Saturday, September 4, 2010

Enduring Obama’s pressure

by Yoram Ettinger

PM Netanyahu should take advantage of broad support for Israel in America

Israel's support among Americans is as robust as always, expected to be reinforced following the midterm November 2010 election.

Anyone claiming that Israel's prime minister cannot endure US presidential pressure – and therefore must accept sweeping concessions – is either dramatically mistaken, outrageously misleading or attempting to justify inability to endure pressure.

In August 2010, Israel was ranked by "The Rusmussen Report" – for the second year in a row – as the third most favored ally of the USA (71%), following Canada and Britain, ahead of Germany, Japan, France and Mexico, significantly ahead of Egypt (42%) and Saudi Arabia (21%).

In April 2010, "The Quinnipiac Institute" – often quoted by The New York Times, the Washington Post and CNN – documented public support for Obama's national security policy on all issues except one: Israel! By an overwhelming majority of 66%-19% Americans expect President Obama to further his support of Israel.

In February 2010, "Gallup" placed Israel as the 5th most popular country in the USA, while the Palestinian Authority was one of three least favorite entities along with North Korea and Iran.

In June 2010, "Gallup" determined that terrorism and the federal debt tie as the most worrisome issues to Americans, more than healthcare costs, unemployment, illegal immigration, US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and the environment. In February 2010, "Gallup" confirmed that Americans do not trust the United Nations. These findings shed light on the broad common denominator between the US and Israel, which is perceived by Americans as the role model of counter-terrorism and defiance of the UN.

In September 2009, "The Rusmussen Report" found that Israel is one of only five countries that most Americans are willing to defend militarily. Israel is ranked third (59%) following Canada and Britain.

However, the "Super Poll" is taking place daily on Capitol Hill. House Members (about 75%) and Senators (about 85%) overwhelmingly support pro-Israel legislation and resolutions, even in opposition to the president. Legislators – and especially the 435 House Members who must run for reelection every two years – are extremely sensitive to the preferences of their constituents. They are aware of the clout and centrality of the voters under the American system of government, which is the most representative in the world, distributing equal power to Congress and the White House.

Consistent support since 17th century

Congressional support of Israel is expected to rise following the November 2010 election, when joined by scores of new members, most of whom will be national security-oriented, identify with Judeo-Christian values, suspicious of the UN and consider the Jewish State a unique spiritual and strategic ally in the battle against Islamic terrorism. Absent from the new Congress – which will be able to restrain/check the president domestically and externally – will be a few of Israel's harshest critics on Capitol Hill: the immensely powerful Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee David Obey (21 terms), Vic Snyder, Bill Delahunt, Carolyn Kilpatrick (7 terms each), etc.

The US public and Congressional identification with the Jewish State has been consistent since the 17th century, with the arrival of the early pilgrims to America. Therefore, there are more US sites bearing Biblical names than in any other country, and statutes of Moses feature prominently in the House Chamber on Capitol Hill and in the US Supreme Court.

In 1891, six years before the First Zionist Congress, the House Speaker, the Chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee and 400 additional distinguished Americans signed the "Blackstone Memorial," which called for the establishment of a Jewish State in the Land of Israel. In 1922, both Chambers voted for a joint resolution, urging the establishment of a national Jewish home over the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

In 2010, most public opinion polls document that support for the Jewish State constitutes one of the very few issues of consensus in an otherwise extremely polarized American society. The Jewish State has been showered by substantial support, in spite of Obama's policy, which is increasingly viewed by most Americans as radical-Left, irrespective of the "elite" media and notwithstanding hostility on university campuses and the double-standard in the UN and in Europe.

Submission to presidential pressure, by Israel's prime minister, while ignoring the unique support for the Jewish State by the American public and Congress, would amount to a slap in the face of US democracy, undermining Israel's most vital interests.

All Israeli prime ministers between Ben Gurion (1948) and Shamir (1992) leveraged Israel's support in the US, deflecting – in most cases – US presidential pressure, despite the limited material resources at their disposal. In 2010, Prime Minister Netanyahu leads a country that enjoys impressive economic, technological, industrial and defense capabilities, while the Free World is increasingly cognizant of the threatening Islamic sandstorms around the corner. Will Netanyahu follow in the footsteps of the 1948-1992 leaders, rather than pulling the rug from under the feet of Israel's supporters in the US?

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

Antisemitic cartoons on progressive blogs

by Adam Levick

  • Political cartoons often have more of an immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than a lengthy essay. By far the largest output of antisemitic cartoons nowadays comes from the Arab and Muslim world. A yet uncharted field of hate cartoons against Jews is that in progressive blogs.
  • Antisemitic cartoons found - and seemingly tolerated - on progressive blogs such as Daily Kos, MyDD, Mondoweiss, and Indymedia are mainly expressions of anti-Israelism, a more recent category of antisemitism than the religious and ethnic-nationalist versions.
  • Traditionally the core motif of antisemitism is that Jews represent absolute evil. The cultural notion of what that means has changed over the centuries. Nowadays absolute evil is often expressed as Jews or Israelis being Nazis. Indeed, the cartoon motif most frequently appearing on the progressive blogs is imagery equating Israel with Nazi Germany. Others reflect Jewish conspiracies, Zionists controlling the world, the blood libel, or show Jews as animals.
  • Most of the progressive blogs discussed, containing such antisemitic imagery cited in this essay, generally fail to remove such hateful cartoons, despite blog policies expressly prohibiting posts that contain "hateful" or "inflammatory" content.

Cartoons have to express ideas in an easy-to-understand way. Therefore they are often accessible even to people who cannot read. Cartoons are also an efficient way to transmit hate and prejudices, including antisemitism. Antisemitism in cartoons has been investigated, among others, by the Belgian political scientist Jöel Kotek in his book Cartoons and Extremism.[1] Political cartoons often have a more immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than a lengthy essay.

The largest output of antisemitic cartoons nowadays comes from the Arab and Muslim world. Outside it one also finds a significant number of antisemitic cartoons in many countries. In Europe, for instance, over the past decade such imagery has been particularly strong in countries such as Norway and Greece.[2]

A yet uncharted field of hate cartoons against Jews is that in progressive blogs. They are mainly expressions of anti-Israelism, a more recent category of antisemitism than the religious and ethnic-nationalist versions. Traditionally the core motif of antisemitism is that Jews represent absolute evil. The cultural notion of what that means has changed over the centuries. In current times absolute evil is often expressed as Jews or Israelis being Nazis. This charge is usually identified with the virulent antisemitic cartoons on right-wing extremist sites and in Arab media. This motif, however, is also the main one found in antisemitic cartoons on progressive blogs.

Also the three major submotifs of antisemitism are expressed in cartoons on progressive blogs. The first one is that Jews lust for power. In progressive blogs this is manifested mainly as caricatures on Jewish conspiracies and Zionists controlling the world. The second major antisemitic submotif is that Jews lust for blood, and progressive blogs include cartoons accusing Jews of infanticide. The third antisemitic submotif, namely, that Jews are inferior beings, is expressed on these blogs in cartoons showing Jews as animals.

The cartoonist most frequently appearing on the progressive blogs analyzed here is Carlos Latuff. He is an extreme left-wing political activist who won second place in the notorious Irani an Holocaust Cartoon Competition. Latuff is one of the more prolific antisemitic cartoonists on the web, with a staggering amount of work dedicated to advancing explicitly antismitic political imagery.

Israel as a Nazi State

The U.S. State Department's 2008 report[3] on "Contemporary Global Antisemitism" asserts regarding the new antismitism:

Comparing contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis is increasingly commonplace. Antisemitism couched as criticism of Zionism or Israel often escapes condemnation since it can be more subtle than traditional forms of antisemitism...those criticiz­ing Israel have a responsibility to consider the effect their actions may have in prompting hatred of Jews. At times hostility toward Israel has translated into physical violence directed at Jews in gener­al.

The European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia presents a similar definition.[4]

The 2009 report on antisemitism by the Stephen Roth Institute noted that antisemitic attacks on Jews worldwide doubled from the previous year. The study also points out that extreme anti-Israel sentiments, such as equating Israel with Nazi Germany, are often the catalyst for such attacks.[5] As the report observes, "The dramatic increase in antisemitic manifestations in West European countries was influenced considerably by the virulently anti-Israel discourse and propaganda that portrayed Israel as a Nazi state and consequently delegitimized its right to exist."

As analyzed in an interview with Kotek in 2004,[6] as well as by Arieh Stav in his 1999 book on antisemitic cartoons in the Arab world,[7] the charge that the behavior of the Jewish state is similar to that of Nazi Germany has been a staple in the Arab media for years, used as a tool for demonizing and delegitimizing Israel. As Kotek noted, "Long before [Ariel] Sharon came to power [as prime minister], the theme of the Israeli as a Nazi was well-represented in the Arab caricature. According to it, all Zionists from Peres and Barak to Sharon are inspired by Nazi methods." As Stav pointed out, "The idea of NaZionism...was a central theme of the Soviet Press [during the Cold War] and had considerable impact on Egypt and Syria...particularly during the Lebanon War and the Intifada, as well as in the Western Press. The Arabs...are in the vanguard of this trend. The Judeo-Nazi Motif is among the central themes of Arab propaganda."[8]

The following cartoons illustrate how the hate motif of Israel as a Nazi state appears regularly on progressive blogs. As Kotek remarks, "Cartoons [that] convey the idea that Jews behave like Nazis [would] lead readers to conclude that Israel, alone among the nations, has no right to exist. Such cartoons represent a continuation and rebirth of the malicious Zionism=Racism charge codified in 1975 - later repealed - by UN member states (Arab and Soviet bloc) who at the time were openly dedicated to Israel's destruction."

