Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Oslo blood libel is over - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Hat tip: Dr. Jean-charles Bensoussan

When you read the Trump plan closely, you realize it is a mirror image of Oslo. Rather than Israel being required to prove its good will, the Palestinians are required to prove their commitment to peace.


From 1994 through 1996, as a captain in the IDF, I served as a member of Israel’s negotiating team with the PLO. Those years were the heyday of the so-called peace process. As the coordinator of negotiations on civil affairs for the Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, I participated in all of the negotiating sessions with the Palestinians that led to a half a dozen or so of agreements, including the Interim or Oslo B agreement from September 28, 1995, which transferred civil and military authorities in Judea and Samaria to the PLO.

Throughout the period of my work, I never found any reason to believe the peace process I was a part of would lead to peace. The same Palestinian leaders who joked with us in fancy meeting rooms in Cairo and Taba breached every commitment they made to Israel the minute the sessions ended.

Beginning with the PLO’s failure to amend its covenant that called for Israel’s destruction in nearly every paragraph; through their refusal to abide by the limits they had accepted on the number of weapons and security forces they were permitted to field in the areas under their security control; their continuous breaches of zoning and building laws and regulations; to their constant Nazi-like anti-Semitic propaganda and incitement and solicitation of terrorism against Israel – it was self-evident they were negotiating in bad faith. They didn’t want peace with Israel. They were using the peace process to literally take Israel apart piece by piece.

Israel’s leaders shrugged it off. Instead of protesting and cutting off contact until Yasser Arafat and his henchmen ended their perfidious behavior, Israel’s leaders ignored what was happening before their faces. And in a way, they had no option of doing anything else.

Time after time, Israel was required to release terrorists from prison as a precondition for negotiations with the PLO. The goal of those negotiations in turn was to force Israel to release more terrorists from prison, and give more land, more money, more international legitimacy and still more terrorists to the PLO.

On Tuesday, this state of affairs ended.

On Sunday morning, just before he flew to Washington, US Ambassador David Friedman briefed me on the details of President Donald Trump’s peace plan at his home in Herzliya.

Friedman told me that Trump was going to announce that the United States will support an Israeli decision to apply its laws to the Jordan Valley and the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.

 I asked what the boundaries of the settlements would be.

He said that they have a map, it isn’t precise, so it can be flexibly interpreted but it was developed in consultation with Israeli government experts.

Suspicious, I went granular. Khan al-Ahmar is an illegal, strategically located Beduin encampment built on the access road to Kfar Adumim, a community north of Jerusalem. Israel’s Supreme Court ordered its removal, but bowing to pressure from Germany and allegedly, the International Criminal Court, the government has failed to execute the court order.

I asked if Khan al-Ahmar is part of Kfar Adumim on the American map. Friedman answered in the affirmative.

What about the area called E1, which connects the city of Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem?

Yes, it’s inside the map, he said.

How about the illegal building right outside the northern entrance to my community, Efrat, south of Jerusalem in Gush Etzion. The massive illegal building there threatens to turn Efrat’s highway access road into a gauntlet. Is that area going to be under Israeli jurisdiction?

He nodded.

How about the isolated communities – Yitzhar, Itamar, Har Bracha? Are they Israel?

Yes, yes, yes, he said. Our map foresees Israel applying its sovereignty to about half of Area C, he explained.

What about the other half? Without control of the surrounding areas, the communities in Judea and Samaria will be under constant threat. Their development will be stifled by limitations on the development of critical infrastructure.

For now, Friedman replied, everything in the rest of Area C will be governed as it has been up until now. Israel will have overriding civilian powers and sole security authority. In fact, in our plan, he explained, Israel will have permanent overriding security authority over all of Judea and Samaria, even after a peace agreement is concluded.

Friedman then turned to the nature of the agreement the Trump administration seeks to conclude.

The Palestinians have four years, he explained, to agree to the President’s plan. To reach a deal they have to agree to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. They have to accept Israeli control over the airspace and the electromagnetic spectrum. They have agree to a demilitarized state and accept that there will be no Palestinian immigration to Israel from abroad. They have to agree to Israeli sovereignty over the border with Jordan. They have to disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza and demilitarize Gaza.

If they do that, we will recognize them as a state and they will receive the rest of Area C.

What if they don’t agree to those terms? I asked.

If they don’t agree, he replied, then at the end of four years, Israel will no longer be bound by the terms of the deal and will be free to apply its law to all areas it requires.

You’re telling me that in four years we’ll be able to apply Israeli law on the rest of the territory? I asked, almost afraid to hear the answer.

Yes, that’s right.

My heart started thumping like a rabbit tail.

You mean the Palestinians lose if they don’t agree to peace? Does President Trump support this? I asked in stunned disbelief.

Yes, of course, he supports this. It’s his plan, after all, Friedman said, smiling and a bit surprised at my reaction.


Unannounced, tears began flowing out of my eyes.

Are those tears of happiness or sadness, Friedman asked, concerned.

For several moments, I couldn’t speak. Finally, I said, I feel like I need to take off my shoes. I’m witnessing a miracle.

Shortly thereafter, after thanking him and wishing him well, (and washing my face), I left his home, got in my car and drove to the Kotel.

As I listened to his briefing, there in his study, I didn’t feel like I was alone. There with me were fifty generations of Jews in every corner of the globe mouthing the Psalmist’s verses, “And the nations of the world will say, God has greatly blessed them; God has greatly blessed us, we were like dreamers.”

And closely, more immediately, as I sat there listening, I felt 27 years of worry and frustration washing away. The 27-year Oslo nightmare was over. The blood libel that blamed Israel for the Palestinians’ war against it was rejected by the greatest nation in the world, finally.

