Jewish Right To Israel

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Week In Review From One Jerusalem--Week of July 26, 2009

From an email from One Jerusalem:

Weekly Review: July 26, 2009

Dear Friend of Jerusalem,

Here are the latest headlines from the One Jerusalem Blog:

AUDIO :: The Israel Test: MP3 File Bestselling author George Gilder has entered the debate over Israel with the publication of his robust defense of Israel in his new book The Israel Test. Listen to him respond to questions about Israel and the world... (read more)

Why the U.S. Needs Israel: George Gilder, NY Times bestseller, technology guru, discusses why he wrote The Israel Test. Buy it here.... watch the video

NETANYAHU TELLS OBAMA ALL OF JERUSALEM IS OPEN TO JEWS: President Obama's campaign to take control of Jerusalem from the State of Israel intensified over the weekend. Michael Oren, Israel's Ambassador to the United States was summoned by the Obama administration and told that Israel must stop building in Jerusalem... (read more)

Sincerely, The One Jerusalem Team

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Obama Continues To Falter In The Middle East As Talks Have Yet To Restart (Updated)

On Thursday, The Washington Post described Obama's foreign policy in a nutshell:

The new administration has pushed a reset button with Russia and sent new ambassadors to Syria and Venezuela; it has offered olive branches to Cuba and Burma. But for nearly three months it has been locked in a public confrontation with Israel over Jewish housing construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank. To a less visible extent, the two governments also have differed over policy toward Iran.

I suppose that Iran was left out because of the lack of any formal diplomatic moves by Obama towards that country. But the Washington Post is remaining consistent in opposition to Obama's pressure on Israel regarding settlements--as Jackson Diehl expressed it in his June 29 column.

Rather than pocketing Mr. Netanyahu's initial concessions -- he gave a speech on Palestinian statehood and suggested parameters for curtailing settlements accepted by previous U.S. administrations -- Mr. Obama chose to insist on an absolutist demand for a settlement "freeze." Palestinian and Arab leaders who had accepted previous compromises immediately hardened their positions; they also balked at delivering the "confidence-building" concessions to Israel that the administration seeks. Israeli public opinion, which normally leans against the settler movement, has rallied behind Mr. Netanyahu. And Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, which were active during the Bush administration's final year, have yet to resume.[emphasis added]
The Washington Post has a point there--for all of his talk about hitting the ground running on the issue of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, instead of jump-starting talks, Obama has merely antagonized Israel and allowed the Palestinian Arabs to think that all they need to do is sit back and let Obama do all of the work for them. Obama has not hit the ground running; he has hit a brick wall--one entirely of his own making.

Apparently, Obama's Cairo speech did not have the grand effect that he and his people have claimed, and if he now finds himself compromising with Israel on the issue of the settlements--matters will only get worse.

U.S. and Israeli officials are working on a compromise that would allow Israel to complete some housing now under construction while freezing new starts for a defined period. Arab states would be expected to take steps in return. Such a deal will expose Mr. Obama to criticism in the Arab world -- a public relations hit that he could have avoided had he not escalated the settlements dispute in the first place. At worst, the president may find himself diminished among both Israelis and Arabs before discussions even begin on the issues on which U.S. clout is most needed. If he is to be effective in brokering a peace deal, Mr. Obama will need to show both sides that they can trust him -- and he must be tough on more than one country.

Obama has tackled a number of highly visible issues since taking office--which is to his credit. What is not to his credit is that he has yet to score a decisive win on any of those issues. Instead, he finds his once vaunted popularity continuing to drop.

Apparently both Americans and the media are beginning to realize that something is wrong with Obama's policies, both domestically and internationally.

UPDATE: Apparently, Obama has no real plan for a Israel-Palestinian peace, other than--talking:

Recent talks with US envoy George Mitchell have left Israeli officials with the impression that - contrary to expectations in some circles - President Barack Obama is not going to unfurl his own regional peace plan.

Rather, according to these officials, the administration is aiming to create a positive dynamic that will lead to the relaunching of a Palestinian-Israeli diplomatic process, but this time with more regional players on board.

...But, according to the officials, the sense in Jerusalem now is that
Washington realizes that it is not constructive to just place a plan on the
table, without putting all the different pieces together to enable it to be
accepted.

Obama seems to now be following the advice offered back in February to follow a minimalist approach and not rush into a final agreement. One of those who made that recommendation was Obama's former adviser Robert Malley:

"The basic agreement, I think, is that none of us is going to recommend, and, in fact, all us will recommend against, rushing towards a grand, comprehensive, end-of-conflict deal between Israelis and Palestinians," he said. "I think you will hear that we don't think that the time is ripe at this point for an end-of-conflict, comprehensive agreement between the Israeli people and the Palestinian people."

Malley said that all of the parameters that guided the Clinton administration's peace efforts in the 1990s have shifted. He said there are no longer two coherent entities that could sign a peace treaty, if one were forged. He noted Israel's election next Tuesday, with polls showing hardliner and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as the frontrunner. But Malley also cited the fact that there is no longer a national Palestinian movement with which to negotiate.

If so, then all Obama has to do is explain this to the Palestinian Arabs and all those who expected Obama to take a forceful position on Israel.

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Some Questions For J Street, And Their Friends

The following was written by William K. Langfan, a member of the Board of Directors of the Freeman Center For Stratetgic Studies
JULY 27, 2009
Dear Editor:

J Street and 11 other groups including Americans for Peace Now, the Israeli Policy Forum, the New Israel Fund, et al are scheduled to have a conference in Washington on October 25-28, 2009, to promote Israeli/Palestinian peace.

I would like leaders from any of these well-meaning organizations to answer the following questions and interrogatories:

1. Admit or deny that Hamas leaders have repeatedly declared before and after their victory in the last Palestinian election, that they will destroy Israel?

2. Admit or deny that PLO and Fatah leaders have stated on many occasions that any agreements with Israel are phases towards their ultimate goal which is the liberation of Palestine.

3a. Admit or deny that the Palestinian National Council (PNC) voted in 1974 that the Palestinian leadership will destroy Israel in phases.

3b. Admit or deny that Arafat on September 1, 1993, reaffirmed that the Oslo accords are an intricate part of the 1974 phased plan.

3c. Admit or deny that PA President and Chairman of Fatah declared on October 3, 2006 that “It is not required of Hamas, or of Fatah, or the Popular Front to recognize Israel”.

3d. Admit or deny that Kifah Radayeh, a senior Fatah official head of Fatah Jerusalem Charter, declared on PA TV in July 2009, “It has been said that we are negotiating for peace, but peace has never been a goal of Fatah, the goal is Palestine … armed struggle has never been ruled out …”.

3e. Admit or deny that no leader of Fatah or the Palestinian Authority, or the PLO has disavowed Kifa Radayeh’s July 2009 declaration.

4a. Admit or deny that President Abbas is one of the founders of Fatah, whose 1964 constitution declares that the establishment of Israel is illegal, and calls for armed conflict to end the occupation of Palestine (this was three years before the 1967 war, when Israel took control of the west Bank).

4b. Admit or deny that any member of Fatah has ever disowned any article of the Fatah Constitution.

4c. Admit or deny that the 1964 PLO Charter (amended in 1968) contains virtually the same language as the Fatah 1964 Constitution.

4d. Admit or deny that any modification of the Charter has ever occurred, since the December 1998 Palestinian National Council vote to accept the content of Arafat’s letter to then President Clinton, which alleged that certain charter articles were eliminated or modified.

5. What facts have occurred which would indicate to an objective observer that Palestinian leader who declared in 1964, three years before Israel had the West Bank, that the establishment of Israel was illegal and that armed conflict was necessary to liberate Palestine, are now willing to effect peace with Israel if Israel were to return to pre-1967 borders.

6. Do your leaders want Jerusalem to be divided?

7. The Palestinian leadership has unequivocally stated that there can be no peace with Israel unless the Palestine’s refugees are returned to Israel.

