Saturday, April 13, 2013

Why “Progress” Toward Israel-Palestinian “Peace” Is More Likely to Bring Regional Instability

by Barry Rubin

PHOTO: Ralph Alswang
PHOTO: Ralph Alswang

Secretary of State John Kerry has in his head every what-should-be-discredited cliché about the Middle East firmly ensconced in his head. Of course, he is not alone. I just briefed a European diplomat who came up with the exact formulation I’m going to deal with in a moment. What is disconcerting—though long familiar—is that Western policymakers hold so many ideas that are totally out of touch with reality.

They do not allow these assumptions to be questioned. On the contrary, it is astonishing to find how often individuals in elite positions have never heard counter-arguments to these beliefs. It is easy to prove that many of these ideas simply don’t make sense, but it is nearly impossible to get elite intellectuals, officials, and politicians to open their minds to these explanations.

Yet we can’t just believe what we want to believe, what we’d like to see happen, what we hope for. Reality must be faced or things will be worse. Having unexamined utopian ideas dominate this topic does not serve anyone’s interests.

Let me give a single example. Here are Kerry’s observations after touring the Middle East:
“I am intensely focused on this issue and the region because it is vital really to American interests and regional interests to try and advance the peace process and because this festering absence of peace is used by groups everywhere to recruit and encourage extremism.”

Supposedly, then, the reason that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is so important and urgent to solve is that otherwise it is a powerful force in encouraging extremism.

Let’s stipulate that it would be a very good thing if this conflict would be resolved in a stable and compromise way. Let’s further stipulate that this isn’t going to happen.

But there is another point which sounds counter-intuitive and yet makes perfect sense:
Resolving the conflict in some way will encourage even more extremism and regional instability. How can I say that? Very simple.

Islamist groups and governments, along with radical Arab nationalists, Iran, and others, are determined to prevent any resolution of the issue. Anything other than Israel’s extinction they hold to be treason. If—and this isn’t going to happen—Israel and the Palestinian Authority made a comprehensive peace treaty those forces would double and triple their efforts to subvert it.

The government of Palestine would face determined domestic opposition, including assassination attempts on the “traitors” who made peace. Palestinian factions would claim to be more militant than their rivals and would seek to use the new state as a basis for attacking Israel in order to prove their credentials and advance their political fortunes.

What would the government of Palestine do once cross-border attacks inevitably began against Israel? It is highly likely it would disclaim responsibility and say they cannot find those responsible or even proclaim that these people are heroes.

Of course, the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip would not accept the deal, thus ensuring that it could not be implemented. That last factor, which is a huge and impassable barrier is simply ignored by the “peacemakers.” Israel would have to make major territorial concessions and take heightened risks in advance that would bring zero benefits from a Hamas government that would increase its attacks on Israel. Hamas forces on the West Bank, perhaps in partnership with Fatah radicals, would seek to overthrow Palestine’s government.

There would be attempts to carry out atrocities against Israeli civilians to break the deal, just as happened by Hamas alone during the 1993-2000 “Oslo peace process” period. Hizballah from Lebanon would also increase attacks on Israel to prove that the treasonous peace could not hold.

The ruling Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Syria would do everything possible to help Hamas. There would be outrage in large sectors of public opinion and especially among the armed Islamist militias who would try to lever their countries into war, stage cross-border attacks against Israel, and back Palestinian insurgents.

Of course, the fact that they understand all of the points made above is one of the main reasons why the Palestinian Authority’s leadership isn’t interested in making a peace deal with Israel, and not even negotiating seriously toward that end.

Ironically, then, the recruiting and encouragement of extremism would be at far higher levels than it is now.

But that’s not all. Who would be identified as the architects of this terrible setback for Islam and Arab nationalism? The United States and the West, of course. Imagine the increase of anti-American terrorism for having permanently “stolen” Palestine, perpetuated “injustice,” and so powerfully entrenching the “Zionist entity.”

Kerry, no doubt, thinks that the Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese, and Iranians would applaud the wonderful U.S. achievement. This is sheerest nonsense, especially at a time when Islamists feel they are riding the crest of a tidal wave of victory.

While the parallels are inexact, some aspects of such a situation remind me of what happened at the end of World War One. Many people in Germany were convinced that their country was not defeated but merely suffered a “stab in the back” by its foreign enemies and the Jews at home. Out of this soil arose the Nazi movement, to avenge this betrayal and defeat. You can make of that parallel what you will.

Remember, too, that the 1990s “peace process” effort came at a time when Arab regimes were weak, repeatedly defeated by Israel, having lost their Soviet superpower ally, been riven by the Iran-Iraq and Kuwait wars, and with a bankrupt PLO. Now we are in a new era when, for example, the most important single Arab pillar for peace—the Husni Mubarak regime in Egypt—has been driven out to the cheers of those Westerners who also claim to recognize the value of an Arab-Israel peace.

Whether or not I’ve convinced you, I assume that you must understand that a serious case can be made for the argument stated above. Yet none of these points will appear in the mass media or the high-level debate. The assumption is, as Kerry stated, that Israel-Palestinian peace will make things better and no idea will be considered that contradicts this notion.

Let me again emphasize that I am not making an “anti-peace” argument here. If it was possible to secure a lasting, stable compromise peace between Israel and the Palestinians, that would be a great achievement. That might be possible some day but, dangerous wishful thinking aside, that isn’t true now.

Yet instead there could only be—and, again, it isn’t going to happen at all–a rickety, unstable arrangement which either the Palestinian Authority would be determined to overturn in a stage two effort to destroy Israel. And if those who signed the treaty would not lead such an effort that would only be because they are consciously—and they say so publicly—leave the task to their successors. To different extents, the governments of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, and others would push that agenda.

And, as we have seen in the past, “diplomatic progress” would produce a regional political firestorm. Such thinking is counter-intuitive but that’s only because the intuition is wrong.

Barry Rubin


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

Moral Relativism and Jihad

by Caroline Glick

Two events happened on Wednesday which should send a shiver down the spine of everyone concerned about the future of the American Jewish community. But to understand their importance it is important to consider the context in which they occurred.

