Saturday, September 26, 2009

What are "the legitimate rights of the Palestinians"?

by Ted Belman


Yesterday Pres Obama addressed the UNGA on the subject of the conflict between Arabs and Jews conflict and had this to say;

…I will also continue to seek a just and lasting peace between Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world.

What is noteworthy here, is that he referred to “Palestine” like it was a state already. Is that not pre-judging the outcome? He also wants there to be peace with the “Arab world” which means more pressure on Israel to cave to the demands of Syria.

Palestinians have strengthened their efforts on security. Israelis have facilitated greater freedom of movement for the Palestinians. As a result of these efforts on both sides, the economy in the West Bank has begun to grow. But more progress is needed. We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel, and we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.

He appears to be signing on to Netanyahu’s ideas regarding building the economy as a means to peace. But to my mind by rejecting the “legitimacy of the settlements”, he is declaring war on Israel.

The settlements are legitimate and legal. By taking such a position on no or spurious legal reasoning he is no better than Goldstone who took the position that Israel was guilty of war crimes and possibly crimes against humanity. Nether of the positions of Obama or Goldstone have any legitimacy. They are imposing on Israel an interpretation of law which favours the outcome they desire. Once again Obama has prejudged the outcome of negotiations. If the settlements are illegal as he says, then Israel Israel must agree to withdraw from all lands east of the green line. He made no distinction with respect to Jerusalem. But the US has long maintained the position that no one should do anything to prejudge the outcome.

Most presidents have shied away from saying that the settlements were illegal and contented themselves with declaring them “obstacles to peace”. This, also, is a debatable issue.

The time has come — the time has come to re-launch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues: security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees, and Jerusalem. And the goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security — a Jewish state of Israel, with true security for all Israelis; and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967, and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people. (Applause.)

Obama is misleading the world to say that negotiations should start “without preconditions” when he doesn’t mean it. The negotiations will be fraught with preconditions. He names a few such as that Palestine must be “independent”, “viable” and “contiguous”. But there are others such as the need to “end the occupation that began in 1967″. This implies full withdrawal rather than partial withdrawal as provided for in Res 242. Then there is the matter of whether the negotiations are starting fresh, which would be without preconditions, or whether the negotiations must pick up where they left off. Obama has been pressing for the latter.

As we pursue this goal, we will also pursue peace between Israel and Lebanon, Israel and Syria, and a broader peace between Israel and its many neighbors. In pursuit of that goal, we will develop regional initiatives with multilateral participation, alongside bilateral negotiations.

To break the old patterns, to break the cycle of insecurity and despair, all of us must say publicly what we would acknowledge in private.

On the contrary, when is he going to say privately what he says publically. Once again he wants to be “honest” with us.

The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. (Applause.) And — and nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel’s legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security. (Applause.)

Now here is the bottom line, what are “the legitimate rights of the Palestinians”?

Refugees There is no legitimate right of return, There is only a right to receive compensation for the property owned by them and left behind when they evacuated. The Jewish refugees have a similar right for property they left behind in Arab countries when they were expelled.

Land. The land lying east of the armistice line, which the Arabs refer to as the West Bank and the Jews refer to as Judea and Samaria, can in no way be Palestinian land as claimed. The Palestinians never had sovereignty over it. Having lived there or even owned small parcels of land there, never confers sovereignty. There is absolutely no way they can establish a “legitimate right” to these lands. According to international law,The Jews were given these lands, as their national homeland over which they had political rights. These rights have never been forfeited.

Jerusalem. Jerusalem is a Jewish concept, not an Islamic one. Jerusalem, as a city means nothing to Islam. Jerusalem means everything to Judaism. It is at the core of it. I have no idea why anyone would consider that the Arabs have legitimate rights over Jerusalem but am sure that Obama includes a share of Jerusalem as a legitimate Palestinian right.

“Legitimate rights” are important in a court of law. They have no place in negotiations. Negotiations are essentially a power play whether between Management and Labour in labour disputes or between countries in negotiating treaties. Obama is supporting the Palestinians to strengthen their negotiating position. He is attempting to influence the outcome while at the same time he says that no one should do anything to prejudge the outcome.

It amounts to an imposed solution. Obama leaves little to be negotiated. He has predetermined all. In fact, has he not publically embraced the Saudi Plan.


Ted Belman

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


Obama and the Middle East


by Efraim Inbar

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: US President Barack Obama has adopted an activist foreign policy, attempting to engage the Muslim world and signaling his expectation that an end the Israel-Palestinian conflict can be negotiated within two years. This ambitious agenda has so far produced meager results. Many regional players are primarily concerned about Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons, and are not easily amenable to American overtures.

US President Barack Obama's summit meeting with Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas in New York this week was a good thing, but it amounted to little more than a photo opportunity. The impatient Obama demanded that the parties seriously discuss peace now. Obama appeared to be on the verge of enunciating his own peace plan in order to restart peace negotiations and to eventually end the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict – all within two years!

It is worth reminding the president that the many past US peace plans for the Middle East failed to bring the anticipated results. Moreover, the recent meeting in New York only reinforces the evaluation that after eight months in office, the record of Obama’s policy toward the Middle East is far from impressive.

Obama’s much heralded speech to the Muslim world in Cairo failed to make a dent in Middle Eastern realities and attitudes. His belief in the power of words to change people is naive when it comes to well-rooted attitudes or entrenched interests of nations. In instances where the US sided with Muslims when in conflict with non-Muslims, such as in Pakistan, Bosnia and Kosovo, there was little impact on Muslim dispositions. The anti-American rage among Muslims, primarily Arabs, is a result of a concatenation of factors: frustration originating from past grandeur, current poverty, backwardness, and a dark future; a cultural difficulty to accept responsibility; and a preference to blame others for failures to modernize and democratize. While words have great importance in Muslim culture, even the best of speeches cannot change the tide of history. Obama’s words are unlikely to have long-term positive effects for the US, which in final analysis is seen as foreign and domineering.