When you read the Trump plan closely, you realize it is a mirror image of Oslo. Rather than Israel being required to prove its good will, the Palestinians are required to prove their commitment to peace.

Consider the issue of releasing Palestinian terrorists.

Like the Oslo deal and its derivatives, the Trump deal includes a section on releasing terrorists. But whereas under Oslo rules, Israel was supposed to release terrorists as a confidence building measure to facilitate the opening of negotiations, under the Trump deal the order is reversed.

 Israel is expected to release terrorists only after the Palestinians have returned all of the Israeli prisoners and MIAs and only after a peace deal has been signed.

Whereas Israel was required under Oslo to release murderers, the Trump deal states explicitly that Israel will not release murderers or accessories to murder.

One of the PLO’s more appalling demands was that Israel release Arab Israel citizens convicted of terrorism charges. The subversive demand implied PLO jurisdiction over Arab Israelis. Israel strenuously objected, but all previous US administrations supported the PLO demand.

The Trump deal states explicitly that Israeli citizens will not be released in any future release of terrorists.

There are many problematic aspects to the Trump plan. For instance, it calls for Israel to transfer sovereign territory along the Gaza border to Palestinian control in the framework of the peace deal.

More immediately, the deal requires Israel to suspend building activities in the parts of Area C earmarked for the Palestinians in a future deal for the next four years. This requirement will pose a major burden to the Israeli communities adjacent to these areas. To develop, these communities require surrounding infrastructure – roads, sewage, and other systems – to develop with them.

On the other hand, the Trump plan places no restriction on construction inside of the Israeli communities. Residents of Shilo and Ariel will have the same property rights as residents of Tel Aviv and Beit Shean.

This then brings us to Israel and the leaders who accepted the Oslo rules for the past 27 years. The Trump plan is a test for Israel. Have we become addicted to the blood libel?

Will Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keep his word and present a decision to apply Israeli law over the Jordan Valley and the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria at the next government meeting or will he lose his nerve and hide behind “technical” issues?

Will Benny Gantz and his Blue and White party agree to abandon the Oslo blood libel most of its members embrace, and accept that Israel is capable of asserting its sovereign rights to these areas? Or will they hide behind the legal fraternity braying for Netanyahu’s head and preserve the anti-Semitic Oslo paradigm for their friends in the Democratic Party?

And will the legal fraternity, led by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit act in accordance with the law, which empowers the government to determine national policies even before elections? Or will it continue to make up laws to block government action and so render the March 2 poll a referendum between democracy and Zionism and the legal fraternity and post-Zionism?

Under Oslo, Israel had no interest in taking the initiative. Every “step forward” was a set-up. Tuesday Trump ended the 27-year nightmare. Oslo is the past. Sovereignty is now. We were like dreamers.

The time has now come to give thanks for the miracle and get on with building our land.

Originally published in Israel Hayom. 

Caroline Glick


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Trump Middle East Plan: Last Chance for the Palestinians? - Alain Destexhe

by Alain Destexhe

Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority may remain self-righteous and draped in their claims, but it would unmask their real role as corrupt and autocratic leaders, intent on keeping their people as destitute and unempowered as possible

  • Israel and the future Palestinian state could sign bilateral agreements and cooperate for their mutual benefit in many areas where Israeli expertise is recognized: agriculture, water, scientific research, technology, medicine. Why should the Palestinians be the only people not benefiting from it? The Trump deal could provide a dazzling future for those Palestinians who prioritize their economic situation over ideology.
  • It is also highly unlikely that any potential Democrat administration would come up with a more Palestinian-friendly plan that could also be accepted by Israel. And... there is little chance that the Palestinian cause will return to the center of the international agenda and find new allies, except on European and American university campuses.
  • Instead of openly supporting the Trump Plan, the European Union has already reacted in its usual way: by saying nothing substantial -- which is tantamount to preferring the current impasse and encouraging the Palestinians in their rejection of the Trump Plan and Israel. Cynicism will continue to prevail in European diplomatic circles.
  • Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority may remain self-righteous and draped in their claims, but it would unmask their real role as corrupt and autocratic leaders, intent on keeping their people as destitute and unempowered as possible.

Pictured: US President Donald Trump announces his Middle East peace plan in the White House in Washington, DC on January 28, 2020. (Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

President Donald Trump just unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan, "Peace to Prosperity", a strategy offering the Palestinians a state, $50 billion in international investment, and a US embassy in the newly-created state. This is a major step forward that the Palestinian Authority would be smart to accept as a starting point for discussions with Israel.

President Trump made an appeal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas:
"President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries will be there. We will be there to help you in so many different ways... Your response to this historic opportunity will show the world to what extent you are ready to lead the Palestinian people to statehood... Today's agreement is a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state of their very own. After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they will ever have."
But it is Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump's son-in-law, who oversaw the plan, which probably best describes the Palestinian mood: "It's a big opportunity for the Palestinians... they have a perfect track record of blowing every opportunity they've had in their past." He urged Palestinian leaders to "stop posturing" and accept the plan.

Yet, most probably, the Palestinian leadership will prefer "posturing" and reject concrete steps forward in order to keep pursuing unrealistic demands such as the "right of return," which is at the heart of the failures of past plans. Everyone knows that the right of return for the descendants of Palestinians who left their homes in 1948 would mean the end of a Jewish state, which, of course, no Jewish party could ever accept.

Maintaining the fiction that the descendants of the 1948 exiles are refugees is at the heart of the Palestinian identity and struggle. No Palestinian leader wants to give it up even though they know that this argument is far from the reality on the ground.

