Friday, June 26, 2015

UN Gaza Report: It's A Disgrace Commission of Inquiry or Commission of Iniquity?

UN Gaza Report: It's A Disgrace

Commission of Inquiry or Commission of Iniquity?

By Walter Bingham

This program brings you an authoritative overview of the United Nations Human Rights Council's Commission of Enquiry into Israel's Operation Protective Edge in 2014 in Gaza.

You will hear a representative of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, A former legal advisor to that Ministry, the President of the International Jewish Association of Lawyers and Jurists as well as the former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan with a military assessment.

If you want to be informed about the shameful prejudged verdict of the Commission, tune in now.

Also: A contribution from the inimitable Pat Condell.

And : Music from the Band of the IDF

Total UNHRC Condemnations, 2006-2015

Israel: 61
Syria: 15
Myanmar: 12
North Korea: 8
Iran: 5
Belarus: 4
Eritrea: 3
Sri Lanka: 3
Sudan: 2
Libya: 2
Honduras: 1
Afghanistan: 0
Algeria: 0
China: 0
Cuba: 0

Equatorial Guinea: 0
France: 0
Iraq: 0
Lebanon: 0
Russia: 0
Pakistan: 0
Somalia 0
Turkmenistan: 0
UK: 0
USA: 0
Uzbekistan: 0
Venezeula: 0
Vietnam: 0
Yemen: 0
Zimbabwe: 0

Calev Myers on Understanding UN Bias Against Israel, The Jerusalem Institute of Justice

Calev Myers on Understanding UN Bias Against Israel, The Jerusalem Institute of Justice

Calev Myers on the United Nations which has made the democratic State of Israel the target of incessant condemnation while neglecting its mandate in challenging the oppressive regimes around the world. 

Col. Kemp debunks UN report showing how it contradicts itself, lacks military expertise and completely adopted Hamas narrative.

British Commander: Anti-Israel UN Report is Dangerous

Col. Kemp debunks UN report showing how it contradicts itself, lacks military expertise and completely adopted Hamas narrative.

By Ari Yashar

British Army Colonel (ret.) Richard Kemp, former Commander of the British Forces in Afghanistan, completely deconstructed and debunked the UN report which on Monday accused Israel of "war crimes" in its fight against Hamas terrorists in Gaza last summer.

Writing in an op-ed on Thursday in the New York Times, the colonel explained how the report, led by Judge Mary McGowan Davis of the infamous Goldstone Report which likewise charged "war crimes," constitutes a threat and "can only provoke further violence and loss of life."

"The report starts by attributing responsibility for the conflict to Israel’s 'protracted occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip,' as well as the blockade of Gaza," wrote Kemp. "Israel withdrew from Gaza 10 years ago. In 2007 it imposed a selective blockade only in response to attacks by Hamas and the import of munitions and military matériel from Iran. The conflict last summer, which began with a dramatic escalation in rocket attacks targeting Israeli civilians, was a continuation of Hamas’s war of aggression."

The military expert noted that while the report accuses Israel of breaching international law, "no evidence is put forward to substantiate these accusations. It is as though the drafters of the report believe that any civilian death in war must be illegal."

He added that the report "is characterized by a lack of understanding of warfare. That is hardly surprising. Judge Davis admitted, when I testified before her in February, that the commission, though investigating a war, had no military expertise. Perhaps that is why no attempt has been made to judge Israeli military operations against the practices of other armies. Without such international benchmarks, the report’s findings are meaningless."

Kemp pointed out that the report claims the IDF's "use of air, tank and artillery fire in populated areas may constitute a war crime...yet these same systems were used extensively by American and British forces in similar circumstances in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are often vital in saving the lives of our own soldiers, and their curtailment would jeopardize military effectiveness while handing an advantage to our enemies."

Further, while the report condemns Israel for causing civilian casualties, it offers no suggestions as to what more Israel could have done to avoid such casualties faced with Hamas's tactics of embedding its terrorist infrastructure among civilian centers, he said.

The report "even criticizes Israel for using harmless explosive devices - the 'knock on the roof' - as a final warning to evacuate targeted buildings, suggesting that it created confusion. No other country uses roof­knocks, a munition developed by Israel as part of a series of I.D.F. warning procedures, including text messages, phone calls and leaflet drops, that are known to have saved many Palestinian lives."

In fact, international legal experts have slammed the IDF precisely for over-warning residents of Gaza and thereby harming the ability of Western democracies to fight terrorism, something Kemp has warned against as well.

Where does Hamas come in?

Kemp noted that "in an unusual concession, the report suggests that Hamas may have been guilty of war crimes, but it still legitimizes Hamas’s rocket and tunnel attacks and even sympathizes with the geographical challenges in launching rockets at Israeli civilians: 'Gaza’s small size and its population density make it particularly difficult for armed groups always to comply' with the requirement not to launch attacks from civilian areas."

