There's been talk that has called Israel's 'housing protests' our 'Arab spring.' Raffe Gold says that's just not so.
The protestors who are turning out in increasing numbers throughout the country are protesting for their livelihoods. They are able to stand free and tall and shout at the government; they feel their representatives are derelict in their duty to ensure a basic standard of living in an age of relative prosperity. They do so because of those who came before them in Israel and throughout the West, people who demonstrated against their elected representatives on matters of social justice and equity. Just as there are daily protests in America, Australia, England and other sophisticated Western democracies against prices, incomes, social inequity or living conditions, so Israeli citizens are telling its government to share the wealth of the nation with more of its underprivileged citizens.
From those who prophesied democracy in Ancient Greece to those promoted it during the French Revolution, the fight for democracy has come at the cost of many lives. Today it is coming at the cost of Syrian, Tunisian, Iranian and Egyptian lives. The people who are suffering today under the attempts to crush the Arab Spring are joining a cause that has been conducted by people throughout time, and they deserve their freedoms.
Those who are living on the streets of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, Herzliya, Beer Sheva and the rest of the country, do so for reasons which are personal and idiosyncratic, protestors who are threatening their government not with the bullet but with the ballot. One cannot deny the worthiness of their cause and they should be supported. The cost of living is too high, the boycott bill should be abolished and some laws being proposed by some parties in the Knesset are leading it down a dangerous path.
However, we, as a democracy, have avenues of complaint and can ensure that this country remains the beacon of freedom that we know it is and will be once again. But when we protest we do not face bullets or tanks, we do not face indiscriminate imprisonment and arbitrary arrest. We protest peacefully and quietly and the fruits of our revolution will come from democracy and not from demagoguery.
No, I don't agree with what he says about the anti-boycott law, but he's got most of the rest right. This isn't an 'Arab spring' here in Israel.
Under the terms of Israel's new anti-boycott law, those who call for a boycott of the Jewish state may be sued for damages. Former political adviser to Yasser Arafat and current 'Israeli Arab' MK Ahmed Tibi (pictured here with his good friend Muammar Gadhafi) has called for a boycott of Israel. Will anyone step to the plate to sue him?
Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (Balad) has called on the world to boycott all Israeli companies that help perpetuate the “injustices” of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, in an op-ed published in the New York Times earlier this week.
Tibi wrote the op-ed as a direct response to the Knesset's recent approval of the boycott law forbidding individuals or organizations from publicly calling for a boycott against Israel or the settlements under its control.
In the op-ed, Tibi declared that his support for the right to boycott stems from his belief in ending the “Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory”, in granting “equal rights for Palestinians and Jews”, and implementing the right of return “for Palestinian refugees forced from their homes and lands in 1948”.
According to Tibi, MK Alex Miller (of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party) has threatened to sue him overhis calls to “boycott the illegal Jewish settlement of Ariel”, a protest he posits would be “unremarkable in a proper democracy with untrammeled free speech”.
I certainly hope that MK Miller will sue Tibi and that other MK's will join in. It is long overdue.
Germany, which admits to having a special duty to protect the Jewish state, still has not withdrawn from the Durban III conference.
When asked if Germany planned to participate in Durban III, a German Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told The Jerusalem Post on Friday that the federal government “will decide on its participation in the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the international racism conference in light of the ongoing preparatory negotiations.”
Anne Bayefsky, director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, and a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute, told the Post on Friday that the excuse given by Germany for not staying away from the conference, as the Czech Republic, Italy and the Netherlands plan to do, “simply does not stand up to scrutiny.”
“German representatives know that Israel is already ‘separately pilloried’ in the Durban Declaration and the co-chairs of the preparatory negotiations have already said explicitly that the Durban Declaration will not be ‘reopened.’ So the question remains: Why is Germany, of all countries, still contemplating celebrating the 10th anniversary of an anti-Semitic hatefest?” Bayefsky asked.
Bayefsky told the Post that “Germany’s behavior toward the UN’s Durban III conference raises serious questions about its commitment to combat modern anti-Semitism. As an event which will commemorate the hatefest held in Durban in 2001, and its Durban Declaration, which singles out only one country on Earth – the Jewish state – it is shocking that Germany has not refused unequivocally to withdraw in solidarity with Israel, the United States, Canada, Italy and other European nations.”
Meanwhile, Werner Hoyer, a German Foreign Ministry undersecretary from the pro-business and traditionally Arab-friendly Free Democratic Party, told the UN Security Council last week that “Germany is deeply concerned about the ongoing apartment construction” in the West Bank. He said the building of apartments “violates international law and is a hurdle for peace and a danger for the two-state solution. All of these activities must immediately be stopped.”
In a press release earlier today, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon says he's shocked that 'Palestinian' chief negotiatorbottle washer Saeb Erekat won't debate him.
Press Release (Communicated by the Bureau of Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon)
Dep FM Ayalon Surprised at PA Negotiator Erekat's Rejection of a Public Debate: "The Palestinians are only able to debate unilaterally"
Today (Sunday 31st July), Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon responded to Palestinian Authority Negotiator Saeb Erekat's rejection of a public debate. Earlier, Ayalon had proposed a public debate on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after Erekat sent out an official press release calling the Deputy Foreign Minister's recent YouTube video titled The Truth About the West Bank, "a falsified account of history and international law".
"I am more than a little surprised that Erekat rejected my offer of an open and public debate, especially considering he was concerned enough about our video to release a two page official press release" Ayalon said. "Erekat is used to telling the world that Israel's policies are illegal and against international law and I offered him the chance to back up his own statements and he is proving unable or unwilling to do so."
"Like its diplomatic policies, it appears that the Palestinian Authority is only able to debate unilaterally."
The video released under two weeks ago, has already garnered a quarter of a million views worldwide and is encouraging a debate on the rarely heard Israeli position on the West Bank, settlements and international law.
"Erekat was very quick to react to the video when it was released but now his evasion speaks volumes of a Palestinian Authority political leadership which has hijacked the public debate for too long," Ayalon added. "It demonstrates that their rhetoric is just empty words and slogans and folds like a house of cards once it is tested."
A Right-wing NGO that was going to participate in Saturday night's 'housing' protest in Tel Aviv - the largest in the country - pulled out because the organizers refused to include our national anthem.
My Israel offered on Friday to join the protest, on condition that the national anthem would be sung. However, on Saturday night, it announced that housing protest leader “Daphni Leef’s people evaded and evaded” committing to singing Hatikva at the event in Tel Aviv.
“This should be a protest for all Israeli organizations, Left and Right, because centralization and monopolies do not know the difference between right and left wing,” My Israel chairwoman Ayelet Shaked said. “Therefore, we decided [on Friday] to join the struggle.”
However, the “minimum requirement for joining should be obvious. The protest’s purpose and participants should be Israeli, and its organizers should not stop demonstrators from singing Hatikva, as they did last week,” Shaked said.
“We will find another way to help Israel society,” she said.
My Israel wrote on its website and Facebook page: “We are aware and identify with the problem in Israel: It is too expensive here because of monopolies and lack of competition... tycoons prevent companies from competing. We are willing to fight that.