On January 13, The New York Times reported on a series of virulently anti-Jewish comments Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi made in speeches given in 2010. Among other things, Morsi said, "We must never forget, brothers, to nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred for them: for Zionists, for Jews." He said that Egyptian children "must feed on hatred; hatred must continue. The hatred must go on for God and as a form of worshiping him."

In another speech, he called Jews "bloodsuckers," and "the descendants of apes and pigs."

Two weeks after the Times ran the story, the Obama administration sent four F-16 fighter jets to Egypt as part of a military aid package announced in December 2012 entailing the provision of 20 F-16s and 200 M1-A1 Abrams tanks.

The Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and other prominent American Jewish groups did not oppose the weapons transfer.

With the American Jewish leadership silent on the issue, Israel found its national security championed by Sen. Rand Paul. He attached an amendment to a budget bill that would bar the US from transferring the advanced weapons platforms to Egypt.

Paul explained, "Egypt is currently governed by a religious zealot... who said recently that Jews were bloodsuckers and descendants of apes and pigs. This doesn't sound like the kind of stable personality we [sh]ould be sending our most sophisticated weapons to."

Paul's amendment was overwhelmingly defeated, due in large part to the silence of the American Jewish leadership.

The Times noted that Morsi's castigation of Jews as "apes and pigs" was "a slur for Jews that is familiar across the Muslim world."

Significantly the Times failed to note that the reason it is familiar is because it comes from both the Koran and the hadith. The scripturally based denigration of Jews as apes and pigs is legion among leading clerics of both Sunni and Shi'ite Islam.

It was not a coincidence that the Times failed to mention why Morsi's castigation of Jews as apes and pigs was so familiar to Muslim audiences.

The Islamic sources of Muslim Brotherhood Jew hatred, and indeed, hatred of Jews by Islamic leaders from both the Sunni and Shi'ite worlds, is largely overlooked by the liberal ideological camp. And the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish leadership is associated with the liberal ideological camp.

If the Times acknowledged that the Jew hatred espoused by Morsi and his colleagues in the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as by their Shi'ite colleagues in the Iranian regime and Hezbollah is based on the Koran, they would have to acknowledge that Islamic Jew hatred and other bigotry is not necessarily antithetical to mainstream Islamic teaching. And that is something that the Times, like its fellow liberal institutions, is not capable of acknowledging.

They are incapable of acknowledging this possibility because considering it would implicitly require a critical study of jihadist doctrine. And a critical study of jihadist doctrine would show that the doctrine of jihad, or Islamic holy war, subscribed to by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, as well as by the Iranian regime and Hezbollah and their affiliates, is widely supported, violent, bigoted, evil and dangerous to the free world.

And that isn't even the biggest problem with studying the doctrine of jihad. The biggest problem is that a critical study of the doctrine of jihad would force liberal institutions like the New York Times and the institutional leadership of the American Jewish community alike to abandon the reigning dogma of the liberal ideological camp - moral relativism.

Moral relativism is based on a refusal to call evil evil and a concomitant willingness to denigrate truth if truth requires you to notice evil.

Since pointing out the reality of the danger the jihadist doctrines propagated by the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood involves the implicit demand that people make distinctions between good and evil and side with good against evil, moral relativists - that is most liberals - cannot contend with jihad.

This is why the American Jewish leadership refused to join Rand Paul and his conservative Republican colleagues in the Senate and demand an immediate cessation of US military aid to the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Egyptian military even after the evidence of the Brotherhood's genocidal Jew hatred was splashed across the front page of the Times.

It is the dominance of moral relativism in liberal institutions like the New York Times that make even the most apologetic expose of the Muslim Brotherhood a major event. And it is the dominance of liberal orthodoxies in the mainstream Jewish community that makes it all but impossible for Jewish leaders to speak up against the Muslim Brotherhood, despite the manifest danger its genocidal hatred of Jews poses not only for Israel, but for Jews everywhere.

It is bad enough that liberal Jewish leaders won't speak out against the Koranic-inspired evil that characterizes the ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood. What is worse is what their own morally relative blindness causes them to do.

On Wednesday, we saw two distressing examples of the consequences of this self-imposed embrace of ideological fantasies.

First, on Wednesday, Yeshiva University's Cardozo Law School's Journal of Conflict Resolution gave its annual International Advocate of Peace Award to former president Jimmy Carter.

Carter's long record of anti-Israel, and indeed anti-Semitic, actions and behavior made the decision to bestow him with the honor an affront not only to the cause of peace, but to the cause of Jewish legal rights. As an advocate of Hamas and a man who castigates Israel as an illegal "apartheid" state, Carter has a long record of outspoken opposition to both Jewish human rights and to viable peace between Israel and its neighbors.

For outsiders, the Orthodox Jewish university's law school's law journal's decision to honor Carter was shocking, but as it works out, the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution confers its prize almost exclusively on people active in pressuring Israel to make concessions to Palestinian terrorists who reject Israel's right to exist. Past winners include Dennis Ross, Bill Clinton, Richard Holbrooke, George Mitchell, John Wallach and Seeds of Peace and, perhaps most astoundingly, the outspoken Jew hater Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

In other words, Carter wasn't chosen for the honor despite his anti-Israel record. He was selected because of his anti-Israel record.

In a similar fashion, New York's 92nd Street Y invited virulent Israel hater Roger Waters to perform a concert on April 30. Given Waters's outspoken opposition to Israel, his call for total economic and cultural warfare against the Jewish state and his leading role in the BDS movement, it is not possible that the 92nd Street Y was unaware of his radical, anti-Semitic sentiments.

And so, the only reasonable explanation for his invitation to perform at the Jewish institution is that the Y wanted to invite this openly anti- Semitic musician to perform. A public outcry by pro-Israel activists forced the Y to cancel his performance.

The day that Carter was embraced by the Orthodox Jewish establishment, Jewish author and activist Pamela Geller was silenced. Geller is the nightmare of the liberal Jewish establishment.

She is a beautiful and articulate speaker and writer who has risen to prominence in the US for her steadfast commitment to exposing the deadly pathologies of Jew hatred, misogyny and other prejudices inherent to jihadist ideology.

Geller's website, Atlas Shrugs, is a clearinghouse for information on Islamic persecution of women, Christians and apostates and hatred of Jews. She also showcases the documented ties between mainstream American Islamic groups and the Muslim Brotherhood.

