Friday, September 7, 2012

Mordechai Kedar: The Turban Burns on the Head of the Liar

On The Shi'a Culture of Deception

by Mordechai Kedar

Read the article in Italiano (translated by Yehudit Weisz, edited by Angelo Pezzana)

Since the Dawn of Islamic history, the conflict between the Shi'a and the Sunna has been the axis around which public and political conduct in both sides has turned . The Shi'a challenged the legitimacy of the rule of the Sunni Caliphs, and in places under Shi'a control the Sunnis challenged their right to rule. The struggle was for "the whole jackpot", and when the government seized a person and suspected that he belonged to the other side, his fate was usually death.

Over the years the Sunna and the Shi'a developed different religious systems: the Shi'ite Qur'an includes two chapters which establish the Shi'ite claim to rule, while the Sunnis claim that these chapters are a forgery. The Hadith (the oral tradition that describes the words of Muhammad and how he related to various matters) of the Shi'a side glorifies and elevates Ali bin Abi Talib, the founder of Shi'a, and his right as well as that of his descendants to rule, while the Sunni Hadith represents the Shi'a in a totally negative light. The Shi'a and the Sunna differ from each other in theology, religious law, in the names of men and women, in the calendar, in traditions and customs, and the differences are so marked that there are many Sunnis who see Shi'a as a sort of heresy, and the Shi'ites see the Sunnis in a similar light.

Due to the political conflict and religious differences, it was very dangerous for a Shi'ite to live in a Sunni environment, and therefore in order to survive, Shi'a permitted its faithful to engage in taqiyya - concealment in order to survive - one of whose components is khud'a - deception. According to the principles of taqiyya, a Shi'a is permitted to pretend to be a Sunni, to pray like a Sunni, and to act in accordance with the Sunni calendar, as long as in his heart he continues wilaya - fidelity to Shi'a and its leaders. Thus the Shi'ites became accustomed over the generations to pretense, deception, lying, and among many of them this phenomenon has become almost innate. They get it from their parents, from the environment and from their social tradition, and lying does not affect the physiology among many Shi'ites. As a result of this, police departments in many parts of the world know that it is very difficult to detect a lie among Shi'ites by using a polygraph.

Political Ramifications

The culture of Shi'ite deception has been evident in recent years in a concrete way. The first Iranian emissaries who came to Lebanon in 1980, approximately one year after the Iranian Revolution, were represented as educators, teachers and counselors whose mission was cultural and religious only, and therefore the government of Lebanon agreed to their presence and their activities. Today, looking back, it is clear that this was when the Revolutionary Guard - an actual army - began penetrating into Lebanon, taking control of the Bekaa Valley and establishing the training bases where the military strength of Hizb'Allah , a party that has a militia with tens of thousands of missiles, was consolidated. Today there are many in Lebanon who regret that they fell into the trap of Iranian deception.

The most obvious political consequence of the Shi'ite culture of deception is the convoluted and devious manner in which Iran has been conducting contacts with the West regarding the nuclear plan for almost twenty years. The Iranians have violated every commitment that they have undertaken, including their commitment to the IAEA, they removed all signs of illegal activity, lately they cleared away the remnants of experiments that they conducted in military bases in Parchin, and they still do not permit the UN inspectors to visit these bases. The long and complicated negotiations that the Iranians have been conducting with the West have one specific goal - to gain time in order to progress in their military nuclear program. Today this is clear, and Europeans and Americans who have pinned their hopes on negotiations with the Iranians now admit that they have fallen victims to the ongoing Iranian deception.

The Lie Will be Exposed in the End

Last week a conference of the Non-Aligned Movement was held in Teheran. This gathering in Iran of leaders from dozens of states was intended to portray Iran as a well-liked and accepted state and an inseparable part of a large and important group of states, contrary to the image of the "pariah state" that it has in the West. Photographs of the embraces, kisses and handshakes of Ahmadinejad with the leaders of states who came in pilgrimage to him are intended to portray him as an accepted and popular leader, both to the Iranian public and to the Western observer.

One of the guests of honor was the president of Egypt, Muhammad Mursi. Though his reason for attending was to participate in the international conference, there were many who saw his presence as a sign of turning over a new leaf in regards to relations between Egypt and Iran, after they had been almost totally cut off since the Revolution of 1979, and the agreement between Israel and Egypt in March of that same year. The honor with which Mursi was received in Iran was also intended to create the image of bridging over the differences between the Sunna and the Shi'a, because he is one of the leaders of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood, and Iran represents Shi'a Islam.

Having accepted the opportunity to speak before those present, Mursi of course thanked the host, Ahmadinejad, and the host state for holding the conference, however in his speech he vigorously attacked the regime in Syria, for fighting so viciously against its citizens and slaughtering tens of thousands of them during the past year and a half. It was clear to all that Mursi was referring specifically to the Sunni Muslim citizens, with whom he felt a strong Muslim identification. Mursi did not stop at attacking the Syrian government, and included in his criticism those who support the Syrian regime as well. To anyone who is familiar with the situation in Syria it is clear that he was referring to Iran.

It is important to note that Mursi did not fear the consequences of aiming such clear criticism toward his hosts, and from this it can be concluded that he felt sure enough of himself, his regime and his status to do this. His conduct towards his military people, whose chiefs he dismissed three weeks ago, proves this hypothesis. Undoubtedly, Mursi's speech was intended for Arab ears, and was intended to place himself as an Arab leader who expresses the core sentiments of the Arab nation, watching with concern and rage what is happening in Syria.

However the attack on Syria and the states that support it was extremely upsetting to the hosts, who related quite foolishly to his speech. The translator who translated Mursi's speech simultaneously to the Persians changed the word "Syria" to "Bahrain", as if Mursi the Sunni is attacking the Sunni rulers of Bahrain who oppress the human rights of the Shi'ite citizens of Bahrain. The harsh criticism with which Mursi blasted the Syrian regime also underwent "improvement" in the official Persian translation. The Iranian translator also omitted from the president of Egypt's speech the first caliphs, those of the "straight path", who, according to the Shi'ites, stole the caliphate from Ali, and when Mursi spoke about the "Arab Spring" the translator called it the "Islamic Spring" instead.

This may seem strange to the Western reader, but in the context of the Shi'ite culture of deception this is not surprising, because even other official media such as the sties "Jahan News" and "Asr Iran" repeated the "improved" version of Mursi's speech. The "Jahan News" site, which has close ties to the Iranian regime, even described Mursi's speech as "strange and half-baked, radical and illogical regarding Syria". No doubt, the translator and commentators on the speech reflect the official Iranian line, which is not interested in the truth of Mursi's words, but rather in engineering the messages that are sent to the population of Iran according to the needs of the regime. It is important to note that Mursi did not at all mention Bahrain in his speech...

