Thursday, April 30, 2009

Palestinian Authority Ready To Sentence Palestinian To Death--In Violation Of Oslo

The crime:
In the first case of its kind, a Palestinian Authority "military court" on Tuesday sentenced a Palestinian man to death by hanging after finding him guilty of selling land to Jews.
The three-judge panel found the defendant guilty of violating PA laws that bar Palestinians from selling property to "the enemy." In its ruling, the court, which convened in Hebron, said that Brigith had acted in violation of a Palestinian "military law" dating back to 1979, which states that it is forbidden for a Palestinian to sell land to Jews.

The accused was also found guilty of violating a law dating back to 1958 that calls for a boycott against Israel, as well as another law from 1953 that bans trade with Israelis.

The judges issued the verdict unanimously and pointed out that the defendant did not have the right to appeal. The death sentence, however, must be approved by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. [emphasis added]
It seems that as opposed to the 1953 and 1958 laws that ban sales to Israelis, the 1979 law bans sales to Jews--apparently independent of increasing the size of Israel at the expense of Arab lands. I'm curious if that law is based on Islamic law that considers Jews to be dhimmis--second-class citizens.

Jonathan Tobin emphasizes:
Mind you, this is not the act of the extremist Islamists of Hamas. This comes from a court whose officers and judges are all affiliated with the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority — the supposedly moderate peace-partner to whom most of the world is pressuring Israel to make concessions. But even to these “moderates,” a real-estate transaction with a Jew is a capital offense because it is an article of Palestinian faith that every inch of their country must be rendered Judenrein in order for their national destiny to be fulfilled.
So much for our moderate peace partners.

In Can Arabs Buy Land In Israel?--Alex Safian elaborated in 1997 on Palestinian laws regarding sale of land--both an older version based on Jordanian law and a newer revised version--and finds that such laws are  null and void due to the Oslo Accords:

Enforcement of the old Jordanian law. The PA's justice minister, Meddein, has repeatedly stated his intention to enforce the 1973 Jordanian law. It is doubtful, however, that this law has any legal standing in territories under control of the PA. The Oslo 2 Agreement of September 1995 specifically deals with regulations of this sort and renders them null and void in PA territories. Oslo 2 states that any legislation "inconsistent with the provisions of the DOP (Declaration of Principles, the agreement signed on the White House lawn in September 1993.), [or] this Agreement ... shall have no effect and shall be void ab initio."Imposing the death penalty on Palestinians for selling land to Israelis clearly violates at least two provisions of Oslo 2. [emphasis added]

In a footnote, Safian describes the 2 provisions of Oslo 2 in question: 

Article XVI, paragraph 2 of Oslo 2 requires that Palestinians who have "maintained contact with the Israeli authorities" will not on this account be subject to "harassment, violence, retribution or prosecution." Article XIX requires that the Palestinian Council "shall exercise their powers and responsibilities pursuant to this agreement with due regard to internationally—accepted norms and principles of human rights and the rule of law."

The Palestinians also created a new law to outlaw selling property to Israelis:

The new Palestinian law. The Palestinian Legislative Council has passed the first reading of a draft law intended to supersede the 1973 Jordanian statute. This new law reportedly bar sales to "occupiers" whom it defines as the "Israeli occupying government and its civil and military institutions, settlements and whomever is under their authority." It declares the sale of land in "Palestine" to such occupiers to be "high treason" punishable "according to the criminal law." And it states that foreign violators have "committed harm to the national security and will be punished according to the criminal law." The draft law is vague about punishment, but according to the Jordanian Penal Code, which is still in effect on the West Bank, the crime for treason is death.

According to PA legislators, the term "Palestine" in the law refers to all the territory of the Palestine Mandate, meaning all of Israel. Under this proposed statute, then, an Israeli Arab who sells any land in Israel to an Israeli Jew would face the death penalty. Such extraterritorial threats receive added weight from the reported formation by the PA of a shadowy force known as "The Long Arm," whose task is to track down and execute Palestinians living anywhere in the world who have sold land to Israeli Jews. [emphasis added]

Just how Palestinian law can continue to define Palestine as referring to all of Israel while the Palestinian Authority in general and Abbas in particular are supposed to 'recognize' the right of Israel to exist--is unclear.

In any case there is more at stake here that the cruel execution of a Palestinian by his own people. The actions of the Palestinian court, and Abbas's apparent consent, raise major questions about the reliability of both the PA and Abbas to accept previous agreements that have been accepted--and raise concerns once again about just how a reliable peace partner Abbas really is.

Before pushing Israel into agreeing to the creation of a second Palestinian state, perhaps Clinton and Obama should finally address that issue.

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BMI's "Apolitical Policy" Takes Israel Off The Map (Updated)

Airline BMI Takes Israel off Maps:
IDF Army Radio reports that British airline BMI has removed Israel from the electronic maps displayed to passengers in some of its planes. The report claimed that the reason was to avoid offending Muslim passengers.
Israel does not appear in maps on BMI flights between London and Tel Aviv, and that the pre-independence Arabic name for Haifa appears instead, according to the report.

In addition, the electronic maps display the distance between the plane and Mecca. "This is a fault. The electronic map will be removed from the airline's two planes that operate the route to Tel Aviv,” BMI said in response. “We make every effort to take passengers' sensitivities into account through an apolitical policy."[emphasis added]
I suppose it would be pointless to note that the BMI policy is anything but apolitical. It is a policy that takes the politically expedient course in doing what is necessary to prevent complaints.

Electronic maps that tell you the distance from the plane to Mecca is an extra thrown in for a particular group. It is not necessary, but a nice plus for particular customers.
Having a complete and accurate map is a normal service--go to the trouble of removing a country from a map is a political statement.

Which countries will BMI remove out of respect for the sensitivities of other customers?

UPDATE: More details on what happened--some that cast a better light on BMI, some that don't.
Israel has been excluded from digital maps displayed for passengers on British airline BMI flights from London Heathrow to Ben-Gurion Airport.

Instead of viewing Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities signposted on screens, customers flying on two BMI-owned Airbus A320 airplanes have instead been exclusively shown Haifa, spelled "Khefa" - the Arab name of the city before 1948.

BMI, which runs flights to Ben-Gurion Airport twice daily, has declared that the maps are the result of a logistical error due to the company's failure to modify the system created by British airline BMED (British Mediterranean Airways), now defunct, from which BMI acquired the planes two years ago.
Okay, so maybe it is all a mistake and BMI is less culpable.

But then there is this, which indicates a mentality at BMI that is very much in tune with the 'mistake' that happened:
BMI also made headlines lately for firing a staff member for refusing to fly to Saudi Arabia.

Flight attendant Lisa Ashton was told to wear an abaya, a black robe which covers everything but the face, feet and hand, in public places in Saudi Arabia. She was also instructed to walk behind her male colleagues, irrespective of rank.

Ashton, a practicing Christian, filed for unfair dismissal at a UK employment tribunal earlier this year; the court dismissed the case, stating that BMI was justified in imposing "rules of a different culture" on staff.

Ashton may seek a judicial review of the decision and has been in consultations with human rights organization Liberty
I suppose that if BMI can employ "rules of a different culture" on an employee, they would see now problem imposing them on a map. Still, the phony distinction the court made between culture and religion is absurd and only opens the door to more pandering to Islamists.

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Obama And Israel: Imitating Bush 41?

After initial hits by Scud missiles, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir hesitantly refused any retaliating measures against Iraq, due to increasing pressure from the United States to remain out of the conflict. The US government was concerned that any Israeli action would cost them allies and escalate the conflict, and an air strike by the IAF would have required overflying hostile Jordan or Syria, which could have provoked them to enter the war on Iraq's side or to attack Israel.
Wikipedia, on The First Gulf War
The First Gulf War was probably the first and most visible example of the US telling Israel to sacrifice in order not to upset US relations with the Muslim world. Israelis died as a result.

