Saturday, January 4, 2014

Will Netanyahu accept the Kerry Framework?

by Ted Belman

Secretary of State Kerry is back in Israel pushing for the acceptance of his Framework. It is reported that this framework requires Israel's agreement that borders will be based on 1967 lines plus swaps, among other things. The Palestinian Authority didn't hesitate to reject it whereas PM Netanyahu is trying to find a way to live with it. 

You don't have to be a maximalist to argue that the framework deal, as reported, should be a deal breaker, for Israel.

Thankfully, the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction  agrees.  Naftali Bennett, its leader, says they will leave the government if such framework is accepted , even if, with reservations. Israel's fourteen reservations on accepting the Roadmap in 2003 simply greased the wheels of acceptance without having any traction thereafter. So Bennett is right to not buy that snake oil.

Netanyahu refused to enter negotiations based on 1967 lines plus swaps and rightly so. But now, it appears, he is ready to accept such limitation of Israel's rights for something in return.  Nothing in return could justify such acceptance.  Even if the PA would agree that Israel was the Jewish national home and would agree to abandon the "right of return", it would not be worth it.  At the moment the so-called refugees aren't permitted to return and Israel is the Jewish national homeland, so Israel gains very little by accepting the Framework, certainly, nothing tangible.

1967 lines plus swaps doesn't do justice to Israel's legal and historical rights flowing from the 1920 San Remo Conference and the Mandate.  Nor does it do justice to Israel's rights to secure borders as provided by UN Security Council Resolution 242. To accept such a guideline effectively wipes out such rights with nothing tangible in return.

In that resolution, the Security Council authorized Israel to remain in the territories until she had recognized and secure borders, not borders, otherwise unsecure, but made secure with gadgets and guarantees, as presently proposed by Kerry.  As many an advertising slogan says, "Accept no substitutes".

Prime Minister Netanyahu has continually stressed that he won't accept a deal that jeopardizes Israel's security, as though her security was the only thing at stake here.  He never said that he wouldn't accept a deal that denies Israel's legal and historical rights. He went so far as to prevent the validation of Israel's rights by refusing to accept the Levy Report which did so.  Recently, he altered his public stance by saying "Peace will come only when our security interests and, yes, also our settlement interests, will be ensured." 

That's an improvement but a half measure. What he is saying is that he is fighting to retain the settlements, though not all settlements by any measure, but not the land.  In other words just enough land to enable Israel to keep the settlement blocs. He is saying he wants to keep a minor percentage of the land because the settlements are on it and not a much greater percentage of the land because Israel has a legal and historical right to it. Implicitly, he is accepting 1967 lines plus swaps.

And what's with this "swap" business? Swaps were not mentioned in Resolution 242. The idea of swaps was first raised in conjunction with the Saudi Plan that President Bush insisted be included in the Roadmap in 2003. Prior to Kerry's peace push, he got the Saudis to agree to "minor swaps" as though this was a breakthrough or concession to Israel.  But it isn't. Demanding swaps, minor or otherwise, has no legal foundation. Implicitly, to accept such a device is to accept that Israel must return 100% of the land.  And this is contrary to the provisions of Resolution 242.

Not only is Netanyahu abandoning Israel's rights confirmed by the Levy Report, he is abandoning Israel's rights inherent in Resolution 242. The mere fact that he entered negotiations which the PA demanded be based on 1967 lines plus swaps with the support of the "honest broker", the US, without stressing that negotiations must be based on Resolution 242 says volumes.  He contended himself with entering negotiations "without pre-conditions" when he should have asserted that he is entering negotiations based on Res 242. 

But that's not all.  In 2010, the Netanyahu government convinced a Knesset subcommittee that a Government report dealing with the Temple Mount should be buried out of "national security" and "foreign policy" concerns.  This was a report that revealed, "the terrifying truth about the Israeli conspiracy to relinquish control of Jerusalem's Temple Mount to hands of the Muslim Waqf."

Thus Netanyahu was continuing the great mistake Moshe Dayan made in giving the keys to the Temple Mount to the Waqf almost immediately after capturing the same in the 1967 war.  In effect, Netanyahu abandoned the holiest shrine of the Jewish people for fear of upsetting the Muslims or the international community. By accepting the Kerry Framework, he will be doing it again, irrevocably.

There is now much scuttlebutt about demanding the release of Jonathan Pollard as part of the negotiations.  As if Israel should give up its rights in exchange for his release.  Nonsense.  Even Pollard rejects this idea. When President Clinton was demanding that Israel accept the terms of the Wye Agreement in 1996, he agreed with Netanyahu, who was prime minister at the time, on behalf of the US to the release of Pollard. Clinton then reneged on the agreement.

From the  Knesset record, February 28, 2001:

"...The former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, made an explicit commitment to the then-Prime Minister of Israel, Binyamin Netanyahu, to release Jonathan Pollard.