After several hours had passed since the speech, the Arab media that discovered the deception began to gloat over the obvious fraud. The media of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates, who are shaking with fear of the burgeoning Iranian strength, exceeded all others. The Bahraini Department of State summoned the Iranian chargé d'affaires in Manama, the capital of Bahrain to protest the false translation of Mursi's speech and demanded an apology from the Iranian government. But Egypt is restraining itself, and it seems that Mursi is waiting for the right moment to slap the Iranians with an accusation of fraud.

But there is one thing that all of the Arab commentators agree on, whether explicitly or implicitly: the Iranian culture of deception is revealed for all to see, and the question that arises from this is: How is it possible to believe Iran when they claim again and again that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes? Is this statement any more believable than the fraudulent translation of a public speech? And what is really hidden beneath the turban that sits on the heads of the ayatollahs?

[Editor: "The hat burns on the head of the thief" is a saying originating from a Jewish folk tale. It means that a thief is ultimately his own worst accuser.]


Dr. Kedar is available for lectures in the U.S. and Canada

Dr. Mordechai Kedar ( is an Israeli scholar of Arabic and Islam, a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University and the director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. He specializes in Islamic ideology and movements, the political discourse of Arab countries, the Arabic mass media, and the Syrian domestic arena.

Translated from Hebrew by Sally Zahav.

Links to Dr. Kedar's recent articles on this blog:

Source: The article is published in the framework of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation), Bar Ilan University, Israel. Also published in Makor Rishon, a Hebrew weekly newspaper.

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

The Other Power in the West Wing

by Jo Becker

Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

WIDE-RANGING DUTIES Valerie Jarrett, right, on her way to Air Force One, is President Obama's chief liaison to business, state and local governments and the political left.

WASHINGTON — President Obama was in a bind, and his chief of staff could not figure out how he had ended up there.

Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church were up in arms last fall over a proposal to require employers to provide health insurance that covered birth control. But caving in to the church’s demands for a broad exemption in the name of religious liberty would pit the president against a crucial constituency, women’s groups, who saw the coverage as basic preventive care.

Worried about the political and legal implications, the chief of staff, William M. Daley, reached out to the proposal’s author, Kathleen Sebelius, the health and human services secretary. How, he wondered, had the White House been put in this situation with so little presidential input? “You are way out there on a limb on this,” he recalls telling her.

“It was then made clear to me that, no, there were senior White House officials who had been involved and supported this,” said Mr. Daley, who left his post early this year.

What he did not realize was that while he was trying to put out what he considered a fire, the person fanning the flames was sitting just one flight up from him: Valerie Jarrett, the Obamas’ first friend, the proposal’s chief patron and a tenacious White House operator who would ultimately outmaneuver not only Mr. Daley but also the vice president in her effort to include the broadest possible contraception coverage in the administration’s health care overhaul.

A Chicagoan who helped Mr. Obama navigate his rise through that city’s aggressive politics, Ms. Jarrett came to Washington with no national experience. But her unmatched access to the Obamas has made her a driving force in some of the most significant domestic policy decisions of the president’s first term, her persuasive power only amplified by Mr. Obama’s insular management style.

From the first, her official job has been somewhat vague. But nearly four years on, with Mr. Obama poised to accept his party’s renomination this week, her standing is clear, to her many admirers and detractors alike. “She is the single most influential person in the Obama White House,” said one former senior White House official, who like many would speak candidly only on condition of anonymity.

“She’s there to try to promote what she understands to be what the president wants,” the former aide said. “Ultimately the president makes his own decisions. The question that is hard to get inside of, the black box, is whether she is really influencing him or merely executing decisions he’s made. That’s like asking, ‘Is the light on in the refrigerator when the door is closed?’ ”

Yet if that answer remains elusive, interviews with more than two dozen former and current administration officials offer a portrait of a woman wielding a many-faceted portfolio of power.

Partly it is her ubiquity, the guiding hand in everything from who sits on the Supreme Court to who sits next to whom at state dinners, the White House staff memos peppered with “VJ thinks” or “VJ says.” When the billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett showed up for a private lunch with the president last July, the table was set for three.

Ms. Jarrett often serves as a counterweight to the more centrist Clinton veterans in the administration, reminding them and her innately cautious boss that he came to Washington to do big things. Some of his boldest moves, on women’s issues, gay rights and immigration, have been in areas she cares about most. If Karl Rove was known as George W. Bush’s political brain, Ms. Jarrett is Mr. Obama’s spine.

She is also his gatekeeper, sometimes using that power to tip the balance in internal debates. After the financial crisis, as the administration grappled with how to rein in Wall Street, Ms. Jarrett made sure that Paul A. Volcker, a former Federal Reserve chairman whose voice was being drowned out, got a meeting with the president. The result: tougher measures than the president’s top economic advisers were advocating.

And she is the president’s protector in chief, or as Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner put it, the person who must be as “omniscient as possible” in spotting trouble on the way. Those whom she deems to have failed Mr. Obama tell of scolding late-night calls and her trademark accusation of betrayal: “You are hurting the president.”

But she has also steered him toward controversy, as in the contraception debate. And some of Mr. Obama’s most senior advisers worry — perhaps not entirely without jealousy — that her direct access to the president has at times led to half-baked decision making and unclear lines of authority.

Mr. Obama’s first two chiefs of staff, Rahm Emanuel and Mr. Daley, clashed with Ms. Jarrett over strategic direction and over who had greater authority to interpret and carry out the president’s wishes, several officials said.

“He’s got a real mess in the West Wing,” said one close presidential adviser. “Valerie is effectively the chief of staff, and he knows, but he doesn’t know. She’s almost like Nancy Reagan was with President Reagan, but more powerful.”

Two Who ‘Clicked’

The week after the 2008 election, Mr. Obama implored Ms. Jarrett to join him at the White House. She was contemplating putting her name forward for the Senate seat he had just vacated, but she quickly put those aspirations aside.

Together they carved out her wide-ranging job description: senior adviser to the president and chief liaison to the business community, state and local governments and the political left.

“For him, I think it was more important that she be there than that she have any specific job or set of issues,” said Susan Sher, Michelle Obama’s second chief of staff and a longtime friend of Ms. Jarrett.

Ms. Jarrett declined to be quoted for this article, beyond a statement: “My role is to ensure that a wide and diverse range of perspectives are heard to inform the president’s decision making process,” she said, and to “give the president candid advice.”

