By J. Zel Lurie
DELRAY BEACH, Florida–The story appeared in the Jerusalem Post of September 21. It was headed “Oren urges Jewish leaders to support peace moves.” The story described a meeting Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren held in Washington with Israeli and Jewish reporters.
Ambassador Oren’s request that American Jewish leaders publicly support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was almost completely ignored.
Some background. Since 1948 American Jewish leaders have listened closely to the Israeli Embassy. The ambassador never had to ask for support. He described Israeli policy and Jewish leaders followed even when Israeli actions were contrary to American policy.
Support for Jewish settlements in the West Bank is a notable example. The United States has opposed every settlement as contrary to international law on occupied territory and a serious obstacle to peace . But American opposition to settlements, for political reasons, was never forceful, and almost 300,000 Jews have settled in the West Bank.
Which explains why, for the first time, Ambassador Oren’s plea for support was greeted with silence. Even by Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League. For years he has acted as the self-appointed spokesman for Israeli policies. Now he is occupied in wiggling his opposition to the Islamic center, two blocks from ground zero. Read more…
By Bruce S. Ticker
PHILADELPHIA — Editors at Time Magazine may be unfairly accused of anti-Semitism, but they are reckless with their semantics. As experienced journalists, they should understand that misleading language can be dangerous.
The magazine’s Sept. 13 cover headline – “Why Israel Doesn’t Care About Peace” – brought its editors condemnation from supporters of Israel. The Anti-Defamation League slammed the Time article for stressing Israelis’ inclination to make money.
Academy Award-winning actor Jon Voight, a staunch gentile supporter of Israel, called Time “anti-Semitic” because of the headline and its accompanying article inside which contends that Israelis are apathetic toward the peace process with the Arabs.
Karl Vick, the writer, indeed succeeds in reaching this conclusion. Who can blame the Israelis?
Hostilities resulted from the offer of a Palestinian state in 2000 and withdrawal from Gaza in 2005.
Personally, I long ago ceased understanding what Israel gets out of negotiating a pact with Arabs over Israel’s territories.
Vick and his editors made three mistakes. First, a Time spokesman boasted that the article is a scoop. Oh yeah? A Newsweek article reached the same conclusion last January.
The article carelessly states: “They’re otherwise engaged; they’re making money; they’re enjoying the rays of late summer.”
No doubt that claim is factually true for many Israelis, but the phrase “they’re making money” is delicate wording when applied to Jews, who have been stereotyped as greedy throughout the ages.
The most gaping blunder is the headline, which presumes that Israel is apathetic to peace.
“Peace” is not what Israelis need from Arabs in the territories. They already have a relative level of peace within Israel proper. Terrorist bombings from the West Bank ended after the security barrier started going up. Rocket attacks from Gaza and southern Lebanon dwindled after recent military confrontations with Hamas and Hezbollah.
Time would have been more factual, if tedious, had they composed this headline: “Why Many Israelis Don’t Care About Reaching Terms.”
The word “peace” is tossed around too casually in the context of this conflict, and Time is far from alone in committing this offense. “Peace” has evolved as shorthand for a process that is too convoluted to be reduced to a single five-letter word. It allows for a catchy phrase, but Time editors may disdain letting the facts get in the way of a good headline.
The only objective that seems plausible is the handover of land – namely, Gaza and the West Bank – so the Arabs can form their own society. That’s fine, but a treaty will not ensure “peace” and “peace” need not be achieved through a treaty. Even if it agrees to a near-perfect deal, Israel must still worry about Iran’s nuclear designs and the ongoing arms build-up in Gaza and southern Lebanon.
The same obstacles persist – security needs, excessive Arab demands, settler resistance, Hamas’ control of Gaza and right-wing pressures within the Israeli government.
Hawkish advocates for Israel will insist that the West Bank is not peaceful, but what do the settlers expect when they choose to live amid a hostile population? “Peace” can only be accomplished there by removing the settlers, even unilaterally; expelling the Arabs; or negotiating a pact that is fully enforced. Israelis who live in Israel proper care about West Bank “peace” when their sons and daughters in uniform are assigned to protect the settlements.
For the record, it would be valuable if an accord is reached, but it is still a feat that most Israelis can live without…in peace. Violence can erupt at any time, as was the case with riots in east Jerusalem and the murder of four settlers in recent weeks. Even if a “peace” treaty is ever implemented.
Ticker is Philadelphia bureau chief for San Diego Jewish World
By Morton A. Klein
NEW YORK –Under relentless pressure by the Obama administration, Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed, last November, to a one-sided one-time, 10-month Jewish construction freeze on the six percent of the West Bank where Jews live. Since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, Israel hasn’t built a single new settlement and has only built within the settlement borders as of 1993. On November 30, 2009, Netanyahu pleaded with Israelis to accept this unilateral and extraordinary concession by promising, “This is a one-time decision and it is temporary.” Now that the 10 month freeze period has ended, Netanyahu has done the right thing by ending the freeze and he has urged Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas “to continue the good and sincere talks that we have just started.”