“We are not willing to join a protest that aims for anarchy and pointlessly harming the government ‘because Bibi [Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu] is bad’ and that is lead by anti-IDF and anti-Israel elements. We would be happy to work side by side with leftwing Zionists who support the State of Israel, but think territory should be given up. They are our brothers, even if we disagree with them,” My Israel explained.
That last paragraph was almost word-for-word what Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz just said on the radio. Hmmm.
Notice the Che Guevara poster in the middle. That ought to tell you all you need to know about the organizers of these protests. And here's the confirmation:
On Friday, Ma’ariv columnist Kalman Liebskind listed various leaders of the housing protest and their associations with left-wing organizations and parties, such as Leef, a film editor for the New Israel Fund, Yehudit Ilani of the Balad Party, and Alon Lee Green of the Hadash Party.
Balad is an Arab party and Hadash is a mixed Arab Jewish party that is counted among the Arab parties. If you don't know what the New Israel Fund is, you haven't read enough on this blog.
Troops acting on behalf of the man whom Hillary Clinton called a 'reformer' and 'capable of change' four months ago massacred at least 121 people in Hama on Sunday (ignore the number in the video).
Let's go to the videotape.
Notice that in Syria. when they start firing, everyone ducks for cover.
Here's another one. Let's go to the videotape.
Were they firing from the minaret of a holy mosque? Can you imagine what would happen in the 'Muslim street' if American or Israeli troops used a mosque as a base from which to fire? Can anyone translate the Arabic?
Syrian forces killed at least 121 civilians and wounded hundreds in major tank assaults on Hama and other cities that began at dawn on Sunday to crush pro-democracy demonstrations.
Tanks stormed Hama after besieging it for nearly a month in response to some of the biggest protests against President Bashar Al Assad’s rule.
Several observers wondered if Mr. Assad was truly in charge of the situation. Some suggested that his brother, Maher, may be leading the assault against pro-democracy protesters. Maher is known for her personal brutality and intolerance of dissent.
WHO were these 'observers'? How many of them work for the US State Department?
One of the residents, a doctor, said there were 51 people wounded at Badr hospital alone, which was running short of blood for transfusions. He said tanks had surrounded another main hospital, Al Horani.
“Tanks are attacking from four directions. They are firing their heavy machineguns randomly and overrunning makeshift road blocks erected by the inhabitants,” he said by phone, the sound of machinegun fire crackling in the background.
Another resident said snipers had climbed onto the roofs of the state-owned electricity company and the main prison, and that electricity had been cut in eastern neighborhoods.
You'd think they were fighting against a military target that could fight back or something. Here's another video.
Let's go to the videotape.
And here's another one. Let's go to the videotape.
The only changes from Hafez al-Assad to Bashar al-Assad are the first names, and the use of guns and tanks instead of the 'cleaner' poisonous gas.'
In an earlier post, I discussed the 'housing crunch' protesters and gave some thoughts on how those of their demands that are legitimate might be handled. But you should all know that I don't support the protesters. Here's why.
Saturday evening we watched Channel 2 news anchor Yonit Levy turn into Marxist activist Rosa Luxemburg and compete with protest organizer Daphni Leef in encouraging and recruiting protesters. Channel 2, like most other media outlets, long ago stopped being a fair observer of events and became an active subverter of the elected government. In the studio sits the haughty crossword compiler Amnon Abramowitz, who lives in a black and white world. The bad guys are Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the settlers, religious people, and the Jewish state. The good guys are members of the “white tribe,” for which Abramowitz is a loyal spokesman.
I am surprised that the public has not yet ransacked the studio building over this constant incitement by Abramowitz and his friends. As with all his broadcasts, in this one too he brandished his voodoo dolls of settlers and religious people. “Netanyahu talks about the periphery, but for 80 days of the year, there is no public transportation,” he said, referring to the closure of public transport on the Sabbath and on religious holidays. “This is the political price the religious people exact from us.” Listen to what he is saying: the Sabbath day is a political price! Perhaps it is for Abramowitz’s “white tribe.” The Sabbath day, like the Jewish state, is a political price. For most of the public, the Sabbath day is a value. This seems to be true even for some of the protesters in Tel Aviv.
Good and innocent protesters, you are just in your struggle, but you are being led by the nose. You have to differentiate between attempts to correct long-standing injustices, and attempts to destroy everything. Israel is not Egypt. The country cannot bear the responsibility for everything in our entire lives. We too have responsibilities. The social justice being discussed here now was tried for years in the former Soviet Union. Every immigrant from the former Soviet Union can attest to its failure.
The government has to deal not with the protest but with those behind it, forces who are cunning and cynical, some who are even experts in social engineering, media spins, and political subversion, who have a vision of a state belonging to all its citizens. Some of them are wealthy individuals, who ironically, despite the protest slogans, feel threatened by Netanyahu's government, which is currently investigating the concentration of financial wealth in the hands of a select few. Negotiations with the tycoons would be scorned by many, but welcomed by the tycoons and many in the media.
Slogans shouted out at the protests were filled with hate against the prime minister. Some called him a bloodthirsty dictator. One sign portrayed Netanyahu as the servant of the tycoons. How many lies can you feed the public? Netanyahu's government is the only one that has stood up to the tycoons: in the mobile phone market and in the revenues the state would get from the new gas reserves discovered off the coast, and now with the committee set up to investigate monopolies.
Youtube removed this movie for "shocking and disgusting content". We agree, the content is shocking and disgusting, but it is reality. There is no reason for the video to have been removed. Please share with EVERYONE!
Nazis celebrate Hitler's birthday, Communists celebrate Stalin's and Democrats celebrate....
The Nazis celebrate Hitler's birthday, the Communists celebrate Stalin's. And the Democrats? This is an email sent out on Saturday by the Democratic National Committee:
As someone who got his start in community organizing, President Obama understands the importance of grassroots action.
That's why I hope you can join me in marking his 50th birthday next week in a way that I know he would appreciate: with a solid showing of grassroots organizing in every corner of the country.
Grassroots organizing is at the foundation of what we do as Democrats, and on Wednesday, August 3rd -- the night before the President's birthday -- supporters will get together for house meetings in all 50 states. We'll plan local events, strategize about how to grow the campaign in our communities, and talk about how to spread the word about the President's accomplishments to friends and neighbors.
And all of us will have a chance to join a live video conference with President Obama.
Neighborhood meetings like this are essential for running strong campaigns. As we get closer to the next election, you'll have other chances to get involved, but attending a meeting on Wednesday is the best way for you to shape our organizing in your community in the weeks and months ahead.
It's also the only place you'll be able to join this special video conference with the President.
Wish him a happy birthday by organizing at a house meeting near you:
In yet another indication that Turkey isn't going to become our best friend anytime soon, there was a 'Palestinian culture' week held in Istanbul from July 21-30.
The 4th Palestine Culture Week is getting under way Thursday in two Turkish cities, İstanbul and the southeastern city of Şanlıurfa, news agencies reported on Wednesday.