Recognizing as "refugees" fourth-generation Palestinians living in crushing poverty in "refugee camps" that have since long become cities, while neither their parents nor often their grandparents have known the beaches of Jaffa or Haifa is pure nonsense. By supporting a specialized agency of the United Nations, UNRWA, which indirectly finances and legitimizes Hamas in Gaza, European countries and others have fostered the illusion of this right of return.

Let us reflect for a moment on the aberration of this situation. After all, no one is destined to remain a refugee indefinitely. Are the Jews who were expelled from a series of Arab countries after 1948 still refugees? What about the Germans from the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia, the Boat People of Vietnam, or the Bosnians during the Yugoslav Wars? Will Syrians and Afghans recently arrived in Europe still be regarded as "refugees" in 50 years? It will be argued that the Palestinians have no other state of which they can easily become citizens. Certainly, but are the UN, European, and Arab countries doing them a service by maintaining them in this illusion that has lasted for the last 70 years? And would we still be calling them "Palestinian refugees" without international recognition of this status, often, seemingly, to punish Israel for successfully bringing its land into the 21st century?

The 1993 Oslo Accord led to a boom in the Palestinian economy. Ramallah and Gaza have nothing to do with the cities this author had known when they were under Israeli rule. Still, their potential for economic development is greatly untapped, and the majority of Palestinians are still poor. Perhaps their leaders like it that way, the better to have absolute control over them? Gaza could become a Singapore on the Mediterranean.

After coming to power through elections in 2006, Hamas has systematically chosen war over economic prosperity. When he decided to withdraw from Gaza, the "hawk" Ariel Sharon had promised more security for the Israelis. The opposite happened. More than a million Israelis are regularly forced to hide in bomb shelters to avoid the deluge of fire that Hamas launches from Gaza. Hamas also murdered dozens of Fatah members when it ousted Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas from Gaza and took control. President Abbas has not been able to set foot in Gaza to see his house there for the past 12 years.

The Palestinians already enjoy broad autonomy. The Israeli economy is prosperous and could employ hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. If they renounce terrorism, the number of those authorized to work in Israel could increase significantly. The Palestinian leaders, if they actually cared about the welfare of people, should focus on development and prosperity rather than on fostering a perverse and morbid culture of "martyrs".

Israel and a future Palestinian state could sign bilateral agreements and cooperate for their mutual benefit in many areas where Israeli expertise is recognized: agriculture, water, scientific research, technology, medicine. Why should the Palestinians be the only people not benefiting from it? The Trump deal could provide a dazzling future for those Palestinians who prioritize their economic situation over ideology. President Trump is offering money and investments, and it will be in Israel's interest to open its doors to broader economic cooperation.

Last but not least, it is also highly unlikely that any potential Democrat administration would come up with a more Palestinian-friendly plan that could also be accepted by Israel. And in the current global situation, there is little chance that the Palestinian cause will return to the center of the international agenda and find new allies, except on European and American university campuses.
Instead of openly supporting the Trump Plan, the European Union has already reacted in its usual way: by saying nothing substantial -- which is tantamount to preferring the current impasse and encouraging the Palestinians in their rejection of the Trump Plan and Israel. Cynicism will continue to prevail in European diplomatic circles.

Let us be realistic. There is no other plan on the table, and there will probably be no new -- better -- plan in the coming years. Israel can never give in on the security of its territory or agree on the "right" of Palestinians to "return."

If the Palestinian leaders are sensible, and if they care at all about about a peaceful, prosperous future for their people, as well as for the future leaders of a Palestinian state, they will join the negotiation table to deal with Israel on the basis of President Trump's plan. Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority may remain self-righteous and draped in their claims, but it would unmask their real role as corrupt and autocratic leaders, intent on keeping their people as destitute and unempowered as possible.

Alain Destexhe, a columnist and political analyst, is an honorary Senator in Belgium and former Secretary General of Médecins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders.


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Abbas: Palestinians will cut all ties with Israel, US - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

“We have informed the Israelis and Americans of this decision through two letters,” Abbas said in a speech at an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses Arab journalists in Ramallah on July 3 (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses Arab journalists in Ramallah on July 3

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Saturday that he has decided to severe all relations with Israel and the US in protest against President Donald Trump’s recently unveiled plan for Mideast peace.

“We have informed the Israelis and Americans of this decision through two letters,” Abbas said in a speech at an emergency meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo.
The first letter, he said, was delivered to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while the second one was handed to the director of the Central Intelligence Agency.“We informed them that Israel has abrogated the agreements signed with the Palestinians and violated the international legitimacy on which these agreements are based,” Abbas said.“Therefore, we notified them that there will be no relations with Israel and the US. That includes security relations, in light of their disregard of the signed agreements and international legitimacy. The Israelis need to assume responsibility as an occupying power. We have the right to pursue our national struggle with peaceful means to end the occupation. We’re not going to carry rifles.”The Prime Minister’s Office had no comment on Abbas’s decision. Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz tweeted: “Abbas has once again not missed an opportunity to be a rejectionist. The time has come to start working on behalf of the future generations and peace, instead of getting stuck in the past and preventing a future of hope for the entire region.”

Although the PA had halted political contacts with Israel and the Trump administration, it has retained security coordination with the IDF and the CIA.

Abbas has been facing pressure from Palestinians, including his ruling Fatah faction, to halt security coordination with the IDF and renounce all agreements with Israel.

Before delivering his speech, Abbas met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi and discussed with him the repercussions of Trump’s plan.

Abbas confirmed that he refused to accept phone calls and letters from Trump before the announcement of the plan.

“It’s as if I came from the Moon,” Abbas said. “If you want to make a deal, I should be your first partner. He wanted to send me the plan to read it. I refused to accept it. I refused to take Trump’s phone calls. I also refused to accept any letters from him.”

Reiterating his strong rejection of Trump’s plan, Abbas warned that it would have “ramifications” on the region because it “contradicts international agreements.”