The above cartoon, showing a bloodstained Israeli flag with the Magen David morphed into a swastika, is posted[9] on the progressive blog Daily Kos. It accompanies a column by a Kos blogger entitled: "Eulogy before the Inevitability of Self-Destruction: The Decline and Death of Israel." While it is important to note that this post elicited an overwhelmingly negative response by Kos readers, it is also certainly worth noting that the graphic and accompanying story - which warns of "A Zionist movement multiplying like cancer cells" - was still posted on the site as of August 2010. The section on "posting privileges" at Daily Kos clearly stipulates that "hateful" or "inflammatory" posts will be deleted.[10]

The cartoon above by Derkaoui Abdellah, presumably comparing Israel's security fence with Auschwitz, won first prize at the abovementioned 2006 Iranian Holocaust Cartoon Competition in Tehran.[11] It was also posted on Daily Kos, and is still up at the site as of August 2010.[12] The Kos blogger who posted the cartoon referred to it as "merely" depicting "a political statement that what the Israelis are doing in building the wall around the Palestinian territories echoes what was done to them in the past.'' While much of the commentary regarding the cartoon was negative, it needs to be asked why - again, given that Daily Kos reserves the right to delete material that is hateful - such a hideous cartoon would appear at this progressive site at all, let alone remain there to this day.


EU Commissioner derides ‘Jewish Lobby’ in the US

by Lahav Harkov

EJC demands apology from De Gucht, a former Belgian Foreign Minister; says remarks are part of “a dangerous trend of anti-Semitism in Europe.”

The European Jewish Congress has demanded a retraction on Friday from a the European Union official who made anti-Semitic comments on Belgian radio.

Karel De Gucht, European Commissioner for Trade, was asked about the chances for peace in the Middle East on Belgian Flemis public radio VRT on Thursday, and answered with a tirade about the power of the “Jewish Lobby” in the US. He also insinuated that Jews are irrational when it comes to Israel and the Middle East.

EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor responded: “This is part of a dangerous trend of incitement against Jews and Israel in Europe that needs to be stamped out immediately.”

“Once again we hear outrageous anti-Semitism from a senior European official,” Kantor said. “The libel of Jewish power is apparently acceptable at the highest levels of the European Union. This should worry everyone who seeks a more tolerant Europe.”

Kantor added that the EU commissioner’s remarks are part of a new wave of anti-Semitism in Europe. “It has somehow become acceptable to attack Jews through Israel, even at the highest levels. The old anti-Semitic libels are remade to fit 21st century hostility to the Jewish state.”

De Gucht is one of the most senior officials in the European Union, and was formerly Belgian Foreign Minister.

The EJC has called for an immediate retraction and apology from De Gucht.

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

New York Times blames the victims for Beit Hagai massacre

by Leo Rennert

When it comes to differentiating between Israeli settlers and Hamas terrorists, the New York Times displays more sympathy for the latter than for the former -- as is quite apparent from its Sept. 1 coverage of the killing of four Israeli civilians, including a pregnant woman, in an ambush by Hamas gunmen ("Killing of Israeli Settlers Rattles Leaders on Both Sides" by Isabel Kershner and Mark Landler," page A4).

The article's lead paragraph makes perfectly clear where the Times thinks the primary blame for the deadliest terrorist attack on Israeli civilians in more than two years lies. The killing of these Israelis on the eve of peace talks in Washington, Kershner and Landler write, "underscored the disruptive role that the issue of Jewish settlements could play in the already fragile negotiations."

The only "disruptive role" mentioned in the article's lead is that of Jewish settlements. No mention that the murders might also underscore the "disruptive role" of Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups, including Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the terror wing of Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party. No mention of any "disuptive role" by Abbas-sanctioned incitement to violence in Palestinian Authority media, schools and mosques in the West Bank -- the kind of incitement that breeds terrorists like those who murdered these Israelis.

Instead, right up there in the headline and in the first paragraph, the Times points a finger of blame only at Jewish settlements in the West Bank. To drive home this point, Kershner and Landler don't just report that four Israelis were killed. They lead off by informing readers that the targets of Hamas terrorists were "Israeli settlers." Coupled with their primary emphasis on the "disruptive role" of settlements, they leave an obvious impression that these settlers basically had it coming. If anyone is to blame more than anyone else or any other group, it's the settlers, according to the Times version of events.

The Times basically wants the settlements -- not Hamas -- to disappear.

Thus, the article goes on to indict the victims by noting that they came from Beit Hagai, a small settlement near Hebron, "an area known for particularly militant settlers." Contrast that with the article's benign description of Hamas as merely an "Islamic group." Again, the bad guys are "militant" settlers, while Hamas gets sanitized as just an "Islamic" organization.

No mention of 4,000-year-old Jewish ties to Hebron, or to a long-time vibrant Jewish community there until lethal Arab pogroms in the 1920s drove the Jews out for a relatively brief period of time -- until after the Six-Day War of 1967. Jews have deeper roots in Hebron, where Abraham bought what became the Cave of the Patriarachs, than any other ethnic or religious group -- by thousands of years. The Times, however, totally ignores history -- biblical and modern -- because it's obsessed only with a Jewish presence in or near Hebron, Judaism's second holiest city.

And to make that crystal clear, the article goes on to report in Paragraph 5 that "even before the attack, settlements were looming as a potential deal-breaker in the peace process." Again, the only obstacles hampering the peace process are those pesky "settlements."

It is only much farther down in the article, in Paragraph 9, that Kershner and Landler quote an Israeli official as surmising that the lethal attack also might "heighten the emphasis on Israel's security in the negotiations." But that's not the conclusion of the reporters; they're merely attributing this to an Israeli official. It's not necessarily their conclusion that Israel's need for stronger security arrangements ought to get some attention at the peace talks, unlike their own personal judgment that the "settlements" are the only real fly in the ointment.

And while Israel and Jewish settlements take the brunt of blame of their article, they not only bend over backwards to soften any Hamas culpability, they're just as gentle in their treatment of Abbas and the Palestinian Authority. They quote PA officials as noting that the area of the attack is under full Israeli security control, and where PA security forces have no responsibility and are not allowed to operate. But does that get Abbas and the PA off the hook? Much farther down in the article, near the end, Kershner and Landler finally toss in a quote from an Israeli military official, who points out that "roadblocks in the area of the attack were removed two years ago." So Israel tied its own hands, retaining official security responsibility while weakening its defenses to allow Palestinians easier movement throughout the West Bank.

But by then, most readers will already have turned the page.

Also, don't count on the Times to cover the emotional funerals of the four Israeli victims, which were attended by hundreds of grief-stricken mourners. The Times covers only Palestinian funerals

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

U.S. Security Guarantees - Caveat Emptor

by Dr. Aaron Lerner

There are two distinct roles for security guarantees:

#1. To actually effectively offset the degradation of security associated with various changes (force deployments, etc.) associated with implementation of an agreement.

#2. To placate those who believe that such an offset is required.

There is a critical difference between the two roles.

In the first case there is a genuine and serious interest in making sure that such "offsets" are both robust and permanent in terms of efficacy.

In the second case the offsets are considered only window dressing and their viability and effectiveness are not actually relevant.

It is crucial to keep in mind that many of the Israelis involved in analyzing security guarantees are confident that if we enter into a peace agreement with our neighbors that, as Shimon Peres put it, the peace itself will be our best security guarantee. That once we make a permanent agreement that our neighbors will honor it in perpetuity.

Again, we aren't talking about just professors or politicians. Nor are we talking only about retired brass in the Council to Support Any and All Withdrawals (aka The Council for Peace and Security). There are people in key positions in the various branches of Israel's security apparatus today who also share this belief.

Why is it crucial?

Because even if you think that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has no illusions about our neighbors, his decision process may rely on the analysis of people who share this secular messianic belief in the power of a final status agreement. It can be even worse: some of them may end up participating in the teams preparing Israel's negotiating positions and even representing Israel at the negotiating table.

Here are just a few things that those who consider security arrangements as no more than window dressing may opt to ignore:

1. For every security gizmo Israel may receive there is ultimately either a technique or different gizmo developed to neutralize the security gizmo's efficacy.

2. A third party force will ultimately give priority to the interests of the third party over those of the force's mission.

3. A sovereign Palestinian state created as a result of the signing of agreement "x" would remain a sovereign state even if it violated agreement "x" or even explicitly renounced it.

4. Historically, Israel has never ultimately been able to keep a force deployed in an area that does not also have a civilian Israeli population presence.

Assuming that Mahmoud Abbas doesn't bolt the negotiating table in the coming weeks, we will be witness to many efforts to sell to Netanyahu, and in turn the Israeli public, security window dressing that ignores these and other critical consideration..

Caveat emptor.

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

PA minister honors mother for having 4 terrorist sons

by Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik

"The Palestinian mother is a central partner in the struggle...
It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves
that we bow to her in salute and in honor."

Those were the words of the Palestinian Authority's Minister for Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake, when he honored a Palestinian woman by awarding her "the Shield of Resoluteness and Giving."

The Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Karake, honors mother of 4 terrorists with PA Shield. [Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 28, 2010]
She received this honor because she is the mother of four sons who are serving a total of 18 life sentences in Israeli prisons. They all killed Israeli civilians in terror attacks.

The Minister also "praised the Abu Hamid family as a model of willpower and of the struggle for the independence of Palestine" when he visited the family with a ministry delegation, human rights organizations and released prisoners, the official PA daily newspaper reported.

