, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, is not being mentioned at this time. Nevertheless, we should remember that Chavez, the world’s most active Marxist dictator, is actively pursuing a policy of friendship with Iran, as Marxists always have. The June 8, 2007, issue of the Forward included a news story under the headline “Palestinian Artists Find Venezuelan Ally.” Artists are not the problem, however. The article informs us that “Venezuela was among the first to engage with Hamas leaders, and recently it has strengthened ties with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad..” Some months earlier, on February 9, 2007, the Associated Press ran a story under the headline “Iran, Venezuela to begin direct flights.” In the article we read, “Relations between the two countries have tightened under Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who are united in their antagonism to the U.S. government.”
They are united in more ways than one. Hugo Chavez, like all Marxists leaders, has allied himself with radical Islam. Chavez, who called President Bush “el Diablo,” has always been in total agreement with Iran’s President Ahmadinejad, who refers to America as the Great Satan. Iran, in turn, has officially recognized Chavez as an ally. The August 1, 2006, issue of the official English-language newspaper China Daily printed a news story entitled “Chavez receives Iran’s highest award.” We learn from this news item that “Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad presented Chavez with the Iranian Republic Medal in a ceremony at Teheran University.” The medal was awarded to show gratitude to Chavez for his “support for Iran’s stance on the international scene, especially its opposition to a resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency.” The resolution in question was a decision to report Iran to the Security Council over its nuclear program.
Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez talks about helping the poor, but what he really wants to do is to end freedom and bring about a Marxist society. That is why the National Assembly of Venezuela has granted him free rein to rule by presidential decree for 18 months. The purpose is ostensibly to accelerate changes in society. Chavez doesn’t need free rein. The National Assembly supports him. He has asked for free rein in order to end democracy and civil society. He is doing what Marx advocated.
Marx was opposed to the idea of civil society. In his essay “On the Jewish Question,” he said, “Practical need, egoism, is the principle of civil society, and is revealed as such in its pure form as soon as civil society has fully engendered the political state. The god of practical need and self-interest is money” [emphasis in original]. But these words did not sufficiently express Marx’s disgust with the idea. In the same essay, he went on to say, “It is from its own entrails that civil society ceaselessly engenders the Jew.”
The Marxist vision of the future implies the realization of a society without disagreement and therefore the end of history. That is why thought reform is a considered a desirable and realizable goal. Those societies that have attempted to reshape human nature have been noted for their ruthlessness. All of the cruelty of Communist states, all of the evils committed by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot, are implicit in the Marxist idea of the withering away of the state.
Lenin, in Chapter 5 of The State and Revolution, says that “The State will be able to wither away completely . . . when people have become accustomed to observe the fundamental rules of social life, and their labor is so productive, that they voluntarily work according to their ability. . . . Until the 'higher' phase of Communism arrives, the Socialists demand the strictest control, by society and by the State, of the quantity of labour and the quantity of consumption” [emphasis in original]. Lenin (who used the word “Socialism” to mean “Communism”) sounds hypocritical and contradictory: strictest control seems a peculiar way to arrive at a stage where there is no control. Unfortunately, there is no contradiction. The “strictest control” called for by Lenin is needed because human nature would have to be altered in order to produce the society he envisions, otherwise people might not “voluntarily work according to their ability.” Indeed, such a stateless world would be unchanging and without strife, or else government would have to reappear.
Thought reform was an explicit goal in the days of Mao Zedong and remains so today, although the words themselves [sixiang gaizao in Chinese] have fallen out of favor. Chairman Mao claimed that all power came from the barrel of a gun, but he ruled not only through force but through something akin to divine right: he was revered not only as an individual but as the symbol of the inevitable triumph of Communism.
The extreme form of Islam espoused by Ahmadinejad is like the world envisioned by Marx,
a world where everyone thinks alike. It is a world that fears freedom and diversity. Chavez is on the road to making his country another North Korea—a place where everyone will obey the dear leader of the country. China and Russia have embraced capitalism but have not renounced Marxism. They too are friends of Ahmadinejad. The Marxist-Islamic alliance is alive and well.
Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, Israelis captured by Nasrallah in July 2006, and Gilad Shalit, taken by Hamas in June of that year, are still in custody as of this writing. The world doesn’t care about them. If Israel makes a deal to release them, it will be viewed by the world as a victory for Islam. It will be viewed by the Marxist-Islamic alliance as a sign of weakness and therefore yet another reason to hate Israel. The story of these captured Israelis is getting little if any coverage in the press. Perhaps that is evidence that it really is 1938 again after all.

