Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Yossi Klein Halevi: Stop Chasing Chimera of Unattainable Goals & Focus on Mutual Interest: Thwarting a Nuclear Iran

Yossi Klein Halevi reminds us that, much as we'd all like to see a healthy, democratic, and secular Palestinian state living side by side with Israel, this is not a realistic goal for the immediate future. Better to help the Palestinians in the West Bank create a civil society with the kinds of infrastructure (economic, social and political) that will eventually give birth to such a state. It also offers Palestinians "a stark choice between their two territories: the beginnings of prosperity in a peaceful West Bank, or devastation in a jihadist Gaza."
Washington needs to take Bibi's lead and with laser-like focus, redouble its efforts to stop the Iranian menace (in concert with Israel and other nations), before it's too late. As usual, Israel (read: the Jews) is the canary in the coal mine, the beachhead against the new totalitarian threat of our time, Islamic Jihad. Today's threat is magnified by the prospect of a nuclear Iran, which would then be poised to hold the Middle East, Europe and eventually the whole world hostage. Israelis know they cannot afford to live under that kind of dark cloud. The rest of the western world may not yet realize it, but neither can they.
Rather than worry about whether Netanyahu's coalition can make peace with the Palestinians--see final question by Stefan Collison at last week's Obama press conference--QUESTION: Mr. President, you came to office pledging to work for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. How realistic do you think those hopes are now, given the likelihood of a prime minister who is not fully signed up to a two-state solution and a foreign minister who has been accused of insulting Arabs?--perhaps it's time reporters start asking our leaders--and themselves--if Washington is ready to meet the challenge of joining with Israel in safeguarding us in these perilous times.
david brumer

Bibi and Barack Can Unite on Iran
Israel's new government is an 'obstacle' only to unrealistic goals.


Enemies of the American-Israeli alliance could not have conjured a scenario more fraught with potential for misunderstanding. In Washington, a new president is reaching out to the Muslim world, including Iran. In Jerusalem, the government about to take office represents the disillusionment of the Israeli public with 15 years of failed peace talks. For President Barack Obama, power is a means to encourage the rational self-interest of opponents. For Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu, power is the means of defending his people from irrational hatred. Mr. Obama's mandate is for change; Mr. Netanyahu's is for survival.

Though the inclusion of the Labor Party in Mr. Netanyahu's otherwise right-wing coalition will shift it toward the center, differences between Washington and Jerusalem will persist. With Iran about to achieve nuclear capability, and its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza gaining strength, this is the worst possible time for tension between the U.S. and Israel. But a crisis can be averted if both countries consider each other's most pressing needs and remain focused on their shared anxieties.

The first prerequisite is genuine realism in Washington regarding negotiations with the Palestinians. It will be tempting in the coming months to blame Mr. Netanyahu -- who has refused to commit himself to a two-state solution -- for the absence of a peace agreement. But that breakthrough would have eluded any Israeli government. Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his foreign minister, Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, couldn't have tried harder to reach an agreement with the Palestinians.

Instead of continuing to pursue the unattainable, the American-Israeli approach should focus on creating a civil society in the West Bank that is an essential precondition for the eventual creation of a Palestinian state. Mr. Obama will find a ready partner in Jerusalem for improving economic conditions in the West Bank. That process would present the Palestinians with a stark choice between their two territories: the beginnings of prosperity in a peaceful West Bank, or devastation in a jihadist Gaza.

Inevitably, the most sensitive issue in managing the American-Israeli relationship will continue to be settlements. Under President Bill Clinton's December 2000 Middle East peace plan, settlement blocs like Gush Etzion near the 1967 border would be retained by Israel in an eventual agreement. Indeed, no Israeli government will stop building in those West Bank blocs.
The tacit agreement between Mr. Obama and Mr. Netanyahu, then, needs to be American acquiescence in continued building within the highly populated settlement blocs, in exchange for Israeli restraint in building beyond the blocs. The Netanyahu government has a mandate from the Israeli public to act decisively against any security threat, and to resist international pressure for premature peace agreements. But it doesn't have a mandate to resume massive settlement expansion across the West Bank.

The Israeli Jewish public that voted overwhelmingly for right-wing parties did so primarily for security reasons. The Israeli right of 2009 is a mood, not an ideology.

And Mr. Netanyahu understands the expectations of his voters. During the election campaign, he spoke incessantly about stopping a nuclear Iran and the jihadist threat generally -- not about settlement growth. However grudgingly, Mr. Netanyahu's right-wing coalition partners will likely accept some limitation on settlement building. And the presence of the Labor Party in the coalition will ensure moderation on the settlement issue. Indeed, the small National Union party is the only right-wing party that places massive settlement building at the top of its agenda, and it will not be part of this coalition.

For all their differences over the nature of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinians, Mr. Netanyahu and Labor leader Ehud Barak have set those aside to focus on the most urgent issue facing the Middle East in the coming months: preventing the emergence of a nuclear Iran and the imposition of an irreversible blackmail on the region. Dealing with that threat will define this Likud-Labor coalition.

America and Israel should emulate the new Israeli government's single-minded focus. This is not the time to be distracted by what are, for now, secondary issues, like eventual Palestinian statehood. Nor should disagreements between Israeli and American intelligence agencies over the pace of Iranian nuclear development distract the two governments from their agreement over the danger posed by a nuclear Iran. By focusing on thwarting Tehran's nuclear ambitions, the U.S. and Israel will find Arab allies like Egypt and Saudi Arabia. That dynamic is already creating a shift in regional alliances, and could eventually lead to a real Middle East peace process.

In sparing Israel a narrow right-wing coalition and by persisting in creating a semblance of a national unity government, Mr. Netanyahu has taken the essential first steps in protecting his country's relationship with Washington. Now Washington needs to take the next step and affirm its readiness to work with the Netanyahu-Barak government to save the Middle East from apocalyptic threat.
Mr. Klein Halevi is a fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem, and a contributing editor of the New Republic.

Click Here to Read More..

