Endorsing a Palestinian state

By gmoorenator/Flickr

By JONATHAN WOLFMAN

Many dozens of winners of Israel’s prestigious Emet (truth) and Israel Prizes have signed a declaration “endorsing a Palestinian state on the basis of the 1967 borders,” writes Ethan Bronner in today’s New York Times.

The official announcement is to come from the spot where Israeli independence was first declared in 1948. The one-page document, to be read aloud by actress Hanna Maron, an Israel Prize recipient, says, in part that it is now time “to extend our land” according to the vision of Israel’s founders and “offer peace and good neighborliness.”

Just two weeks back, a group of prominent Israeli security experts and businesspeople, the Israeli Peace Initiative, announced a more detailed and quite similar proposal.

While I look on moves like this with measured hope, I must agree with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who says that these sentiments and proposals are realistic only in a broader context of Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. For a people with a history such as ours, that only makes sense.

An officially recognized and robust Israel (robust economically, intellectually, and militarily) – recognized by all parties – has to be a bottom-line requirement of an overall settlement. Our lives as Jews and our continued ability to help others achieve freedom anywhere in the world depends on it.

Should Terry Jones be barred from Dearborn?

By Mark Taylor

By GARY BAUMGARTEN

How far does one’s First Amendment rights stretch in the United States?

If a person’s public demonstrations in Florida cause death in Afghanistan should he be barred from Dearborn?

That’s the question facing a judge in Wayne County Michigan today, after prosecutors filed a motion to bar Pastor Terry Jones from demonstrating outside a Dearborn Islamic center on Good Friday.

Dearborn is a suburb of Detroit, once best known for being the home of Ford Motor Company World Headquarters and the sprawling Ford Rouge Assembly Plant. But it’s now probably better recognized as a community with a substantial Arab population.

Jones is the controversial church pastor who burned a Koran in Florida, then announced it on his website. When word about it spread in Afghanistan, enraged Muslims attacked UN offices, killing 11 people in protest. Even though the UN had nothing at all to do with what Jones did, it was the closest place they could think of where they could find westerners to punish for the Koran burning.

Now Jones wants to take his mission against Islam on the road to Dearborn, where he intends to protest in front of the Islamic center. The prosecutors want an injunction to prevent him from doing so, on the grounds that he will likely spark a riot there.

The Koran burning was, of course, distasteful and irresponsible, given that the U.S. government implored him to not do it because it feared violent responses by some who were offended. Responses that the government told him could put Americans and others in danger.

The lesson was clearly not learned by Jones, who now apparently wants even more fame, or perhaps infamy, by protesting in Dearborn.

While the Koran burning was distasteful, it was clearly protect under the Constitution. So is Jones’ right to protest outside a mosque in Dearborn.

If he is precluded from exercising his First Amendment rights, then who will be next? Nazis who want to march through a predominantly Jewish neighborhood?

That’s not just an academic question. It actually was once raised.

In 1977, in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois, then a community heavily populated with Holocaust survivors, a neo-Nazi group announced a march. When the village government sued to prevent the march, the ACLU stepped in and filed a counter-motion claiming that to enjoin the Nazis from marching would be a violation of their First Amendment rights.

The ACLU prevailed in court, but in the end, the Nazis never marched in Skokie.

The thought wannabe Nazis goose-stepping through the neighborhood of people who lived through the horrors of the Holocaust notwithstanding, the court made the right decision. They had the right, that they elected to not exercise, to do just that.

Similar emotions may be evoked if Jones decides to visit Dearborn. But he too, has First Amendment rights.

If we muzzle Nazis and we muzzle Jones, who knows who may be next to be silenced. Maybe Muslims. Maybe Jews.

Gary Baumgarten is editor of The Jewish Reporter.

Middle East peace: The impossible dream

By AVI PERRY

For the past 43 years, since the conclusion of the Six-Day-War in 1967, the American administration has recruited its best political minds and muscles for the task of bringing about a lasting peace between Arabs and Israelis. There have been some successes; Egypt and Jordan signed peace treaties with the Jewish state, and although peace between Israel and its two key neighbors has been holding for more than a decade, it has been a cold peace. The two “friendly” Arab neighbors continued their support of broad antisemitism campaigns through their government-controlled media and via their government-controlled education system; they participated actively in anti-Israel political maneuvering in international forums, including the UN and limited their commercial ties with the Jewish state to a minimum.

It is important to note that both Egypt and Jordan have no territorial disputes with Israel. Egypt traded territory (the Sinai Peninsula) and plenty of American cash for peace; Jordan abandoned its claim to Judea and Samaria (a.k.a. the West Bank) in favor of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a future Palestinian state. At the same time, Lebanon, under Hezbollah’s manipulation, has been acting on behalf of Iran while continuing its active hostilities toward its southern neighbor, Israel; Syria continues to pose a potential threat with persistent talk about a looming war, and the Palestinian territories — the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — are boiling with hate while talking about the “peace process.”