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Sunday, June 10, 2007

Six Days that Shook-and are still Shaking-the World, Israel, & the Middle East

By David Brumer & David Shayne

David Shayne lived in Israel for six years, where he served in theIsrael Defense Forces and received his B.A. in Political Science from Tel Aviv University. David received his JD from the University of Oregon in 1989. Since then, he has lived in Seattle and is a practicing attorney.

Before dawn on June 5, 1967, Israeli pilots scrambled into their waiting aircraft and destroyed the Egyptian air force in less than 4 hours. Thus began the fighting stage of the "Six-Day War". The opening salvos of that war actually started a few weeks earlier, when Egypt expelled the UN from the demilitarized Sinai peninsula, massed its army along Israel's border and blockaded Israel's southern port at Eilat. These acts were accompanied by bellicose promises to bring about Israel's total annihilation. After Israel's desperate diplomatic efforts to force Egypt (and its allies,Syria and Jordan) to stand down failed, it had no choice but meet the Arab threat head on. Six days after the fighting started, Israeli forces had routed four Arab armies (Iraq had joined the Arab side even though it has no border with Israel) and occupied Egypt's Sinai Peninsula and Gaza Strip, the Jordanian-controlled West Bank, including the eastern section of Jerusalem, and Syria's Golan Heights.

On the 40th Anniversary of those cataclysmic six days that changed the face of the Middle East-and arguably world politics-irrevocably, it is appropriate that we examine the far reaching consequences of that short week back in early June of 1967. Of particular relevance is how and why the conflict persists to this today, albeit with different players, and how Israel's victory resulted in an occupation that no one wants to see continued.

After the UN brokered a cease fire, the Israeli Government found itself facing an enormous challenge; one that it had not anticipated even one week earlier: What to do with these new territories under its control? While the Golan and Sinai were sparsely populated, Gaza and the West Bank contained a population of approximately one million Arabs who were opposed to Israel's very existence, and certainly did not welcome Israel's sudden emergence as their new rulers.

Where Jerusalem was concerned, Israel did not hesitate in extending full sovereignty over the entire city, offering its Arab residents full Israeli citizenship and removing the military barriers that had blighted the city for 19 years. But Israel did not take any precipitous actions with the remaining territories under its control. Israel faced four basic choices regarding what it could do with those captured territories:

A. Annex the territories, and extend full Israeli citizenship to its Arab residents.
B. Annex, the territories and expel the Arabs.
C. Unilaterally withdraw from all or parts of the territories without demanding any concessions.
D. Retain the territories as a bargaining chip, and place the civilian
population under military occupation, with the hope and expectation that the territories would eventually be returned to Arab sovereignty in exchange for full peace and secure borders.

Option one was impractical without some level of acceptance by the Arab residents which clearly was not forthcoming Option two was immoral, probably illegal, and likely to engender further conflict. Option three, return to the boundaries that Israel's Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, dubbed "Auschwitz borders" would simply be an invitation extended on silver platter to the Arab side to try to destroy Israel yet again. So Israel chose option four, a decision further reinforced by the UN Security Council. The latter exacted resolution 242, which called upon Israel to return some of the captured territory, but only if and when the Arab side would agree to make full peace with Israel first, and recognize its rightful place in the Middle East.