A series of cultural events aimed at strengthening ties between Turks and Palestinians and introducing the culture of Palestine to the Turkish public, Palestine Culture Week is a joint effort between the Palestinian Embassy in Ankara and the Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency (TİKA), the Anatolia news agency reported.
Running July 21-30, the 10-day program is taking place for the fourth time this year. Venues that will host events as part of the culture week’s İstanbul leg include the open-air theater in Sultanahmet and Taksim Square. Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki is expected to attend the events in both cities, Anatolia said.
I wonder if this sort of 'culture' was included. If not, it must have been the shortest show on earth.
Turkish military's mass resignations show the end of Turkish military's role in government
The resignations of Turkey's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the commanders of the Army, Navy and Air Force, may symbolize the end of the Turkish military's power in the country's government.
“This is effectively the end of the military’s role in Turkish democracy,” said Asli Aydintasbas, a columnist for the Turkish daily newspaper Milliyet. “This is the symbolic moment where the first Turkish republic ends and the second republic begins.”
Mr. Erdogan has rolled back the military’s political power substantially since he took office in 2002, in part through legal reforms that assert civilian control. But the single biggest blow to the military’s clout has been a sprawling series of investigations and trials in which a number of senior military commanders, as well as journalists and others, were charged with conspiring to overthrow Mr. Erdogan’s government.
The resignations were the culmination of a year of frustrations, in which more than 40 generals — approximately a tenth of the senior military command — were taken into custody, an assault that has infuriated the military but left it essentially helpless to fight back.
A more immediate spark may have come in the form of new arrest warrants for 22 more people, among them two top generals, which were issued Friday, the semiofficial Anatolian News Agency reported.
“This is the first time in the history of the republic that we are seeing something like this,” said Gursel Tekin, vice president of the main opposition political party, who was speaking in the seaside city of Canakkale. “Honestly, this situation is not good.”
Historically, the military has wielded immense power in Turkey. The modern nation was founded in 1923 by Gen. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and the military remained involved in politics after the country went to a multiparty political system in the 1950s.
Military leaders have deposed elected governments four times in Turkish history, beginning in 1960, when they went so far as to execute the country’s first democratically elected prime minister, Adnan Menderes. But the Turkish political system has gone through profound changes in recent years, and many analysts argued that resigning was the only weapon left in the military’s arsenal. Few people interviewed on Friday thought that a coup was likely, both because Turkey’s democracy now has deep roots and because the military appeared diminished.
“Besides this one act, the military doesn’t really have that much left in the tank,” said Steven Cook, an expert at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. Mr. Cook argued that the resignations also said a great deal about Turkey as a democracy, because its citizens — even those who dislike Mr. Erdogan’s increasingly powerful Justice and Development Party — were no longer willing to accept military rule.
“Turkey has grown out of that,” he said.
The resignations seemed intended to send a message that the military was still powerful enough to shake up the country’s political system. But they seemed almost to have had the opposite effect, with Mr. Erdogan acting fast to choose a new leader.
“This was their last resort,” Ms. Aydintasbas said of the resignations. “It is happening precisely because there is no likelihood of a coup. There is nothing else for them to do.”
Twoanalysts have raised the possibility that the resignations are preparations for a military coup, but that appears unlikely with so many officers imprisoned. One report even claimed that Kosaner's resignation was forced by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
But the real bad news here is that Turkey is not headed toward a more democratic government. It is headed toward a more Islamist one.
Ridiculous: 'Social activist' says Netanyahu will start war to get protesters off the street
This is one of the more ridiculous things I've seen recently. A 'social activist' interviewed by Russia Today suggests that Prime Minister Netanyahu is going to start a war to get the protesters off the street. You've got to be kidding.
She seems to have a hard time shutting up to hear the interviewer's questions, doesn't she?
It probably goes without saying that Israel's biggest opportunist is trying to hitch a ride on the protest movement. And yet, Livni was part of the governments that insisted over the last ten years on the Israel Lands Authority selling land to the highest bidder, thus ensuring that housing that was built - particularly in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - would be purchased by foreigners and not by Israelis who need a place to live. Livni has also been instrumental in forcing a de facto freeze to be implemented in Judea and Samaria, which means that there is no housing for Jews who want to move there. And Livni was part of a government that expelled some 10,000 Jews from their homes in Gaza (our total 'housing shortage' is allegedly 50,000 units), most of whom still have no permanent home six years later.
Yes, there are problems here. But none of them are going to be solved by the government expending massive amounts of money to build more apartments, because that's just going to keep our taxes among the highest in the world. There are things the government could do to help the situation:
First, it could make it easier to commute from outside Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Getting to work takes way too long, and it actually takes longer by public transport.
Second, owning a car is way too expensive. The government could cut the taxes it takes on gasoline, the taxes it takes on importing cars and their spare parts, and the taxes it takes it takes for employees who are provided with cars by their employers. (of course, it would have to cut spending to offset that tax cut and that's the hardest part). That would make living outside Jerusalem and Tel Aviv more palatable.
Third, it could offer tax incentives (note - I said tax incentives and not subsidies) for the construction of rental housing.
Fourth, it could tax all those people who own apartments here and live abroad and don't rent them out (or even if they do rent them out). I may not have a Knesset member I can call with my complaints, but those people don't even have a political party, so taxing them is cost free, and might even get some of them to sell.
Finally, over the weekend, Mrs. Carl told me I'm being too hard on the protesters. She said that the country is full of working poor (it is) and that the gaps between the middle class and the top are widening. I'm opposed to confiscating people's property and redistributing it. That's a great way to convince your tax base that they're rather live elsewhere. Besides, we saw enough of what happens when there's no incentive to work during the first 40 years or so of this state. But I am in favor of (a) a negative income tax to help the working poor, (b) amending the tax code to limit the deductibility of excess payments to business executives and (c) amending the tax code to make everyone who trades in the stock market pay capital gains tax (right now, if you invest in a company at the start-up stage, you can sell your shares without paying capital gains tax when the company goes public, although that has been cut back over the last 15 years).
Anyone who has connections in the Finance Ministry, please feel free to forward these ideas.
Anyone who thinks that replacing the Likud with Kadima is going to make things any better ought to consider this.
AKP should account for dead Turks before demanding an apology from Israel
Turkish writer Emin Colasan asks Turks to imagine what would happen if an Israeli ship tried to aid Kurdistan (something that has been suggested a number of times over the last year) and then comes up with this (Hat Tip: Simone B):
We can't know whether Israel will apologize or not. However nine were killed on that ship, and they were declared "martyrs" by the Islamists.
Martyrs or not, who is accountable for those nine lives?
The AKP government has not yet provided an answer to this question. It is unlikely that they will do so now.
The AKP government was the ones that sent the Mavi Marmara to Gaza. How could a ship this size leave a Turkish port to sail in the Mediterranean without the blessing and the permission of the government? How can the 400 people board a ship loaded with humanitarian aid material that no one knows how it was paid for?
That ship meant to attack a port of a foreign country. Exactly like the Israeli ship trying to reach Iskenderun as in the example above. If we were subject to the same belligerence in our country we would rightfully raise hell, and we could even sink that pirate ship in the Mediterranean.