Now, once again, Obama apparently finds that Israel is an impediment to engaging with the Muslim world.

Arutz Sheva reports:
According to a classified intelligence assessment handed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Barack Obama and his senior advisors wish to “incrementally diminish U.S. strategic cooperation with Israel.”

A report in World Tribune quoted an Israeli source familiar with the intelligence assessment who said that "Obama wants to make friends with our worst enemies and [those who were] until now the worst enemies of the United States. Under this policy,” the source added, “we are more than irrelevant. We have become an obstacle.”
[Note: the report by the World Tribune has thus far not been corroborated by other news sources]

Apparently, Israel is not the only obstacle to the Muslim world accepting the US and Obama--there is only one other thing:
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday that Obama would face “a serious crisis in the Middle East” if he does not fix the mistakes made by his predecessor George W. Bush, within a year’s time.

On a visit to Vienna after meeting Austrian leaders and intellectuals, Assad called on the U.S. to rapidly withdraw its troops from Iraq. This, he claimed, would resolve "50 per cent of the problem," Austrian news agency APA reported. [emphasis added]
I assume that Israel makes up the other 50%.

Of course, the Arab world in general is wary of Iran, which is working to increase its influence--so that ironically a number of Arab countries feel themselves in the same boat as Israel, wondering to what extent Obama's overtures to Iran are going to undercut their own security interests.

In Just The Beginning, Michael Rubin analyzes Obama's new policy in the Middle East, and the belief system beneath it:
There is an unfortunate dynamic in Washington in which new administrations fault predecessors rather than adversaries for failure to engage productively. No matter what their preconceptions before entering the Oval Office, however, all presidents discover they are powerless to resolve differences with Tehran when Iran's leadership does not desire it...And while journalists and academics applaud Obama's overtures, they too often ignore the Iranian response, for example Khamenei's Apr. 15, 2009 speech at Imam Hossein University where he declared, "The recommendation to return to the global order is the same as capitulating to the bullying powers and accepting the unjust world order."
Today, it is not just that Obama faults predecessors instead of adversaries--he seems to fault allies as well.

Today in an opinion piece, 100 Days: 'Harry, I Have a Gift', Daniel Henninger writes about Obama's confidence in his oratorical gifts. But the gift Henninger describes is the ability to make all sides believe that Obama agrees with them--not that Obama is persuasive per se. 

We've seen that the former has worked very well for Obama in maintaining his popularity.
What we have yet to see is whether Obama's particular brand of charisma will work overseas.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Obama: Lessons Of The Holocaust

In “Never Again,” Obama Style, Michael Ledeen examines a speech Obamba made in the Capitol on the Holocaust Day of Remembrance:
It is the grimmest of ironies that one of the most savage, barbaric acts of evil in history began in one of the most modernized societies of its time, where so many markers of human progress became tools of human depravity: science that can heal, used to kill; education that can enlighten, used to rationalize away basic moral impulses; the bureaucracy that sustains modern life, used as the machinery of mass death, a ruthless, chillingly efficient system where many were responsible for the killing, but few got actual blood on their hands.
While Ledeen finds much that is right about what Obama says, he notes that Obama, in talking about what can be learned from the Holocaust, overlooks the historical context behind that bureaucracy--and in taking a lesson from the Holocaust about government in general, misses an important point:
Those words about bureaucracy, “that sustains modern life,” are a useful window into the way Obama views government. He loves government, especially his own. But he’s got the Nazi story wrong. The bureaucracy that conducted the mass murders was largely military, and the most important component was not part of the bureaucracy, or even the traditional army, but rather the SS, which was tied directly to the Fuhrer, not to the old German state.
Obama's strength is his oratory, and the Holocaust presents too strong an image to pass up in making a point--even if it does not really reflect the evils of government that he is trying to speak about, which makes Obama's point all the more jarring in the association his is trying to create.

The issue of the Holocaust and a different lesson that he gleaned from it came up last year in May in an interview Obama did with Jeffrey Goldberg for The Atlantic:
JG: Do you think that justice is still on Israel’s side?

BO: I think that the idea of a secure Jewish state is a fundamentally just idea, and a necessary idea, given not only world history but the active existence of anti-Semitism, the potential vulnerability that the Jewish people could still experience. I know that that there are those who would argue that in some ways America has become a safe refuge for the Jewish people, but if you’ve gone through the Holocaust, then that does not offer the same sense of confidence and security as the idea that the Jewish people can take care of themselves no matter what happens. That makes it a fundamentally just idea.

That does not mean that I would agree with every action of the state of Israel, because it’s a government and it has politicians, and as a politician myself I am deeply mindful that we are imperfect creatures and don’t always act with justice uppermost on our minds. But the fundamental premise of Israel and the need to preserve a Jewish state that is secure is, I think, a just idea and one that should be supported here in the United States and around the world. [emphasis added]

Here, Obama seems very close to saying that the Holocaust is the justification for a state of Israel: the insecurity of Jews made the US insufficient as a safe refuge and made it necessary for Jews to create a state of their own.

Of course, how much of this is the rhetoric of the moment and how much of this reflects his actual point of view is not clear.

Come to think of it, we are still waiting to get an accurate idea of how Obama feels about Israel.

UPDATE: Check out Israel Matzav, who highlights Obama's unusual explanation of what is meant by "Never Again".

More at Memeorandum

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Obama Congratulates Israel On 61st Anniversary

From the Office of the Press Secretary:
Statement on the 61st Anniversary of Israel’s Independence

On behalf of the people of the United States, President Obama congratulates the people and government of Israel on the 61st anniversary of Israel’s independence. The United States was the first country to recognize Israel in 1948, minutes after its declaration of independence, and the deep bonds of friendship between the U.S. and Israel remain as strong and unshakeable as ever. The President looks forward to working with Israel to advance our common interests, including the realization of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, ensuring Israel’s security, and strengthening the bilateral relationship, over the months and years to come.
Jonathan Tobin has some questions:
• While a “comprehensive peace” is an intrinsic good that both countries desire, how can it be achieved while the party with which Israel is expected to make such a peace is led by two factions — Hamas and Fatah — neither of which actually support the idea of real peace with a Jewish state?

• What sort of pressure are you prepared to put on the Palestinians in order to force them to cease support for terrorism and the fomenting of hatred against Israelis and Jews (hint: they already pledged to do this in the Oslo Accords and several follow-up agreements, but never made good on the promise)?

• While the United States is open in its desire for Israel to make more territorial withdrawals in the West Bank, what assurances can you possibly give the Israelis that this land will not be used as a launching pad for further terrorist attacks — as has been the case with the Gaza Strip since Israel left in 2005?

• Most importantly, what, other than making statements that the Iranians consider a sign of weakness and irresolution, are you prepared to do in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons — something that you promised to do during your campaign for the presidency — with which they can threaten both Israel’s existence and the stability of every Arab regime in the region?
Obama's statement is simple and straightforward--what one would have expected. Down the road though, it would be nice to get past the rhetoric and address the hard questions that lurk behind the inevitable talk about the two state solution and the problems it poses.

But someone we never get to the hard questions.

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Torah Podcasts From Yeshivat Har Etzion

From an email:
Yeshivat Har EtzionKMTT
The  Torah  Podcast

 The Israel KoschitzkyVBM

Zman Kayitz - Summer session begins

KMTT returns with 2 new series:
On Wednesdays:     Rav Moshe Taragin - Pirkei Avot
On Thursdays:         Dr. Yael Ziegler - Megilat Ruth
The other series continue:
Monday:                  Rav Binyamin Tabory - Moadei HaShana
Tuesday:                  Rav Ezra Bick - Ramban on the Parsha
Friday                      The Erev Shabbat Program
Subscribe to the KMTT podcast 
or visit the KMTT blog to download individual shiurim

One half-hour shiur every day - Learn Torah every day

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Yom Haatzmaut Carnival

Check out Yid With Lid, who has put together links to various blogs that are covering various aspects of Yom Haatzmaut.