How do the leaders of your organization expect Israel and the Palestinians to resolve this issue?

Respectfully submitted,

William K. Langfan

I guess all we can do now is sit back and wait for their answers--but don't hold your breath...

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Another Jewish History Lesson For Obama

Yoram Ettinger writes about the Jewish roots of 'Palestine' that Obama forgot in his now infamous Cairo speech:
Jewish Occupation or Roots in Judea and Samaria?
Jerusalem Cloakroom #226, July 31, 2009

1. President Obama's claim – enunciated during his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University – that "the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history [The Holocaust] that cannot be denied," ignores thoroughly-documented Jewish roots in the Land of Israel in general and in Judea & Samaria in particular.

2. World renowned travelers, historians and archeologists of earlier centuries, such as H. B. Tristram (The Land of Israel, 1865), Mark Twain (Innocents Abroad, 1867), R.A. MacAlister and Masterman ("Palestine Exploration Fund Quarterly"), A.P. Stanley (Sinai and Palestine, 1887), E. Robinson and E. Smith (Biblical Researches in Palestine, 1841)), C.W. Van de Velde (Peise durch Syrien und Paletsinea, 1861), Felix Bovet (Voyage en Taire Sainte, 1864) – as well as Encyclopedia Britannica and official British and Ottoman records (until 1950) refer to "Judea and Samaria" and not to the "West Bank." The latter term was coined by the Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria following the 1948/9 War.

3. The term "Palestine" was established by Greek Historian Herodotus, and adopted by the Roman Empire, in an attempt to erase "Judea" from human memory. "Palestine" was a derivative of the biblical Philistines, arch rivals of the Jewish nation, non-Semites who migrated to the area from the Greek islands and from Phoenicia in the 12th century BCE ("Plishtim" – the invaders - is the Hebrew word for "Philistines").

4. Most Arabs (Semites from the Arabian Peninsula), who reside between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, have their origin in a massive 19th-20th century migration from Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and other Moslem countries.

5. Almost all Arab towns and villages in Judea and Samaria have retained biblical Jewish names, thus reaffirming Jewish roots there. For example:
*A-Dura is biblical (and contemporary) Adora'yim, site of King Rehoboam's and a Maccabees' fortress.

*A-Ram is biblical Haramah, Prophet Samuel's birth and burial site.

*Anata is biblical (and contemporary) Anatot, the dwelling of the Prophet Jeremiah.

*Batir is biblical (and contemporary) Beitar, the headquarters of Bar Kochba, the leader of the Great Rebellion against the Roman Empire, which was crashed in 135CE.

*Beit-hur is the biblical (and contemporary) Beit Horon, site of Judah the Maccabee's victory over the Assyrians.

*Beitin is biblical (and contemporary) Bethel, a site of the Holy Ark and Prophet Samuel's court.

*Bethlehem is mentioned 44 times in the Bible and is the birth place of King David.

*Beit Jalla is biblical (and contemporary) Gilo, where Sennacherib set his camp, while besieging Jerusalem.

*El-Jib is biblical (and contemporary) Gibeon, Joshua's battleground known for "Sun, stop thou in Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ayalon," Joshua 10:12.

*Hebron - named after Hevron, Moses' uncle and Levy's grandson – was King David's first capital for 7 years, the burial site of the 3 Jewish Patriarchs and 3 Jewish Matriarchs.

*Jaba' is the biblical (and contemporary Geva, site of Jonathan's (son of King Saul) victory over the Philistines.

*Jenin is the biblical (and contemporary) Ein Ganim, a Levite town within the tribe of Issachar.

*Mukhmas is biblical (and contemporary) Mikhmash, residence of Jonathan the Maccabee and site of King Saul's fortress.

*Seilun is biblical (and contemporary) Shilo, a site of Joshua's tabernacle and the Holy Ark and Samuel's youth.

*Tequa' is biblical (and contemporary) Teqoah, hometown of the Prophet Amos and currently known for its home grown Ginger.

*Etc.
Are these sites "occupied" by the Jewish State or are they the epitome of Jewish moral high-ground and Statehood?

A question that Obama is likely to continue to avoid.

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Avigdor Lieberman--An Israeli Joe Biden? (Updated)

Avigdor Lieberman has been painted as an extremist and a serious liability for Netanyahu, and it is true that Lieberman is a controversial figure, J. E. Dyer adds:

But what Lieberman has been doing since assuming office is working on one of Israel’s greatest security concerns: isolation. Lieberman has been the principal actor in Israel’s charm offensive with Russia, China, Europe, and now Latin America, with the agenda of strengthening relations and obtaining broad cooperation in discouraging Iran’s development of nuclear weapons.

Lieberman’s native Russian ties give him, it has been postulated, an edge in discussions with Moscow — an analysis that highlights the growing importance to Israel of leverage and goodwill beyond the relationship with the U.S. The trip to Latin America this month represents even more clearly a new policy direction, being the first such visit by an Israeli foreign minister in more than two decades. Netanyahu is scheduled for a visit of his own in November, an even rarer event. Israel’s hope is not only to strengthen ties with regional governments and get cooperation against Iran but also to counter Iran’s own extensive inroads into Latin America.

The latter initiative is emblematic of a U.S.-independent tone emerging in Israel’s foreign policy. Lieberman’s visit to Russia carried such hints as well, producing an emphasis on a common view with Sergei Lavrov regarding the regional dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the need to bring the Saudis and other regional nations into any peace plan.

Analysts who draw their conclusions from a “weak Bibi” perspective — one that assumes Netanyahu must live with Lieberman and not let him do too much — could be missing a more important trend. Lieberman may not be the go-to man for relations with the United States while those relations center on demands regarding the settlements. But Israel cannot allow the settlements issue to bog down its own broader security policy. And Israel’s spearheading of efforts outside the U.S. relationship appears to be accomplished via Lieberman.

Apparently is sort of Israel's version of Joe Biden--without the gaffes.

UPDATE: David Hazony agrees with Dyer's assessment and notes:

The very feature that makes Lieberman distasteful to many Westerners — his power-affirming nationalism — may make him more respected and, frankly, understandable in other parts of the world, especially in places like Russia and Latin America, where strongmen are respected rather than reviled. There is something ingenious about Netanyahu’s deployment of his foreign policy assets, from his assignment of Lieberman to places where he is most likely to be respected and his positioning of Michael Oren (disclosure: friend, former Shalem Center colleague, and fellow Commentary contributor) as ambassador to the U.S., to his own rallying of Israeli public support against Obama’s firm stance on settlements.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tisha B'Av and Gush Katif

From an email:

The 4th Yahrzeit of Gush Katif is just days away.. and despite the promises, many of the former residents are still without homes, a livelihood and enough money to put food on the table. The National Council of Young Israel, together with Yad Ezra have taken upon themselves to provide the food and provisions necessary to make Yom Tov and Holiday Time special for these true heroes of the Jewish people. . Your contributions and support of our campaign will help to restore the crown of glory to our brothers and sisters who have suffered so much. We invite you to read the following article that appears today in Hamodia

To read the article by Yael Ehrenpreis Meyer entitled: "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" click here

To Donate to the campaign, please click here or send your check to National Council of Young Israel (GK Campaign) 111 John Street, Suite 450, NY NY 10038

This Tisha B'Av... make a difference and help the former residents of Gush Katif

Thank you

National Council of Young Israel
www.youngisrael.org

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Tisha B'Av Lamentation --About the Failure to Bomb Auschwitz

From an email:
A Tisha B'Av Lamentation
--About the Failure to Bomb Auschwitz

by Rafael Medoff

(Dr. Medoff is director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, www.WymanInstitute.org)


On Wednesday night, Jews around the world will gather to recite the traditional Tisha B'Av lamentations focusing on the destruction of the ancient temple in Jerusalem. A growing number of communities are adding a lamentation that refers to a much more recent tragedy--the failure of the Allies to bomb the Auschwitz death camp in 1944.