AKP bears the responsibility of the Mavi Marmara. More importantly AKP bears the responsibility of those nine lives. Those men were sent openly to a certain death. They knew for sure that Israel would intervene. The only thing that they didn’t know was the number of casualties.
The AKP government should first account for the deaths to the Turkish people, and only then expect an apology from Israel.
It turns out that the Fatah Youth organization had participated for the last 15 years in the Norwegian summer camp at Utoya where 76 teenagers were murdered last week. But the 'Palestinians' weren't there last Friday.
The Fatah Youth group had taken part in the summer camp in the past on the Island of Utoya, near Oslo, where over 90 people were reportedly killed in a shooting spree on the Island and a bomb attack in Oslo on Friday, news reports said.
"Fatah Youth declares its consternation about the terror attack. There are no words to describe an attack against people that have been our comrades in our struggle for freedom and independence. Very few people have stood by our side as much as the Norwegian people, and particularly our AUF comrades."
"We know those who have been cowardly assassinated. Those are people that have stood for the human and national rights of the Palestinian people both in Europe and while visiting Palestine.
"Fatah Youth has participated for almost 15 years in the same summer camp and our youth has benefited by learning and sharing experiences on democracy and advocacy for peace and justice.
"We hope that those responsible for this criminal terror attack will be brought to justice. Such sick minds should not have a place in any society.
I've already discussed the significance of Danny Ayalon's video, asserting Jewish claims to Judea and Samaria, and I showed you the video here. On Thursday, Ayalon had a debate with Jeffrey Goldberg on Twitter. Goldberg objected to the video. Jonathan Tobin explains why.
For Goldberg, the mere mention of Jewish rights (whose validity he later acknowledged during the course of the Twitter debate) is wrong. The fact that the West Bank is the heart of the historic Jewish homeland, that there never was a Palestinian nation to which this land should be “returned,” that Jordan’s occupation of the West Bank was illegal and that Israel came into the possession of it during a war of self defense may be true, but to Goldberg, it is a truth that should never, ever be mentioned. To speak of the West Bank as disputed territory rather than “occupied Arab land” is beyond the pale, because it hurts the feelings of the Palestinians and puts the two claims on a level playing field. According to this point of view, anything said that could in any way buttress the arguments of Jews who believe large parts of the West Bank must be retained by Israel in a peace settlement is the sort of information that clearly must be suppressed.
Goldberg’s side of the argument consisted mainly of him saying he knew what Ayalon really meant, and extremists agreed with him. But he never answered Ayalon’s question, because he didn’t have one. The assertion of Jewish rights to the West Bank doesn’t mean those rights can or will be exercised in all or even part of the land. But it does mean any negotiation over the land ought not to be conducted as a trial in which Israel is put in the dock for being in possession of stolen property.
That is the beauty of Ayalon’s video. It corrects the lies about Israel that have for too long gone unanswered even by its supposed advocates in its Foreign Ministry. But for those who want Israel to merely shut up and hand over all the land to the Palestinian Authority with no questions asked, the truth about the West Bank shouldn’t be told.
I had my own brief dust-up with Goldberg on Twitter on Friday - it ended because the Sabbath started here.
For too long, Israel's Foreign Ministry has been more interested in advocating for the 'Palestinians' than in advocating for Israel. Is that now changing? Will the Jewish Left openly abandon Israel if we assert our rights? What could go wrong?
Norwegian ambassador to Israel Svein Sevje told Maariv this week that 'Palestinian terrorism' against Israel is more justified than terrorism against Norwegians. Perhaps it's time for Norwegians to wake up and smell the coffee? This is from Alan Dershowitz.
The causes of terrorism are multifaceted but at bottom they have a common cause: namely, a belief that violence is the proper response to policies that the terrorists disagree with. The other common cause is that terrorism has often been rewarded. Norway, for example, has repeatedly rewarded Palestinian terrorism against Israel, while punishing Israel for its efforts to protect its civilians. While purporting to condemn all terrorist acts, the Norwegian government has sought to justify Palestinian terrorism as having a legitimate cause. This clearly is an invitation to continued terrorism.
It is important for the world never to reward terrorism by supporting the policies of those who employ it as an alternative to reasonable discourse, diplomatic resolution or political compromise.
I know of no reasonable person who has tried to justify the terrorist attacks against Norway. Yet there are many Norwegians who not only justify terrorist attacks against Israel, but praise them, support them, help finance them, and legitimate them.
The world must unite in condemning and punishing all terrorist attacks against innocent civilians, regardless of the motive or purported cause of the terrorism. Norway, as a nation, has failed to do this. It wants us all to condemn the terrorist attack on its civilians, and we should all do that, but it refuses to live by a single standard.
Yoav Karasenty and Shmuel Rosner debunk the claim that a million Israelis have left since the country attained its independence.
We should start with this simple statement: There are not a "million missing Israelis." A study conducted under the auspices of our think tank, the Jewish People Policy Institute -- one that has not yet been released but will be published in a couple of weeks -- will put the real number of "missing" Israelis at a much lower number. According to Israel's Bureau of Statistics, since the establishment of the state up until the end of 2008, 674,000 Israelis left the country and did not return after more than a year abroad. An unknown number, estimated to be between 102,000 and 131,000, have died since, putting the number of living Israelis abroad at the end of 2008 at 543,000 to 572,000 (if one counts the dead abroad, one should also count the dead in Israel -- this will not change the number of leaving Israelis but will definitely change the percentage of them).
An updated model developed by the Bureau of Statistics at the end of 2008 put the number of not-returning Israelis abroad at 518,000, but added to it a category of 290,000 "non-resident" Israelis. This last number is a tricky one, as it includes the children of Israelis born abroad if they were registered with the Israeli authorities. Such children have never lived in Israel and can hardly be considered "missing," but if one adds them to the mix one gets to 808,000 Israelis, of which more than 100,000 have already died. Bottom line: Some 670,000 to 700,000 official "Israelis" (including children) live outside Israel today.
But here's where the narrative gets more complicated. Much more complicated -- and fascinating -- if one cares to understand the real story of missing Israelis. Israel is a country of many immigrants, as Chamie and Mirkin did bother to note when they wrote about "another important factor contributing to the outflow of Jewish Israelis," that is, "previous emigration experience." But they didn't quite explain the meaning of what they'd written: Israel is a melting pot for some -- not unlike the United States -- but also a stop-on-the-way-to-someplace-else for others. In many cases, it is a gateway for people escaping repressive regimes or poverty.
Take, for example, the huge wave of immigrants who flew in droves to Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union. According to Israeli Interior Ministry records, 1.1 million immigrants from the former Soviet Union entered Israel between January 1989 and December 2002. However, 8.8 percent of those newcomers -- some 100,000 olim (the Hebrew term used to describe those choosing to "climb up" to Israel) -- had decided not to remainRe in Israel and quite quickly moved on to their countries of choice. Should such newcomers be counted as "leaving Israelis"? Should their departure be considered a blow to Zionist dreams? Or maybe these immigrants were merely people leaving the Soviet Union, making the first available escape, without ever seriously considering Israel as their long-term place of residence?