Despite the cautious approach of its government, Israel underwent profound changes, both in its internal politics and society, as well as in its external relations. One major benefit that accrued to the Jewish State was recognition by the United States that Israel was now a regional superpower and as such, a powerful and strategic ally of America in the Cold War. This new relationship would prove to be of vital importance to both nations. Of immeasurable significance too was the reclamation by Israel of ancestral, biblical lands of great historical importance to the Jewish people. Yet while those heady times may have intoxicated many, the Israeli government and its leaders made more sober assessments, and held back the nascent movement to extend a Jewish presence, if not sovereignty, in the occupied territories while waiting for the Arab side to come to the table and negotiate a peaceful resolution. However, the Khartoum Arab Summit meeting in late summer of 1967 dispelled any further hopes that such a resolution would be forthcoming. On September 1st came the famous "3 Nos" of Khartoum; No to Peace, No to Recognition of Israel, and No to negotiations.

With Israel’s stunning victory on the battlefield, a new Arab nationalist idiom emerged, that of Palestinian nationalism. After 1967, the Arab-Israeli conflict began to morph into the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This enormous paradigm shift went largely unnoticed at first, yet the ramifications have been profound, up until this day. While the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization) had been created in 1964 as a largely Egyptian organization, by 1969 it comprised most of the new Palestinian groups, including Al Fatah, and Yasser Arafat became its leader. Unquestionably, The Six Day War had a powerful, galvanizing effect on an emerging new Palestinian national identity and its attendant militant groups. These groups embraced an extreme anti-Israel policy that paralleled the "3 Nos", and engaged in a vicious campaign of terrorist attacks against unarmed civilians, both inside and outside of Israel. Faced with such an unequivocal rejection, Israel's stance towards the territories began to change, as a result of the deepening rift inside the Israeli body politic, as more and more Israelis supported what became known as the "settler movement." Thus, Israeli policy now wavered between option 1 and 4, between maintaining a military occupation and a creeping annexation.

Meanwhile, the Arab States continued their militaristic anti-Israel policies, launching a successful surprise invasion that nearly defeated Israel in 1973. The "Yom Kippur" war, as it is popularly known, led to two big changes that occurred in 1977: 1) a new, "pro-settlement" Prime Minister came to power in Israel, Menachem Begin and 2) Egypt's President, Anwar Sadat, met with him in Jerusalem, setting in motion the first "peace process that culminated in full peace between Egypt and Israel and a return of the Sinai to Egypt.
But, even as the Arab States slowly began to follow Egypt's lead and scale back their enmity towards Israel, Palestinian hostility and violence increased, exacerbating tensions in the territories. In 1987. these tensions exploded in a mass outbreak of rioting and other violence known as the "Intifada."
For various reasons, the PLO lost much of its political control over the territories. New, radical fundamentalist organizations emerged, Hamas being the largest, that vied with the PLO. Along with other factors, this led to the PLO seeking a sort of rapprochement with Israel that led to the Oslo Accords, creating a framework for mutual recognition between the PLO and the State of Israel.
For a while, the Oslo Years, between 1993-2000, seemed to offer new hope and possibilities for compromise and reconciliation between the two peoples. While many Israelis were against those accords and saw the relinquishment of most of the territories as an abdication of responsibility for the ancestral lands vouchsafed to the Jewish people, at least a slim majority of Israelis were willing to make that painful sacrifice for peace with the Palestinians. Now, Israel formally acknowledged that the Palestinians did exist as a people too, with legitimate rights of self-determination.

Those hopes and dreams were shattered by the Second Intifada , which erupted after Arafat rejected a concrete Israeli offer to establish a fully independent Palestinian State in most of the occupied territories. Israelis became largely disabused of the notion that if Palestinians were offered a reasonable land deal, including most of a contiguous West Bank, peaceful co-existence was a given. At the same time, 3-4 million Palestinians still had to be contended with, and continued notions of a “Greater Israel” could only be realized at the expense of Israel being both a Jewish and a democratic state. Even Ariel Sharon, an architect of the settlement enterprise said in 2004 that Israel could no longer control the lives of millions of Palestinians, and that the dream of a “Greater Israel” was no longer a viable option. As understandable and even inevitable as it may initially have been, the occupation proved to be a disaster for all sides.