What makes this additional lamentation, or kina in Hebrew, especially interesting is that it not only refers so specifically to the failure to bomb Auschwtz, but it was written by the rabbi who was himself the first person to appeal to the Roosevelt administration to order the bombing of Auschwitz and the railway lines leading to it.

The author, Rabbi Michael Dov Weissmandl (1903-1957) grew up in Slovakia and became a prominent figure in the famous Nitra Yeshiva.

When the Germans began deporting Slovakia's Jews to Auschwitz in the spring of 1942, Rabbi Weissmandl and his cousin Mrs. Gisi Fleischmann, a community activist, established an underground rescue organization known as the Prakova Skupina, or Working Group. Their effors included smuggling hundreds of Jewish children across the border into Hungary, which at that point was a safe haven. Most notably, they paid a $50,000 bribe to Nazi official Dieter Wisliceny to halt the deportations. From the autumn of 1942 until October 1944, no Jews were deported from Slovakia.

Although some information about the mass killings in Auschwitz leaked out earlier, the full details of the camp's operations were revealed in late April 1944, when escapees Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler reached Slovakia. They gave Rabbi Weissmandl and his Working Group colleagues a thirty-page report explaining the mass murder process, including maps showing precisely where the gas chambers and crematoria were situated. The report was sent to U.S.=2 0and British diplomats, officials of the Vatican, and Jewish rescue activists in neutral Switzerland, together with letters from Rabbi Weissmandl urging the Allies to bomb the death camp.

"We ask that the crematoria of Auschwitz be bombed from the air," he pleaded. "They are sharply visible, as shown on the enclosed map. Such bombing will delay the work of the German murderers. What is more important--to bomb persistently all the roads leading from Eastern Hungary to Poland and to bomb persistently the bridges," over which thousands of Hungarian Jews were being deported in cattle cars bound for the death camp.

The rabbi's appeals reached the Roosevelt administration, which turned them down cold. Assistant Secretary of War John McCloy told American Jewish leaders that a study had found the bombing proposal was "impracticable" because it would require "diversion of considerable air support essential to the success of our forces now engaged in decisive operations elsewhere."

In fact, no study was ever done and no planes would have had to be diverted, because U.S. bombers were already flying directly over Auschwitz in preparation for the bombing of German oil factories less than five miles from the gas chambers. The real reason for the refusal was that the Roosevelt administration had already decided, as a matter of principle, to refrain from expending even minimal resources on humanitarian objectives such as interrupting the mass murder of the Jews.

(The U.S. position will be explored in depth at a conference on "The Failure to Bomb Auschwitz: History, Politics, Controversy," sponsored by The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, to be held at the Fordham University Law School, in New York City, on Sunday, September 13, 2009. To register, call 202-434-8994 or visitwww.WymanInstitute.org)

Rabbi Weissmandl himself narrowly escaped death. Captured by the Germans in August 1944 and placed on a train bound for Auschwitz, he cut a hole in the cattle car with an emery thread hidden in a crust of bread. After the war he immigrated to the United States, where he established a new Nitra Yeshiva, in Mount Kisco, NY.

It was there, in approximately 1955, that Rabbi Weissmandl composed his Tisha B'Av lamentation (or 'kina'), titled "Kinat Min HaMeitzar" (or "From the Depths," the opening words of Psalm 118). Long unknown except to the rabbi's own students, Kinat Min HaMeitzar is now gaining wider circulation thanks to its recent publication, together with commentary, by the Jerusalem-based scholar Jacob Fuchs.

The text, which is available from Feldheim Publishers, overflows with the anguish of someone who watc hed the Jewish world go up in flames while his cries for help went unheeded. In the fifth stanza, Rabbi Weissmandl reaches back into the depths of his painful experiences, bringing a modern event into a narrative rooted in ancient history. "How is it," he writes (using the Hebrew phrase Eicha, which is also the title of the Biblical text read on Tisha B'Av) that while the world's transport lines wer e destroyed by the fury of the war, [the Allies] did nothing about the lines transporting the Jews to the [Auschwitz slaughter house] ? They [the Allies] claimed it was because of a lack of airplanes. But the answer was that the Allies were not concerned about the fate of the Jews."

A difficult and thought-provoking outcry, bitterly appropriate for Tisha B'Av, the day we pause to consider the depths to which human beings can sink--not only the murderers, but the bystanders as well.

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Terrorist Sues Sacha Baron Cohen--For Making Him Look Bad

Who knew terrorists were so sensitive:

A self-proclaimed reformed Aksa Martyrs Brigades operative is claiming damages from Sacha Baron Cohen for portraying him as a terrorist in his new movie 'Bruno.'

In the movie, Cohen interviews the man, Ayman Abu Ayta, poking fun at terrorists and Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden.

Times Online further clarifies that there are two issues:
Mr Abu Aita’s lawyer, Hatem Abu Ahmad, said that he is preparing a legal action against Baron Cohen and Universal Studios alleging that the Martyrs’ Brigade reference could get his client in trouble with the Israelis and the homosexual association could get him killed by the Palestinians.
So being identified as a terrorist means Aita 'gets in trouble' with Israel--but being identified as gay gets him killed by his fellow Palestinian Arabs.
It's clear which Aita and his lawyer take more seriously.

David Hazony notes a larger irony:

And so, for just a few days, we all got to enjoy the splendid irony of an organization dedicated to killing innocent people trying to claim its right to preserve its pristine reputation as being straight — that is, of a convicted terrorist suing somebody for defamation.

But then, reason set in. “Wait a minute,” the folks at Al-Aksa apparently said to themselves. “We’re terrorists. We don’t accept Western institutions of law. ‘Doh!”

Alas, all ironies must end, either by correction or by dissolution into cliché. And so we learn that Al-Aksa has chosen the former route, issuing an apparent death threat to Baron Cohen. The supreme satirist has been forced to add bodyguards to his list of liabilities.
One man's terrorist is another man's plaintiff--until the group decides to kill for damages.

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Forget About Obama As The 'First Jewish President'--How About Janet Jagan!

My thanks to Cindy, who pointed this interesting trivia fact in a comment to another post.

Alan Solow, chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations may refer to Obama as "The First Jewish President," but that title rightfully belongs to someone else: Janet Rosenberg Jagan--who was also from Chicago.

Jagan was president of Guyana and holds the distinction of being one of 3 Jewish women to have served as leaders of a nation in modern times--the other two being Golda Meir of Israel and Ruth Dreifuss. Dreifuss was a member of the Swiss Federal Council representing Geneva and held the rotating presidency of the Swiss Confederation from January 1 to December 31, 1999.

Apparently that is not Jagan's only distinction.

According to The Forward:
Jagan (rhymes with Reagan) is remembered, too, as the first woman — Jewish or otherwise — ever freely elected as president of a South American country (as distinguished from various wives of Argentine dictator Juan Peron). She was the first white person ever elected to lead Guyana, and was the country’s longest-serving legislator. And she was probably the only American Jew ever chased out of public office by both the British marines and the American CIA.
Janet and her husband were Marxists, which made the British and the US nervous.

This was in 1953--after her husband Cheddi was elected chief minister of Guyana and his wife deputy speaker of the parliament. The the Jagans survived both incidences, though they ended up serving only 133 days--and strikes and riots in the country were funded by the CIA. The New York Times reports that President Kennedy was preoccupied with Guyana:
According to long-classified documents, President John F. Kennedy ordered the Central Intelligence Agency in 1961 to destabilize the Jagan government. The C.I.A. covertly financed a campaign of labor unrest, false information and sabotage that led to race riots and, eventually, the ascension of Forbes Burnham, a black, London-educated lawyer and a leader of the People’s Progressive Party who had become a rival of the Jagans. He became president and prime minister in 1966.
But they were back in 1957 and 1961 when they won the elections--and though Jagan was a secular Jew, there is even an Israel connection, when Jagan's husband Cheddi visited Israel in 1961 and Prime Minister Golda Meir argued his case to the British--until the State Department warned Israel that it was running the risk of being "regarded by the U.S. public as strengthening militarily" a communist regime.