The four sons are serving life sentences for the following crimes:

  • Nasser Abu Hamid - 7 life sentences + 50 years - commander in Fatah's military wing the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades in Ramallah. Convicted of killing seven Israeli civilians and 12 attempted murders.
  • Nasr Abu Hamid - 5 life sentences - Member of terror faction of Fatah, Tanzim, and convicted of involvement in two terror attacks and arms dealing.
  • Sharif Abu Hamid- 4 life sentences - a member in one of the brothers' units carrying out terror attacks against civilians and soldiers. Accompanied a suicide bomber to his attack in March 2002.
  • Muhammad Abu Hamid - 2 life sentences + 30 years - involvement in terror attacks.

Minister Karake also chose this week to visit the home of the suicide terrorist Ayyat Al-Akhras who in 2002 entered a Jerusalem supermarket and detonated a bomb murdering two Israelis and killing herself. The minister's visit took place on the occasion of the Palestinian "National Day for Returning the Bodies of Palestinian and Arab Shahids and MIA's."

The mother who received the award for having four terrorist sons was described as "Khansa of Palestine," which is a reference to Al-Khansa, a woman from the earliest period of Islam who sent her four sons to battle and rejoiced when they all died as Martyrs. Calling the Palestinian mother by this name reinforces the message that seeking death as a Martyr is a worthy and honorable goal and that parents should proudly sacrifice their children.

Palestinian Media Watch has reported:
1- PA's glorification of terror and terrorists,
2- Palestinian parents who celebrate their children's death as Martyrs,
3- The PA's promotion of Martyrdom.

The following is an excerpt from the article about the PA Minister awarding the mother "the Shield of Resoluteness and Giving" in the official PA paper:

"Issa Karake, Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, awarded the Shield of Resoluteness and Giving to Khansa of Palestine [reference to a woman in the earliest period of Islam who sent her four sons to battle and rejoiced when they all died as Martyrs], Um Yousuf Abu Hamid, inscribed with the names of her four sons who are imprisoned in the Israeli occupation's prisons. He emphasized, 'The Palestinian mother is a central partner in the struggle, by virtue of what she has given and continues to give. It is she who gave birth to the fighters, and she deserves that we bow to her in salute and in honor.'

This [was said] during a visit yesterday by [Minister] Karake and a delegation from the Ministry of Prisoners' Affairs, human rights organizations, and released prisoners, to the home of the Abu Hamid family in the Al-Am'ari refugee camp. [Karake] joined the meal breaking the [Ramadan] fast with the mother of the four prisoners who were sentenced to several life terms, as well as a fifth Shahid (Martyr) who was caught and executed on the spot by the Israeli special forces, having killed an Israeli intelligence officer and having wounded soldiers. Karake praised the Abu Hamid family as a model of willpower and of the struggle for the independence of Palestine... It should be noted that the Abu Hamid family is one of the fighting families of Palestine... All of the family's younger generation have been arrested, and four sons are still in prison: Nasser Muhammad Yousuf Naji Abu Hamid, sentenced to seven life terms and another 50 years; Nasr Muhammad Yousuf Naji Abu Hamid, sentenced to five life terms; Sharif Muhammad Yousuf Naji Abu Hamid, sentenced to four life terms; and Muhammad Muhammad Yousuf Naji Abu Hamid, sentenced to two life terms and 30 years. This is in addition to their Martyr brother, Abd Al-Mun'im Muhammad Yousuf Naji Abu Hamid, who died as a Martyr on May 31st, 1994."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 28, 2010]

The following is the report on PA Minister Karake's visit to the suicide terrorist's home:

"Minister of Prisoners' Affairs, Issa Karake... visited the home of the Palestinian Shahida (Martyr) Ayyat Muhammad Lutfi Al-Akhras, who died a Martyrs' death on March 29th, 2004 [the correct date was March 29, 2002 when Ayyat Al-Akhras carried out a suicide terror attack in a Jerusalem supermarket, killing two Israelis, -Ed.], in the Dehaishe refugee camp. Her body is still being held in the numbered military cemetery [reference to Israeli cemetery for enemy casualties, -Ed.] within '48 occupied land. Karake's visit marked the National Day for Returning the Bodies of Palestinian and Arab Shahids and MIA's... He [Karake] condemned the Israeli policy of punishing the dead along with the living, contrary to international agreements...
He said that 317 Shahids are still prisoners in the so-called numbered cemeteries and in cemeteries, lacking the minimum moral, religious and humanitarian foundations. Karake added that Israel is the only country in the world which imposes punishments on dead bodies and holds them, nameless, in cemeteries which are vulnerable to erosion in winter and to the gnawing of wild animals. Karake said that hiding the bodies of the Shahids is part of the Israeli government's evasion of responsibility and concealment of war crimes which were carried out against the Shahids, whether by field executions, abuse of their bodies, and trade or theft of their organs."
[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Aug. 30, 2010]

Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques ZilberdikItamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Wikipedia Editing: A Tool for Hating (Zionists)

by Stephanie L. Freid

When Jerusalem tech guru Miriam Schwab agreed to sign on to a workshop focused on influencing Israel’s online presence, she didn’t expect to end up on The Lede, a New York Times blog, slugged as an Israeli working to smite domestic and foreign online enemies via “Zionist editing” of Wikipedia entries.

Schwab, founding director of web presence agency Illuminea, is an unassuming, self-described “tech nerd.” She’s all about helping companies improve their online presence using today’s tools: Internet, blogging, social media sites, etc. So when organizers of the Yisrael Sheli movement and the Yesha Council of settlements put together a seminar to help counter anti-Israel sentiment online, Schwab agreed to take part:

"It was specifically to influence Wikipedia, and directly linked to the post-Gaza flotilla fallout. There weren’t enough people to counter the anti-Israel narrative, so in keeping with Wikipedia’s 'neutral point of view' policy, the aim was to have more people learn how to counter the bias."

Wikipedia, which literally means “quick encyclopedia,” is based on an open-edit model compiled by unpaid volunteers. Anyone can log on and input or alter entries — but the bar is high: Wikipedia editors adhere to strict guidelines surrounding neutrality and accuracy, and not knowing the guidelines or how to technically work with the system can result in material being changed or booted off the site.

“Accuracy” however — among Wikipedia editors — is apparently in the mind of the beholder. And some say Wikipedia’s balance is skewed, particularly in entries relating to the Mideast:

"Editors are known to take sides. There’s a Palestine work group, and they hold a Palestinian point of view. Israel’s work group is pro-Israel. There’s anti-Scientology, and pro. That’s Wikipedia. Unless it’s math or science, there’s no truth with a capital 'T. People are on Wiki with agendas and political views."

"To offset agendas, Wiki editors vote on popular or hot topics, and decide on the site’s language and tone. But to be allowed to weigh in on official usage — whether or not to refer to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, or to term Judea and Samaria 'occupied territories' — an editor has to maintain 100 edits per month."

"It’s hard work, and it was a complete mystery to me in technical terms. Wikipedia isn’t standard HTML."

So Schwab sat in on sessions led by two Wiki gurus brought in to help participants understand how to access Wikipedia, use the tools, and weigh in. It was not, Schwab maintains, a crash course on Wiki-Zionism:

"They presented the idea that Wikipedians — the people who are really into it — passionately embrace a neutral point of view."

The Wiki gurus were there to help workshop participants learn how to operate within the framework so that a more balanced point of view regarding Israel could be brought forward by people with a stake in the outcome. For instance, a right-wing Israeli itching to go onto the site fighting for a claim would be advised by the experts to be extremely patient and to approach it from a different angle.

The directive for getting a foot in would not be to scour Wikipedia for slanted entries and edit them fastidiously, but rather to follow a deliberate, piecemeal plan of editing entries of personal appeal — say about dog grooming, or Mad Men – without presenting a political agenda. Doing that, a slow buildup of seniority might eventually lead a person to make it through the vote process and then be allowed in on discussion. In other words, it’s a long, methodical haul.

That’s because, says Schwab, if a person comes in screaming about the Mideast, alarms go off:

"Edit anything on the Mideast, Israel, Scientology, or the Iraq War, and there’ll be a red flag flying overhead."

Overall Schwab says she thinks Wikipedia is pretty even — “they’re no more biased than the local Israel press” — but there’s always room for improvement.

What she found shocking in light of her recent press exposure, however, was the level of vitriol out there on the virtual plane:

"I became the face of the hated Jews. When a video of an interview with me went up on YouTube, the comments section was horrifying. 'Hey I found a new hot Zio-Nazi Babe' someone wrote. Left-wing anti-Israel bloggers wrote a lot about the so-called Wikipedia Zionist editing workshop and in general I discovered that people are filled with rage against women, Zionists, and Jews. What was shocking to me was becoming the face of that."

Stephanie L. Freid is a freelance writer in Israel.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Peace Delusion

by Rich Trzupek

It’s been nearly two years since Palestinian representatives and Israelis sat across a table from each other to talk about peace. As the latest round of talks got under way yesterday, it’s hard to imagine that the results this time will be much different than any other time. Has anything changed that might lead to a different outcome? Gaza is still being run by Hamas. The “moderates” sitting across the table from Israel – Fatah, Egypt and Jordan – refuse to do to take any action that would delegitimize the group of terrorists who rule Gaza. The much vaunted “two state solution” can hardly work when half of the proposed Palestinian state refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, sneers at peace talks involving their enemy and, just to emphasize their contempt, carries out terror attacks two days before those talks commence.

Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah II won’t talk about Hamas. Ignoring the terrorist organization and its goals is the accepted strategy among those hoping to create a new Palestinian state. But Hamas and what Hamas represents cannot be ignored, if only because the genocidal organization refuses to be ignored. If it were possible to placate aggrieved Palestinians, step one would have to be isolating and marginalizing Hamas. As long as the terrorist entity remains in place, it serves as a lightning rod for disgruntled and angry Muslims throughout the Middle East. How better to demonstrate that they truly represent a moderate alternative than for Abbas, Mubarak and Abdullah to condemn Hamas and call for all Palestinians to reject the terrorist organization and its agenda? But, rather than taking that step, the trio – along with President Obama – instead fall back on condemning violence in general. Not only do such tired platitudes serve to deflect attention from the real problem, they also serve to reinforce the conception that there is a kind of equivalency between unprovoked attacks on Israel and Israel’s response to such attacks. It’s self-apparent that committing random acts of violence in order to terrorize a nation is far different than employing targeted acts of violence to deter such attacks.

Rich Trzupek

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

Obama is wrong again!

by Moshe Dann

In response to the murder of 4 Israelis by Arab terrorists, President Obama said:

"the tragedy that we saw yesterday where people were gunned down on the street by terrorists who are purposely trying to undermine these talks ..."

The aim of the terrorists, however, was not to stop peace talks, since such an assumption is absurd, and the attack occurred close to the same place where an Israeli policeman was shot in his car several months ago when there were no "peace talks."

Israelis are frequently attacked on roads throughout Israel by rocks and fire bombs, sometimes by snipers; these attacks are not connected to any political or diplomatic process. Framing this attack as politically motivated distorts the nature and meaning of Arab terrorism against Jews.

President Obama went on to say: "the message should go out to Hamas and everybody else who is taking credit for these heinous crimes that this is not going to stop us from not only ensuring a secure Israel but also securing a longer-lasting peace in which people throughout the region can take a different course."

One might have expected him to say: "those who commit such murders, and those who support them, will be brought to justice and punished to the fullest extent of the law."

Or, "These murders are the result of incitement and we will prevent all funding of incitement."

Or, "We demand that the PA forces, especially those trained and supplied forces by the United States, will apprehend, arrest, and punish anyone who engages in terrorism."

Or, "Unless the PA acts to eliminate terrorism and incitement there can be no progress in political, diplomatic or military cooperation. Actions speak louder than words."

But he did not, and he won't, because no matter what Arab terrorists do, the PA knows they have the support of America, Europe and the international community. They can get away with murder, and do.

President Obama's misunderstanding of, and therefore his failure to act against Arab terrorism is due to the mindset that views terrorism as a response to specific causes -- and political or ideological motives. In Israel's case, it's "the occupation," which has become a brand-name legitimization for killing Jews and demonizing Israel.

The danger of linking terrorism to grievances is that it rationalizes murder and justifies those who perpetrate it. But those who carry out such acts are not driven by a sense of injustice, or rescuing humanity; they are homicidal criminals who seek to inflict the most damage to the largest number of people, regardless of who they are, or their beliefs.

Arab terrorists, who plan and train meticulously, don't seek political compromises; their goal is Jihad, total elimination of Jews, and the State of Israel. They don't think about a "peace process;" they are committed to annihilation of their enemies. They see themselves as "martyrs," and are glorified by their communities, and by the PA.

And they see their cause as just. This provides the psychological determination to perpetrate murder as an act of religious and political sanctification. And they are not alone, since most of the international community, and President Obama now, justify not their means, but the end - a second Arab Palestinian state, for starters; an Islamic world for "the believers."

This is what President Obama did not understand about the controversial Islamic Center near the site of "9/11." It's not about a mosque, but about what comes along with it. It's not about a building, or religious freedom; it's about full disclosure and transparency.

It's not what Obama said, but what he could have and should have said - and done - as an American president. The American flag in his lapel is not just an ornament.

Moshe Dann

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

I am a Refugee

by Danny Ayalon

As a descendant of a family forced out of Algeria, my father and I – and the millions of other Jews from families who were expelled from Arab countries after 1948 – are entitled to redress.
As a sitting member of a democratic government, it might appear strange to declare that I am a refugee. However, my father, his parents and family were just a few of the almost one million Jews who were expelled or forced out of Arab lands. My father and his family were Algerian, from a Jewish community thousands of years old that predated the Arab conquest of North Africa and even Islam. Upon receiving independence, Algeria allowed only Muslims to become citizens and drove the indigenous Jewish community and the rest of my family out.
While many people constantly refer to the Arab or Palestinian refugees, few are even aware of the Jewish refugees from Arab lands.
While those Arabs who fled or left Mandatory Palestine and Israel numbered roughly 750,000, there were roughly 900,000 Jewish refugees from Arab lands. Before the State of Israel was reestablished in 1948, there were almost one million Jews in Arab lands, today there are around 5,000.
An important distinction between the two groups is the fact that many Palestinian Arabs were actively involved in the conflict initiated by the surrounding Arab nations, while Jews from Arab lands were living peacefully, even in a subservient dhimmi status, in their countries of origin for many centuries if not millennia.
In addition, Jewish refugees, as they were more urban and professional, as opposed to the more rural Palestinians, amassed far more property and wealth which they had to leave in their former county.
Financial economists have estimated that, in today’s figures, the total amount of assets lost by the Jewish refugees from Arab lands, including communal property such as schools, synagogues and hospitals, is almost twice that of the assets lost by the Palestinian refugees. Furthermore, one must remember that Israel returned over 90 percent of blocked bank accounts, safe deposit boxes and other items belonging to Palestinian refugees during the 1950s.
EVEN THOUGH the number of Jewish refugees and their assets are larger than that of the Palestinians, the international community only appears to be aware of the latter’s plight.
There are numerous major international organizations devoted to the Palestinian refugees. There is an annual conference held at the United Nations and a refugee agency was created just for the Palestinian refugees. While all the world’s refugees have one agency, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the Palestinians fall under the auspices of another agency, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
UNWRA’s budget for 2010 is almost half of UNHCR’s budget.
Equally impressive is the fact that UNHCR prides itself on having found “durable solutions” for “tens of millions” of refugees since 1951, the year of its establishment. However, UNRWA does not even claim to have found “durable solutions” for anyone.
If that is not distorted enough, let’s look at the definitions and how they are applied: normally the definition of a refugee only applies to the person that fled and sought refuge, while a Palestinian refugee is the person that fled and all of their descendants for all time. So, according to the UNRWA definition of conferring refugee status on descendants, I would be a refugee.
However, I do not consider myself so; I am a proud citizen of the State of Israel. The Jewish refugees found their national expression in Israel, so to, the Arab refugees should find their national aspirations being met by a Palestinian state.
WITH DIRECT negotiations about to resume between Israel and the Palestinians, the spotlight will be returned to this issue. The so-called Palestinian ‘right of return’ is legal fiction. United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, the supposed source for this ‘right’ does not mention this term, is not legally binding and, like all other relevant United Nations resolutions uses the intentionally ambiguous term ‘refugees’ with no appellation.
United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, still seen as the primary legal framework for resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict asserts that a comprehensive Middle East peace settlement should necessarily include “a just settlement of the refugee problem.”
No distinction is made between Arab refugees and Jewish refugees.
In fact, one of the leading drafters of the resolution, Justice Arthur Goldberg, the United States’ Chief Delegate to the United Nations, said: “The resolution addresses the objective of ‘achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.’ This language presumably refers both to Arab and Jewish refugees.”
In addition, every peace conference and accord attended or signed between Israel and its Arab neighbors uses the term “refugees” without qualification.
During the famous Camp David discussions in 2000, president Clinton, the facilitator and host of the negotiations said: “There will have to be some sort of international fund set up for the refugees. There is, I think, some interest, interestingly enough, on both sides, in also having a fund which compensates the Israelis who were made refugees by the war, which occurred after the birth of the State of Israel. Israel is full of people, Jewish people, who lived in predominantly Arab countries who came to Israel because they were made refugees in their own land”.
In 2008, the US Congress passed House Resolution 185 granting, for the first time, equal recognition to Jewish refugees, while affirming that the US government will now recognize that all victims of the Arab-Israeli conflict must be treated equally.
I am proud of the fact that the Knesset passed a resolution in February of this year that will make compensation for Jewish refugees expelled from Arab countries after 1948 an integral part of any future peace negotiations. The Israeli bill stipulates that “The state of Israel will not sign, directly or by proxy, any agreement or treaty with a country or authority dealing with a political settlement in the Middle East without ensuring the rights of Jewish refugees from Arab countries according to the UN’s refugee treaty.”

Before 1948 there were nearly 900,000 Jews in Arab lands while only a few thousand remain. Where is the international outrage, the conferences, the proclamations for redress and compensation? While the Palestinian refugee issue has become a political weapon to beat Israel, the Arab League has ordered its member states not to provide their Palestinian population with citizenship; Israel absorbed all of its refugees, whether fleeing the Holocaust or persecution and expulsion from Arab lands.
People like my father, the hundreds of thousands who came to Israel and the millions of Israelis descended from these refugees are entitled to redress. It is vital that this issue return to the international agenda, so we don’t once again see an asymmetrical and distorted treatment of Arabs and Jews in the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Danny Ayalon is Israel’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.

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

Friday, September 3, 2010

Jewish Blood as Portrayed in the Western Media

by Professor Phyllis Chesler

Four young civilians: human beings, fathers, mothers, one of whom was also pregnant, collectively the parents of seven children, were brutally gunned down by armed, masked terrorists. Their murders were openly celebrated in the streets by their attackers and by thousands of their supporters.

You would think that the world would recoil in horror—or that those who report the news, world-wide, would do so. Think again. These four precious souls were Israeli “settlers” and, as such, have already been so demonized that they are now seen as having provoked their bloody, pitiless deaths.