"This promise was made prior to the Wye Summit and [again] during the course of the negotiations at Wye... This was not a personal promise made to a particular prime minister... This was a promise made to the State of Israel and to the People of Israel..."

So said Dani Naveh, Minister without Portfolio.

What should have happened this time around is that Netanyahu should have demanded the release of Pollard before agreeing to negotiations. He should have demanded this because Clinton had agreed to it and because justice demands it.  Pollard's sentence was grossly disproportionate to any sentence ever imposed for a similar offense and as such was a miscarriage of justice and a "cruel and unusual punishment."

Netanyahu said last month in a video statement to the Saban Forum in Washington. Month, "The core of this conflict has never been borders and settlements -- it's about one thing: the persistent refusal to accept the Jewish state in any border," 

This should not be interpreted to say that borders and settlements are not important.  Of course they are. So even if the PA accepts Israel as a Jewish state, agreement must still be found on borders.

Jodi Rodoren in the NYT discussed this demand in great detail and called it a "sticking point in peace talks" and tried to make the point that who or what Israel is about is for Israel to decide and Israel doesn't need the Palestinian Authority to agree. That would be true normally but since the PA denies the Jewish narrative in order to make claims on what is now Israel, it is imperative that they now abandon such claims by recognizing Israel as a Jewish State. Put it another way, Israel is entitled to demand an end of conflict agreement which of necessity requires such recognition. So in this, Netanyahu is right.

Ted Belman


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The Jewish State and the Story the Palestinians Hold Dear

by Rick Richman

In her “Memo from Jerusalem” in the New York Times, Jodi Rudoren asserts that “in recent weeks,” Benjamin Netanyahu has “catapulted to the fore” an issue “even more intractable than old ones like security and settlements: a demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.” She reported it is now a “core issue” in the current negotiations and that “critics” say Netanyahu raised it as a poison pill:
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has repeatedly said that the Palestinians will never agree to it, most recently in a letter to President Obama last month. The Palestinians … contend that recognizing Israel as a Jewish state would disenfranchise its 1.6 million Arab citizens, undercut the right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees and, most important, require a psychological rewriting of the story they hold dear about their longtime presence in the land.
The issue, however, was not recently “catapulted to the fore” by Netanyahu; it is an issue that long pre-dates him; and it goes to the heart of whether the “peace process” is about peace. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, picking up the story with the internal 2007 Palestinian memorandum entitled “Strategy and Talking Points for Responding to the Precondition of Recognizing Israel as a ‘Jewish State’,” leaked in the “Palestine Papers.” The memo contained the following instruction for Palestinian negotiators:
We recommend that the Palestinian negotiators maintain their position not to recognize or otherwise characterize the state of Israel as “Jewish”. Any recognition of Israel within a treaty or agreement should be limited to recognizing it as a sovereign state. It should not recognize Israel as a “Jewish state”, “state for the Jewish people”, “homeland for the Jewish people” or any similar characterization.
The reasons in the memo did not include “the story [the Palestinians] hold dear about their longtime presence in the land.” Rather, the memo warned that “[r]ecognizing the Jewish state implies recognition of a Jewish people and recognition of its right to self-determination.” The Palestinians did not want to recognize a Jewish people, a Jewish state, a Jewish homeland, Jewish self-determination, or any Jewish demographic considerations.

Netanyahu assumed office on March 31, 2009 and began preparations for his May meeting with President Obama. On May 3, 2009, Netanyahu’s senior advisor, Ron Dermer (currently Israel’s U.S. ambassador), spoke at the AIPAC Policy Conference, setting forth Israel’s position (see the videos here and here). He identified the “core issue” preventing peace:   
The half of the Palestinian polity that is not openly dedicated to Israel’s destruction [as Hamas is] are unwilling to recognize Israel as the Jewish state. … For those of you think that this has anything to do with the refugee issue — you’re wrong. In 1947, there wasn’t a single refugee, and the Palestinian and the Arab world was not willing to recognize a nation state for the Jewish people. That is a core issue, the core issue …
In their May 18, 2009 press conference, Obama and Netanyahu both referenced Israel as a Jewish state. Obama affirmed “[i]t is in U.S. national security interests to assure that Israel’s security as an independent Jewish state is maintained.” Netanyahu said that for there really to be an “end to the conflict,” the Palestinians “will have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.” He explained why in his June 14, 2009 Bar-Ilan speech:
Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to peace with the Palestinians. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and thousands of missiles. … [T]o our regret, Palestinian moderates are not yet ready to say the simple words: Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and it will stay that way. … Therefore, a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
In his 2010 appearance before the Council on Foreign Relations, Netanyahu called on Abbas to give a Bir Zeit speech, to affirm the Palestinians would recognize a Jewish state if Israel recognized a Palestinian one: 
They have to openly say it, not for our sake but for the sake of actually persuading their people to make the great psychological change for peace. I’ve said it. I’ve stood before my people and before my constituency and I said what my vision of peace includes, and I did that not without some consequence … But this is what leaders have to do. They have to educate their people.
In 2011, Tal Becker, a lead Israeli negotiator in the year-long Annapolis Process in 2007-08, published “The Claim for Recognition of Israel as a Jewish State,” under the auspices of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, explaining that recognition of a Jewish state is the natural counterpart to recognition of a Palestinian one:
This is not a new demand. It is a reaction to the sense that what was once largely self-evident is now under threat. Israel’s leaders increasingly view the erosion of Israel’s legitimacy as a Jewish nation-state as a challenge not just to national identity, but to national security. … [T]he physical threat posed by Israel’s regional enemies has been compounded by an assault on its raison d’etre as a Jewish homeland … In this context, [demanding recognition of] the Jewish people’s right to self-determination has acquired significance within Israel … as a component of the national defense.
The premise of the “two-state solution” is “two states for two peoples” (another phrase no Palestinian leader will utter). But if the Palestinians won’t recognize a Jewish state, what they have in mind is not a solution but a two-stage plan, in which the Palestinians first gain a sovereign state and then prosecute their “right of return” to the other one–the one whose status as a Jewish state they never conceded. They seek not an end of the conflict, but a chess move in a bigger game.

