Saturday, August 29, 2009

Settlements and Peace: Incentives and Obstacles.


by Raphael Israeli


One of the tenets of the current conventional wisdom has been that “the settlements are obstacles to peace”, as if without settlements on the West Bank and Gaza peace would have descended on earth. We know that prior to the 1967 War there were no Israeli settlements, except for the Israeli towns and villages within Israel, and those too were never recognized by the Arabs, who claimed that they also were “occupied territory”. The great blessing of the present settlements in the West Bank and Gaza is that they displaced their predecessors, the old established settlements in Israel proper, from the epithet of “occupied”, except  in the eyes of   the Hamas, the PLO and other Arab parties, who continue to teach that both are occupied territory. Thus, the present international psychosis about “imminent peace if settlement activity is ceased”, sounds as hollow as, but less funny than a bad joke.


In other words, with or without settlements, the negative attitudes of the Arabs towards Israel have never depended on the fortunes of Jewish settlement on any parts of the land. For under any circumstances, and within any boundaries, it was always Jewish rooting  in the land  which signaled to the Arabs permanence, hence it generated total rejection. No better proof than that is the present state of affairs, where the “moderate” PA still teaches its children that Israeli cities like Haifa and Tel-Aviv are Palestinian cities, while the Hamas altogether proclaims the total uprooting of the Jewish state from  the “Arab land” of Palestine,  a waqf  (holy endowment ) in their eyes, on both sides of the late “green line” which only in Israeli eyes used to separate between Israel and Palestinian land.


In 2000, during the second Camp David, Arafat had been offered by Ehud Barak an almost total withdrawal of Israel from 95% of the territories, in return for his commitment to the finality of the dispute, but he refused because in his eyes, such a withdrawal would not have put an end to Israel’s rootedness in the land, even if the almost totality of Palestinian territory were to be restored to him. In Gaza, Israel went further by evacuating completely the Israeli settlements, not only ceasing construction in them, and the result was not the promised peace once those settlements were uprooted, but more war and death against the Israeli villages and towns around Gaza. This meant that, far from considering the boundaries of Israel Proper immune to Arab fire, if it only retreated from those “peace threatening” settlements, the latter were considered a legitimate prey for more attacks. 


Now we know that one of the most powerful levers, which acted upon President Sadat to venture into Israel in 1977 and sign peace with it, was his real fear that had he  procrastinated  any longer, the Israeli settlements in the Sinai, which comprised the townships of Ophira and Yamit and a score of other successful farming settlements, and housed several thousand  Israelis, might grow into cities which no one would be able to uproot if they were allowed to develop into counting  in the tens of thousands of inhabitants. He understood that what happened to Ashkelon and Jaffa after 1948, could also apply to the Sinai if enough years were permitted to elapse, accompanied  by a strong settlement movement  which would signify a road of no return.  Conversely, when Sadat committed himself to peace, he could still ensure, after a mere 15 years of  Israeli settlement,  that the process was still reversible.


The Palestinians and the Syrians have failed to learn that lesson. They thought that they had nothing to lose by waiting, because their territories were “inalienable” and they had nothing to lose by procrastinating in the peace process.  The fact that in both cases they lost territories as a result of their aggression in 1967, did not impress them at all, because they were convinced that when they regain their strength their vacant “occupied territory” was awaiting them to retake possession  of it. Under that thinking, not only did they become obtuse to the possible cost of aggression, which might have otherwise deterred them from another war in case they should loose it again, but they were encouraged to try repeatedly, assured that no risk of loss was involved. Therefore no deterrence was ever built into this strategy, while if Israel signaled that those who launch war can be made to pay the price of loosing territory as a result, and those who fail  to embrace a  peace settlement can forfeit parts of their territory, her deterrence might be reactivated.


Just like at the end of World War !!, when the boundaries of aggressive Germany were  curtailed and those of her victims were expanded at her expense,  in order to ensure peace, so must Israel signal her desire to retain permanently parts of those territories, not merely as a punishment to the aggressors, but mainly as a deterrence to the aggressor and as a price for their aggression and for the cost of war they precipitated on Israel. Until a peace is reached, only an intensive settlement activity by Israel can act as a strong enough incentive for the Arabs  to hurry to peace before  the land becomes irretrievable. So, just like in Sadat’s case, where Israeli settlements were one of his most powerful  incentives to come to terms, so they will operate in the Palestinian and Syrian cases.


Based on the Gaza   precedent, every evacuated Israeli settlement, which was a model of productivity and creativity, was turned into rubble and became an artillery base to harass Israel Proper, after it was taken over by the Palestinians. This showed that the Arabs did not struggle for the land, which had been improved and upgraded by the Israeli farmers, in order to put it to use for peaceful and human development, but just in order to  deny it to the Jews and gnaw deeper into the process of uprooting  and delegitimizing them in the land. It is then evident that a miscalculated and hasty retreat from the West Bank and the Golan, would turn our country  into a war zone,   while no resettlement of the evacuated land would be put  to anyone’s benefit. Only if the Arabs stand to lose when they attack, would they be likely to avoid aggression; and only when some of their lost lands become unredeemable, would they rush to settle peacefully before it is too late.