First, they came for the settlers. Then, they came for the secular Israeli pro-peace demonstrators in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv. And then they came for….you and me.

Predictably, sadly, my three local area New York City newspapers present this tragic news in very different ways.

Allow me to first quote from the Bible of the intelligentsia aka The New York Times, which presents this incident on page 4, not on page 1; the early pages are usually reserved for all incidents in which Israelis fight back so that Israeli “evil” is seen immediately and framed as among the most “important” world news of the day. The accompanying Times headline? Unbelievably, it is this: “Killing of 4 Israeli Settlers on the Eve of Peace Talks Rattles Leaders on Both Sides.” It’s really not clear who killed the “settlers.” What is clear is that “both sides” are “rattled.” The piece opens with a paragraph that made me see red, both literally and metaphorically. It reads as follows:

“The killing of four Israeli settlers, including a pregnant woman, in the West Bank on Tuesday evening rattled Israeli and Palestinian leaders on the eve of peace talks in Washington and underscored the disruptive role that the issue of Jewish settlements could play in the already fragile negotiations.”

Note: This opening paragraph literally blames the past and future peace failures on the Israeli settlements. The Times neither blames nor characterizes Hamas accurately. It does not say the Arab Muslim terrorist group, Hamas, the Palestinian version of the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, probably also backed by Iran and Hezbollah, and the group which is claiming responsibility for the attack—is also responsible for a deadly civil war with the not-so-moderate President Abbas, an Islamist war on Palestinian women, homosexuals, and dissidents; and a jihadic war against the Jews which began a long time ago and which will never stop until either such terrorist leaders and their propaganda are utterly vanquished militarily, or until the Jews have been driven out of the Holy Land once again.

On the contrary. The piece also positions President Mahmud Abbas as the “good” guy who, like his negotiating partner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has “condemned” the attacks. Yes—even as Abbas is busy honoring the Palestinian terrorist who planned the Munich massacre of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic games, Amin Al-Hindi, as well as the Palestinian terrorist, Omar Muhammad Ziyada, who murdered an Israeli civilian in a human bomb homicide in 2002.

The Gray Lady does not even tell us the names of the Israeli civilian victims, nor are they in any way humanized. Their histories are not presented. They are only “particularly militant settlers”: faceless, shadowy figures. We are not supposed to care about them. We do learn what Hamas said about the attack, namely that it was a “natural response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation and its settlers.” We also learn that “hundreds” of Hamas supporters “took to the streets…to celebrate the news of the attack.”

Shame on you, Isabel Kershner and Mark Landler (who share this byline of infamy), and shame on your editors.

As usual, The Wall Street Journal does better. Their headline reads: “Hamas Attacks Israelis on Eve of Talks.” At least they tell us who the perpetrators and who their victims are. According to Charles Levinson, “multiple gunmen” were involved; the “victims” included “two men, ages, 25 and 40, and two women, also ages 25 and 40, one of whom was pregnant, according to Israeli officials.”

Why do Kershner and Landler consider such facts irrelevant to their piece? Are these facts too hard to find—or are these facts too dangerous because they would begin to humanize the Jewish, “settler” victims?

However, the august WSJ does not name the victims either. For that, I had to turn to The New York Post, which places the terrorist act on its cover with a picture of a fully head-and-face masked Palestinian gunman. The title? “Peace, Hamas Style: Terrorist fiends kill 4 Israelis on the eve of DC talks.” Their reporter, Andy Soltis, begins this way:

“Hamas terrorists yesterday murdered four innocent Israelis, one of them pregnant, in a twisted attempt to derail President Obama’s peace summit in Washington…the soulless thugs sprayed a car on the West Bank with dozens of bullets, leaving behind a gruesome scene on a blood-stained road.”

The Israeli media is filled with the facts which humanize this terrorist act but here, in my home town, I can only find such facts in The New York Post.

The victims were Yitzhak and Tali Imes, who had six children, including a year-and-a-half old infant; and Kochava Even-Haim and Avishai Schindler. One of the members of the Israeli rapid response medical team discovered that his own wife (!) Kochava was one of the victims. Kochava was a “married schoolteacher” who struggled for many years to have a child and finally succeeded. She leaves behind an 8-year-old daughter.

The Post also tells us that the terrorists may have videotaped the assault, that Hamas claimed responsibility for this “heroic” operation and that Hamas also “launched a sickening celebration that drew 3,000 people in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.”

I am purposely remaining silent about the “politics” involved.

My point here is simply this: If American journalists, professors, scholars, teachers, read and trust only the New York Times, they will continue to view “militant Israeli settlers” as more blameworthy than Islamist Palestinian terrorists. This view is confirmed by articles, editorials, and op-eds which appear in their pages almost daily, often two or three in each issue. In edition after edition, this point is made over and over again.

Worse: Those who read The Wall Street Journal and The New York Post are viewed as rabid, right-wing conservatives, racists, “Islamophobes,” non-intellectuals, anti-progressives, anti-feminists, etc., and their views, and the views of the WSJ and the NYP are easily dismissed—demonized—just as the “militant settlers” have been.

If I want to profile the recent and powerful conference on global anti-Semitism at Yale, in which I participated, if I cannot do so in the New York Times, or better yet, in the Times of London, academics will not take a word I write seriously. They will not even bother to read my words.

Quo vadis, my friends?

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

The new Netanyahu?

by Caroline B. Glick

If Bibi actually believes what he has been saying publicly of late, friends of Israel should be worried. Very worried

Despite a multi-million dollar media blitz, Israelis are not buying the US-financed Geneva Initiative's attempt to convince us that we have a Palestinian partner. A week after the pro-Palestinian group launched its massive online promotion urging people to join its Facebook page, a mere 634 people had answered the call.

The US-funded agitprop involved ads in which senior Fatah propagandists were featured telling Israelis we can trust them this time around. The reason for its failure was made clear by a public opinion poll taken Tuesday night for Channel 10. When asked if they believed that Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas is serious about making peace with Israel, two-thirds of Israelis said no. Only 23 percent said he was serious and 17 percent said they didn't know.

Moreover, most Israelis have had it with the peace paradigm based on Israeli concessions of land and national rights in exchange for Palestinian terror and political warfare. When asked whether the government should extend the prohibition on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria beyond its Sept 26 terminus, 63 percent said no, it should not. A mere 21 percent of the public believes the government should respond positively to the US demand that Jews continue to be denied our property right in Judea and Samaria.

In his analysis of the results, Channel 10's senior political commentator Raviv Drucker said that if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu decides to make a deal with the Palestinians, he will have a hard time convincing the public to support him.

Drucker also argued that the results may have been influenced by the Palestinian terror attack on Tuesday night in which four civilians were brutally murdered on their way home from Jerusalem. That is, Drucker implied that the public is driven by its emotions. But what the results actually show is that the public is driven by reason.

When Palestinian terrorists gun down innocent people on the highway simply because they are Jews, the public's reasoned response is to say that the Palestinians do not want peace. The public's wholly rational reaction to this act of anti-Jewish butchery is to insist that Jews should not be denied our basic civil and human rights in a dangerous bid to appease murderers.

The poll's final question regarded Netanyahu and his intentions at the new round of land for peace negotiations in Washington. Slightly more than half of the public believes that Netanyahu is serious in his pursuit of a deal with the Palestinians and a mere 34 percent believe that he is not serious.

This last response is interesting for two reasons. First it is a strong indication that the public trusts Netanyahu's word. Since taking office a year and a half ago, Netanyahu has said repeatedly that he supports making a deal with Fatah. And a majority of the public believes him.

The second conclusion suggested by the result is more discouraging. With the public convinced that the Palestinians are not to be trusted and that Israel should stop making concessions, the majority of the public believes that Netanyahu is moving in the opposite direction. Netanyahu's statements in Washington give us ample reason for concern.

On Wednesday evening, ahead of a dinner at the White House with US President Barack Obama, Abbas, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordan's King Abdullah, Netanyahu made a startling statement.

He said, "I have been making the case for Israel all my life. But I did not come here to win an argument. I came here to forge a peace. I did not come here to play a blame game where even the winners lose. I came here to achieve a peace that will bring benefits to all."

This statement is worth considering carefully. Does Netanyahu truly believe that by "making the case for Israel" he and others who speak out in defense of Israel have merely been argumentative?

Does he think that defending Israel's rights diminishes the prospects for peace and so those that defend Israel are actually harming it?

Does he believe that in calling the Palestinians out for their brutality, barbarism and hatred of Jews and Israel he and his fellow advocates for Israel have merely been playing a blame game?

Does he think that a peace forged on the basis of ignoring Israel's case will be a viable peace?

If Netanyahu does believe all of these things - and his statement on Wednesday evening indicates he does, then the public should be very worried. Indeed, if this is what the premier believes, then it is just a matter of time before he begins echoing his predecessor Ariel Sharon and tells us that we are too dim witted to understand him because the world looks different from where he is sitting than from our lowly perches on the ground, in Israel.

And this brings us back to Tuesday evening's highway massacre. Predictably, the Obama administration led the way in framing the terrorist violence as a bid by Hamas to derail the newest round of negotiations. For example, after meeting with Netanyahu Wednesday Obama said, "The tragedy that we saw yesterday where people were gunned down on the street by terrorists who are purposely trying to undermine these talks is an example of what we're up against."

The only party that rejected the administration's rationalization of the attack was Hamas, whose operatives reportedly carried it out. In an interview Thursday with the London-based Asharq al Awsat, Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar said that the talks have nothing to do with the attack. As he put it, "The bid to link this operation to the negotiations is completely wrong. When people have the opportunity, the capability and the targets, they act."