A “psychological rewriting”–to use Rudoren’s quaint phrase–is precisely what peace requires, but it has nothing to do with “the story [the Palestinians] hold dear.” It has to do with their longstanding objective since 1947. They want a state, but not if it requires that they recognize a Jewish one. In today’s Jerusalem Post, Khaled Abu Toameh reports that Palestinian sources have told the Palestinian daily Al-Quds that the “most dangerous” part of Secretary of State Kerry’s proposed “framework” is Israel’s demand that the Palestinians recognize it as a Jewish state. One can see why: if the Palestinians accepted it, they would have to end the conflict.

Rick Richman


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Dangerous Times: The New York Times Goes the Full Pravda

by James Lewis

Every thoughtful person knows the NY Times peddles shameless whoppers every single day, just as Pravda did in Soviet Moscow -- "pravda" meaning "the truth" in Russian.   In the good old USSR you didn't read Pravda for the truth.   You read it for the daily Communist Party Line, which bore no relationship to the truth -- other than to cover it up.   Then you told your friends the latest headlines, and if they laughed at the same punch lines, you knew they got the jokes, too.

Reading Pravda became an art form that allowed readers to guess who was up and who was down in the endless power struggles of the Kremlin.   Today the only use for the NYT -- other than tomorrow's fish wrap -- is to see who's up in the Only Party that matters today: the Democrats and their media.

Last week the NYT celebrated Hillary and Mayor Bill "the Red" de Blasio, who actually admits he is a Communist, and still received the wholehearted support of the New York Times.   When Manhattan inevitably goes the way of Detroit, the NYT will rely on the universal idiocy of its readers to blame the Republicans.

(Some Democrat apparatchik today is actually blaming ObamaCare's failures on the Republicans.   Never underestimate the gullibility of liberals.)

In the last four years, it was the NYT that proclaimed the Arab Spring that never existed, after a Google Veep named Walid Ghoneim started tweeting those "spontaneous" mass demonstrations in Tahrir Square from his PC in a loft in Manhattan.   It was the New York Times that gave Obama his messianic public front, in spite of annoying facts that kept cropping up.

Recently the New York Times told the world that Ayatollah Rouhani, the mass killer of 299 U.S. Marines and French soldiers in Beirut in 1981, is a peace-loving spiritual leader who deserves his own nuclear bombs to defend Iran against Israeli aggression.   Then the Times big-whoppered its deluded readers that, contrary to all the evidence, al-Qaeda had nothing to do with the Benghazi terror attack three weeks before the U.S. elections -- even though Ambassador Stevens was smuggling tons of Libyan arms to al-Qaeda rebels in Syria.

The State Department now says it all comes down to the difference between "real" AQ and "lookalike" AQ.   Like Bill Clinton, it all depends on what the meaning of "is" is.

Now that Obama can't run again (legally), it's Hillary who stands to lose from the truth about Benghazi, which is that we were sending tens of thousands of anti-aircraft missiles to al-Qaeda in Syria.   Even our dumbest voters might wonder if that was really a good idea, and the NYT has now published two back-to-back denials that AQ had anything to do with the murder of U.S. personnel in the badlands of Libya.

Those old Pravda bolsheviki could teach the NYT a couple of lessons.   Such as: if you're trying to hide the facts, don't keep Benghazi alive with two denial stories in a row.   Some readers might actually wonder if the Gray Lady doth protest too much, as Shakespeare might have said.   When the Ford Edsel became a punch line for late-night comedy, Ford wisely stopped advertising that crummy car.   The NYT does the opposite -- reminding everybody about Obama's betrayal of our troops and diplomats at Benghazi.

This is PR suicide.   But who ever thought the NYT editors had any brains? They're just Party apparatchiks.

Conservatives tend to think that our opposition is clever, when they are merely ruthless string puppets.   Great power goes together with great stupidity.

