Friday, May 20, 2011

George Mitchell’s Mideast Failure

by Seth Mandel

Now that Mideast envoy George Mitchell has officially left the position, it is a fitting time for officials to learn the three key reasons he failed.

The first is that success in one context not only doesn’t guarantee success in another situation, but it often guarantees failure. Some thought Mitchell was the right choice to lead Israeli-Palestinian peace talks because of his experience negotiating the 1998 Good Friday agreement between the British and the Irish. But the truth is, Mitchell’s success in Ireland doomed him to failure in the Middle East.

That’s because Mitchell was bound to try and translate his work in Ireland to negotiations with the Israelis and Palestinians. Walter Russell Mead has a typically thoughtful and comprehensive rundown at The American Interest of why the peace processes are so unlike each other, but it basically boils down to four major differences: territorial maximalists in Ireland were few and far between compared to the Arab-Israeli conflict; there were effective governments and institutions on both sides—something the Palestinians have yet to produce; all indications are that anti-Israel violence will continue no matter what; and the international community was willing to play a constructive role in the Irish situation.

On that last point, it is worth quoting Mead at length: “The Irish weren’t secretly funding radical and rejectionist nationalist terror groups. Iceland and Denmark weren’t funding Irish terrorists to advance their own agendas. France wasn’t encouraging the IRA to fight on as a way of containing Britain. Catholics around the world weren’t demonstrating and raising money for Irish annexation of Ulster; the Pope wasn’t issuing encyclicals affirming the religious duty of Catholics to fight to kick the heretics out. (A few grizzled US-based Irish emigrants raised money for the IRA, but this is nothing compared to what groups like Hamas get from abroad.) The European Union wasn’t condemning British war crimes in Ulster and passing resolutions in favor of Irish grievances.”

In September, the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl had already heard enough of Mitchell’s constant references to his past. Israelis and Palestinians, Diehl said, “appear to be doomed to listen to Mitchell draw parallels between their conflict and that of the Irish at every possible opportunity. ‘I have in the past referred to my experience in Northern Ireland,’ Mitchell said at a press conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday, following the latest round of talks between Binyamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas. No kidding. Mitchell has brought up his previous experience as broker in virtually every media briefing he has conducted since his appointment by President Obama in January 2009.”

The argument that Mitchell was trying to make—that he can get anyone to strike a deal because he once got two sides to strike a deal—was “alarmingly reductionist,” Diehl said.

And reductionist thinking is the opposite of what is needed in the Middle East. That’s because of the second lesson this and future administrations must learn from Mitchell’s failure: Negotiating this conflict, as President Obama said while thanking Mitchell for his efforts, is “the toughest job imaginable.” This is, unfortunately, the opposite of the attitude most negotiators bring to the table.

Diplomats believe the outline of a deal is clear: borders along the June 1967 lines with land swaps, the division of Jerusalem, and the return of a symbolic number of the descendents of those who may have once qualified for refugee status in 1948.

All that is required then, in that scenario, is to get and keep the two sides talking. Elliot Abrams, in an interview with the Jerusalem Post after the Bush administration left office, effectively rebutted this argument.

“But it seemed to me that the opposite view was right: that if everybody knows what a deal has to look like, and year after year and decade after decade, it is not possible to reach it, isn’t it obvious that it’s because neither side wants that deal?” Abrams said. “Now, the reasons for not wanting it can vary, and they can also change over time, but it does seem to me that if everybody knows what the options are, and the most Israel can offer is less than the least the Palestinians can accept, the solution is not close at hand.”

Abrams was right. It’s not that those parameters aren’t reasonable—they are, which is what makes them so consistently alluring to negotiators. It’s that Israeli leaders have regularly made that offer to the Palestinians, who have never shown any indication that they will accept them. Which is why increased pressure on Israel is silly and counterproductive—the third lesson of the Mitchell debacle.

There are few constants in the Arab-Israeli conflict that can help a negotiator plan a strategy. Foremost among them is what Hillary Clinton said in an interview with the New Yorker in 2007: “You do not get people into a process or to the table to make any kind of tough decisions, including compromises, unless the other side knows that your commitment to Israel is unshakable.”

There are two noteworthy parts to that quote that make it a concise expression of one of the basic rules of the Middle East. The obvious one is the unshakable commitment to Israel. That is the first requirement for productive negotiations—a lesson the Obama administration should be learning from all this. The tangible sacrifices in any deal are being made by Israel—often at a serious risk to the security of the Jewish state. Those sacrifices will not be made in isolation.

But also remarkable is the phrase “the other side”—which Clinton uses here to refer to the Palestinians. The special relationship between Israel and the U.S. was not an accident. It developed because the two countries have shared values and shared strategic goals. The same cannot be said of Arafat’s PLO, Abbas’s PA, or Hamas—the progression of Palestinian power has been consistent on this score.

The concept of an “even-handed” approach by the U.S. defies common sense, and will only reinforce intransigence on the Palestinian side, as it has thus far into the Obama administration’s failed attempts at peacemaking; not only has the PA refused to participate in direct negotiations with Israel, but Palestinian leaders are threatening unilateral declaration of a state—an abrogation of previous agreements and two decades of peacemaking efforts in the region.

Politico called Mitchell’s departure a “low point” in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But if American policymakers learn these three lessons, it will at least begin moving back in the right direction.


Seth Mandel
is a writer specializing in Middle Eastern politics and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Horowitz Freedom Center.

- Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Dark Forebodings of the Arab Spring

by Ben Shapiro

For a free night at the local Hilton, an exclusive interview, and a chilled bottle of wine, the New York Times’ Thomas L. Friedman will come to your country and portray you as a beacon of reason or freedom in a dark world. He’s done this for Saudi Arabia, for China, for Iran. Now he’s doing it for the Arab Spring.

The Arab Spring, says Friedman, “leaves me with a smile on my face and a pit in my stomach.” The smile comes from “witnessing a whole swath of humanity losing its fear and regaining its dignity.” The pit comes from “a rising worry that the Arab Spring may have been both inevitable and too late.” Friedman believes that the Arab Spring is a flourishing of freedom throughout the Middle East, an “existential” awakening. How does he know that? Because one of his Libyan friends told him so: “A Libyan friend remarked to me the other day that he was watching Arab satellite TV out of Benghazi, Libya, and a sign held aloft at one demonstration caught his eye. It said in Arabic: ‘Ana Rajul’ — which translates to ‘I am a man.’ If there is one sign that sums up the whole Arab uprising, it’s that one.”

Well, no. If there’s one sign that sums up the entire Arab uprising, it’s this one: a picture of Mubarak with a Jewish star across his forehead. This is an anti-tyrant movement, yes – it’s driven by anger over poor living standards and lack of economic opportunity. But it’s much more than that – it’s a pan-Islamic, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian movement based on a Nasser-esque Pan-Arabism.

Friedman misses the point of the “I am a man” sign. Being a man in the Muslim world is not about acting as a free agent. It is about taking your place amongst your fathers in the pantheon of Islamism. When you become a man in Islam, certain obligations fall upon you: the obligation of circumcision, the obligation to pray five times a day, the obligation to undergo ritual washing. When you become a man in Islamism, certain attendant obligations fall upon you as well: you must hate Israel with all your heart and all your soul; you must despise Christians; you must believe that America is responsible for the world’s ills. The same protesters who claim they are men rape Lara Logan while shouting “Jew, Jew!” They burn down Coptic Christian churches in Cairo. They embrace the Muslim Brotherhood.

Republicans and Democrats both buy into the starry-eyed Woodrow Wilson philosophy that all human beings yearn to be free in the Western, liberal fashion. George W. Bush stated in his second inaugural address, “Eventually, the call of freedom comes to every mind and every soul.” Barack Obama has said much the same thing.

There is no doubt that every human being wants to be free. But free to do what? Western freedom is based on the notion of individualism – the idea that we should each make our own choices. But Islamic freedom denounces such freedom as impure and problematic. Essentially, Islam contends that submission to Islam is the source of freedom – freedom from the un-Islamic parts of human nature.

Many in the West wonder why so many would embrace such a restrictive notion of freedom, but the answer is simple: while the human heart desperately wants freedom, it also desperately wants group identity. We all want to be members of a community: a religious community, an ethnic community, or a national community. Our deep and abiding need for group identity leads us to join churches and synagogues, to go to group schools, and even to go to movies with others and follow sports teams. We would rather be part of an arbitrary group – of, say, Lakers fans – than to be part of no group at all.