An indefatigable defender of Israel, Geller recently ran a highly controversial, and successful ad campaign in the New York and San Francisco public transportation systems in response to an anti-Israel ad campaign. Her billboards read, "In any war between the civilized man and the savage, support the civilized man. Support Israel, Defeat Jihad."

Geller was scheduled to speak on April 13 at the Great Neck Synagogue in Great Neck, New York. The topic of her talk was "The Imposition of Shari'a in America."

Last month, after learning of her talk, a consortium of Islamic and leftist activists in Nassau County led by Habeed Ahmed from the Islamic Center of Long Island launched a pressure campaign to coerce the synagogue into cancelling her speech. Members of the group telephoned the synagogue and castigated Geller as a bigot, and likened her to the Nazis in the 1930s.

In short order liberal rabbis Michael White and Jerome Davidson took over the opposition to Geller and launched a media campaign attacking her as a bigot and demanding that the Great Neck Synagogue cancel her speech.

Rejecting the distinction Geller makes between jihadists and their victims - Muslim and non- Muslim alike, White and Davidson claimed that she opposes all Muslims and so her speech must be canceled. By hosting her, they intoned, the Great Neck Synagogue would be guilty of propagating hate speech. Liberal Christian and Jewish activists and their Muslim associates threatened to protest the speech.

On Wednesday the synagogue caved in to their massive pressure. Citing "security concerns" the synagogue board released a statement saying that while "these important issues must be discussed, the synagogue is unable to bear the burden" of the pressure campaign surrounding Geller's planned speech. Her event was canceled.

Surveys of the American Jewish community taken in recent years by the American Jewish Committee demonstrate that the vast majority of American Jews are deeply supportive of Israel, and their views tend toward the Right side of the political spectrum in issues related to Israel, the Palestinians and the wider Islamic conflict with the Jewish state.

On the other hand, the AJC's surveys show that for the vast majority of American Jews, Israel is not a voting issue. This state of affairs was reflected by a comment that Yeshiva University student Ben Winter made to the media regarding the absence of student protest against Carter on Wednesday. In Winter's words, "While many students at YU feel strongly about their Zionism, few have the courage to publicly express their opinions."

The danger exposed by the cancellation of Geller's speech and the conferral of honors on the likes of Carter and Waters by mainstream Jewish institutions is daunting. If moral relativism remains the dominant dogma of the American Jewish establishment, the already weakly defended, but still strongly rooted, support for Israel among the rank and file of the American Jewish community will dissipate.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post. 

Caroline Glick


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

Iran's Usual Scapegoat

by Dore Gold

At the close of the last round of talks in Kazakhstan between Iran and the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, China, France, U.K., and Germany) that ended a week ago, the head Iranian negotiator, Saeed Jalili, tried to implicitly drag Israel into the considerations that had made the nuclear negotiations so difficult. 

The headlines in the major newspapers in the West left little doubt that the talks had completely failed. Thus the LA Times announced "Iranian Talks Unproductive." The Washington Post ran a headline stating that the Iran talks had ended in a "muddle." The Voice of America led with the harshest verdict stating that the "Iran Nuclear Talks Collapse."

The fact of the matter was that the parties to the Kazakhstan talks did not even set a date for the next round. What was needed was an explanation of what happened. Jalili tried to put a good face on a bad situation. He said that he believed that delegations from the P5+1 wanted the talks to succeed, but there was one country which was pressuring the negotiators representing the West and was the hidden reason for their hardened position. He did not say who he had in mind but it was clear that he was suggesting that Israel was somehow pulling the strings and influencing the nuclear negotiations.

Jalili was not alone in trying to force the argument that Israel was somehow a factor in the West's diplomatic stalemate with Iran. They wanted people to believe that Israel was not only the problem but also part of the solution. Former Iranian diplomat Seyed Hossein Mousavian, who was part of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team under then-President Mohammad Khatami, has an office at Princeton University, and has become a sought-after commentator in the international media every time there is a new negotiating round between Iran and the West. 

Last year, the prestigious Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, whose headquarters are in Washington, published Mousavian's 500-page memoir, entitled The Iranian Nuclear Crisis. Like the Iranian government, from which he fled, Mousavian insists that any solution to the crisis include recognition by the P5+1 of Iran's right to enrich uranium — a right that does not appear in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. But then he adds another element to the solution of the Iranian nuclear dispute: the establishment of a weapons of mass destruction-free zone in the Middle East, which will include Israel. 

While this idea was not popularly accepted it gained currency in certain circles. For example, Shibley Telhami, who is a fellow at the Saban Center in Washington, also picked up this theme. He proposed in a January 2012 article in The New York Times that to make Iran more flexible in nuclear negotiations, the West should push for a nuclear free zone in the Middle East that would put the spotlight on Israel. 

To its credit, the Obama administration made a realistic assessment of the situation in the Arab world today and decided not to convene last fall a conference on a Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction, which had been proposed in 2010. In a statement on Nov. 23, 2012, Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, specifically cited "present conditions in the Middle East," which was a clear reference to the Arab Spring, as one of the reasons why this situation was not ripe to pursue this line of policy.

But there is something far more fundamental missing in these proposals to use a nuclear free zone in the Middle East as a means to draw Iran into a compromise. The whole idea that Iran's determination to get nuclear weapons has something to do with Israel is completely wrong. The Islamic republic renewed Iran's nuclear program in the 1980s as a result of its bitter experiences during the Iraq-Iran War (1980-1988) when the Iranian army was repeatedly attacked by Saddam Hussein's forces who used chemical weapons. Israel was not a factor in its considerations. 

But after the Iraq-Iran war, Tehran acquired new motivation to seek nuclear weapons: its determination to become the hegemonic power in the Middle East after the defeat of Iraq. A few years after he assumed the position of supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei gave a revealing interview published on July 7, 1991 in the Iranian daily Ressalat, in which he asked a rhetorical question: "Do we look to preserve the integrity of our land, or do we look to expansion?" He then answered himself, saying: "We must definitely look to expansion." Khamenei is the commander-in-chief of the Iranian armed forces and hence his definitions of Iranian national strategy are essential to follow.

