What Israel can, and cannot, control

Two state solution. By andendquote/Flickr

By JONATHAN WOLFMAN

There will come a time, and that time will arrive sooner than many believe, when Near East Muslims will understand that Jews are not, that Israel is not, what holds them back. This is a reason I am for a two-state solution: with a state to manage, Palestinians will be responsible to more than rhetoric and bullets and bombs. They and the nations who support them will have to come to terms with some stubborn and uncomfortable problems, none of which can be laid at Israel’s door.

Three points:

  1. Religious ideology (any religious ideology) that rejects modernity, that rejects the bases of the French Revolution and The Enlightenment, cannot hope to raise educational standards enough to be competitive and, in turn, raise living standards for millions. Israel has nothing to do with the grip of the Arab world’s pre-modern religious ideology that retards development. The irony is that it was not always so in the Near East Muslim world: it was a leader in math, science, architecture and other forms of design until about four hundred years ago when it began to become increasingly reactionary, if not xenophobic, finding it more and more difficult to live with and near non-Muslims.
  2. Misogyny, even when cultures try to legitimate it with religion-  any religion – stymies the progress any region can make. The reasons that keeping women subservient and dependent work against progress are obvious and I needn’t list them. Israel has nothing to do with the lack of women’s educational and business opportunities in many Near East nations.
  3. There’s a wholly non-religious aspect to what has kept Palestinians and millions of other Near East Muslims poor. Wealthy Arabs cannot stand poor ones. No nation, ours, Israel, is without ugly, dismissive, class-based prejudice. Yet what has to be confronted by poorer Near East Muslims themselves is the back-of-the-hand that rich, authoritarian Arab states have continually given to their poor co-religionists. In part, of course, it’s been simpler for wealthy Arabs to refrain from helping to develop decent housing, robust schools on a large scale, and widening the circle of who benefits from oil. It’s been simpler and more useful for the wealthy autocracies to keep them poor so as to use them as a thorn in Israel’s side, as ready canon fodder. It’s been easier to point to Israel as the reason they live as they do. We all know that with a concerted effort, the oil states could, if they genuinely cared about Palestinians, raise living and educational standards and accomplishment in a generation. That they fail to do it has everything to do with class prejudice, wanting Jews gone, and nothing to do with Israel. Ask yourselves: if Israel were gone in the morning, would that alone give poor Muslims a new dawn?

The overall solution is about borders, respecting Islam (and Judaism), and formal political recognition by Palestinians of Israel, yes. But it’s more. It’s about core cultural regional issues that Israel cannot influence and that Muslims can.

Fed up over lack of peace process, Abbas bites back

By Olivier Pacteau

In Israel, there is an open wariness of President Obama. The fear is that Obama will turn it’s back on Israel and force a peace proposal down its throat. One that it finds impossible to digest.

But perception is in the eye of the perceiver. as a Newsweek interview with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reveals.

Abbas tells Newsweek that Obama has turned his back on the Palestinians, and that’s what has hardened his view toward Israel.

Obama, Abbas insists, mislead him, telling Newsweek’s Dan Ephron that the U.S. president led him up a tree, climbed down a ladder, and then took the ladder away, stranding him like a cat.

Palestinian cops fire on Jewish worshipers

Jewish worshipers leaving Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus where they had gone to mark the end of Passover were fired upon by Palestinian police. One person, a nephew of a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cabinet, was killed. Four others were wounded, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Palestinian youth clashed with Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers threw rocks at Palestinians after the shootings.

In another incident, the Palestinian News and Info Agency reports that Jewish settlers Sunday attacked a Palestinian school bus on a field trip between Ramallah and Jerusalem breaking out most of the buses windows with rocks.

Syrian death toll rises [Video]

More than 40 people – some news reports say as many as 75 – are now reported dead in Syria in what some are dubbing the “Good Friday Massacre” as government forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators . Some human rights groups put the death toll even higher; at 90.

As the dead are buried, the nation braces itself for more demonstrations, Reuters is reporting.

The situation prompted a strong reaction from the White House.

“The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms the use of force by the Syrian government against demonstrators,” President Obama said in a statement.

“This outrageous use of violence to quell protests must come to an end now.”

