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.

Muslim group opposes Jewish night at ballpark


Jewish player Craig Breslow of the Oakland A's/By Natalie Litz

The Council on American Islamic Relations is opposing a decision by the Oakland A’s to host a Jewish night at the ballpark, USA Today is reporting.

Apparently the Muslim group finds the idea offsetting to some of its members.

It’s not so unusual for Major League Baseball teams to host religious or ethnic nights. And theme parks, such as Six Flags in New Jersey, have for several years now hosted Muslim days.

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.

The best of the worst Jewish mobsters

Irving "Slick" Shapiro's NYPD mugshot

By JONATHAN WOLFMAN

Needless to say, Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky are and will remain the most famous Jewish mobsters in the strange and horrid pantheon of American organized crime. Their peculiar and vicious lunacies are remarkably well portrayed by Warren Beatty and by the incomparable Lee Strasberg. And yet Bugsy and The Godfather, Part II are the extent of most Americans’ familiarity with that crowd. And, in any case, far and away the finest film of the genre is, ironically, not one of these but is the lesser-known Robert De Niro/James Woods/Elizabeth McGovern epic, Director Sergio Leone’s 1984 masterwork, Once Upon A Time In America.

Now, I’ve no desire go all pedantic on you and survey the careers of all the Jewish gangsters whose names would have been familiar to a Michael Corleone, notorious, terrible men such as, say, Vegas’ Morris (Moe) Dalitz. Nor will I run a list for you of, say, Detroit’s old Purple Gang, many of whom celebrated the Jewish Sabbath to one extent or another. Suffice to say that Italian-Americans and Jewish-Americans shared a weird, complex organized criminal and very American history and often very odd, parallel religious lives as well.

In this vein I think of Detroit’s old, notorious Purple Gang and one Irving “Slick” Shapiro, a man who brought some particularly strange ethical standards to his chosen line of work. You and I clucked our tongues and shook our heads in darkened theaters each time a Corleone family member betrayed raw and sincere feelings of familial caring one moment and ordered hits the next. Clemenza’s “Leave the gun/take the canolis” is just one of dozens of examples. Hyman Roth’s “More than anyone, I loved him,” wherein Lee Strasberg’s Hyman Roth/Meyer Lansky mourns the murder of Moe Green/Bugsy Siegal to Michael Corleone, who had Green shot through the eye, is another.

I think of Slick Shapiro, specifically, for another reason.

It is said of him that as ruthless and efficient a killer as Irving Shapiro was, he would not take a contract if it would have him carry out a hit, or even travel to fulfill a contract, on Shabbat, Friday to Saturday, sundown to sundown. Shapiro felt similarly about our two High Holy Days, our New Year, Rosh Hashana, and our Day of Attonement 10 days on, Yom Kippur.

The rest of the calendar he was ready for assignment, open for hire, but on those days, fuggeddaboudit; he was unavailable.

And what’s even more nutty is that he wasn’t, apparently, alone among 20th century Jewish mobsters in this and, nuttier still, his Italian-American and other associates appear to have respected Slick’s weird wet-work ethic. Genuinely respected it.

Irving Shapiro’s heyday was well gone by the 1980s. And then, so was he. Slick’s eternal slate, of course, can’t come close to having been cleansed by his tip of the hat to a few holidays and the Sabbath. And yet it does suggest that even some the most vicious killers, men raised in certain compelling ethnic/religious traditions.

Irving Shapiro and his cronies murdered at least 500 men in their day.

These men seemed oddly intent on honoring their traditions even as they slit your throat, ear-to-ear.

A secular Jew in an orthodox shul

By Lawrie Cate

By JONATHAN WOLFMAN

Until two years ago I hadn’t been a shul member since my bar mitzvah in January, 1964.

Just before that Rosh Hashana, Tamar and I, on what at first seemed like a moment’s spur, joined a Sephardic congregation with simple, lovely, curved and arched Moorish architecture. As all of the Sephardic shuls in America are, ours is what is known as modern-Orthodox. It’s been among the best decisions we’ve made and, on reflection, was likely on the cards for some time.