Iran's quest for regional hegemony is still sustained to this day. Khamenei's senior adviser on military affairs, Major-General Yahya Rahim Safavi, who was the previous commander of the Revolutionary Guards, described Iran in 2013 as "the regional superpower" in the Middle East. He asserted in the same interview that a "new global power is emerging in the Muslim world." Safavi's successor as commander of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, was even more blunt in 2008: "Our Imam did not limit the movement of the Islamic Revolution to this country, but drew greater horizons." Khamenei's operational instrument for realizing these goals in the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, under the command of Maj. Gen. Qassem Suleimani. 

Iran's expansionist agenda is evident in his statements as well. During 2012 in a speech about Lebanon and Iraq, Suleimani asserted: "These regions are one way or another subject to the control of the Islamic republic of Iran and its ideas." Ali Akbar Nateq-Nouri, a former speaker of the Iranian parliament, who works as an adviser to Khamenei, described Bahrain in 2009 as Iran's 14th province. In early 2013, an Iranian cleric close to Khamenei described Syria as Iran's 35th province. Thousands of Iranian Revolutionary Guards are deployed on the ground in Syria to prevent the regime of Bashar al-Assad from falling and Syria leaving Iran's sphere of influence.

In short, Iran's quest for nuclear weapons is not for defensive purposes, but to help it realize its regional ambitions in the Middle East. Despite the efforts of Jalili, Mousavi, and a number of Western academics to divert international focus away from Iran exclusively, the fact is that the idea of bringing Israel into the disarmament equation does not alter by one iota Iran's principle motivation to cross the nuclear finishing line and become a nuclear weapons state.

But if there is a country affecting the present dialogue between Iran and the West, it is not to be found in the Middle East. North Korea kicked out the inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, produced weapons-grade plutonium, conducted three tests of its atomic weapons, and all the world could do was to increase sanctions. Today North Korea is threatening to use its nuclear weapons against the U.S. Any diplomat negotiating with Iran will have to take into account that Tehran could easily follow the North Korean precedent and withdraw from any future agreement, assuming, by the North Korean example, that it can get away with it. The West should harden its positions in negotiations as a result, but it is very possible that Iran and it supporters among certain Western elites will seek a new scapegoat for why the nuclear talks, under present conditions, are likely to fail.

Dore Gold


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

What Would the US Do if Israel Defied It by Attacking the Iranian Nuclear Weapons Program?

by Max Singer

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 202

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: If Israel strikes Iranian nuclear weapons facilities, the paramount American national interest would be dissuading the Iranian regime from rebuilding its nuclear program – not punishing or isolating Israel. Washington should signal to Iran that despite America’s strong objections to an Israeli attack, after such an attack it would support Israel and further pressure the Iranians.

At least one of President Obama’s goals for his recent visit to Israel was probably to obtain Israeli agreement not to attack the nuclear weapons program of the revolutionary regime in Iran without US agreement. The Obama Administration feels very strongly about preventing such an attack by Israel.

Many people assume that if Israel defies the US by attacking Iran without US agreement, the US would join international condemnation of Israel, partly to convince the Iranian regime and the rest of the Muslim world that the US was not complicit in the attack, and partly in response to Israel creating major problems for the US by defying American demands.

While it is possible that this would be the US reaction, the overriding American national interest actually leads in the opposite direction. Even if an Israeli attack goes as planned, the physical damage to Iranian facilities could likely be repaired in perhaps six months to a year or so. Consequently, the most important interest of the US in the wake of an Israeli strike would be to dissuade the Iranian regime from restarting its program of building nuclear weapons.

Condemnation of Israel would be counterproductive, encouraging Iran to conclude that they can get away with rebuilding their nuclear facilities. On the other hand, support for Israel would be evidence of international determination to prevent the rebuilding of an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Added to the delays and cost resulting from the Israeli attack, this evidence could shift the balance of opinion within the Iranian regime against the nuclear program.

The other way in which the aftermath of a limited Israeli attack could lead to a permanent end to the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons is if the attack indirectly led to a popular overthrow of the revolutionary regime that now rules Iran.

There is wide public support in Iran for the Iranian nuclear program, which claims not to be a weapons program. But as reported by Michael Ledeen, several polls conducted last year indicate that a large majority of Iranians favor giving up efforts to get nuclear weapons in order to end the economic sanctions against Iran.

If their nuclear weapons production facilities are attacked by Israel, Iranians will have conflicting impulses. On the one hand, they are patriotic and support their country’s right to have a nuclear energy program. On the other hand, many of them are bitterly disillusioned by the regime and inclined to blame it for anything that goes wrong.

Probably the most important determinant of whether there will be popular uprising that the regime cannot put down is popular perception about whether an uprising would succeed or fail. Iranians, like most people, want to make sure that they are on the winning side, and it is widely believed that an uprising could only succeed if it has international support.

If the US and other non-Muslim countries refuse to condemn Israel for attacking the Iranian nuclear weapons facilities – and instead say that the attack was precipitated by the Iranian revolutionary regime’s defiance of the UN and its threats to “wipe Israel off the map” – the Iranian public may conclude that there would be international support for a new regime in Iran. On the other hand, international condemnation of Israel would be seen as foreign support for the revolutionary regime, and would discourage efforts to overthrow it.

The aftermath of a possible Israeli attack would also influence internal Iranian perceptions of the regime’s power. The regime has been trying to deter attacks by threatening dramatic retribution against the US and Israel. It would be very dangerous – and in some cases perhaps impossible – for the regime to deliver on these threats, and if it doesn’t, it may be seen as too weak to hold onto power. The US obviously has a strong interest in deterring retaliatory attacks on US assets in the region and on US allies.  But it also has interests in limiting violent retaliation against Israel, because it has an interest in preventing a conflict from getting out of hand, and because it has a general commitment to prevent threats to Israeli national security.

For all these reasons there is a clear American interest in the aftermath of an Israeli attack to send a message to the Iranian regime along these lines: “We opposed and tried to prevent the Israeli attack, but you brought it on yourselves by defying the United Nations and by threatening to wipe Israel off the map. Therefore you have no right to take innocent lives, or to risk war, by violent retaliation against Israel, the US, or any other country for actions taken to prevent you from building nuclear weapons. We will act to protect anyone you threaten to attack.”

There is another reason why the US interest would be against condemning an Israeli attack it had opposed: the US need to be consistent in its messaging.