The “soft power” that this administration extols has its limitations, particular in a region where the use of force is part and parcel of the rules of the game and fear is a better political currency than empathy or love.

So far the “engagement” policy toward Iran, which is part of the new approach to the Muslim world, has produced no results. The nuclear program of Iran continues, and its new proposal to the West did not provide any opening for negotiations on the nuclear issue.

Similarly, the engagement of radical Syria hardly changed Syrian policies. Damascus still supports Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza; allows insurgents to infiltrate Iraq in order to destabilize the current regime; refuses to enter peace negotiations with Israel without preconditions; and above all continues its alliance with Iran. Why should Assad change Syrian foreign policy if he fears no American wrath? As a matter of fact, Iran, Syria, as well as the rest of the Middle East, see “engagement” primarily as an American weakness.

Obama’s Washington does not get anywhere even with its friends. The leaders in all Arab countries know that the American “engagement” of Iran is hopeless in stopping the nuclearization of Iran. During his August trip to Washington, Mubarak of Egypt tried to inject sense into the young American president. Moreover, Mubarak rejected Obama's offer for a nuclear umbrella. So did other pro-American Arab states. American promises to defend them are simply not credible if the US is reluctant to use military force to stop the Iranian nuclear threat.

The impending American withdrawal from Iraq and the difficulties in “fixing” Afghanistan contribute to the general sense of a decline in American influence in the Middle East. Indeed, as regional politics take their toll, a Pax Americana in the Middle East is no longer seen as a viable option for providing progress and prosperity. It is not only the Palestinians that have failed to develop a capacity to govern, with institutions that respond to the needs of the people. The political malaise of the Palestinians is not unique. We see several additional failed states in the Arab world: Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and even Iraq. Pakistan, a Muslim state, is in danger of collapsing. Even American conquests, such as in Iraq and in Afghanistan, coupled with generous international aid, are not enough to transform these countries. Neither American speeches, nor American “soft power” are able to reform societies deep in crisis. Only a modernizing local leadership can do the trick.

Ignoring the harsh realities of Palestinian domestic politics, Obama is now trying to restart the bogged-down Israel-Palestinian peace track. Yet the Arabs have rejected American demands for gestures toward Israel in order to facilitate a settlement freeze (the latter curiously seen as a panacea for peace between Israelis and Palestinians). Moreover, Washington fails to understand that as long as the Palestinians are deeply divided and Gaza is controlled by Hamas, an Islamist organization dedicated to the destruction of the state of Israel, there is no available partner for peace talks. Nevertheless, Obama is committed to push forward on the peace process.

Unfortunately, the gap between Israelis and Palestinians is too large to bridge, while the two societies still have enormous amounts of energy to fight for what is important to them. This situation requires conflict management, rather than ambitious and misguided peace plans.

What is missing in Washington is healthy skepticism and a realistic foreign policy based upon the premises that not all problems are soluble and that foreigners have limited capacity to induce change. Finally, Obama’s Washington seems unaware of the fact that the regional parties have great obstructive power. Only when they are ready there will be peace.


Efraim Inbar is professor of political studies at Bar-Ilan University and director of the Begin-Sadat (BESA) Center for Strategic Studies

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


The Only Feasible Basis for Arab-Israeli Peace.


By Daniel Mandel

One of the responses I sometimes receive after publishing articles and delivering speeches pouring cold water on the prospects of current diplomatic efforts to achieve an Arab-Israeli peace is: ‘What should Israel/the West be doing instead?’


As it happens, there is an alternative, but it will convince no one unless the prohibitive costs of the present policy of diplomatic engagement with and funding of the Palestinian Authority (PA) are understood – which, largely, they are not. For even among those not deluded about peace prospects, there are some who believe that diplomatic shadow-boxing brings benefits.


Accordingly, what are these alleged benefits?


·       Politicians buy time claiming to be working for peace, even if it never arrives. Yet deception via dissemination of spurious good news simply lulls the public to sleep. That might suit incumbents, who often manage to leave office before the consequences of their temporizing boomerang on their countrymen: Britain’s Stanley Baldwin, retiring in 1937, two years before the consequences of his appeasement policy and lack of rearmament helped to produce a long and bitter World War Two; or Bill Clinton’s inertia in dealing with Al Qaeda, leading to 9/11 early on his successor’s watch, come to mind.


·       Negotiations defuse tensions and prevent full-scale hostilities. The absence of hostilities is often meaningless if aggressors patiently utilize truces to prepare for war. Just consider Yasser Arafat’s resort to war in 2000, after seven years of diplomatic “progress”; or Hizballah using the illusory calm of 2000-06 to dig in and plot further aggressions from southern Lebanon, leading to a costly, inconclusive war for Israel.


·       Negotiations benefit Israel by warding off even stronger pressures. The Oslo negotiations tell otherwise: where Palestinians prove unwilling, the only remaining room for maneuver lies in pressuring Israel, which Bill Clinton duly did. He even threatened Israel with negative UN votes if Israel didn’t deliver concessions. Under both Clinton and Bush, the State Department refused declaring Palestinian violations by promoting terrorism and incitement to hatred. Chief U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross told me personally that “we … became so preoccupied with this process that the process took on a life of its own …Every time there was a [Palestinian] behavior, or an incident or an event that was inconsistent with the process … the impulse was to rationalize it, finesse it, find a way around it and not allow it to break the process.”


Is anything different today?


Fatah, which controls the PA, can hold a conference reasserting its refusal to accept Israel’s existence as a Jewish state while glorifying terrorists and rejecting an end of claims in any future peace agreement with Israel and yet the Obama Administration acts as though the key to the problem is to stop Jews moving into eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank. This is how shadow-boxing and process takes on a life of its own.