This is why American nationalism – patriotism — is important and unique: it unifies us in individualism. We can all feel like part of something larger while pursuing our own individual goals. American nationalism recognizes our desire for group identity while making individualism an intrinsic part of that group identity. That is why American exceptionalism is exceptional, and not like Greek exceptionalism or German exceptionalism.

The Islamic world, by contrast, seeks unity in submission. Individualism is not a part of Islamic exceptionalism as a general rule. Whereas in America, individualism and community work in tandem to promote a unity of purpose geared toward freedom, in the Arab and Muslim world, individualism and community are directly opposed to one another. In this world, becoming a “man” – an individual – requires you to surrender the possibility of independent thoughts about Israel, Christians, Western rights and liberties. Community trumps individualism.

Hence the dramatic misreading of the Arab Spring by people such as Friedman. oie. The Arab Spring is not about substitution of individual liberty for tyrannical control – it is about the substitution of one version of tyrannical control for another version.


Ben Shapiro is an attorney and writer and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, and author of the upcoming book “Primetime Propaganda: The True Hollywood Story of How The Left Took Over Your TV” from Broadside Books, an imprint of HarperCollins.

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

Obama’s Unrealizable Middle East Perestroika

by Stephen Brown

President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East on Thursday shows, if anything, that he is still a leftist who has yet to be mugged by Middle Eastern reality.

While Obama accurately listed the symptoms of the ailment crippling Middle Eastern development, such as bribery, tribalism, religious sectarianism, lack of basic economic and political rights, and citizens simply not having enough to eat, his analysis did not touch on the sickness itself, namely, Arab religious and cultural backwardness. As a result, the cures Obama put forward to assist the Arab countries’ transformation to rights-respecting, democratic states, without addressing the roots of the societal illnesses, are doomed to failure.

“We will continue to make good on the commitments I made in Cairo – to build networks of entrepreneurs and expand changes in education; to foster cooperation in science and technology; and combat disease,” Obama confidently remarked. “Across the region, we intend to provide assistance to civil society, including those that may not be officially sanctioned, and who speak uncomfortable truths. And we will use technology to connect with – and listen to – the voices of the people.”

But Arab misery does not lie in a lack of entrepreneurs, science and technology cooperation or medical facilities, but rather in the inability of a crippled culture to meet the demands of the modern world. And since Arab countries cannot meet these demands, they are destined to experience, except possibly for the few oil-rich states, more political instability, poverty and hunger.

Egypt, the heart of the Arab world and one of two countries Obama cited in his speech (the other being Tunisia), where the American effort “to promote reform across the region and to support transitions to democracy” will begin, is dangerously unstable. To begin with, it is estimated that 35 percent of all Egyptians and 45 percent of women are illiterate among a population of 80 million, the Arab world’s most populous state.

The inequality of women, the abolition of which is a precondition to any society’s progress, is deeply embedded in Egypt’s culture. An indicator of this strong, cultural backwardness regarding women’s status is that ninety-six percent of married Egyptian women have been subjected to female genital mutilation. And Egyptian mothers believe they are being progressive when they have a doctor perform the painful, dehumanizing procedure on their daughters rather than an untrained local. The columnist Spengler (a literary pseudonym) questions the doctors who carry out a shocking 75 percent of all FGM acts in the Nile nation:

“What does this say about the character of the country’s middle class?” writes Spengler, who also criticized Western news outlets for not reporting on this during Egypt’s recent political troubles.

Economically, the Arab countries’ problems are almost insurmountable. Obama’s speech pointed out 400 million Arabs export goods equal in value to those of one European country, Switzerland. Even more troubling, Arab countries do not have the corporations that can provide their numerous unemployed young people with jobs, leaving them to act as an unstable and dangerous force.

“The private sector in the Muslim countries has… languished and lags behind others in the emerging markets,” writes Ali A. Alawi in his book The Crisis Of Islamic Civilization. “Very few Muslim companies in the Muslim world have the weight to compete seriously or to bring innovations into the global markets. Of the twenty largest corporations in the Muslim world, seventeen are oil and gas companies, in most cases state-owned.”

Alawi goes even further when he states that Islamic civilization is a dying civilization, which has not created much of importance in centuries. And Alawi states there is no returning to greatness, since Muslims have distanced themselves so much from their great past’s Islamic roots. Overall, Alawi maintains, “The Muslim innovative capacity has degraded in a fundamental sense.”

So it is questionable whether the innovation and creativity Obama needs to launch the Arab countries in the new, positive direction of modernity even exists, which would cause all reform plans to be stillborn. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian opposition leader, blames the backward, learning-by-rote education system for the Arab world now being a “collection of failed states who add nothing to humanity or science.” But unlike Alawi, ElBaradei believes democracy will change this.

The lack of strong economies has also left the Middle East, especially Egypt, currently facing a grave danger to social stability in the form of a food crisis. Rising food prices have driven millions of Arabs into destitution where many now eat only once a day, if that. With food prices expected to rise even higher this year and foreign currency-poor Arab governments, like Egypt’s, unable to buy food on the international markets, mass starvation in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries is a distinct possibility, making regional reform difficult, if not impossible.

But it is in the area of religious tolerance where Obama’s hopes for reforming the Middle East will shatter decisively. While Obama said he will work to see “that all faiths are respected and that bridges are built among them” and Coptic Christians “have the right to worship freely in Cairo,” he pathetically failed to call for religious equality and to insist on an end to state-regulated anti-Christian religious discrimination.

Here’s the harsh reality staring us in the face and that Obama is blinding himself to: A poll taken last year indicated a majority of Egyptians believe in sharia law punishments, while 95 percent said “it’s good Islam plays a large role in politics.” The fact that a majority of those polled also believed in democracy indicates Egypt is on the road to becoming a democratically-elected Islamic state, where Western reforms will not be welcome.

And Egyptians may soon get their desired Islamic government. The Muslim Brotherhood announced recently it has formed a political party, which is expected to win Egypt’s next election. Extremists like the Brotherhood feel a need to Islamicize everything and believe the Koran contains all the answers. Such a poisonous political culture will maintain Egypt’s discriminatory, two-tier citizenship status, Muslim and non-Muslim, and keep the country a prisoner of rigid extremist doctrines.

Such a development will prevent Egypt from developing a positive and rich cultural, spiritual and economically-advanced society, since equality of all people is essential to a country’s prosperity and well-being. By electing an Islamist government, Egyptians will also prove, contrary to Obama’s wishful thinking, that they do no want to embrace modernity.

But the situation is even more serious than that. In Arab countries where extremists like the Muslim Brotherhood come to power, an environment of fanaticism will be created. Violence, as Egypt saw recently in the Coptic church burnings in Cairo, will become the order of the day.

It is Obama’s stunning non-recognition of this deeply embedded, Muslim extremist drive to destroy those who are different that also emerged in his speech when he called for Israel to return to its 1967 borders. This statement once again confirmed his credentials as a leftist ideologue who believes Israel is to blame for those who work to exterminate it. And despite his “assurances” of Israel’s security, the 1967 borders would be indefensible. This leads one to understand that it is not the Arab world that so much needs reforming as the destructive world outlook of an American president.


Stephen Brown

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

Obama Throws Israel to the Dogs

by Robert Spencer

America is on the verge of abandoning its most reliable ally in the Middle East, thanks to Barack Hussein Obama.

He began his betrayal with lip service to Israel’s concerns about defending itself from the relentless jihad that has been waged against it throughout the sixty-three years of its lifetime as a sovereign state: “For the Palestinians, efforts to delegitimize Israel will end in failure. Symbolic actions to isolate Israel at the United Nations in September won’t create an independent state. Palestinian leaders will not achieve peace or prosperity if Hamas insists on a path of terror and rejection. And Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist.”

Yet after saying that “Palestinians will never realize their independence by denying the right of Israel to exist,” Obama called for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Yet neither Hamas nor Fatah have acknowledged Israel’s right to exist, and Obama did not make that acknowledgment a condition of the establishment of a Palestinian state. He was merely making an observation, akin to something like: “You’ll never get a good job by sleeping in the sun all day” – more on the order of a polite request, a mild nag, rather than a firm condition.