In 1963 Jagan was called "The most controversial woman in South American politics since Evita Peron" by Time Magazine, which claimed
British Guiana's husband and wife team has brought little besides economic stagnation and political upheaval to the country.
There were even false rumors claiming she was related to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed for spying for Russia.

On the other hand, Janet Jagan received the Order of Excellence--Guyana's highest honor, the Woman of Achievement award from the University of Guyana, and in 1997 the Gandhi Gold Medal for Peace--from UNESCO.

In 1997, after her husband Cheddi died, Janet Jagan was named prime minister and later that year was named president--a position she helf for 2 years until she was forced to step down after suffering a heart attack.

Not bad, for the first Jewish president.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

If Obama Wants To Re-establish US Friendship With Israel--Here Is The Roadmap

Yossi Klein Halevi writes about how Obama can salvage the friendly ties between the US and Israel, at a time when Obama's popularity in Israel has sunk:

According to one poll, only six percent of Israelis consider Obama a friend. That perception of hostility is new. Israelis welcomed Barack Obama when he visited here in July 2008 and many responded enthusiastically to his election. But Israelis sense that Obama has placed the onus for restarting negotiations on Israel. Worse, he is perceived as showing weakness toward the world's bullies while acting resolutely only toward Israel. Many Israelis--and not only on the right--suspect that Obama actually wants a showdown with Jerusalem to bolster his standing in the Muslim world. If those perceptions aren't countered, the Israeli public will reject Obama's peace initiatives.

Halevi offers a 6-point plan for Obama to follow:

1. Make clear that renewing the peace process requires simultaneous Israeli and Arab concessions.

2. Reaffirm the Israeli status of the settlement blocs in a future agreement.

3. Actively confront Palestinian demonization of Israel.

4. Affirm Israel's historical legitimacy to the Muslim world.

5. Make clear that the impending nuclearization of Iran, and not the Palestinian problem, is the region's most urgent crisis.

6. Don't treat the Netanyahu government as a pariah.

Read Halevi's article for his explanation and comments about each of the points.

In all due respect, some of the actions demanded of Obama were not fulfilled by President Bush:

o Bush did not clearly affirm the status of Israeli settlements--if he had, we would not have the current mess

o Bush did not forcefully address the demonization of Israel carried out in the Arab media.

o Bush did make a major issue of the historical ties of Jews to Israel.

o Bush vowed to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons--and clearly failed

On the other hand, a number of Halevi's points are merely requiring Obama to either follow through on what he said in his Cairo speech--or correct misconceptions he created.

If more is expected of Obama to set things straight, it is because he had an active hand in disrupting US-Israel ties.

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Sorry About The Light Blogging

Blogging has been light the last few days, and will continue to be light for a while longer.
My wife had knee surgery last week (torn miniscus) and I've been occupied.

Monday, July 27, 2009

News Flash: Obama Might Not Be The First Jewish President After All (Updated)

During Obama's presidential campaign, Alan Solow, an attorney and philanthropist and Obama supporter since Obama's first race for the Illinois Senate referred to Obama as the “first Jewish president.”

Oh, Solow also happens to be the recently elected chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

I wrote about this in my post Does AIPAC Now Represent Obama's Interests Too?, noting at the time that a number of other high-profile defenders of Israel also happened to be Obama supporters.

But things started to change in May:

As tension builds between the new Obama administration in Washington and the new Netanyahu government in Jerusalem, two of President Obama’s closest Jewish allies may find themselves increasingly in the middle.

Lee Rosenberg, who campaigned on behalf of Obama, was confirmed as president-elect of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee at its recent national conference. And Alan Solow, an early Obama supporter, was recently elected chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.

And now Solow has signed his name to the following:

STATEMENT BY CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS CHAIRMAN ALAN SOLOW AND EXECUTIVE VICE CHAIRMAN MALCOLM HOENLEIN ON ISSUES RAISED REGARDING CONSTRUCTION IN JERUSALEM

New York, July 21, 2009 … The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has long advocated and supported the unity of Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Israel. As such, we believe that legal construction by residents of the city should be allowed as long as it is in keeping with the standards and requirements of the municipality and the national government. We find disturbing the objections raised to the proposed construction of residential units on property that was legally purchased and approved by the appropriate authorities. The area in question houses major Israeli governmental agencies, including the national police headquarters. The United States has in the past and recently raised objections to the removal of illegal structures built by Arabs in eastern Jerusalem even though they were built in violation of zoning and other requirements often on usurped land. In addition to the Jewish housing, the project called for apartment units for Arabs as well.


It is particularly significant that the structure in question formerly was the house of the infamous Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseni who spent the war years in Berlin as a close ally of Hitler, aiding and abetting the Nazi extermination of Jews. He was also linked to the 1929 massacre in Hebron and other acts of incitement that resulted in deaths and destruction in what was then Palestine. There has been an expressed desire by some Palestinians to preserve the building as a tribute to Husseini.

As a united city, Jerusalem’s Jewish and Arab residents should be permitted to reside wherever legal and security requirements allow. Hundreds of Arab families have moved into Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the same right should be accorded to Jewish residents in live where they choose in Jerusalem. To do otherwise would undermine and prejudge the status of the city.

No government of Israel has or can pursue a discriminatory policy that would prevent the legitimate presence of Jews in any area of its capital.

American Thinker is making alot out of this statement:

Now, Solow's statement makes it clear that his rosy expectations of Obama and Emanuel as reliable friends of Israel have been dashed.

Furthermore to appreciate Solow's public disagreement with the president, it's significant that he issued his statement not as a private citizen, but on the letterhead of , the Conference of Presidents. The conference embraces 52 Jewish organizations spanning the gamut from Reform to Orthodox, from American for Peace Now to the Zionist Organization of America.

So this time, it's not only a few reliable Israel supporters like Morton Klein of ZOA or Conference Vice Chairman Hoenlein who have been voicing deep concerns about Obama's policies toward Israel. Now, it's long-time friend Solow, speaking for the entire Conference.[emphasis added]

I don't know that this statement signals any kind of serious break between Solow and Obama. After all, Malcolm Hoenlein, the Executive Vice Chairman. Solow signed onto a statement that he was expected to. Who knows how much pressure there was to put out some kind of statement--would Solow just oppose something like this? Even if Solow agrees with the statement, that does not necessarily mean that his expectations of Obama have been 'dashed'--only further statements by Solow himself might clarify that.

Also, while the Conference may represent 53 organizations, that does not mean that "the entire gamut" backs the statement made. For instance, Ori Nir, the Americans for Peace Now spokesman has complained:

The statement that Malcolm Hoenlein and Alan Solow published earlier regarding construction in East Jerusalem does not reflect APN's position. APN strongly opposes actions that change the status quo in Jerusalem and threaten to prejudge or create obstacles to a negotiated solution in the city. As members of the Conference of Presidents, we were surprised to learn that this statement was published. We were never notified about it or given an opportunity to comment on it before its publication.

Who knows what percentage actually back the statement?

We can only hope that Obama's dropping approval numbers are indicative of people coming out from under his 'spell' and being able to evaluate his policies on their own merits.

Obama's dropping numbers would seem to indicate that people are doing exactly that.

UPDATE: Sure enough:

In an interview with Haaretz, Solow denied that the statement is indicative of a personal fallout with the president.

"The Conference has a long-standing policy on Jerusalem, and the disagreement between the governments of the U.S. and Israel were in the news," Solow said.