Read the whole thing. It only seems like every pizza and felafel joint in the US is owned by Israelis. Or there aren't a million of them.
Will the Transport Safety Administration in the US drop grope or strip in favor of using Israeli profiling methods? Well, maybe.
TSA already has "behavior detection officers" at 161 airports nationwide looking for travelers exhibiting physiological or psychological signs that a traveler might be a terrorist. However, Pistole said TSA is preparing to move to an approach that employs more conversation with travelers—a method that has been employed with great success in Israel.
"I'm very much interested in expanding the behavior detection program, upgrading it if you will, in a way that allows us to….have more interaction with a passsenger just from a discussion which may be able to expedite the physical screening aspects," Pistole said during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. "So, we’ve looked at what works around the world, some outstanding examples and we are planning to do some new things in the near future here."
Pistole declined to elaborate on the enhanced behavior detection program but said it would "probably" be announced in August. During an on-stage interview with CNN's Jeanne Meserve, Pistole acknowledged that the Israeli techniques have been carefully examined.
"There's a lot—under that Israeli model—a lot that is done that is obviously very effective," he said. However, critics have said the Israeli program is too time consuming to use consistently at U.S. airports and may involve a degree of religious and racial profiling that would draw controversy in the U.S.
Iranian nuclear scientist was expert on triggering nuclear warheads
Shavua tov, a good week to everyone.
This post is being written on Friday afternoon. Posting will be a bit sporadic on Saturday night, I have work to do and I will be spending the night sleeping in an isolation room with a friend's son who is undergoing a bone marrow transplant. Please pray for Moshe Aharon ben Leah Tzipora.
An official, from a member nation of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, verified that the victim was named Rezaeinejad, but said he participated in developing high-voltage switches, a key component in setting off the explosions needed to trigger a nuclear warhead. An abstract seen by the AP and co-authored by Rezaeinejad appears to back that claim.
Norwegian Jews worry they will be blamed for Breivik
Norwegian Jews are expressing concern over the possibility that they could be blamed for last Friday's rampage by xenophobe Anders Behring Breivik.
Yet even as they mourn along with their fellow countrymen, some Jews here are quietly expressing concern that the attack by a right-wing xenophobe who apparently sympathized with Israel may further mute pro-Israel voices in Norway, where anti-Zionist sentiment already runs strong.
In the rambling 1,500-page manifesto attributed to the alleged perpetrator of the attacks, Anders Behring Breivik, anti-Muslim diatribes are punctuated at times with expressions of admiration for Israel and its fight against Islamic terrorism.
And on Utoya island, the young Labor Party activists who were holding a retreat when Breivik ambushed them, had spent part of the day before discussing the organization of a boycott against Israel and pressing the country’s foreign minister, who was visiting the camp, to recognize a Palestinian state.
If the Norwegian public is looking for a larger villain than Breivik, Jews here are worried that Zionism and pro-Israel organizations may be singled out.
“Can the average Norwegian accept that this is the one random act of one confused ethnic Norwegian?” Ring asked. “What I’m worried about is that in the Norwegian mind it will slowly attach an antagonism to Israel.”
Joakim Plavnik, a young Norwegian Jew who works in the financial sector, said he’s already worried by news reports that have focused on the seemingly pro-Zionist parts of Breivik’s writings.
“That can potentially have very negative ramifications toward the small, vulnerable Jewish community,” Plavnik said. But, he added, “We can’t be paralyzed by that fear.”
Rachel Suissa runs the Center Against Antisemitism, a pro-Israel group that counts about 23,000 supporters and 10,000 subscribers to a quarterly journal. She said the Norwegian government’s general pro-Palestinian stance – Norway’s foreign minister, Jonas Gahr Store, recently said that Oslo soon would announce its support for an independent Palestinian state – makes Zionism difficult to promote here.
Suissa said she is concerned that Breivik’s attack will make it more difficult for Israel supporters and the right-wing Christian groups she works with to express their views. But Rabbi Joav Melchior, spiritual leader of the community synagogue also known as DMT, dismissed such concerns.
“That someone … calls himself pro-Israel shouldn’t in principle change anything for us,” he said of Breivik. “We don’t feel that he’s a part of our group.”
A senior Israeli diplomat says that deep down, members of the Security Council are sympathetic to Israel's predicament with the 'Palestinians.' They're just not willing to say so in public.
Contrary to popular belief, discussions and negotiations taking place behind-the-scenes in the UN Security Council are often sympathetic to Israeli positions on critical issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to Amir Weissbrod, a senior Israeli diplomat and top adviser to the Israeli delegation in the UN.
However, statements of understanding for Israel’s position usually take place ”behind closed doors” and are never outwardly expressed in speeches to the Security Council or to the media.
“They are not willing to state publicly what they readily will say in a private meeting with Israeli representatives, which is often infuriating," said Weissbrod.
According to Weissbrod, only the United States, Canada, and several other countries have shown sympathy toward Israeli positions both publicly and privately.
In my book, that's hypocrisy. Leaders should have the courage of their convictions. But they don't. And they're a major reason why the 'Palestinians' continue to harbor unreasonable expectations of what they might peaceably obtain.
LATMA tribal update: The tent protest and the poor; Israel apologizes to everyone
Here's the weekly LATMA update in which Israel apologizes to everyone and Israelis move into tents to protest... but leave the poor out of it (there's some music in this one so those of you avoiding music during the Three Weeks may want to use that mute button when the music comes on. The music runs from 3:36 to 6:11). The skit around the 9:04 mark is hysterical. If you don't get it, leave a note in the comments and I'll explain it (I realize some of the non-Israelis might not get it).
Fury in Lebanon: Belly dancer performs with Israelis
A Lebanese belly dancer who appeared on stage at a French music festival with an Israeli group, while holding Lebanese and Israeli flags, says that she cannot return to Lebanon due to threats to her life.
Johanna Fakhry, 22, says she can’t return to her homeland following threats from her family and compatriots for appearing on stage with the band Orphaned Land in front of 90,000 fans at the Hellfest festival last month in Clisson, France.
Amateur video of the performance has amassed 20,000 YouTube views over the past month. The clip shows Fakhry wearing traditional garb and waving a Lebanese flag while dancing around lead singer Kobi Farhi as he sings in Hebrew. She then stands next to the singer and helps him raise a significantly larger Israeli flag.
“This is all about peace, my friends,” Farhi tells the crowd as the two performers hold the banners up alongside each other. “We are all brothers and sisters. Now I want to see all of you jumping and party with us, okay?” The crowd responds with cheers and heavy-metal “devil horns” signs, and as the tempo picks up both performers jump up and down holding their flags.
The singer said the idea to make a political point onstage had been entirely Fakhry’s.
“This dancer contacted me on Facebook and said she wants to perform with us. Of course we said yes, and then she suggested we wave the Israeli and Lebanese flags,” he recalled. “I told her, ‘We’d love to, but we think it might endanger you, and expose you to a lot of criticism.’ She said, ‘I know.