Parsing the psychology of the president’s bond with Ms. Jarrett has become something of a West Wing pastime: is she some sort of mother or sister figure to an only child whose own parents variously abandoned him?

Close friends say that in Ms. Jarrett, the introverted president simply found someone who understands what makes him tick better than most.

They met more than two decades ago, when Ms. Jarrett — a lawyer, like both Obamas — offered Mrs. Obama a job in the Chicago mayor’s office.

Ms. Jarrett was a single mother who had come up the ranks of city government, the daughter of a prominent African-American family. Her grandfather, Robert Taylor, built much of Chicago’s public housing, her father was a pioneering doctor, and her mother had a Chicago street named after her for her work in early childhood education. Mr. Obama was a rootless but ambitious Harvard law graduate, looking to make a political name.

At their first dinner, they talked about a “philosophy of empowerment” for the downtrodden. “That’s where we clicked,” she later told Ms. Sher, and from then on she was determined to introduce Mr. Obama, almost five years her junior, to the activists and donors he needed to move first to the legislature and then to the United States Senate.

In their small social circle, Ms. Jarrett, who would go on to run a Chicago real estate company and sit on numerous civic and corporate boards, “was always seen as the adult in the room,” the one looked to for guidance, said John W. Rogers Jr., a longtime friend of both Ms. Jarrett and the president.

Replicating that role in the White House, however, has not been easy.

To some extent, Ms. Jarrett is part of a White House tradition. Bill Clinton brought along his fellow Arkansan Bruce Lindsey as his Mr. Fix-It. Mr. Bush had his Texas confidantes, Karen Hughes and Harriet Miers.

But few have had the stature — and the ability to step outside traditional White House protocol — of Ms. Jarrett. She is the only staff member who regularly follows the president home from the West Wing to the residence, a practice that has earned her the nickname “the Night Stalker.” By day, Mr. Obama is “Mr. President” to her, but in social settings, he is just “Barack.” When the Obamas take an out-of-town break, she often goes along.

After a ratings agency downgraded the nation’s debt last year, it was not the Treasury secretary at the president’s side, helping map out how to manage the market’s reaction. According to a participant in the discussion, it was Ms. Jarrett, who had joined Mr. Obama and a few close friends at Camp David for his birthday.

“There is an inherent challenge in managing anyone, this is not particular to Valerie, who is a senior adviser and part of a structure, and also close personally with the family,” said David Axelrod, the president’s chief strategist. “Obviously it’s cleaner and less complicated if everyone is discussing things at the same meetings. But it’s a manageable problem.”

Aides say she never uses her private time with the president to relitigate decisions. Even so, the White House is organized around the principle that the president’s time is an administration’s most valuable commodity, not to be spent on low-priority matters or those not fully vetted. Yet several officials say that is what happened with one of Ms. Jarrett’s pet projects, Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Based on her assurances that his personal appeal to the Olympic committee could clinch the deal, the president flew to Copenhagen. During the flight back, CNN reported that Chicago had not survived the first round of voting.

“There was total silence,” one official recalled. “It was a long trip home.”

Ms. Jarrett cuts an elegant figure in the West Wing, with her pixie haircut and designer clothes. Aides say she can be thoughtful in little ways that matter, enlisting the president to rally staff members after political or personal setbacks. But she can also be imperious — at one event ordering a drink from a four-star general she mistook for a waiter — and attached to the trappings of power in a way some in the White House consider unseemly for a member of the staff.

A case in point is her full-time Secret Service detail. The White House refuses to disclose the number of agents or their cost, citing security concerns. But the appearance so worried some aides that two were dispatched to urge her to give the detail up.

She listened politely, one said, but the agents stayed.

A Sometimes Testy Link

Working from a cozy office previously occupied by Mr. Rove, with a staff of nearly three dozen, Ms. Jarrett is the president’s link to the world outside the White House bubble.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice occasionally uses Ms. Jarrett, with whom she has become friendly, as an informal back channel to pass along foreign policy views, officials said.

And Bob Riley, a former Republican governor of Alabama, remembers the way Ms. Jarrett responded to his pleas for equipment to contain the BP oil spill in 2010. “Within 24 hours, what we had been told was an impossible task was done,” he said.

Often, though, Ms. Jarrett seems to be more of a lightning rod for complaints of White House insularity and a thin-skinned response to detractors.

She is widely blamed for the president’s soured relationship with the business community. (To judge by donations, Wall Street has switched its allegiance to Mitt Romney.) But Ms. Jarrett’s White House defenders say that the criticism is fundamentally misplaced and that she is merely an available target for the financial community’s anger over administration policies it dislikes. Behind the scenes, they say, Ms. Jarrett has advocated pro-business policy changes like a regular review of existing regulations.

Less well known is her testy relationship with certain elements of the president’s base.

She serves as the front door to the donors who helped elect the president, reviewing guest lists to White House parties and candidates for patronage positions. But she has snubbed some early supporters, among them the financier George Soros, ignoring his pleas for a substantive meeting on the economy with the president. The message she delivered, according to one person familiar with the exchanges, was that she felt Mr. Soros was “already on the team, and that while he might want to talk to the captain, the captain was very busy.”

Mr. Soros, who has spent tens of millions of dollars on Democratic candidates and causes, is largely sitting on the sidelines this presidential election.

With Ms. Jarrett’s unquestioning belief in the president has come a tendency to take political criticism personally, “even when it would be more useful not to,” said Marilyn Katz, a Chicago friend of both Ms. Jarrett and the president. Another friend compared her to a mother whose son can do no wrong: “Even when the neighbors call, she says, ‘No, no, that can’t be.’ ”

So when the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, Anthony Romero, publicly criticized some of the president’s antiterrorism policies, she swiftly shoved back. “Great harm has been done,” she warned in an e-mail he shared with colleagues. “There has been a material breach of trust.”

A White House spokeswoman said Ms. Jarrett does respond aggressively when she feels that the president has been attacked.

But in an interview, Mr. Romero said that “she needs to understand that we don’t work for the White House, and our job is to criticize any president who is not doing the right thing.”

Ms. Jarrett was similarly “livid,” one former White House official said, with members of the Congressional Black Caucus who accused the president of paying insufficient attention to the particular economic woes of blacks. When the writer and academic Cornel West joined in, calling Mr. Obama the “black mascot of Wall Street,” Ms. Jarrett’s response was “ruthless,” Dr. West said.

He recalled a phone call in which she dismissed his criticism as sour grapes for not receiving a ticket to the inauguration, and said he later heard from friends that she was putting out the word that “one, I was crazy, and two, I was un-American.”