The truth is probably found neither in A-Zahar's claim nor in Obama's assertion. In all likelihood, Hamas was testing the waters. Iran's Palestinian proxy wanted to know whether the regular rules for peace processes have kicked into gear yet. Those rules -- as the families of the hundreds of Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the peak years of peace processes will attest -- involve Israel giving free rein to terrorists to murder Jews during "peace talks."

Since Yitzhak Rabin first shook Yassir Arafat's hand on the White House lawn 17 years ago, successive prime ministers have opted to not to retaliate for murderous attacks when peace talks are in session. They have justified their willingness to give the likes of Hamas a free hand to murder by claiming that fighting back would be tantamount to allowing terrorists to hold the peace process hostage. Conducting counter-terror campaigns in the midst of negotiations, they have uniformly argued, would endanger the talks and so, Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad must all be given a carte blanche to murder.

Echoing these sentiments precisely, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin all reportedly objected to launching any response to Tuesday's attack. According to the media, the three closed ranks against Netanyahu who reportedly wished to attack Hamas targets in Gaza following the massacre.

Wednesday's roadside shooting attack, in which a man and his wife were wounded, was a clear indication that Hamas and its ilk received the message. Just as A-Zahar said, they are always looking for an opportunity. And in not responding to Tuesday's attack, Israel told them that for the duration of these negotiations, Hamas can again kill with impunity.

Whether Hamas renewed its terror attacks this week because it likes to murder Jews, because it was trying to derail negotiations or because it was testing Israel, the fact of the matter is that from Hamas's perspective, it stood only to gain from attacking. Terror is always popular with the Palestinian public. As the Jerusalem Post reported, when news broke of Tuesday's attack, mobs of Palestinians in Judea and Samaria took to the streets to celebrate.

Part of the reason that Palestinians love terrorism is because they have never had to pay a real price for killing Jews. To the contrary, they have been richly rewarded. The Palestinians believe that it was terror, not negotiations that convinced Israel to withdraw from Gaza. So too, as they glance at the international response to their acts of wanton murder, they see terror has only benefitted them. International monetary assistance and political support for the Palestinians have always risen as terror levels peaked.

Obama's insistence that the talks go on after Tuesday's attack showed the Palestinians that the game is still theirs to win. The US will continue to side with the Palestinian demands against Israel regardless of their behavior.

In Netanyahu's defense, his speech on Wednesday evening was not simply a repudiation of his life's work on behalf of Israel. Netanyahu seemed to hedge his bets when he said, "We left Lebanon, we got terror. We left Gaza, we got terror. We want to ensure that territory we concede will not be turned into a third Iranian sponsored terror enclave aimed at the heart of Israel. That is why a defensible peace requires security arrangements that can withstand the test of time and the many challenges that are sure to confront us."

The problem with this statement is that in light of the free pass he gave Hamas for Tuesday's attack, Netanyahu already conceded this crucial principle. If he believes that the only way for the talks to advance is to stand down in the face of attack rather than aggressively strike back, then Netanyahu has already committed himself to a peace that will create "a new Iranian sponsored terror enclave aimed at the heart of Israel."

Likewise, if he believes that only by ceasing to make Israel's case can he make progress with his "partner" Abbas, then Netanyahu has already conceded his demand that a peace agreement contain security arrangements that will defend Israel's national rights and other vital interests.

The most distressing aspect of Netanyahu's enthusiastic participation in a process the Israeli public rationally opposes is that it is him doing it. With Netanyahu now joining the ranks of those that attack Israel's defenders as enemies of peace and claim that defending the country is antithetical to peace, who is left to defend us?

Caroline B. Glick

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

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Preserving Israel at the Eleventh Hour, Nuclear Deterrence, Enemy Rationality and "Palestine"

by Professor Louis René Beres

Faced with the daunting prospect of seemingly endless terrorism, and with staggering global opposition to any of its essential and altogether permissible forms of self-defense, Israel now requires a complex and capable counter-terrorism strategy merely to survive. Simultaneously, the major threats to Israel's physical survival lie in certain mass-destruction (biological and/or nuclear) attacks by enemy states. Ultimately, therefore, the Jewish State's actual continuance rests upon even more than successful counter-terrorism. It rests also upon the inherently fragile and unpredictable foundations of nuclear deterrence.

Israel is tiny. For this beleaguered ministate, U.S. President Barack Obama's preferred "world free of nuclear weapons" would represent a harsh habitat of utterly radical insecurity. Here, amid a literally dreadful anarchy, Israel's enemies could now gratefully inflict mortal harms upon the "Zionist Cancer" without plausible fear of unacceptable reprisals. If, moreover, this particular preferred world were also to embrace Mr. Obama's "Road Map" to an independent Palestinian state, the resultant synergies and (using a productive military concept) force multipliers could further magnify the existential threats to Israel.

Significantly, this does not mean that a still-nuclear Israel would necessary be safe and secure. Nuclear deterrence, after all, depends in part upon enemy rationality. Where this requirement is not met, the nuclear retaliatory threat is immobilized.

Neither Israel nor the United States has been willing to act preemptively against Iran. Why? The answer is that they have chosen instead to rely upon hope.

It is a mistake as old as history. The ancient Greek historian, Thucydides, considering the uncertain fate of Melos during the Peloponnesian War, observed: "Hope is by nature an expensive commodity, and those who are risking their all on one cast, find out what it means only when they are already ruined."

Soon, Iran will almost certainly become a full nuclear weapons state. Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama will then attempt, vainly, to achieve some form of stable deterrence with Tehran. Hoping that a new balance of terror can somehow be premised upon the earlier US-USSR model, Washington and Jerusalem will inevitably discover more-or-less catastrophic failure.

A core of Jerusalem's nuclear strategy has always been to keep its "bomb" in the basement. After Iranian nuclearization, however, there would be unacceptable risks of continuing with its policy of nuclear ambiguity.

Until now, ambiguity has "worked." Although it has done little to deter "ordinary" conventional enemy aggressions or certain acts of terror, ambiguity has succeeded in keeping Israel's enemies from mounting existential aggressions. These particular aggressions could have been mounted without nuclear weapons. There does come a point in any war when mass counts. Israel's enemies have always had an obvious advantage in mass. None of Israel's foes has "the bomb," but together, collaboratively, and possibly even including non-state proxies, they could still have acquired the capacity to carry out intolerably massive assaults.

Israel's policy of deliberate ambiguity will not work indefinitely. To be deterred, a fully nuclear Iran would need assurance that Israel's own nuclear weapons were both invulnerable (safe from Iranian first-strikes), and penetration-capable (able to punch through Iran's own active and passive defenses). Such assurance would be made more likely by particular Israeli steps toward nuclear disclosure.

Ironically, perhaps, Iranian perceptions of mega-destructive Israeli nuclear weapons could undermine Israel's nuclear deterrence. In some circumstances, Israel's deterrent credibility could even vary inversely with the perceived destructiveness of its nuclear arms. The more destructive Israel's nuclear weapons appear to prospective aggressors, the less likely they will actually be fired. An Iranian nuclear threat to Israel could also be indirect, stemming from any willingness in Tehran to share some of its nuclear components and materials with Hezbollah, or another kindred terrorist group. To prevent this threat, Jerusalem would need to convince Iran that Israel possesses a range of distinctly usable nuclear options. Here, too, continued nuclear ambiguity might not remain sufficiently persuasive to sustain Israel's nuclear deterrent.

Jerusalem will eventually need to move from nuclear ambiguity to nuclear disclosure. What will then need to be calculated by IDF planners and strategists is the precise extent to which Israel should communicate its relevant nuclear positions, intentions and capabilities.

Once faced with a nuclear fait accompli in Tehran, Israel would need to convince Iran's leaders that it possesses both the will and the capacity to make any intended Iranian nuclear aggression more costly than gainful. But, again, no Israeli move from ambiguity to disclosure would help in the case of an irrational nuclear enemy.

Were a religiously-driven Iranian leadership to expect a Shiite apocalypse, Iran could readily cast aside all rational behavior. Iran would thus become a nuclear suicide-bomber in macrocosm. Such a terrifying prospect is improbable, but it is not inconceivable.

To protect itself against enemy strikes, particularly those attacks that could carry existential costs, Israel will need to exploit every aspect of its still opaque nuclear arsenal. The success of Israel's efforts will depend not only upon its selected pattern of "counterforce" and "counter value" (counter-city) operations, but also upon the extent to which this choice is made known in advance to both enemy states, and their non-state surrogates. Before these enemies can be deterred from launching first strikes against Israel, and before they can be deterred from launching retaliatory attacks following a still-possible Israeli (non-nuclear) preemption, it will not be enough to know that Israel has the bomb. These enemies would also need to recognize that Israeli nuclear weapons are sufficiently invulnerable to any such attacks, and that some are pointed directly at high-value population targets.

Removing the bomb from Israel's "basement" could enhance Israel's strategic deterrence by heightening enemy perceptions of secure and capable Israeli nuclear forces. Such a calculated end to deliberate ambiguity could also underscore Israel's willingness to use these nuclear forces in reprisal for certain enemy first-strike and retaliatory attacks.

For now, Israel's bomb should remain ambiguous, if only to ward off insistent denuclearization pressures on Jerusalem from Washington. Still, no later than the moment that Iran is revealed to be finalizing its nuclear weapons capability, Israel must put an immediate end to its nuclear ambiguity. Simultaneously, of course, Israel must capably fight its protracted struggle against terrorism, with special reference to the prevention of a Palestinian state.