Ironically, the Friday killings came one day after Syria announced the repeal of a decades’ old emergency law – which means peaceful demonstrations, theoretically, would be permitted.

Good Friday massacre in Syria

Syrian troops are accused of killing 50 protesters on Friday in what is already being termed the Good Friday Massacre as it occurred on the Christian holy day of Good Friday, the Telegraph reports..

The killings took place after the government declare that the state of emergency is officially over’

Earlier, the Guardian reported that 20 people had been killed by troops.

Reuters reports a cat and mouse game between protest organizers and undercover cops, who scour Internet cafes and monitor Internet traffic in Syria in an attempt to thwart their attempts to rally people against the government. The wire service is also reporting that foreign journalists are being severely restricted, making the task of getting the story out all the more difficult.

Violent clashes continue in Yemen as well, with casualties reported on both sides now, as some opponents to a government that is promising to step down are now armed and firing on pro-regime forces. AFP reports 13 Yemen soldiers dead. The Telegraph reports that forces have turned tear gas, water cannons and guns on protesters – 100 of whom have been killed thus far this year.

President Obama will be meeting next week with the crown prince of the UAE to discuss ways of helping squelch the fervor in Yemen, the Associate Press says.

Time for an Israeli peace plan?

World Economic Forum photo

By GARY BAUMGARTEN

The pressure is on for a peace plan for the Middle East.

The Palestinians want a unilateral declaration of a nation based on the pre-’67 boundaries. Something that Israel rejects – on both security grounds and because unilateral is not a word in the government’s vocabulary. A negotiated, agreed-upon-by-all parties is the only solution, the government declares.

The signals from Washington are contradictory.  On the one hand, the Obama administration sides with Israel in that there needs to be a negotiated peace with the Arabs. On the other, the White House is crafting its own plan to present to both sides.

One could view such a proposal as a starting point for new talks. Or one could view it as an imposition by the United States. The choices could be: Take it. Or take it.

So, perhaps, now is the time for the Netanyahu government to step up to the plate with a peace proposal of its own. Instead of reacting to what others want, perhaps Israel should be proactive – put its cards on the table – show some leadership by leading with a plan.

Perhaps it will.

Israel President Shimon Peres is now urging Prime Minister Netanyahu to do just that. “We don’t need more peace plans, we need to implement peace,” YNetNews quotes Peres as saying.

There are those who might argue that doing so would be just another act of frustration; that the Arabs aren’t willing to embrace anything Israel offers. “Look,” they may say, “at what Ehud Barak offered when he was prime minister. Even that was rejected.”

While that is true, that was then and this is now. Israel can’t control what the Palestinians do. And Israel can’t control what President Obama might do. But Israel can control what Israel does.

Instead of sitting back and bemoaning that the world and the Palestinians are unfair, isn’t it time for Israel to take some action on its own? If nothing else, it would be nice for the world to see an Israel that’s really moving toward peace.

Gary Baumgarten is editor of The Jewish Reporter.

Clinton: Peace talks should restart immediately

WASHINGTON – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the Middle East peace talks should begin again and immediately.

Clinton’s remarks came during the first of a series at the State Department called “Conversations on Diplomacy, Moderated by Charlie Rose” on PBS. Also joining in the conversation was former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who unsuccessfully attempted to broker a peace between the Israelis and Palestinians during the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Returning to the bargaining table, Clinton said, “is in the best interest of both the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

The comments come against the backdrop of attempts by the Palestinians to impose a unilateral declaration of a state. Something Clinton declared the United States opposes.

“We do not support any unilateral effort by the Palestinians to go to the United Nations to try to obtain some authorization or approval vote with respect to statehood,” she said, “because we think we can only achieve the two-state solution that we strongly advocate through negotiation.”

The comment suggests the U.S. would veto at the UN Security Council any resolution unilaterally declaring a Palestinian state.

Security forces open fire on Syrian demonstrators

Just hours after Syria’s president pledged to ease restrictions in an attempt to reduce tensions, security forces have opened fire on protesters in that nation’s third largest city, al Jazeera reports.

The gunfire in Homs, which is locked down, occurred just one day after it was reported that 25 demonstrators were killed by security forces.

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.