"Because the Conference had such a clear stated policy, it seemed appropriate to me that despite being someone who has known President Obama for a long time and continues to have very good working relations with him, I thought it was appropriate that the Conference official position be articulated."
So like I told you: it wasn't a disagreement; it was merely an articulation.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Apparently Obama's Cairo Speech Did Not Rock The Arab World After All

Remember Obama's Cairo speech?

Remember how the Cairo speech was credited for the results of the Lebanon election?
There were many domestic reasons voters handed an American-backed coalition a victory in Lebanese parliamentary elections on Sunday — but political analysts also attribute it in part to President Obama’s campaign of outreach to the Arab and Muslim world.
Remember how the Cairo speech was credited for the protests in Iran?
Obama's approach to Iran, including his assertion that the unrest there represents a debate among Iranians unrelated to the United States, is an acknowledgment that a U.S. president's words have a limited ability to alter foreign events in real time and could do more harm than good. But privately Obama advisers are crediting his Cairo speech for inspiring the protesters, especially the young ones, who are now posing the most direct challenge to the republic's Islamic authority in its 30-year history.
Now there is research that indicates that the Muslim world was not all that moved by Obama's speech:
President Barack Obama's much-heralded speech last month in Egypt did little to change America's image in the Muslim world, a survey released Thursday shows.

Muslim people were not so easily moved by Obama's speech June 4, according to interviews conducted by the Pew Research Center's Global Attitudes Project.

"This analysis suggests that the speech had little measurable impact on views of the U.S. or Obama himself," the Pew researchers said.

...Only 14 percent of Turks have a favorable view of America; 15 percent of Palestinians; and 16 percent of Pakistanis.

...It may be too early to precisely judge the impact of Obama's highly-anticipated speech at Egypt's Cairo University last month, but the Pew poll said that the president's remarks resulted in lowering Israeli opinions of the United States more than it uplifted Palestinians.
Apparently, Israel expected long time friends to remain loyal while Palestinian Arabs expected Obama to hand them their own state on a silver platter.

Both have been disappointed.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Demand Hamas Recognize Israel? Can We Let Fatah Go First?

Instead of requiring Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist before opening talks with them--maybe the US and Europe should start by requiring Fatah to recognize Israel before even talking about settlements, let alone a two state solution.

That would avoid creating a brand new state next to Israel with leaders that talk like this:

"Fatah does not recognize Israel's right to exist," Natsheh said, "nor have we ever asked others to do so." His comments, which appeared in an interview with Al-Quds Al-Arabi, came in response to reports according to which Fatah had asked Hamas to recognize Israel as a precondition for the establishment of a Palestinian unity government."All these reports about recognizing Israel are false," Natsheh, who is closely associated with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said. "It's all media nonsense. We don't ask other factions to recognize Israel because we in Fatah have never recognized Israel."Asked about calls for dropping the reference to armed struggle from Fatah's charter, Natsheh said: "Let all the collaborators [with Israel] and those who are deluding themselves hear that this will never happen. We'll meet at the conference [in Bethlehem]."

Fatah has never recognized Israel's right to exist and it has no intention of ever doing so, a veteran senior leader of the Western-backed faction said on Wednesday.

Rafik Natsheh, member of the Fatah Central Committee who also serves as chairman of the faction's disciplinary "court," is the second senior official in recent months to make similar statements regarding Israel.

Natsheh is also a former minister in the Palestinian Authority government who briefly served as Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Earlier this year, Muhammad Dahlan, another top Fatah figure, said that Fatah had never recognized Israel's right to exist despite the fact that it is the largest faction in the PLO, which signed the Oslo Accords with Israel.

...Natsheh stressed that neither Fatah nor the Palestinians would ever relinquish the armed struggle against Israel "no matter how long the occupation continues." He said that Fatah, at the upcoming conference, would reiterate its adherence to the option of pursuing "all forms" of an armed struggle against Israel.

Another senior Fatah representative, Azzam al-Ahmed, confirmed that his faction would renew its pledge to pursue the armed struggle against Israel during the conference. [emphasis added]

Does anyone really expect either Obama or Clinton to even take notice of talk like this?
Me neither.

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Obama Is Angry Over Racist Arrest Of Gates--But Imposes Segregation On Israel (Updated)

Jules Crittendon notes how the situation has played out in the case of the policeman who arrested Henry Gates:

The Cambridge cop accused of a racist arrest on Harvard Prof Henry Louis Gates Jr says he’s no racist and he won’t apologize. Gates has called James Crowley a “rogue cop,” though it’s not clear whether he knows much about this cop or his history. Meanwhile, the president of the United States, while acknowledging that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about, calls the Cambridge cop “stupid” on national TV.
Read the whole thing--especially the history of the accused racist cop, James Crowley, who gave mouth-to-mouth recussitation to Celtics star Reggie Lewis 16 years ago in an attempt to save his life.

Is this so different from Obama's own racism?

Jeff Jacoby writes:

LATE LAST WEEK, the Obama administration demanded that the Israeli government pull the plug on a planned housing development near the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of Jerusalem. The project, a 20-unit apartment complex, is indisputably legal. The property to be developed - a defunct hotel - was purchased in 1985, and the developer has obtained all the necessary municipal permits.

Why, then, does the administration want the development killed? Because Sheikh Jarrah is in a largely Arab section of Jerusalem, and the developers of the planned apartments are Jews. Think about that for a moment. Six months after Barack Obama became the first black man to move into the previously all-white residential facility at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, he is fighting to prevent integration in Jerusalem.

It is impossible to imagine the opposite scenario: The administration would never demand that Israel prevent Arabs from moving into a Jewish neighborhood. And the Obama Justice Department would unleash seven kinds of hell on anyone who tried to impose racial, ethnic, or religious redlining in an American city. In the 21st century, segregation is unthinkable - except, it seems, when it comes to housing Jews in Jerusalem.

Obama's accusation of racism at his press conference was convenient--Andy McCarthy wonders whether the question, the last one asked, was pre-arranged. But the point is that accusing a cop of racism while admitting he does not have all the facts while simultaneously imposing segregation on Israel neighborhoods--about whose history he is apparently equally ignorant--does nothing for the issue of racism that Obama claims to be concerned about.

One more statement that seems to ring false.

UPDATE: As if to emphasize Jacoby's point, we have this:

The Jerusalem Post reports that the Jordanian government of King Abdullah is stripping Palestinians of their citizenship in order "to avoid a situation in which they would be 'resettled' permanently in the kingdom." The Jordanians claim they are acting "to prevent Israel from emptying the Palestinian territories of their original inhabitants," but the effect is to threaten both the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority with a massive influx of Palestinian refugees from Jordan. The move is what Barack Obama might call unhelpful. Yet there there isn't any noise from the "pro-peace" left. Most of the bloggers whom we typically rely on to highlighting the plight of the Palestinian people have yet to weigh in.

...Despite everything, the president and his supporters remain focused on Israeli action and inaction, on settlements and checkpoints. These are the impediments to peace. And if Israel started stripping Arabs of their citizenship, there would be outrage -- as there rightly was at Avigdor Lieberman's suggestion of loyalty oaths for Israeli Arabs. But here the Arabs have done precisely what Lieberman threatened to do. So why is the response from the left so muted now?

Read the whole thing.

Business as usual for the Arab world...and the White House.

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Video--Hamas: The Terror Elite

Powerline links to a particularly revealing video about Hamas:

David Horowitz has thus provided a great service by producing this five-minute flash video called "Hamas: The Terror Elite." The video explains that Hamas, heavily funded by Iran and Syria, grew out of the violent Islamist movement calling itself the Muslim Brotherhood, which is also the godfather organization to al Qaeda. Unlike the Palestine Liberation Organization, whose members it has hunted down since coming to power in Gaza, Hamas does not even pretend that it values nationhood for Palestinians over the total annihilation of Israel and its Jewish citizens.