The worst-case outcome for Israel would be the simultaneous appearance of "Palestine" with a nuclear Iran. Such a portentous outcome must be avoided at all costs.

Professor Louis René Beres, Professor of Political Science at Purdue, was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971). Born in Zurich, Switzerland, at the end of World War II, he is the author of many major books, monographs and articles dealing with international law, strategic theory, Israeli nuclear policy, and regional nuclear war. In Israel, where he served as Chair of Project Daniel, his work is known to selected military and intelligence communities.

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

What Washington’s Lame Response to Terror Says About the Peace Talks

by Evelyn Gordon

If more reasons were needed for concluding that the current Israeli-Palestinian talks won’t produce a deal, here’s another: the designated mediator — i.e., the Obama administration — has just proved itself incapable of providing what even Israeli leftists deem an essential condition for peace.

Tuesday night, Palestinian terrorists murdered four Israeli civilians — two men and two women — by shooting them at close range. Yet as even Haaretz, normally the administration’s reliable flack, noted, “State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley didn’t seem to be in a rush to condemn the attack.” In fact, he didn’t condemn it at all: he merely declared it “a tragedy.”

“Any time one human being takes out a weapon and fires and kills other human beings, it’s a tragedy,” Crowley said. “We just don’t know the circumstances under which this occurred. … We are cognizant that there could be external events that can have an impact on the environment.”

The White House finally issued an unequivocal condemnation only hours later, once “the circumstances” had become clear: namely, that it could condemn the attack safely, because the Palestinian Authority wasn’t involved. Until then, Crowley had hedged his bets, hinting at extenuating circumstances that “we just don’t know,” “external events” that could affect “the environment” — any straw he could grasp to excuse the PA if that proved necessary.

What does this have to do with peace talks? To understand that, it’s worth reading Gershon Baskin’s column in the Jerusalem Post this week. Baskin aptly titled it “The indefatigable peacemaker’s advice,” because he is indeed an indefatigable peace activist. He is co-CEO of the Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information, has been personally involved in many previous rounds of negotiations (both official and unofficial), and continues to believe that “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolvable” right now — a position shared by few other Israelis.

Yet even this indefatigable optimist noted that peace will not be possible if certain conditions aren’t met. For instance, he dismissed the “borders first” idea once touted by U.S. mediator George Mitchell, correctly noting that “the agreement will be a package deal in which there are trade-offs,” and therefore, the various final-status issues “cannot be negotiated separately.” Additionally, he warned, Israel must be convinced that any deal will end with the Palestinians’ recognizing it as “the nation-state of the Jewish people” (to bridge the gap between the PA’s unwillingness to concede this upfront and Israel’s need to know it will happen eventually, he proposed having the Palestinians give such a pledge to Washington as a “deposit”).

But here’s the clincher: “All of Israel’s security concerns must be addressed by the Palestinians (and the American team) with the utmost sincerity. There will be no agreement unless Israel feels its security needs will be met.”

That, however, is precisely what team Obama has just shown itself incapable of doing. Because if you want to convince Israelis that their security concerns will be addressed, offering lame excuses for anti-Israel terror rather than forthrightly condemning it isn’t a good way to start.

Evelyn Gordon
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Iran as the Elephant

by JINSA Reports

President Obama's speech on the end of combat operations in Iraq was a strange muddle of domestic policy, blaming our recession on borrowing for the war (although according to the Congressional Budget Office, seven years of the Iraq war cost less than one year of the Obama Administration's stimulus package) and equating the end of combat operations with providing the resources to turn our attention to economic recovery (as if we couldn't attend to the economy until we "finished" the war, which isn't finished in any event).

But the real wonder is how it was possible for the President of the United States to give a whole speech about Iraq without mentioning Iran. While the United States is "turning the page" and leaving Iraq to the Iraqis, the Iranians are heavily invested in the violence that continues to plague the country. While the President lauds the Iraqis for their courage and their choice to engage in politics (well deserved praise), the shooting war continues, funded and abetted by Iran. President Obama acknowledged:

"Of course, violence will not end with our combat mission. Extremists will continue to set off bombs, attack Iraqi civilians and try to spark sectarian strife. But ultimately, these terrorists will fail to achieve their goals. Iraqis are a proud people. They have rejected sectarian war, and they have no interest in endless destruction. They understand that, in the end, only Iraqis can resolve their differences and police their streets. Only Iraqis can build a democracy within their borders."

The Iraqis might have no interest in "endless destruction," but Iran has no interest in an independent, democratic, pro-Western Iraq. The Iraqis may be able to "resolve their differences and police their streets," but with Iran continuing to fund unreconciled militias, what hope has the Iraqi police/military of getting ahead of the mullahs? "Only Iraqis can build a democracy," but can they build it under military attack from their neighbor Iran?

The President referred to "extremists," but those extremists have a patron. Iran. And if Iran is the elephant in Iraq, it is the elephant in Lebanon, Syria, Turkey and surrounding Israel as well.

The issue of American arms for a Lebanese armed force that shares with Iran's agent Hezbollah has been discussed in prior JINSA Reports. The recent announcement of a Syria-Hezbollah military cooperation agreement, alongside the increased Syrian role in the Lebanese body politic, brings Iran right into Lebanon, north of Israel.

Iran is the elephant in the Israel-Palestinian "peace" talks. Iran provides funds and ideological support to Hamas, while Hamas and Fatah are engaged in a civil war that has moved from Gaza (where Fatah supporters have been pushed underground by brutal attacks) to the West Bank, where Hamas supporters are increasingly visible - including in yesterday's murder of four Israelis. It should be impossible for the Administration to propose a "two state solution" while the Hamas government wages war on both Israel and Fatah.

In each case, violence is treated as disembodied and unsupported. But in fact, in each case, trying to deal only with the closest manifestation of the violence - Israel's Security Fence; the Iraqi army and police trying to disband militias; UNIFIL in Lebanon; the Israel-Egypt embargo of Gaza; or missile defenses against Hezbollah, Hamas or Iran - ignores the relative ease with which Iran is able to resupply and rearm its protégés.

Without an understanding of where the elephant is, and how to tame it or remove it, what success the United States has had in Iraq is likely to be short-lived. That failure will make a mockery of the sacrifices of both Americans and Iraqis in pursuit of consensual government for the Iraqi people.

JINSA Reports (The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs)
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1-Sep-10: Real people, real terror

by Arnold/Frimet Roth

Reuters reports today that the Hamas terrorist organization has claimed full responsibility for yesterday's ambush and execution of four Israeli civilians.

It quotes a Hamas statement saying it "announces its full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron".

This, in Hamas terms, was indeed a heroic operation, a classic of its kind. It was directed at a carload of two men, two women. No Israeli soldiers in the vicinity. No strategic goal other than terrorism for its own sake. The shooters, dressed in civilian clothing, fled into the night. Heroism, pure and simple. Heroism of the kind that the world has come to know and expect from exponents of Islamicism in its various jihadist flavours.

A little reported aspect of the Hamas heroism: one of the rescue service volunteers who arrived on the scene (according to the Jerusalem Post) broke down in tears on viewing the bodies. His colleagues were surprised - this is not a new experience in their line of work. Then they heard him crying out: "That's my wife!' That's my wife!' and indeed his wife is one of the four victims.

Their names again (because these are human beings): Yitzhak and Tali Ames (who leave six orphans), Cochava Even Haim, and Avishai Schindler.

For those of us with some grounding in reality and a sense that what happened here was a human tragedy in a tragically long line of terrorist killings, above are portraits of the men and women murdered by the jihadist Hamas activists, militants, operatives, terrorists. A scene from today's funeral is below.

For those of us who can still summon up a sense of outrage after so much terror, so much hatred, so much hypocrisy, there's the matter of the so-called moderate Palestinian Arabs and their response.

In today's New York Times, the Palestinian Authority's prime minister, Salam Fayyad, expresses his condemnation of the murders. These were offenses against the noble Islamic religion. No, sorry, that's not what he said. The perpetrators betrayed the noble and moral aspirations of the Palestinian people. No, sorry, that's not what he said either. Acts of terrorism and jihadist murder like these undermine the Arab right to a two-state solution. No, sorry again, that's not what he said.

What Salam Fayyad, a man who knows his people very well, said is: “We condemn this operation, which contradicts Palestinian interests and the efforts of the Palestinian leadership to garner international support for the national rights of our people.” As so often in the past, the "condemnation" (which is really not condemnation but tactical criticism) is entirely focused on the effect it might have on other people's support.

Where you stand on terror, terrorism and terrorists says everything about your morality, decency and values. The Palestinian Arab position, in its moderate and other forms, is out there for all to see.

Arnold/Frimet Roth

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How Could Such a Thing Happen?

by Jennifer Rubin

In this report on the peace talks, we learn:

The administration is frustrated, the sources said, that Abbas keeps publicly insisting on an absolute freeze and positions that may limit his own flexibility in the talks.

“I get a pretty strong sense of exasperation from the administration folks that Abbas keeps climbing up the tree himself,” one Middle East expert in close consultation with the administration said Tuesday. “This time, he is the one putting demands on a moratorium.”

Well, gosh — how in the world did we get to this point? Could it be that Obama tried for 18 months to cram a freeze down the Israelis’ throats? Could it have something to do with a building permit in Jerusalem eliciting a condemnation from the administration?

When you hear things like this, you realize that in many ways it really is amateur hour. At nearly every turn, the Obama team has misread the players, created more conflict than it resolved, and then scrambled to repair the damage. You never realized how smart the Bush Middle East diplomacy was, huh?

Jennifer Rubin
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O, Palestine!

by Moshe Dann

The notion of a Palestinian people and Palestinian identity, although taken for granted today, has neither a long nor a distinguished history. Understanding its origins and what it represents explains why the peace process between Israel and the Arabs has failed and will continue to fail.