Obama also called for “two states,” explaining that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”

It was widely reported Thursday evening that Obama was calling for a return to the 1967 borders, but this is not the case. He actually called for the creation of a “sovereign and contiguous state” for the Palestinian Arabs, and said that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines.” Thus he wasn’t calling for a return to the 1967 lines, but new borders “based on the 1967 lines.”

There were, however, no 1967 lines in which Palestinian Arab territory was contiguous. For the territory of Palestine to be contiguous, that of Israel will have to be substantially reduced. Israel’s 1967 borders were indefensible, and Obama is calling for Israel to be reduced even further so that a contiguous Palestinian state can be established.

What’s more, Obama specified that the new Palestinian state should have “borders with Israel, Jordan, and Egypt,” while Israel should have “borders with Palestine.” The implication was that Israel, in Obama’s vision, will border on neither Jordan nor Egypt — only on “Palestine.” Yet currently Israel has substantial borders with both Jordan and Egypt. Obama was implying that his contiguous Palestine would comprise not just Gaza and Judea and Samaria, but large expanses of Israeli territory bordering on those two states.

That would leave a truncated, reduced Israeli rump state, reminiscent of the reduced and defenseless Czechoslovakia that remained after Neville Chamberlain fed the Nazi beast at Munich. And if Obama did not mean that the diminished Israel he envisioned would have no territory bordering on Jordan or Egypt, the establishment of a contiguous Palestinian state including Gaza and the West Bank would cut Israel in two: Palestine’s contiguous territory would come at the expense of Israel’s.

Whatever Obama meant about Israel’s borders, the establishment of a Palestinian state will come at the expense of Israel’s security. It will not make for peace any more than the withdrawal from Gaza did. In those days the learned analysts were predicting that a withdrawal from Gaza would pacify the Palestinians and normalize their sick society. I said, in contrast, that it would just be another jihad base for more attacks on Israel. That’s what it became. And that’s what a Palestinian state would be also.

The Kuwaiti MP Jama’an Al-Harbash summed it up on Al-Jazeera on March 29, 2010. First he quoted the notorious genocidal hadith in which Muhammad predicts a Muslim genocide of Jews: “Allah willing, a war will be waged between us and them – the war foretold by the Prophet Muhammad: ‘Judgment Day will not come before you fight the Jews – with them on the west bank of the river, and you on the east bank – and the trees and the stones will say: Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me. Come and kill him.’ This war is drawing near, Allah willing.”

With eerie prescience, al-Harbash then declared of the now-toppled regimes in the Middle East that “the countries of surrender and appeasement, and those who have forsaken the holy places and the land, in their efforts to cling to their seats and pass them on [to their sons] – they will be trampled underfoot by the mujahideen.”

Finally al-Harbash explained the nature of the conflict: “This is a war of religion, not just a war between Arabs and Israelis, or a war between liberators and occupiers. This is an ideological war, an Islamic war, which will end in victory only under the banner of Jihad.”

Those who believe that will not be pacified by the creation of a Palestinian state. They will not lay down their arms and accept Israel’s existence, even its truncated, bisected existence, because the Palestinians have statehood. Not only will they not be pacified; they will be emboldened – emboldened to fight on against their bloodied and weakened adversary. Emboldened to move in for the kill.

Obama’s Thursday address thus amounted to a betrayal of Israel, and an attempt to sign its death warrant. Binyamin Netanyahu immediately issued a statement saying that he was going to seek “a reaffirmation from President Obama of U.S. commitments made to Israel in 2004, which were overwhelmingly supported by both Houses of Congress,” including commitments about Israel “not having to withdraw to the 1967 lines which are both indefensible and which would leave major Israeli population centers in Judea and Samaria beyond those lines.”

Will Obama honor this request? Unlikely. But it is good that it is going to be made. Netanyahu has made clear that Israel will not acquiesce to Obama’s betrayal and go gently into the night.

And so now more than ever, all free people must stand with Israel.


Robert Spencer

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Obama's Failed Middle East Speech

by Daniel Pipes

In a much-touted speech today bearing the modest title "Remarks by the President on the Middle East and North Africa," Barack Obama responded to the Arab revolt of the past five months with elements of common sense and even eloquence ("through the moral force of nonviolence, the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades"). He also defined a U.S. policy in support of reform and against violence that I find worthy of discussion and debate.

But the president, ever in thrall to the illusion of "linkage," stepped on his lines by devoting the final fifth of his speech to the Arab-Israeli conflict and articulating principles which, in the words of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's Robert Satloff, "constitute a major departure from long-standing U.S. policy."

That departure is not for the better; one line sums up Obama's mistake, where he declares that "The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel … must act boldly to advance a lasting peace." Note how he demands that Israel alone "must act boldly," code words for making concessions to enemies sworn to eliminate the Jewish state.

This is not policy; this is folly.


Daniel Pipes

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Obama's Middle East Speech: So "Balanced" it Goes Nowhere

by Raymond Ibrahim

One of the problems with Obama's Middle East speech was that parts of it were so deliberately balanced — so meant to appease all sides — that they go nowhere. For example, look at the portions where he discusses democracy in the Middle East versus the alternative — Islamist rule, which he does not name. One sentence seems to say that a "true" democracy is necessary, only to be followed by one that seems open to Islamist rule, and so on. Consider the following excerpts:

Not every country will follow our particular form of representative democracy, and there will be times when our short-term interests do not align perfectly with our long-term vision of the region.

This seems to say he's open to Islamists' having a prominent role now in the hopes that, in future, more liberal reforms will take place.

But we can — and will — speak out for a set of core principles — principles that have guided our response to the events over the past six months.

This implies the opposite: that Islamists can't just have a blank check, as it were.

Such open discourse is important even if what is said does not square with our worldview. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard, even if we disagree with them.

This is very open to Islamist rule, since many Islamists, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, are "peaceful and law-abiding," at least until they assume power.

We look forward to working with all who embrace genuine and inclusive democracy.

This is another reverse implying that only "true" supporters of democracy are welcome.

What we will oppose is an attempt by any group to restrict the rights of others, and to hold power through coercion — not consent.

This is immensely vague: What if a group restricts the rights of its minorities — but with consent from the majority, as is the case when a majority of Muslims support Islamist/sharia rule?

In the end, however, when one moves beyond all the verbiage, it is clear where Obama is going with all this:

There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity. Yes, there will be perils that accompany this moment of promise. But after decades of accepting the world as it is in the region, we have a chance to pursue the world as it should be.

In short, let's take risks today in the hopes of achieving an earthly utopia tomorrow — a thing unprecedented in human history.


Raymond Ibrahim is associate director of the Middle East Forum

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Abbas's Fable

by Efraim Karsh

In the opening episode of the iconic series Boardwalk Empire, Nucky Thompsonwalk Empire, Nucky Thompson, Atlantic City's bootlegging strongman, tells a group of pro-prohibition women activists a gutwrenching story about his abject childhood, ravaged by the vagaries of alcoholism. Asked by his driver, a young aspiring gangster, about the story's veracity, Thompson retorts: "The first law of politics is to never let the truth get in the way of a good story."

This episode comes to mind upon reading Mahmoud Abbas's recent New York Times op-ed. Turning the saga of Israel's birth upside down, the "moderate" PLO chairman and president of the Palestinian National Authority says not a word of the Jewish acceptance of Palestinian Arab statehood, as part of the UN partition resolution of November 1947, let alone the violent Palestinian response to the resolution. Instead he reminisces on his childhood in an attempt to turn aggressors into hapless victims and vice versa.

"Sixty-three years ago, a 13-year-old Palestinian boy was forced to leave his home in the Galilean city of Safed and flee with his family to Syria," Abbas writes. "He took up shelter in a canvas tent provided to all the arriving refugees. Though he and his family wished for decades to return to their home and homeland, they were denied that most basic of human rights. That child's story, like that of so many other Palestinians, is mine."

But was he expelled? Hardly. Not only did Abbas reveal a couple of years ago, in an Arabic interview, that his family had not been forcefully expelled and that his father was affluent enough to provide for them for a year after their flight (so no canvas tent), but none of the 170,000- 180,000 Palestinian Arabs fleeing urban centers, in the five-and-a-half months from the passing of the UN resolution to Israel's proclamation on May 14, 1948, were expelled by the Jews.