“It was a matter of letting me know that I was, in her view, way out of line and that I needed to get in line,” he said in an interview. “I conveyed to her: ‘I’m not that kind of Negro. I’m a Jesus-loving black man who tells the truth, in the White House, in the crack house or in any other house.’ She got real quiet. It was clear that she was not used to being spoken to that way.”

Driving the Agenda

When a seat on the Supreme Court opened up just months into Mr. Obama’s term, he immediately thought of Sonia Sotomayor. It would be a historic choice, making her the first Hispanic justice. But some advisers were worried by reports about her judicial temperament. Given the tough Senate votes coming up on health care and the economy, why not go with a safer pick?

Ms. Jarrett, dismissing the reports as sexist, argued that appointing Ms. Sotomayor would send an important signal, recalled Anita Dunn, who was then the president’s communications director.

It was quintessential Valerie Jarrett, according to Ms. Dunn. It is not so much that she is Mr. Obama’s liberal id. Rather, her voice is often the one at the table reminding everyone of the president’s aspirational “first principles,” that he “didn’t just come to the White House to hold the office, but to make change,” Ms. Dunn said.

That has been particularly true when it comes to diversity and issues she considers matters of civil rights.

Gay rights advocates say they considered Ms. Jarrett their “secret weapon” in the White House on issues like repealing the military’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.” And while aides said Mr. Obama found his own way toward supporting same-sex marriage, Ms. Jarrett “reinforced his instincts,” Mr. Axelrod said. This is consistent with who you are, she told the president.

On immigration, Ms. Jarrett successfully urged the president to stop deporting certain illegal residents who arrived as children. And while some of his advisers worried about the political perils of legally challenging Arizona’s tough immigration law, Ms. Jarrett argued that its central provision — requiring the police to check the immigration status of people taken into custody — amounted to racial profiling, a civil rights issue “right in the president’s wheelhouse,” recalled Pete Rouse, another senior Obama adviser. (Ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld that provision, but struck down most of the law.)

Perhaps no policy area better shows how Ms. Jarrett can drive the White House agenda than the contraception mandate. Ms. Jarrett has a fiercely loyal following among those she backed for key positions throughout government, drawn mainly from a White House women’s network she helped build and nurture. The director of the Domestic Policy Council, for instance, previously worked for her, and she counts Ms. Sebelius, the health and human services secretary, among her good friends.

Through that network, Ms. Jarrett made clear her position that a broad exemption for religious employers like hospitals and universities could leave as many as one million women without the benefit. Ms. Sebelius was of like mind, announcing last August that only churches themselves would get a pass.

The resulting outcry prompted Mr. Daley to confront Ms. Sebelius. (Through a spokeswoman, she said she recalled a conversation with Mr. Daley but not the particulars he described.)

Catholics, a group Mr. Obama won in 2008, make up more than a quarter of the electorate. Though most personally support birth control, Mr. Daley and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. worried about how forcing church-affiliated organizations to pay for it would play.

Moreover, they felt that the rule put important Catholic allies in the health care fight in a tough position, and potentially violated a law banning regulations that impose a substantial burden on religious expression.

Mr. Biden arranged for Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York to meet with the president and express the church’s view. With the support of some of the president’s political advisers, Ms. Jarrett pushed back in her own meeting with Mr. Obama, aides said. And she signaled Ms. Sebelius to “keep fighting — I’m with you on this,” said one former official with knowledge of the matter.

But by January, even friendly voices were accusing the president of throwing “his progressive Catholic allies under the bus.” Democratic members of Congress were fielding calls from constituents who felt, in the words of one, that this was a “big blunder.” In a senior advisers meeting, the president, exasperated, ordered his senior staff to “figure it out,” one participant said.

But if some expected significant backtracking, they were mistaken. In phone calls the next week, the president outlined his compromise: the burden for the coverage would shift from employers to insurers, but women who worked for religious organizations could still avail themselves of the benefit.

“When the president called me,” said Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, “I could practically hear Valerie’s influence.”

Today, many of the issues Ms. Jarrett championed are being replayed in the campaign. In recent ads, for instance, Mr. Romney has accused the president of using “his health care plan to declare war on religion.” The president, for his part, has accused Mr. Romney of wanting to take women “back to the 1950s.”

And Ms. Jarrett has added another role to her portfolio, traveling to swing states to campaign, sometimes at Mr. Obama’s side.

“Homestretch,” she keeps telling him.

“Homestretch?” he’ll reply.

“Yes, almost there,” she says. “We’ve just got the convention, then three debates.”

Jo Becker


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

The Democrats of 2012: For Israel, Is the Party Over?

by Abraham Katsman

As the Democratic National Convention proceeds, watching the degradation of a once-great, once pro-Israel party is as sad as it is alarming.

No doubt, there are still plenty of Israel-defending Democrats among voters and elected leaders. We all saw the unified bipartisan ovations for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu when he addressed Congress. Pro-Israel Democrats and Republicans alike believe that support for Israel should be bipartisan, and that there is danger in making Israel-support the exclusive property of any one side.

But you wouldn't know that from watching the Democrats at their convention, looking at their party platform and their schedule of events and speakers, or, most disturbingly, listening to statements coming out of President Obama's administration while Israel faces existential doomsday. The party -- certainly the convention -- seems firmly under the control of those ambivalent about, if not outright hostile to, the State of Israel and its people.

In 2008, candidate Obama told an enthusiastic AIPAC crowd that "... any agreement with the Palestinian people must preserve Israel's identity as a Jewish state[.] ... Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided." Accordingly, in 2008, the Democratic Party's platform stated plainly that "Jerusalem is and will remain the capital of Israel."

How things change. Four years later, Obama does not even pretend to support an undivided Jerusalem; now, he's abandoned even any clear statement that Jerusalem -- any part of it -- is Israel's capital. This year, his administration began referring to Israel and Jerusalem as separate entities, and won't answer the simple question of what city is the capital of Israel. And that's no aberration: the Democratic Party official platform, too, has scrubbed any reference to Jerusalem as Israel's capital. (Update: the Democratic Party has reinstated the "Jerusalem as capital" language, amid much contention.)

The 2012 platform gets worse. It calls for the creation of a Palestinian state, but, unlike in 2008, no longer calls for that state to be democratic; unlike 2008, the 2012 version no longer mentions isolating Hamas until it recognizes Israel and renounces terrorism; it no longer suggests that any Palestinian state be the home of all Palestinian refugees, implicitly recognizing a potential Palestinian "right of return" to Israel; and whereas the 2008 platform called a return to Israel's pre-1967 armistice lines "unrealistic," the 2012 version has scrapped such language.