It was hoped that the unprecedented Israeli construction freeze was to have motivated the Palestinians to implement their yet unrealized pro-peace actions. Tragically, no positive actions were taken by the Palestinians during this ten-month period.
They haven’t arrested anti-Israel terrorists, outlawed terrorist groups or ended the incitement to hatred and murder against Jews in their PA-controlled media, mosques, schools and youth camps. They have even refused direct negotiations until now.
The PA still glorifies terrorists and violence. Last month, Abbas told Arab journalists in Jordan that, “If you [the Arab states] want war, and if all of you will fight Israel, we are in favor.” In July, he honored Muhammad Daoud Oudeh, the mastermind of the 1972 Munich Olympics where Palestinian terrorists murdered eleven Israeli athletes. Abbas called him ‘a wonderful brother, companion, tough and stubborn, relentless fighter.’
The PA has obscenely and publicly celebrated the 1978 coastal road massacre carried out by Palestinian terrorists led by Dalal Mughrabi, in which 37 Israelis, including a dozen children, were murdered. The PA has also named two youth summer camps in Mughrabi’s honor. Abbas has named literally scores of streets, schools, computer centers, sports teams and other institutions after terrorists who have murdered Israelis.
All of these continuing and horrifying anti-peace, pro-terror actions by the Palestinian Authority makes it clear that even major Israeli concessions like the freeze, giving up all of Gaza and half of the West Bank won’t cause the Palestinians to change their belligerent actions.
Until this incitement ends, all talk of peace is a farce. As the distinguished British historian Paul Johnson has written in his History of the Jews, ‘one of the principle lessons of Jewish history has been that repeated verbal slanders are sooner or later followed by violent physical deeds.
And look at the history of concessions since Oslo began in 1993. Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, but this did not lead Hizballah to become peaceful and moderate. On the contrary, Israel was subjected to new assaults and waged a war in 2006 which cost the lives of over 100 Israeli servicemen. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, only to face an exponential increase in rocket assaults and the violent seizure of the territory by Hamas.
When Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat huge concessions in 2000 it resulted in a terrible terrorist campaign by the PA which claimed almost 2,000 Israeli lives and over 10,000 wounded and maimed.
Unilateral concessions don’t work. Clearly, the Palestinians simply want to continue these unilateral concessions. Why else would they consider to now refuse to negotiate when negotiations will only lead to more Israeli land concessions to them – but will require Palestinian concessions and a final written peace agreement ending all Palestinian claims.
We must understand that peace can only occur when the Palestinians realize they will receive no more concessions and no more international support, which includes the $1.3 billion the US now provides to the PA, until they change their schools, media, and political speeches from supporting violence and the Jewish state’s destruction to supporting peace and the right of Jews to live in their sovereign ancient homeland.
Had Israel decided to continue the freeze, a message would be sent that, by applying pressure, Israel can be made to increase and expand any concession it has already made. Ending the freeze makes it clear to the Palestinians that time is not on their side and they must finally act to promote a real peace.
Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America
By Rabbi Ben Kamin
SAN DIEGO — It’s not hard to agree that the settlement movement in Israel—a hybrid of indigenous religious zealots and immigrant fundamentalists from places like Chicago, Toronto, and Johannesburg—is something of a complication for the peace process. This is true even though the overwhelming majority of Israelis—people making car payments, trying to keep their jobs, and maintain their health benefits—are neither settlers, would-be settlers, or even particularly observant Jews.
The Palestinian obsession with the settlements is peculiar and out-of-touch with a) the far more urgent issue of salvaging their own state (deserved) from a smoldering splinter of terror groups and ostensibly more “moderate” factions that remain in bloody stalemate among each other (primarily Hamas v. Fatah) and b) the more cogent realization that to ask Israel to stop building communities when you haven’t even offered to stop destroying communities is absurd and disingenuous.
The Palestinians, with their funny caveats, and the Obama imposers, with their tongue-clucking demands that Israel “take risks for peace” (as if every single day since Israel was created in 1948 has not been a risk) don’t seem to grasp the bigger picture: Israel is about life and growth and science and creativity.
Over 80% of the nation consists of secularists who watch cable news, shop in trendy malls, love to linger in fashionable coffee shops, drive late-model cars across a national freeway system, and like to travel to Turkey, India, Hong Kong, and North America. They want college, not conflagration. Read more…
By Ira Sharkansky
JERUSALEM — It was they who put on the table the demand for a total freeze in Jewish construction throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
The result was to increase the political demands of the Palestinians, as well as the Israeli settlers and their supporters.
Increasing demands of both sides before the start of intense negotiations is not my understanding of wise guidance.