Raphael Israeli teaches Middle East at Hebrew University, Jerusalem.


Friday, August 28, 2009

The Middle East Matrix.


by Mark B. Kaplan

End the illusion of illegal occupation.


What if everything you think you know to be true is a lie, and everything you see is just an illusion? Sounds like a promo for The Matrix, but this is the reality of life in the Middle East. The rules that apply to other countries strangely change when applied to Israel. Israel becomes subject to "international law" based upon a legal foundation of facts that don't exist; Israel has leaders, but the leaders would rather suffer the existence of abusive friendships than fight back and protect their children.

The United States is leading the crusade against Israel. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are not only demanding Israel freeze all "settlement construction", including natural growth, but that Jewish rights be curbed in Jerusalem. Obama is also calling Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria an "occupation."

Yes, Israel does have rights under international law, and the Arab propaganda accusation of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine is another falsehood that needs to end. Israel's government has never stood up for Jewish land rights. Can it be that they don't even know what those rights are?

It's frustrating to see Israeli leaders refuse to challenge the false accusations. The fact is that international law does have a lot to say about Israel's rights in Judea, Samaria and beyond. Israel's leaders, President Obama, and the entire world body should look to international law before declaring that Israel should freeze construction, or even worse, surrender portions of the Jewish National Homeland.

Jerusalem attorney Howard Grief spent twenty five years researching Israel's legal rights under international law. Grief summed up Israel's legal rights in a new 700-page book entitled, The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law. According to Grief, Israel and its legal borders were supposed to be set by the historical formula adopted by the Supreme Council of the Principal Allied Powers at the San Remo Peace Conference in April 1920. Those historical borders were supposed to encompass the Biblical formula of "from Dan to Beersheba." Unfortunately, the French and the British conspired to cut off large portions of Jewish national land before the ink on the Mandate was dry.

The Principal Allied Powers at San Remo established the Mandate System that created Mesopotamia (Iraq), Syria, Lebanon, and the Jewish National Home in Palestine. The result of the illegal French-British land deals and the British criminal malfeasance in administering the Mandate was the removal of the northern Galilee, Golan and 78% of Palestine, which today is Jordan. However, the final borders of the Mandate include Judea, Samaria, and all of Jerusalem. Israel's presence in those areas cannot be considered an occupation. The legal title belongs exclusively to the Jewish People.

The Mandate for Palestine was for the exclusive benefit of the Jewish People. No other beneficiary is named in the Mandate. Non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine were guaranteed the civil and religious rights due to any minority living in a democracy. These rights do not include the right to autonomy. If they did, then every religious group would have the right to an autonomous state.

The British never intended on leaving Palestine for the Jews. Despite their obligations under the Mandate, British actions prevented Palestine from becoming Jewish.

Two years prior to the Balfour Declaration, in which the British committed to use their best endeavors to establish a Jewish country in Palestine, the British signed the secret Sykes-Picot Treaty with France, which called for conquering and dividing Palestine between the two signatories. That treaty was eventually declared illegal, but until that point, creating the Jewish state would have violated the treaty. When the British were appointed the administrators of the Mandate, they succeeded in forcing the French out of Palestine.

The Jews remained the obstacle for British plans to keep Palestine. The British knew Palestine could not be turned over to the Jews until the Jews became the majority in Palestine. The British, rather than fulfill their obligation to assist Jewish immigration, instituted the White Papers that severely limited Jewish immigration and where Jews could settle. When the British finally proposed to end the Mandate, they recommended a partition in which the Jews and Arabs would each receive portions of the land, and the British would keep Jerusalem (the grand prize) and the Negev (where the British expected to find oil). The UN rejected the British plan.

The British purposely change the demographics in Palestine to prevent the Jews from becoming the majority. They also turned a blind eye to illegal Arab immigration. Joan Peters, in her book From Time Immemorial, cites the lack of British documentation regarding illegal Arab immigration into Mandate Palestine. Peters quotes a 1934 article in which the governor of the Hauran region complained of the Arab flight to Palestine, saying, "In the past few months from 30,000 to 36,000 Hauranese (Syrians) had entered Palestine...." The official British records say the number of non-Jewish immigrants for the entire year of 1934 was 1,784. This tells us that an overwhelming number of Arabs identifying themselves as "Palestinians" from "time immemorial" illegally immigrated to Palestine during the Mandate.

Furthermore, the Mandate (Article 5) stipulated that "no Palestine territory shall be ceded or leased to, or in any way placed under the control of, the Government of any foreign Power." This means that under international law, no one can force the Jewish State to cede any land that is legally recognized as belonging to the Jewish homeland. This renders the 1947 UN Partition Plan an illegal resolution.

The US may not care about International law unless it's in its own interest, but every American high school graduate knows that the US Government must follow Constitutional law, right?

Apparently not.