The video also shows that Hamas hates Christians, Bahais and secular Muslim almost as ferociously as it hates Jews. Its "vice squads" murder unmarried people meeting together and torture homosexuals. Posturing as an organization providing social services, Hamas has brutally imposed its rule over the residents of Gaza by controlling the food supply.

Unfortunately, the video cannot be embedded--so click on the link and see it for yourself.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Today Was The Senate's Turn To Meet Jewish Leaders

I saw the following post by Jennifer Rubin, but have not yet found anything else about it. It seems like a more serious kind of meeting

An “outreach” meeting was held today by Democratic Senate leadership with a number of Jewish organizations, including the American Jewish Congress, the American Jewish Committee, the ADL, the Conservative Union, the UJC, AIPAC, J Street, the National Jewish Democratic Council, the Union for Reform Judaism, Bet Tzedek, the American Jewish World Service, the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), the Jewish Labor Committee, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and Rabbi Levi Shemtov of Chabad. Senators in attendance included Stabenow, Levin, Whitehouse, Feingold, Reid, Burris, Cardin, Kaufman, Dodd, Brown, Menendez, Udall, Bennet (of Colorado), Specter, Franken, Kerry, and Klobuchar.

I am informed that many of the Jewish representatives took this valuable opportunity to make pitches on domestic issues having nothing specific to do with Israel or Iran. Their affiliation with Jewish groups gives them the chance to make their pitch on the liberal wish list of concerns on everything from abortion to cap-and-trade. Nevertheless, those with knowledge of the meeting said each group that was called up began by saying that Iran was the Number One issue for the community.

Rabbi Shemtov gave a pointed address, declaring that they are all for peace. He said: “Show me a Jew who is against peace and I will ask what is his biblical source. Show me a Jew who is for Palestinian suffering and I will ask his source. Just as there are many ways to be pro-Israel, there are many ways to be pro-peace.” (A dig at the left-wing groups that posit themselves as the ones in favor of a peaceful solution to the conflict.)

Both the ADL and the JCPA raised the issue of Iran. The most vocal on foreign policy, according to those with direct knowledge of the meeting, were Howard Kohr of AIPAC and David Harris of the AJC. Kohr spoke on Iran and “issues on the ground” in Israel. He pointed out the progress made by Israel in the West Bank, including the removal of over 150 roadblocks, and the economic progress that has achieved working with the Palestinians despite a worldwide recession. He explained that this is what is possible when Israel and the Palestinians work together. He took to task the Arab states that have not stepped up to help the PA. On Iran, he spoke in support of sanctions to aid the Obama administration engage Iran on more favorable terms and increase the pressure on Iran, to which Sen. Levin and Sen. Dodd responded favorably.

Two sources not associated with his organization singled out Harris, who spoke passionately about Obama’s one-sided Cairo speech, the lack of recognition of Israel’s historical narrative, and the apparent double standard that the Obama administration is now employing on the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Sen. Lautenberg assured everyone that Obama was a staunch friend of Israel. J Street’s representative, despite his eager requests for recognition, was not called on by the senators.

Perhaps the tide has now turned and at least some American Jewish leaders are stepping to the forefront on Israel and Iran. If so, it would be a welcome development. [Emphasis added]

I assume there will at least be press releases by those groups that attended the meeting, at which point there will be more information. At the very least, one gets the distinct impression that unlike Obama--who called his meeting in order to be heard--the Senators called their meeting in order to listen, which they did.

Obama could learn a thing or two from the Senate, something he did not pick up on when he himself was a member of the Senate.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Will Obama See Netanyahu The Way Clinton Saw Arafat? (Updated)

Apparently Obama has upped the ante with israel by demanding a freeze on construction in east Jerusalem--in particular 20 apartments in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood near Mount Scopus campus of Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the National Police headquarters.

In a post from July 19, Arlene Kushner writes about the absurdity of Obama's latest demand:
"Good Move, Barack!"

Well, old Barack Hussein has finally done it. This megalomaniac who thinks he controls everything has gone too far:

In the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, there is a compound that was legally purchased by American businessman Irving Moskowitz in 1985. All papers are in order. The site originally belonged to the Grand Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini, a Nazi collaborator and mentor of Yasser Arafat, and later became the Shepherd hotel. Plans now are to replace the hotel with a housing complex of some 20 to 30 apartments, to be purchased by Jewish families.

But Mahmoud Abbas was disturbed about these plans, because this would "shift the demographic balance" in the city. Which is to say that he covets eastern Jerusalem and wants to see it stay predominantly Arab.