Among the wide assortment of public convention events are a few focused on Israel. All of them are run by J Street, chronic bashers of Israeli defense and government policy. One J Street event, in fact, was co-hosted by the Arab-American Institute (AAI), long associated with undermining the America-Israel relationship. So, where are the more mainstream pro-Israel Democrat-leaning organizations? There are unconfirmed reports that the Democratic powerbrokers told vocal pro-Israel Democrat groups to stay away from the convention or to keep a low profile. If that is true, it is to the shame of both the party and every organization which complied.

There is no such low profile from the AAI, which boasts a record 55 Arab-American delegates, or from the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), proudly announcing that over 100 Muslim delegates are present in Charlotte. And there's certainly no low profile for J Street.

The Democrats are nervous enough about the growing perception that they are abandoning Israel that they made a last-minute addition of Obama apologist Robert Wexler to the roster of convention speakers to deflect such charges and defend the platform. Wexler's credibility disappeared long ago, having declared Obama "100% kosher" in 2008, around the same time he slandered Sarah Palin by spreading an outrageous lie that she had once backed a Nazi-sympathizer. He's never uttered a critical word regarding Obama's record on Israel. Willing to say absolutely anything for the Obama cause, Wexler dutifully defended the alarming changes to the platform, mostly by ignoring them and changing the subject.

Meanwhile, far from the convention, Iran ominously approaches nuclear breakout and ratchets up its apocalyptic threats to Israel. One would think this would be a time for an ally like the U.S. to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel. And one would expect a pro-Israel party to rally around their Israeli friends, just as the Republicans did last week. Yet the Obama administration continues to put "daylight" between the countries.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey announced that America does not want to be "complicit" in an Israeli attack, and the U.S. drastically downsized a key joint military exercise with Israel. Administration officials now publicly entertain the dangerous fantasy that gentle Iran may not be pursuing nuclear weapons, after all. Obama seems to be signaling Iran that America won't be a part of any offensive, in order that Iran not hit America in retaliation for an Israel-only attack.

If you're looking for an explanation of why over 80% of Americans in Israel -- including the majority of Democrats -- are voting Republican this year, this is all a good start.

Where are the usually outspoken Zionist Democrats, such as Martin Peretz, Alan Dershowitz, Charles Schumer, or Ed Koch? Even if they eventually speak up, do they any longer speak for their party?

Not long ago, the Democratic Party was home to many solidly pro-Israel candidates and voters, including my own once-Democratic entire American-Zionist family. Now, however, we wonder whether the word "Zionist" will be even be heard at this convention in any positive context, or whether only with apology or derision.

Once upon a time, the Democrats were full-throated defenders of the State of Israel. Once, the party was led not by J Street and Barack Obama, but by the likes of Senators Henry "Scoop" Jackson, Pat Moynihan, and Hubert Humphrey, and by men like JFK, RFK, and LBJ. There was no doubt where that party stood in terms of protecting tiny, embattled Israel. No more. Sadly, those men are gone, and their party's unflinching support for Israel has gone with them.

Abe Katsman is an American attorney and political commentator living in Israel. He serves as counsel to Republicans Abroad Israel.


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One Hundred Twenty Nations Vote against President Obama

by Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison

President Obama continues to get high marks in all public opinion polls on foreign policy. Much of that, doubtless, is due to his crisp dispatch of Osama bin Laden last year.

The latest dust-up about that raid is a mere tempest in a teapot. Some ex-SEALs are saying that Osama was not armed when he was taken down, that he was shot while looking out the window of his residence in Pakistan.

This really should not matter in the least. Under centuries of international law, Osama bin Laden would have been defined as hostis humani generis -- an enemy of all mankind. He should be so defined still. The international law of outlawry applied with special force to pirates and slave traders. Osama the mass murderer, the terrorist bent only on more slaughter, needed no Miranda warning. He could legitimately have been shot if he were ordering at Baskin-Robbins.

We have praised President Obama for getting Osama bin Laden. And we respect how the president consigned Osama's body to the deep. Ironically, Winston Churchill, whose bust Obama pitched out into the snow, would have approved, too. It was young Churchill who sharply criticized Britain's Lord Kitchener for desecrating the body of the Mahdi, an earlier Muslim fanatical leader.

If we remember the rapturous reception of Barack Obama in Berlin in 2008 and the tingle that went up the leg of nearly every foreign reporter at the sound of Mr. Obama's voice in that long-ago campaign season, the events in Tehran this week must come as a shock.

The terror-masters of Tehran hosted a meeting of 120 nations, members of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). That these 120 nations are all also members of the United Nations should give us the deepest concern.

Iran has been designated by the U.N. itself as a persistent violator of international nuclear arms treaties. Iran's rulers openly and defiantly call for the eradication of Israel -- and of the United States. Israel and the U.S. are members of the U.N. To call for the destruction of fellow members of the U.N. is a flagrant violation of the U.N. Charter.

So, does the international community unite and boot Iran out of the U.N.? No.

A majority of its members traipse off to Tehran for a conference. Are they sitting there as human shields, determined to stave off an Israeli preventive strike? How can they possibly justify their presence in Tehran?

President Obama disapproved of the 120 nations sending representatives to the Tehran conference. His State Department spokespersons bleated their opposition to this attempt to normalize the regime. They mean well, feebly.

But how can the Obama administration object to the Tehran confab? This is the administration, after all, that offered an olive branch to Iran's terror-masters when it first came into office. Mr. Obama pledged "an open hand instead of a closed fist." He even sent Persian New Year's greetings to the murderous mullahs. All he got in his open hand was spit.

The Iranian dictators clamped down on their own people, shooting pro-democracy demonstrators in the streets of Tehran. They continued to export terror by supplying Hezb'allah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. And they kept right on with their nuclear program.

We were told that merely by electing Barack Obama president, America would be loved in the world. Blogger Andrew Sullivan gushed that a young man in Pakistan needed only to see Mr. Obama's handsome visage on TV, and he would give up his anti-Americanism.

What nonsense all that hype has proved to be. In the hard, cold dawn of reality, we see Iran on the verge of a nuclear breakthrough and 120 member-states of the U.N. invited to the birthday party.

How galling it must be for Mr. Obama to see Ban Ki-moon, the U.N.'s secretary-general, cutting the cake in Tehran. Ban Ki-moon is a South Korean. South Korea would long since have disappeared had it not been for the sacrifice of tens of thousands of American lives. The U.S. led the efforts of the U.N. to prevent South Korea from coming under Communist control in "the Forgotten War" of 1950-53.

Could there be a better example than this Tehran conference of the total failure of Obama foreign policy? He has been publicly rebuffed by the heads of 120 states. He sought to win their support by his endless Apology Tours. They treat him and his bowing with contempt.