At the moment, Washington is saying that “all options are on the table,” meaning that if all other efforts fail to stop the Iranian nuclear effort, Washington would consider a military strike itself. Thus the US is saying that under certain circumstances it would be legitimate to bomb the Iranian nuclear weapons program.

If Israel strikes, Washington could critique the strike as unnecessary – clearly a matter of judgment – but how could it say that the Israeli action was improper, since it was promising to do the same thing – only better – if and when necessary?

This leads to another question. What would the US say if Israel privately asked: “We know that you think we shouldn’t attack the Iranian nuclear weapons facilities, and we certainly won’t if it is possible to keep trying other measures, but what will you do if we decide that our national security requires us not to wait any longer before attacking?”

For Israel, a strike against the Iranian program would be much less dangerous if it knew that the US would stand by it the next day. And the strike would have a better chance of ultimate success if American diplomacy would weigh-in to prevent the Iranians from rebuilding.

Moreover, if Iran were to be signaled to this effect – i.e., if Iran were to be informed that in the wake of an Israeli strike, America would act to back up Israel – Iran would take the possibility of an Israeli strike more seriously, and this, in turn, could prevent the need for any strike altogether by focusing the Iranian mind on the need to negotiate a diplomatic end to the crisis. There may be very little time left for this option to be effective, but there is still a chance.

In addition, an American promise to support Israel after an unapproved strike might even have the effect of preventing an Israeli strike, because such a promise would increase Israel’s willingness to believe that it can rely on the US to prevent an Iranian bomb if Israel refrains from striking.

There is no public evidence that the US government has in fact addressed these questions, whether in discussion with Israel or within its own closed doors. This appears to be a serious gap in policy-making about the Iranian crisis.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Max Singer is a founder of the Hudson Institute and a senior research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He specializes in US defense policy, US-Israel relations, and long-term strategic planning.


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

Florida and Oklahoma Vote for Freedom

by Robert Spencer


Florida and Oklahoma just passed legislation restricting the use of foreign law in state courtrooms, and many other states are considering similar laws. These laws are designed to halt the use of Islamic law, Sharia, by American judges – a measure that many see as necessary, since Sharia has already been involved in cases in twenty-three states. Yet many such initiatives, including an earlier one approved in Oklahoma by seventy percent of the voters, have already been stopped by activist judges who see them as encroachments upon First Amendment protection of religion; however, anti-Sharia laws do not actually infringe upon religious freedom at all, and become more urgently needed by the day.

The prevailing mainstream media view is that anti-Sharia law, and the more general laws banning the use of foreign law in American courts that are now being passed, are simply a manifestation of “Islamophobia” and bigotry. In criticizing Oklahoma’s earlier attempt to pass an anti-Sharia amendment to the state constitution, which was struck down, Daniel Mach, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief, said: “This amendment did nothing more than target one faith for official condemnation. Even the state admits that there has never been any problem with Oklahoma courts wrongly applying religious law. The so-called ‘Save Our State Amendment’ was a solution in search of a problem, and a blatantly discriminatory solution at that.” Ryan Kiesel of the ACLU’s Oklahoma branch declared: “No one in Oklahoma deserves to be treated like a second-class citizen. This proposed amendment was an affront to the Constitution and everything it stands for.” The Muslim writer Reza Aslan hysterically and inaccurately charged that “two-thirds of Americans don’t think Muslims should have the same rights or civil liberties as non-Muslims.”

In reality, the properly formulated anti-Sharia laws neither infringe upon Muslims’ civil liberties or religious freedom nor address a non-existent problem. Last year in a critique of anti-Sharia initiatives published in First Things, law professor Robert K. Vischer articulated some reasons why Americans are concerned about Sharia: “Proponents of this legislation tend to focus on manifestations of Sharia overseas: the stoning of adulterers, cutting off of the hands of thieves, and the denial of basic freedoms for women in some Islamic countries,” and that “there are many schools of interpretation among Islamic legal scholars, and some interpretations stand in tension with the rights that we have come to take for granted in liberal democracies, including the rights of women, homosexual persons, religious minorities, and religious converts.”

Vischer meant to imply that Muslims in America have no intention, now or ever, of bringing “the stoning of adulterers, cutting off of the hands of thieves, and the denial of basic freedoms for women” to America, and that there are schools of interpretation among Islamic legal scholars that do not “stand in tension with the rights that we have come to take for granted in liberal democracies.” In reality, however, there is no school of Islamic jurisprudence among either Sunnis or Shi’tes that does not mandate stoning for adultery, amputation of the hand for theft, and the subjugation of women. Stoning adulterers is in accord with the words and example of Muhammad, whom the Qur’an holds up as the supreme example of conduct for believers (33:21); amputation of the hand for theft is mandated in the Qur’an itself (5:38); and the oppression of women in numerous ways is amply attested by the words of both the Qur’an and the prophet of Islam. Opponents of anti-Sharia laws have no basis for their assumption that no Muslims will ever try to bring such laws here. While there are individual Islamic legal scholars who have crafted interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunnah that are more compatible with Western pluralism and liberal democracy than is Sharia in its classic formulations, these have never gained any significant traction among Muslims. Wherever Sharia has been the law of the land, throughout Islamic history and in Saudi Arabia, Iran, and other areas of the Islamic world today, it has had largely the same character – one that has never resembled liberal democracy by any stretch of the imagination. Sharia polities throughout history and today have denied the freedom of speech and the freedom of conscience, and mandated discrimination against women and non-Muslims.

Sharia is also political and supremacist, mandating a society in which non-Muslims would not enjoy equality of rights with Muslims. And that is the focus of anti-Sharia laws: to prevent this authoritarian and oppressive political and social system from eroding the freedoms we enjoy as Americans. It is plainly disingenuous to claim that anti-Sharia laws would infringe upon Muslims’ First Amendment rights to practice their religion. As Thomas Jefferson said, it doesn’t matter whether my neighbor believes in one god or seventeen; it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg. It is only when my neighbor believes that his god commands him to pick my pocket or break my leg that his beliefs become a matter of concern for those who do not share them. No one wants to restrict individual Muslim religious practice, or even cares about it. The purpose of anti-Sharia laws is not to stop Muslims from getting married in Islamic religious ceremonies and the like, but to stop the political and supremacist aspects of Islam that infringe upon the rights and freedoms of non-Muslims.