In 1924, the US signed a treaty with the British in which the Mandate was adopted as part of the treaty. Article VI of the US Constitution calls a treaty the "Supreme Law of the land." The rights conveyed through the treaty still stand, including the prohibition to cede Jewish land, as well as the right of settlement.

Obama's demand that Israel halt settlement construction violates the 1924 treaty. President Obama has no right, under US law, to call Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria an "occupation." Additionally, the establishment of an Arab state within the legal boundaries of Israel is a violation of Jewish rights under both international and US law. Therefore, the "Roadmap to Peace" (which expired in 2005) also violates the United States Constitution.

The Justice Now! organization has begun work to take legal action to compel the Obama administration to stop violating the 1924 treaty. Justice Now! Director Dr. Michael Snidecor compares Obama's demands to a situation in which the British would say they are no longer honoring the 1783 Paris Treaty that granted the thirteen colonies independence, and instead are giving the land to a Native American nation. Justice Now! is also enlisting congressional support to demand Obama obey his own country's laws, as well as international law regarding Israel's rightful borders.

Bringing the Jewish People's rights before the legal system, where propaganda will lose to factual evidence, will end the illusion of illegal occupation and firmly establish the Jewish Nation's legal rights to all of Israel. Once the propaganda is proven to be a lie, then perhaps, just like in The Matrix, the Jewish People will also be able to stop the bullets of anti-Zionism in mid-air. Then, legal and just solutions can be found to end nearly a century of war and bloodshed.



Mark B. Kaplan

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Let's Pretend We're Making Arab-Israeli, Israel-Palestinian Peace.

by Barry Rubin

Here’s one of my favorite stories explaining how the Middle East works. It was told by Muhammad Hussanein Heikal, the famed Egyptian journalist. Like all Heikal’s stories, it may or may not be true, which is also part of the lesson being taught.

When Muammar Qadhafi first became Libya’s dictator, Heikal was dispatched to meet and evaluate him by Egypt’s ruler, Gamal Abdel Nasser. After returning to Cairo, Heikal was quickly ushered into the president’s office.

“Well,” said Egypt’s president, “what do you think of Qadhafi?”

“He’s a disaster! A catastrophe!”

Why,” asked the president, “is he against us?”

“Oh no, far worse than that,” Heikal claims to have replied. “He’s for us and he really believes all the stuff we are saying!”

The point was that the Egyptian regime took the propaganda line out of self-interest that all Arabs should be united into one state under its leadership, all the Arab monarchies overthrown, Israel wiped off the map immediately, and Western influence expelled, but it knew itself incapable of achieving these goals and to try to do so would bring disaster. Indeed, when Nasser had tried to implement part of this program in 1967, he provoked Israel into attacking and suffered his worst disaster.

Come to think of it, Arab regimes are still playing this game of systematically purveying radicalism, hatred, and unachievable goals to distract their populace, excuse their own failings, focus antagonism against foreign scapegoats and seek regional ambitions.

Western governments do this kind of thing a bit differently.

In this regard, recent statements by a number of leaders including President Barack Obama, prime ministers Gordon Brown and Benjamin Netanyahu, and others, establish an important principle:

Actually achieving Middle East peace is of no importance. The only thing that is important is saying that progress is being made and that peace will come soon.

I don’t mean that as a statement of cynicism but as an accurate analysis of what goes on in international affairs at present. What’s achieved by pretending there is progress and there will be success? Some very real and—in their way—important things:

--World leaders are saying that they are doing a great job, doing the right things, remaining active and achieving success.

--By saying peace is near, the issue is defused. Why fight if you are about to make a deal?

--Israel (and anyone else from the region who joins in—see below) shows that it is cooperating so others should be patient and not put on pressure.

--Since the West is taking care of business, Arab states supposedly will feel comfortable working with it on other issues, like Iran for example.

I want to stress that this behavior is not as silly as it might seem. Often this is how indeed politics do work. Moreover, pretending is better than a sense of desperation which would lead to very bad mistakes being made by energetically doing stupid and dangerous things. Certainly, it inhibits strong pressure or sanctions against Israel.

The freeze on construction within settlements is a scam. If Israel gives something on this issue, the Western governments declare victory and go home, so to speak. That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons for not doing so, but the virtually open cynicism of the U.S. and European strategy is striking.

When the U.S. president portrays the possibility of two tiny states, Oman and Qatar, letting one-man Israeli trade offices re-open as a major triumph in confidence-building , despite being his sole achievement after months of top-level diplomacy, what can one do but snicker?

Finally, since Israel-Palestinian peace is not within reach, pretending it is while knowing the truth is not such a bad alternative. It is certainly progress since the Obama administration came into office and originally pursued a policy based on the idea that it could achieve peace in a matter of months.

What is the downside here?

There are three problems. The first is if Western leaders believe their own propaganda. Because if peace is “within reach” but isn’t actually grasped, then someone must be blamed. That someone will, of course, be Israel.

Why? Because if the West blames the Palestinians, leaders presume that Arabs and Muslims will be angry and not cooperate on other matters. There could be more terrorism and fewer profitable deals and investments. They gain nothing.