There is a better way, but it requires something politicians innately suspect: honesty with regard to unpleasant truths and a corresponding policy shift. Israeli and Western leaders would have to declare candidly that Palestinians do not accept Israel and support terrorism against her and that they will not deal with or support the PA under these conditions.


This option carries short-term costs, most likely manifested in even more anti-Western propaganda and even less co-operation against Islamist groups from Arab regimes.


In the longer term, however, the West would benefit from ending its participation in the self-defeating fraud that the ball lies in Israel’s court.


After all, why should Western governments stir up anti-Western sentiment among Arab publics by continually promising something that Arabs won’t deliver? Who exactly wins doing things this way, other than autocrats in Riyadh, fascists in Damascus and irredentists in Ramallah?


The onus would also be thereby placed on Palestinians to verifiably change their behavior. The present system of unconditional Palestinian entitlement to everyone else’s largesse ($900 million from the U.S. taxpayer this year alone) would be replaced by a requirement to earn financial and diplomatic support at each step of the way.


Thus, Western funding to the PA would continue, but only subject to the PA verifiably meeting its signed obligations to end terrorism and ghoulish incitement – sacking perfervid, hate-filled clerics; ending glorification of terror on its airwaves; renaming the streets and schools named in honor of suicide bombers; revising its irredentist, jihad-supporting curricula; and above all, jailing terrorists, dismantling their militias and confiscating their weapons.


Such change, in addition to furnishing the only feasible basis for peace, would disabuse people of the fallacy that peace depends upon unilateral Israeli concessions. It would also serve to lower the temperature of the Western lynch mob, which has fixated on Israel in proportion to the magnitude of its unreciprocated concessions.


But none of this can happen if we persist with shadow-boxing



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


Friday, September 25, 2009

Goldstone, an objectionable report.


by Marc Cogen


Not that long ago any war between two hostile populations was fought at the battlefield, which was a real field or meadow. Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo on a piece of land which is now a protected natural site in Belgium. Tourists visit it by busloads. One has a view of the open landscape and a few original farms which were used during that battle in the memorable days from 16 to 19 June 1815. The ‘collateral damage’ during the battle of Waterloo were two farms and a herd of cattle. A few decades later the so-called laws of armed conflicts or laws of war started to be codified with the ‘General Order n°100’ (1863) of US President Lincoln as a notable step during the American civil war. From then onwards we witnessed the ‘Oxford Manual on the Laws of War (1880), the Hague Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907), which were replaced by the four Geneva conventions of 1949 and additional Protocol I of 1977. Not to mention here are the numerous individual conventions regulating or prohibiting certain acts of war and war materiel. All conventions are open to state parties only. It means that statehood is the prerequisite for their adoption and accession.

Today the nature of war has changed dramatically. The battlefield has become a virtual reality, without physical demarcations, and the enemy can be anyone, everywhere. Needless to say that society and lawyers find it increasingly difficult to apply the four Geneva conventions and additional protocol in a meaningful way. If we can point to one major legal difficulty, it certainly relates to the distinction between combatants and civilians, one of the few fundamental criteria of the laws of armed conflicts. Suicide bombers, armed civilians forming a band or cell, armed militants who live with their families in a war zone, children enlisted to fight, supply or spy, we can go on to demonstrate that the Geneva rules are surpassed by events on the ground. Since responsibility in international law is defined in terms of state responsibility, it is no surprise that states find themselves more and more in the role of accused violator. On the other hand, non-state, elusive entities, constantly changing and operating undercover easily fall outside the radar of the laws of war as codified today. It results all too often in exemption from punishment for those acting outside statehood. Adding to this already perplexing situation, the inconsiderate application of human rights increases confusion in the virtual battlefield by protecting individuals regardless of their capacity, function or any other characteristic. Human rights are based on the principle of non-discrimination, whereas international humanitarian law is inherently based on the principle of discrimination between combatants and civilians. These are two different legal methods. But there is more.

Let me say a few words on human rights and war. The body of human rights is applicable when a state is not at war or applicable outside any zone of combat. In such a situation – a normal civil life – the full range of human rights is applied within the country. As soon as military operations are launched – when a state is at war, whether declared or not – the full body of international humanitarian law applies as an alternative legal norm within the zone of combat or in the theatre of operations. International humanitarian law always makes a balance between protection of victims and military necessity. Now, the application of military necessity necessarily implies that civil freedoms and the degree of protection afforded to both civilians and combatants is relative and in proportion to the dangers of the war zone and the military operations themselves. It is a mistake to apply human rights as such within a war zone, because it will ultimately deny the rules of international humanitarian law. Moreover, the full application of human rights in a war zone would automatically result in the illegality of the military operations themselves which always have the potential to endanger life and property. The humanitarian law conventions have not outlawed military operations. For example, the activation of the right to self-defense, one of the fundamental rights of any state, requires the use of force. Consequently, human rights law is not the appropriate legal framework to evaluate military operations in a war zone. This is a major shortcoming emanating from the UN Human Rights Council which is only mandated to deal with human rights. Only a handful of human rights remain operational in a war zone, whereas all other human rights may be temporarily suspended as long as the war continues. Here are the limited number of human rights also applicable in times of war: prohibition of death penalty without a sentence of a court; prohibition of torture; prohibition to hold someone in slavery; prohibition of punishment without the law; prohibition of corporal punishment; prohibition of mutilation; prohibition of outrages on the personal dignity such as enforced prostitution; prohibition of the taking of hostages; prohibition of collective punishments; and, prohibition to threat to commit any of the foregoing acts: - see: Coard v. United States of America’ case of September 29, 1999 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Article 15 of the ‘European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’ (‘derogation in time of emergency’) and related case law.