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Why Require Hamas To Recognize Israel When Abbas Won't?

The Obama administration has embarked on a path some feel may lead to recognition of Hamas. True, Hamas remains on the official list of terrorist groups:
But the administration has asked Congress for minor changes in U.S. law that would permit aid to continue flowing to Palestinians in the unlikely event that Hamas-backed officials become part of a unified Palestinian government.
Now whenever there is any hint of recognition of Hamas, the response is that any recognition would require that Hamas acquiesce on the big 3:
U.S. officials insist the proposal does not mean they would be recognizing or aiding Hamas. Under law, any U.S. aid would require that the Palestinian government meet three long-standing criteria: recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
The question is--does the US require the same from the PA?

This week, Abbas came out with his refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state:
"A Jewish state, what is that supposed to mean?" Abbas asked in a speech in the West Bank's political capital of Ramallah. "You can call yourselves as you like, but I don't accept it and I say so publicly."

He said it's not his job to define the state of Israel. "Name yourself, it's not my business," He said. "All I know is that there is the state of Israel, in the borders of 1967, not one centimeter more, not one centimeter less. Anything else, I don't accept."
Now you could argue that Abbas is only refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state--in order not to mess the negotiations for the return of Palestinian Arabs to Israel. But Abbas has gone further than that.

Joel Mowbray wrote in March of last year that Abbas's definition of simple recognition of Israel has also been dummied down:
"Defending his “recognition” of Israel on TV network Al-Arabiya in October 2006, he explained that it was more a practical reality than a meaningful political position. He cited as an example the need for the PA to get $500 million from Israel: “The Palestinian finance minister has to come to an agreement with the Israeli finance minister about the transfer of the money. So how can he make an agreement with him if [the PA finance minister] does not recognize him? So I do not demand of Hamas nor any other to recognize Israel. But from the government that works with Israelis in day to day life, yes.”"
This is not the kind of minimal recognition that one expects of a peace partner; it is the cynical kind of recognition that is the minimum necessary to get the money. Of course, the fact that Abbas himself would not require Hamas to recognize Israel makes the US claim that they would require Hamas to recognize Israel somewhat less than meaningful.

But that is what Obama's promise to look out for Israel's security has become--
Less than meaningful.

Note: Come to think of it, what about the other 2 requirements: renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements.

When is the last time that Abbas renounced violence against Israel? What we get instead, according to Mowbray's article:
Appearing much less careful than when speaking in English, Mr. Abbas last week told the Arabic-language Al-Dastur, I was honored to be the one to shoot the first bullet in 1965, the year his organization, Fatah, initiated terrorism against Israel. (Transcript provided by PMW.) The renowned moderate Palestinian leader then explained his pride in having taught resistance to many in this area and around the world ... including Hezbollah, who were trained in [PLO] camps.
As far as keeping past agreements, phase one of the Road Map requires "Issue unequivocal statement affirming Israel’s right to exist in peace and security." Abbas's comments about Israel not being a Jewish state--and his watered down version of what recognition means--run counter to that. 

Then of course there is Abbas's refusal to disarm terrorist groups, stop attacks against Israel, and use force to confront terrorism--remember that the Kassam rockets did not suddenly begin when Abbas was kicked out of Gaza.

So the question really is: if recognition of Hamas is based on recognizing Israel, renouncing violence and agreeing to follow past Israeli-Palestinian agreements--what is recognition of (and aid to) Abbas and the Palestinian Authority based on?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Hatikva Live--From Around The World

From The Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs website:
On Wednesday, April 29th beginning at 10:50PM Israel time, communities from around the world will join together to sing Israel's national anthem Hatikva. Broadcasting from Tel Aviv, the Mayor will join with over 100 young adults celebrating Tel Aviv's 100th Birthday and the 61st birthday of the State of Israel. Last year, Live Hatikva broke the Guinness Book of Records for the number of people singing a national anthem in unison. You're welcome to watch last year's Live Hatikva at

Live Hatikva will be broadcast around America and on the Internet streaming live at

Here is video of last year's Live Hatikva:

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Clinton On Iran: Putting The Cart Before The Camel

Once again, if there is trouble in the Middle East--Israel is to blame. While appearing before the House Appropriations Committee, Hillary Clinton indicated that  while she sympathizes with Israel's wariness about Iran--
...she then cautioned that Israel was unlikely to gain support for thwarting Iran unless there were visible efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood.

"For Israel to get the kind of strong support it's looking for vis-a-vis Iran it can't stay on the sideline with respect to the Palestinian and the peace efforts, that they go hand-in-hand," Clinton said.

Clinton noted that every Arab official she has met with "wants very much to support the strongest possible policy toward Iran." But, she said, "they believe that Israel's willingness to reenter into discussions with the Palestinian Authority strengthens them in being able to deal with Iran."
That's right, although it is true that Iran is a threat not only to Israel but to the entire region as a whole, the Arabs cannot face up to the Iranian threat until and unless Israel agrees to negotiate with the PA for the creation of a second Palestinian state--only then will the Arab world be able to confront Iran head on.

First of all, why would the Arabs need the Israel to first negotiate with Abbas--how is that really supposed to strengthen the resolve of the Arab world? Secondly, there are indications that what is making the Arab world uncomfortable in dealing with Iran has nothing to do with Israel at--what is making the Arab world uncomfortable is the US:
Arab governments have been seeking assurances from Mr. Ross and other U.S. officials that Washington's overtures toward Iran won't undercut their security interests, U.S. and Arab diplomats said. The Arab governments are asking the U.S. to consult regularly with them as President Barack Obama seeks to hold high-level negotiations with Tehran aimed at ending its nuclear activities.

"The discomfort among the Arabs is quite real. They have deep anxieties about Iran," said a senior U.S. official working on the country. "The first thing is to be in the position of consulting with them, and taking into effect their concerns."
Jennifer Rubin concludes:
Yes, the Arab states would like Ross to repeat the mantra that Israel must engage in “negotiations” with Palestinians (with whom exactly and to what end is unclear), but the gravamen of the Arab states’ concern is that Obama is engaged in an open-ended and foolhardy “talk” strategy with Iran while Iran pursues regional hegemony. Ross will try to convince them otherwise.

The bottom line: the Clintonian spin that Israel needs to shape up before Arab help on Iran is forthcoming is hogwash. If there is cause for concern among the Arab states it is Clinton’s boss and his penchant for denial about the intentions and behavior of rogue states.
Ed Morrissey is not so polite:
Arabs oppose Iranian hegemony for entirely selfish reasons; none of them want to live under a Persian thumb. That has nothing to do with Israel. If an American State Department can’t arrange Arab opposition to Iran, then they should quit in shame over their complete and abject incompetence. I’m not sure I’ve heard such a dumb excuse coming from State, and certainly not from a Secretary of State.
We have already seen the readiness of the Obama administration to lunge into major decisions--such as the stimilus package--without reading what it actually entails. Is the new US approach to the Middle East any different? How much attention is really being paid to the consequences of the actions that the US is preparing to take--consequences that could well be as severe as the economic ones that Americans now face?

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Yom HaZikaron: On Memory

The Word Well writes about today, Yom HaZikaron:
On Memory
Is a memory something you have or something you’ve lost? – Woody Allen (Spoken by Gena Rowlands (as Marion) in ‘Another Woman’)

Today we think of who we do not have and why, and then what that lack demands of us.

Tomorrow, about how we celebrate being alive to meet those demands.

Today is Memorial Day in Israel, honoring fallen soldiers and victims of terror, observed here a day before Independence Day. The connection is essential since it is widely recognized that without the former, celebrating the latter would be impossible, while always hoping that one day, this will not be the case. That there will be no more names on next year’s list of the fallen. It is, in other words, a sacred day we wish with all our hearts we didn’t need to observe, and in fact grapple with its necessity all the time.