Anybody who still falls for climate scare-lines after this freezing winter is either (a) terminally brainwashed or (b) stupid beyond repair.   It's often hard to tell the difference.

When "all the news that's fit to print" turns into Moscow Pravda, the only way to read it is like the Pravda of old.   Never think this is a newspaper.   Instead, learn to decode it, the way Sigmund Freud decoded the Wiener Tagblatt (the Vienna Daily) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire around 1900: everything is a lie, and any heated denials hint at hidden truths.   All you have to do is to turn NYT headlines into their opposites.

Benghazi is Hillary's weak spot.   This is where John Kerry is most likely to start an anti-Hillary whisper campaign.   The more Benghazi denials come out, the stronger the stop-Hillary campaign will grow in the power circles of the Democratic Party.   That's how Pravda did it, and that is how the Democrats do it today.

In the absence of real news, we have to treat our phony media the way Machiavelli dealt with court rumors in Florence.   Never believe a word.   Instead, just ask, "Cui bono?" -- "Who benefits?"   It's like Texas poker, where nobody ever shows his cards.

To get real news, there is now a wealth of sources on the web.   They are worth reading -- not because they necessarily get it straight, but because they compete with each other.   George Bernard Shaw once quipped that the British trial system puts two liars (lawyers) into court, and still expects the truth to emerge.   That is a valid criticism.   But it still helps to have a trial case argued from two plausible points of view.   Competition is just as useful for web news.   We may not get the full truth, but we'll get closer than any of the monopoly Party Media.

James Lewis


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The Strange Moral Calculus of John Kerry

by P. David Hornik

On Wednesday the Israeli daily Maariv reported (summarized in English here) that the Israeli defense establishment
totally reject[s] the American proposal for security arrangements in the Jordan Valley…. The American proposal presented to Israel was based on a limited Israeli presence at the border crossings along the Jordan River for a limited number of years, together with the massive use of technological means such as satellites and drones that would replace the army’s presence on the ground.
The position of the security services, as agreed upon recently by the Defense Minister, is that no replacement for the IDF will protect Israel’s security interests, and that even the most advanced technological means do not offer a serious alternative.
Thursday found Secretary of State John Kerry in Israel for the tenth time since taking office last February. His mission was described as “pushing for the sides to agree on guidelines for what the final deal would look like.”

Meanwhile it was reported again that the Palestinian side—including Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas and all his negotiators and officials—totally rejects any compromise, even a diluted, temporary Israeli military presence, in the Jordan Valley, calling it “Palestinian” even though it has never been under Palestinian rule and has been an Israeli territory since 1967.

Considering that other “core issues” like Jerusalem, “refugees,” and the borders of a putative Palestinian state are no less difficult, it is, as usual, perplexing to see Kerry continuing to invest American resources and prestige in pursuit of “guidelines” for a “final deal.”

But the show has to go on, and on Tuesday a third batch of twenty-six convicted Palestinian terrorist murders were freed; the release of four such groups was, after all, Abbas’s condition for entering the talks at all.

As Elliott Abrams noted in a perceptive blog post:
the prisoner releases are not CBMs [confidence-building measures]; they are CDMs, confidence-destroying measures. With some American pressure, Prime Minister Netanyahu has released a third tranche of long-serving security prisoners—murderers, to be exact.
The first thing this does is diminish confidence in the United States. After all, we never do this; we never release murderers or terrorists from our prisons for political reasons. That we expect Israel to do so teaches Israelis that we will ask Israel to take risks we would not take, and do not fully understand the security situation they face.
Abrams goes on to quote from a report in The Telegraph:
scenes of…Abbas…kissing and hugging each prisoner after their release provoked revulsion in Israel, with critics complaining that most of the inmates had been convicted of murdering Israelis. “Each one of us sees this and we ask ourselves, can we make peace with these people, who welcome murderers with flowers as if they were heroes,” Silvan Shalom, the Israeli regional development minister, told Israel Radio.
The released prisoners included—just a few out of the twenty-six:
Damouni Saad Mohammed Ahmed will be released to the Gaza Strip this week more than 20 years after he was convicted of taking part in the brutal lynching of IDF reservist Amnon Pomerantz, who took a wrong turn into a refugee camp in the coastal territory in 1990—he was beaten to death before his car was set alight by firebombs.
Yosef Mahmad Haza Haza was only 17 when he and a friend murdered hikers Leah Elmakayis and Yossi Eliyahu at a forest on the Gilboa mountain range in 1985….
Fatah member Abu-Dahila Hasan Atik Sharif will be released to the West Bank 21 years after his arrest for the murder of Avi Osher, who employed him for 15 years at his Jordan Valley farm before Sharif beat and stabbed him to death.
The list includes Amer Massoud Issa Rajib, one of those convicted in the murder of Ian Feinberg, who was hacked and shot to death in April 1993 in the Gaza Strip, where he had been working on economic revitalization plans for the area.
Netanyahu has followed these prisoner releases with announcements of Israeli building plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank (Judea and Samaria). Although these moves have been criticized for seeming to create an equivalency between freeing murderers and building homes, they have some psychological value for Israelis in allaying feelings of helplessness and humiliation.