 Now the mission statement of the ‘UN fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict’ or ‘Goldstone Commission’, appointed by the President of the UN Human Rights Council on April 3, 2009, was “to investigate all violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.” The report of the fact finding mission was already delivered on September 15, 2009 and counts not less than 575 pages, a remarkable fact given the very short period during which the report was drafted concerning a very complex theatre of war. The language of the report is the language used by a prosecutor, and not surprisingly the report recommends that the report should be formally submitted to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ‘Goldstone Commission’ acted as a prosecutor, framing the report as an indictment, and demanding the Prosecutor of the ICC to carry out its recommendations which the Prosecutor’s office of the ICC already begun. This is really the rule of lawyers instead of the rule of law. In a democracy, there is no government of judges and judges have their own well-defined place in the constitutional order and within the rule of law. If we would follow the ‘Goldstone Report’ we would abide by a government of judges in the so-called international community. No support can be found in the development of democracies to support the ‘Goldstone approach’ or the ‘UN Human Rights Council’ approach. Even in case of war, judges do not become the supreme leaders of their country or of the international community. I only know one case of such an attempt today: the ‘Union of Islamic Judges’ (or ‘Makaham al Islamya’) in Somalia, which is connected to Al Qaida. This union of judges was formed out of a group of Sharia courts who united themselves to form a rival government.

The ‘Goldstone commission’ has been appointed by a UN human rights body, which has no authority to deal with matters of war and peace, or with international humanitarian law; if so, it violates its own legal basis and therefore any transgression of its competence results in actions and reports which are null and void according to international law. No legal foundation can be found in the establishment of the UN Human Rights Council regarding war and peace. If we tolerate such transgression of competences, the UN Human Rights Council would replace the UN Security Council within a few years.

For these reasons I do not comment on the 575 pages of the ‘Goldstone Report’ which is an illegal report under UN law and general international law. I only want to refer to the  ‘detailed legal findings by the Mission’. The Goldstone report claims that it made ‘an objective assessment of the events it investigated’ (paragraph 1671). Can we take this for granted? The appointing body, i.e. the UN Human Rights Council, has been watched for its ‘objectivity’ and the facts speak for themselves: in the first year since its establishment in 2006 74 percent of the UN Human Rights Council’s moves against an individual state have been directed against Israel, 21 percent against Sudan, 5 percent against Myanmar, and the rest of the world has been given a free pass – see Anne Bayefsky in ‘National Review of September 28, 2007.

The inconsiderate action of the UN Human Rights Council is a serious threat to the United Nations system, international law, and finally, the rule of law itself. It should be rejected by governments and by the UN Security Council.


Marc Cogen is professor of International Law.

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


Regarding That "Boy in Gaza": Obama Overlooks Genocidal Regime and Real Barriers to Peace.

by Barry Rubin

We've seen transcripts of numerous Hamas children's shows but this one, for example, is a clear and open call to genocide. When will there be some international reaction to this kind of thing? There's Pallywood and then there's the reality show: the real Hamas.

Here’s a debate on a Hamas children’s show, “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” aired on al-Aqsa television, September 22. Should all the Jews in Israel be wiped out or merely expelled and their society destroyed?

The bear puppet Nassur makes the following statements.

The Jews must be “erased from our land.”

"We want to slaughter them, Saraa, so they will be expelled from our land….We'll have to [do it] by slaughter."

"There won't be any Jews or Zionists, if Allah wills. They'll be erased."

The young girl who is hosting the show says:

"They'll be slaughtered." But at another point says: “Just expel them from our land."

Then they reach a true dialectical resolution:

Nassur: "We want to slaughter them, so they will be expelled from our land, right?"

Saraa: "Yes. That's right. We will expel them from our land using all means."

Nassur: "And if they don't want [to go] peacefully, by words or talking, we'll have to [do it] by slaughter."

This is an open call for genocide, worse yet is teaching children this is what they must do. One of Obama's closest advisors in the White House, Samantha Powers, is an alleged expert on genocide yet she's totally unconcerned with this issue. Guess she's only an "expert" on genocides after they happen.

It has become a cliché that those who would commit genocide announce it beforehand, as Germany’s dictator once did in his book or as happened in Rwanda in radio broadcasts before the mass murders. Supposedly, the world is united in opposing such a horrendous policy.

Yet while there are sanctions against Hamas, there is no concerted effort to overthrow the regime, even by those who claim to be in favor of Israel-Palestinian peace as a high priority. But as long as Hamas is in power there can be no such peace. Indeed, the main international attempt was to restrain Israel in its war in Gaza and then to criticize it afterward in a way that positively benefits Hamas.

How can this be reconciled with the fact that on a daily basis Hamas is seeking to carry out genocide clearly in terms of all the standard international legal and moral definitions?

Here is Obama’s only mention of Gaza in his speech to the UN:

“We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It is paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the night. It is paid by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own. These are God’s children. And after all of the politics and all of the posturing, this is about the right of every human being to live with dignity and security.”

This is meant to be one of those even-handed throwaway lines about how everyone is suffering. But let’s examine it more closely.

First, I can’t help but remark as a tiny example of the sloppy way American policy is conducted nowadays that rockets are never fired from the Gaza Strip at night.

More importantly, what about the alleged lack of clean water and actual lack of a country by the Palestinian boy in Gaza?

If he has no clean water—which more than likely isn’t true—it’s because the Palestinian Authority didn’t build the proper facilities during the dozen years it governed the Gaza Strip even though U.S. aid money was given for the project! And because since then Hamas prefers to sustain a war against Israel and use its income for military goals.

What about the fact that the Palestinian boy—and why not Palestinian girl, who faces a whole range of oppression—will not enjoy freedom because he is living under a repressive dictatorship which will force him to fight for decades. That boy is being taught by Hamas television to believe that Jews are subhumans and that his duty to wipe them out--child, woman, man--one way or another. Isn’t that significant?

Yet this is the president of the United States speaking and one should expect some basic logic. Let’s assume that he gets the Palestinian Authority and Israel to make peace (of course this isn’t going to happen). A Palestinian state is created on the basis of this agreement. That agreement would have no effect whatsoever on the little boy in Gaza! He’d still be living under Hamas rule.