Here’s something I wrote about potential loss and war when my husband was commanding an APC in Lebanon II. I was essentially the least supportive war wife ever, because I didn’t believe in the war. I later learned, from the Disney franchise of all places, that Hassan Nasrallah was counting on people like me to behave exactly as I did.

(What does Disney have to do with the IDF and Hezbollah? Think Mufasa / Scar / Simba / Pridelands / Hakuna Matata / Circle of Life… Or just read the essay.)
Read the whole thing.

The essay, Proving something to myself, begins:
A well-known editor of a widely read Jewish American weekly wrote recently of his deep fear that Israel, with its many hostile and tacit enemies, may be (God forbid, he added) on its way out. The truth is that there is no way to make someone feel better about a qualm like that. It is a logical fear - - although logic, for better and worse, has never been the stuff of Jewish, and especially not Israeli, survival.

The other truth is that scary columns are useful, even when they contain no real operative suggestions, because anxiety often - or hopefully - prompts communal discourse, action, and change. My (quasi-logical) response to him, in Jewish fashion, is a problem, and a Talmudic reinterpretation of Churchill:
Read the whole essay.

As Mufasa said to Simba: Remember who you are.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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Hudson Institute: Leading Muslim Scholars Condemn Racism and Intolerance Disguised as Cultural Diversity

From an email:

For Immediate Release:

April 23, 2009
Leading Muslim Scholars Condemn Racism and Intolerance
Disguised as Cultural Diversity

Responding to the Declaration of the Durban Review Conference Zeyno Baran, Khaled Abu Toameh, Tarek Heggy, Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, Irfan al-Alawi and Veli Sirin decry the failure to recognize and condemn rampant oppression in the name of Islam.

The Hudson Institute hosted a panel today during the Durban Review Conference with an eminent group of Muslim scholars from Egypt, Israel, the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. All were highly disappointed by the conference's failure to grapple with one of the leading sources of intolerance in the world today - namely, bigotry and xenophobia in the name of religion itself and Islam in particular.

"The conference reaffirms the perception that Islam has been hijacked by a dominant minority of thugs, extremists and anti-Semites who claim that they are speaking on behalf of a majority of Muslims. Ahmadinejad and his likes should be the last to talk about racism, human rights and tolerance" said Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli-Arab journalist and filmmaker.

Zeyno Baran, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, remarked that "It is time the silent majority of Muslims speaks up in defense of universal human rights for all, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, religion or gender. Humanity is one; labels have tragically divided us and Durban II sadly has missed another opportunity for an honest discussion."

Egyptian scholar Tarek Heggy noted that "The west has been listening to and dealing with a single Islamic voice - an extremely rigid one. It is the historic responsibility of the west to now listen to the many other voices, some of which are entirely different."

"Durban II," pointed out Dr. Irfan al-Alawi, executive director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation UK, "has been discredited by hate speech, efforts to deny freedom of expression and attempts to limit the reach of anti-racism treaty obligations. The ploy has undermined, rather than supported, diversity in religion and culture. The United Nations has repeatedly failed to protect human rights and, ironically, Durban II uses alleged human rights principles to continue that inauspicious record." Al-Alawi, noted that the attempt to limit free speech by invoking Islam was illegitimate. "Islam benefits from debate and criticism. Islam needs free speech and Islam is strong enough to withstand negative speech."

Stephen Suleyman Schwartz, executive director of the Center of Islamic Pluralism added that "All religion and spirituality originates with criticism and freedom of speech. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all began with a criticism of earlier, idolatrous religion, and no religion can flourish without freedom of opinion."

Veli Sirin, director of the Zentrum fur den Islamische Pluralismus (ZIP) in Germany and an activist in the Alevi youth opinion, said: "The experience of the Alevis in Turkey shows the negative consequences of monolithic attitudes in religion and the use of differences as a pretext for the brutal suppression of minorities. By ignoring the experience of these minorities, Durban II has done a tremendous disservice to many victims of racism and intolerance."

Hudson Institute is a non-partisan policy research organization dedicated to innovative research and analysis that promotes global security, prosperity, and freedom.

For further information, please contact:
Zeyno Baran, +1-202-255-2073,

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EYEontheUN: How Durban II Undermined Human Rights

From an email:

For Immediate Release:
April 27, 2009
Contact: Anne Bayefsky

How Durban II Undermined Human Rights

The U.N. conference degrades the very causes it says it fights for.

This article, by Anne Bayefsky, originally appeared in Forbes.

Durban II, the U.N. conference in Geneva that ended on Friday, will forever be remembered for handing a global megaphone to genocidal hatemonger Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the name of combating racism. By the end of the week-long jamboree, even the South African ambassador insisted that participants stop referring to the meeting as Durban II because "it is maligning my country."

But the facts aren't stopping the U.N. apparatus from already attempting to rewrite history. Navanethem Pillay, U.N. high commissioner for human rights and secretary-general of Durban II, called a news conference on Friday hours before the adoption of the final declaration to claim Durban II was "a celebration of tolerance and dignity for all." Well, not quite all.

Pillay was open about her intentions to the press corps: "I'm jumping the gun ... the Durban Review Conference is technically not over until later this afternoon. But I know you have deadlines." Rather than changing perceptions, however, her heavily-orchestrated plea confirmed that neither she nor the U.N. understood what had hit them.
The high commissioner bragged: "... a few states disengaged from the process ... they are not part of the consensus that adopted this text ... and Iran is part of that consensus. When the final call came, Iran did not oppose the text." She didn't seem to have a clue that a result approved by Iran--but not by the U.S., Canada, Australia, the Netherlands, Italy, Germany, New Zealand, Poland, the Czech Republic (currently head of the European Union) or Israel--reflected on the merits of Durban II rather than on these leading democracies.

Pillay is no stranger to double-talk. Since taking office last September, she has repeatedly claimed that the 2001 Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (the DDPA)--which singles out only Israel of 192 U.N. member states, saying that Palestinians are victims of Israeli racism--"transcended divisive and intolerant approaches." She has alleged that back in 2001 "abusive or hurtful remarks against Israel" were confined to "a small section of the NGO parallel forum." In a last-ditch effort to avoid a boycott of Durban II, she told reporters on April 2 that the language on Israel had been removed from the Durban II draft outcome document.

When it was over, however, she evidently felt the need for subterfuge was gone. Her audience had changed, and she noted both that Israel had been singled out and demonized by the DDPA, and that Durban II had done the same by reaffirming the DDPA in its opening paragraph. In her words: "The DDPA includes ... one paragraph which mentions the suffering of the Palestinians ... Palestine is mentioned ... in the DDPA, and the word "reaffirm" carries those paragraphs into this document."

By comparison, the U.N.'s highest human rights officer had no problem with the silence of Durban I and II on the plight of Israelis, or any other specific victim of discrimination or intolerance in the Arab, Islamic and developing world. She had no comment on the fact that the transatlantic slave trade was highlighted in Durban II, while the slave trade and slavery in Arab and Muslim states was deliberately omitted. She said nothing about the fact that ongoing genocide in Darfur was again totally ignored.

Durban II, therefore, revealed a startling development in the world of human rights. Since the position of U.N. high commissioner for human rights was created in 1993, there has never been an incumbent so obviously in the pocket of Arab and Islamic countries. These states invented the global conference formula years ago in an attempt to isolate Israel, curtail free expression, manufacture victimhood that would offset concern with anti-Semitism, and prevent any mention of the racial and religious intolerance and discrimination rampant in their own backyards.

And yet, the high commissioner took the unusual step of singling out these states for praise in her closing remarks. She claimed Arab countries had made "extremely difficult" "political concessions" in not insisting on even more condemnations of Israel, while the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) "was also very cooperative." In fact, it was the stubborn refusal of Arab and Islamic states to agree to any U.N. "anti-racism" declaration that did not allege Israel is racist, which kept the U.S. and other states away.