The Islamic state, as delineated by Sharia, encroaches on the basic rights of non-Muslims.  It would be a sad irony for non-Muslims to oppose anti-Sharia laws and thereby abet their own subjugation.

Robert Spencer


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One More Reason Why Peace Won’t Happen

by Jonathan S. Tobin

Anyone who regularly follows the translations of the Palestinian media available on Palestinian Media Watch ( or understands that the blithe talk about the possibility of Middle East peace that is heard on the left is utterly unrealistic. But keeping one’s finger on the pulse of a Palestinian culture that continues to foment hatred of Jews and Israel isn’t the only indicator of just how deep this animus runs in Arab culture. Just as informative is a look at the cultures of the two Arab countries that have already made peace with Israel: Egypt and Jordan. The potent anti-Semitism of the Muslim Brotherhood as well as the prejudice that runs throughout the culture of the largest Arab nation is well documented. But the situation in Jordan is less well known.

Jordan’s reputation as a moderate Arab nation stems mostly from the attitude of former King Hussein and his successor King Abdullah. Like his father, the Jordanian monarch is well spoken in English, charming and, despite the criticisms he lobs across the border at Israel in order to maintain his standing as an Arab leader, very much uninterested in conflict with the Jewish state. But his people and even those in his government are a very different manner.

As the Jerusalem Post reports, 110 out of 120 members of the Jordanian parliament have endorsed a petition calling for the release of the former soldier who murdered seven Jewish children in 1997. The shocking incident at the Island of Peace along the border between Israel and Jordan prompted King Hussein to personally apologize to the families of the victims for what he considered a blot on the honor of both his country and its armed services. But to the overwhelming majority of Jordanians, he appears to be a hero. If that doesn’t tell you something about how difficult it is to imagine the end of the Middle East conflict, you aren’t paying attention.

The details of the Island of Peace shooting were horrific. Ahmed Daqamseh, one of the Jordanian soldiers on duty at the site that day, turned his gun on a group of visiting Israeli schoolgirls, killing seven and injuring five. The death toll was limited only by the fact that his gun jammed. He was spared a death sentence because a tribunal ruled that he was mentally unstable. But the elevation of his former defense attorney, Hussein Mjali, to the post of minister of justice in 2011 gave new life to the campaign to spring the killer.

Unlike other such causes to free long-imprisoned figures, this effort isn’t based on any ideas about a miscarriage of justice or an overly harsh sentence. It is, instead, based on the abhorrence with which Israel and Jews in general are viewed in Jordanian society. Daqamseh is unrepentant about his crime and that appears to make him popular. Part of this can be traced to the fact that the majority of Jordanians are Palestinians who are generally marginalized in a government run by and for the Hashemite ruling family. But it must also be traced to a general current of Jew-hatred that grips the Arab and Muslim worlds. It is only that feeling that can explain the desire of so many in Jordan to treat a madman who went on a rampage killing little girls as a hero or imprisoned martyr.

The problem between Israel and its neighbors has never really been the location of borders, settlements or the severity of its measures of self-defense. It’s about the unwillingness of a critical mass of Palestinians and Arabs in general to tolerate Jewish sovereignty over any portion, no matter how small, over part of the Middle East. The hate that leads serious people to demand freedom for a mass killer of children is the same factor that makes true peace unlikely in the foreseeable future. This is regrettable, but those who wish to claim any insight into the politics that drive the Middle East conflict cannot ignore it.
Jonathan S. Tobin


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Trouble on the Golan: Rabin’s Prescience

by Seth Mandel

Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk begins his book on the Clinton administration’s Mideast diplomacy with the initial focus on brokering peace between Israel and Syria, then led by Bashar al-Assad’s father Hafez. Assad’s demand was a full Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights in exchange for a full peace. The Israeli prime minister at the time, Yitzhak Rabin, was open to it both because he wanted real peace with Syria–Israel already had a longstanding peace agreement with Egypt, a certain level of cooperation with Lebanese officials and armed forces, and a relationship with Jordan that was a peace agreement in all but name, which was finally signed in 1994–and because he thought it would encourage the Palestinians to want peace as well.

He was right about the latter point, though the Palestinians would end up hijacking the entire process and peace with Syria never happened. But ahead of a trip to Washington to meet with Clinton, Rabin wanted to know how the U.S. would guarantee the peace, as Indyk phrases it, “especially in the event of Asad’s death.” Would Clinton put American troops on the Golan, if it came to that and Israel was proscribed by the peace agreement from sending its own troops? Clinton asked Colin Powell for his advice. Indyk recounts the exchange:
“No military officer would want to give this up,” Powell replied. He then surprised everyone by arguing that the only way Israel could be convinced to withdraw from the Golan Heights would be if the United States were prepared to insert a brigade of American troops–some four thousand GIs–on the Golan. Unlike the Israel-Egypt peace treaty observer force deployed in the Sinai, which contained only one battalion of American troops, he said the Golan deployment would need to be a full-fledged fighting force to signal Syria and the Arab world that if they broke the peace agreement they would have to tangle with the U.S. Army.
“It would be worth it,” the president responded.
Obviously none of this ever came to pass, but Israeli withdrawal from the Golan has been sought by Assad the younger, as well as current Secretary of State John Kerry as of just before the Arab Spring. But on this, as on many aspects of Middle East policy, the Arab Spring has changed the calculus. Rabin, however, has proven prescient. Not only was he right about the Palestinians coming to the table when they thought they might be sold out or eclipsed by the Syrians, but he also understood that if Israel were to withdraw its civilians and troops and keep them out of the Golan, the peace treaty would need real teeth.

You can see from the Powell-Clinton conversation that Rabin also understood the danger of Golan withdrawal better than they did, though Powell was quite serious about what it would take to enforce it. The problem as Rabin saw it was not the worry that Assad would break the deal–though of course that was a concern–but rather that in Assad’s absence, and the possible resulting anarchy or new regime, the agreement would essentially be nullified.