Hamas would try to wreck the agreement, perhaps using that boy as a suicide bomber. It would plow every penny it could get on weapons; it would provoke wars leading to more damage on the infrastructure and casualties.

Isn’t that worth pointing out? So to help the boy, the United States would have to call for and help bring about the overthrow of Hamas.

Obama could have done so in his own way, drawing a contrast between what he might call the wonderful, peace-loving, moderate Palestinian Authority and the evil repressive Islamists of Hamas. But that would be defining enemies, taking sides, showing leadership.

Instead, in his UN speech, Obama never mentioned Hamas—not once—and did not condemn it. Yet what is a bigger barrier to peace: the building of apartments on existing Israeli settlements or the fact that almost as many Palestinians and almost as much land is governed by Hamas as by the Palestinian Authority?

[Note: I also can’t help but adding that if he wanted to discuss genocide he might also have said something about Sudan—I don’t know if the term is appropriate for what’s going on in Sudan but many observers say it is. That, however, would have been embarrassing since the Sudanese government leads the “nonaligned” movement, the most powerful bloc in the UN, which is his supposed mechanism for solving world problems!]



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


News Flash! Palestinian Leader Throws Pie in Obama's Face, Rejects Obama’s Attempt to Help Him Get a State.

by Barry Rubin

No matter how hard President Barack Obama insists the Palestinians are in a desperate situation and are eager for a state as soon as possible, they show the opposite to be true.

No matter how hard President Barack Obama tries to help the Palestinians they throw a pie in his face.

Will he get the message and adjust accordingly?

No sooner had Obama made his UN speech insisting on an instant return to final-status negotiations did Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say "Yes!" (Note: Will the media start reporting Netanyahu as peace-oriented and moderate?)

No sooner had Obama done so that Palestinian Authority (PA) leader Mahmoud Abbas said, "No!" (Note: Will the media start reporting Abbas as a hardliner who is blocking peace?)

And now the news: Abbas says the Palestinians cannot return to peace talks because of "fundamental disagreements" on the agenda and that it has "no common ground" with Israel's government. (Funny, Obama said that making peace would be easy.) Even if Israel were to stop 95 percent of the construction, explains Abbas, that won't be sufficient.

Yet Abbas has a simple way of stopping all such construction forever: be flexible and negotiate a peace agreement. Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon made this point precisely. When Israel made peace with Egypt and pulled out of Sinai it dismantled all settlements. When Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip it dismantled all the settlements. If the Palestinian Authority makes a deal with Israel all settlements on the new country's territory would be gone. So what's Abbas's problem?

Well, first he wants a pay-off from Obama for helping out the U.S. president. All the U.S. aid money wasn't enough, the distancing from Israel wasn't enough. The flattery of the Palestinians and of Islam wasn't enough. No matter what Obama does it will never be enough.

Second, he's afraid of Hamas. As the AP put it:

"If Abbas returns to talks now, without a freeze in place, he is likely to lose more credibility at home where he has been locked in a power struggle with his Islamic militant Hamas rivals. Hamas, which threw Abbas' forces out of the Gaza Strip two years ago, has derided negotiations as a waste of time and portrayed Abbas as a Western lackey."

If this were the problem, however, Abbas has an easy solution: negotiate seriously, get a state, remove the Israeli presence, obtain lots of aid money, and prove that diplomacy worked. He'd be a hero, right?


Why doesn't anyone stop to think that if Abbas were to make an actual deal with Israel he'd be called things a lot worse than lackey. If he can't even talk when one apartment is being built how is he going to give Israel full recognition, end the conflict forever, resettle all refugees in Palestine, and stop cross-border terrorist attacks on Israel?

Explain this to me, too: Obama said in Cairo that the Palestinians face an "intolerable" situation. If they're so desperate why are they in so little hurry?

The answer to all these questions is simple: Both the PA and Hamas are ready to wait for decades and put off getting a state in hopes of wiping Israel off the map completely and getting everything. This may not make sense to the average American or European but it is nontheless the reality of the situation.

If developments keep contradicting your view of reality it is necessary to change your analysis.

When will the U.S. and Western European governments comprehend this fact?


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


An enfeebled Obama.


by Caroline B. Glick

If Zbigniew Brzezinski had his way, the US would go to war against Israel to defend Iran's nuclear installations. In an interview with the Daily Beast website last weekend, the man who served as former President Jimmy Carter's national security advisor said, "They [IAF fighter jets] have to fly over our airspace in Iraq. Are we just going to sit there and watch? We have to be serious about denying them that right. If they fly over, you go up and confront them. They have the choice of turning back or not."

Brzezinski has long distinguished himself as one of the most outspoken Israel haters in polite circles in Washington. Under normal circumstances, his remarks could be laughed off as the ravings of a garden variety anti-Semite. But these are not normal circumstances. Brzezinski served as a senior foreign policy advisor to President Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign, and his views are not terribly out of place among Obama's senior advisors in the White House. In an interview in 2002, Samantha Powers, who serves as a senior member of Obama's national security council, effectively called for the US to invade Israel in support of the Palestinians.

The fact of the matter is that Brzezinski's view is in line with the general disposition of Obama's foreign policy. Since entering office, Obama has struck a hard line position against Israel while adopting a soft, even apologetic line toward Iran and its allies.

For eight months, Obama has sought to force Israel to the wall. He has loudly and repeatedly ordered the Netanyahu government to prevent all private and public construction for Jews in Israel's capital city and its heartland in order to facilitate the eventual mass expulsion of Jews from both areas which he believes ought to become part of a Jew-free Palestinian state.

Until this week, Obama conditioned the resumption of negotiations towards peace between Israel and the Palestinians on such a prohibition of Jewish building and so encouraged Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to further radicalize his positions towards Israel. Until Obama came around Abbas had no problem negotiating with Israeli leaders while Jews were building homes and schools and other structures in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. But with Obama requiring a freeze of all such construction, Abbas made clear in an interview with the Washington Post in May that he couldn't talk to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu without looking like a sellout.