Bring the flag – this is my choice, and I want to use my art for the sake of peace.’” With Israel and Lebanon technically at war since 1948, Lebanese law forbids citizens to have contact with Israelis. Fakhry was born to a Muslim family in southern Lebanon, but has lived in France for most of her life and has French citizenship.
“Of course there were many negative responses – that’s not a shock – but to our surprise there were also many, many positive responses,” Farhi said.
He said he received Facebook messages ranging “from calling her a whore who sold the flag to the Mossad, to Lebanese who said they were moved to tears, that we expressed their hopes and dreams that we can all live here in peace.”
Fakhry has refused to recant.
Attempts to contact Fakhry went unanswered Thursday, but the day before she told Channel 2 News in a short web interview that her family had barred her from returning to her country of birth.
“People started criticizing me, threatening me, saying they’d kill me – even my family,” she said.
“They’d say things like, ‘You should be ashamed of yourself – never come back to Lebanon.’ But I’m dealing with it, as long as I still have support from people I love.”
That same day, she told the website NOW Lebanon, “As a young child living in Lebanon, I, too, thought of Israel as an enemy, now I consider them friends. We are all one people.
“I want to tell my fellow Lebanese that I am proud of my roots and my country and who I am as a Lebanese. I will always raise the colors of my flag with great pride. Please understand me before you judge me. I don’t regret what I did on stage because my actions were delivering a passionate message of freedom and peace,” she added.
Peace is still a long way off.
I won't post the video of Fakhry, but you can find it here.
The Special Tribunal for Lebanon has released details of the indictments in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.
Pre-trial judge Daniel Fransen ordered the lifting of confidentiality on the full names, aliases, biographical information, photographs and charges against the individuals named in the indictment, the tribunal said in a statement.
The four men named in the indictment are Salim Jamil Ayyash, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hussein Hassan Oneissi, and Assad Hassan Sabra, the tribunal said.
The indictments were issued late last month but the identities of the accused were kept secret for a short period in order to allow the Lebanese government to investigate and arrest them.
The names released on Friday matched those reported by Beirut’s Daily Star newspaper upon the original issuing of the indictments last month.
All four of the suspects are linked to Hezbollah.
Interpol issued “red notices” for the four suspects earlier this month. The notices, which are not international arrest warrants, are a request that the wanted person be arrested with a view to extradition. The four Lebanese men who were named in an STL indictment last week are wanted for trial in the Netherlands, where the STL sits.
The Hezbollah-led Lebanese government has not made any arrests as a result of the indictments. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has repeatedly said the UN-backed Lebanon tribunal is under the influence of Israel and the US.
We all know that the odds of the Hezbullah-led Lebanese government arresting any of these suspects are slim to none. It's not going to happen. Will the World sanction the government of murderers? No, they're too busy with Israel.
US report: US embassy in Israel 'failed completely' in its PR efforts
A scathing report issued by the State Department's Office of the Inspector General says that the US embassy in Tel Aviv has 'failed completely' in its efforts to garner support for Obama administration policies. It also urges terminating the American loan guarantee program to Israel at the end of 2011.
The report, which deals with the performance of the U.S. embassy in Israel, says American diplomats have difficulty mustering support for the Obama administration's policies and implies the embassy failed completely in its PR efforts during the Obama administration.
"A fragile Israeli coalition government leans toward the views of its members from the nationalist and religious right, creating a challenge for diplomats seeking to build support for U.S. policies," the report says.
The unclassified version of the report was distributed in the State Department in March. At the same time the OIG released a report about the Consulate General Jerusalem. Haaretz has obtained copies of both reports, whose findings are published here for the first time.
The State Department's comptroller's team came to Tel Aviv in October 2010 and spent two weeks talking to its American diplomats.
The reports portray a problematic picture of the missions' performance in Israel.
The Tel Aviv embassy faces intense challenges, generated by Israel's current government, negative public opinion toward President Obama, a sensitive political environment and a vibrant media scene, the report says.
It finds that the embassy's annual public relations budget, intended to influence public opinion in Israel, is about $7 million a year, or roughly NIS 25 million.
Despite its diplomatic wording, the report implies the Tel Aviv embassy has totally failed in its public relations efforts during the Obama term. "Much of the Israeli public is suspicious of U.S. efforts to promote negotiations aimed at establishing an independent Palestinian state," it says. "The lively and fractious press often misinterprets American policies."
One of the main issues the OIG team dealt with on its visit in Tel Aviv was the loan guarantee package the United States granted Israel in 2002. The Americans gave Israel loan guarantees of up to $9 billion in world banks to help its economy over the recession.
A condition of the guarantees was that Israel would not use the money for construction in the settlements. The OIG report says the embassy "devotes considerable time to monitoring Israel's compliance with conditions in the loan guarantee agreements," especially as the program has "accomplished its purpose - stabilizing Israel's economy."
"Planning should begin now for [the loan-guarantee program's] orderly termination," the report says. "Israel has been admitted to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, an indication that it is now a modern, self-sufficient economy capable of supporting its citizens as an industrialized country. The OIG team found a broad consensus that the loan guarantee program can prudently be terminated in accordance with the sunset clause in the original legislation, which provided that it would end by 2011."
As I understand it, the loan guarantee program has been a bonanza for the US, with Israel forced to buy things in the US that it could produce domestically or purchase for less elsewhere. In fact, I had an email this morning from someone who referred to the loan guarantee program as the "US Full Employment Act."
Space cadet holding secret talks with 'Palestinians' to restart talks
Israel's favorite space cadet, who is supposed to hold an honorary and not a policy-making position, has been holding 'secret' talks with the 'Palestinians' in an effort to get them back to the negotiating table for the first time in two and a half years.
Haaretz has learned that on Tuesday night, Peres held a long meeting with the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat. The two went over maps of the West Bank and East Jerusalem in an effort to find a formula that would bypass the dispute over establishing the June 4, 1967 border as a basis for negotiations toward a final settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
One option explored was the exchange of territory, and others was to compensate the Palestinians for settlement blocs annexed into Israel, on the basis of the U.S. proposal that the area of a Palestinian state be equal to the territory of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Both the president's and prime minister's bureaus refused to comment on the report.
A senior Palestinian source in Ramallah confirmed that Erekat met a number of times with Peres, including this week.
A hint at the meetings with the Palestinians could be found in statements made by Peres during a special message to the Arabic media on the eve of Ramadan, which is expected to begin early next week.
"I speak with all sides," Peres said. "I know that there are exchanges in order to prevent [the crisis] in September and that the differences are very minor."
And you thought those were the sorts of things that are supposed to be resolved in negotiations and not as a condition for getting to negotiations, didn't you?
Peres is acting in coordination with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Here's the payoff for that.
While surveys show Netanyahu's popularity shrinking over the housing protests and doctors' strike, Peres announced his support for Netanyahu's domestic aid package.
"In talks with the prime minister, ministers and MKs, my impression is that they realize the seriousness of the situation," the president said. "I hope that the program the prime minister has presented will ease the standing of the middle class."