By withdrawing from Gaza unilaterally in 2005, Sharon started what appeared to be the beginning of an inevitable Israeli retreat from the territories. The new political centrist party he created, Kadima, was built on the platform of further withdrawals from the West Bank, either
with Palestinian/Arab agreement, or then unilaterally again if necessary. The message was clear: the occupation was no longer tenable.

Israel is now, and since 1993, has been moving away from Option four and is adopting policies based on options one and three combined, that is unilaterally establishing its permanent borders.
The Palestinians are the primary reason the occupation has lasted this long. Ironically, it is their actions that perpetuate the occupation, while the occupiers are desperate to see it come to an end. Palestinian behavior in the post-Camp David era has proven to be the opposite of state-building. Certainly, the current Hamas-led government rendered a viable Palestinian State unfeasible any time soon. And it is no secret that many in the Palestinian and larger Arab world see their best hopes in dragging their feet in bloody conflict until the demographics necessitate a bi-national or one-state solution, code for the end of a democratic, Jewish State.

As the 5th decade following the 6-day war begins, both the Israelis and the Palestinians face enormous challenges. What choices each people make today will affect generations to come. Israel remains committed to seeking a peaceful solution to this conflict, and ending this benighted occupation once and for all. But Israel cannot make peace by itself. Palestinian leaders must change their policies, or the Palestinians must change their leaders to bring about an end to the conflict. Until such time, Israel must of necessity stay ever vigilant, yet open to substantive proposals that can bring us closer to that elusive peace.

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Friday, June 8, 2007

More on Debunking 6-Day War Myths & SAS (Sudden Amnesia Syndrome)

Amazingly, reports continue to circulate out of the Western Press (BBC, Economist, Financial Times, New York Times, New Yorker, etc.) that the Six Day War could have been avoided had Israel not acted rashly; that Israel was militarily far superior to its Arab neighbors, that Nasser was only bluffing; about the only argument I haven't heard yet is the post-modern one of 'disproportionate force.' Rest assured that if Israel's stunning victory over three Arab armies had taken place today, accusations of war-crimes and unnecessary force would already have been levied against her. More commentaries below--db

The Most Justified War - Yoel Marcus

As Ha'aretz's correspondent in Paris before the 1967 Six-Day War, I was at the Israeli Embassy when half a million people rallied in the streets to show their solidarity with Israel. There was a sense that the Arabs were about to wipe out the Jewish state. On television, people saw Egyptian troops marching into Sinai; they heard Nasser's warmongering speeches. Ahmed Shukeiry, the secretary of the Arab League, declared that the Jews of Israel would be sent back to the countries they came from and native Israelis would be slaughtered. What those now denouncing the 40th anniversary of the "occupation" do not understand is that the Six-Day War was the most justified war Israel ever fought - because it knocked out of the Arabs' heads the idea that Israel could be destroyed by force. (Ha'aretz)

Amid General Amnesia - Hillel Halkin
It's a curious thing: Although the map that was changed by the Six-Day War had been in existence for less than 20 years, starting with Israel's War of Independence in 1948, and more than twice as many years have gone by since then, that map of the Middle East continues to be regarded by the world as the "right" map, while the map that replaced it is considered a temporary aberration that needs to be canceled or reversed. Similarly, the world has forgotten what the pre-1967 map was really like. Far from being demarcated by clear and accepted borders, it showed Israel separated from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon by mere armistice lines, frontiers created by the ceasefire that ended the 1948-1949 war and considered temporary by all Arab countries, not one of which recognized Israel and all of which looked forward openly to its destruction - an easily imaginable eventuality in view of the fact that these frontiers narrowed to a few miles' width along the Mediterranean coastal plain where Israel's population was most concentrated. It is no longer remembered that immediately after the June 1967 war, Israel was ready to return nearly all of the land conquered by it in return for peace and was answered by a monolithic Arab refusal to negotiate, accompanied by a partial recommencement of hostilities by Egypt in the 1968-1970 "War of Attrition." The history of the 1967 war and what came before it has been so successfully written by the losers that the winners' account is scoffed at incredulously today even by supposedly knowledgeable people. (New York Sun)