(Clarification: It is predominantly Arab not because this was the historical situation, but because Jordan rendered the area Judenrein from 1949-67.)

~~~~~~~~~~

Reports are that Abbas complained to the Americans. And what happens when Abbas protests? Seems that the American president jumps. Michael Oren, our ambassador to the US, was summoned to the State Department and told that the Obama administration wanted us to stop the building.

"Nothing doing," Oren told them.

What's important here is that, no only will we refuse, but that PM Netanyahu was reportedly incensed about this, saying that Obama had "crossed a red line." The issue here is very clear:

Jerusalem united is undisputedly our sovereign capital. Jews are allowed to build, and live, anywhere in the city. "This has always been Israel's policy and this is the policy of the current government," declared the prime minister.
"...There is no prohibition against Arab residents buying apartments in the west of the city and there is no prohibition barring the city's Jewish residents from buying or building in the east of the city. That is the policy of an open city that is not divided."
Read the whole thing.

The question remains: what is pushing Obama to make more intrusive demands on Israel?

Powerline offers some possibilities
:
Perhaps, in his efforts to impress the Arab world, he has simply become a messenger for Palestinian grievances. Perhaps he wanted to throw new demands into the mix in the hope of increasing his prospects for obtaining concessions on West Bank construction. It may also be the case that Obama doesn't know enough about Jerusalem and about Netanyahu's past practices to realize how ridiculous his latest demand would seem. And those in the State Department who do know probably would rather not educate the president.

In all events, Obama is losing credibility with Israel by the minute. And this loss of credibility would seem to diminish his ability not only to broker a peace agreement, but to be taken seriously on the narrow issue of settlements.
The bigger issue is Obama's credibility vis-a-vis brokering a peace agreement, since it will affect how he is perceived by the world at large. If he is seen as having caved to Israel, he will lose credibility not only with the Arab world, but with other countries that expected Obama to place real pressure and obtain major concessions from Israel on the way to a peace agreement in the not too distant future. Even countries that have no interest in pressuring Israel will be unimpressed with Obama's actions on the international stage.

Instead, will Obama find himself in a situation parallel to Bill Clinton, blaming Israel in general and Netanyahu in particular for a major failure in his record as President? While Obama is unlikely to say outright, "I'm a colossal failure, and you made me one," it is unlikely that Obama will take kindly to being rebuffed on what he has made a focal point of his foreign policy at the beginning of his term.

Obama is not going to back down.

UPDATE: It is not directly related, but this caught my eye from JammieWearingFool: 'You're Going To Destroy My Presidency'

Why Obama's approach to Israel is collapsing

At least that is the question Steven Rosen is answering.

Putting aside the rebuttals to Obama that Rosen touches upon from Elliot Abrams and Dov Weissglass , Obama's statements themselves about the situation do not hold up to scrutiny. Take for example, Obama's claim that to American Jewish leaders on July 13 that during Bush's 8 year term, "We had no sunlight for eight years, but no progress either." Rosen writes:
Obama's conclusion that former U.S. President George W. Bush achieved nothing by working with Israel is amazing, considering that Bush brought the father of the Israeli settler movement, Ariel Sharon, to withdraw every soldier and every settler from every square inch of Gaza in August 2005 in the largest test of the "land for peace" concept in Israeli-Palestinian history. You would think the experience of the Bush years would have led the Obama team to an opposite conclusion: If settlements had been the obstacle to peace, why did Sharon's removal of 8,000 settlers from 21 settlements lead to the rise of Hamas, thousands of Qassam rockets fired at Israel, and war instead of peace?
But the issue is not merely Obama's highly questionable interpretation of Israel's actions over the past 8 years. Current events in response to Obama's 'tough love' approach towards Israel are also damning:
The theory of "tough love" toward Israel is also failing the test, if it is intended to win concessions from the Palestinian side. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who just completed intensive negotiations with an outgoing Ehud Olmert government that was continuing "natural growth" of settlements within the agreed Bush limits, now says the incoming Benjamin Netanyahu government must "stop all settlement activities in order to resume peace talks over final status issues." His chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, adds, "There can be no half-solutions with regards to the settlements."

...Now, Obama has generated inflated and unsatisfiable expectations in the Arab world, a belief that the U.S. president can and will force total Israeli capitulation and an absolute freeze. The Los Angeles Times reports, "President Obama's public quarrel with Israel ... is developing into a test of the U.S. leader's international credibility, say foreign diplomats and other observers." Anything less than a 100 percent halt "will not only disappoint the Arabs whom the president has courted, but also will be read by adversaries around the globe as a signal that the president can be forced to back down." Or, as Erekat himself put it on Voice of Palestine radio, "If settlement continues ... Arabs and Palestinians [will] believe that the American administration is incapable of swaying Israel to halt its settlement activities." A prominent Palestinian observer, Ghassan Khatib, states, "Should the U.S. government ... fail to make Israel abide by its international commitments, especially regarding ending the expansion of settlements, it will sabotage efforts to renew the political process."
Rosen concludes his analysis of Obama's Israel policy by noting Obama's latest demand regarding Jerusalem and the construction of 20 apartments in the Sheikh Jarrah area of Jerusalem:
How could the administration believe that any major Israeli political party could possibly agree to making any part of Jerusalem Judenrein? Just how far do they plan to go with this policy of confrontation?
With Obama's international creditability at stake--even as approval of both Obama and his economic plan plummet at home--we can probably expect more Chicago-style pressure on Israel.

Obama needs a win, and with enough pressure Israel is more malleable than the economy.


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Appeal Granted In Trial Of The Murderers of Ilan Halimi

It started in February 2006 when the news was first reported:
Criminals who tortured and killed a young hostage, keeping him naked and hooded and burning him repeatedly before throwing him from a train, were inspired by images from Iraq, according to a French prosecutor.
Even then, you had the sense that the media wanted to minimize what had happened and its implications:
o The victim's name (Ilan Halimi) was withheld.
o The fact that the victim was Jewish was not mentioned.
o The fact that the missing gangleader is Moslem was omitted.
o The possibility that when a Moslem kills a Jew there may be anti-Semitism was ignored.
Haaretz reported at the time:
"We think there is anti-Semitism in this affair," Rafi Halimi, Ilan's uncle, told the press.

"First, because the killers tried to kidnap at least two other Jews, and second, because of what they said on the phone," Rafi Halimi added. "When we said we didn't have 500,000 euros to give them they told us to go to the synagogue and get it," Rafi said. "They also recited verses from the Koran."

But the Paris public prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, told Parisian Jewish radio on Thursday that "no element of the current investigation could link this murder to an anti-Semitic declaration or action." The umbrella group of French Jewish secular organizations, CRIF, issued a statement Friday calling on the Jewish community "to keep calm, cautious and wait for developments in the investigation."
Eventually, the nature of the murder was admitted.

In April, all those involved were put on trial--behind closed doors, and on July 10 the verdict was announced:
A Paris court on Friday convicted a gang leader of the brutal 2006 killing of a young man prosecutors said was targeted because he was Jewish.

Youssouf Fofana, 28, was sentenced to life in prison. He was one of 27 people on trial in the kidnapping, torture and murder of Ilan Halimi, who was 23 years old.

Halimi was found naked, handcuffed and covered with burn marks near railroad tracks in the Essonne region south of Paris on Feb. 13, 2006. He died on the way to the hospital after being held captive for more than three weeks. The horrific death revived worries in France about lingering anti-Semitism and led to deep anxiety in France's Jewish community, the largest in western Europe.

As the verdict was announced, Fofana, who headed the self-styled "gang of barbarians," mimicked applause. Fofana's sentence means he will have no possibility of parole for 22 years.

His two main accomplices, Samir Ait Abdelmalek and Jean-Christophe Soumbou, were given sentences of 15 and 18 years, respectively. Another man who was a minor at the time also received a 15-year prison term, while Emma, a young girl used to attract Halimi, was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Two people, a man and a woman, were acquitted.

A lawyer for the Halimi family, Francis Szpiner, immediately called on France's justice minister to appeal the verdict because, he said, the sentences that went to the top lieutenant's of Fofana were too light and did not reflect the gravity of the crime.

Last week, it was announced that a French court had approved an appeal for longer sentences for those involved in the Halimi murder:
Fourteen of those convicted in the brutal slaying of young French Jew Ilan Halimi will face an appeal for increased jail terms. The appeal was granted following intervention from Justice Minister Michele Alliot-Marie.

Some French jurists protested the move, and accused Alliot-Marie of giving in to political pressure.

A court had sentenced two people who took part in holding Halimi captive and torturing him to between 15 and 18 years in prison, while a woman who lured Halimi to within kidnappers' reach was sentenced to nine years. Prosecutors had requested that the attackers be sentenced to 20 and 12 years respectively.

Several members of the gang that carried out the murder were sentenced to as few as six months in prison.

Besides prison sentences more fitting for those who committed this heinous crime, perhaps the appeal will somehow increase the exposure that the crime has received in the media.



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If Obama Can Meet With Jewish Leaders To Press Israel...

...then there are apparently some measures Israel can take as well--not the least of which is addressing the American public and the US Congress. Yoram Ettinger, former Ambassador and member of the American-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG), writes about the history of how Israel has responded to US pressure about Jerusalem and actions Israel should take to safeguard Jerusalem as Israel's capital:
A Jerusalem Response to Obama