Monday, March 30, 2009

On Blood Libels, the Media Feeding Frenzy on Alleged "War Crimes," & Legal Opinions

The criticism leveled against the IDF raises a broader issue: to what standard should the armed forces of states be held when they are in conflict with nonstate actors operating from within a civilian population. Certainly, these standards should be high, but they cannot be so high as to prevent states from acting in legitimate self-defense.
Naturally, the usual suspects in the human rights community, are among the quickest to pass judgement. Sadly, many Jews in the blogosphere and elsewhere, are right there with them, looking under every rock for Israeli malfeasance. Anything short of perfection is unacceptable, when the Jewish state is involved. Would that the world would hold Hamas to 1/100 the standard by which it condemns Israel.
david brumer

Soldiers Speak Out
Israeli soldiers have launched a website to share their personal experiences of serving in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Their testimonies contrast sharply with recent media reports of alleged IDF misconduct, which an IDF investigation has concluded were based on hearsay. Calling themselves “Soldiers Speak Out,” the group provides video testimony (www.soldiersspeakout.com) highlighting their personal accounts of the IDF’s moral code. StandWithUs International created the website in response to IDF members in its student programs who felt they had to speak out. This independent initiative is not coordinated with either the IDF or the Israeli Government.

“We created this website because a few isolated allegations from ‘anti-war’ Israeli soldiers are being used to defame the IDF. Yet the IDF has over 700,000 citizen soldiers and reservists who try to live up to the IDF’s high ethical standards. The IDF impartially judges all alleged violations, and punishes offenders,” explained Roz Rothstein, International Director of StandWithUs.
The soldiers share experiences rarely told by the international media. Nina, a 25 year-old IDF medic who served in Gaza, recounts how she and other IDF soldiers treated wounded Palestinian men, women and children and arranged for them to be flown to Israeli hospitals for medical care. She explains that IDF medics are taught not to see nationality, but rather to treat the wounded with the severest injuries first, even if they are terrorists. Amir, a military reserve paramedic in the Givati unit in Gaza, confirms Nina’s account. “I was present when injured Palestinians were flown out by an IDF chopper to Israeli hospitals. Imagine the cost of that helicopter, but we believe that human life is of the highest value – their identity doesn’t matter.” Amir’s video relates how he helped a pregnant Palestinian woman in labor while he was searching for terrorists in Gaza.

The soldiers also describe the challenges of fighting terrorists who use inhumane tactics. Inon, a 25 year-old lieutenant in the Golani brigade, recalls that during the 2006 Lebanon war, he and his unit spotted an elderly woman shouting in pain. As they tried to help, they realized that Hezbollah had wired her with a suicide bomb belt and was using her as a human trap for the Israeli soldiers. "This is what we are up against."

“We had no shortage of volunteers,” said StandWithUs Israel Director Michael Dickson, “Many feel that the media has been skewed. Many soldiers feel a deep sense of injustice, including those who risked their own lives in Gaza to protect Palestinian civilians. These young soldiers are deeply moral and recognize that their service is vital to a country like Israel, which is constantly endangered by terrorists and hostile neighbors. “All the soldiers we met illustrate the IDF’s moral code with first-hand experiences. The media may not always report on it, but by putting the soldiers’ stories on the Internet, they can speak to people directly. I anticipate that there will be many more soldiers speaking out,” said Dickson.
Click here for the Soldiers Speak Out website
Click here for Jerusalem Post coverage of "Soldiers Speak Out"
Click here for a TV interview on "Soldiers Speak Out" or see it here at YouTube

Examining the Conduct of IDF Operations in Gaza - Jeffrey White

Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Charges against Israel's conduct during the war in Gaza give the impression of an unrestrained campaign against an undefended population. Analysis of the conduct of operations, however, paints a different picture. Ground operations were narrowly focused in the north; central and southern Gaza saw no significant - if any - ground combat. Even where ground forces were employed, fighting was not sustained, as reflected in the very low Israeli combat causalities. No attempt was made to penetrate with ground forces deeply into populated areas.
The IDF took active measures to reduce civilian casualties, including the extensive use of leaflets and phone messages warning Palestinians to leave the area or to avoid potential targets. Civilian warnings also included Israeli Air Force "knocking" actions - shots fired to alert building inhabitants of an imminent attack.
IDF measures to protect its soldiers undoubtedly translated into damage to civilian property - tactics that included breaking through walls of structures to avoid exposure to fire. These measures were taken in response to Hamas' preparation of the battlefield with mines and explosive devices, as well as to Hamas' employment of snipers and antitank weapons. In effect, Hamas had already prepared the civilian environment for military purposes. The Gaza operation was not conducted with the aim of killing civilians and damaging their property, although Palestinian civilians were killed and property destroyed as a consequence of military operations.
The criticism leveled against the IDF raises a broader issue: to what standard should the armed forces of states be held when they are in conflict with nonstate actors operating from within a civilian population. Certainly, these standards should be high, but they cannot be so high as to prevent states from acting in legitimate self-defense.

The Blood Libel Is Alive and Well over Gaza - Barry Rubin
A group of young Israeli soldiers met to evaluate their experiences in the Gaza war to see what could be learned from them. The next thing you know, there is a global news story about Israel committing war crimes. Given the eagerness to find Israel evil and guilty, it falls into the category of a "blood libel," the historic allegation that Jews murder Christian children to use their blood for matzo. The charges of war crimes and murder rest almost entirely on two stories. First, a Palestinian mother and daughter were shot by a sniper. An Israeli television station interviewed the soldier who had told this story and he stated that he had simply heard it as a rumor. In the second story, an officer told soldiers to shoot an old woman in the belief she might be a suicide bomber - and an argument broke out over whether to do it. It is not even clear that the woman was shot. And it highlights the caution and humanitarian standards of the Israeli army: enlisted men argued with an officer over obeying an order that soldiers in most armies would have obeyed without hesitation.
Much of the media has not learned from earlier experiences of being tricked by deliberately concocted stories about Israeli atrocities, like the Muhammad al-Dura affair in which charges that Israeli forces murdered a little boy in Gaza at the start of the Second Intifada were shown to be false. The fact remains that there is not a single documented case of any Israeli soldier violating international law or committing a war crime in Gaza - or Lebanon in 2006. And it isn't as if a lot of people haven't tried to find or manufacture such an event. (Jewish Chronicle-UK)