Urge is Still to Erase the Jewish State
The Six Days War, which broke out 40 years ago this week and left the Arab world, the Jewish people and the international community stunned, still boggles the mind.
The fighting -- in which Israel debilitated three armies and conquered the West Bank, Gaza, the Sinai, the Golan and ancient Jerusalem in less than a week -- has made Israel's enemies distort its causes and effects.
Here are the facts, the way I recall them as a third-grader in Jerusalem. As Independence Day ended, news broke out that the Egyptian army had crossed the Sinai Peninsula and camped along the Israeli border. By the weekend, we were besieged, as Egypt blockaded the Red Sea and expelled United Nations peacekeepers from Gaza, while Jordan and Syria deployed along our northern and eastern borders. One hundred million people, armed, trained and inspired by the Soviet Union, were ganging up on a country the size of New Jersey with a population smaller than Tennessee's.
It was a casus belli by any dictionary definition. Yet today Israel's detractors conveniently begin the story from the actual fighting of June 1967, which indeed began when we Israelis extracted ourselves from the shooting range where we were to be sitting targets and pre-empted the marksman aiming his barrel into our collective forehead. Israel initiated but only tactically. The strategic initiative -- the brazen, unprovoked choice to wage war -- was Arab.
No rewritten history will make Israelis forget the course of events as we experienced them. We won't forget the anxiety on the faces of the adults -- mostly Holocaust survivors -- as war approached. We won't forget how every day we learned of another diplomatic failure to undo the siege, how we filled sandbags and placed them on windowsills to the sound of Hebrew broadcasts from Cairo Radio that promised to "throw the Jews into the sea" -- which was meant, and taken, , literally.
Today, the ultimate anti-Israeli slogan shared by British liberals, Russian fascists, Gazan zealots, Iranian Mullahs and Lebanese pseudo-patriots is "end the occupation." Gullible Westerners conclude that Israel's enemies merely want it tamed, that characters such as Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, Hassan Nassrallah or Haled Mash'al are merely challenging its policies, not its right to live.
But they are. As they themselves concede when asked explicitly enough, to them not only the conquests of '67, but even Tel Aviv is "occupied Palestine," just as to them all U.N. resolutions about the Mideast are binding except the original one, the one that said that not only the Palestinians, but the Jews, too, deserve a state.
Had it not been for the obsessive urge to erase the Jewish state, there would have been no occupation to decry today. For the problem with the Six Days War in the eyes of Israel's enemies is not the occupation that followed it nor, of course, the belligerency that preceded it, but the victory that defined it and constituted one of the swiftest blows liberty ever dealt autocracy.
Had the occupation been their problem with post-1967 Israel, Israel's enemies would have even celebrated its successive election of leaders such as Rabin, Barak, Sharon and Olmert who each sought to end the occupation. Sad to say, all four saw Israel's enemies prove unreconstructed despite them, as the newly unoccupied Gaza's shelling of Israel, within its internationally recognized borders, demonstrates daily.
There's nothing new about this tunnel vision. In 1967 Israel offered a land-for-peace deal, but the Arab states announced they would never make peace, recognize or even just talk with Israel. With that kind of rigidity, the Arab states maneuvered the Palestinians into Israeli occupation. Then as now, they could have chosen peace.
A lot has changed since 1967.
Egypt and Jordan made peace with Israel, the East Bloc unraveled, and a million Soviet Jews arrived in Israel. However, in Tehran, Beirut, Damascus and Gaza, the blind hatred is alive and well, even if it now cleverly manipulates Western disdain for such terms as "occupation."
Had a passer-by wondered in May 1967, "Why are you filling sandbags?" we would have answered: "We have no choice." Four decades on, when you hear Israel's enemies decry occupation, remember: They have a choice, they can have peace, yet they have war, and the reason they war in 2007 is the same reason they had it in 1967: It's what they want.
Amotz Asa-El, formerly the Jerusalem Post's executive editor, is now its senior columnist;

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Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Revisionist Historians Eschew Inconvenient Truths of Israel's Existential Vulnerabilities

While revisionist historians are having a field day on the 40th Anniversary of the 6-Day War, it is useful to go back in time and remember what was really going on in the Middle East back in May-June 1967. Some of the experts debunk popular current mythology below.