When scratching the shiny surface and unearthing the true meaning behind the Palestinians’ code words, (which worm their way into the hearts and minds of the world’s peace lovers), one may decipher the true objective behind all Palestinian’s peace declarations. The key word Palestinians bring into play when referring to Israel is “the Occupation.” To the western naïve ear, the ironic title implies  the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank, a.k.a. the so-called Palestinian territories. However, there are no Israelis in Gaza; Gaza is not occupied, and 90 percent of the West Bank is controlled and administered by the Palestinian Authority and its President Mahmoud Abbas. What does Israel occupy?

When Palestinian refer to “the Occupation” they mean Israel proper. In their mind, Israel proper, including Tel Aviv, Haifa, Beer Sheba, etc., constitute occupied Islamic land.

They have not reconciled to the fact that Israel exists as a Jewish state. This reality has been evidenced in Abbas’s recent, public refusal to admit to it “Yes, Israel exists,” he confirmed. “It’s a fact,” he approved. But he resisted the critical part: “as a Jewish state.”

His words echoed a recent Palestinian TV game show quiz, in which Haifa was defined as a Palestinian coastal city, while as recently as a few weeks ago, PA TV called for Israelis to leave Israel and “return” to Germany and Poland (Helen Thomas only reiterated it). What’s more, a recent official PA TV has been teaching children to envision a world in which Israel does not exist and all of Israel is part of the “State of Palestine,” poisoning their minds to make certain that their Jew-hatred agenda subsisted for the next one hundred years and beyond.

The following lesson was on a very recent educational PA TV children’s program. The map used in the studio was named “Palestine” and included all of Israel.

Host: “Show me where you’ve been on the map of Palestine.”

Girl: “We went to the Sea of Galilee [northern Israel] and to the Dead Sea.”

Boy points on map: “Jaffa, Haifa.” [Israeli cities]… and Jenin and Nablus [West Bank].”

Host: “So you’ve visited many different places in Palestine, and that’s very good. It’s very good that we’re always visiting new places in our state, Palestine.

There are thousands of other similar examples. Official Palestinian maps show Israel and the Palestinian territories (of the West Bank and Gaza) as a single country named Palestine. Palestinian schoolbooks teach hate while rewriting history. Palestinian newspapers, Palestinian TV programs, especially those intended for children —  every single one of them emphasizes Jew-hatred by way of Nazi style antisemitic propaganda. They promote Shahada (death for Allah), invent conspiracy libels, demonize Jews, glorify terrorists and terror — all premeditated to deny Israel’s existence or its right to exist.

In short, Palestinians contention to a two-state solution is dishonest at best. It sounds righteous to all since the West interprets that declaration as a compromise, but the Palestinian audience understands the veritable intent — the Arab interpretation of the two-state solution does not recognize the Jewish state as one of a two-part upshot. The Arab leaders are talking about two Palestinian states living side by side before they will be unified to become one Palestine in a later phase once the Jews are eliminated.

It was Habib Bourguiba, president of Tunisia in the late 1950’s, who first came up with a “revolutionary” thinking. He suggested that Arabs should resort to a peace offensive (or a peace process) as a smoke screen in pursuit of what has been called the Salami Principle — putting international pressure on Israel to weaken itself through a series of withdrawals to earlier borders.

“It would be a first step,” he asserted, “preceding the final assault on what’s left of the Jewish state whose indefensible borders would make it an easy prey.”

The immediate reaction by the rest of the Arabs was rejection. Gamal Abdel Nasser, Egypt’s president and leader of the Arab world, was quick to remove any doubt or misunderstanding about the Arabs’ true intentions. “The liquidation of Israel,” he announced on March 8, 1965, “will be liquidation through violence. We shall enter a Palestine not covered with sand, but soaked in blood.”

Since that time, Palestinians have recognized Bourguiba’s wisdom. In his quest for “peace,” Khaled Meshaal, the current Palestinian Hamas leader, has said in his coded language, “We want to have peace in the region, but peace will not be achieved before the removal of the occupation.” He then added, “We have agreed that peace can be achieved with the removal of the occupation and the end of aggression.” One needs to understand that the term “the occupation” is synonymous to “Israel,” and the term “aggression” is a code word for “Israel’s existence.” In other words, Meshaal‘s peace initiative has called for peace with Israel as long as Israel ceased to exist.