But if they insist that everything is going well there is no need to blame anyone. This is the phase we are now entering.

The second problem, however, is that neither the Palestinians nor Arab regimes will join in the optimism. Their line is: The Palestinians are suffering! The situation is intolerable! Something must be done! And since we will make no concessions or compromises, the only solution is for the West to pressure Israel to give more and more while getting nothing in return.

Since this is not going to happen too much if Israel resists, they fall back on their alternative approach. Ok, so since you aren’t forcing Israel to give us what we want you have to give us other things, like money and you cannot demand we help you.

The best outcome is that certain Arab states, since they have other interests at stake, will downplay the conflict altogether and focus on more pragmatic needs. The radicals—principally Iran and Syria—will never do so, of course, and will claim that the situation shows how the West cannot be trusted and must be defeated.

What’s the third problem? That certain actions which might promote regional stability, or even Arab-Israeli peace, are not taken. These include two especially important tactics:

--More energetic efforts to overthrow the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip. As long as Hamas is running about half the Palestinian territories and outflanking Fatah in militancy, there won’t be any peace. Keeping Hamas from taking over the West Bank, isolating it, and maintaining sanctions against it is a good policy and can preserve the status quo. It is not, however, the best policy and the pressure on Hamas could erode over time.

--More pressure on the Palestinian Authority (PA) to moderate and compromise. The PA and its positions are the main barriers to peace. As the PA possibly becomes more radical, the likelihood of violence increases. Thus, while in the short- to medium-run the “feel good” and status quo policy may work, it also has risks and limits.

Still, it is the best that can be expected at present.




Barry Rubin

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


The Big Israel Lie.


by Sultan Knish


There are two interconnected lies that reside at the heart of any American discussion about Israel. The first lie is that the road to peace in the Middle East lies through Israel. The second lie is that Israel controls American policy toward itself. Those lies are not the product of ignorance or misunderstanding, they are the product of an effective propaganda campaign by the unofficial suit and tie spokesmen of the Saudi lobby who dominate American policy in the Middle East. The goal of that campaign has been to make Israel seem like the axis on which the Middle East and America turn, in order to put Israel on the firing line. And it is a campaign that has been wickedly successful up until now. 

Let's take a moment to examine those lies now.

Within the Middle East, Israel is physically insignificant. At 8500 square miles, Israel could not just fit comfortably into Pennsylvania, it is 1/5th the size of Jordan, 1/8th the size of Syria and 1/12th the size of Egypt. Simply put, Israel is smaller in land and population than every country that borders it. If you looked at the Middle East from space, you could easily put a fingernail across all of Israel.

Israel has beaten all of these countries in wars and has the best military in the region, but that is because if it didn't, it wouldn't exist. Israel's military is not the product of a will to conquer, but of an attempt to maintain its own territorial integrity and protect its citizens from attack. Israel's neighbors have never needed to work as hard or spend as much to maintain their own armed forces, because they don't truly need them. For them a strong army is not a survival strategy, it is optional.

All those who rant endlessly about Israel's settlements in the West Bank and Gaza as proof of Israel's desire to seize land, forget that Jordan annexed the West Bank only two years after its forces captured it in the 1948 War of Independence. Israel has not annexed the West Bank even after more than 40 years, and has continued to offer it in peace negotiations year after year. That is not the policy of an aggressive land hungry regime. It is not the behavior of a country that keeps its neighbors up late at night. While Israel's leaders have spent over half a century staying up late at night worrying about a war, Israel's neighbors know that war is their choice.

But what this means in practice is that Israel has very little influence beyond its own borders. With a small size, no expansionist program beyond its own territory, and as one of only two non-Arab states and the only non-Muslim state in the region... Israel's impact on the rest of the Middle East is surprisingly limited. To get a proper picture of Israel's role in the Middle East, imagine plopping Singapore in the middle of a wartorn part of Africa. It can be attacked, it can fight back, but it cannot have any real local influence.

That is why Israel remains an outsider in the political trends and turmoil of the region. The shift between Arab Nationalism and Islamism, the coups and the bloodletting between Shiite and Sunni, are all events that Israel watches from a distance. Israel is not a political participant in the ideological conflicts of the Middle East, because it does not share a common religion or ethnicity or much of anything with its neighbors. Its diplomatic relations are primarily formal, not intimate. As a result Israel has very little political influence on the Middle East, and what little influence it has, is on its immediate neighbors, such as Lebanon and Jordan, who are fairly small on the scale of the Middle East as well.

Furthermore Israel and its neighbors are in part of the Middle East that has become largely irrelevant because of its lack of oil. While Egypt and Jordan were once considered major regional players, both have long ago been sidelined by the oil rich Saudi Arabia, Iran and the UAE. None of these countries share a common border with Israel. While diplomats and pundits obsess over the West Bank and Gaza, what happens there has virtually no impact on what happens where the oil and power lie.