The Geneva venue for the Durban Review Conference, deliberately chosen to allow the U.N. greater control over events, makes it impossible to pin the blame for what occurred on anyone but the U.N. and governments themselves. The proceedings were entirely conducted in an oppressively controlling atmosphere. Pillay acknowledged, for example, the nexus between the U.N. and the press corps (which have permanent offices inside U.N. premises). On the final day, she said, "I want to say at this point particularly to you that the Geneva press corps has been terrific during the later stages of this process. You have seen through the propaganda. ... So on behalf of my entire office, I would like to extend you a very warm thank you for that. I believe you have played an exceptionally important role. I know that some of you have had to argue with editors who, like so many others, have succumbed to the mythology."

Congratulating the Geneva-based press for telling tales her way was a fairly accurate reflection of what transpired. A news conference, called to respond to Ahmadinejad's anti-Semitic tirade featuring, among others, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz, Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight and prize-winning author Shelby Steele, was dominated by U.N. talking points and a list of falsehoods the high commissioner had been peddling for months. Pillay's press corps was more interested in alleged Israeli atrocities than in the fact that Ahmadinejad had been promoting genocide from a U.N. "anti-racism" soapbox.

Non-governmental organizations also became victims of Durban II's official line. Some NGOs representing Dalits, Tamils and Tibetans were denied accreditation to attend the conference at all. Cameras and film crews were prevented from recording selected NGO panels that took place on U.N. premises. The final declaration was adopted two days before NGOs were permitted to make a single comment. Allowed to speak with only 24 hours left in the proceedings, NGOs mentioning Ahmadinejad or Tibetans or Berbers were constantly interrupted and silenced by spurious points of order from Libya, China, Iran and South Africa.

The chair announced the governing rule was that "proper language must be used with respect and dignity at all times," and then proceeded to let speeches likening Israelis to Nazis and claiming "9/11 is an unexplained mystery blamed on Arabs" go unchallenged. By Friday afternoon, the voices of NGOs were so obviously censored or irrelevant that many who had signed the speakers' list didn't bother to show up to deliver their statements.

The U.N.'s NGO liaison officer, Ricardo Espinosa, harassed me for 15 minutes following a speech I delivered condemning the proceedings. When I insisted on having someone with me, or a tape recording of whatever it was he was intending to communicate, he objected, "this is not the United States, this is the U.N."--a fact with which I was only too familiar. When I finally found colleagues and offered to speak to him in the presence of others and a recorder, he suddenly fell silent, said nothing and left with the words "you'll be hearing from us." It remains to be seen whether he or his U.N. bosses are prepared to put their unidentified threat in writing.

Manufacturing a Durban success story is now the primary goal of all the participants--some of whom began to speak of the next conference, "Durban plus 10 years," in the typical U.N. mode of perpetual self-reproduction. In the final minutes on Friday, India (on behalf of the Asian regional group of states), Sweden (on behalf of the remaining E.U. states), Switzerland (the host country) and the Kenyan chair declared NGOs had played an "important role" and "all participated actively." Brazil, Pakistan and Cuba, speaking on behalf of larger regional and political groups, lined up to declare that Durban II's outcome represented a "consensus in international politics" that "makes us all happy." Particularly preposterous was the final comment of the U.K., which "welcomes the adoption by consensus of the outcome"--a very odd description of a product adopted without the approval of key members of the E.U.

The U.K. also claimed that its support for the Durban II outcome was conditional "on the clear understanding that it does not single out any country for consideration." Given that foreign office lawyers know full well that Israel was singled out when Durban II reaffirmed the Durban I Declaration, issuing an interpretive declaration saying the opposite looks like a cynical attempt to deceive the British public. British voters will also be interested to know that their government "was disappointed not to have seen the program budget implications"--meaning the dollars and cents associated with all the undertakings in the document--before it was adopted. But being kept in the dark about the financial implications of Durban II for British taxpayers was still not enough to prevent Britain from jumping on board.

Cuba, on behalf of the 117 member Non-Aligned Movement, best illustrates the Durban fiction that the U.N. hopes will now take hold. It called the Durban document and its reaffirmation the "most far-reaching and transcending document of the international community in the struggle against racism."

A closer look at the final product, however, reveals a variety of troubling provisions rammed through in 15 minutes on the conference's second day. There are a dozen references to cultural diversity, cultural identity and cultural respect aimed at threatening universal human rights standards; new reliance on the U.N. Human Rights Council (a body dominated by human rights abusers); a new provision on racism and foreign occupation written for a party of one, various actions demanded for "victims as defined by the DDPA" (which means Palestinians); and a commitment to grant Durban declarations I and II biblical-like status and implement them throughout "the whole U.N. system."

In her final press conference, Pillay singled out an article I had written last December for Forbes entitled, "The U.N.'s Dangerous High Commissioner for Human Rights." She made light of the title, but having watched her Durban II performance, she is probably the only one laughing. The United Nations and its high commissioner cajoled, pressured and threatened states to legitimize a campaign to undermine the universal values at the heart of the genuine protection of human rights. In so doing, they had no qualms about making promises they had no intention of keeping. Before the conference, on April 15, U.N. spokeswoman Marie Heuze announced: "Hate speech and ethnic insults will be barred at next week's United Nations conference on fighting racism and intolerance." Pillay's post-conference claims of "a celebration of tolerance and dignity for all" show the same disdain for honesty.

Durban II does not represent tolerance and dignity for all, or a consensus in international politics, or restraint by Arab and Islamic states that seek the destruction of the Jewish state. It represents the corruption of the U.N. human rights system itself.

For a complete source of information on Durban II

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Monday, April 27, 2009

What Really Is Behind Anti-Israel Critics?

One of the most visible examples of anti-Israel feeling is the cry to divest from Israel. For example, divestment is in the air again--this time from Scotland:
The Scottish Trades Union Congress [STUC] this week backed boycotts and disinvestment, and called for sanctions against the state of Israel because of the state’s failure to comply with international laws and agreed principles of human rights.

Following extensive debate and deliberation, the Scottish trade unions have endorsed a report recommending the STUC support a boycott and disinvest from Israeli companies, call for sanctions against Israel, and encourage positive investments in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Speaking after the debate at the Congress, STUC General Secretary, Grahame Smith, said: “The STUC is deeply concerned at the daily violations of human rights experienced by Palestinian people. The decision taken by our Congress is not a knee jerk reaction, but arrived at after careful consideration over a two year period. During this time the STUC engaged in discussions with interested groups in Scotland and the UK, and undertook a fact finding delegation to Israel and Palestine”.

Mr Smith added “by taking this decision, the STUC intends to campaign for economic, political and social pressure to be brought upon the Israeli Government, and world powers, to reach a peaceful and just two state solution for Palestine and Israel”.
STUC general-secretary Grahame Smith makes a point to indicate how much effort went into examining the issue:
"On our recent visit to Israel and Palestine, we witnessed the human rights violations experienced by ordinary Palestinians on a daily basis. We saw how restrictions on movement and checkpoints prevent people from going to work, to school and to visit their families even when they are sick and dying," he said.

"We heard powerful arguments from [Palestinian Human Rights Organization] al-Haq, outlining how Israel is in breach of the Geneva Convention and the need for other signatories to international laws to hold Israel to account," he continued.

Smith went on to say the STUC had "carefully considered" the complex issues involved, and concluded, "We believe that we have a moral obligation to show solidarity to Palestinian people. STUC calls for divisive boycott of Israel."
What amazes me is the ease with which people will talk about 'international law' and 'human rights' when they attack the actions of Israel, ignoring the fact that international law operates according to definitions and terms. Since people take a subjective approach to 'human rights' and assume they know what those are, they appear ready to take the next step and assume that international law likewise is subjective--all one has to do is see human suffering and know what to do. And where 2 sides are suffering, all one has to do is count the bodies.