He said he was planning to participate in meetings of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and African states to seek their support for Palestinian rejection of Trump’s plan.

Abbas said he was convinced that Trump doesn’t know anything about the plan which, he claimed, was prepared by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the “boy,” Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and former US presidential adviser Jason Greenblatt.

“These three gave Trump everything,” Abbas said. “They gave Trump Netanyahu’s ideas. The US is no longer our friend. We want a multi-party mechanism for implementing international legitimacy on the basis of international resolutions [and] the Arab Peace Initiative. There will be no room at the table for Trump’s deal.”

Abbas said he was opposed to the plan’s determination that Jerusalem will be the undivided capital of Israel.“I won’t accept the annexation of Jerusalem to Israel,” he said. “I won’t record in my history that I sold Jerusalem. Jerusalem does not belong to me alone. Jerusalem belongs to all of us. It’s our capital.”

He also scoffed at the four-year period during which the Palestinians would be required to prove their “good intentions” – as envisaged by the Trump plan.

“They want to give us a gift after four years,” Abbas said. But this gift will be given to us after four years. Israel, on the other hand, will start implementing it immediately by annexing the settlements. During the four years, we are expected to prove our good intentions.”

Abbas also repeated his rejection of the demand to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

“They want me to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” he remarked. “They made this demand seven or eight years ago. When a state wants to change its name, it should go to the United Nations. It’s none of my business. I know that it’s not a Jewish state. I also know there are 1.9 million Arabs and another 1.5 million Russians who are Christians and Muslims. Only a small number of the Ethiopians are Jews.” 

Netanyahu tweeted in response, “It seems that Abbas has not yet heard of the tribes of Israel. Immigrants from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union are our brothers and sisters. They are the flesh of our flesh, Jews from birth who were in exile and who dreamed generations of returning to Zion and who have fulfilled their dreams.”

Gantz tweeted that Abbas’s “ignorance and contempt for our brothers, the immigrants from the former Soviet Union and the Ethiopians who are an integral of the Jewish people, is shameful. This is not how you build peace.”

The Trump plan, Abbas said, requires the Palestinians to accept Israel’s annexation of parts of the West Bank. “There will be no sovereignty on the Palestinian lands,” he said. “They want to give us a state without sovereignty and with no borders with Jordan. How will we travel to Jordan? They want to give us a Swiss cheese.”

Abbas expressed satisfaction with the response of the international community to Trump’s plan. He pointed out that even Congress had rejected the plan as the “sham of the century.”

“The world won’t accept injustice,” he added. “We are 13 million people. We have tried to spread the culture of peace. In the West Bank, we have peaceful demonstrations. As for the Gaza Strip, it has its own circumstances. According to a study, there isn’t one Palestinian in ISIS. In fact, there are only three Arabs from Israel. We are serious about fighting global terrorism. I’m not a nihilist. We don’t want [the Arabs] to stand against the US. We want them to support us.

”Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

Khaled Abu Toameh


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A Sin For Us Not To Support Trump’s Plan - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

A recognition of the history of the Jewish homeland.

In Israel’s early years, every time the U.S. ambassador traveled to Jerusalem to meet with government leaders, he would have his chauffeur stop his car at the entrance to the city, and replace its diplomatic license plates with regular civilian plates.

The State Department refused to recognize that Jerusalem was part of Israel. The license plates were for Israel. And so, in a show of contempt and rejection of Israel’s right to its capital city, he removed his diplomatic plates before entering Jerusalem, and put them back on when he left.

President Harry Truman was the first world leader to recognize the State of Israel, just moments after David Ben-Gurion declared its independence on May 14, 1948. But his recognition was skin deep. Truman, like all of his successors until Donald Trump, recognized Israel’s existence but didn’t recognize the Jewishness of Israel.

He saw Israel as a refuge for Holocaust survivors and other Jews fleeing persecution, but he didn’t accept that the nation of Israel in 1948 was the nation of Israel from the Bible. He didn’t accept that the Jewish refugees in European DP camps were the descendants of the prophets or that the forefathers of the kibbutzniks in the Jezreel Valley were the priests at the Temple in Jerusalem.

Israel, as far as he was concerned, was a new state, a poor state of Jewish refugees. And he treated it accordingly.
Truman’s anti-historical view of the Jewish state produced a two-faced American policy towards Israel. On the one hand, the American officials spoke warmly of the Jewish homeland. On the other hand, they treated Israel like a beggar that should be thankful for scraps and loose change.

This patronizing American approach changed after the 1967 Six-Day War. President Lyndon Johnson realized that a nation capable of triumphing over four enemy armies in six days and tripling its size is a nation worthy of respect and better treatment. Johnson upgraded Israel militarily and supported it diplomatically in the aftermath of the war.
But America’s ambivalence towards Zionism — the liberation movement of the ancient Jewish people —persevered. The U.S.’s adamant refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and Washington’s opposition to all Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza attested to this fact.

For America to recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s control and Israel’s sovereign rights to these areas, America’s leaders would need to recognize the simple fact that Israel is not a refuge for a persecuted, pitiable people, but the homeland of the eternal nation of Israel. And all U.S. presidents until Trump preferred to deny this truth. As a matter of U.S. policy, they transferred the Jewish nation’s historical rights to the Palestinians, who have no national history.

Trump changes history

But then, three years ago, Trump entered the White House. On Tuesday, Trump said that Israel is a light to the nations, that the land of Israel is the promised land and the historic homeland of the Jewish people. He said that Jerusalem cannot be liberated because it’s already been liberated. He said that no one will be removed from their home for peace.