Not only does the road to peace in the Middle East not run through Israel, it doesn't even run anywhere near Israel.  A quick look at a map shows you just how off the beaten path Israel is when it comes to the true token of global power, oil. And it is not some Elders of Zion fantasy of the Israel lobby that defines global power to the Middle East, it is who has the oil. And  while Israel has plenty of olive oil, it has none of the kind of oil that the world is interested in.

Since the 70's, the Middle East's real power struggle has shifted to the oil rich states, to Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Iran and Iraq chose to build up their armies, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states instead built up their political influence in Washington D.C. and let the United States fight for them. This strategy paid off in the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom when Kuwait was liberated and Saudi Arabia got Saddam's boot off its throat. Israel was never at risk of anything more than bomb blasts and rocket shelling from Saddam. By contrast Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had their survival at stake.

With Saddam gone, Iran and Saudi Arabia are funding Sunni and Shiite insurgencies within Iraq in order to seize Saddam's oil. As a fallback position in case Iran manages to swallow Iraq and then moves on to them, the Sheiks and Princes continue buying huge stakes in American and European companies and property, in case they suddenly find themselves having to take a quick plane trip away from the region.

Remove Israel from the region, as so many diplomats and pundits would like to, and this picture remains exactly the same. How influential is Israel in the region then, and why does the path to Middle Eastern peace run through it? The answer is that it doesn't. Some diplomats choose to blame America's alliance with Israel for its image problems, but alliances are dictated by interests. American's alliance with Israel, much like Saudi Arabia's alliance with America, are the products of interests, not emotions. Iran's hostility to America is the product of religious hostility, historical animosity and its own desire to grab as much of the Middle East for itself as it can.

Let's turn to Washington then. The myth of the All-Powerful Israel lobby has been extensively marketed for decades. But let's actually take a look at how powerful this lobby is.

If the so-called Israel Lobby is so powerful, why after all these decades, has the United States failed to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital? Presidential candidates routinely visit AIPAC to promise that Jerusalem will be recognized as Israel's capitol. Bill Clinton did it, Bush promised that it would be one of his first acts in office, Obama implied it. And once in office, not only did they not keep the promise, but they routinely signed waivers to prevent Jerusalem from being treated as Israel's capital.

There is only one nation whose capital is not recognized by the United States. That nation is also the one who the wisdom of the mainstream media and many of the suit and tie unofficial members of the Saudi lobby, would have you believe controls America. The narrative of the powerful Israel lobby before whom everyone in D.C. trembles cannot be reconciled with this simple fact, or with many others.

For example, in every peace agreement completely under US mediation, Israel has given up land and never gained any permanent territory. If Israel were as expansionist and as in control of the United States government, should it not have been the other way around? Yet at Camp David, Carter pressured Begin into turning over land that was several times the size of Israel. Carter did not pressure Sadat to turn over land to Israel. The last four US administrations have pressured Israel into a peace process with the PLO that required Israel to transfer a sizable portion of land to their control. At no point in time were Egypt and Jordan expected to do the same. Does this sound like the product of an all-powerful Israel lobby.

Defenders of the "Israel Runs Washington" meme will argue that the US should have pressured Israel to do much more. As if Israel could do anymore without committing suicide. But then why hasn't the United States pressured Turkey to stop its occupation of Cyprus or demanded that Spain create a state for the Basque? Either the Turkish Lobby or the Spanish Lobby is far more powerful than the Israel Lobby, or Israel is singled out because of pressure from a much stronger lobby, the Saudi Lobby.

What the "Israel Lobby" mainly deals with is the back and forth arms trade between the United States and Israel, partially packaged as foreign aid, and non-binding congressional resolutions that have as much force as a municipal resolution naming Tuesday, Global Twig Day. Most congressmen identify as Pro-Israel, mainly because it's easy, costs them nothing and lets them pick up a few votes here and there. It is easy enough to vote on or co-sponsor the occasional pro-Israel resolution that does nothing but gather dust in the record cabinets, because it has no actual application. It is so ridiculously easy that even Barack Obama has done it. And it's so meaningless that no President takes them seriously. Any measure that actually has legislative force is routinely crafted so that the President can waive it or set it aside if it interferes with administration policy. Which is exactly what happens much of the time.

As a result most congressmen can mention a pro-Israel bill that they voted on or co-sponsored around election time to gullible Jewish audiences who fail to understand that the 2012 Israel Friendship Act or the 2043 No Money Given to Terrorists, We Really Mean It This Time Act, has as much practical utility as a cell phone in the Sahara. And few of these same congressmen are actually pro-Israel when it matters. They're pro-Israel when it's an exercise in public relations. That is not what a powerful lobby's grip on a government looks like. If you want to see that, take a look at the lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry or the cable industry. Or the Saudi lobby, which doesn't waste time holding rubber chicken dinners for politicians, but instead has built a massive contact base of unofficial suit and tie lobbyists, former politicians, diplomats and journalists who are expert at peddling the Saudi agenda.