Thus 'disproportionate force' no longer compares the force used with the goal: instead, it measures the force each side uses--and if one side happens to insist on hiding behind its own people while bombing schools, so much the worse for Israel.

Likewise, the accusation of being an 'occupational force' ignores the fact that Israel does not govern over Gaza. 

I suppose one must be thankful that things are going so well in Great Britain that in Scotland they can take time to worry about Palestinian Arabs.

In France, they apparently have some free time on their hands as well:

These heated responses to Israel and the issue of Palestinian Arabs are all the more interesting in light of a study that was done:
As part of the study, participants were asked a series of questions and were instructed to grade their level of sympathy of Israel on a 1-10 scale. Later, participants were presented with several branding videos on Israel, before being asked more questions in order to see whether their opinions changed after watching the clips.

The videos showed many aspects of life in Israel, including the beaches, landscape, culture, food, technology, and religious sites.

After watching the videos, a total of 51% of all respondents said their views on Israel changed for the better. The percentage of respondents who perceived Israel as an aggressive state subsequently dropped from 35% to 21%. Meanwhile, the percentage of respondents who perceived Israel as a creative country rose from 24% to 40% after watching the clips. [emphasis added]
This tends to highlight the fact that those most eager to defend Palestinian Arabs against Israel seem to gloss over the Palestinian vs. Palestinian violence--especially as addressed in the recent Human Rights Watch report. Instead, the protests about defending Palestinian rights are always about Israel vs. the Arab Palestinians, never about the violence and cruelty of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority against their own people.

The possibility has been raised that the fact the defenders for Palestinian rights appear only when Israel is involved indicates that it is not concern for Palestinian Arabs that motivates these people--it is their anti-Israel animus. 

If positive videos about Israel have this great an effect on people's perceptions of Israel--keeping in mind that the videos are not political in nature and do not address the issue of Palestinian Arabs--then what created the negative perceptions of Israel in the first place appears not to have been the Palestinian issue in the first place, or at least not the facts, but rather the impressions about the country as a whole.

I have commented before that the nature of the Palestinian propaganda is such that a 2-word bumper sticker is all that it takes to present their case--and that Israel has nothing in response but a long-winded response of a list of facts and history.

Apparently, I was wrong.
A potent response to "Free Palestine" is "Israel Is For Lovers"
It is simplistic--but apparently so too is what animates much of these anti-Israel protesters. 

When It Comes To Israel, Those Realists Are Such Dreamers

The latest from Roger Cohen includes the necessity of talking with Hamas:
Clinton also indicated an important shift on Hamas, which the State Department calls a terrorist group. While stressing that no funds would flow to Hamas “or any entity controlled by it,” she argued for keeping American options open on a possible Palestinian unity government between the moderate Fatah and Hamas.

So long as a unity government meets three conditions — renounces violence, recognizes Israel’s right to exist and abides by past agreements — the United States would be prepared to deal with it, including on $900 million in proposed aid, Clinton indicated. Washington does business with a Lebanese government in which Hezbollah controls 11 of 30 seats, although Hezbollah is also deemed a terrorist group.
First of all, when it comes to the $900 million that the US is talking about providing Gaza, there apparently have been no preconditions applied (such as stopping terrorist attacks)--since the money is intended to rebuild Gaza, one would assume that time is of the essence and waiting for Hell to freeze over is not an option.

In any case, Cohen's mantra about the '3 conditions' conveniently overlooks the fact that Hamas continues to say, "We cannot, we will not, and we will never recognize the enemy in any way, shape or form." For some reason, the more Hamas refuses to honor the 3 conditions, the more devoutly the apologists repeat this magic formula.

Also odd is Cohen's comparison of Hamas with Hizbollah--while Cohen makes clear he wants to see Hamas as part of a unity party, the fact is that it is not, while Lebanon is an established country, albeit with the Hizbollah cancer firmly attached.
Such a changed U.S. policy makes a lot more sense than the previous one, which insisted on Hamas itself — rather than any Palestinian unity government — meeting the three conditions. No peace can be made by pretending Hamas does not exist, which is why advancing Palestinian unity must be a U.S. priority.

This sensible shift will anger Israel, although it deals indirectly with Hamas through Egypt. Israel’s de jure stand on Hamas — that it must recognize Israel before any talks begin — is wildly at odds with Israel’s de facto methodology since 1948.
Roger Cohen is also fixated on the magical unity government of Hamas and Fatah (maybe because they both have Charters calling for the destruction of Israel?). Perhaps Cohen has also forgotten some simple history:
Hamas won a Palestinian legislative election in 2006, forming a unity government with Fatah that was dissolved by Abbas after the Islamists seized control of Gaza in 2007
But then again, the road to peace in the Middle East appears strewn with failed ideas that 'realists' remain eager to try again and again.

And why is it that those who say you cannot ignore Hamas seem intent to ignore the history of Hamas' terrorism against their fellow Palestinian Arabs--making the Human Rights Watch report about Hamas all the more important:
This 26-page report documents a pattern since late December 2008 of arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, maimings by shooting, and extrajudicial executions by alleged members of Hamas security forces. The report is based on interviews with victims and witnesses in Gaza and case reports by Palestinian human rights groups.
Read the whole thing.

Alas, Roger Cohen bewails Israel's de facto methodology since 1948 and how it differs from today, totally ignoring that Israel's approach to Arab countries who make war on Israel differs from its approach to dealing with terrorist groups who attack its citizens.

Cohen writes about Hillary Clinton's pirouette--that's nothing compared to the somersaults that he goes through.

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How Do Avigdor Lieberman's Comments Affect Israel's Relations With Europe?

David Hazony suggests that the danger to Israel-European relations posed by Avigdor Lieberman's comments may not be all that great:
one wonders whether the damage to Israel’s relations with Europe is real at all. Over the last decade, European governments have largely shifted towards far greater support for Israel. The willingness of countries like Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Germany to boycott Durban II, alongside the most pro-Israel government France has had since the early 1960s, and the overtly friendly government in the Czech Republic, reflects a Europe that is the most heavily supportive of Israel in a very long time. Part of this may have something to do with Israel’s pulling out of Gaza in 2005, which made it politically easier for European leaders to soften their stances. But there are alternate explanations as well: the combination of 8 years of unflinching American solidarity with Israel, an increasing European awareness that its true enemies are the same Islamic extremists that Israel is fighting, and the actual rise of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the prospect of a nuclear Iran — all these have made a great many Europeans understand that pressuring Israel may hurt Europeans in the long run more than alienating the sources of their oil. If Europe once managed to present a united front in support of Israel’s concessions to the Palestinians, today Europe seems utterly divided. [emphasis added]
However, by the same token, those days of unflinching US support are over, and Obama does not seem to see the enemy as being Islamic extremists, and the threat of a nuclear Iran does not seem to phase the new US administration. Is the pendulum now swinging in a whole new direction?

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Nachum Segal Internviews Malcolm Hoenlein (April 24)

On Fridays, Nachum Segal interviews Malcolm Hoenlein:
Nachum interviewed Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, who called in live for the latest Weekly Update. Nachum and Malcolm began this week's Update by addressing the allegations that Congresswoman Jane Harman is somehow involved in the on-going espionage case against former AIPAC members. Malcolm explained the situation and emphasized how weak the entire case is. Nachum asked Malcolm to discuss the Durbin II Conference that started this week including his thoughts on its proximity to Yom Hashoah. They covered several other important issues including: Statements made by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding Israel, President Obama's encounter with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, elections in Lebanon, developments between Hizbollah and Egypt, and much more. Click the link to listen.