Quite the reverse in fact, huge numbers of these refugees were driven from their homes by their own leaders and/or by Arab military forces which had entered the country to fight the Jews, whether out of military considerations or to prevent them from becoming citizens of the prospective Jewish state.

In the largest and best-known example, tens of thousands of Arabs were ordered or bullied into leaving the city of Haifa (on April 21-22) on the instructions of the Arab Higher Committee, the effective "government" of the Palestinian Arabs, despite strenuous Jewish efforts to persuade them to stay. Only days earlier, Tiberias's 6,000- strong Arab community had been similarly forced out by its own leaders, against local Jewish wishes. In Jaffa, Palestine's largest Arab city, the municipality organized the transfer of thousands of residents by land and sea; in Jerusalem, the Arab Higher Committee ordered the transfer of women and children, and local gang leaders pushed out residents of several neighborhoods.

And what about Safed? Having declined an offer by Gen. Hugh Stockwell, commander of the British forces in northern Palestine, to mediate a truce, the Arabs responded to the British evacuation of the city with a heavy assault on the tiny Jewish community, less than a quarter their size. "Upon the British evacuation on April 16, we occupied all the city's strategic positions: the Citadel, the Government House, and the police post on Mount Canaan," recalled a local Arab fighter.

"We were the majority, and the feeling among us was that we would defeat the Jews with sticks and rocks."

What this prognosis failed to consider was the tenacity of the Jewish resolve to hold on to Safed, awarded by the partition resolution to the prospective Jewish state, on the one hand, and the intensity of Arab flight psychosis, on the other. As tens of thousands of Arabs streamed out of Tiberias and Haifa within days of the British evacuation of Safed, members of the city's leading families and ordinary residents alike decided that now was the time to escape – which is probably when Abbas's affluent family fled. In the words of a British intelligence report, "Such is their state of fear [that] Arabs are beginning to evacuate Safed although the Jews have not yet attacked them."

In a desperate bid to save the day, a delegation of local notables traveled to Damascus, only to be reprimanded as cowards fleeing the battlefield and ordered to keep on fighting. A subsequent visit by mayor Zaki Qadura to the royal court in Amman was far more affable yet equally inconclusive. While King Abdullah was evidently moved by the mayor's pleas, he argued that there was nothing he could do before the termination of the mandate on May 15 and that Qadura had better return to Damascus and put his case to president Shukri Quwatly. The mayor dutifully complied, and following his visit to Damascus some 130 pan-Arab fighters (of the so-called Arab Liberation Army) were sent to Safed, arriving in the city on May 9.

This was too little, too late. As fighting intensified, the trickle of escapees turned into a hemorrhage.

On May 2, following the bombing of the Arab quarter by the deafening albeit highly ineffective home-made "David's mortar," scores of Arabs fled Safed en route to the Jordan Valley, accompanied by a substantial number of Arab Liberation Army fighters. Four days later, the ALA's regional commander reported that "the majority of the inhabitants have left [Safed's neighboring] villages.

Their morale has collapsed completely."

Heavy artillery bombardments of Jewish neighborhoods failed to do the trick, and as the final battle for the city was joined on the night of May 9 a mass flight ensued. By the time fighting was over the next morning, Safed's entire Arab population had taken to the road; a day later, Hagana patrols reported that "the [Arab] quarter had emptied to a man," with evacuees leaving behind "a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition."

Such were the circumstances of the fall of Safed. There was no act of Jewish expulsion, as there were none in other cities that were rapidly emptying of their Arab residents at the time.

Rather it was fear that acted as the foremost catalyst of the rapid unraveling of Palestinian Arab society, reinforced by the local Palestinians' disillusionment with their own leadership, the role taken by that leadership in forcing widespread evacuations, and, above all, a lack of communal cohesion or of a willingness, especially at the highest levels, to subordinate personal interest to the general good.

But why let the truth get in the way of a good story?


Efraim Karsh is research professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London, incoming director of the Middle East Forum and author, most recently, of Palestine Betrayed.

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

Obama and Israel

by Steve McCann

I forced myself to listen to Obama deliver his so-called new Middle East policy speech. It was exceedingly difficult to do. During the speech, as Obama declared that Israel should acquiesce to the 1967 borders, my minds eye turned toward the days of 1938 and Czechoslovakia wherein the leaders of Western Europe so callously decided the fate of that country and declared it "Peace in our Time". Within less than a year the country ceased to exist.

I realize my perspective is colored by my personal experience surviving World War II; but I am haunted by the prospect of history repeating itself as the entire Middle East is about to become a tinderbox with the ascendancy of radical islamists in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Lebanon while Iran becomes the major power in the region. Israel can do nothing to assuage the blood lust of these radicals; there is not enough land to surrender, there is no compromise on the right of return that the Palestinians demand. Only the destruction of the state of Israel will satisfy the mob outside the gates of that country.

Yet today a President of the United States willingly puts Israel in a box, attempts to impose a course of action that if not taken by Israel will further inflame the Arab world and international sentiment. The seeds of conflict have been sown for many years, this past spring and today they have been watered and will sprout.


Steve McCann

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

Obama and His Muslim Outreach

by Mark Silverberg

President Barack Obama appears to be preparing a fresh outreach to the Muslim world in the coming days, one that will ask those in the Middle East and beyond to reject Islamic terrorism in the wake of Osama bin Laden's death, and embrace what he believes will be a new era of positive relations for them with the U.S. A senior Obama administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity suggested: "We shouldn't be afraid of Islam in the politics of (Arab) countries," and Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser at the White House told the Wall Street Journal: "It's an interesting coincidence of timing - that (bin Laden) is killed at the same time that you have a model of change emerging in the region that is completely the opposite of bin Laden's model."

Problem is, this emerging model of change may not be the kind the U.S. Administration is anticipating.

Since taking office, President Obama seems to have been infatuated with the Muslim Brotherhood and has argued that political Islam and democratic politics are compatible with one another. This is more than a little surprising given that many polls are now suggesting that the Islamic bloc in Egypt will likely win the September elections and include Salafists who are even more extreme than the Muslim Brotherhood; but this does not seem to have dampened his enthusiasm for this policy..

The policy was outlined in his June 2009 speech at Cairo's Al-Azhar University, when he stated his intention to mend the rift between the United States and the Muslim world by speaking of "the common values of the two cultures," and called for a "new beginning" in the relationship. Now he seems about to begin another outreach initiative based on his belief that bin Ladin's death represents a unique opportunity for radical Islamist groups to embrace democracy and carry the torch of freedom to the Arab world. According to DEBKAFile's intelligence sources, he has already picked the "moderate" Muslim Brotherhood as his partner for promoting American interests in the Arab world in place of their ousted rulers. He will discover shortly, however, that although you can pet a scorpion, you cannot change its fundamental nature.

Obama's determination to pursue this policy comes as no surprise given the recent Wikileak, which stated that his Administration had worked covertly with the Muslim Brotherhood for some time to bring down the Mubarak government long before the so-called "Arab Spring" of 2011. Within days of demonstrations having erupted in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Egypt, President Obama was calling for Mubarak's immediate removal from power -- the sort of statement he has effectively refrained from making about either Iran or Syria, where demonstrations have gone on longer, and have been considerably bloodier.

In the coming months, we can expect to hear him address the Muslim world with his utopian vision that bin Laden's death signals an end to" the old ways," and that the uprisings in Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Syria and elsewhere in the Arab world are the harbingers of a new and better future of the Middle East. The problem with this approach is his fundamental misunderstanding of the tribal and religious nature of Arab societies, the extent to which Islamist dogma prohibits resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the dangers inherent in establishing alliances with radical Islamists who self-proclaimed reason for being is to establish Sharia Law throughout the Middle East ,and to destroy of American interests and influence in the region -- most notably those of its staunchest ally, Israel.

As Islamic forces begin to take hold in the Arab world, it is becoming increasingly clear that what the Arab world sought was the expanding importance that Osama bin Laden promoted of Islam in Arab societies . Polls, such as a recent Pew Research Center study, show that more than 70% of Egyptians will favor the Muslim Brotherhood in the upcoming election (just as the Palestinians favored "moderate" Hamas in Gaza in the 2006 elections), while more than half of those polled favor cancelling Egypt's 30-year peace treaty with Israel.