Published in: ABA National Security Law Report, Vol. 31, pp. 1-6, February 2009
March 25, 2009
University of Utah - S.J. Quinney College of Law: Georgetown University - Law CenterABA National Security Law Report, Vol. 31, pp. 1-6, February 2009

Churchill: 'Plagiarism Occurred' (But He Didn't Do It)

Abstract: This exchange on "Operation Cast Lead" - Israel's December 2008-January 2009 campaign in the Gaza Strip-includes essays by Guiora and Luban, followed by Guiora's response to Luban's essay and Luban's response to Guiora's. Luban argues that the Gaza campaign violated both the jus ad bellum and jus in bello proportionality principles. He also argues that the Hamas civil administration were not lawful targets under Israel's own interpretation of the law of armed conflict. Guiora argues that terrorism changes the landscape of armed conflict and requires a reconfiguration of international law. Under this reconfiguration, an entire terrorist organization may properly be targeted.

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Israeli-Arab Journalist Khaled Abu Toameh on Campus Hate-Speech Against Israel

On Campus: The Pro-Palestinians' Real Agenda -
Khaled Abu Toameh
(Hudson Institute-New York)

During a recent visit to several university campuses in the U.S., I discovered that there is more sympathy for Hamas there than there is in Ramallah.
Listening to some students and professors on these campuses, for a moment I thought I was sitting opposite a Hamas spokesman or a would-be-suicide bomber.
I was told, for instance, that Israel has no right to exist, that Israel’s “apartheid system” is worse than the one that existed in South Africa and that Operation Cast Lead was launched only because Hamas was beginning to show signs that it was interested in making peace and not because of the rockets that the Islamic movement was launching at Israeli communities.
I was also told that top Fatah operative Marwan Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in prison for masterminding terror attacks against Israeli civilians, was thrown behind bars simply because he was trying to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Furthermore, I was told that all the talk about financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority was “Zionist propaganda” and that Yasser Arafat had done wonderful things for his people, including the establishment of schools, hospitals and universities.
The good news is that these remarks were made only by a minority of people on the campuses who describe themselves as “pro-Palestinian,” although the overwhelming majority of them are not Palestinians or even Arabs or Muslims.
The bad news is that these groups of hard-line activists/thugs are trying to intimidate anyone who dares to say something that they don’t like to hear.
When the self-designated “pro-Palestinian” lobbyists are unable to challenge the facts presented by a speaker, they resort to verbal abuse.
On one campus, for example, I was condemned as an “idiot” because I said that a majority of Palestinians voted for Hamas in the January 2006 election because they were fed up with financial corruption in the Palestinian Authority.
On another campus, I was dubbed as a “mouthpiece for the Zionists” because I said that Israel has a free media. There was another campus where someone told me that I was a ‘liar” because I said that Barghouti was sentenced to five life terms because of his role in terrorism.
And then there was the campus (in Chicago) where I was “greeted” with swastikas that were painted over posters promoting my talk. The perpetrators, of course, never showed up at my event because they would not be able to challenge someone who has been working in the field for nearly 30 years.
What struck me more than anything else was the fact that many of the people I met on the campuses supported Hamas and believed that it had the right to “resist the occupation” even if that meant blowing up children and women on a bus in downtown Jerusalem.
I never imagined that I would need police protection while speaking at a university in the U.S. I have been on many Palestinian campuses in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and I cannot recall one case where I felt intimidated or where someone shouted abuse at me.
Ironically, many of the Arabs and Muslims I met on the campuses were much more understanding and even welcomed my “even-handed analysis” of the Israeli-Arab conflict. After all, the views I voiced were not much different than those made by the leaderships both in Israel and the Palestinian Authority. These views include support for the two-state solution and the idea of coexistence between Jews and Arabs in this part of the world.
The so-called pro-Palestinian “junta” on the campuses has nothing to offer other than hatred and de-legitimization of Israel. If these folks really cared about the Palestinians, they would be campaigning for good government and for the promotion of values of democracy and freedom in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Their hatred for Israel and what it stands for has blinded them to a point where they no longer care about the real interests of the Palestinians, namely the need to end the anarchy and lawlessness, and to dismantle all the armed gangs that are responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians over the past few years
The majority of these activists openly admit that they have never visited Israel or the Palestinian territories. They don’t know -and don’t want to know - that Jews and Arabs here are still doing business together and studying together and meeting with each other on a daily basis because they are destined to live together in this part of the world. They don’t want to hear that despite all the problems life continues and that ordinary Arab and Jewish parents who wake up in the morning just want to send their children to school and go to work before returning home safely and happily.
What is happening on the U.S. campuses is not about supporting the Palestinians as much as it is about promoting hatred for the Jewish state. It is not really about ending the “occupation” as much as it is about ending the existence of Israel.
Many of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas officials I talk to in the context of my work as a journalist sound much more pragmatic than most of the anti-Israel, “pro-Palestinian” folks on the campuses.
Over the past 15 years, much has been written and said about the fact that Palestinian school textbooks don’t promote peace and coexistence and that the Palestinian media often publishes anti-Israel material.
While this may be true, there is no ignoring the fact that the anti-Israel campaign on U.S. campuses is not less dangerous. What is happening on these campuses is not in the frame of freedom of speech. Instead, it is the freedom to disseminate hatred and violence.
As such, we should not be surprised if the next generation of jihadists comes not from the Gaza Strip or the mountains and mosques of Pakistan and Afghanistan, but from university campuses across the U.S.

Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, March 19, 2009

YK Halevi: Existentially Threatened, Outraged at Int'l Condemnations, Israel is Ready to Do what it Must to Survive

Yossi Klein Halevi makes so many important points that I felt compelled to highlight a good portion of this piece he wrote for the Canadian Globe and Mail. Yossi reiterates what Bradley Burston pointed out in yesterday's post: "It's the Rockets, Stupid." Would that foreign observers had to send their children to school for eight long years under the threat of deadly missiles. The diabolical strategy of Hamas: "adjust the flow of rockets fired at Israeli civilians to a level which is thoroughly acceptable to the rest of the world, but which is also entirely unbearable to Israelis."
david brumer

Foreign observers who minimize Hamas rockets as largely ineffectual miss the devastating psychological impact on Israelis of eight years of shelling. The rockets expose Israel's helplessness, emboldening jihadists around the Middle East and eroding the confidence of Israelis in their government's ability to protect them. And with Iran about to acquire nuclear capability, Israel faces its ultimate nightmare: a jihadist regime able to impose apocalyptic blackmail on the region.
Ironically, those among Israel's detractors who turn every Israeli act of war into a war crime and subject the Jewish state to a level of moral judgment not applied to any other nation are acting in the worst interests of the Palestinian people. For by deepening Israel's sense of siege, they help empower the same hard-line forces they deplore.

Existentially threatened, outraged at international condemnations, ready to do what it must to survive
Yossi Klein Halevi
March 14, 2009

The coalition of right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties about to take power in Israel is not the government most Israelis want. Even many people who voted for right-wing parties — and prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu himself — were hoping for a national unity government including the centrist Kadima and left-wing Labour. Facing unprecedented security threats, Israelis need a government that will unite rather than divide them, and that will command respect rather than ostracism abroad. Instead, the new government will likely divide Israelis over increased subsidies to ultra-Orthodox institutions and antagonize the international community over West Bank settlement expansion — to say nothing of appointing the demagogic Avigdor Lieberman as foreign minister.

Still, this hawkish government will accurately reflect the mood of Israel in 2009: fearful for its survival, ready to do whatever is necessary for its basic security, and outraged at much of the world's judgment against its attempts to defend itself.

For decades, Israeli governments of both left and right maintained a strategic doctrine aimed at thwarting the emergence of terror enclaves on its borders as an existential threat. But with the creation of a Hezbollah mini-state in southern Lebanon and a Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, that doctrine has collapsed. Not since May, 1967, when Arab armies massed on Israel's borders and Arab leaders boasted about the imminent destruction of the Jewish state, have Israelis been so anxious about the very survival of the country.

The unthinkable has already happened: missiles falling on Haifa and Ashkelon, exploding buses in Jerusalem, hundreds of thousands of Israelis transformed into temporary refugees. During the first Gulf War in 1991, when Tel Aviv was hit with Scud missiles, residents fled to the Galilee. During the Second Lebanon War in 2006, when the Galilee was hit with Katyushas, residents fled to Tel Aviv. In the next war, there will be nowhere to flee: The entire country is now within missile range of Iran and its terrorist proxies. The curse of Jewish history — the inability to take mere existence for granted — has returned to the country whose founding was intended to resolve that problem.

Increasingly, Israelis sense that there are no solutions to the country's security crisis. Peace efforts have failed: Israel offered a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital in 2000 and received in return five years of suicide bombings, the worst wave of terror in the country's history. And the outgoing Kadima-Labour government, the most dovish in the country's history, failed for the last three years to reach a peace agreement with Palestinian leaders, even though it was prepared to redivide Jerusalem and dismantle West Bank settlements.

But military solutions are also elusive. The Israeli army recently fought a three-week war against Hamas to stop the missiles falling on Israeli towns, but missiles continue to fall. Foreign observers who minimize Hamas rockets as largely ineffectual miss the devastating psychological impact on Israelis of eight years of shelling. The rockets expose Israel's helplessness, emboldening jihadists around the Middle East and eroding the confidence of Israelis in their government's ability to protect them. And with Iran about to acquire nuclear capability, Israel faces its ultimate nightmare: a jihadist regime able to impose apocalyptic blackmail on the region. According to the latest American and Israeli assessments, Iran now has the technical knowledge to develop a nuclear bomb. Israelis wonder whether even a military strike can thwart Iranian intentions.

But the sense of siege among Israelis isn't only a result of tangible threats. A growing movement, in the Muslim world and also in the West, is seeking to turn Israel into a pariah — the Jew of the states, as some Israelis bitterly put it. Holocaust commemorations were recently cancelled in Spain and Sweden to protest the "holocaust" in Gaza; in England and even in the United States, there are calls among academics to boycott Israeli universities. Palestinian claims of Israeli atrocities are reported in the foreign media at face value, even though those claims are often deliberately exaggerated — like the assertion, later refuted by The Globe and Mail, that Israel had shelled a UN school in Gaza, killing dozens of civilians seeking shelter inside. Though the UN humanitarian co-ordinator eventually issued a clarification, the symbol of Israel's conduct of the war remains that school. Not surprisingly, the very legitimacy of Israel is being called into question. Alone among nations, criticism directed against Israel isn't restricted to what it does, but to what it is. Increasingly, among parts of world opinion, the right of the Jewish people to sovereignty is being rescinded.

For Israelis, the war in Gaza was a test case for whether the Jewish state will be allowed to defend itself against terrorism under any conditions. Israel, after all, withdrew from Gaza in 2005, uprooting all its settlements from the area. Yet the rockets continued to fall across the international border — long before Israel imposed a siege against Gaza's Hamas government. When Israel finally moved against Hamas, much of the international community accused Israel of overreacting, in effect absolving the Palestinian leadership of responsibility.

The disproportionate criticism of Israel has implications for the future of the West Bank. In principle, most Israelis support a two-state solution — 70 per cent, according to a recent poll. But what will happen, Israelis ask themselves, if Israel withdraws from the West Bank, which borders the country's main population centres, and then rockets fall on Tel Aviv and Ben Gurion International Airport? Given the Gaza precedent, the answer is clear: Any Israeli attempt to defend itself against terrorists embedded among Palestinian civilians will result in international ostracism. And if so, why bother withdrawing in the first place?