Fast forward to today, as Reuters reports just why Israel has always worried about giving up the Golan in the event of the death or overthrow of the regime with whom they would have signed the deal:
Austrian U.N. peacekeepers, fearing their safety due to fighting in Syria, will assess on a daily basis if they can stay to monitor a truce between Israel and Syria, Austria’s foreign minister said on Friday.
Israel is anxious for the peacekeepers to remain, worried that the Golan will become a springboard for attacks on Israelis by Islamist militants fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The article notes that Japan and Croatia have both said they were going to withdraw their own soldiers from the peacekeepers. Austria’s absence would leave a void: Reuters says they make up 380 of the 1,000 peacekeepers. Additionally, how feasible would it be to replace them under these conditions? Peacekeepers have been attacked and kidnapped as the civil war has progressed, and Israel has already had to respond to shelling from Syrian territory.

All this, it should be noted, is happening with Israel still controlling the Golan. The threat is therefore extant but limited. Were the Golan in Syrian hands, the situation would be a chaotic security crisis for Israel, especially when combined with the tense border standoff with Hezbollah in south Lebanon (and Gaza to the south). Had Clinton’s plan been implemented, and all else equal–though I should stress the futility of playing “what if?”–American troops might now be involved in a land war in Syria trying to tamp down an insurgency. In such a case, could American troops withstand the attempts to draw them into nearby Lebanon as well, which would certainly come at some point?

Again, it’s all speculative. But it’s also clear that when Israeli leaders stress the need for defensible borders, they usually know exactly what they are talking about. And when they say that a durable peace agreement, especially in an era of falling dictators, must have popular support–as they do when they criticize Palestinian incitement and government-sponsored anti-Semitic indoctrination–they’re right about that too.
Seth Mandel


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The Cultural Intifada and Temple Denial



This week’s Glazov Gang had the honor of being joined by Lela Gilbert, author of Saturday People, Sunday People, actor Dwight Schultz ( and Ann-Marie Murrell, the National Director of
The Gang members gathered to discuss The Cultural Intifada and Temple Denial. The dialogue occurred in Part I and focused on Islamists’ gambit to de-Judaize the Jewish state.  The discussion was part of the Gang’s reflection on Lela Gilbert’s book, Saturday People, Sunday People: Israel through the Eyes of a Christian Sojourner. Ms. Gilbert shared what brought her to Israel, the Israelis’ warm reception of her, and why, as Dr. Gabriel Barkay imparted to her, “Temple Denial is more dangerous and serious than Holocaust Denial.”
Part II dealt mostly with Saturday People, Sunday People, focusing on the dire lessons of Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005, the trauma that Israeli citizens, including children, have suffered from Palestinian terror, Jimmy Carter’s Jew-Hate, and the world’s blind spot: the forgotten exodus of 900,000 Jews expelled from Arab and Muslim countries.
The segment ended on a reflection on Margaret Thatcher and the powerful way in which she shaped her era.

To watch both parts of the two-part series, see below:
Part I:

Part II:


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The Crisis of Islam

by Amin Farouk

The Islamists' fundamental mistake is that they believe Allah and Muhammad ... are so weak, so vulnerable, that they need Muslims to protect them. They thus deny the absolute omnipotence of Allah and Muhammad..., neither of whom, as is well known, needs protection, nor to have mortals killed to defend them, nor have people become shaheeds [martyrs] to assure themselves a place in Paradise.
In 2010 the Egyptian-born German academic Hamed Abdel-Samad wrote a book called Der Untergang der islamischen Welt (The Fall of the Islamic World), in which he predicted the collapse of the Islamic world within 30 years. This groundbreaking book was written by a man of courage whose real intention was to improve the ranks of Islam and take us forward. As past experience has shown, publishing such a book is liable to cost Abdel-Samad his life, because the extremists among us, those still intent on murdering Salman Rushdie and who cannot bear the thought of pluralism, certainly will not stand for what they regard as more criticism of the prophet Muhammad (May peace and the blessing of Allah be upon him).

Abdel-Samad claims that Islam has not yet answered the fundamental questions of life, that it has passed its prime and that the Qur'an is relevant only for the seventh century, not the twenty-first. As an observant Muslim, I disagree with him. I believe that the Qur'an is eternally relevant, but I also believe that he has the right to criticize freely whatever he likes.

The Islamists' mistake is that they believe Allah and Muhammad (May peace and the blessing of Allah be upon him) are so weak, so vulnerable, they need Muslims to protect them, and to do it by killing anyone who breathes a word of criticism, even if it means killing other Muslims. They thus deny the absolute omnipotence of Allah and Muhammad (May peace and the blessing of Allah be upon him), neither of whom, as is well known, needs protection, nor to have mortals killed to defend them, nor to have people become shaheeds [martyrs] to assure themselves a place in Paradise.

Abdel-Samad's book describes the magnitude of the tragedy that will unfold for the Islamic world in the next 30 years. It describes the thundering collapse of the economies of the oil-producing countries the day after the wells run dry. Agricultural lands and green forests will turn into deserts, and sectarian strife, already chronic, will flare into full-scale battles.

The total decline of Islam, which began a thousand years ago, concluded Abdel-Samad, will result in mass emigration from the Arab-Muslim world to the West, especially Europe. That is because the Islamic tragedy, according to him, is based on conceptual backwardness, on a society whose economic and social thinking belong to the Stone Age, a society religiously and politically divided against itself. According to Abdel-Samad, Islam has brought mankind neither innovation nor creativity.

He bases his prediction on a number of factors, central to which is that the Islamic world does not have a creative economy, it has no significant social order and no constructive cognitive process, and therefore its collapse is inevitable. He notes that Islam knew better days: the Renaissance of the Middle Ages. Then, he says, Muslims opened themselves to the cultures around them and were released from their isolation. The Muslim scholars translated the writings of the Greeks, the Romans and the Christians, absorbed their wisdom and even brought it to the West -- but failed to bring it to Mecca, Al-Madinah or the Arabian Peninsula. The translations were not original Islamic works but rather reworkings of Cyrenaic and Assyrian translations, done by people who enjoyed – alas, for a short time – intellectual freedom under the aegis of Islamic rulers. While around the world various cultures were reaping the benefits of open, fertile dialogues with one another, Islamic culture froze, petrified and closed itself off to European culture, and now, absurdly, we accuse the Europeans of being infidels.