Twenty five towns in the United States, from Massachusetts to Oregon, bear the name of Jerusalem – Salem. This is a reflection of the unique bonds that exist between the USA – since the 17th century Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers – and the Jewish capital, land, history and religion.

The US Congress – the most authentic representative of the American People – has passed a series of bills and resolutions, reaffirming the role of Jerusalem, as the indivisible capital of the Jewish State and the appropriate site for the US embassy in Israel. US constituents and their representatives on Capitol Hill are aware that 3,000 years before President Obama entered the White House, and 2,770 years before the US gained its independence, King David entered the City of Jerusalem – the Heart of the Jewish People. However, notwithstanding his speech at the 2009 AIPAC Conference, Obama wishes to repartition Jerusalem, to prohibit free Jewish construction and entice Arab construction there. Obama does not recognize pre-1967 Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish State.

In 1949, at the end of the War of Independence, the US Administration, Europe and the UN exerted brutal pressure on Prime Minister Ben Gurion to refrain from declaring Jerusalem as the capital, to accept the internationalization of the city and to abstain from establishing facts on the ground. They also leaned on Israel to "end the occupation of the Negev" and absorb and compensate the 1948 Arab refugees. Ben Gurion's response was immediate and appropriate. He declared Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish State, relocated government departments and agencies to Jerusalem, expanded construction all the way to the ceasefire lines, directed a massive number of Olim (immigrants) to Jerusalem and upgraded the transportation infrastructure to the city. Ben Gurion's determination and defiance clarified to the US that neither Jerusalem nor the Negev was subject to negotiation. It accorded Jerusalem the space required for security and development for the next generation.

In 1967, the US Administration and the international community threatened Prime Minister Eshkol that the reunification of Jerusalem, and any construction beyond the 1949 ceasefire line, would undermine severely Israel's global standing. Eshkol replied firmly by annexing the Old City, the eastern suburbs and substantial land reserves and built the Ramat Eshkol neighborhood (beyond the ceasefire lines).

In 1970-1972, Prime Minister Golda Meir defied the (Secretary of State) Rogers Plan, which called for Israel's retreat to the pre-1967 lines and for the transfer of the Old City to the auspices of the three religions. She laid the groundwork for a series of satellite neighborhoods around Jerusalem (beyond the "Green Line"): Neve' Ya'akov, Gilo, Ramot Alon and French Hill. These neighborhoods provided Jerusalem with the land required for development until today.

In 2009, President Obama is exerting psychological pressure on Israel to repartition Jerusalem, which would rob the city from essential land reserves. This land constitutes the prerequisite for the dramatic enhancement of Jerusalem's transportation, residential and industrial infrastructures, which are critical for the transformation of Jerusalem from a city of net Jewish emigration to a city of net Jewish immigration.

An appropriate fast-track-response to Obama – which aims at attracting entrepreneurs, job-creation, affordable housing, as well as providing Jerusalem with the developmental space for future generations should include:
  • Upgrading "Begin Road" to a "Jerusalem Loop"
  • Expanding freeways (to Jerusalem) 1 & 443
  • Building freeway 45 to the coastal plain
  • Fast railroad to Jerusalem
  • Completion of light rail system in Jerusalem
  • Construction of an international airport
  • Traditional and high-tech industrial zones
  • Residential construction zones
  • Fast roads connecting new zones
Such dramatic enhancement of infrastructure requires an equally dramatic expansion of Jerusalem's city limit: eastward to the Dead Sea, Herodion and Mt. Ba'al Hazor, westward to Modi'in and Kirayt Sefer and southward to Beitar Ilit and Gush Etzion.

The battle over Jerusalem necessitates that the Jewish State join forces with the US public and its representatives in the House and Senate. This is the time to resurrect the 1999 initiative – which was co-sponsored by 84 Senators – to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem. This is the time to encourage Israel's friends on the Hill, and especially the Chairmen of the Congressional and Senatorial campaign committees, to revisit bills and resolutions, which highlighted Jerusalem's indivisibility as the capital of Israel.

Jerusalem's growth requires – as it did during Ben Gurion's, Eshkol's and Golda's terms – a defiance of the US Administration. On the other hand, succumbing to Obama's pressure would exacerbate Jewish emigration from Jerusalem, subjecting the Jewish capital to its worst security and demographic threats since 1967.
Israel can only look to itself to safeguard its interests--and that has never been more true than now.



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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

1983: Arafat vs. Sharon On Palestinian Immigration To The US

On July 7, Patrik Jonsson wrote the following article for The Christian Science Monitor:
Risking Israel's ire, US takes 1,350 Palestinian refugees
The US is generally reluctant to resettle Palestinians, but these are refugees from Iraq who have been targeted since the invasion.

The State Department confirmed today that as many as 1,350 Iraqi Palestinians – once the well-treated guests of Saddam Hussein and now at outs with much of Iraqi society – will be resettled in the US, mostly in southern California, starting this fall.

James Taranto notes that the title of the article is off the mark--

What reason could Israel possibly have to object to this humanitarian gesture? As it turns out, the article offers no evidence whatever of the imputed Israeli irefulness.

...Thus, as Seth Lipsky has argued, Palestinian immigration to the U.S. would be very much in the Jewish state's interest. If the U.S. "doesn't want the refugee program to become an issue in its relationship with Israel," maybe it is because it doesn't want to be pressed into admitting more Palestinians.

So what would be the reaction to such a suggestion?

The article Taranto links to is interesting on the topic of bringing Palestinian Arab refugees into the US--from a perspective in 2000...and 1983.

From the perspective of 2000, when the article was written:

It would be to map out a plan for bringing the Palestinian Arab refugees to America. Such a plan would take the pressure off the antagonists in the Middle East, and it would give America a chance to benefit from an influx of educated, intelligent refugees at a time when the labor market is so tight that America desperately needs all the help it can get.

Lipsky writes that he suggested the idea of encouraging such immigration in August 2003 entitled "Invite the Palestinians to America," proposing the US provide Palestinian Arabs with 250,000 green cards a year for 10 years.

He writes that Secretary of State George Shultz considered such an idea at that time because of the situation in Lebanon at the time--there was a report of a State Department study suggesting that the US bring in 50,000 Palestinian Arab refugees from Lebanon on an emergency basis. This was before the Lebanese Phalangists massacre of Sabra and Chatilla and before Syria began shelling followers of Yasser Arafat.

What is most interesting is the reaction Lipsky got to his idea--from Arafat and Sharon:

At one point I asked Mr. Arafat directly about the proposal. The Journal's Karen Elliot House and I had gone to see him when he was staying at a state guest house in Amman. I asked him what he thought of the idea of America offering the Palestinian Arabs 250,000 green cards a year for a decade.

At first Mr. Arafat looked startled and huddled with his aides. Then he looked up and asked whether I was serious, remarking at one point that the Palestinians would have influence in the election of the U.S. president. I conceded that it wasn't a live policy initiative in Washington and explained I was asking about the principle. Mr. Arafat huddled with his aides again before replying: "Me, I want a visa to Jerusalem." When pressed, he asserted that I had a "lively imagination."

Arafat's wariness is understandable. Imagine if Palestinian Arabs--especially the Palestinian elite--came to the US: what would have become of Arafat's Palestinian state (with the power and money it would bring to Arafat's coffers). Lipsky's plan would not be to Arafat's benefit.

And Sharon?

The only Middle East official I talked with who had a different view was, ironically, Ariel Sharon, the right-of-center general from Israel's Likud Party. I asked about the idea while visiting him at his farm. He said that he didn't see why those Palestinian Arab refugees in land controlled by Israel couldn't stay. He wasn't blind to the obvious political problems and the challenge to Jewish nationalism. His point was that he has always wanted a large Israel and recognizes that it is an underpopulated country.

Interestingly though Sharon was not "blind to the obvious political problems and the challenge to Jewish nationalism," he was at the time 'blind' to demographic considerations when he defended the Disengagement--considerations that have since been proven false.

Maybe Sharon changed his mind between his meeting with Lipsky and his proposal for the Disengagement; maybe Sharon did not consider the demographic threat real and he was just looking for any argument to support the Disengagement plan.

In any case, the issue of Palestinian immigration as part of an approach towards lessening tensions in the Middle East has been broached before--including an attempt in Congress to block such an attempt. Right now, Americans are too busy thinking about the economy to consider the immigration of Palestinian Arabs.

But they will.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Still Not Clear How Fatah Is Different Than Hamas

I came across an old post from November 2007:

On October 18, Representative Roy Blount introduced HR 278:

Urging Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also Chairman of his Fatah party, to officially abrogate the 10 articles in the Fatah Constitution that call for Israel's destruction and terrorism against Israel, oppose any political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and label Zionism as racism.

According to Govtrack.us, this bill went nowhere.

Part of the bill reads:

Whereas in May 2006, President Mahmoud Abbas endorsed the `Prisoner's Plan', a document produced by jailed Palestinian terrorists, that calls for continued terrorism against Israel, does not accept Israel's existence as a Jewish state, and abrogates Palestinian obligations under the Declaration of Principles, signed at Washington, DC, on September 13, 1993, (commonly referred to as the `Oslo Accords'), and the 2003 Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict (commonly referred to as the `Roadmap for Peace');

To sum it up: in May 2006, Abbas endorsed a plan that:

1. Calls for continued terrorism.
2. Does not recognize Israel.
3. Does not accept prior agreements.
I have pointed out before that based on Abbas' statements and actions, it is clear that he does not abide by the '3 preconditions' that are claimed to be required of Hamas before the US and Europe will open talks with them.

In endorsing the Prisoner's Plan of 2006, it is clear that the same requirements should have been made of Abbas all along--yet have not been.

It's about time we openly ask why not.

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