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US Strategy In Lebanon Election: Hamas Redux

Gee, this sounds familiar:
Ahead of an election that could oust the U.S.-backed Beirut government, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that Washington supports "voices of moderation" and never will make a deal Syria that "sells out" Lebanon's interests.

The June 7 vote could boost the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies, possibly paving the way for renewed Syrian influence over Lebanon.

"The people of Lebanon must be able to choose their own representatives in open and fair elections without the specter of violence or intimidation and free of outside interference," Clinton told a news conference after meeting with President Michel Suleiman. [emphasis added]
This is of course the same kind of US attitude we saw back in 2006 leading up to the "open and fair" elections that put Hamas in power, something that has actually occured to the new administration:
While urging free and fair elections, the Obama administration is treading carefully. The Bush administration encouraged the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006 and then saw the radical Hamas movement win handily and badly damage efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Reflecting that concern, Clinton met during her brief stay with just one senior official, Suleiman.

U.S. officials say her meeting with Suleiman only is because the U.S. doesn't want to be seen as taking sides in the elections. Suleiman is considered a consensus leader and neutral in the political struggle.
As things stand now, due to the power-sharing system in Lebanese politics, Hizbollah would not be able to seize control regardless of the outcome of the election--merely strengthen and consolidate their control.

I suppose that is why Secretary of State Clinton put her foot down:
Before leaving Lebanon, Clinton stopped at Hariri's grave to lay a wreath. She renewed U.S. support for an international tribunal based in the Netherlands to try his killers. "There needs to be an absolute end to an era of impunity for political assassinations in Lebanon," Clinton said.
Yet this has not stopped the US from talking to Syria. I suppose that referring to Hizbollah and Hamas, which both have connections with Syria, as 'militants' does help to get around the fact that Syria helps sponsors 2 terrorist groups, one of which is tightening its grip on Lebanon.

But its all good--after all, assurances to Israel and Lebanon are surely no less sincere than those made to Iraq:
“Let me assure you and repeat what President Obama said, we are committed to Iraq, we want to see a stable, sovereign, self-reliant Iraq,” she told a nervous but receptive crowd at a town hall meeting at the U.S. Embassy here.
[Hat tip: Instapundit]

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

One Jerusalem: End of Week Review: April 26, 2009

From an email from One Jerusalem:

End of Week Review: April 26, 2009

Dear Friend of Jerusalem,

Here are the latest headlines from the One Jerusalem Blog:

Obama's War On Israel: During the past two weeks, senior members of the Obama Administration, including the President himself, have publicly sought to bully Israel into adopting policies that would be harmful and dangerous to the people of Israel. Secretary of State Hillary... (read more)

Obama Appoints A Muslim With A Troubling Record: When a left-wing, Obama adoring publication hails an action by this President of the United States it is always prudent to research the facts.This week the LA Times, celebrates Obama's appointment of Dalia Mogahed to his Advisory Council on Faith-Based... (read more)

Sincerely, The One Jerusalem Team

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IDF Releases Findings On Operation Cast Lead

From The IDF Website--A Summary Of Its Findings:
IDF Releases Information on Military Investigations
22 April 2009 , 17:20

The IDF has released information regarding comprehensive military investigations related to Operation Cast Lead

IDF Spokesperson

The IDF Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, recently approved and authorized the publication of the conclusions of five investigative teams assigned to investigate events related to the conduct of IDF soldiers during Operation Cast Lead. These investigations are supplementary investigations and are in addition to the investigations that take place following all IDF operations. Additional issues are also undergoing a process of verification or investigation at various levels within the IDF and the IDF aims to complete these investigations by June 2009.

The teams were headed by officers of the rank of Colonel and those who took part in the investigation were not a direct part of the chain of command in the operations that were in question. The teams were appointed by Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.

The five investigative teams dealt with the following five issues:

1. Claims regarding incidents where UN and international facilities were fired upon and damaged during Operation Cast Lead. This investigation was conducted by Col. Itzik Turgeman.
-Regarding the UNRWA school in Jabaliya, the Fahoura School, the investigation concluded that the IDF used minimal and proportionate retaliatory fire, using the most precise weapons available to them. Hamas made this necessary, as it fired mortar shells at Israeli forces 80 meters from the school. Additionally, it was concluded that all of the shells fired by IDF forces landed outside of the school grounds. According to a Senior IDF Military Official, the United Nations has also confirmed this finding.
-Regarding damage done to the UNRWA Headquarters and to a pharmaceutical storage facility in Tel El-Hawa neighborhood, the IDF concluded that IDF forces came under fire near these structures and an exchange of fire occurred. The IDF returned fire only after an IDF armored bulldozer suffered a direct hit from anti-tank fire. Additionally, no one was injured during this incident.
-Regarding the alleged attack on a UNRWA vehicle in Tel El Hawa, the investigation concluded that the vehicle did not bear UN markings, and it that it contained an Palestinian anti-tank squad.
-In one incident, in which a soldier was found to have fired at a UN vehicle in breach of the IDF’s rules of engagement, the soldier in question was court-martialed.
-The IDF did not, at any time, fire with the deliberate intention to hit a UN vehicle or facility in any of the 13 incidents investigated.

2. Incidents involving shooting at medical facilities, buildings, vehicles and crews. This investigation was conducted by Col.Erez Katz.

-The IDF investigated an incident in which a building containing a mother-and-child clinic was attacked by the IDF. The investigation concluded that Hamas used this building as a weapons storage facility. Despite the fact that the building was not identifiable as a clinic and contained no relevant markings, the IDF still warnd the residents of the building prior to the attack.
-The IDF investigation also concluded that all IDF forces were ordered to take special care in order to protect Palestinian civilians. The forces took extraordinary care, as obliged by international law and even acted beyond those obligations. In some incidents, forces even refrained from attacking ‘medical vehicles’ that were being used by Hamas.

3. Claims regarding incidents in which many uninvolved civilians were harmed. This investigation was conducted by Col. Tamir Yedai.
-Regarding the attack in the house of senior Hamas Operative Nazar Ri’an, the IDF concluded that Ri’an was a legitimate military target due to his involvement in the execution and planning of terrorists attacks, and that his house was a legitimate military target due to the fact that it was used as a weapons storage facility, as proven by investigation and secondary explosions after the attack. Additionally, it was found that for unknown reasons, Ri’an’s family stayed in the house, despite numerous warnings and a length period of time during which they were able to evacuate.
-Regarding an attack on a truck carrying oxygen tanks, the IDF concluded that intelligence information led forces to believe that the truck was carrying rockets between a known Hamas manufacturing facility and known rocket launching site. Later, it was found that the truck contained oxygen tanks, which were likely to be used by Hamas for rocket manufacturing. Four Hamas operatives and four uninvolved civilians were killed in the incident.
-Regarding the Al-Daia family residence in Gaza City, the IDF concluded that the Al-Daia family did receive a number of warnings, including a ‘knock on the roof’ warning, but the warning phone call was received by residents of a weapons storage facility, not by the Al-Daia family. This was a result of a mistake in identifying the building.

4. The use of weaponry containing phosphorous. This investigation was conducted by Col. Shai Alkalai.
-The use of weapons containing white phosphorus is standard, legal, and a tactic employed by other western militaries worldwide, including states that are signatories of the Third Protocol of the Convention Weapons (CCW).
-The IDF’s use of white phosphorus was in accordance with Israel’s obligations under international humanitarian law, and more specifically, the obligations with regard to munitions with incendiary characteristics.
-The IDF uses white phosphorus as a smoke screen, and uses certain smoke bombs that contain elements of white phosphorus. These uses are standard and legal. The use of smoke obscurants proved to be a very effective means, and in many cases, prevented the need to use explosive munitions whose impact would have been considerably more dangerous.
-According to a Senior IDF Military Official, the IDF stopped using white phosphorus on January 7, 2009, despite its legality and tactical benefits, in response to the outrage in the media regarding its use.