Arabs intentions became transparent after the Camp David conference in the final days of the Clinton administration. Ehud Barak, then Israel’s prime minister, offered Arafat 95 percent of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; 100 percent  of the Gaza strip, plus a corridor connecting the two detached territories in return for the promise of peace. It was the most any Israeli leader would ever put forward as a peace concession to any future Palestinian leader. But the offer was rejected, and the Palestinians declared war (Intifada) on Israel in its aftermath.

Palestinians reinforced Israel’s suspicion and belief that Arabs are not serious about peace, even though Palestinian leaders have been promoting their desire for peace whenever interviewed by a western reporter. Following Israel‘s withdrawal from Gaza in 2007 and emptying Gaza of all and every Israeli, Palestinians began shooting thousands of deadly rockets at “the occupation”—towns and villages of Israeli civilians who had never occupied anything Palestinian— from the same real estate vacated by the Jewish settlers as a good will gesture and given back to the Palestinians.

Responses following Israeli withdrawals from territories occupied during defensive wars had always been met by Arab deadly aggression in return. It was true in the West Bank following the Oslo Accords when suicide bombing inside Israeli cities became a daily affair; it was true following Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon when Hezbollah took over the territory and began shooting rockets at Israeli towns and it was true all over again following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza.

In the present environment, where Muslim religious clerics call for jihad against Jews, it has become apparent that Palestinian talk of peace is designed to mask their ever so violent intentions. Only lately, they have repeated their genocidal threat claiming that the subjugation of the Christian world will begin in Rome and that “No Jew will be left on the face of this earth.”

Any intelligent person would recognize that this kind of talk is not conducive to peace. Still, world leaders, including our own President Obama, refuse to listen, to interpret, to believe these death threats. As long as words like “peace process,” “occupation,” “aggression” supplement any Muslim’s hate speech, our leaders find comfort in the Webster Dictionary interpretation of these words rather than their genuine intent.

The only conclusion that a reasonable person can infer from a logical analysis based on actual precedents is that further Israeli concessions toward peace with the Palestinians would only bring about more violence in return. Unfortunately, Palestinians’ talk about a peace process is unmistakably consistent with their view of the Salami principle, while their Islamic teaching forbids treatment of Jews as worthy human beings.

A two-state solution is a mirage, an illusion borne by western leaders and the world’s media. It is a nightmare for sober Israelis who understand the consequences of the so-called peace; yet, it is a dream of Paradise, a lifetime ambition for all Islamic martyrs and those who send them on their jihadi mission.

Read Avi Perry at www.aviperry.org.

To build, or not to build in Ramat Shlomo

 

By JONATHAN WOLFMAN

Every U.S. President since George H.W. Bush in 1988 has lobbied very hard with each successive Israeli government not to build new housing units in Ramat Shlomo because all U.S. presidents have seen that as a deliberate attempt on the part of the Israeli right to complicate/end negotiations. The fact that, for example, a cabinet minister decided to throw this in Vice President Biden’s face when he visited last year (and behind Prime Minister Netanyahu’s back) far from showing just how fundamentally impossible it is to get serious talks going, shows that negotiations may have been closer than some wanted and that it isn’t just some Muslims who do not want a settlement.

We must reject any mythology, religious or political mythology, Jewish or Muslim, that determines at the outset and at the expense of real people, what every detail of future territory must be. We must equally reject any religious culture’s claim to a purity so precious that it simply cannot live next to others.

That has been the increasingly self-immolating, xenophobic nature of that Islam which has held the Near East in an inward-looking, backward-seeking vise-grip for 400 years and which has permeated North Africa and much of Southeast Asia.

It would be one thing were this to cripple old-world Muslims only but it doesn’t. It threatens the basis for international market economies, trade and civil libertarian ideals accepted from the start in Israel, even by Judaism’s fundamentalists, and, ironically, to an extent, by the more future-oriented, more globalist Muslim states.

Critiques aside, here’s an idea for Ramat Shlomo, one not at all for Jews and Muslims who regard one another in every place and at all times as incipient murderers. If you’re one of those, stop reading now.

New apartments-or-no needn’t be the question. Half the apartments could be allotted to Muslims, or, alternatively, a lottery could ensue with an equal number of Muslims and Jews permitted to apply (regardless of the outcome). No one would imagine immediate kumbaya moments. (No one imagined those when the Court ordered school desegregation either but they happened and the South and the Nation’s better for them.

Recall, please, though, the difference between a cynic and a skeptic:

-A cynic, because she believes nothing much good is ever really possible, never tries anything new regardless of the potential benefit – and in the end is a boring person lost to history.

-A skeptic, while wary because she believes everything, good and bad, is possible, eyes the landscape for new ideas and so fearful that she won’t test some out. She creates history.

Is this idea worth testing? Could it do more good than ill?

I can’t know yet; neither can you. Come up with other new ideas. Be a skeptic.