How much is a UN Security Council seat worth? Apparently Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard (pictured) believes that it's worth throwing Israel under the bus.
And then there is Australia. On Thursday, Australian diplomats said they were going to stay in the negotiations. They believed the draft declaration was a good starting point and were hopeful about the future. What happened to Australia’s former voice, having pulled out of the Durban II conference in the firm belief that lipstick on a caterpillar does not suffice?
Australia, which is running for a seat on the Security Council this fall, is running scared. The Australians are well aware of what happened to Canada at the last Security Council election. The Canadians were defeated despite a huge investment spiritually, politically and financially in the U.N. for decades because the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper refused to abandon support for Israel, free expression and other rights in the face of repeated challenges from Islamic and Arab states at the U.N. Human Rights Council and General Assembly. Evidently, Australian principles aren’t quite so dear.
And Australia isn't the only one declaring that the draft declaration - which would result in over 100 heads of state adopting the 'Durban declaration' condemning Israel as racist at September's Durban III conference - is a good basis for discussion.
The co-chairs from Cameroon and Monaco made the agenda painfully obvious. They insisted that the 2011 declaration will “not re-open previously agreed text” since their “mandate is clearly not to renegotiate the Durban Declaration.” On the contrary, Durban III will have the Durban Declaration “at its core.”
In light of such an admission, the maneuvering of Germany proved most pathetic of all. German diplomats announced that Germany was a beacon of fighting discrimination. They then declared that the draft declaration, which commemorates and reinforces Durban I, was a good basis for discussion, and they were happily prepared to keep engaging in this “constructive” manner. They did manage to note that singling out any country will not be acceptable to them.
In short, according to Germany, a square peg can be fit into a round hole. The Durban Declaration already singles out Israel. The purpose of Durban III is to applaud the Durban Declaration. At Durban II in Geneva in 2009, Germany pulled out just two days before Ahmadinejad opened the conference on the anniversary of Hitler’s birth. True to form (which Germany would have known months beforehand) Ahmadinejad said: “The word Zionism personifies racism that falsely resorts to religion and abuses sentiments to hide their hatred and ugly faces." How long will it take the Germans to figure it out this time?
Inspired by the weakness of democratic states across the U.N. human rights system – the United Kingdom and France evidently thought at Thursday's negotiations that dead silence was acceptable – the Russians pushed the envelope and circulated lengthy additional suggestions for a Durban III declaration. The Russians are undoubtedly working in collaboration with the 56 states in the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
Disgusting. Simply disgusting. Will the US speak out against it? Don't hold your breaths. It's a miracle Obama decided to withdraw from the conference this far in advance. For him to actually speak out against it would be a flying pigs moment.
This all makes us appreciate Canada again. Those Israelis with travel budgets ought to consider visiting Canada. It's a beautiful country (I've been to Montreal and Toronto and have driven from the US border to Montreal and from Niagara Falls to Windsor).
Will Israel apologize to Turkey or is it wishful thinking?
Defenseless defense minister Ehud Barak was in Washington this past week, where he was subjected to a full-court press by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and new Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta to apologize to Turkey for allowing the IDF to defend itself during the Mavi Marmara incident last year. Barak, who was inclined to apologize in the first place, told a news conference in Washington that Israel is 'mulling' an apology. Turkey's Daily Hurriyet has gone to the bank with that (Hat Tip: Joshua I).
Particularly since last Sunday the Israeli inner-cabinet, or the so-called “group of eight” met several times on the issue and according to Israeli sources has finally decided five to three to make an “apology” and pay compensation to the relatives of the victims. Israel, however, is still unable to deliver the apology much-demanded by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, because of its worries in regards to the “legal responsibility” of the soldiers – to be more precise, officers – involved in the deadly high sea piracy on Mavi Marmara. If Israel does not apologize, Turkey’s “plan B” in this year-long standoff includes allowing relatives of victims of the Israeli’s attack on the Turkish ship to seek justice at international court. Yet, there is no guarantee that after a formal apology of any sort by the Israeli state the issue will not be referred by the relatives of the victims to international jurisprudence.
According to Israeli sources, though the apology decision was made several days ago, the international jurisprudence concerns have so far marred Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, walking that unprecedented road. Yes, in whatever form it might come, it would be the first-ever for the state of Israel to apologize to another country, or individuals, for a military operation undertaken by its armed forces, and to pay – even though through a foundation – compensation of any sort. It will of course be painful for Israel, as much as it would be a revolutionary move.
Israeli apology may come as early as today, or tomorrow, if Erdoğan does not deliver yet another explosive remark. Erdoğan, talking to a gathering of Palestinian ambassadors had upped Turkey’s demands for normalization of relations with Israel, introducing “ending the Gaza blockade” condition to the apology and compensation conditions declared earlier. Israel has so far preferred to totally ignore that new third condition spelled out by the Turkish premier, but will Ankara agree to that? We shall see it in days ahead.
JPost is telling the story a little bit differently.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday said that Israel was "willing to consider apologizing" for problems that occurred during last year's raid of the Turkish flotilla ship the Mavi Marmara in which nine Turks were killed by IDF commandos.
"Defense Ministry and IDF legal advisers recommend that we come to an understanding with Turkey in order to protect commanders and soldiers from legal action," Barak stated.
"We are not apologizing for the blockade and we are not apologizing for using force," he said. "We are willing to consider apologizing for problems that occurred during the Marmara operation, if indeed their were such problems...I don't like it, but that is the choice that must be made," Barak added.
Barak has come out as the key advocate in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s inner forum urging Israel to take steps necessary to bring about a normalization of ties with Turkey.
There has been talk here for months that we would pay compensation. What's new here is the 'apology,' and although the Turks would undoubtedly spin it as a total capitulation, it's quite limited and if the Turks actually read it they will not be satisfied with it.
I also have my doubts about the 5-3 in favor. I think it's 6-2 against. Here are the eight inner cabinet members: Barak and Dan Meridor are undoubtedly in favor of apologizing. Boogie Yaalon, Benny Begin, and Avigdor Lieberman are opposed. Netanyahu and Yishai are opposed but pliable. Yishai could even just stay away from the vote - that's completely in character for him. Yuval Steinitz? Against, but he's getting killed by all the demonstrations dealing with our economy right now, and there have been rumors about Netanyahu cutting him loose. Would he vote in favor to keep his seat? It wouldn't be the first time in this country.
So that would leave 4-3 in favor of a very limited apology with no taking down the blockade and on condition that we would get assurances that the soldiers won't be hauled into court.
I come back to Turkey not being satisfied with any apology Israel would give and not being able to give assurances that our soldiers won't be sued anyway. I think it will fall on those grounds.