This time, though, Netanyahu is delaying the announcement—until after Kerry’s visit. The aim is not to “embarrass” him—as Vice-President Joe Biden was grievously embarrassed during a March 2010 visit to Israel. What then provoked a major contretemps with the Obama administration was an announcement of plans to build in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

Kerry, though, evidently feels no embarrassment at President Abbas’s kissing and hugging murderers. True, they were released with Kerry’s full approval.

Abrams’s point about “confidence-destroying measures” can be taken further. The U.S. wants Israel to be pliant like Justice Minister Tzipi Livni. But trying to put the Jordan Valley up for grabs, even though a four-and-a-half-decade consensus of Israeli military leaders views it as indispensable to Israel’s security, is not the way to achieve that.

Nor is signaling that Israeli lives don’t count for much, and taking Israeli lives isn’t much of a crime.
Nor is treating parts of Jerusalem that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949-1967, or “West Bank settlements” that we’re told will remain part of Israel anyway, as Jew-free zones.

Though a nationalistic, distrustful Israel with a sense of beleaguerment may not be what John Kerry wants, it’s what he’s increasingly promoting. How much better it would be to treat Israel as an ally.

P. David Hornik


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French City with 40% Muslim Population is the Most Dangerous City in Europe

by Daniel Greenfield

The French city of Marseillaise has an estimated 30 to 40 percent Muslim population and has been ranked as the most dangerous city in Europe.
 The gritty Mediterranean port, France’s second-largest city, was appointed the “cultural capital of Europe,” a rotating European Union honor. City fathers launched beautification projects, created new tourism attractions and invited people from around the world to visit. A splendid stone esplanade was laid around the Old Port, peppered with novel sculpture, and a high-tech historical museum went up next to City Hall.
How did that work out?
The eruption has refocused attention on Marseille’s long-standing reputation as a European drug-smuggling hub, a place where entire neighborhoods have slipped away from police control and fallen under the command of gangsters who earn millions importing and selling North African hashish and settle turf disputes with AK-47 assault rifles.
“Marseille is sick with its violence,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls said.
Vowing to squash the drug trade and end the violence, Valls last week dispatched 250 paramilitary and other national police officers to reinforce the usual deployment of around 3,000. The night after they were deployed, with television cameras in tow, another body was found, burned to a crisp with a bullet in its charred skull, the execution method local traffickers call the “barbecue.” The next day, two Turkish immigrants were shot and wounded, and a pair of youths driving by on a motor scooter opened fire with a pistol on a third man, wounding him in the legs.
Marseille doesn’t have a violence problem. It has a Muslim immigrant problem.
In September 2011, at between 4 and 5 am, around 15 people “apparently in a state of drunkenness” broke into the barracks belonging to a military fire service, shouted at the firemen on duty there then began firing shots at them. 7 firemen were wounded, of whom 4 were taken to hospital. The party of “jeunes” had apparently come from a bus chartered by a group of Cape Verdians in Nice to travel to an “Africa night” in Marseilles.
A week later, a bus driver was attacked by passengers when he refused to allow two burka-clad women to travel on his bus. It is illegal in France to wear the burka in public. When one of the women tried to board the bus, displaying a bus pass bearing a photograph, the driver insisted that she unveil so he could verify her identity. She refused to do this and, after some discussion, decided to leave and wait for the next bus.
Angry passengers (“jeunes”) then took the side of the women and beat up the driver, accusing him of being a “racist”. They then invited the burka-wearing woman to re-enter the bus. But when the police arrived, they scattered. Police booked the woman for wearing a burka.
In reacting to the incident, the president of the Marseilles Transport Authority, which operated the bus, appeared to sympathise with the woman rather than, as might have been expected, his own driver. The driver’s reaction was “inappropriate”, he said. The explanation comes with this “president’s” name: Karim Zéribi.
Muslims have now set up unofficial checkpoints in various parts of Marseilles. Anyone entering “their” area has to stop and submit to inspection. Last week, the driver of a van belonging to a food bank, which distributes free food and drink to poor people, was stopped by a group of “jeunes” when trying to enter the Marseilles district of “Air-Bel”. The road had been barred with concrete blocks and bins filled with sand. They searched his vehicle “like policemen applying the law in their territory” in order to “check there weren’t any policemen inside”. When they saw he only had milk, they let him pass through.
This is what a real No Go Zone looks like. As I wrote last year, Marseilles is on track to becoming France’s first majority Muslim city.
Muslims had attacked the port city in the 9th century capturing it and enslaving its native inhabitants. That which Muslims once took, their theologians insist is theirs in perpetuity. The Muslim return to Marseille is seen as a reconquista, a return to the land that was once theirs.
Nearly half of all immigrants to France are Muslim. In Marseille 41.8 percent of those under 18 were of foreign descent.
La Marseillaise, France’s National Anthem, got its name when volunteer revolutionaries from Marseille sang the song. Now Marseille is at the center of a new revolution. The Islamic Revolution. Muslim volunteers from France have been identified training with the Taliban and after Mohammed Merah’s massacre at a Jewish school, a group of Jews in Marseille were attacked by Muslim men shouting, “Vive Mohamed Merah, F— the Jews, Palestine will win.”
This is what happens when the cultural capital of Europe meets Muslim immigration.