To determine the power of a lobby, you look at what it can do when it matters, and when the odds are against it. The one direct collision between the Pro-Israel lobby and the Saudi lobby over the AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia, ended with a Saudi victory, despite overall public and congressional opposition to the sale. The Pro-Israel lobby was vocal and public. The Saudi lobby was in control behind the scenes. And just as it had when Saudi Arabia took over ARAMCO, and forced the United States to pay for it too... the Saudi Lobby won.

That is what a lobby that controls Washington D.C. does. It doesn't put out a nameplate. It doesn't waste time on rubber chicken dinners. It instead funds a host of organizations officially headed up by Americans with influence and power in Washington D.C. It gives them the funds to cultivate ties, to build think tanks and to build relationships behind the scenes. It doesn't care whether it's dealing with Republicans or Democrats. Come one, come all. We can put you to use too. And it makes sure that nobody pays very much attention to what is going on. Instead it dips into well worn propaganda to spread the idea that the Jews control Washington D.C., knowing that there will be plenty of eager takers to polish and pass on the meme.

If you look at what some of the most powerful people in the last few administrations had in common, the simple answer is oil. Saudi oil. The woman in control of foreign policy in the second half of the Bush Administration, Condoleeza Rice, did not have her name on an Israeli oil tanker, but a Chevron oil tanker, the former parent company of ARAMCO. The man quietly dominating US foreign policy under Obama, James L. Jones did not serve on the board of directors of Manischewitz, he served on the same Chevron board of directors that Rice had formerly served on. And Rice did everything but outright appoint him as her replacement.

But of course no one could possibly believe a wild conspiracy theory like that, not when the obvious answer is that the Israel Lobby controls Washington D.C. and keeps demanding that administration after administration force it to hand over land to its worst enemies. And for some reason forces successive administrations to not recognize its own capital city, encourages them to constantly threaten it and prevent it from defending itself.

The Pro-Israel Lobby is a charade, a showpiece for people with too much time on their hands and too little subtlety. If half the claims about the Israel Lobby were true, Israel would be four times the size it is today, with secure borders and no terrorist problem. Instead Israel has been pressured like no other country has, to appease and accommodate terrorists at the expense of the lives of its citizens, its national security and even its survival... by a foreign policy crafted to fulfill Saudi interests.

The Big Israel Lie is that Israel is powerful in Washington and mighty in the Middle East. The real truth is that Israel is a tiny country that commands emotional affinity from a limited percentage of Jews and Christians, whose diplomacy abroad is clumsy, and whose regional influence is small, whose military is handicapped by liberal handwringing and whose leaders would rather negotiate than fight... until there is no other choice.

This lie is meant to make Israel seem strong, in order to place it at the center of every problem and turn it into the nail that needs to be hammered down for everything to stand straight. But the easiest way to clear up the lie is to simply look at the reality of the Middle East and see that Israel vanishes beneath a single fingernail.



Sultan Knish

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


The Freedom of the Press Libel -- the Swedish government is not satified with just being tolerant toward antisemitism.


by  Micha Roded


A Swedish journalist working for a major tabloid heard from Palestinians a rumor that in the 90's the Israeli army killed Palestinians and then took their organs for transplants. He had no verification of this rumor, nor did he try to verify it, cross reference, or even approach the Israeli army for comment. He just put it in a book and in his paper. Then later, when he heard in the news that a group of Jewish Americans were arrested and charged with the buying and selling organs for transplants, the connection was obvious to him -- Jews, so he reported the rumor again.

Now some might say that this story bears certain vague similiarities to the antisemitic blood Libels of old. In the distant past, history tells us, Jews were accused, based on false rumors, of the killing of Christian children for the purpose of consuming their blood. They would be wrong. This is not a little like blood Libel. It is blood Libel, pure and simple.

However in this case the blood Libel was accompanied by another less traditional libel -- the democracy/freedom of the press/free speech libel.

A major Swedish newspaper prints a blood Libel . Israel never asked the Swedish government to take any action against the paper or silence them in any way. Nor did it ever say that the Swedish government is responsible in any way for the actions of the paper. All that was required, as a simple act of diplomatic courtesy between nations, was for the Swedish government, or at least the Swedish ambassador, to say something to the effect that this hateful blood libel does not represent the government or people of Sweden and that publishing such hate mongering is wrong.

And indeed, the Swedish ambassador in Israel did just that. But the Swedish government decided to condemn the ambassador for his words instead of the reporter, and then it went on to present themselves as the defenders of Swedish free speech against the terrible Israelis/Jews.

Under the circumstances I think we Jews have no choice but to apologize to Sweden. Clearly the fact that we did not riot in European capitals, issue death fatwas or at least death threats, did not send a single letter bomb or burn a single embassy or Swedish business in Israel or elsewhere is quite offensive. The reporter didn't even have to hire a body guard. We are clearly in violation of the principles of democracy, free speech and diplomacy and deserve no sympathy from the people of Sweden.