In 2008, it was often said he was a citizen of the world running for president of the world.

In his first days in office, Newswseek's Evan Thomas said "in a way, Obama is standing ... above the world; he's sort of God." Surely, he is a god who failed. Now, he can thank his lucky stars that only Americans can vote in the election to come.

Ken Blackwell and Bob Morrison are senior fellows at the Family Research Council. Mr. Blackwell is a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.


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American Policy and the New Egypt

by Elliott Abrams

American policy toward Egypt is the subject of two important articles from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy that were published Wednesday.

First, Eric Trager recounts his unhappy interview with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi in 2010. From it, Trager draws some conclusions:

“Morsi cannot be viewed as a typical head of state. He remains a cog within a much larger — and quite secretive — organization, and his presidency will likely be a vehicle for advancing the Brotherhood’s organizational goals, rather than a platform through which Morsi comes into his own. This would accord with the man I encountered two years ago: a Muslim Brother first, Mohammed Morsi second. This will create a host of challenges for Washington.

“Some of those challenges relate to Egypt’s regional role and its foreign policy. Others relate to how the Brotherhood runs Egypt, and what place in Egypt non-Brotherhood citizens will have, whether they are Copts or are liberals, moderates or secularists. After all, Morsi’s opponent in the recent presidential election, former general Ahmed Shafik, got 48.27 percent of the vote, demonstrating that there are many Egyptians who do not support transformation of their society to meet Brotherhood goals.”

In the second article, the Egyptian intellectual and author Amin Makram Ebeid, pleads for American support for those Egyptians who seek a different, more liberal Egypt. He denounces in the strongest terms what he calls our abandonment of such Egyptians and our cozying up to the Brotherhood:

“Today, liberals and religious minorities of Egypt are forced to helplessly face a U.S. administration that is prepared to sell the well-being of peace-hungry minorities such as the Christians, the liberal Muslims and the Baha’is to the Islamists and their oil-rich Arabian financiers all for 30 barrels of oil.”

Ebeid’s views are not his alone. When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Egypt in July, she faced a partial boycott by liberals and Copts:

“A number of liberal and Christian politicians and public figures have condemned U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit to Egypt, accusing the United States of harboring bias towards Egypt’s Islamist parties, especially the Muslim Brotherhood. This has coincided with several popular demonstrations against Clinton’s visit outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the presidential palace and the Four Seasons hotel in which Clinton is staying. Liberal parties and movements, including the Free Egyptians party and the Front for Peaceful Change, have participated in the protests against Clinton’s visit.”

No doubt the Obama administration would reply to all of these complaints by saying they are a very wrong reading of American policy. That is an inadequate answer, for we have a problem if liberals, moderates and Copts in Egypt believe they are getting no support from Washington. They, and not the Brotherhood, stand for the values in which we believe: separation of church and state, full equality for all citizens including women and non-Muslims, and a fully democratic political system.

Reprinted with permission from the Council on Foreign Relations.

Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. This piece originally appeared on his blog, “Pressure Points.”


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PA, Islamists Push Blood Libel Against Israel

by IPT News

One of the most enduring anti-Israel slanders is the charge that it is persecuting non-Jews and destroying Muslim and Christian holy sites. These dubious claims continue to be made not only by international organizations, but by U.S. groups like American Muslims for Palestine (AMP) and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).

Coming at a time when Christians are under direct attack from Muslims in Egypt, Nigeria and in other Muslim states, promulgating such fantasies serves only to incite hatred and violence against Jews.

Palestinian Muslims and Christians "are living basically in an outdoor prison, in refugee camps," CAIR-Michigan Executive Director Dawud Walid said in a May speech to the Islamic Organization of North America. "Al-Masjid al-Aqsa is our property for us to defend. This is the land that Allah guided us to … and it should be free" (i.e., not under Israeli jurisdiction).

CAIR-Michigan's Lena Masri last month tweeted an op-ed from a pro-Hizballah Lebanese newspaper accusing Israel of destroying Palestinian mosques. In 2010, CAIR-Los Angeles Executive Director Hussam Ayloush wrote that a ruling by Israel's Supreme Court rejecting claims that authorities desecrated a Muslim cemetery was illegitimate: "This is the same court that has long excused internationally condemned apartheid-like policies and human rights violations against Palestinians, including occupation, settlement construction and denying refugees the right to return."

In 2010, Israel added two of the most holy sites in Judaism – the Cave of Machpelah in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb near Bethlehem – to its historic registry list, drawing an angry reaction from AMP Chairman Hatem Bazian, who said the designation "proves Israel does not want peace." Bazian claimed that the move is "just the latest in a series of actions aimed at separating Palestinians from their land."

Both Hamas and the more "moderate" Palestinian Fatah organization have accused Israel of a laundry list of crimes against non-Jews, ranging from drinking Muslim blood to attempting to steal Jerusalem's "Islamic-Christian religious history."

Perhaps no falsehood has been recycled more often than the claim that Israel seeks to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque.

On Aug. 21, 1969, a deranged Australian Christian named Michael Dennis Rohan set fire to the mosque. Although Israeli firefighters quickly extinguished the blaze and Rohan confessed to setting it, Islamists and others have spent more than four decades propagating the falsehood that Jews and Israelis were behind the attack.

Middle East scholar Daniel Pipes writes that many Muslims around the world became convinced that Israel had paid Rohan (some claimed his actual name was Cohen) up to $100 million to torch the mosque.

As Palestinian Media Watch has documented, the al-Aqsa slander has become a staple of Palestinian Authority propaganda, with its media organs claiming that Jews seek to invade al Aqsa, and that Israel plans to destroy the mosque and build the Jewish Temple in its place. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has declared that Israel seeks to destroy that shrine.

"Israel's policies and schemes have never stopped and will never stop in al-Aqsa courtyards in order to harm [the mosque's] Arabness and holiness," PA television told viewers August 3. "What is new this time is the discovery of traces of dangerous chemicals in the al-Aqsa foundations and [the discovery of] other solvents used to cause the foundations to crumble and collapse." That same day, the official PA daily al-Hayat al-Jadida claimed the Israeli chemical plot was part of "a dramatic offensive to Judaize the city and utterly erase its original [Arab] landmarks."

In June, Muslim Brotherhood General Guide Mohamed Badie exhorted Muslims to make their "sole goal" the "recovery of al-Aqsa Mosque, freeing it from the filth of the Zionists, and imposing Muslim rule throughout beloved Palestine."

Badie added that "The Lord of Glory has threatened these murdering Zionists criminals with a penalty of a kind which operates in this world before the Hereafter."