Obama's overtures nevertheless continue to be motivated by his seemingly unwaverable belief that he can establish close relations with organizations that are determined to destroy the Western influence in the Middle East, and that consider him to be a "useful idiot," much as Khomeini and the Politburo considered Carter to be a useful idiot when he discarded his ally, the Shah of Iran, during the 1979 "democratic" Iranian Revolution, in favor of 32 years of mullahs.

Efraim Karsh wrote, in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of International Security Affairs: "If, today, America is reviled in the Muslim world, it is not because of its specific policies but because, as the pre-eminent world power, it blocks the final realization of (the Islamists') age-old dream of a universal Islamic community or umma. It is the failure to recognize this state of affairs that accounts for the resounding lack of success of Obama's policies toward the Middle East and the Muslim World." In other words, as the Muslim Brotherhood's admitted goal is to establish and expand Shariah Law throughout the world, Obama's outreach policy to them looks not only naïve but dangerous. Islamist leaders could not care less whether the U.S. or its European allies speak respectfully to them; their goal is to replace Western influence in the Middle East by any means necessary -- preferably, but not necessarily, by the ballot.

It is the failure to recognize this state of affairs that accounts for the resounding lack of success of Obama's policies in the Middle East and the Muslim world. The fact that his outreach policies have failed spectacularly is evidenced by the fact that Iran, despite all our efforts to appease and accommodate it and, subsequently, to enforce sanctions against it, it is on the brink of achieving nuclear capability and continues to spread its revolutionary tentacles throughout the region and beyond, deeply into South America.

The Saudis have concluded that bin Laden was correct in defining America as a "paper tiger" and, as a result, have moved militarily into Bahrain and begun to supply arms to the Syrian opposition to prevent further Iranian penetration there; Turkey has turned away from the West and is becoming increasingly Islamic in orientation; the Palestinians have become even more intransigent and unwilling to compromise, negotiate, reduce incitement. They continue to flaunt their treaty obligations with Israel and refuse to recognize Israel's existence. Lebanon's government is now effectively controlled by Hezbollah and Iran, and Syria continues to facilitate the transit of weapons and terrorists into Iraq, and to develop stronger bilateral ties with the Iranians while utilizing Iranian militias to murder Syrian civilian protesters demonstrating against Assad's brutal dictatorship.

Perhaps the President believes, as does Zbigniew Brzezinski (architect of the U.S. covert war in Afghanistan) that political Islam is an unstoppable force that Washington can safely ride in order to capture and control the oil and natural gas reserves of Central Asia, but if that is his belief, he is wrong. His outreach policy cannot pacify Islamic expansionists any more than Chamberlain could appease Nazi expansionist ambitions. If and when American officials finally understand this, the failure of Obama's outreach to the Muslim world will have at least provided him with a dose of reality.

But that will be small consolation after we have lost the Middle East.


Mark Silverberg

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

Muslims Terrorizing Christian Girls in Iraq

by Frank Kitman

Editor’s note: Visit Frank Kitman’s site at

I edited and translated a most heartbreaking testimony by Sister Hatune of the Syrian-Orthodox monastery in Warburg, Germany. She makes an amazing effort to help and protect the ruthlessly persecuted Christians in Iraq.

In recent years, a horrifying number of kidnappings, rapes and mutilations of Iraqi Christian girls has been perpetrated by Muslim gangs. Some 700,000 Christians are fleeing this terror, but often find themselves exposed to similar dangers when they arrive in neighboring Muslim countries. With no rights and no help from authorities, they are surely in the most desperate of situations.

Please take the time to contemplate why this is not being reported more often.

And visit Sister Hatune’s foundation for more information about her great work.

See the testimony of Sister Hatune below:


Frank Kitman

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

More Tripe From Thomas Friedman (and Others)

by P. David Hornik

This week’s breach of Israel’s Golan border by a crowd of Syrians was telegenic, but it probably didn’t give most viewers the impression that Israel is about to achieve piece with its neighbors.

Even less conducive to that impression is the fact that this event occurred as part of Nakba Day, which brands the modern state of Israel’s creation 63 years ago as a nakba, catastrophe, and is marked with ever-increasing intensity each year by Israeli Arabs, Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza, and Arabs in other countries. This year’s Nakba Day also included, among other things, a terror attack in Tel Aviv by a lone Israeli Arab civilian that killed 1 and injured 19.

To this can be added the recent unity pact between Fatah, Israel’s alleged peace partner, and Hamas, whose charter proclaims that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam obliterates it”; Fatah leader, and Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas’s statement a day before Nakba Day that Palestinians would never give up the “right of return” and that every Palestinian “has the right to see Palestine and return to the homeland because the homeland is our final destination”—which could only occur in lieu of Israel; and Abbas’s New York Times op-ed this week that included bald, defamatory lies about Israel’s establishment and said that “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would…pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice”—a “peace” message being hard to detect there.

Nor is the regional situation any better, as Iran continues to progress toward nuclear weapons in the face of impotent Western “sanctions” and increasingly warlike winds blow from Egypt, which has been deteriorating fast since the nonbelligerent, pro-Western Mubarak regime was overthrown in February amid Western excitement over “democracy.”

And now, as Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu embarks for Washington, where he is scheduled to meet with President Obama on Friday, address AIPAC on Sunday, and address Congress on Tuesday, voices are calling on him…to lay out a peace plan including precise details on Israeli concessions.

The fact that some of these calls come from friendly sources reflects the remarkable tenacity of the “peace process” paradigm in the face of such stark countervailing evidence. The Jerusalem Post, for instance, criticized Netanyahu this week for being too “ambivalent” and “vague” about “his conditions for the creation of a Palestinian state” in a speech he gave to the Knesset on Monday. This at a time when the Palestinian Authority’s (let alone Hamas’s) contempt for the iconic “state existing side by side with Israel in peace and security”—as anything but a springboard to a “final solution” for Israel—is blatantly expressed daily, as if Abbas’s paean to the “right of return” and other hostile pronouncements were not sufficient.

In a similar vein, in the Washington Post veteran peace-process analyst David Makovsky, claiming that Netanyahu “needs to overcome suspicions about his desire for a breakthrough,” advised him to “take the opportunity of his May 24 address to a joint session of Congress to lay out a compelling political vision toward renewed peace talks.” Lest anyone minimally cognizant of the facts worry that the circumstances are less than propitious, Makovsky has the remedy: “Of course, mutual [Israeli-Palestinian] recognition must be accompanied by a vigorous public peace education campaign, with both sides making clear that each has a historic attachment to the land and that the land must be shared”—a statement so glaringly at odds with the Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim ethos and tenets as to take one’s breath away.

But while the Jerusalem Post’s and Makovsky’s admonitions were at least respectful toward both Netanyahu and Israel, Thomas Friedman’s in his latest Israel-bashing New York Times column this week were—not surprisingly—anything but. In his previous notable effort in that genre, dispatched from Cairo in February, Friedman had bitterly berated Israel for not sharing his confident enthusiasm about the “Arab spring.” Just last week he admitted that “Watching the Arab uprisings these days leaves me with a smile on my face and a pit in my stomach…. Is the breakdown in these societies too deep for anyone to build anything decent out of?” But the seeming humility does not carry over to Israel, toward which Friedman’s animosity is deep and abiding.

Thus on Tuesday Friedman, while allowing in one breath that “I have no idea whether Israel has a Palestinian or Syrian partner for a secure peace that Israel can live with,” declares in the next that

Israel needs to use every ounce of its creativity to explore ways to securely cede the West Bank to a Palestinian state.

I repeat: It may not be possible. But Netanyahu has not spent his time in office using Israel’s creativity to find ways to do such a deal. He has spent his time trying to avoid such a deal—and everyone knows it. No one is fooled.

Such “everyone” and “no one” is, of course, a form of rhetorical bullying, negating all those who think “creativity” could no more help Israel make a “deal” with the jihad that confronts it than it could help the United States make one with Al Qaeda. But Friedman knows better:

The only way for Netanyahu to be taken seriously again is if he risks some political capital and actually surprises people. Bibi keeps hinting that he is ready for painful territorial compromises involving settlements. Fine, put a map on the table….