According to Abdel-Samad, our behavior is tragic: we gobble up everything the infidel West has to offer, whether scientific, technological or medical, without understanding that the train of modernism has passed us by and we have become an annoying burden for the Western world and all humanity in general.

Abdel-Samad paints for us, as Muslims, a pessimistic picture, and says that we will never be able to carry out reforms as long as it is forbidden to criticize the true significance and instructions of the Qur'an. This, he says is what prevents us from moving forward, paralyzes our cognitive processes and kills initiative. Muslims, he continues, sanctify ancient texts and force their thinking uselessly to stagnate. It is hard to disagree. Every Friday we see the dismal sheikhs in Europe and the United States repeating the ancient verses that tell us we are the best people Allah created, while the rest of the world is but riffraff whose very existence as non-Muslims is forbidden. Every Friday we see them huddling together, plotting in secret, hypocritically taking the money we contribute to charity and using it for destruction and terrorism. I am convinced, like Abdel-Samad and other liberal Islamic thinkers, that our nation is schizophrenic because of the great gap between the megalomanic illusions of its self image and our genuine, tragic situation.

It is hard not to agree with Abdel-Samad that our only hope as Muslims depends on whether or not we can come to terms with others, respect their cultural superiority and recognize the advantages of their scientific and technological creativity, which have enriched all mankind. And if we do, genuinely and without concern for our weaknesses, and if we understand the causes of our backwardness and failure, we may be able to cure ourselves. Until then our mistaken, well-intended people will continue to blow themselves up in our streets and kill our own innocent people, all in the name of Islam.

Amin Farouk


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Jihad is Cool: Jihadist Magazines Recruit Young Terrorists

by IPT News

Jihad recruitment has evolved into using a mainstream format, it is now cool. Print and online magazines provide practical detailed instruction on how to commit terrorist acts. The latest offering, Lone Mujahid Pocketbook, Spring 2013, is published courtesy of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine, and is available on multiple websites.

It bills itself as "A Step to (sic) Step Guide on How to Become a Successful Lone Mujahid" and already has enthusiasts. Using hip, modern language conventions and rap lingo, the cover asks "R U dreamin' of wagin' jihadi attacks against kuffar? … Well, there's no need to travel abroad, coz the frontline has come to you. Wanna know how? Just read 'n' apply the contents of this guide which has practical 'n' creative ways to please Allah by killing his enemies 'n' healing the believers' chests." Creepily akin to a teen magazine, the Pocketbook specifically targets prospective American jihadis with tips, tactics and incitements to carry out terror attacks.

It offers Inspire's glossy, high quality graphics and a professional finish to pages methodically detailing the types of bombs; the best locations for attacks and other ways to generally reap mayhem. Using everyday supplies such as sugar, motor oil or pressure cookers, readers are enthusiastically encouraged to wage jihad in their communities. Many of the features are repeats from Inspire's first 10 issues.

For example, "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" and the "Ultimate Mowing Machine" offer simple, do-it-yourself advice to "cause chaos and terror among the public."

Mixing religious devotion with a desire to be cool in the MTV generation, the magazine offers an attractive picture for jihadi wannabes, perhaps inspired by the mass popular appeal of rapping gang-bangers who make gun violence "cool." Jihad has never been easier.

IPT News


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Thursday, April 11, 2013

Two Lessons of the Two-State Solution

by Rick Richman

As Secretary of State Kerry proceeds to gin up yet another peace process, armed with the Israel Policy Forum letter urging more “confidence-building steps” from Israel, it might be worthwhile to reflect on two things we have learned about the “two-state solution” from the repeated failures over two decades to effectuate it.

First, the Palestinians have shown that they are unable to form a peaceful democratic state. They have a “president” who next week enters the 100th month of his 48-month term; he has now been “out of office” longer than he was in it. The person who held the office before him served 107 months of his own 48-month term, until he had to leave office on account of death. Between them, the two presidents rejected three offers of a state (in 2000, 2001 and 2008). The current president has not been able to set foot in half his putative state for more than five years; he cannot arrange a new election, even in the half-state where he resides. There is no functioning legislature, so he rules by decree; those who would criticize him for this are best advised not to put their thoughts on Facebook. He is 78 years old, in uncertain health, with no known successor, and has long said he wants to retire; he continues to serve as “president” because peace processors need someone to play one on TV.

The Palestinians don’t even need Jews to have a failed peace process. Saudi Arabia and Egypt each tried to mediate one of the periodic “reconciliation” agreements between Fatah and Hamas, but found that Fatah and Hamas can’t live side by side in peace and security with each other, much less next to Jews. The “two-state solution” presumes a Palestinian state would be a stable entity, but there is no evidence that a Palestinian state would be anything other than what it is right now–half quasi-terrorist state and half fictitious “authority,” with neither half having the institutions of a successful state, or a self-sustaining economy.

Second, the Palestinians have repeatedly stated they do not view a Palestinian state as a “solution”–not if by “solution” one means recognition of “two states for two peoples” and an end to claims. In November 2011, when the Palestinians first went to the UN to avoid negotiating such a solution, Israeli UN Ambassador Ron Prosor noted that the UN resolution recommending partition in 1947 had referred 30 times to a “Jewish State,” but that 64 years later:
We still do not hear Palestinian leaders utter the term. The Palestinian leadership refuses to acknowledge Israel’s character as a Jewish state. You will never hear them say “two states for two peoples.” If you ever hear a Palestinian leader say “two states for two peoples,” please phone me immediately. My office has set up the equivalent of a 911 number in the event of such an unprecedented occurrence.
The call never came. In November 2012, when the Palestinians returned to the UN to avoid negotiating a two-state solution, Ambassador Prosor addressed the Palestinian president as follows:
President Abbas, I did not hear you use the phrase “two states for two peoples” this afternoon. In fact, I have never heard you say the phrase “two states for two peoples.” Because the Palestinian leadership has never recognized that Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people. They have never been willing to accept what this very body recognized 65 years ago.
It should be obvious that an unstable and unpredictable Palestinian state is a problem, not part of a solution, particularly when its putative leaders are unwilling even to utter the phrase “two states for two peoples.” No amount of Israeli “confidence-building steps” for the chronically confidence-challenged Palestinians can solve that problem; the Palestinians can only solve it themselves.
Rick Richman


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