Perhaps I'm being unfair. After all, the above paragraph is clearly written in hyperbole and sarcasm, isn't it? That was what I thought when I wrote it. But apparently in the prestigious university of Yale, hyperbole becomes reality. A book about the controversial Danish Cartoons of the prophet Muhammad had the cartoons removed from it by university officials because they feared Muslim rioting. Thus the fear of rioting caused Yale to suppress academic free speech, yet journalistic integrity, human decency and a history of hatred and violence against Jews because of blood Libel were not enough to get the editors of a Swedish tabloid to refrain from publishing unverified and hate filled rumors or the government of Sweden to speak out against the libels after they were published.

For the record, although I support the freedom of press of Danish newspapers to publish cartoons of Muhammad, and oppose any violence against the cartoonists, I am willing to state that in my opinion publishing these cartoons in the paper was wrong. It was unnecessary hate-mongering. But what do I know? I'm just an over-sensitive Israeli and Jew.

I would also add that it is regrettable that even in this clear cut case the Israeli government handled things poorly, playing right into the hands of the Swedish libels. We should learn how to use the kind of cool understated but barbed diplomatic language the Swedes use so well. A clear statement saying that we regret to see such Blood Libel published in Sweden, and hope that it does not represent Sweden, and that we regret that the Swedish government prefered to condemn the sensible and sensitive acts of its ambassador while clearly suppporting the hate speech of said newspaper, should have sufficed, I think.


Micha Roded

Original content copyright by the author

State of Terror.


by Yoram Ettinger

Why a Palestinian state would be a threat to American, Israeli and even Arab national security.

The idea that a Palestinian state can lead to enduring peace in the Middle East has become a diplomatic obsession for American policy makers. Bringing such a state into being has become the equivalent of finding the Holy Grail. In fact, however, a Palestinian state would not only fail to bring peace and stability to the region, but would make it an even more dangerous place than it already is. And ironically, given its adamant backing for a government that would have been led by Yasser Arafat and now would be headed by Abu Mazen, U.S. support for the creation of “Palestine,” which would immediately ally itself with and become a client of rivals and enemies of America such as Iran, would harm American, Israeli, and even Arab interests.

The history of the PLO's Abu Mazen – who is hailed by the US administration as a peaceful leader – tells us something important about the likely character of a Palestinian state. As a graduate of Moscow University (Ph.D. thesis: Holocaust Denial) and a beneficiary of KGB training, he managed the logistics of the Munich Massacre of eleven Israeli athletes in 1972. He was the architect of PLO ties with ruthless communist regimes until 1989 and, since 1993, a series of PLO accords with Hamas. In 1950, 1966 and 1970, he was forced to flee Egypt, Syria and Jordan, respectively, for subversive activities. During the 1970s and 1980s he participated in PLO attempts to topple the Christian regime in Beirut, which resulted in the 1976 Syrian invasion of Lebanon and a series of civil wars, causing close to 200,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees. As Yasser Arafat’s confidante and first deputy for over fifty years until Arafat's death, Abu Mazen is one of the engineers of contemporary Palestinian hate education, which has become a production line for terrorists. In 1990, he collaborated with Saddam Hussein's invasion of Kuwait, despite the Gulf country’s unique hospitality to 400,000 PLO-affiliated Palestinians.

This history is not that of a peace maker, and the PLO's track record of inter-Arab treachery, non-compliance, corruption, repression and terrorism does not give evidence of peaceful Palestinian state of the future. Since its makeover from a terrorist organization to a semi-independent entity in 1993, the Palestinian Authority, which has been led by PLO graduates of terrorist bases in Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia, has become an incubator for terrorist tactics, which have been exported to Iraq, Afghanistan, England, Spain and other countries.

The 1968-70 and 1970-1982 PLO autonomy in Jordan and in Lebanon respectively provided training and inspiration for scores of international terror organizations; introduced the first wave of commercial aircraft hijackings; and facilitated the murder of 300 US Marines in the 1983 attack on the US Embassy and Marine Headquarters in Beirut. The year 1993 – when the PLO catapulted to prominence – marked a wave of anti-US Islamic terrorism, starting with the first bombing of the World Trace Center in 1993 and ending with the September 11 attacks.

The proposed Palestinian State would inflict destruction upon America’s Arab allies and would enhance the fortunes of its rivals and enemies. Other states in the region know this. During the October 1994 signing of the Israel-Jordan peace treaty, top commanders of the Jordanian military urged their Israeli counterparts to stop short of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River, “lest it destroy the [pro-US] Hashemite regime east of the River.” Home to the largest Palestinian community in the world, Jordan is considered by the PLO to be Palestinian land. Why would the US support the Hashemite regime on one hand, but doom it to oblivion, by promoting a Palestinian State, on the other?

Even more worrisome are the ties between the PLO and Iran. The PLO was one of the earliest allies of the Ayatollah Khomeini when he toppled the Shah of Iran in 1979. After his 2005 election to the chairmanship of the Palestinian Authority, Abu Mazen’s first visits were to Teheran and Damascus. A Palestinian state would extend Iran's long terrorist arm, facilitating subversive operations against pro-Western Arab regimes. It would also enable Iran to enhance its intelligence and military operations in the region, including port facilities in Gaza.