Along with the abuse—many people take Netanyahu seriously—comes, again, that demand for specificity, where Israel is supposed to cough up everything it would concede in putative negotiations (leading reasonably to the question—what would then be their point?) while the other side comes up with Nakba Day and the International Criminal Court.

Yet, “absent that,” in the world according to Thomas Friedman,

it’s just silly for us to have Netanyahu addressing the U.S. Congress when he needs to be addressing Palestinians down the street. And it is equally silly for the Palestinians to be going to the United Nations for a state when they need to be persuading Israelis why a Hamas-Fatah rapprochement is in their security interest.

Again that astonishing disconnect from the reality. One gazes, finally, at that phrase—“persuading Israelis why a Hamas-Fatah rapprochement is in their security interest”—in disbelief. At least it helps clarify the steadily declining fortunes of the newspaper that employs the columnist.

For the devout, then, whether courteous ones like the Jerusalem Post editorialist or Makovsky, or nasty ones like Friedman, nothing dims the splendor of the sacred “process.” Certainly not the troubling phenomena mentioned in this article—nor much worse ones like the over 17 years of suicide bombings, rocket firings, and other terror that Israel has endured in pursuit of the chimera.

As for what it would take finally to convince them that it’s a bust, clearly it would need to be something so dire that it’s actually preferable that they keep spouting their nonsense.


P. David Hornik

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

Abbas - Rewriting Middle East History

by Eli E. Hertz

"Repeat a lie often enough and people will begin to believe it."

Nazi propaganda master Joseph Goebbels

FACT: The UN Partition Plan - UN answered in the affirmative

SIXTY-FOUR years ago, just before Israel's War of Independence in 1948, Palestinian Arabs launched a series of riots, pillaging, and bloodletting. This was followed by the invasion into Jewish Palestine of seven Arab armies from neighboring states attempting to prevent by force the establishment of a Jewish state in accordance with UN Resolution 181, known also as the 1947 Partition Plan. The Arab nations denounced the plan on the General Assembly floor and voted as a bloc against Resolution 181 promising to defy its implementation by force. The Jews accepted the UN Partition Plan.

There were 6,000 Israeli dead as a result of that war, in a population of 600,000. One percent of the Jewish population was gone. In American terms, the equivalent is 3 million American civilians and soldiers killed over an 18-month period.

ABBAS: Attempts to "roll back the clock" and resuscitate Resolution 181 more than six decades after Palestinian Arabs rejected it "as if nothing had happened" are a baseless ploy designed to use Resolution 181 as leverage to bring about a greater Israeli withdrawal from parts of western Palestine and to gain a broader base from which to continue to attack Israel with even less defendable borders.

Ironically, in Article 19 of the PLO CHARTER, Mahmoud Abbas, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] contradict himself when he makes it clear - that the UN Partition Plan is "illegal"

"Article 9: Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase. The Palestinian Arab people assert their absolute determination and firm resolution to continue their armed struggle and to work for an armed popular revolution for the liberation of their country and their return to it. They also assert their right to normal life in Palestine and to exercise their right to self-determination and sovereignty over it."

"Article 19: The Partition of Palestine in 1947 and the establishment of the state of Israel are entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time ..."

"Article 20: The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong."

ABBAS: key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948.

FACT: Resolution 194, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 11, 1948, addressed a host of issues, but only one paragraph out of 15 dealt with refugees created by the conflict. Resolution 194 attempted to create the tools required to reach a truce in the region. It established a conciliation commission with representatives from the United States, France and Turkey to replace the UN mediator. The commission was charged with achieving "a final settlement of all questions between ... governments and authorities concerned." The Resolution's "refugee clause" is not a standalone item, as the Arabs would have us think, nor does it pertain specifically to Palestinian Arab refugees.

Of the 15 paragraphs, the first six sections addressed ways to achieve a truce; the next four paragraphs addressed the ways that Jerusalem and surrounding villages and towns should be demilitarized, and how an international zone or jurisdiction would be created in and around Jerusalem. The resolution also called on all parties to protect and allow free access to holy places, including religious buildings.

One paragraph has drawn the most attention: Paragraph 11, which alone addressed the issue of refugees and compensation for those whose property was lost or damaged. Contrary to Arab claims, it did not guarantee a Right of Return and certainly did not guarantee an unconditional Right of Return - that is the right of Palestinian Arab refugees to return to Israel. Nor did it specifically mention Arab refugees, thereby indicating that the resolution was aimed at all refugees, both Jewish and Arab. Instead, Resolution 194 recommended that refugees be allowed to return to their homeland if they met two important conditions:

1. That they be willing to live in peace with their neighbors

2. That the return takes place "at the earliest practicable date"

The resolution also recommended that for those who did not wish to return, "Compensation should be paid for the property ... and for loss of or damage to property" by the "governments or authorities responsible."

Although Arab leaders point to Resolution 194 as proof that Arab refugees have a right to returnor be compensated, it is important to note that the Arab States: Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Yemen voted against Resolution 194. Israel is not even mentioned in the resolution. The fact that plural wording also is used - "governments or authorities" - suggests that, contrary to Arab claims, the burden of compensation does not fall solely upon one side of the conflict. Because seven Arab armies invaded Israel, Israel was not responsible for creating the refugee problem. When hundreds of thousands of Arab Jews, under threat of death, attack and other forms of persecution, were forced to flee Arab communities, the State of Israel absorbed the overwhelming majority of them into the then-fledgling nation.

ABBAS: Palestine "our historic homeland"

FACT: What Abbas wants the world to forget is the content of the "Mandate for Palestine," an historical League of Nations document that laid down the Jewish legal right to settle anywhere in western Palestine, the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, an entitlement unaltered in international law.

The "Mandate for Palestine" was not a naive vision briefly embraced by the international community. Fifty-one member countries-the entire League of Nations-unanimously declared on July 24, 1922:

"Whereas recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."

It is important to point out that political rights to self-determination as a polity for Arabs were guaranteed by the same League of Nations in four other mandates-in Lebanon and Syria [The French Mandate], Iraq, and later Trans- Jordan [The British Mandate].

Any attempt to negate the Jewish people's right to Palestine-Eretz-Israel, and to deny them access and control in the area designated for the Jewish people by the League of Nations is a serious infringement of international law.

ABBAS: Zionist forces expelled Palestinian Arabs

FACT: The Arab League's April 10, 1948 decision to invade Jewish Palestine on May 14 to "save Palestine," as the British Mandate ended, marked a watershed event, for it changed the rules of the conflict. Accordingly, Israel bears no moral responsibility for deliberately banishing Palestinian Arabs in order to "consolidate defense arrangements" in strategic areas, as the Jewish people organized to battle seven well-equipped and well-trained aggressor armies. With the pending invasion following Israel's declaration of independence, it is no exaggeration to say the new Jewish state's very existence hung in the balance.

The Palestinians were responsible for escalating the war - a move that cost the Jews thousands of lives and Palestinians their homes. By their own behavior, Palestinians assumed the role of belligerents in the conflict, invalidating any claim to be hapless victims. Explains scholar Benny Morris:

"One of the characteristics of the Palestinian national movement has been the Palestinians' view of themselves as perpetual victims of others: Ottoman Turks, British officials, Zionists, Americans - and never to appreciate that they are, at least in large part, victims of their own mistakes and iniquities."

ABBAS: Our territory is recognized as the lands framed by the 1967 border, though it is occupied by Israel.

FACT: Political figures and international jurists have discussed the existence of "permissible" or "legal occupations." In a seminal article on this question, entitled What Weight to Conquest Professor, Judge Schwebel, a former president of the International Court of Justice, wrote:

"A state [Israel] acting in lawful exercise of its right of self-defense may seize and occupy foreign territory as long as such seizure and occupation are necessary to its self-defense. ... Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully [Jordan], the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, a better title.

"As between Israel, acting defensively in 1948 and 1967, on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors, acting aggressively, in 1948 and 1967, on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt." (emphasis added)

Response to Abbas editorial, May 17, 2011, at The NY Times


Eli E. Hertz

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

Be firm in Washington

by Isi Leibler

The threats arising from the chilling empowerment of radical Islamic movements in the wake of the “Arab Spring” and the reunification of the openly genocidal Hamas with Fatah shatter any remaining dreams about the short-term prospects of reaching a settlement with the Palestinians.