Daniel Greenfield


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With Kerry in Town, Netanyahu calls out Palestinian Incitement

by Shlomo Cesana, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem • Netanyahu: Israel is prepared to make a historic peace deal, but we must have a Palestinian partner who's equally prepared • Kerry: Tough decisions ahead.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Thursday
Photo credit: GPO
Shlomo Cesana, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff  

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Where is Turkey Going?

by Veli Sirin

The unraveling of relations between Erdoğan and Gülen has begun to overshadow the details of the corruption scandal that brought it about.

As the crisis of Turkey's government and the country's competing Islamists is deepening, the attitude of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party, known as AKP, is hardening – as are the positions of his opponents.

With new developments emerging daily, Erdoğan was confronted on January 1, 2014 with a petition by the former army general staff chief, Gen. İlker Başbuğ, that Başbuğ be released from a life sentence handed down against him on August 5, 2013, in the "Ergenekon" conspiracy trials, in which the Islamist government accused members of the secular military of supposedly trying to bring the government down. As described in the leading national media platform, the Hürriyet Daily News, Başbuğ was one of 275 suspects charged in the "Ergenekon" affair; other high military officials, journalists and academics were subjected to "aggravated life sentences," which replaced death sentences, in the "Ergenekon" proceedings.

As noted in the same Hürriyet article, Başbuğ based his demand for exoneration on Erdoğan's claim that "gangs within the state" and "members of the parallel state" had penetrated the judiciary, police, and other official structures. Erdoğan's chief advisor, Yalçin Akdoğan, implied that members of the judiciary had "framed" military officers in the "Ergenekon" case.

Senior AKP legislator Mustafa Elitaş, told Hürriyet Daily News that Turkey could change laws to allow a retrial of the military officers convicted of plotting to overthrow Erdoğan. According to that Hürriyet Daily News account, Elitaş said of the army defendants, "We will, if necessary, make new legal arrangements to stop people's unjust treatment."

At the same time, and as reflected in the same Hürriyet Daily News post of December 31, former army General Çetin Doğan, accused and convicted of a similar plot in the "Sledgehammer" trial of military leaders, which ended in 2012, is preparing a complaint against a 20-year prison term imposed on him.

Erdoğan's chief advisor, Akdoğan, then reversed course. In a press statement quoted by Today's Zaman, another major Turkish newspaper, Akdoğan declared, "It is wrong to the utmost degree to use my previous writings to say that I have called some trials 'false,' 'baseless,' 'empty' and 'fabricated.' Just as prosecutors need evidence to issue criminal charges, the defense, believing the evidence presented is false, needs to provide its own evidence to support its argument."

Ironies abound in the current Turkish turmoil. Erdoğan and AKP were widely reported to have mounted the "Sledgehammer" and "Ergenekon" proceedings in a long-term Islamist bid to cut down the influence of the secularist military. London Guardian correspondent Simon Tisdall, noted on September 25, 2012 that Turkish military commanders had carried out three coups, between 1960 and 1980 (including a full-fledged takeover in 1971), and had forced AKP out of power in 1997.

Tisdall continued, "Tensions between the AKP and the military, proud guardians of [Turkey]'s secularist legacy, were at times acute. It is not difficult to imagine the generals wanted rid of Erdoğan."

The AKP seems caught between its desire to defend the two anti-military trials and to rein in a process that has escaped its control, with the judiciary turning on Erdoğan's party leaders. A December 31, 2013 Reuters news agency wire ascribed to AKP deputy prime minister Ali Babacan a claim that subversion of the AKP administration was the motive for a "graft inquiry [that] became public on 17 December with a series of raids and detentions of senior businessmen close to Erdoğan, and of the sons of three ministers."

The same Reuters account pointed out that "Erdoğan has, without naming it, accused a movement led by the Turkish cleric Fethullah Gülen of creating a 'state within a state,' using influence in the police and judiciary in a campaign to discredit the government. The [Gülen-led] Hizmet (Service) movement controls a global network of schools and businesses. Tensions have grown between the two former allies over elements of foreign and domestic policy and moves to close Gülen's private schools in Turkey."

Fethullah Gülen was born in Turkey in 1941 near the city of Erzurum but since 1999 has lived in rural Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania, according to a profile of him by Alexander Christie-Miller posted by The Christian Science Monitor Gülen came to the U.S., Christie-Miller wrote, "after fleeing Turkey over charges of seeking to topple the country's secular government." London Financial Times writer Daniel Dombey, however, stated that Gülen had moved to America for "medical treatment."