Israelis are deeply frustrated by the failure of much of the world to realize that the Arab-Israeli conflict has been transformed — from a nationalist struggle to create a Palestinian state into a jihadist struggle to destroy the Jewish state. Though much of the international community continues to blame settlements for the absence of peace, Israel has twice proved that settlements are a secondary issue — first, when it accepted U.S. president Bill Clinton's peace plan of 2000, which called for the dismantling of dozens of settlements, and then, in 2005, when it uprooted all its settlements in Gaza. Yet at precisely the moment the Palestinians won their struggle for a state in 2000, their national movement shifted to jihadist terror. There would be no settlement expansion today, no West Bank security wall, no checkpoints in Palestinian areas, if Palestinian leaders had negotiated in good faith for an end to the conflict. That failure was historic, resembling the Arab world's rejection of UN partition in 1947, and may well set back a two-state solution for years to come.

For Israelis, the real obstacle to an agreement is the continuing refusal of the Palestinian leadership, and much of the Arab leadership generally, to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state in any borders. Not even moderate Palestinian leaders such as Mahmoud Abbas have told their people that the Jews are here to stay, that this land must be shared by two peoples. Instead, the Palestinian media — of Fatah as well as Hamas — continues to tell its people that the Jews are thieves and usurpers, and that eventually the entirety of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River will belong to them. And all Palestinian leaders have so far rejected the only agreement that will lead to a two-state solution: Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank in exchange for Palestinian agreement to limit the return of Palestinian refugees to a future Palestinian state.
That is why the Kadima-Labour government could not reach an agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

Tragically, for Israel as well as the Palestinians, a viable Palestinian state ready to live in peace with a Jewish state remains elusive. If current talks between Hamas and Fatah on creating a unity government succeed, that will only further impede the creation of a Palestinian state. Hamas, after all, views the destruction of the Jewish state not just as an ideological commitment but a theological imperative. Rather than Fatah moderating Hamas, Hamas is likely to reradicalize Fatah.

That is the grim reality that has helped elect Israel's new grim government. Ironically, those among Israel's detractors who turn every Israeli act of war into a war crime and subject the Jewish state to a level of moral judgment not applied to any other nation are acting in the worst interests of the Palestinian people. For by deepening Israel's sense of siege, they help empower the same hard-line forces they deplore.
Yossi Klein Halevi is a contributing editor to The New Republic magazine and a senior fellow at the Adelson Institute for Strategic Studies of the Shalem Center in Jerusalem.

Click Here to Read More..

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bradley Burston of Ha'aretz: It's the Rockets (and the terrorists who fire them), not the occupation or settlements, that are the obstacles to peace

But now, Hamas is beginning to see something else. At this point, the best way to destroy Israel, is to leave it exactly as it is. Titrate, adjust the flow of rockets fired at Israeli civilians to a level which is thoroughly acceptable to the rest of the world, but which is also entirely unbearable to Israelis.Then, sit back and watch demographics and despair work their magic. No wonder Hamas officials who are seen as moderates urge a 50-year truce. By that time, Israeli Arabs will be able to simply vote the Jewish state off the map.A clear majority of Israeli Jews know this as well. But I have yet to meet one Israeli, Meretz voters included, who is willing to hand over the West Bank while Ashkelon is even now in the gunners' sights, and rockets fly unabated.

The racist Israeli fascist in me
By Bradley Burston


I was determined to duck it. I was resolved to fly to the States, speak about the situation in Israel, and reply with nothing more than a half-smile and a "next question, please," to the well-read and otherwise openhearted people who ask questions of the tenor of "Between you and me, what is wrong with these people, your friends, the Israelis? "Subtextual Translation of the question: What is with these blights on the backside of humanity? A vast war machine pretending to be a tiny country, a mobilized citizenry sterilized of morality, drained of compassion, bereft of conscience, bestial in war, imperial in ambition, Goliathized in its marriage of high tech and high explosive; incorrigibly bigoted bullying simpletons, little more than racists who vote for racists, fascists who fall for fascists, an embarrassment to the West, an embarrassment to the Jews, an embarrassment, at root, to the progressive individual who asks the question.

I was all set to say nothing. On the plane coming over, however, I read an essay about Israel and Israelis that changed my mind. I have the extraordinary novelist Anne Roiphe to thank for writing the piece, which made my blood boil, and, in the process, forced me to say what I honestly thought.Ms. Roiphe, it must be said, is a compelling, wonderfully compassionate writer, who clearly cares about Israelis and knows just about everything about them, except for the first, most basic thing."

I couldn't feel worse," Ms. Roiphe begins her essay about the recent Israeli election, and especially about the Israeli Jews who voted for Avigdor Lieberman, whom she accurately terms dangerously demagogic and deeply unkind. "I feel as if my spouse had cheated on me with Mussolini." Perhaps as a consequence, it develops that Ms. Roiphe has begun to see Israel, and Israelis, with the kind of tunnel vision that allows no light at its end. She suggests that the import of the election was a vote against peace. "I would call it pathological that Israel is listening to leaders who don't understand that the entire West Bank cannot belong to Israel without making it a pariah nation, without violating the spirit of the Torah, and the scared memory of the Jewish people."

With a smirk and a slap, she lets us know that she gets us. "I understand peace has been so long in coming and that Palestinians have done stupid things: electing Hamas, tossing rockets into Israel, mocking those of us who thought that leaving Gaza might be a fine first step. I understand the despair and the frustration and the need to jump around waving one's sword in the air, slicing up whatever clouds appear in the sky. "May Ms. Roiphe pardon me, but she does not understand. I'm not sure that, at a distance of thousands of miles, anyone could. Examine the results of the election closely, and you'll find that a clear majority voted for parties who have gone on record as favoring an eventual Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, and less than six percent voted for parties who categorically reject that solution. What, then, explains the incomprehensible behavior of these people, my friends? What common denominator, other than evil intention, can explain the continued occupation of the West Bank, the risk of demographic disaster, the ill-understood rage of a people cast as the sole perpetrator of and, if at times the victim, then certainly the deserving victim of, wrongdoing?