Inherent in Palestinianism, from its origins, is the rejection of a Jewish state in any form. That opposition is not negotiable and not open to compromise; it is essential.

Palestinianism was never for anything; its raison d'être was to prevent the establishment of a Jewish state. That purpose has never changed.

Concern for Palestine among a few Arab intellectuals, as Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi shows in his book on the subject, did not exist until Zionists began settlements at the turn of the century. Most weekly newspapers from that period which he surveyed were not even from Palestine and had scant distribution.

"Palestinian identity" then, as now, was negative, focused entirely on opposition to Zionists rather than a positive self-definition. Arab Palestinian leaders, like the mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, an ardent supporter of the Nazis, and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat -- both "fathers" of Palestinianism ignored by Khalidi -- rejected Zionism and promoted terrorism.

Local Arab uprisings against British rule were anti-colonial and anti-Zionist, not directed toward another independent Palestinian state. Arab riots and pogroms, like those in 1929 and 1936, for example, were not motivated by Palestinian nationalism; there were no calls for a Palestinian state. The battle cry was, "Kill the Jews."

In 1937, Arab leader Auni Bey Abdul-Hadi told the Peel Commission, "There is no such country as 'Palestine'; 'Palestine' is a term the Zionists invented!"

The riots of 1936 were whipped up by the newly created "Arab [not Palestinian] Higher Committee," the central political organ of the Arab community of Mandate Palestine, organized by a group of elites led by Amin al-Husayni. In 1948, the Arab League organized the All-Palestine Government, the first attempt to establish an independent Palestinian state. Led by King Abdullah of Jordan and nominally Amin al-Husayni, who had returned from Berlin, where he spent the war, it called for the union of Arab Palestine and Transjordan. Husayni later arranged Abdullah's assassination.

A Palestinian National Council convened in Gaza in 1948, under Amin al-Husayni's leadership, passed resolutions calling for an independent state over all of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its capital. Adopting the flag of the Arab Revolt that had been used by Arab nationalists, it called for the liberation of Palestine. But it had no following.

In 1946, Arab historian Philip Hitti testified before the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry that "there is no such thing as Palestine in history." In 1947, Arab leaders protesting the U.N. partition plan argued that Palestine was part of Syria and "politically, the Arabs of Palestine [were] not [an] independent[,] separate ... political entity."

In 1947, the U.N. proposed a "Jewish" State and an "Arab" -- not Palestinian -- State.

The womb of Palestinianism was war, the Nakba (catastrophe) in the Arab narrative, the establishment of the State of Israel. Five well-armed Arab countries invaded the nascent state, joining local Arab gangs and militias in a genocidal war to exterminate the Jews. Yet this was not seen as a war for Palestinian nationalism, or Palestinianism; it was an all-out Arab war against Jews, Zionism, and Zionists.

Arab gangs that attacked Jews in 1948, composed of locals and Arabs from the region, were called the "Arab -- not Palestininian -- Army of Liberation." The reason is that prior to Israel's establishment, the notion of a "Palestinian people" simply did not exist, or was irrelevant, because Arab affiliations are primarily familial and tribal -- not national. And because "Palestinian" then meant something else.

Before 1948, those who were called (and called themselves) "Palestinians" were Jews, not Arabs, although both carried the same British passports. In fact, only after Jews in Palestine called themselves Israelis, in 1948, could Arabs adopt "Palestinian," as theirs exclusively.

The idea of an "Arab Palestinian people" was formed and enshrined in UNRWA "refugee camps" -- today, large, developed towns -- where its residents are indoctrinated with hatred, the "right of return" to Israel, and Israel's eventual destruction. Except in Jordan, which granted them citizenship, the residents of these UNRWA towns in Lebanon and Syria are severely restricted and denied basic human and civil rights.

UNRWA's controversial definition of "Arab refugee" includes anyone who claimed residence in Palestine since 1946, regardless of origin; this date is important because it marks the high point of a massive influx of Arabs from the region into Palestine, primarily due to employment opportunities and a higher standard of living. This category of "refugees," moreover, was different from all others in that it included not only those who applied in 1949, but all of their descendants, forever, with full rights and privileges. This is one of the core issues preventing any resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict. UNRWA's existence, therefore, perpetuates the conflict, prevents Israel's acceptance, and breeds violence and terrorism.

Ironically, only when Israel took control of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza could the residents of UNRWA towns in those areas move and work freely, obtain decent education and health care, and express a newly designed Palestinianism -- albeit often dedicated to violence and Israel's destruction.

With an annual budget of over a half-billion dollars, UNRWA supports about one-and-a-half million "refugees" in 58 "camps" and 5 million "registered refugees" (throughout the world) -- who can claim their "rights" as "refugees" at any time. The total population is expected to reach 7 or 8 million next year, and it keeps growing.

Were it not for the policies of Arab countries and UNRWA, the "Arab refugees" might have followed the example of Jewish refugees who were expelled from Arab countries, came to Israel, and went on to live normal lives. Given the same chance, perhaps, Arab Palestinians might have established a state of their own. The desire to destroy Israel, however, trumps state-building, and it is fundamental to Palestinianism.

The first attempt to define Palestinianism was in 1964, in the PLO Covenant, during Jordan's occupation of "the West Bank" (a Jordanian reference from 1950 to distinguish the area from the East Bank of the Jordan River) and when Egypt held the Gaza Strip. On behalf of the "Palestinian Arab people," the Covenant declared their goal: a "holy war" (jihad) to "liberate Palestine," i.e. destroy Israel. There was no mention of Arabs living in "the West Bank" and Gaza Strip, since that would have threatened Arab rulers. Arab "refugees" were convenient proxies in the war against Israel, not their hosts; Palestinianism became a replacement nationalism for Zionism, a call to arms against Jews.

This balancing act was no longer necessary after 1967, when Israel acquired areas that had been originally assigned to a Jewish State by the League of Nations and British Mandate -- Judea, Samaria, eastern Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip -- and the Golan Heights, all rich in Jewish history and archeology. A year later, the PLO Covenant was amended to cover both "occupations" -- in 1948 and 1967.

Dedicated to armed struggle, their goal has never changed; unable to defeat Israel militarily, however, the Arab strategy is to demonize and delegitimize, creating yet another Arab Palestinian state in addition to Jordan. In order to accomplish this, they concocted a narrative, an identity, and an ethos to compete with Zionism and Jewish history: Palestinianism.

Presented in the PLO Covenant and Hamas Charter (1988), the purpose of Palestinianism is to "liberate Palestine" and destroy Israel; neither reflects any redeeming social or cultural values. Moreover, Palestinianism is moving towards Islamist extremism.

According to Palestinian Basic Law (Article 4), ratified by PA President Mohammed Abbas in 2005:

1. Islam is the official religion in Palestine. Respect for the sanctity of all other divine religions shall be maintained.

2. The principles of Islamic Shari'a shall be a principal source of legislation.

3. Arabic shall be the official language.

"Palestinianism" lacks the basic requirements of legitimate national identity: a separate, unique linguistic, cultural, ethnic, or religious basis. It is nothing more than a political-military construct, currently led by Fatah and Hamas terrorist organizations. Yet it became legitimized by the U.N.

Despite PLO mega-terrorist attacks, and backed by the Arab League, Muslim and "non-aligned" countries, the PLO was accepted by the United Nations in 1974. The following year, the U.N. passed its infamous "Zionism is Racism" resolution, sanctioning Israel's demonization and setting the U.N. on a course of Israel's destruction.

The myth of Palestinianism worked because the media accepted Arab and PLO claims and their cause. Nearly all media, for example, use the term "Palestinian" or "Israeli-occupied West Bank," reinforcing Palestinian claims, rather than the authentic designation which appears on earlier maps, Judea and Samaria, which refer to the regions' Jewish history. The use of "West Bank" is a political, not a geographic statement.

Eventually, by the early 1990s, Palestinianism was accepted by some Israeli politicians, Left-dominated media, academia, cultural elite, and some jurists as a way of expressing their opposition to "settlements" and hoping for some sort of mutual recognition with the PLO. Their efforts culminated in the Oslo Accords (1993), which gave official Israeli sanction to Palestinianism.

Anti-Israel academics around the world promote "Palestinian" archeology, society, and culture as a brand name and a political message. Advertising works; every time someone uses the term "Palestinian," it acknowledges and reinforces this myth.

Palestinianism, however, regardless of its lack of historical, cultural, and social roots, is now well-established and here to stay as a political identity that demands sovereign rights and a territorial base. The question seems to be not if, but where.

The solution is regional. Arab Palestinians are entitled to civil and human rights in their host countries, where they have lived for generations. A second Arab Palestinian state, in addition to Jordan, which was carved out of Palestine in 1921 -- whose population is two-thirds "Palestinian" -- will not resolve any core issues at the heart of the conflict. The conflict is not territorial, but existential; recognition of a Jewish state -- i.e., Israel -- is anathema to the Palestinian cause. That explains why Palestinian Arab leaders refuse to accept it in any form.

The problem for Palestinianism is not "the occupation" in 1967, but Israel's existence; seen as an exclusively Arab homeland, Palestine is an integral part of the Arab world, completely under Arab sovereignty. This is axiomatic; there are no exceptions and no compromises.

Promoted in media, mosques, and schools, anti-Jewish incitement, denial of the Holocaust and Jewish history, and rejection of the right of Jewish national self-determination, by definition, Palestinianism is the greatest obstacle to peace.

Moshe Dann is a writer and journalist living in Israel.

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