Among other things, he conditioned Palestinian statehood on full Palestinian recognition of the Jewish people’s rights to their historic homeland in the land of Israel.
Ahead of Trump’s announcement, Barack Obama’s ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro delivered a not particularly veiled threat to Israelis who might be tempted to accept Trump’s framework for peace. Shapiro stunned the diplomatic world when he refused to leave Israel at the end of his term and instead took a position at a left-leaning Israeli think tank. He has used his position to criticize President Trump’s Middle East policies.

In an interview with Army Radio on Sunday, Shapiro said, “I think Israeli citizens should take into account that in less than a year there could be a new, Democratic administration — if not in a year then in five years. Trump won’t be president forever. It is important to know that any Democratic candidate will oppose this plan and that no Democratic president will be bound by it.”

Shapiro continued, “If Trump is encouraging Israel to take unilateral steps such as annexing the Jordan Valley and the settlement blocs, that guarantees there will be a clash with a Democratic administration in less than a year. I don’t think this is a positive thing for the relations between the countries and I advise against immediate actions that future administrations will oppose.”

In other words, Shapiro said, if Israel supports Trump’s plan, which supports Israel in ways that no previous president ever did — least of all Shapiro’s boss Obama — the Democrats will punish Israel for doing so. If Israel wants good relations with a Democratic administration in the future, it will need to agree to not secure its interests, not now, and not ever.
It is not at all clear that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz understands the gravity of the moment. Shapiro essentially reinforced the point that Trump is providing Israel with a chance to secure its interests that it isn’t likely to receive again.

The fact that Gantz thought it was appropriate to attack Netanyahu from Washington on Monday indicated that he places his personal ambitions above the good of the country.
So too, it is far from clear that the leaders of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria understand the significance of Trump’s actions. On Tuesday, Trump recognized the truth at the foundation of Zionism and made that truth the foundation of America’s policy regarding the Palestinian conflict with Israel.

Trump is a true friend of the Jewish people. He didn’t offer us a perfect plan, but he offered us a plan that we can live with. That alone sets it apart from all the American plans that preceded it. It would be a sin for us not to support it.
Netanyahu pledged to apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria on Sunday. Every Jew in Israel and worldwide should expect that he and his ministers fulfill this pledge, and every Jew in Israel and worldwide should feel thankful to Trump for his friendship and for his courage to embrace the truth.

Caroline Glick


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The Problem with Bernie - Jonathan F. Keiler

by Jonathan F. Keiler

There is a strong possibility Bernie will end up the party’s nominee, a frightening prospect for the Democrat establishment and the country as a whole.

Supposedly in the new four-hour (yikes!) documentary Hillary the subject says of Bernie Sanders “Nobody likes him.” As with most of Hillary’s judgments, especially when it comes to gauging human desires, she is way off the mark. In fact, Sanders appears to be a reasonably likable guy, which accounts in part for his spike in the Democrat polls. There is a strong possibility he’ll end up the party’s nominee, a frightening prospect for the Democrat establishment and the country as a whole. 

Current polling suggests Sanders might win the Iowa primary. He’s polling just below Biden (23-21%) within the margin of error. Nationally, he holds a slight lead among Democrat primary voters (27-26%) also well within the margin of error. The same poll has Warren at 15%. 

This has reportedly alarmed top Democrats. Not only does Sanders present the type of truly radical socialist that wealthy Democratic elites really don’t want jiggling with the economy and their stock portfolios, they think a Sanders candidacy effectively will secure Trump’s reelection. Even worse, it might flip the House as well, mirroring the crushing defeat that befell Jeremy Corbin, the far-left British politician, who Sanders resembles in many respects. 

President Sanders would attempt to radically remake the United States into a socialist state further to the left, further indebted, and further internationalized than even Western Europe’s most liberal polities. It would be a historical disaster of epic and perhaps irrevocable proportions. 

Sanders ideas are so radical that his chances of beating Donald Trump in November appear marginal. It’s assumed he would not bring a heavy Democratic turnout, struggle with blacks, and alienate the critical independent voters who effectively will decide the election. 

Relatedly, Sanders offers no “identity advantage” to the Democrats, which might also drive excitement within the party and push turnout. He’s an old white guy from New York (like Trump), plus he’s ethnically Jewish, not a plus with Democrats today.

Wealthy donors, for all their talk of “equality” and pandering to the myriad of “oppressed identities” that form the Party’s base, virtue signal as they do because they are confident that their own core wealth and privilege will either rise or remain unaffected in a Democrat administration. That would not be true under President Sanders. And sitting representatives and senators worry that they’ll be dragged down in a Sanders debacle.

For these reasons, it’s plausible that Donald Trump would love to run against Sanders. In Iowa, Republican operatives are moving hard against Joe Biden, not Sanders, evidently in bid to knock him out of the race early, giving Sanders the edge and momentum, which would be bolstered with a Sanders win in New Hampshire, where recent polls say he’s opened a 15-point lead.

One of Sanders strengths, but also a problem for the Democrat establishment, is that like Trump, Sanders has a solid and dedicated base. That base is made up largely of younger and also less wealthy people, who feel alienated. This includes so-called Bernie Bros, who think Bernie will give them a lifetime of handouts, even if they decide not to work -- God bless’em. But it’s not just the bros. Sanders is the candidate of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the effective national leader of the young left, who is at risk of losing her own congressional seat due to her ignorance and dismissal of retail politics.

The problem for the establishment is that attacking Sanders or brokering a convention would almost certainly alienate this base. They might put down their video games and cellphones to vote for Bernie, but they ain’t gonna do it for Joe Biden (or Michael Bloomberg if it came to that.)