You won't like the answer. But in all the blindingly complex bazaar of the Middle East equation, it really comes down to one word: rockets. It was Saddam Hussein's rockets in 1991 that got us into this peace process, and it is Palestinian rockets right now, day after day after day, that sent that peace to its grave and which cover it with a little more silt and rubble every few hours. It was fundamentally rockets and not racism that put Avigdor Lieberman where he is today. And it is rockets, more than any other single factor, that explains what happened to the Israeli left, to Meretz, and, in particular, to the Labor Party. When Saddam Hussein fired 39 ballistic missiles into Tel Aviv, Haifa and Dimona, he radically changed the way Israelis viewed the importance of holding on to the territories. Overnight the threat was coming from 1500 kilometers away, so what good was it to hang onto and permanently settle the hills of Samaria in the West Bank, or the sand dunes of northern Gaza? It was this, as much as any other factor, that paved the way for the opening of what we've come to know as the peace process, beginning at the Madrid conference in 1991.

In 2005, less than a day after Israeli forces removed every last Jew from Gaza, Palestinians set up rocket launchers on the ruins of settlements that had been just been evacuated. They took aim not only at Sderot, but at some of the very kibbutzim who had most strongly championed the cause of an independent Palestine alongside Israel. This act, and the thousands of rockets that followed, utterly changed Israelis again. It put a sudden end to the idea of land for peace, because no one, even some of the most ardent advocates of Palestinian statehood in the West Bank, was about to agree to leave Ben-Gurion airport, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem within range of the rockets. Suddenly there was a consensus again. And the peace process, the peace movement, and with it Labor and Meretz, were kicked to the curb. Ten years ago, Hassan Nasrallah, the head of Hezbollah in Lebanon, electrified radical Islam and particularly the Palestinians, when he said that Israel was as fearsome and as fragile as a spider's web. Push Israel with suicide terrorists, he indicated, and the whole web will tear and collapse. It didn't work. Suicide terror, in fact, acted to strengthen and unify Israel. In the eyes of the post-9/11 world, suicide terror changed Israelis from villains to victims, and Palestinians from an image of the valiant David to a creepy, loathsome version of Goliath.

But now, Hamas is beginning to see something else. At this point, the best way to destroy Israel, is to leave it exactly as it is. Titrate, adjust the flow of rockets fired at Israeli civilians to a level which is thoroughly acceptable to the rest of the world, but which is also entirely unbearable to Israelis. Then, sit back and watch demographics and despair work their magic. No wonder Hamas officials who are seen as moderates urge a 50-year truce. By that time, Israeli Arabs will be able to simply vote the Jewish state off the map.A clear majority of Israeli Jews know this as well. But I have yet to meet one Israeli, Meretz voters included, who is willing to hand over the West Bank while Ashkelon is even now in the gunners' sights, and rockets fly unabated. I have long believed that in terms of their destructive effects on peace prospects, the settlements are the Qassams of the Jews. What I failed to recognize at first, was that the effect of Qassams is to enshrine West Bank settlements, and, more than any other single factor, protect them from eviction. In the main, the world has no idea - nor does it particularly care - that when a rocket up to nine feet long flies up to 25 miles traveling at half a mile per second and lands with up to 44 pounds of explosives packed into its warhead - the human consequence could easily be carnage.As far as the world knows, that rocket will fall without a sound. A house may be destroyed, childrens' nerves shot to shreds, perhaps for life. Entire communities, whole cities, suffer from post-traumatic stress. But unless 10 Israelis are killed, or 20, that rocket never existed. 10,000 rockets, fired at civilian areas, unprotected by anything - I am truly ashamed to acknowledge - other than miracles. It is these miracles, these barely averted catastrophes, literally thousands of them, which have become the central fact of Israeli life. That, and an anger which no one outside Israel can know or fully comprehend, an aching, soul-deep frustration, an always humming fear, a sickness and fever over the nearness of true disaster, as well as a sense of abandonment by those abroad who cannot be expected to know what these people, my friends, are going through or why. It is not the world's fault if it believes that Israelis do not have a right to their anger. The world is really not at all to blame if it prefers to view Israelis as ferocious without provocation, hateful without just cause. The world only knows what we in the media choose to reveal.

For a decade, we have dismissed the rockets as little more than toylike, backroom-cobbled nuisances, convenient pretexts for military onslaughts by Israeli politicians keen to evade graft raps. The fact, however, remains. Day in and day out, Palestinian rockets target and, at times, demolish, homes, day care centers, health clinics, synagogues, kibbutz dining halls, town squares, factories, elementary schools, high schools, apartment houses. For years now, by some miracle, an enormous number of Israeli lives have been spared. These are people trying to live their everyday lives under fire, and who have no other defense, no protection whatsoever, except the intercession of some form or another of poorly understood providence. On the weekend that Ms. Roiphe's article appeared, I wonder how many of her fellow New Yorkers heard at all that a Katyusha rocket had crashed into a empty schoolroom in Ashkelon, close to where worshippers were gathered in a synagogue, and, soon thereafter, another landed 600 feet from that city's Barzilai Hospital and its thousands of patients and staff. No one killed = Nothing happened. The world long ago grew tired of its Israelis and their whining. The world could not care a whit less about the miracles that save them. The world has even had time to grow tired of its Palestinians as well.

But the world should know this: No matter how progressive the government in Israel, no matter how grave the suffering of the Palestinians in Gaza, without an end to the rockets, there will be no peace process and certainly no peace. While the rockets are flying, nothing else moves. Nothing that Israel has tried, neither diplomacy nor brutality, has been able to stop the rockets. Only Hamas can do that. The world and Washington could have made the rockets a priority years ago, and perhaps brought this to resolution. But the world has other things to think about, and Washington as well.

Back in New York, Anne Roiphe seems to have given up on her brethren in Israel. "Under the present conditions, it is vitally important that American Jews, liberal, decent, democratic, continue to play a major role. We may have to be the ones to carry the Jewish nation forward, in all its intelligent moral purposes." I wish a had as much faith as she in her fellow American Jews, my direct people of origin. As it is, I have next to nothing in common with my direct neighbors, Russian Jewish immigrants to Israel, other than the fact that, in a sense, I am one of them. I guess destiny will out. Had my family stayed in Russia before the war and not emigrated to Los Angeles, had they survived the Holocaust and Stalin, had I been one of the million former Soviet Jews who moved to Israel 20 years ago, I might well have found myself a proud voter for Avigdor Lieberman, angry with my fellow Israelis who disdain me as non-Israeli, angrier with the Arabs that toss rockets, furious with Israeli Arabs who support the tossing of rockets, and finally, contemptuous of - even as I uselessly blare my loyalty to - a place which is contemptuous of me.Ours are dreadful times. Ours are ugly choices.