Perhaps the damage was slight, insofar as there never were great chances for a full blown agreement on the issues separating Israel and Palestine. However, the flub distracted the leaders of Palestine and Israel from domestic concerns. For Palestinians of the West Bank, the great advances of recent years came from foreign investments in housing, infrastructure, and industry, plus the upgrading of security forces with the help of the United States and Jordan. More effective security allowed Israel to reduce its own military incursions and restrictions of travel, and those provided further boosts to Palestinian development.
NEW YORK (Press Release)–Following is a transcript of remarks made by President Barack Obama to the General Assembly of the United Nations on Thursday, Sept. 23:
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary-General, my fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen. It is a great honor to address this Assembly for the second time, nearly two years after my election as President of the United States.
We know this is no ordinary time for our people. Each of us comes here with our own problems and priorities. But there are also challenges that we share in common as leaders and as nations.
We meet within an institution built from the rubble of war, designed to unite the world in pursuit of peace. And we meet within a city that for centuries has welcomed people from across the globe, demonstrating that individuals of every color, faith and station can come together to pursue opportunity, build a community, and live with the blessing of human liberty.
Outside the doors of this hall, the blocks and neighborhoods of this great city tell the story of a difficult decade. Nine years ago, the destruction of the World Trade Center signaled a threat that respected no boundary of dignity or decency. Two years ago this month, a financial crisis on Wall Street devastated American families on Main Street. These separate challenges have affected people around the globe. Men and women and children have been murdered by extremists from Casablanca to London; from Jalalabad to Jakarta. The global economy suffered an enormous blow during the financial crisis, crippling markets and deferring the dreams of millions on every continent. Underneath these challenges to our security and prosperity lie deeper fears: that ancient hatreds and religious divides are once again ascendant; that a world which has grown more interconnected has somehow slipped beyond our control.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Obama administration has announced a $60 billion sale to Saudi Arabia, including include 84 F-15 fighter planes, 70 AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, 72 UH-60 Blackhawk utility helicopters, and 36 MH-6 Little Bird surveillance helicopters. The package also includes HARM anti-radar missiles, more precision-guided JDAM bombs, Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and sophisticated helmet-mounted displays for fighter pilots.
The Financial Times reports that the UAE has just signed military supply contracts for $35-40 billion and that by 2014, Oman is expected to shell out $12 billion and Kuwait some $7 billion for arms, in what the Times calls “one of the largest re-armament exercises in peacetime history.”
In the boilerplate language used to formally notify Congress, the Administration avers that the proposed infusion of arms will not change the balance of power. Indeed, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said that the United States, “would do nothing that would upset the current balance in the region.”
That’s odd. The introduction of another $60 billion (plus $12 billion, plus $7 billion) in weapons won’t change the balance? Is that because the weapons are useless? Is it because the Saudis can’t use them? Is it because we don’t expect them to use them? Is it because Israel doesn’t mind? Agence France Presse (AFP) did report that, “in deference to Israeli concerns, the Administration did not offer so-called standoff systems, which are advanced long-range weapons that can be attached to F-15s for use in offensive operations against land- and sea-based targets.”
Deference to Israeli concerns requires pointing out that history indicates that sales to Saudi Arabia aren’t the issue. Iran is the issue.
In 2007, Russia signed a deal to sell Iran its S-300 anti-missile system. This week, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff said the missiles are banned under UN Security Council sanctions against Tehran, so the deal will not be consummated – now, but the Russians have been on-again-off-again. On the other hand, Russia is going forward with the sale of P-800 Yakhont cruise missiles to Syria. “These weapons cannot be used to destabilize the region,” said former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov in a Jerusalem Post story. “Ivanov pointed to ‘provisions in the contract with Syria’ that specifically bar Damascus from transferring these weapons to a third party (Hezbollah), noting that the manufacturers were also only allowed to work on the weapon installation with the Syrians.”
Well, that makes us feel better. After all, UNIFIL ensures that the Syrians don’t share much materiel with Hezbollah. The State Department said, “Opposition to arms sales to state sponsors of terrorism is well known,” but didn’t mention the recent report of Syria and Hezbollah creating a joint military headquarters to orchestrate cooperation between their forces – in addition to the ongoing smuggling.
Countries can try to make any decision look like responsible foreign policy. Russia says “no” to Iran but “yes” to its proxy and partner Syria. Syria is a “state sponsor of terrorism” when the State Department wants to criticize the Russians, but what is it when we provide them with political legitimacy in an effort to “woo” them from Iran? The United States sells Saudi Arabia weapons, but skips over Saudi funding of anti-American mosques and schools in Europe and the United States – the nucleus of jihadist education.
The fact is that Saudi Arabia is unlikely to take on Iran without the United States and is still hoping Israel will remove the Iranian threat, so if we’re selling them “defensive” equipment with that understanding, well, recycling petrodollars isn’t altogether a bad thing. But Iran is a threat to the region with or without nuclear weapons and the problem won’t be solved with $60 billion worth of arms or by complaining about the Russians.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member.