Even worse, this sense of alienation that affects many of Sanders supporters actually makes them more open to Trump than most other Democrats. Ten percent of Sanders supporters actually ended up voting for Trump in 2016, a reflection of the fact that personality rather than policy drives a lot of people, especially younger folks. Were that to happen again, especially given the growth in Sanders’ popularity, it could prove disastrous for Democrat hopes in 2020. 

So knocking Biden out of the race to open the way for Sanders seems like a reasonable strategy for Trump and Republicans. But it is also a high-risk venture.

On a personal level, Sanders matches up rather well with Trump. Like Trump, Sanders is his own man, relatively authentic for a politician. Trump benefitted substantially from the strong dislike many Americans have for Hillary Clinton, a phony if there ever was one. Sanders isn’t like Hillary, other than that they are both people of the left.

Philosophically, Sanders has been more consistent than Trump, who has migrated variously over the political and social map. Trump has solidly staked a claim as a tough conservative President in the past three years, particularly through his judicial picks, but Sanders can shake off attempts by Trump to paint him as a phony. 

The bottom line is that for all his myriad philosophical problems as a candidate, Sanders does well on a personal basis. He’s unlikely to be intimidated or shouted down, and while Sanders not as funny as Trump by a long mile, he’s less unfunny than most of his Democrat competitors. Trump will have to beat him by scaring the bejabbers out of people with the prospect of being led by Comrade Bernie. 

Trump can do that, and would likely beat Sanders, flip the House Republican to boot, and hand the Democrats an epic defeat. Clearly this is what the Democrat establishment fears, and Trump seems to be trying to engineer. For Trump and Republicans, going against Bernie is a good bet, but with incredibly high stakes.

Jonathan F. Keiler


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Rashida Tlaib, Blood Libels and the Democratic Party - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

Failure of Dem leadership to condemn a foul-mouthed, Jew-hating conspiracy theorist is a telling sign.

By the time Israeli first responders had pulled eight-year-old Qais Abu Ramila out of the rain-filled cistern in the Arab neighborhood of Beit Haninah this past Friday night, he was showing no signs of life. Israeli paramedics frantically tried to resuscitate the boy, but it was too late. Ramila had accidentally fallen into the cistern and drowned. Israeli efforts to locate Ramila and resuscitate him were nothing short of heroic. To the Israeli paramedics and other first responders who waded in the pond’s cold, murky waters, it mattered not that he was Arab or Jewish. A boy was missing, and his anguished parents needed resolution.

That should have been the end of this sad and tragic affair, but sadly, it was only the beginning. The boy’s family initially claimed that Ramila was kidnapped by “settlers,” an unsubstantiated claim that they quickly retracted. Nevertheless, rumors of a kidnapping whipped an Arab mob into a frenzy. The mob tried to enter an adjacent Jewish neighborhood but was blunted by Israeli security forces.

A faceless and nameless Palestinian troll account going by the name realSeifBitar, then took to Twitter and tweeted that Ramila was “kidnapped by a Herd of violent #Israeli settlers, assaulted and thrown in a water well…” That was a blatant lie and could be characterized as nothing short of a blood libel. The troll account further noted that Israeli security forces tried to impede with rescue efforts; another revolting lie.

It’s one thing for a nameless, faceless troll account to invoke a blood libel in furtherance of nefarious political aims. It’s an entirely different matter however, when those who propagate the blood libel are government officials.

Hanan Ashrawi, a prominent Palestinian official and no stranger to blood libels, retweeted the troll account’s mendacious comments adding, “The heart just shatters.” She later recanted, noting that the report was unverified. But before she did so, her tweet was picked up by democratic congressional lawmaker Rashida Tlaib of Michigan's 13th congressional district. Though she later deleted the offensive tweet, she refused to apologize even after Ashrawi retracted.

Blood libels are an affront to humanity and refer to a centuries-old mendacity that Jews murder non-Jews – Muslims and Christians – for ritualistic purposes. They were used to justify murder, robbery and harassment against minority and vulnerable Jewish populations.

The Hamas charter, which subscribes to the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion, is riddled with blood libels. The PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi heads a Western-funded non-governmental organization called Miftah, which has in the past, advanced blood libel hoaxes. In 2013, it published an article which alleged that “Jews used the blood of Christians in the Jewish Passover.” The article was published in Arabic and was intended for Arabic audiences, where such allegations are routinely regurgitated with banal regularity. In July 2014 Mahmoud Abbas’ official PA daily, Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, featured an op-ed which claimed that Jews use the “blood of [Palestinian] children” as a key ingredient in Matzah. Shortly thereafter, in a variation of that insidious theme, Palestinian Authority TV alleged that Israel was injecting poison into the Palestinian water supply.

We expect blood libels to emanate from such quarters; after all, the Muslim world is exposed to a steady diet of antisemitism from both official and unofficial mediums. From government radio to social media to the interior chambers of the mosque, Jews are vilified and dehumanized. More often than not, they are referred to as monkeys, apes and pigs.

In light of these sad facts, it did not come as a surprise when Ashrawi tweeted a vile blood libel. What is surprising and frankly shocking, is that it would be repeated by a member of the United States Congress. Tlaib’s fellow Democratic allies have remained mute in the face of her outrage. Their failure to explicitly condemn Tlaib serves only to embolden her and her fellow anti-Semitic allies like Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. The Washington Examiner’s Bethany Mandel notes, “The Rubicon has been crossed. One of the two major political parties in this country is openly accepting of anti-Semites in its midst.” That insightful comment should send a shudder through those thinking of pulling the lever for a Democratic or socialist candidate in 2020.

What’s more, aside from conservative media and Jewish news outlets, the so-called establishment media has been largely silent on the matter. Their disgraceful silence amounts to shameful condonation of Tlaib’s actions. The Federalist’s Erielle Davidson notes, “When the antisemitism emanates from the left, our media simply doesn’t care.” That is an unfortunate but accurate assessment.