At the same time, Obama made no equivalent demands of the Palestinians. He did not precondition talks on freezing illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem, or dismantling the Aksa Martyrs terrorist group, or even simply on setting aside the Palestinian demand that Israel release convicted terrorists from its prisons. To the contrary, he has energetically supported the establishment of a Palestinian unity government between Fatah and Hamas - which the US State Department has since 1995 designated as a foreign terrorist organization to which US citizens, including the US President are required by law to give no quarter.

As for Iran, during his meeting with Netanyahu in May, Obama gave the clear impression that the Iranian regime had until September to accept his offer to negotiate the disposition of its nuclear installations. But it is now September, and in its belated response to Obama's generous offer of engagement, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's regime rejected the terms of Obama's engagement out of hand. Obama did not retaliate by taking his offer to negotiate off the table or - perish at the thought - working to implement the sanctions he pledged would follow an Iranian rejection of his open hand. Instead, Obama announced that he is sending a senior US official to meet with the Iranians on October 1. And with that announcement, any residual doubt that Obama is willing to live in a world in which Iran is armed with nuclear weaponry dissipated completely.

In the meantime, in his address to the UN General Assembly on Wednesday and in his remarks at his meeting with Netanyahu and Abbas on Tuesday, Obama made clear that, in the words of former US ambassador to the UN John Bolton, he has "put Israel on the chopping block." He referred to Israeli communities located beyond the 1949 armistice lines as "illegitimate." Moreover, Obama explained that Israel can no longer expect US support for its security if it doesn't bow to his demand that it surrender all of the land it has controlled since 1967.

Apparently it is immaterial to the US leader that if Israel fulfilled his demand, the Jewish state would render itself defenseless against enemy attack and so embolden its neighbors to invade. That is, it matters not to Obama that were Israel to fulfill his demand, the prospect of an Arab war against Israel would rise steeply. The fact that Obama made these deeply antagonistic statements about Israel at the UN in itself exposes his hostility towards the country. The UN's institutional hostility towards Israel is surpassed only by that of the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

So given Obama's positions towards Israel on the one hand and Iran and its allies on the other, it seems clear enough that the logical endpoint of Obama's policies would look something like Brzezinski's recommended course of action. Moreover, Obama's foreign policy as a whole makes it fairly easy to imagine him ordering the US military to open hostilities against a US ally to defend a US adversary - even as that adversary goes out of its way to humiliate Obama personally and the US in general.

Since Obama took office, he has been abandoning one US ally after another while seeking to curry favor with one US adversary after another. At every turn, America's allies - from Israel to Honduras, to Columbia, South Korea, and Japan to Poland and the Czech Republic - have reacted with disbelief and horror to his treachery. And at every turn, America's adversaries - from Iran to Venezuela to North Korea and Russia - have responded with derision and contempt to his seemingly obsessive attempts to appease them.

The horror Obama has instilled in America's friends and the contempt he has evoked from its enemies have not caused him to change course. The fact that his policies throughout the world have already failed to bring a change in the so-called international community's treatment of the US has not led him to reconsider those policies. As many Western Europeans have begun to openly acknowledge, the man they once likened to the messiah is nothing but a politician — and a weak, bungling one at that. Even Britain's Economist is laughing at him. But Obama is unmoved by any of this, and as his speech at the UN General Assembly made clear, he is moving full speed ahead in his plans to subordinate US foreign policy to the UN.

Obama's stubborn insistence on advancing his feckless foreign policy in the face of its already apparent colossal failure is of a piece with his unswerving commitment to his domestic agenda in spite of its apparent colossal failure. Obama's economic stimulus package failed to stimulate the US economy and increased the US's economic deficit to heights undreamed of by his predecessors. His nationalization of major US corporations like General Motors, his cash-for-clunkers program to stimulate the US auto industry and his massive encroachments on the banking and financial industries have done nothing to increase economic growth in the US and indeed, unemployment has reached generational highs. And yet, rather than reconsider his belief in vastly expanding the size of the federal government's control over the private sector, Obama has insistently pushed for further governmental control over the US economy - most notably in his drive to transform the US health care industry.

Both Obama's supporters and his opponents have claimed that his presidency may well stand or fall on his ability to pass a health care reform law in the coming months. But the fact of the matter is that if he succeeds in passing such a law, his success will be a Pyrrhic victory because Obama has promised that his plan will do the impossible, and therefore it will unquestionably fail. Obama has promised that the health care plan he supports will increase access to health services and improve their quality, but simultaneously will not increase the size of the federal deficit or be funded with tax hikes - and this is impossible. Obama's health care plan will fail either to pass into law, or if it becomes law, it will fail to live up to his promises.

Obama's failures in both foreign and domestic policy have weakened him politically. His response to this newfound weakness has been to put himself into the public eye seemingly around the clock. Apparently the thinking behind the move is that while Obama's policies are unpopular, Obama's personal popularity remains high, so if he personalizes his policies, it will become more difficult for his opponents to argue against them.

But alasm this policy too has failed. The more Obama exposes himself, the less he is able to leverage his personal celebrity into political power.

The question for the US's spurned allies in general -- and for Israel in particular — is whether we are better off with a politically strong Obama or a politically weak Obama. Given that the general thrust of his foreign policy is detrimental to our interests, America's allies are best served by a weak Obama. Already this week Israel benefitted from his weakness. It was Obama's weakness that dictated his need to stage a photo-op with Netanyahu and Abbas at the UN. And it was this need — to be seen as doing something productive — that outweighed Obama's desire to put the screws on Israel by preconditioning talks with a freeze on Jewish construction. So Obama was forced to relent at least temporarily and Netanyahu won his first round against Obama.