Despite the fact that we’re secular Jews and while we are egalitarian and progressive in our outlook, Tamar and I have no issue sitting apart during prayer. (During all other activities, such as Torah and Talmud study, men and women here participate together.) The men and women sit apart during prayer, though the mechitza, or barrier between the men’s and women’s section, is slatted, chocolate-colored wood and low enough to be leapt by a lame midget. In fact, while our congregation is serious about Judaism, we’re fairly informal here; men lean over the slatted wood divider to chat. A lot. And in the lobby, men and women hug, hold, kiss. It’s a pretty touchy place, a happy, welcoming place, reflecting the range of cultures from Israel, Spain, Iran, Iraq, North Africa, Europe, North and South America.

And over the Ark, these words:

Know Before Whom You Are Standing.

It’s a simple, powerful admonition and more: it’s a profound recognition, even for two Jews who aren’t particularly spiritual. It underscores what we’ve always known, that we answer to an ethic greater than ourselves. Makes sense, as I’ve never thought that I must understand Torah as history in order to know it’s among the world’s greatest sources of wisdom and ethics. There are, of course, other extraordinary moral repositories, but as I’m a Jew, this one, Torah, is mine.

It would take a remarkable poverty of imagination to demand that Torah (or any religious text) be literal history to be deeply meaningful and instructive. And it’d be an even more deplorable lack of creative sensibility to require ‘proof’ of God in order to derive extraordinary lesson and benefit from the Books.

Last night at shul I opened a book of prayers and found, as I find throughout Torah, Talmud, Prophets, Judges, all the texts, the one common thread that thrills me as a Jew more than any other. Leviticus may say it more emphatically than the other texts when it tells Jews that we must never leave the poor, the widow, the ill, the orphan, defenseless and on their own…yet they all say it. Levitical injunctions do not suggest; they absolutely require: they say there simply is no question but that it’s our communal obligation, our personal and collective responsibility to make certain that people in terrible circumstances be helped and raised up and helped again, over and over until they are in positions to care for themselves.

And if there is a God, a God who demands this, then this God simply cannot be demanding this of less than one-tenth of one percent of humanity only: it has to be a universal injunction.

The introduction to the New Year Book of Prayer tells us that at this time, at the New Year, we are to be both celebratory and solemn, we are to, in the words of Nehemiah

“eat…drink…and send portions

to him who has nothing….”

Nehemiah, as all the prophets, demands that Jews understand and act on what justice requires.

In every year, may we all.

Helen Thomas to address anti-AIPAC gathering

By Michael Foley

The organization, Move Over AIPAC says long-time Washington Journalist Helen Thomas, who was ousted from her job at the Hearst Newspapers after making what many described as antisemitic remarks, will address its pro-Palestinian conference in May.

The conference coincides with the annual policy meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee  summit in the Capitol. Thomas will be the group’s keynote speaker May 21.

The 92-year-old Thomas, who was stripped of her White House press credentials when she lost her job, has just been granted credentials to cover the House and Senate for the Falls Church (Virginia) News-Press.

Move Over AIPAC says its May 21-24, 2011 conference hopes to “expose the AIPAC lobby and build the vision for a new U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.”

 

U.S. to help Middle East countries recover

White House photo

The U.S. treasury secretary says the United States is prepared to help the newly forming governments in Egypt and Tunisia recover financially.

“We are witnessing fundamental changes in the Middle East and North Africa that provide a historic opportunity to expand the circle of democratic societies,” said Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. “Alongside our partners in the Middle East and Europe, the United States stands ready to support the transitions in Egypt and Tunisia through a renewed multilateralism.”

Geithner says the World Bank and other multilateral development banks will be essential, just as they were in support of Eastern and Central Europe’s transition two decades ago.

“In 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and as Central and Eastern European countries left communism behind, the world turned to the MDBs to assist with these transitions<” Geithner said. “Financial and technical assistance from the MDBs helped roughly two dozen countries in Central and Eastern Europe transition from command economies to markets built on the strength of innovative entrepreneurs and active communities.” Geithner said that over the last two decades, Egypt and Tunisia have moved towards market economies and privatization. “Today,” he said, “the change that is underway in the Middle East calls for re-thinking and re-orienting the international community’s engagement. These transitions are ultimately about people: unleashing their opportunities and expanding their freedoms. We can unlock sustained and shared growth by tapping the potential of a young generation, expanding the private sector and creating accountable institutions,” he said.