You want to see peace, Ms. Roiphe? Pray for a miracle. But more so, pray for the event that no one expects, the shocking occurrence that no one could have foreseen - a journey by Netanyahu or Lieberman that resembles those of Begin and Sadat, Rabin and Sharon - the event that jars everyone from their accustomed outlook and despair, and forces them to reconsider the possibility that the humans of the Holy Land might still someday have a common future.

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, March 13, 2009

Exposing the Charade of Apartheid Accusations: My Essay in today's University of Washington "Daily"

My essay is in the sixth subheading down, under Free Speech Friday.

Professor Alexander’s essay, “Israel Apartheid Week”—UW Daily, 3/6/09), excellent as it is, omits important background to last week’s shameful bigotry against Israel, displayed on campuses around the world. If a space traveler were to land on many a North American campus between March 1st—8th, he’d be forgiven for assuming that modern Israel is a colonial enterprise of faceless Zionist warmongers who get their jollies oppressing peace-loving Palestinians. Nary a mention is made of Zionism as the legitimate national movement of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland, going back millennia.
Or that on November 29th, 1947, the United Nations voted to partition British Mandate Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state. Omitted too is that the UN divided Western Palestine (remember, Eastern Palestine had already been given to the Arabs—see Jordan) into Arab and Jewish states precisely to reflect the preponderance of Jewish and Arab populations and culture; to wit, the Jews were the majority in the sliver of land partitioned for the Jewish state. The great irony is that the Jews recognized the Arab state, but the Arabs recognized neither the Jewish state nor their own, instead choosing to invade the fledgling Jewish state at its birth.

Flash forward to 1967 when again the Arab world was braced, in the words of Egyptian leader Nasser, “to drive the Jews into the sea.” Never mind that Israel was able to miraculously avert its own destruction by preemptively striking its enemies. Where was the outcry for a Palestinian state on the territories of the West Bank and Gaza, controlled between 1948-1967 by Jordan and Egypt respectively? Deafening silence.

But what about those territories now, occupied by Israel for the past 41 years, goes the refrain? That’s the “apartheid” we’re referring to. There are checkpoints, daily humiliations, an “Apartheid Wall,” and worse. Again, collective amnesia rears its lethargic head. The causes of military necessities like checkpoints and a non-violent separation barrier outside Israel proper are ignored. Forgotten too is the fact that these territories have been disputed since 1967, but more importantly, that Israel offered most of them to the Palestinians in 2000-2001. At Taba in early 2001, Israel’s most generous offer included over 96% of contiguous land in the West Bank, all of Gaza (subsequently relinquished unilaterally, to the Palestinians in 2005), Palestinian control of their holy sites in Jerusalem as well as the Arab neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem—where they could declare their capital—the right of return to all Palestinian refugees (and their several million descendants) to the new Palestinian state, and $30 billion for those refugees. The counter-offer proved to be the launching of a terror war against Israel proper, known as the Second Intifada.

After sustaining hundreds of devastating civilian casualties from suicide bombings in cafes, buses, discos, and other public places, Israel was compelled to re-enter a West Bank that was already largely under Palestinian Authority control. Since there has yet to be a resolution to the hostilities, a state of de facto belligerency continues, made more problematic by the ascent of Hamas, avowed enemy of the Jews, sworn to their destruction (see the Hamas Charter), into the Palestinian polity. Witness the uninterrupted launching of ever more sophisticated rockets and missiles from Gaza, now effectively Judenrein.

Yet the bigger question remains: Why is Israel singled out and held to an impossible standard of perfection, when all around her real apartheids are daily occurrences? Where is the outcry from the “progressive” community about gender or religious apartheid in Saudi Arabia? Where are the gay community’s protests on college campuses against sexual apartheid in Iran, Sudan, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen? Homosexuality in these countries is punishable by imprisonment, flogging, stoning, hanging, or beheading. Or race apartheid in Sudan, where the enslavement of blacks continues unabated?

The sad conclusion to be drawn is that charades like “Israel Apartheid Week” can only be explained by a wish to de-legitimize the Jewish state prior to its destruction. The real message behind these invidious campaigns is to call into question Israel’s very right to exist. How infinitely tragic that “progressives” would align themselves with such malevolent forces dedicated to the destruction of the one state in the world, tiny as it is, of the Jewish people. It’s equally tragic that these same “progressives” urge upon Palestinians an all-consuming devotion to the destruction of their Israeli neighbor’s society instead of to the building of their own. In so doing, they have contributed mightily to the ruin of the very people whose welfare they claim to promote.

David Brumer
Alumnus, UW School of Social Work

Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, March 8, 2009

HYPOCRISY WEEK: Israel--and America--Fight Back

Make sure to open up the link below to see satirical retort to distorted Canadian poster depicting Israel as child-killers.
And further down, superb essay by Professor Emeritus Edward Alexander, formerly of Tel Aviv University & the University of Washington, on the shameful Orwellian inversion of reality by international Israel/Jew-bashers.
Also, see StandWithUs Response Materials
david brumer

Israelis fight fire with fire over Apartheid Week
By Cnaan Liphshiz
Inspired by a controversial "Israeli Apartheid Week" poster, two local artists released a spoof they dubbed "Hypocrisy Week."
The poster created by David Guy and Guy GurfinkelThe original Canadian poster was an advertisement for an annual series of anti-Israel events held on campuses around the world. It shows a gunship bearing the word "Israel" firing at a kaffiyeh-clad boy holding a teddy bear. The poster was banned from two Ottawa universities over complaints that it displayed Israelis as child-killers. The spoof shows the same boy being used as a shield by militants launching rockets at Israel, while journalists film the boy. It was created by Australia-born David Guy, 54, from Rehovot, and his son's best friend, 23-year-old Guy Gurfinkel from Shoham, who will begin studies at the Bezalel Academy of Arts next year. "I've arranged the pieces, but Gurfinkel's the real artist," David Guy told Haaretz.