Arabs Planned to Destroy Israel in '67 - Steve Linde
Those who call the Six-Day War a disaster or a Pyrrhic victory overlook the fact that Israel wasn't destroyed, historian Michael Oren said Monday. Oren said his research of documents in Arab countries had revealed clearly that the Arabs had planned to destroy Israel.
"The biggest myth going is that somehow there was not a real and immediate Arab threat, that somehow Israel could have negotiated itself outside the crisis of 1967, and that it wasn't facing an existential threat, or facing any threat at all," said Oren, who is a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies at Jerusalem's Shalem Center and author of Six Days of War: June 1967. He noted that this was the premise of Tom Segev's book, 1967: Israel, the War and the Year That Transformed the Middle East. "What's remarkable is that all the people alleging this - not one of them is working from Arabic sources.
What's behind the myth, Oren argued, is "a more pervasive, ongoing effort to show that Israel bears the bulk, if not the sole responsibility, for decades of conflict in the Arab world, and that the Arabs are the aggrieved party.
(Jerusalem Post)

Lessons of the Six-Day War - Ariel Cohen
Today the world will commemorate the 40th anniversary of Israel's victory in the Six-Day War. Forty years later, however, Israel's very existence is challenged again. Now more than ever, Israel is the proverbial canary in the Middle East coal mine, the litmus test of Arab and Muslim attitudes to the world beyond the Land of Islam. It is not the "Israeli occupation" but the rise of extremist Islamist forces that constitute a global threat and are central in Middle East destabilization.
Today the threat is not only Arab -- it is also Iranian. It is not secular nationalism and pan-Arabism, but Islamist. It is both extremist Shi'a, as expressed by Iran and Hezbollah, and militant Sunni, articulated by Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Moslem Brotherhood, and increasingly, al Qaeda-affiliated organizations in Gaza and Lebanon.
Forty years ago, the threat was classically conventional. Today, Israel and the United States lack strategy and doctrine to defeat the whole spectrum of threats, from the suicide bombings and Qassam rockets of Hamas and Fatah, to the improvised explosive devices in Iraq and the short range Iranian-supplied Katyusha rockets of Hezbollah. The threat is also unconventional -- from Syrian chemical weapons-armed rockets, to the Iranian nuclear weapons program. It is not the "Israeli occupation" but the rise of extremist Islamist forces that constitute a global threat and are central in Middle East destabilization. Israeli, European and U.S. policymakers and generals still think in terms of nation-states and conventional armies. The global jihadi movement, its political leaders, paymasters, recruiters and propagandists recognize no national borders.
The writer is senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation. (Washington Times)

No Pyrrhic Victory - Bret Stephens (Wall Street Journal)
It is often said today that the Six-Day War humiliated the Arabs and propelled the region into future rounds of fighting. Yet only a few days before the outbreak of the war, Iraq's then-President Abdul Rahman Aref saw it as "our wipe Israel off the map," describing the war as the Arabs' chance "to wipe out the ignominy which has been with us since 1948."
It is said that the Palestinian movement was born from Israel's occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Yet the Palestine Liberation Organization was already in its third year of operations when the war began.
To read some recent accounts, a more sagacious Israel could have followed up its historic victory with peace overtures. In fact, the Israeli cabinet agreed on June 19, 1967, to offer the Sinai to Egypt and the Golan to Syria in exchange for peace deals. In Khartoum that September, the Arab League declared "no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with it."
On June 5, 1967, Israel was a poor, desperately vulnerable country, which threw the dice on its own survival in the most audacious military strike of the 20th century
. It is infinitely richer and more powerful today, and sure in its alliance with the U.S. If these are the fruits of Israel's "Pyrrhic victory," it needs more such of them.