Under the circumstances, rather than prostrating himself before President Barack Obama and making further unilateral concessions, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the Knesset on Monday suggested he has decided to take the offensive against those misguidedly seeking to offer us as a sacrifice to appease the Islamist world.

In his Washington dialogue with the American people, he should reiterate our desire not to rule over Arabs, and willingness to abide by UN Resolution 242, but insist that so long as the Palestinians who rejected Olmert’s extraordinary offers and refuse to even negotiate, no further concessions will be forthcoming.

Indeed, it would now be timely to deplore efforts to make us act like supplicants with the Palestinians.

There is no example in history of a state begging for peace from neighbors vanquished after repeatedly unleashing wars aimed at its destruction.

Particularly with some of their leaders boasting of their intention to try again.

Netanyahu should deplore the morally repugnant double standards applied to us.

He should contrast the recent commendations from every government concerning the targeted assassination of Osama Bin Laden with the hysterical condemnations directed against us in 2004 when we carried out a similar action against Hamas leader Sheikh Yassin. The UN, the EU and most governments then railed that “extra-judicial killings are contrary to international law,” and that our action was “unlawful, unjustified and counterproductive.”

The liberal US president who endorsed the targeted assassination of a mass murderer will not be called before a UN investigative committee, summoned to the International Court, or subjected to hypocritical condemnations.

Netanyahu should also deplore the fact that despite the IDF’s unique code of ethics and extreme actions to minimize civilian casualties, it continues to be accused of war crimes by the odious Human Rights Council, dominated by Islamic and rogue states such as Iran and until recently Syria and Libya.

Even setting aside the duplicitous behavior of Abbas and the PA, the union with Hamas enables Netanyahu to conclusively expose the fallacy of the assertion that the Palestinians are “moderate peace partners.”

He must denounce any reluctance to condemn the PA after Mahmoud Abbas proclaimed its merger with Hamas - the terrorist organization whose charter explicitly calls for the murder of every living Jew. Particularly so when Hamas immediately reaffirmed that it would never recognize Israel or renounce terror.

NETANYAHU should especially condemn those European countries which refused to denounce the Hamas-Fatah union. He should note that such behavior is like the attitudes countries displayed when the Nazis embarked on their genocidal campaign.

In fact, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton (who attended the signing ceremony), UK Prime Minister David Cameron and the Russians even praised the Fatah-Hamas union. And French President Sarkozy hinted that in September, France would recognize a PA/Hamas state.

Netanyahu should also point out that Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, with his organization’s parent body, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, condemned the US slaying of Osama Bin Laden, the “Arab holy warrior,” as an extension “of the American policy based on oppression and the shedding of Muslim and Arab blood.”

More significantly, despite Abbas applauding the demise of Bin Laden, his own military wing, the Al Aqsa Brigade, described the killing as a “catastrophe,” and referred to “the martyr’s death of the Sheikh, Jihad fighter Osama Bin Laden, in a treacherous manner, by the gangs of the heretics…”

After being criticized, Fatah withdrew a statement that it would remain “neutral.”

AS IT appears that President Obama will now address AIPAC, it would seem that he will not be following the advice of his advisers, who had urged him to confront Netanyahu with an imposed solution based on the indefensible 1949 armistice lines.

Nonetheless, Netanyahu must stand firm. Other than reiterating the danger of a xenophobic, nuclear Iran, he should concentrate on demonstrating the folly of endorsing a Palestinian state whose leaders would include many with a worldview matching Osama bin Laden’s. He must explain the devastating consequences not only for Israel, but also on the global battle against Islamic terror.

He should urge that a fully-fledged Palestinian state be sanctioned only if and when we have a genuine partner for peace, which it recognizes Israel as a Jewish state, meets our legitimate longterm security requirements, and forgoes the Arab “right of return.”

Until then, he should caution our friends not to be deluded by our adversaries, and urge that they be denied any support which could be exploited to harm our citizens.

Democratic Congressman Gary Ackerman has already noted that “President Abbas now appears to be writing off his partnership with the US.”

Some congressional leaders have demanded that US taxpayers cease funding the PA, a large proportion of whose leaders still shamelessly proclaim their genocidal objectives.

Netanyahu should also announce that if the Palestinians unilaterally proclaim a state based on the 1949 armistice lines, Israel would consider this an abrogation of the Oslo Accords, and would solicit US support for immediately annexing the major settlement blocs in accordance with understandings reached with the Bush administration.

In the current climate, Netanyahu is likely to find most Americans supportive if he reiterates that Israel will never capitulate like Czechoslovakia did in order to create “peace in our time.”

He should remind them that pro rata, Palestinian terrorists have murdered a far greater percentage of Israeli citizens than Americans, and that we will not go along with the fantasies of those who believe the West will end its conflict with Islamic extremists by appeasing them at our expense.

Netanyahu must emphasize that his government shares the opinion of President Obama, who when announcing the execution of Bin Laden stated: “As a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand by idly when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens.”


Isi Leibler

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

Obama's Muslim Outreach 2.0: Doing business with the Muslim Brotherhood

by Frank Gaffney, Jr.

President Obama's latest paean to what he calls "the Muslim world," delivered at the State Department today, was an exercise in whistling past the graveyard of real and growing dangers and a litany of misleading statements that borders on official malpractice. Its most important upshot is this: The United States is now prepared to do business with the Muslim Brotherhood.

While Mr. Obama did not use those exact words in his Muslim Outreach 2.0 speech, that was surely the practical effect of his effusively depicting the so-called "Arab Spring" as a welcome expression of democratic sentiment throughout the region. By so doing, he studiously ignored the reality on the ground in virtually every country in the Middle East and North Africa now undergoing political turmoil: Islamists associated with or akin to the totalitarian, salafist Muslim Brotherhood are poised to be the principal beneficiaries of any balloting that ultimately occurs in Egypt and Tunisia - and, perhaps in due course in, Syria, Yemen, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and beyond.

Mr. Obama seeks to provide the putative, newly minted "democracies" with tangible evidence of his commitment to their future success. He declared that the United States would give up to a billion dollars in debt relief to Egypt and economic, trade and technical aid to the Egyptians and Tunisians. Other nations stand to get similar treatment if only they replace their present autocrats with new ones - provided the latter are prepared to come to power via elections.

With such a policy, the United States stands to compound the mistake now being made in Libya - where al Qaeda operatives, former Guantanamo Bay detainees and other Islamists are already being given "non-lethal" and "humanitarian assistance" and U.S. political support. Without knowing precisely who are likely to be the beneficiaries of such assistance, we run the very considerable risk that we will effectively be arming, as well as legitimating, our enemies.

In his wishful thinking about the region and its future, the President glossed over the extent to which the Muslim Brotherhood is not the "moderate" and "modernizing" movement - let alone, as his Director of National Intelligence James Clapper once put it, "a largely secular organization" that "eschews violence." In fact, the Brotherhood is a virulently fascistic group that is explicitly committed to waging jihad to achieve the triumph of the supremacist Islamic politico-military-legal doctrine known as shariah, and the establishment of a global caliphate to rule in accordance with it.

Neither did Mr. Obama mention the threat posed by the Muslim Brotherhood's operations inside the United States - a vast array of front groups that have as their common mission "destroying Western civilization from within" and that are executing a phased plan for achieving that objective. [Link to my column this week.] Such organizations would also be legitimated by the President's embrace of their comrades elsewhere - and certain to gain still greater access and influence inside his administration.

Particularly worrying is the President's contribution to the growing peril facing our friends in Israel. His earlier, vociferous denunciations of Israeli housing-construction activities, combined with his highly public, contemptuous mistreatment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, contributed to the widespread perception in the region that what he rhetorically insists is the "inseverable bond" between the United States and Israel has, in fact, been greatly weakened. If the sense takes hold that there is daylight between Washington and Jerusalem, the problem will not be confined to the train-wreck in the making of yet-another Palestinian unilateral declaration of independence. It will translate into war.

The President sought to finesse what should properly be understood as an insuperable impediment to peace negotiations between the Israelis and a Palestinian government that includes the Brotherhood's local franchise, the designated terrorist organization Hamas. He said what he depicted as "that question" needs to be sorted out in coming months, but immediately declared that the United States and its "Quartet partners" were going to press on to get negotiations going and concluded as soon as possible.