Gülen was portrayed as "soft-spoken," "modest," and tolerant of Turkey's non-Muslim religious minorities, including "Nestorian Christians, Protestants [and] Jews," in an article about him by Brian Knowlton of The New York Times. The newspaper Today's Zaman, quoted above, is owned by the Gülen movement.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (L), and Fethullah Gülen. (Image source: World Economic Forum [Erdoğan] -- Diyar se/WikiMedia Commons [Gülen])

Erdoğan, for his part, has become known for conspiratorial claims. When the corruption scandal struck the AKP government in December, the prime minister was cited by Emre Peker in The Wall Street Journal.

Erdoğan claimed, according to Peker, that the investigation of financial crimes in his administration was "the work of foreign powers uncomfortable with Turkey's rising economic and political clout. 'If we don't respond to these operations in the harshest, most decisive manner today, rest assured that these conspiracies will continue to engineer our national will in the future,' he said."

Prime Minister Erdoğan further used an idiom flavored with aggression. Hürriyet Daily News reported that Erdoğan said in a speech in Ordu, a northern Turkish city, "Those who want to establish a parallel structure alongside the state, those who have infiltrated into the state institutions ... we will come into your lairs and we will lay out these organizations within the state."

Gülen, in reaction to the implication by Erdoğan and his supporters that Gülen, and his followers in the judiciary and police had turned against the AKP, burst out with rhetoric that belied his long-cultivated image of unruffled tranquility. Gülen issued a video sermon, rebroadcast widely on Turkish television channels, in which he denounced "Those who don't see the thief but go after those who chase the thief ... May Allah bring fire to their homes."

Erdoğan replied in a subdued manner, on December 22, before leaving on a trip to Pakistan: "We pray for Muslims to reach the right way, not for their damnation. Cursing is such a trick among Muslims it will return to one who did this like a boomerang."

The unraveling of relations between Erdoğan and Gülen has begun to overshadow the details of the corruption scandal that brought it about. On December 17, fifty individuals were arrested in Istanbul and Ankara. The focal point of the investigation was a deal between Turkey and Iran for Turkey to provide gold in payment for Iranian oil, circumventing international financial sanctions against Tehran.

Charges in the case included money laundering, bribery and fraud. The accused include the sons of three members of Erdoğan's cabinet, who resigned on December 25: Interior Minister Muammer Güler, Economy Minister Zafer Çağlayan, and Environment Minister Erdoğan Bayraktar. Hürriyet Daily News reported that Bayraktar complained of pressure to quit, and gave up his AKP parliamentary seat as well as his ministry. Bayraktar concluded, "For the sake of the well-being of this nation and country, I believe the prime minister should resign."

Others under arrest include Süleyman Aslan, chief executive officer of Halkbank, a state institution, and an Iranian-Azerbaijani businessman, Reza Zarrab, according to Isobel Finkel of Bloomberg News.

Hürriyet Daily News said police "reportedly have found $4.5 million in cash stored in shoe boxes in Aslan's home." The cash-laden shoeboxes were shown repeatedly on Turkish television.

The Bloomberg News article of December 23 asserted "the next target of investigation [could involve] construction contracts with an NGO [non-governmental organization] that allegedly has connections to Erdoğan's son Bilal." The Bloomberg reportage also noted that the "government purged at least 60 police chiefs," aggravating the conflict with Gülen, whom the Bloomberg reporter stated "has a wide following in the police and judiciary."

A December 26 Deutsche Welle report announced the latest turning point in the case, when "The attorney responsible for corruption investigations in Istanbul, Muammer Akkaş, was removed from the case after allegations of leaking information to the media."

Erdoğan "appeared to threaten Akkaş," according to Daniel Dombey of the Financial Times. Dombey wrote, "'What kind of prosecutor is this?' Mr Erdoğan asked his audience. 'The chief prosecutor takes the file from him and this gentleman gets up and screams. Just wait – we have business to settle with you.' "

Hürriyet Daily News described Erdoğan as continuing "vitriolic attacks" in a speech he delivered in Akhisar, a neighborhood in the western Turkish town of Manisa that day.

The anti-Erdoğan portion of the Turkish public has contributed in its own distinctive manner to the crisis of Islamist power. When Erdoğan appeared in Manisa on December 29, Nurhan Gül, a female pensioner, waved a shoe-box, symbolizing the corruption at Halkbank, from her balcony to express her discontent with Erdoğan during his speech. She was detained by the Prime Minister's security guards, taken to a police station, and questioned for four hours, then released. But Erdoğan was apparently irritated to learn that Nurhan Gül had become a national hero immediately, and that Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the secular opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), had called her with congratulations.