Remaking the World in Six Days -
Michael Oren
In six intense days of fighting that began on June 5, 1967, Israeli forces saved their country from an imminent existential threat, defeated three major Arab armies and almost quadrupled the territory under their country's control. Compare, for example, Israel's diplomatic and strategic situation on June 4, 1967: The country was surrounded by Arab states bent on its destruction, utterly isolated and outgunned. Egypt alone had five times as many soldiers as Israel, and 10 times the tanks. Beyond the Middle East, Israel faced an inimical Soviet bloc that generously armed the forces of Egypt, Syria and Iraq, as well as the animosity of China and India. Though generally friendly, the United States still refused to sell weapons to the Israelis, who remained militarily dependent on France. Worse yet, on the eve of the war, the French concluded that they had more to gain from Arab oil producers and abruptly switched sides, imposing a total arms embargo on Israel. Having begun the conflict with Arab guns pointed at all of its cities, Israel concluded the war with its own troops in artillery range of every neighboring Arab capital - an achievement that convinced Arab leaders of the impossibility of destroying the Jewish state by conventional means. Israel, as a result, was eventually able to reconcile with Jordan and to trade territory captured in the 1967 war for a peace agreement with Egypt. Most significantly, the U.S., which previously regarded Israel as a friendly country but one that impaired its relations with the Arab world, suddenly realized that the Jewish state was in fact a regional superpower, forging an alliance with Israel that has remained robust ever since. Michael Oren, a senior fellow at the Shalem Center, is the author of Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East. (Los Angeles Times)

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Monday, June 4, 2007

Desperation, Moderation, Madness, Morality & the West

On the eve of the 40th Anniversary of the 6-Day War, we are once again being bombarded by articles, videos, advertisements, and relentless sound bytes that speak of Palestinian "desperation." Alan Johnstone, the BBC reporter who has been held hostage by Palestinian kidnappers since the 12th of March, recently spoke of the "absolute despair" of the Palestinians and attributed this desperation to 40 years of Israeli occupation, "supported by the West." One can forgive Mr. Johnstone his utterances since he is no doubt spouting these accusations under extreme duress, ordered by his terrorist handlers to say whatever they want to be said, so they can get their "message" out to the world. But the same cannot be said for the free reporters of the BBC, who night after night emphasize that Mr. Johnston has given "a voice" to the Palestinian people. Oddly, what he is now saying under duress is not all that different from what his fellow BBC reporters say quite willingly on a regular basis. "It is that everything that is wrong in the ME and the wider Muslim world is the result of aggression or 'heavy-handedness' by America, or Israel or Britain...";jsessionid=J41CQO5M12QFVQFIQMFSFGGAVCBQ0IV0?xml=/opinion/2007/06/02/do0201.xml Charles Moore:
'What if Israel Had Abducted BBC Man?'

Although the "desperation" argument has been debunked time and again; see "Aspiration, not Desperation.", it is trumped as the "be all, end all" explanation for all ills of Palestinian society.
In a superb lte in the Times Saturday, Jonathan Reich puts it most eloquently, and I will quote him in full.
"We have constantly heard the mantra that Palestinian desperation is pushing Palestinians toward extremism and that the solution is to empower moderates by making concessions. But the concessions are only viewed as weakness by the extremists who gain more power, while the moderates, who frequently are engaged in terror, whine for more concessions. If Palestinians are desperate, it is time for them to look in the mirror and ask why their own media promote violence, why their society has no due process, and why their educational system continues to teach hate. They need to ponder why a group of people that receives more aid per person than any group on earth continues to have no credible economic system or rule of law. If Jihadists are gaining power, it is not the fault of the West or Israel. The root cause of the conflict is accountability."