A Palestinian State would be a tailwind to insurgent terrorists in Iraq. With its long record of connections to Soviet intelligence, it would provide Russia and possibly China and North Korea with a foothold in the eastern flank of the Mediterranean at the expense of vital US interests. The increasingly Islamist and anti-US direction of Abu Mazen's educational and media efforts indicates that a Palestinian state would export terrorism to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

The long and determined effort by American administrations to soften the Palestinian Authority’s harsh features cannot change the fact that a Palestinian State would add fuel to the fire of terrorism in the region. In tying its fortunes to the creation of such a state, the United States may be signing a suicide note for its Middle East policy.


Ambassador Yoram Ettinger served as Minister for Congressional Affairs at Israel’s Embassy in Washington and Director of Israel’s Government Press Office, in addition to other posts. He speaks frequently on U.S. college campuses about the conflict in the Middle East.

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Palestinian Prime Minister: We'll Build State Institutions in Two Years.

by Barry Rubin


What Have You Been Doing for the last 15?

This will never lead anywhere, but that's the point isn't it?

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has a new peace plan: he's just going to create a state without reaching a peace agreement with Israel. The goal, in his words, is "to establish a de facto state apparatus within the next two years."

Coverage of this just sort of took his word for it:

"We must confront the whole world with the reality that Palestinians are united and steadfast in their determination to remain on their homeland, end the occupation and achieve their freedom and independence," he said.

"The world should also know that we are not prepared to continue living under a brutal occupation and siege that flouts not only the law, but also the principles of natural justice and human decency."

If you actually examine what he says, however, all sorts of interesting things emerge:

Fayyad has been finance minister for about seven years and prime minister for two years. But the PA has been in business for 15 years. That's a long time. And what was the business of the PA?

The first task was to negotiate a peace agreement with Israel, which it has refused to do and Fayyad appears disinterested in even today, given this new program.

The second task was to—well, let's use Fayyad's own words here—"establish a de facto state apparatus." So what's it been doing all these years if the process of building that foundation hasn't even begun?

It's been very busy: mobilizing warfare against Israel periodically, focusing on an international public relations' campaign, stealing donor money (though Fayyad is competent and honest almost nobody else is), and raising a new generation to believe that the battle must continue until total victory.

But establishing a de facto state apparatus? No. And that can't be blamed on Israel. Well, they will blame Israel but there's no basis for it.

The next point, which is generally understood, is that the Palestinians are anything but united. Not only is there the battle of Hamas versus Fatah (with Gaza and the West Bank under separate regimes and no prospect of reunification) but also that of the establishment against the "Young Guard" (though I hate that term) opposition. Oh yes, and much of the establishment hates Fayyad and wants to get rid of him. A few months ago, they forced his temporary resignation.

Next, if Palestinians are so steadfast in getting a state, why don't they negotiate for one? If they are suffering under so much brutality doesn't this give them an additional incentive to make a deal?

But the suffering is just used as a public relations' gimmick. Weird as it might sound in the West, this is how Palestinian politics work. If you simultaneously suffer and bleed--through violence and intransigence you yourself induce—and reject a compromise peace, this will hopefully bring international intervention to hand you everything you want with no cost on your part.

If you truly understand the above paragraph you know everything you need to know about the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the failure to achieve peace.

Finally, whatever sins can be put on Israel's occupation, we should note that it is an involuntary and extremely partial one. There are no Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip and very few on the West Bank. The PA runs things there and if it prevented attacks on Israel there would be even less of a presence.

Yes, there are settlements and roadblocks and an Israeli Jewish presence in Hebron. But the idea of some omnipotent occupation—certainly compared to the period before 1995 (when Palestinian towns were turned over to the PA) is largely fictional.

And everyone likes to forget that the Israeli presence has been accepted by the PA itself in a number of agreements beginning with the Israel-PLO Oslo accord of 1993. Almost everything Israel does on the West Bank takes place in the context of things the PA has agreed to happen.

This may sound counterintuitive but it is quite true and it is a point that needs emphasizing. By its own free agreement the PLO and PA accepted the existence of settlements in the West Bank until a peace agreement was signed. It is thus hypocritical to argue that the settlements are there in some "illegal" manner or against the will of the Palestinians. Detailed maps were agreed to by none other than Yasir Arafat and his then advisor, now head of the PA and PLO, Mahmoud Abbas about precisely which sections of the territory Israel would govern during the interim period.

What's the catch? The agreements say this will continue until a peace agreement is made which results in a two-state solution. So who's responsible for the continuation of the "occupation"? Not Israel; the PA. And who can make all the settlements go away, at least within their own independent state? The PA.

But the PA is not going to get what it wants: dismantlement of settlements, an independent state, and financial reparations unless it recognizes Israel, agrees to resettle Palestinian refugees within its own country, ends the conflict and all further claims on Israel, and provides security guarantees.

That is what the Palestinian and "pro-Palestinian" campaign is about. To get a state without binding conditions that would truly end the conflict forever, leaving the PLO and PA free to continue the battle to destroy Israel completely.

These are the issues which as many people throughout the world must be made to understand.



Barry Rubin
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.