5. Damage to infrastructure and the destruction of buildings by ground forces. This investigation was conducted by Col. Adam Zusman.
-According to a Senior IDF Military Official, the decision to destroy a structure was made my officers of the rank of Brigade Commander and above.
-The investigation determined that no uninvolved civilians were harmed during the demolition of infrastructure and buildings by IDF forces.
-In many cases, the preparations (including the planting of explosives or weaponry) made by Hamas and other terrorist organizations—including booby-traps aimed at harming IDF forces-- were responsible for the significant damage caused to the structures.
-The investigations did not identify any instances of intentional harm done to civilian infrastructure, nor did it find any incidents in which structures were damaged as means of punishment or without operational justification.
Regarding the conclusions drawn from these investigations, a Senior IDF Military Official said, “The bottom line is that the IDF conducted itself in an appropriate manner wuth within the limits of international law. We kept a high professional and moral standard; all of this, against an enemy that was shooting at our civilian population and using the Palestinian population as human shields.” A Senior IDF Military Official also stated that the investigations shed light on a very small number of mistakes and incidents that indicated inappropriate conduct. These unfortunate incidents were unavoidable and occur in all combat situations in which militaries are forced to fight in urban centers were civilians are used as human shields.

The process of examination involved a series of operational investigations that are both standard protocol for IDF investigative activities, and are employed by other western militaries. In accordance with accepted IDF protocol for professional investigations, the investigators operated independently and were provided with access to all relevant materials and the freedom to question any of the relevant personnel. It should be noted that each soldier whose testimony was requested was required to cooperate with the investigation, and the investigators received full cooperation.Additionally, a Senior IDF Military Official made clear that in order to complete these investigations, Palestinian sources were consulted as necessary and as possible, citing that the IDF has a cooperative relationship with the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Interior.

The government of Israel ordered the IDF to embark on Operation Cast Lead as part of its duty to protect its citizens following eight years of rocket fire on Israeli communities in southern Israel. This fire was heightened during the three years following Disengagement, when Israel withdrew from Gaza, and during the two months prior to Operation Cast Lead. During this time, hundreds of thousands of Israeli children, women and men were terrorized by endless attacks executed by Hamas and other terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza Strip. Thousands of rockets and mortars were fired at schools, kindergartens and residential neighborhoods. Israel was left with no choice other than to act against these continuous acts of terrorism that killed and injured many, not only physically but mentally and emotionally as well. It was impossible for Israeli civilians in these areas to live normal lives.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

Terrorists Find That Having Your Own State Is Highly Overrated

A few months ago, I found an entry on WikiHow on the topic: How To Start Your Own Country. I made a mental note--and sent myself a copy of the article to put on my Google email account for safe keeping. I figured that at some point it would be a handy article to have to make a point.

Now it looks like I'm too late.

According to the article:
Anyone can start their own country! That doesn't mean that people will recognize it, but hey, they generally won't stop you from trying--as long as they don't see it as a threat. So if you'd like to do your own thing in your own country, here's how to establish a micronation.
It then goes on to give you the 5 basic steps
  1. Find territory for your micronation
  2. Declare your independence
  3. Set up a government and constitution
  4. Acquire citizens
  5. Decide on symbols for your country
The instructions are basic, and seem doable. Under the first step for finding terrirtory you'll find:
Most micronationalists use their houses, land no one wants, or land on other planets. Some micronations exist on land unclaimed by other countries because of a loophole in a treaty. The Republic of Indian Stream, for example, was on land between the U.S. and Canada but is not under the jurisdiction of either because of ambiguous terms in the Treaty of Paris. If you can't find land, though, make some! One millionaire activist piled sand onto a reef located in the Pacific Ocean south of Fiji and created an artificial island to start the Republic of Minerva. But if you're not rich enough to make land, then just make it up--some of the more lighthearted micronations claim land on imaginary continents or planets.
So far, so good--but now it seems that countries based on land are somewhat passe.

In Do the Palestinians Really Want a State?, Robert D. Kaplan writes about the novel ideas expressed in a new paper, The Power of Statelessness by Jakub Grygiel.

Kaplan takes the position that Israel bears a good deal of responsibility for the current situation, but also brings in Grygiel to explain the Palestinian side:
Statehood is no longer a goal, he writes. Many stateless groups “do not aspire to have a state,” for they are more capable of achieving their objectives without one. Instead of actively seeking statehood to address their weakness, as Zionist Jews did in an earlier phase of history, groups like the Palestinians now embrace their statelessness as a source of power.

New communication technologies allow people to achieve virtual unity without a state, even as new military technologies give stateless groups a lethal capacity that in former decades could be attained only by states. Grygiel explains that it is now “highly desirable” not to have a state—for a state is a target that can be destroyed or damaged, and hence pressured politically. It was the very quasi-statehood achieved by Hamas in the Gaza Strip that made it easier for Israel to bomb it. A state entails responsibilities that limit a people’s freedom of action. A group like Hezbollah in Lebanon, the author notes, could probably take over the Lebanese state today, but why would it want to? Why would it want responsibility for providing safety and services to all Lebanese? Why would it want to provide the Israelis with so many tempting targets of reprisal? Statelessness offers a level of “impunity” from retaliation.

But the most tempting aspect of statelessness is that it permits a people to savor the pleasures of religious zeal, extremist ideologies, and moral absolutes, without having to make the kinds of messy, mundane compromises that accompany the work of looking after a geographical space.
It's that last paragraph where I think Kaplan's quote of Grygiel undercuts his point. Islam is more than a religion in the Western sense--in addition to religious tenets and rituals, Islam also has its own language and a strong sense of land and territory

Kaplan overlooks the strong bond in Islam between 'religious zeal' on the one hand and 'geographical space' on the other--Islam finds nothing messy or mundane about that linkage at all: land is part and parcel of the religious obligations. And there are no compromises, since Sharia law is the rule.

Leanne Piggott, a lecturer in at the University of Sydney and a director of Academic Programs of the Centre for International Security Studies had a similar insight from a different angle in an article she wrote in July 2004 about the Hague's decision on Israel's Security Fence--Judges' ruling rewrites UN Charter on self-defence:
THE advisory opinion brought down by the International Court of Justice last Friday in relation to Israel's separation barrier has implications far beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Buried deep in the text of its opinion is a bombshell that purports to radically rewrite the rules of international law governing the inherent right of states to defend themselves and their citizens.

The ICJ recognises that this right is enshrined in Article 51 of the UN Charter. But the ICJ then says that this right is limited to self-defence in the case of armed attack "by one state against another state". That limitation does not appear anywhere in the text of Article 51 itself. Article 51 recognises that states have an inherent right of self-defence "if an armed attack occurs". It does not say that the armed attack must have been carried out by, or be attributable to, another state.

The distinction is critical in the on-going struggle against international terrorism. Although every act of terrorism necessarily originates in territory (or aboard a ship or aircraft) that is owned or occupied by a sovereign state, it does not follow that every such act of terrorism is supported by that state, and attributable to it in a legal sense.

The ICJ is now saying that if terrorists based in the territory of state A attack state B without the passive or active support of state A, state B may not have the right to defend itself from future attack by striking back at the terrorist base – despite Article 51.[emphasis added]
From Piggott's perspective, this is a pragmatic as opposed to a philosophical one for the terrorists.

Hizbollah benefits from this kind of interpretation of international law, but does it want to preserve that kind of splintered situation? Hizbollah is an armed faction--one of many, not necessarily a situation that suits its interests. 

Grygiel asks, "Why would it want responsibility for providing safety and services to all Lebanese?" 

The answer is that being able to provide services to the Lebanese differentiates it from being merely a leech that does nothing more than invite attack and destruction from Israel. It allows Hizbollah to create the myth of providing services and not being merely a terrorist organization--and it attracts dedicated followers. This is a situation any terrorist organization under similar situations would face.

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