The website of Imam Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an influential Muslim Brotherhood cleric based in Qatar, recently featured a statement from the International Union of Muslim Scholars accusing "armed Zionists" of committing "aggression" against Muslim worshippers at al-Aqsa and declaring Jerusalem "the holy city for Muslims and Christians." The same statement denounced Israel for insisting that Arab peace negotiators recognize it as a Jewish state.

Hizballah boss Hassan Nasrallah has accused Israel of attempting to destroy al-Aqsa Mosque. The Iranian regime's Fars News Agency published a story quoting without rebuttal a "Palestinian activist" warning that Israel may order the mosque's destruction "through an artificial (earth) quake." After Israeli security forces clashed with Palestinian rioters at the mosque compound in October 2009, Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal claimed the incident was "the first step towards dividing the mosque, and demolishing it and building a temple in its place.

"Jerusalem belongs to its Arab inhabitants, Muslims and Christians. The future (of the city) will not be settled at the negotiating table, but on the ground of confrontation and resistance," Meshaal added.

In late June, the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was added to the World Heritage List of endangered sites maintained by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) over the objections of Washington and Jerusalem. "Palestine" (Abbas' PA regime, which was admitted to UNESCO last year) pushed for a resolution blaming Israel for endangering the church even though UNESCO's own investigators questioned the endangerment finding.

But in late June, the agency's World Heritage Committee voted 13-6 to disregard their conclusions and declare the church to be endangered. "We are ecstatic," Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said after the vote.

She added that the endangerment finding "emphasizes that Israel must be bound by international law and treaties, particularly pertaining to its illegal and detrimental measures as a belligerent occupant and as a major threat to the safety and the responsible preservation of that important segment of human civilization in Palestine."

Most mainstream media outlets said little about the fact that it has been Palestinian terrorists rather than Israelis who have been menacing Christians and turning the Church of the Nativity into a war zone. In 2002, more than 50 Palestinian gunmen in Bethlehem, desperately seeking to avoid capture by Israeli troops, seized 200 hostages and imprisoned them inside the church complex.

The terrorists, members of Hamas and then Fatah boss Yasser Arafat's organization, included bomb-makers, recruiters, financiers, and arms traffickers who had been involved in suicide bombings in Israel. During the Church of the Nativity siege, the terrorists denied medical care to sick priests, and food and water to other hostages, and stole religious artifacts.

"Using priests and nuns as human shields in the most sacred location for Christianity is not just barbaric," the Heritage Foundation's Ariel Cohen observed. "It is a violation of the 1977 First Protocol to the Geneva Convention and it is a war crime."

But prominent news outlets including the Christian Science Monitor ,the New York Times and the Associated Press glossed over or ignored this dark history in reporting the UNESCO designation.

Earlier this year, "60 Minutes" broadcast a story by correspondent Bob Simon purporting to show that Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Jerusalem was largely to blame for the decline of Christian communities there. The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA) published a detailed critique of the "60 Minutes" piece noting that Simon ignored a long pattern of Islamist harassment and mistreatment of West Bank Christians. It published an ad in the Wall Street Journal August 14 demanding CBS correct the report.

Among the errors was a "60 Minutes" claim that the percentage of Muslims in the West Bank has decreased since 1967. That is due to a faster growth of Muslims. Citing data from the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, CAMERA reported that the raw number of Christians in fact has grown from 40,000 just before the Six Day War to about 52,000 today.

CAMERA pointed to a 2009 op-ed by Israeli Arab journalist Khaled Abu Toameh, in which he described how Christians have been suffering as Islamist groups like Hamas strengthened in the Bethlehem area. Toameh described an atmosphere of violence and intimidation in which Christian-owned companies were forced out of business as a result of shakedowns by Muslim gangs, and how Muslims stole land from Christian property owners.

"As a Muslim journalist, I am always disgusted and ashamed when I hear from Christians living in the West Bank and Jerusalem about the challenges, threats and assaults that many of them have long been facing," Toameh wrote. "When they go on the record, these leaders always insist that Israel and the occupation are the only reason behind the plight of their constituents. They stubbornly refuse to admit that many Christians are being targeted by Muslims. By not talking openly about the problem, the Christian leaders are encouraging the perpetrators to continue their harassment and assaults against Christian families."

For all the talk of conspiracies against non-Jews, the truth is that since Israel assumed control over the entire city of Jerusalem in 1967, no evidence has emerged of a Zionist plot against non-Jews.

Islamists have failed to demonstrate the same respect for Muslims and non-Muslims. Militants in Nigeria are attacking Christian churches in a campaign of violence. Coptic churches in Egypt likewise have been targeted and some jihadists are threatening wholesale slaughter. Sectarian violence in Iraq has spawned attacks on mosques and churches.

The reality is that Israel is the only country in the Middle East where the Christian population is growing (aside from foreign workers in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries who forced to practice their faith in secret). By focusing attention on false allegations of Israeli persecution, Islamists can delegitimize the Jewish state and divert attention from the serious problem of Muslim persecution of Christians.

The same American Islamist groups who attack Israel largely ignore the persecution of Christians in Hamas-ruled Gaza or the Fatah-controlled West Bank. The double standard shows they are less interested in advancing human rights than they are in demonizing Israel.

IPT News


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Israel’s Futile ‘Goodwill Gestures’

by Charles Bybelezer

Recently, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to extend well-wishes on the occasion of Id al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday marking the end of Ramadan.

He did so despite the fact that Abbas continues to shun negotiations with the Jewish state and again has threatened to pursue a unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood at the UN General Assembly in September.

Netanyahu’s “goodwill gesture” reportedly was followed by similar phone calls to Abbas by Israeli envoy Yitzhak Molcho and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Molcho also called PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad.

The calls came on the heels of other goodwill gestures made by Israel over the last few months aimed at coaxing the Palestinians back to the negotiating table; including, but not limited to:

1. The issuance of thousands of additional Israeli work permits to Palestinian laborers;

2. The advance to the PA on the eve of Ramadan of approximately NIS 200 million in levies collected by Israel on behalf of the Palestinians so that government salaries could be paid;

3. The signing of an economic accord with the PA in order to enhance trade;

4. The signing of a deal to end a hunger strike by Palestinians jailed in Israel, in which Israel even agreed to allow convicted terrorists to pursue academic studies;

5. The tabling of an offer, confirmed by PA Minister of Prisoner Affairs Issa Qaraqe, to release in four stages 125 Palestinian security prisoners, many of whom were convicted of murdering Israelis (the proposal was summarily rejected by Abbas, who demanded the prisoners be released simultaneously);

6. The transfer to the PA of the bodies of approximately 90 deceased terrorists, whose remains subsequently were glorified en masse in official ceremonies.