During a television interview this week Senator John McCain was asked for his opinion of Brzezinski's recommendation that the US shoot down IAF jets en route to Iran in a hypothetical Israeli airstrike against Iran's nuclear installations. He responded with derisive laughter. And indeed, the notion that the US would go to war against Israel to protect Iran's nuclear installations is laughably absurd.

The weaker Obama becomes politically, the more readily Democrats and liberal reporters alike will acknowledge that attacking US allies while scraping and bowing before US foes is a ridiculous strategy for foreign affairs. Certainly no self-proclaimed realist can defend a policy based on denuding the US of its power and forsaking a US-based international system for one dictated by its foes.

It is true that a weakened Obama will seek to win cheap points by putting the squeeze on Israel. But it is also true that the weaker Obama becomes, the less capable he will be of carrying through on his bullying threats against Israel and against fellow democracies around the world.


Caroline B. Glick is the senior Middle East Fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, DC and the deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post.

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


The speech of P.M. Netanyahu at the U.N. General Assembly.


Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Nearly 62 years ago, the United Nations recognized the right of the Jews, an ancient people 3,500 years-old, to a state of their own in their ancestral homeland.

I stand here today as the Prime Minister of Israel, the Jewish state, and I speak to you on behalf of my country and my people.

The United Nations was founded after the carnage of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust. It was charged with preventing the recurrence of such horrendous events.

Nothing has undermined that central mission more than the systematic assault on the truth. Yesterday the President of Iran stood at this very podium, spewing his latest anti-Semitic rants. Just a few days earlier, he again claimed that the Holocaust is a lie.

Last month, I went to a villa in a suburb of Berlin called Wannsee. There, on January 20, 1942, after a hearty meal, senior Nazi officials met and decided how to exterminate the Jewish people. The detailed minutes of that meeting have been preserved by successive German governments. Here is a copy of those minutes, in which the Nazis issued precise instructions on how to carry out the extermination of the Jews. Is this a lie?

A day before I was in Wannsee, I was given in Berlin the original construction plans for the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp. Those plans are signed by Hitler’s deputy, Heinrich Himmler himself. Here is a copy of the plans for Auschwitz-Birkenau, where one million Jews were murdered. Is this too a lie?

This June, President Obama visited the Buchenwald concentration camp. Did President Obama pay tribute to a lie?

And what of the Auschwitz survivors whose arms still bear the tattooed numbers branded on them by the Nazis? Are those tattoos a lie? One-third of all Jews perished in the conflagration. Nearly every Jewish family was affected, including my own. My wife's grandparents, her father’s two sisters and three brothers, and all the aunts, uncles and cousins were all murdered by the Nazis. Is that also a lie?

Yesterday, the man who calls the Holocaust a lie spoke from this podium. To those who refused to come here and to those who left this room in protest, I commend you. You stood up for moral clarity and you brought honor to your countries.

But to those who gave this Holocaust-denier a hearing, I say on behalf of my people, the Jewish people, and decent people everywhere: Have you no shame? Have you no decency?

A mere six decades after the Holocaust, you give legitimacy to a man who denies that the murder of six million Jews took place and pledges to wipe out the Jewish state.

What a disgrace! What a mockery of the charter of the United Nations! Perhaps some of you think that this man and his odious regime threaten only the Jews. You're wrong.

History has shown us time and again that what starts with attacks on the Jews eventually ends up engulfing many others.

This Iranian regime is fueled by an extreme fundamentalism that burst onto the world scene three decades ago after lying dormant for centuries. In the past thirty years, this fanaticism has swept the globe with a murderous violence and cold-blooded impartiality in its choice of victims. It has callously slaughtered Moslems and Christians, Jews and Hindus, and many others. Though it is comprised of different offshoots, the adherents of this unforgiving creed seek to return humanity to medieval times.

Wherever they can, they impose a backward regimented society where women, minorities, gays or anyone not deemed to be a true believer is brutally subjugated. The struggle against this fanaticism does not pit faith against faith nor civilization against civilization.

It pits civilization against barbarism, the 21st century against the 9th century, those who sanctify life against those who glorify death.

The primitivism of the 9th century ought to be no match for the progress of the 21st century. The allure of freedom, the power of technology, the reach of communications should surely win the day. Ultimately, the past cannot triumph over the future. And the future offers all nations magnificent bounties of hope. The pace of progress is growing exponentially.

It took us centuries to get from the printing press to the telephone, decades to get from the telephone to the personal computer, and only a few years to get from the personal computer to the internet.

What seemed impossible a few years ago is already outdated, and we can scarcely fathom the changes that are yet to come. We will crack the genetic code. We will cure the incurable. We will lengthen our lives. We will find a cheap alternative to fossil fuels and clean up the planet.

I am proud that my country Israel is at the forefront of these advances - by leading innovations in science and technology, medicine and biology, agriculture and water, energy and the environment. These innovations the world over offer humanity a sunlit future of unimagined promise.

But if the most primitive fanaticism can acquire the most deadly weapons, the march of history could be reversed for a time. And like the belated victory over the Nazis, the forces of progress and freedom will prevail only after an horrific toll of blood and fortune has been exacted from mankind. That is why the greatest threat facing the world today is the marriage between religious fanaticism and the weapons of mass destruction.

The most urgent challenge facing this body is to prevent the tyrants of Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Are the member states of the United Nations up to that challenge? Will the international community confront a despotism that terrorizes its own people as they bravely stand up for freedom?

Will it take action against the dictators who stole an election in broad daylight and gunned down Iranian protesters who died in the streets choking in their own blood? Will the international community thwart the world's most pernicious sponsors and practitioners of terrorism?

Above all, will the international community stop the terrorist regime of Iran from developing atomic weapons, thereby endangering the peace of the entire world?

The people of Iran are courageously standing up to this regime. People of goodwill around the world stand with them, as do the thousands who have been protesting outside this hall. Will the United Nations stand by their side?