"Israel Apartheid Week" (publ. Univ. of Washington Daily, 6 March '09
Israel Apartheid Week
By Edward Alexander

The enemies of Israel neither slumber nor sleep. Right now they are engaged in "Israel Apartheid Week," spewing fire and vitriol at the Jewish state and calling for its elimination from the family of nations; as the Nazis sought to make Europe Judenrein (purified of Jews) the Israel-haters aspire to make the world "Judenstaatrein" (purified of a Jewish state).

There have never been apartheid laws in Israel. Jews and Arabs use the same buses, clinics, government offices, universities, theatres, restaurants, soccerfields, and beaches. All citizens of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnic origin, are equal before the law. That law accords full political, civil, and human rights to all its people, including the more than one million Arab citizens, some of whom serve in the Israeli parliament and cabinet. Israel is also the only country in the world to have sought out and brought to its shores, entirely on its own initiative, tens of thousands of black Africans for purposes other than slavery, granting them full citizenship.

If the charge of racism is directed specifically against Israel's Law of Return, here are some aids to reflection and comparison.The Armenian constitution seeks "the protection of Armenian historical and cultural values located in other countries" and permits individuals "ofArmenian origin" to acquire citizenship through "a simplified procedure." TheLithuanian constitution proclaims: "Everyone who is ethnically Lithuanian has the right to settle in Lithuania." The Polish and Ukrainian constitutions have identical provisions. If the ire of Israel's enemies is aroused by Israel's being a Jewish state, why do they not direct it also against Britain, a Christian state, with an official Protestant church, a Protestant monarch, a Protestant state education system? Other Christian states with numerous non-Christian citizens are Denmark, Finland, Greece, and Norway. And let us not speak of all the states whose names begin with "Islamic Republic of..." or "United Arab...," and who are among the most zealous suppporters of such orgies of hatred as "Israel Apartheid Week."

The blackening of Israel's name on university campuses is the sordid work of a grotesque alliance between political "progressives" and reactionary Islamic fundamentalists. Among the warmest of hearts in both groups, there is always a cold spot for the Jews, so let us appeal to them not on moral grounds but those of their professed interests. Have the Islamicists noticed (as President Obama did in his inaugural address) that the obsession ofPalestinian Arabs with destroying somebody else's society instead of building up their own (via education, commerce, public works, health care) has made them one of the most wrecked peoples on the face of the earth? Can the progressive do-gooders cease to confuse doing good with feeling good about what they are doing?

Edward Alexander
Professor emeritus

Click Here to Read More..

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bedouin Muslim, Ishmael Khaldi: Deputy Consul General of Israel for the Pacific Northwest Debunks Asinine Apartheid Accusations

From the Israeli deputy Consul General of the Pacific Northwest, who happens to be a Bedouin Muslim. So much for Apartheid.
david brumer

Lost in the blur of slogans
Ishmael Khaldi
Wednesday, March 4, 2009

To the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week I would like to say:
If Israel were an apartheid state, I would not have been appointed here, nor would I have chosen to take upon myself this duty. There are many Arabs, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories who have taken great courage to walk the path of peace. You should stand with us, rather than against us.

For those who haven't heard, the first week in March has been designated as Israel Apartheid Week by activists who are either ill intentioned or misinformed. On American campuses, organizing committees are planning happenings to once again castigate Israel as the lone responsible party for all that maligns the Middle East.
Last year, at UC Berkeley, I had the opportunity to "dialogue" with some of the organizers of these events. My perspective is unique, both as the vice consul for Israel in San Francisco, and as a Bedouin and the highest-ranking Muslim representing the Israel in the United States. I was born into a Bedouin tribe in Northern Israel, one of 11 children, and began life as shepherd living in our family tent. I went on to serve in the Israeli border police, and later earned a master's degree in political science from Tel Aviv University before joining the Israel Foreign Ministry.
I am a proud Israeli - along with many other non-Jewish Israelis such as Druze, Bahai, Bedouin, Christians and Muslims, who live in one of the most culturally diversified societies and the only true democracy in the Middle East. Like America, Israeli society is far from perfect, but let us deals honestly. By any yardstick you choose - educational opportunity, economic development, women and gay's rights, freedom of speech and assembly, legislative representation - Israel's minorities fare far better than any other country in the Middle East
So, I would like to share the following with organizers of Israel Apartheid week, for those of them who are open to dialogue and not blinded by a hateful ideology:

You are part of the problem, not part of the solution: If you are really idealistic and committed to a better world, stop with the false rhetoric. We need moderate people to come together in good faith to help find the path to relieve the human suffering on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Vilification and false labeling is a blind alley that is unjust and takes us nowhere.

You deny Israel the fundamental right of every society to defend itself: You condemn Israel for building a security barrier to protect its citizens from suicide bombers and for striking at buildings from which missiles are launched at its cities - but you never offer an alternative. Aren't you practicing yourself a deep form of racism by denying an entire society the right to defend itself?

Your criticism is willfully hypocritical: Do Israel's Arab citizens suffer from disadvantage? You better believe it. Do African Americans 10 minutes from the Berkeley campus suffer from disadvantage - you better believe it, too. So should we launch a Berkeley Apartheid Week, or should we seek real ways to better our societies and make opportunity more available.

You are betraying the moderate Muslims and Jews who are working to achieve peace: Your radicalism is undermining the forces for peace in Israel and in the Palestinian territories. We are working hard to move toward a peace agreement that recognizes the legitimate rights of both Israel and the Palestinian people, and you are tearing down by falsely vilifying one side.

To the organizers of Israel Apartheid Week I would like to say:
If Israel were an apartheid state, I would not have been appointed here, nor would I have chosen to take upon myself this duty. There are many Arabs, both within Israel and in the Palestinian territories who have taken great courage to walk the path of peace. You should stand with us, rather than against us.
Ishmael Khaldi is deputy consul general of Israel for the Pacific Northwest.
This article appeared on page A - 11 of the San Francisco Chronicle

Click Here to Read More..