Hürriyet Daily News columnist Serkan Demirtaş, noted the arrest of the shoebox-waving pensioner and concluded, "This is [the] time for President Abdullah Gül, who is only watching developments so far, as the head of the nation, to step in and assign the State Audit Board (DDK) to study whether claims of a parallel state or gangs within the state are accurate. The problem is about the functions of the state and it is Gül's constitutional duty to deal with this growing crisis."

Veli Sirin


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

Kerry and the Sharon Legacy

by Ruthie Blum

When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry landed in Tel Aviv on Thursday for the 10th time in a five-month period, he was met with the news of a severe deterioration in the medical condition of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Though Sharon has been comatose for the past eight years, his kidneys began to fail two days ago. According to his doctors, this means that his other organs are soon to follow suit. It appears that Sharon, the man whose physical, military and political strength have been legendary throughout his lifetime, is now finally on his deathbed.

At a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu upon his arrival, and prior to a private meeting later in the evening at which Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni were also present, Kerry conveyed his sympathy to the Sharon family and the people of Israel.

"We remember his [Sharon's] contributions, sacrifices he made to ensure the survival and the well-being of Israel," Kerry said, before launching into a mini-speech about the "framework" agreement he had brought with him.

Kerry's message could not have been more sadly ironic, given the circumstances of his desperate shuttle diplomacy, aimed at getting Israel to make extensive territorial and security concessions on behalf of Palestinian statehood. It was Sharon, after all, whose understanding that it would be a cold day in hell before any genuine agreement could be reached with the Palestinians caused him to undertake a unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and northern Samaria. This disastrous move involved the evacuation of every last Jew from those areas. It was the response of the war-weary ex-general (with a late-in-life desire to be praised by the press after years of vilification) to the daily slaughter of Israeli civilians by Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other terrorists. 

This suicide-bombing rampage -- known by Arabs as the Aqsa Intifada and internationally as the Second Intifada -- was more aptly and accurately called the Oslo War. It was waged, after all, in response to the "peace process" of the same name.

The result of Sharon's "disengagement" was a Hamas landslide victory in Gaza and years of missile barrages into Israeli cities.

Sharon's incapacitation in 2006 ushered Ehud Olmert into the prime minister's seat. Olmert officially became prime minister shortly thereafter, through general elections. Like his predecessor, Olmert had a plan to withdraw from territory -- this time, from most of the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) -- which he called "realignment." Unlike Sharon, though, Olmert believed this could and should be accomplished through a peace deal.

Yeah, right. 

Under his premiership, Israel was forced to go to war against Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006 (after rockets rained down on Israeli cities in the north), and against Hamas in Gaza in 2008. 

In between the two unsuccessful and unfinished military operations, Olmert participated in the Annapolis Conference -- yet another U.S.-brokered attempt at bringing Israel and the Palestinians together to engage in a peace process.

Olmert was happy to sign the "roadmap to a two-state solution" drawn up at the conference; he began to court Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to offer him huge concessions, including most of the West Bank and east Jerusalem. But Abbas gave him the cold shoulder. 

It was not for nothing that a piece of graffiti spray-painted on a wall in Jerusalem read: "Wake up, Arik [Sharon], Olmert's in a coma!"

In 2009, Netanyahu became prime minister when Barack Obama entered the Oval Office. Two days after his inauguration, Obama appointed George Mitchell as U.S. special envoy for Middle East peace. Mitchell had served in a similar capacity in Northern Ireland from 1995 to 2001, under President Bill Clinton; he is credited as the chief architect of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.

Mitchell was delighted to be entrusted by Obama with Middle East peace. "...[T]here is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended," he announced. "Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings. They can be ended by human beings."

A couple of weeks later, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton attended the Herzliya Conference on "The Balance of Israel's National Security and Resilience." During an interview I conducted with him at the time for The Jerusalem Post, Bolton practically guffawed at Mitchell's statement.

"The Good Friday Agreement did not solve the Northern Ireland conflict...," Bolton said. "It was solved by the British army thrashing the IRA... [and] what was negotiated ... were the terms of surrender. That hasn't happened in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank."


Two years later, with nothing to show for his efforts but increased incitement to terrorism in the PA, Mitchell resigned.

Now it is Kerry who is determined to get Israel and the PA to negotiate peace. It is his turn to realize that this is not possible with Abbas unwilling to compromise on anything. But the secretary of state would die before saying so. Instead, seeing that the April deadline that he had set for a deal is fast approaching, he has come up with a "framework that will provide the agreed guidelines for permanent status negotiations. This will take time ... but ... would be a significant breakthrough. ... It would create the fixed, defined parameters by which the parties would then know where they are going and what the end result can be. It would address all of the core issues that we have been addressing since day one, including borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, mutual recognition, and the end of conflict and of all claims." 

In other words, the deadline for a nonexistent peace process even to begin has been extended indefinitely. You know, until the next war. One would have to be comatose -- or a member of the Obama administration -- not to wake up and brace for it.

Ruthie Blum is that author of "To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the 'Arab Spring.'"


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Benghazi - The Signs of Al Qaeda

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