So the question begs: What exactly have these goodwill gestures achieved?

Answer: Last Tuesday, Mahmoud Abbas issued a statement denying the Jewish People’s historical connection to Jerusalem.

On the 43rd anniversary of an attempt by a non-Jewish Australian—Denis Michael Rohan—to set fire to the al-Aksa mosque, Abbas wrote: “The fire, set by a criminal under the eyes of the Israeli occupation authorities, was the first [attack] in a series aiming to demolish al-Aksa mosque and build thealleged Temple, in order to uproot [Palestinian] citizens, Judaize [the city] and eternalize its occupation.”

He concluded by assuring his target audience that Israel’s actions “will not undermine the fact that [Jerusalem] will forever be Arabic, Islamic and Christian.”

In response, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev condemned Abbas’ call for Jerusalem to be “liberated.” He also reaffirmed the 3000-year-old Jewish connection to the city, and stressed that by ignoring Jerusalem’s Jewish heritage the Palestinian president was “ignoring reality.”

Regev then conveyed the Israeli government’s “disappointment.”

In retrospect, however, Regev’s characterization of Abbas’ denial of Jewish history is woefully inaccurate; for Abbas’ revisionism is, in fact, concerted and purposeful, and therefore constitutes an attempt to alter reality.

To this end, Abbas gave two other major international addresses over the past year in which he explicitly denied the Jewish connection to Israel, including Jerusalem.

In February, at the “International Conference for the Defense of Jerusalem” in Doha, Qatar, Abbas accused Israel of “using the ugliest and most dangerous means to implement plans to erase and remove the Arab, Islamic and Christian character” of Jerusalem. He also called on non-Jews to visit the “occupied” city in order to show that “Jerusalem is the cause of every Arab, Muslim and Christian.”

The Doha speech was preceded by Abbas’ now-infamous tirade at the UN General Assembly last September, in which he declared: “I come before you today from the Holy Land, the land of Palestine, the land of divine messages, ascension of the Prophet Muhammad…and the birthplace of Jesus Christ.”

Abbas omitted any mention of Jewish patriarch Abraham, whose presence in Israel superseded both Jesus’ and that of Muhammad’s descendants, and whose divine connection, indeed claim to the Holy Land is indisputable.

Considering the forgoing, how can we explain the Israeli government’s “disappointment” over an entirely predictable and consistent pattern of behavior? To expect anything different of Abbas suggests that it is in fact Israeli officialdom which is “ignoring reality.”

However, given that Netanyahu has had a front-row seat from which to witness Abbas’ slights of speech, a more logical conclusion is that his administration is deliberately ignoring reality. More specifically, Netanyahu must believe that it serves Israel’s interests to downplay Abbas’ overt hostility towards the Jewish state in order to portray him as a “moderate.” This notion is reinforced by Regev’s description of Abbas’ most recent inversion of history as “the usual domain of extremist elements,” a category of Middle Eastern players from which Regev implies the Palestinian leader is excluded. And if Abbas is not an extremist, then by extension he must be a moderate.

Yet Abbas is no friend to Israel and Netanyahu also knows this; Abbas is, after all, the man who pronounced that the Palestinians “won’t agree to recognize something called the Jewish state,” and “will never allow a single Israeli to live…on Palestinian land.” But “moderate” is a relative term, and the Israeli government apparently has concluded that presently Abbas is the best of a bad lot and therefore warrants support.

On the surface the Netanyahu’s policy—choosing the least of various evils, so to speak—appears rational. That is, so long as the damage caused by the lesser evil can be limited and mitigated (if not controlled).

And herein lies the essential dilemma: The Israeli government’s assumption is wrong; Abbas’ diplomatic terrorism, in the words of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, cannot be contained.

Nor will any amount of political maneuvering change this fact. For entangled in the two-decades-long diplomatic black hole colorfully referred to as the “peace process,” the Israeli government’s decision-making strategy—as evidenced by Netanyahu’s ongoing support of Abbas—has invariably been reduced to choosing between varying degrees of terror (diplomatic vs. armed). And there simply is no bright future for a country whose options range from bad to worse.

Therefore, the charade has to stop, before the cumulative negative effect of pursuing for twenty years a destructive policy—making endless concessions and goodwill gestures in a futile attempt to appease evil—reaches a critical mass leading to “reactor” meltdown.

Which brings us back to Abbas’ repeated and self-serving denials of Jewish history.

The Jewish People’s millennia-old connection to the Land of Israel is the foremost justification for the current and ongoing existence of a Jewish state on that land. If the Jewish People never resided in Israel, so the logic of its enemies goes, then there is no reason for Jews to be there today or to remain there tomorrow. Moreover, it is the Jewish People’s historical connection to its Land which forms the basis of the 20th-century legal validation of the Jewish state.

Remove Abraham from the equation and there is no Balfour Declaration and no British Mandate.

It is this fundamental historical connection that Abbas, along with his financiers and sympathizers worldwide, is attempting to whitewash, with the aim of delegitimizing Israel out of existence.

And, alas, it is working.

Consider, as but one of many examples, South Africa’s recent decision to modify its labeling of products originating from the West Bank so as to exclude the “Made in Israel” tag.

Then consider that the West Bank is in fact located in a geographic region historically known as Judea and Samaria, a portion of the Land of Israel from which the word Jew is derived.

This is what happens when Jewish history is denied and reality is altered.

And, quite frankly, it is hypocritical for the Israeli government to be up-in-arms over Pretoria’s move. For the Israeli government itself supports the ongoing governance of the very man spearheading the campaign of de-legitimization which results in such anti-Israel episodes. In other words, every time the Israeli government absurdly portrays Abbas as a “moderate,” it invites anti-Israel forces such as South Africa to express their hostility. For, if Jerusalem is “occupied Palestine” as Abbas contends, and Israel is seen supporting Abbas, then certainly the West Bank is occupied too and South Africa has every reason to adopt the Palestinian leader’s position by labeling products accordingly.

This is the twisted logic that makes it reasonable to presume that, unless Israel begins to prevent Abbas and his minions from actively waging their war, in the not-too-distant future countries will begin designating products manufactured in Jerusalem as “Made in Palestine.”

In this respect, it is imperative for Israel to extricate itself from a process whose strategic paradigm consists of opting for lesser evils, and whose inevitable outcome is the country’s de-legitimization.

At any rate, peace cannot be forged with the Palestinians so long as their leadership continues to deny Jewish history; which is, quite literally, an attempt to erase Israel from the pages of time.

(Charles Bybelezer, formerly a Publications Editor at the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, recently moved to Israel to begin working as a Breaking News Editor at the Jerusalem Post.)


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