There is however, one crucial difference between today’s blood libels disseminated by the likes of Tlaib and Ashrawi, and those of yesteryear propagated in Medieval Europe and the Muslim world. Today, there is a Jewish State with a powerful military capable of defending Jews. They’ve successfully done so countless times against marauding Arab neighbors. And the Arab mobs, which acting on rumors tried and failed to invade a Jewish neighborhood following Qais Abu Ramila’s disappearance, were given a firsthand lesson on this.

* * *
Photo from YouTube

Ari Lieberman


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Why Are Liberal Cities Such a Mess? - Steve Feinstein

by Steve Feinstein

Liberal policies have worked almost perfectly to degrade the quality of inner-city life for their residents to the point of abject unacceptability.

Many major U.S. cities run by liberal Democrats are in rough shape. They are afflicted by the problems of homelessness, violent crime, gangs, and unemployment to a far greater degree than the country as a whole. Consider the following:

Chicago's violence and gang-related drug problems are well-known. What’s less well-known is that the city hasn’t had a Republican mayor since 1927. The city’s finances -- like most Democratically-run major cities -- are in shambles. At the end of 2015, according to a 2017 report by the Fiscal Times, Chicago had assets of just $4.7 billion against liabilities of more than $14 billion, a funded ratio of barely 33%.

The homeless population in Los Angeles has risen from a staggering 33,000 in 2010 to over 55,000 in 2018. The city -- already dominated by a liberal super-majority of legislators -- has just recently pushed through massive local tax increases designed to address the homeless crisis.

San Francisco actually has maps so people can track where the worst incidences of human waste are on the sidewalks. The homeless population now approaches 7000 and there is no law prohibiting sleeping on the streets, sidewalks, or other public places. Discarded syringes are everywhere. San Francisco’s property crime rate is the highest in the nation and “smash and grab” thefts involving broken car windows are so commonplace that repair shops have waiting lists. The DA’s office no longer prosecutes “victimless” crimes like prostitution or drug possession, resulting in a massive influx of drug dealers into the city.

Frighteningly similar situations exist is nearly every other major Democrat-run city, all around the nation:
In New York City, Detroit, St. Louis, Baltimore, Hartford, CT, Newark, Philadelphia and on and on, the story follows the same pattern: Homelessness, high crime, underwater finances, soft policing, lax immigration control (often sanctuary cities), high taxes, and business-averse regulations. It’s a guaranteed formula for failure.

As Investors Business Daily put it:

When Democrats are in control, cities tend to go soft on crime, reward cronies with public funds, establish hostile business environments, heavily tax the most productive citizens and set up fat pensions for their union friends. Simply put, theirs is a Blue State blueprint for disaster.
The question, of course, is why? Why do they choose to govern like that? Can anything about the efficacy and propriety of liberal governing doctrine be extrapolated from these examples?

The answer is a resounding “yes.” To boil down the essential difference between conservative and liberal governing philosophy into the simplest terms, it would be this:
  • Conservatives believe in equal opportunity.
  • Liberals believe in equal outcome.
The conservative’s view of government’s role in society (after fulfilling its fundamental responsibilities of national defense, common-sense safety/liability regulations, environmental protections and providing a basic social safety net for those in a temporarily disadvantageous situation) is to set up the game pieces such that those choosing to participate have a reasonably equal chance of winning. Not perfectly equal, perhaps, but a reasonable shot at success. In the conservative paradigm, individual initiative, hard work and a bit of luck can eliminate almost all the barriers to educational, professional and financial achievement.

In contrast, liberal doctrine stipulates an equal outcome for all people. Their view of government is that its responsibility is to ensure that every individual has at least a minimally acceptable share of society’s spoils (that share being quite arbitrarily determined by liberal politicians, according to their whims and the political exigencies in effect at the time). Liberal governing practices of wealth redistribution, punitive taxation, excessive regulations designed to impede runaway capitalistic profits and “cover every contingency” individual benefit programs all combine to produce -- in many instances -- the unintended consequence of short-circuiting personal initiative and ambition. Instead, these excessive giveaway programs essentially “teach” some people how to game the system and get the government to pay for their existence in society. That’s not the original intent, but that’s how it ends up playing out in many cases.

Liberal cities are governed by the guiding tenets of softness, misplaced “compassion,” and individual unaccountability. Examples include:
  • Hands-off policing style (NYC has long since abandoned the highly successful stop-and-frisk practices of the Giuliani years that led to low street crime).
  • Sanctuary cities, which give rise to higher incidents of crime, poverty, unemployment, and the wasting of taxpayer-funded public resources because of the undocumented population’s draining effect on the community.
  • The inexplicable decision of cities like Boston to no longer prosecute crimes such as shoplifting and breaking and entering, leading to urban stores not being able to remain open and be profitable (thus denying the community of a valuable resource).
  • Widespread locally approved abuse of the SNAP/EBT program, allowing its acceptance for alcohol and other nonessential items.
  • Explicit sanctioning of sleeping on the street or other common public areas and unrestricted public loitering.
Liberal policies have worked almost perfectly to degrade the quality of inner-city life for their residents to the point of abject unacceptability. Instead of raising the standard of living for all the city’s inhabitants, excessive giveaways (too often offered without requiring adequate, verifiable proof-of-need) and lax or missing enforcement of local laws and edicts have the opposite effect -- such governmental practice only teaches people that they are forever unaccountable as regards the purported norms of society and that they will be given their daily sustenance for free, without putting forth any commensurate effort on their part. In short, overindulgence by local city governments denies the notion of ownership over their own lives to the lower strata of society. That notion of self-ownership over the control and ultimate destiny of one’s life is absolutely critical to a well-functioning society. Without that sense of personal responsibility, there is no civilized order.