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The jury is still out on the United Nations, and recent signs are not encouraging. Rather than condemning the terrorists and their Iranian patrons, some here have condemned their victims. That is exactly what a recent UN report on Gaza did, falsely equating the terrorists with those they targeted.

For eight long years, Hamas fired from Gaza thousands of missiles, mortars and rockets on nearby Israeli cities. Year after year, as these missiles were deliberately hurled at our civilians, not a single UN resolution was passed condemning those criminal attacks. We heard nothing - absolutely nothing - from the UN Human Rights Council, a misnamed institution if there ever was one.

In 2005, hoping to advance peace, Israel unilaterally withdrew from every inch of Gaza. It dismantled 21 settlements and uprooted over 8,000 Israelis. We didn't get peace. Instead we got an Iranian backed terror base fifty miles from Tel Aviv. Life in Israeli towns and cities next to Gaza became a nightmare. You see, the Hamas rocket attacks not only continued, they increased tenfold. Again, the UN was silent.

Finally, after eight years of this unremitting assault, Israel was finally forced to respond. But how should we have responded? Well, there is only one example in history of thousands of rockets being fired on a country's civilian population. It happened when the Nazis rocketed British cities during World War II. During that war, the allies leveled German cities, causing hundreds of thousands of casualties. Israel chose to respond differently. Faced with an enemy committing a double war crime of firing on civilians while hiding behind civilians - Israel sought to conduct surgical strikes against the rocket launchers.

That was no easy task because the terrorists were firing missiles from homes and schools, using mosques as weapons depots and ferreting explosives in ambulances. Israel, by contrast, tried to minimize casualties by urging Palestinian civilians to vacate the targeted areas.

We dropped countless flyers over their homes, sent thousands of text messages and called thousands of cell phones asking people to leave. Never has a country gone to such extraordinary lengths to remove the enemy's civilian population from harm's way.

Yet faced with such a clear case of aggressor and victim, who did the UN Human Rights Council decide to condemn? Israel. A democracy legitimately defending itself against terror is morally hanged, drawn and quartered, and given an unfair trial to boot.

By these twisted standards, the UN Human Rights Council would have dragged Roosevelt and Churchill to the dock as war criminals. What a perversion of truth. What a perversion of justice.

Delegates of the United Nations,

Will you accept this farce?

Because if you do, the United Nations would revert to its darkest days, when the worst violators of human rights sat in judgment against the law-abiding democracies, when Zionism was equated with racism and when an automatic majority could declare that the earth is flat.

If this body does not reject this report, it would send a message to terrorists everywhere: Terror pays; if you launch your attacks from densely populated areas, you will win immunity. And in condemning Israel, this body would also deal a mortal blow to peace. Here's why.

When Israel left Gaza, many hoped that the missile attacks would stop. Others believed that at the very least, Israel would have international legitimacy to exercise its right of self-defense. What legitimacy? What self-defense?

The same UN that cheered Israel as it left Gaza and promised to back our right of self-defense now accuses us –my people, my country - of war crimes? And for what? For acting responsibly in self-defense. What a travesty!

Israel justly defended itself against terror. This biased and unjust report is a clear-cut test for all governments. Will you stand with Israel or will you stand with the terrorists?

We must know the answer to that question now. Now and not later. Because if Israel is again asked to take more risks for peace, we must know today that you will stand with us tomorrow. Only if we have the confidence that we can defend ourselves can we take further risks for peace.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

All of Israel wants peace.

Any time an Arab leader genuinely wanted peace with us, we made peace. We made peace with Egypt led by Anwar Sadat. We made peace with Jordan led by King Hussein. And if the Palestinians truly want peace, I and my government, and the people of Israel, will make peace. But we want a genuine peace, a defensible peace, a permanent peace. In 1947, this body voted to establish two states for two peoples - a Jewish state and an Arab state. The Jews accepted that resolution. The Arabs rejected it.

We ask the Palestinians to finally do what they have refused to do for 62 years: Say yes to a Jewish state. Just as we are asked to recognize a nation-state for the Palestinian people, the Palestinians must be asked to recognize the nation state of the Jewish people. The Jewish people are not foreign conquerors in the Land of Israel. This is the land of our forefathers.

Inscribed on the walls outside this building is the great Biblical vision of peace: "Nation shall not lift up sword against nation. They shall learn war no more." These words were spoken by the Jewish prophet Isaiah 2,800 years ago as he walked in my country, in my city, in the hills of Judea and in the streets of Jerusalem.

We are not strangers to this land. It is our homeland. As deeply connected as we are to this land, we recognize that the Palestinians also live there and want a home of their own. We want to live side by side with them, two free peoples living in peace, prosperity and dignity.

But we must have security. The Palestinians should have all the powers to govern themselves except those handful of powers that could endanger Israel.

That is why a Palestinian state must be effectively demilitarized. We don't want another Gaza, another Iranian backed terror base abutting Jerusalem and perched on the hills a few kilometers from Tel Aviv.

We want peace.

I believe such a peace can be achieved. But only if we roll back the forces of terror, led by Iran, that seek to destroy peace, eliminate Israel and overthrow the world order. The question facing the international community is whether it is prepared to confront those forces or accommodate them.

Over seventy years ago, Winston Churchill lamented what he called the "confirmed unteachability of mankind," the unfortunate habit of civilized societies to sleep until danger nearly overtakes them.

Churchill bemoaned what he called the "want of foresight, the unwillingness to act when action will be simple and effective, the lack of clear thinking, the confusion of counsel until emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong.”

I speak here today in the hope that Churchill's assessment of the "unteachibility of mankind" is for once proven wrong.

I speak here today in the hope that we can learn from history -- that we can prevent danger in time.

In the spirit of the timeless words spoken to Joshua over 3,000 years ago, let us be strong and of good courage. Let us confront this peril, secure our future and, God willing, forge an enduring peace for generations to come.