Is is desperation that prompts a society to extol the virtues of martyrdom to kindergartners? Or does it rather reflect a society that has lost its moral compass?
Gaza Kindergarten Graduation Theme: "Death for the Sake of Allah!" (MEMRI)
Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV aired a report of a graduation ceremony for the kindergartens of the Islamic Association in Gaza on May 31, 2007. The boys shouted in unison: "Allah Akbar. Praise be to Allah. What is your path? Jihad. What is your most lofty aspiration? Death for the sake of Allah."

And what does it say about us that we continue to excuse, absolve, explain, and rationalize this kind of behavior that can only be understood as collective child abuse? Where is the moral outcry from all the human rights advocates who are so quick to cast blame on Israel?
As long as the West continues to give a pass to this kind of moral indecency, rushing to please/appease rather than fighting to maintain universal standards for human rights, little progress can be expected. To paraphrase Ambassador Dennis Ross,
Peace will come to the ME when Arab political culture moves from Victimhood to Accountability and Responsibility.

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Friday, June 1, 2007

More on the battle for Universal Human Rights--This Time from Palestinian NGO!

It is saddening to see the increase in violence against Palestinian women but it is heartening to see a Palestinian NGO bringing these heinous crimes to light. We must continue to demand that universal human rights are respected everywhere. To re-quote Nonie Darwish,
"Though the Middle East is a complex region with many ancient variables, customs, differences and animosities, we must apply a universal concept of human rights, women's rights and minority rights to all countries on the globe -- with no exceptions for any religion or ideology.Those Americans who stood up for these rights in the '60s -- and still do today -- are the natural allies of moderate Muslims in our struggle against Middle East religious and political tyranny. Stand with us now."

MAAN NEWS AGENCY---------------------------
Palestinian NGOs reveal rising rates of so-called 'honour killings'
Date: 28 / 05 / 2007
Ramallah - Ma'an -
A forum of Palestinian organizations which fight anti-women violence published on Monday a report about killing Palestinian women under the guise of so-called family honour. The report covered 3 years from 2004 to 2006
During this period the number of women killed increased from 14 to 32, with the ages of the victims ranging from 12 to 85. Of the 32 victims, 30 of the murdered girls were Muslim. In 17 cases, the perpetrators were brothers, while in 5 cases, fathers killed their own daughters.. and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA), Ma'an News Agency Commitments-1. To supply 24-hour news, for free, in Arabic, en, and Hebrew for local, regional, and international readers and media professionals. 2. To produce news items on political, social, economic, cultural, and sports events. Our on-line News agency reports the facts and delivers high quality pictures. MNA is known for being reliable, objective, accurate, balanced, and informed. Ma'an News Agency
Objectives- offer to the Palestinian and international communities independent and professional Palestinian news;
2. to promote democracy in Palestine through media, freedom of exNewsion, freedom of the News, and pluralism of the media;
3. to increase Palestinian media credibility in the international scene by producing objective and professional news; Ma'an News Agency Offices and Staff-MNA has two offices: the main office is located in Bethlehem with a sub-office in Gaza City. The Bethlehem office employs the equivalent of 31 full-time employees (six of which are administration) while the Gaza office has seven. MNA employs a total of 14 reporting correspondents that work throughout Palestine: 12 in the West Bank and 2 in Gaza. Sixteen hired photographers work under MNA: 12 in the West Bank, 2 in Gaza, and 2 in Israel.
All writers, reporters, and photographers work under the Chief Editor Nasser Laham. Mr. Laham worked as chief editor for Al Arabi Magazine as well as two local TV stations in Bethlehem. He was previously a correspondent for the Lebanese satellite channel NBN, the Radio of Qatar, and the Iran News Agency. Currently he also performs as the key anchor of a popular daily TV news program broadcasted on the Ma'an Network TV Stations, which translates every day at 8pm the Hebrew evening news into Arabic. Ma'an News was founded by Mr. Raed Othman. Mr. Othman worked for ten years as the head of the Bethlehem T.V. and is now the General Manager of the Ma'an Network. He is also currently the General Director of the Ma'an News Agency

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