There is an old cliché that speaks perfectly to the societal dangers inherent when the individual does not feel the responsibility of ownership: “No one ever washes a rented car.” Liberal cities are strewn with the abandoned, rusted hulks of rented cars, their rotting carcasses a blight on the landscape, indisputable testimony to failed Democratic policy.

Steve Feinstein


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The Muslim World's Inferiority Complex - Raymond Ibrahim

by Raymond Ibrahim

Did Harvard really just rank the Koran as "the best book on justice"? Here is the real story.

Muslims around the world are thrilled at the recent news: "Harvard University ranks the Koran as the best book on justice" is the January 20, 2020 headline of a report published by Youm7, a popular Egyptian news site visited by millions of Arabic-readers. It writes:
The official website of the World Muslim Communities Council said on social media that, after lengthy, scientific studies that closely examined the rules of justice contained in the Noble Koran, the American university of Harvard has ranked the Noble Koran as the best book on justice[.] ... In its final evaluation, Harvard University's Classification Committee cited verses from the Noble Koran which confirm that the Noble Koran is a book replete with the rules of human justice ... and that Islam has no room for injustice but rather includes tolerance and respect for the other.
Several other leading news websites and newspapers — including Al Ahram, Egypt's most widely circulated and state-owned newspaper, founded in 1875 — carried the story, followed by all sorts of triumphant celebrations on social media.

But is it true? Did Harvard make such a pronouncement? No. The real story is that, back in 2012, a group of law students painted a number of historical quotes dealing with justice on the walls of a Harvard building.

Known as the "Words of Justice," they consist of 33 quotes from a variety of thinkers and civilizations — including African, Chinese, European, and Hindu — from 600 B.C. to the present. Among some of the more recognizable names and documents quoted are Cicero; Augustine; Aquinas; the Magna Carta; Benjamin Franklin; Immanuel Kant; Gandhi; and Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Among these 33 quotes is one that is Islamic, derived from the Koran:
O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. (4:135)
That's it — the entire story. There were no "lengthy, scientific studies," nor "classification committees," that led Harvard to announce that the Koran is the "best book on justice." Rather, one Islamic quote was deemed worthy of inclusion with 32 other non-Islamic quotations.

What to make of this shameful episode? Why would Muslims fabricate such a story? More to the point, why would they even care what infidel Harvard thinks in the first place?

For those in the know, the answer is simple: Muslims are ever and always looking for outside validation. Why? Because a growing number of them have a nagging suspicion that their religion is not just. 

Indeed, they need look no farther than to the very same Koran chapter/sura (4, al-Nisa', "the Women") whence the much celebrated "justice" verse (4:135) was excerpted to encounter any number of decidedly unjust verses, including permission to sexually enslave — buy and sell — women (4:3), permission for husbands to beat their wives — since men are "superior" to women (4:34) — and so on.

Accordingly, what can be more reassuring than Western intellectual praise for Islam? 

Consider this Arabic op-ed on Islam's "inferiority complex" that I translated back in 2011. Although its author, Khaled Montaser, an Egyptian intellectual, focuses on all the hoopla that erupts whenever a Westerner converts to Islam — whether in reality or not — the essence of his arguments perfectly apply to and shed light on this recent Harvard fiasco:
We Muslims have an inferiority complex and are terribly sensitive to the world, feeling that our Islamic religion needs constant, practically daily, confirmation by way of Europeans and Americans converting to Islam. What rapturous joy takes us when a European or American announces their [conversion to] Islam — proof that we are in a constant state of fear, alarm, and chronic anticipation for Western validation or American confirmation that our religion is "okay." ... And we pound our drums and blow our horns [in triumph] and drag the convert to our backwardness, so that he may stand with us at the back of the world's line of laziness, [in the Muslim world] wherein no new scientific inventions have appeared in the last 500 years. Sometimes those who convert relocate to our countries — only to get on a small boat and escape on the high seas back to their own countries.
He goes on to discuss how the Arab world — in the guise of "our media and Internet sites ... our writers and intellectuals" — exulted when it mistakenly thought the German writer Henryk Broder had accepted Islam, based on sarcastic remarks he had made: "but we are a people incapable of comprehending sarcasm, since it requires a bit of thinking and intellectualizing. And we read with great speed and a hopeful eye, not an eye for truth or reality."

Montaser continues:
How come the Buddhists don't hold the festivities we do for those who convert to their religion? And some of these converts are much more famous than Broder. Did you know that Richard Gere, Steven Seagal, Harrison Ford — among Hollywood's most famous actors — converted to Buddhism? What did the Buddhist countries of Asia do regarding these celebrities? What did the Buddhists in China and Japan do? Did they dance and sing praise and march out in the streets, or did they accept these people's entrance into Buddhism as a mere matter of free conviction? ... It is sufficient for the Buddhists that these celebrities purchase their nations' electronic goods — without any beggary or enticements.
A closing thought: Muslim excitement over one small — and often fraudulent — compliment is only paralleled by the Western establishment's behavior: government, media, and academia are all in the habit of highlighting and fixating over one small (and often fraudulent) compliment to Islam — such as the "Andalusian Paradise" (a myth) — while suppressing Islam's numerous shortcomings.

And it's a reminder that, instead of flattering Islam, openly and honestly criticizing it — objectively, without rancor or hyperbole — is potentially one of the Western world's most powerful, though largely untapped, strategies that could go a long way in neutralizing Islam, and without force.

Raymond Ibrahim, author of Sword and Scimitar: Fourteen Centuries of War between Islam and the West, is Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, Judith Friedman Rosen Fellow at the Middle East Forum, and distinguished senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute.


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