- Stephen Greenwald, AAJLJ president made a brief statement recognizing the controversial nature of the event and disclaiming that it represents the views of the AAJLJ - he then introduced the J Street rep to introduce Pinkas…
- Pinkas briefly discussed the J Street summer tour with the phrase, "J Street smartly brought people here…" (ok, at this point I'm just biding my time to aske a question)
- Pinkas claimed that he represents what 65-75% of Israelis believe - i.e, that a two-state solution is necessary for Israel's survival - which he cares very much about. He's honored to be part of this delegatioin since "we're on borrowed time." His whole basis for the need for a 2-state solution was demographics (he threw out numbers and claimed it was a foregoing conclusion that if there is not a Pal state in the near future, Israel will either have a Prime Minister named Mohammed or it will become an apartheid state). He must have used the word "urgency" at least 10 times - long-term the majority of Israelis want a peace process and short-term the status quo will be rocked come September. He admitted he doesn't like the idea of a Pal state, it has attributes of what will become a failed state but there's no other logical solution or arrangement. Israeli's problem is that they've become in love with the status quo - not being asked to pay the price for a peace process (yada, yada, yada). Oh, and even our president says this is unsustainable (so it must be true!)
- Obama has been just as friendly as his predecessor (finally some moans from the audience) - providing military hardware, intelligence sharing, continuing vetoes at the UN, pushing peace process. Oh, and he endorses more Israeli positions than Pal positions (backed up with nothing…) American administarion has set out principles saying nothing that was not endorsed by Clinton or Bush and going back to Johnson.
- claims that '67 lines are indefensible are "highly debatable." Israeli defended itself before with those lines in place. He recognized that the nature of the threat has changed but said it in a way to support the defensibility of the lines rather indefensibility.
- Bibi's mistake is claiming that he wants a 2-state sol'n when the Israeli gov't doesn't really want a 2-state sol'n and Bibi should just say so then. He respects Bibi for really not wanting to proceed with a peace process and mad that he's not coming out of the closet with this and continuing to pretend he does. But he blames the Israeli gov't for not offering an alternative. Gov't doesn't relfect public opinion on this. Israeli public opinion is to the left, not right. Majority believe there has to be a 2-state solution. Livni has 51% chance of being the next PM b/c she has a clear vision of what should be done. (I want to scream out at this point). Bibi only got 24% of the vote and found himself looking right and looking left and all the sudden he was PM! There will be a vote in 2012.
- Question time:
- 1st woman went on a bit long (which is really b/c Pinkas didn't say anything production and opened up too many cans of worms) and started to get shouted down but she was on our side and it started the tension in the room really rising
- 2nd guy asked some pointed questions and got direct answers (I believe he was the only one who did)
- I was next - tried to consolidate a lot of points and we had a heated exchange for a couple of minutes til Greenwald shut it down. I challenged him on the demographics (as the 1st woman did) and his response to me was the same - give me your stats, where are your stats, there are none. I approached it differently and explained to him that there have been demographic studies that dispute his conclusion through analyzing birth rates which he hadn't mentioned - he said, oh, you're referring to Ettinger and he's been spewing this stuff for years. I indicated that there were others that I'd be happy to forward to him and moved on b/c too much ground to cover (BTW - this is a great article: http://www.tabletmag.com/news-and-politics/72679/time-out/). I pointed out to him that discussions had been going on between the Israeli's and Pals until Obama came into office and shut them down with his position on building in the settlements and his most recent position on the '67 lines - both enabling the Pals to walk. He again disputed that O was any different than his predecessors, he got very condescending with me (Greenwald did not really allow too much back and forth and the J streeters were screaming to let him talk). When I pointed out that O basically threw away the plan set forth in the 2004 Bush letter, he said he didn't see a difference, I explained the difference, he wouldn't acknowledge it saying it was the same thing. I tried to get at why he and his colleagues were associating themselves with an anti-Israel organization such as J Street in order to undermine the policy of the democratically elected government of Israel (and the will of the majority of all Americans, not just American Jews) and pointed out that Bibi's numbers grew when he was last here in the states - he poo'd the numbers and made fun of that statement, the J streeters went crazy, Greenwald attacked me for claiming that J Street was anti-Israel and wanted the J Street rep to have an opportunity to defend the organization (to me, that was the most important bit of info from the day - that the President of the AAJLJ would defend J Street) - when I asked if he would let me speak and give the litany of items to support that claim including their association with BDS advocates which I got out but no one acknowledged, he refused - everyone's screaming over everyone, Pinkas chastised me for saying who is and who is not pro-Israel, Greenwald called on the next person.
- a few other questions from both sides but in particular, the guy 2 seats down from me who was steaming over my questions and began by suggesting that I should be dragged into court for slander (I just laughed and said to him that I clearly must have struck a nerve and was happy for that).
- Bottom line, he never ever explained his ideas on how he and his compatriots plan on achieving a two-state solution with defensible borders, recognition of Israel, no right of return, etc (I asked him about timing and why this was so urgent ahead of the UN vote and he indicated they weren't pushing for this before the vote but gave no further information on plans). No surprise there but like Obama, he's like a child who just wants it and will bully, lie, and distort his way into getting it (or at least getting a free tour of the US - one person asked why he wasn't giving this discussion to the Arabs in say, Ramallah, instead of to Jewish lawyers on 5th Ave. and he said he'd rather be shopping on 5th Ave.)
If anyone ever claims to you that Israel's Supreme Court said that the 'West Bank' is occupied, here is how you should respond.
The Israeli Supreme Court has never ruled that the West Bank is occupied. It has assumed it arguendo because the Israeli government decided in 1967 to grant residents of the West Bank all humanitarian protections in the laws of belligerent occupation as a matter of good will. While the cases of the Supreme Court sometimes say that the law that applies to the West Bank is the law of belligerent occupation without further explanation, there is not a single case where they have examined the issue and come to the legal conclusion that the West Bank is belligerently occupied territory.
It is true that the Israeli Supreme Court has been increasingly sloppy about this in recent years (the last 6-8 years), and one can therefore find lots of sentences like “the West Bank is occupied territory,” these are not and never have been sentences that are part of the holding of the court. To repeat: there is not a single case where they have examined the issue, considered pro and con arguments, and come to the legal conclusion that the West Bank is belligerently occupied territory.
Additionally, the question of whether the laws of belligerent occupation apply to the West Bank is legally distinct from the question of sovereignty. The argument that the International Court of Justice used to apply the laws of belligerent occupation to the West Bank is that belligerent occupation laws apply whenever territory is captured in war, no matter what its sovereign status. In fact, the ICJ specifically threw up its hands when it came to ruling what the sovereign status of the West Bank is.
In other words, the only way for serious international lawyers to argue that the laws of belligerent occupation apply to the West Bank is to concede that laws of occupation have nothing to do with sovereignty, and therefore to concede that they cannot use the laws of occupation to argue against Israeli sovereign rights, or in favor of alleged Palestinian sovereign rights.
I am an Orthodox Jew - some would even call me 'ultra-Orthodox.' Born in Boston, I was a corporate and securities attorney in New York City for seven years before making aliya to Israel in 1991 (I don't look it but I really am that old :-). I have been happily married to the same woman for thirty-five years, and we have eight children (bli ayin hara) ranging in age from 12 to 33 years and eight grandchildren. Three of our children are married and a fourth is engaged! Before I started blogging I was a heavy contributor on a number of email lists and ran an email list called the Matzav from 2000-2004. You can contact me at: IsraelMatzav at gmail dot com