Add in his view that Israel must withdraw fully to the 1967 borders (albeit with some "swaps" of territory) - what amounts, implicitly, if not explicitly to a call for the re-partitioning of Jerusalem - and the expectations can only be fanned among Israel's many enemies that the moment is arriving at last, to drive the Jews into the sea. Lip service paid to Israel having secure and defensible borders will founder on the reality that the 1967 borders are wholly incompatible with either security or the defense of Israel, and the growing readiness and ability of her foes to exploit that reality.

The President's ongoing efforts to align the United States with Muslims, irrespective of whether they seek to impose shariah or otherwise seek our destruction, is a prescription for furthering what has emerged as the Obama Doctine: Emboldening our enemies, undermining our friends and diminishing our country. It is also a formula for disaster. It should be challenged at every turn, in favor of a policy that makes clear we differentiate between Muslims who do not seek to impose shariah upon the rest of us and those who do. The former are our natural allies; the latter our unalterable foes. We had better start making that distinction, and act accordingly.


Frank Gaffney, Jr.

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

Raymond Ibrahim 1, CAIR 0 (by KO)

by Jamie Glazov

Introduction: On May 5, he gave a talk on Islam at Everett Community College (EvCC) in Seattle. Months prior, local Muslim groups tried to pressure the college to cancel the talk, right up to the day before the talk, when the notorious Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) launched an aggressive campaign, including writing an op-ed and issuing a press release demanding that EvCC cancel the talk. The college refused, and much media attention followed, including a featured story for MSNBC.

Ibrahim at EvCC

FP: Hello Raymond. Thanks for joining us today.

Ibrahim: Hello, Jamie; thanks for having me.

FP: A great victory for free speech. Thank you on behalf of us here at Frontpage.

Let's start with how all this began and why CAIR targeted you.

Ibrahim: Back in September 2010, EvCC invited me to come and speak on Islam sometime in early May 2011. It wasn't long before I discovered that there were rumblings in Seattle, specifically by one Jaffar ("Jeff") Siddiqui, who has a long history of trying to quash free speech on Islam. As early as January he began pressuring the college to cancel my talk including by writing a letter to its president; also in January, the director of CAIR's Washington chapter, Arsalan Bukhari, asserted that "Inviting Raymond Ibrahim to give an alternative viewpoint on being Muslim is like inviting the KKK to speak about African American history." Then, the day before my talk, this same Bukhari wrote an op-ed in Seattle's Herald saying "by inviting a known conspiracy theorist with a history of making unfounded claims about Islam, the college is doing a disservice to the public and risks creating a hostile learning environment for its students" (see Robert Spencer's dissection of Bukhari's op-ed here). Also the day before my talk, CAIR's main headquarters issued a particularly inciting and accusatory press release that culminated as follows:

By issuing Mr. Ibrahim an invitation, giving him an audience, and in any way providing him a platform, Everett Community College is complicit in inflaming a tinder box of hate and violence against Islam and Muslims, and is abusing its public trust as a federally funded educational institution. Therefore, we urge the College to cease its promotion of bigotry and hate speech by rescinding its invitation to Raymond Ibrahim to speak on campus.

To CAIR's chagrin, the college refused to budge, pointing out that my appearance was "consistent with the belief that students be exposed to a variety of views."

FP: Why do you think CAIR failed to stifle you, though it has succeeded in stifling others?

Ibrahim: For starters, CAIR'S most potent weapon—the eternal cry of "racism!"—fails with me: though born in the States, I am a native Arabic speaker of Egyptian origin who has lived, sometimes for extended periods of time, in Egypt, where I have family and friends. I also have credentials that far transcend CAIR's caricatures of me as just another "Islamophic blogger." Finally, I think that people are getting tired of Islamists always trying to kill freedom of speech—always crying wolf. For example, if you look at the nearly 3,000 comments on the MSNBC report on my talk, you'll find that, as "leftist" as MSNBC is, at least half of its readers are against censoring free speech critical of Islam; in more centrist media, the numbers are overwhelmingly larger.

FP: How was the turnout, and did you get a sense as to how the audience received your message?

Ibrahim: Thanks to CAIR's trumpeting, turnout was good, with people sitting in the aisles and leaning against the walls. As usual, the majority of the attendees, especially the students, appeared receptive and appreciative of the talk—or so the many emails I received since would indicate. (Indeed, weeks earlier I spoke at Berkeley University and had two students come and tell me that they had planned on disparaging me, but after listening to my talk, found it to be logical and reasonable.) Of course, you wouldn't know that from news media such as King 5 which distorted the Seattle event by interviewing the two Muslims present at the talk (Sidiqqui himself and a woman in full burqa), while ignoring the many, once again demonstrating the great disconnect between what the media portrays and what the regular people think.

FP: How do you respond to the charge that you're spreading hate?

Ibrahim: As I told reporters at the event, I'm just the messenger; the hate exists in the texts that I quote—texts, I might add, which form the cornerstone for Islamists such as CAIR. Here's a verse off the top of my head, always being quoted by Islamists: "We [believers] disown you [non-believers, including family] and what you worship besides Allah. We renounce you. Enmity and hate shall forever reign between us—until you believe in Allah alone" (Koran 60:4). That's just one of many. Rather than project the hate ingrained in its own worldview onto me and others, if CAIR was sincere, it would admit to and try to "reform" the anti-infidel hate that litters its texts.

Arsalan Bukhari only needs to appreciate the significance of his names—Alp Arsalan was the jihadist chieftain who terrorized the Christian east, and the ultra-authoritative Sahih Bukhari contains 199 references to jihad, all in the context of war against non-Muslims—to know where the hate stems.

FP: What do you say to those who say you breed mistrust of Muslims, especially by focusing on the doctrine of loyalty and enmity?

Ibrahim: I say my primary interest is to ascertain the truth, not its consequences. Rather than be concerned whether "loyalty and enmity"—or in Arabic al-wala' wa'l bara'—breeds mistrust of Muslims, I believe the more critical question is whether this doctrine is true or not. Obviously, if large numbers of Muslims believe they are forbidden from being loyal to non-Muslims, then our problems far transcend breeding mistrust.

FP: Did you receive any challenging questions at your talk?

Ibrahim: Not really, just the usual lines about how "all religions can be interpreted anyway," "the Bible is equally as violent as the Koran" (a widespread but flawed argument I addressed here). At one point, a faculty member somberly asked me if what I was saying was true, then why did so many Muslims in America condemn bin Laden (mind you, I had already spent quite a bit of time talking about doctrinal deceit). Some did not feel my curt response—that they might simply be lying—sufficient. So here's a little known anecdote from the annals of Islamic history to further elaborate:

When Omar, Muhammad's close companion, was captured by the Quraish, the opponents of Muhammad and Islam, Omar, the future caliph, publicly renounced Muhammad in order to be freed; later, when he told Muhammad what he had done, the prophet was okay with it—"so long as your faith was secure in your heart." Now, if the righteous caliph Omar can publicly condemn the prophet of Allah to get out of a bind, is it difficult to believe that a Muslim can condemn bin Laden to get out of a bind?

FP: What do you say to your Islamist detractors?

Ibrahim: First, the grand irony: in January, months before my talk, the same CAIR characters now moaning and groaning because I got to speak—such as Siddiqui—spoke at EvCC, despite the fact that many Americans including locals protested, knowing CAIR's terrorist links. How telling, then, that the same CAIR that insists on getting its way even when the people protest, screams bloody murder to prevent others from having the same opportunity to speak. In short, CAIR wants the ability to spew lies, while denying others from speaking the truth. That's all any American needs to know about CAIR.

So I say to CAIR and other Islamist groups that, if they ever wish to be sincere, they need to stop trying to suppress free speech (even if Sharia law demands it); they need to move beyond sensationalist, kneejerk words—"racist," "hater," "Islamophobe"—move beyond tears and appeals to emotionalism, and actually try to defend their position in the realm of open and rational debate.

But you see, CAIR can't do that; it knows full well that if you put two equally-matched speakers to debate a controversial topic, the one with the truth—yes, such a thing still exists—will win. Sophistry goes only so far.

FP: Thank you for joining us, Raymond, and congratulations for scoring one for free speech and exposing CAIR. You are a true courageous warrior for liberty and truth in our perilous times.

Ibrahim: Thank you, Jamie; I appreciate the opportunity.


Jamie Glazov

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