He stated that the large number of Gaza residents who died last summer was not caused by Israeli policy but rather Hamas's strategy, given that the terrorist group deliberately placed its "fighters and munitions in civilian areas, knowing that Israel would have no choice but to attack them and that civilian casualties would result."

"Unable to inflict existential harm on Israel by military means, Hamas sought to cause large numbers of casualties among its own people in order to bring international condemnation and unbearable diplomatic pressure against Israel."

While the report acknowledges the IDF took steps to save lives, it "without foundation accuses 'decision makers at the highest levels of the government of Israel' of a policy of deliberately killing civilians," said Kemp. "Incredibly, she (Judge Davis) 'regrets' that her commission was unable to verify the use of civilian buildings by 'Palestinian armed groups,' yet elsewhere acknowledges Hamas’s widespread use of protected locations, including United Nations schools."

In conclusion, the colonel remarked on the potential security threats posed by the report and the actions it calls for, which could allow Hamas free reign in smuggling weapons into Gaza.

"Most worrying, Judge Davis claims to be 'fully aware of the need for Israel to address its security concerns' while demanding that it 'lift, immediately and unconditionally, the blockade on Gaza,'" he noted. "Along with the report’s endorsement of Hamas’s anti-­Israel narrative, this dangerous recommendation would undoubtedly lead to further bloodshed in both Israel and Gaza."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The World's Betrayal of Israel

The World's Betrayal of Israel

by Shahar Azani 

It was the month of January 2005. That Saturday night, a 17-year-old girl, by the name of Ayala Abukasis, was walking home with her younger brother, Tamir, in the southern city of Sderot in Israel. As they were walking, Ayala heard the shrill of an incoming Qassam missile fired from Gaza unto her city. She knew she had mere seconds to act, and so - without thinking twice or even trying to find shelter for herself - she hovered over her brother, covering him with her body, shielding him, as the missile hit the ground not far from where they were standing. Ayala was severely hurt and a few days later died in the hospital. The image seared into the minds of so many Israelis was that of Ayala's father and brother, standing solemnly by her grave, as her brother was blowing the Shofar (a ram's horn) in mourning of her passing.

This happened six months before Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip, as Israelis have had to face the reality of missile attacks on civilians from Gaza for over a decade now. However, a hope for change emerged in that hot, humid and painful month of August 2005, when Israelis were promised a different future. Then, Israeli society had gone through the terrible ache of evacuating thousands of people from their homes in the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank, in the hope of promoting the cause of peace with the Palestinians. "If only we do this", Israelis heard over and over again, "the World would know the sacrifices we are willing to make for peace. And if, G-d forbid, something bad may happen or if missiles continue to pour in on our heads from Gaza, oh then we will have the full legitimacy to fight back and defend ourselves. The World will understand".

This week the United Nations Human Rights Council's (UNHRC) Commission of Inquiry published its report on "the 2014 Gaza conflict". This was not the first report published on the situation in Gaza, an area which went from bad to worse when Hamas took it over by force in June of 2007. The UNHRC is an infamous entity when it comes to Israel. It is responsible for a series of one-sided resolutions against the Jewish State ever since the Council was established (2006) and has gone as far as to have Israel as a "Permanent Agenda Item" of the Council, an "honor" not shared by any other State on Earth. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Israel, which has seen this bias take place for such a long time, refused to cooperate with its detractors at the Council.

The current report's validity is questionable, not only because of the biased "kitchen" it was concocted in. Many questions arise from the report on a factual level: it looks into the "hostilities" only from the day after 3 Israeli teenagers were abducted and executed by Hamas terrorists. It claims Hamas was responsible for digging 14 "tunnels of terror" into Israel, when Israel identified over 30 of those. The versions even differ when it comes to the number of Israeli casualties: this stood at 73 people, soldiers and civilians, while the report put it at 67 only. The inevitable question is: if they got the basic facts wrong, what else is there in the report, which actually "holds water"?!

However, it is vital that we look beyond and take into account the wider and more profound effect of this report, in addition to the state of affairs as it pertains to "Gaza 2014". The United Nations and the international community's behavior towards Israel, manifested by such biased and one-sided reports, erodes the very foundation for any potential opportunity to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation on the ground.

Make no mistake: this is not about Gaza 2014, 2013 or 2012. This is about the Israeli public looking the international community "in the eye" and realizing that there will never be any real support for them, even at their time of need, when missiles are targeting innocent people and Israel is going on an operation of self-defense. By putting Israel and Hamas on the same level, this international community is telling Israelis that they are on a par with a terrorist organization, infamous for blowing up buses in Israel in the course of the 90's, killing hundreds of innocent people.

Is this the international community Israelis are later supposed to trust - again - when coming to an agreement with the Palestinians?! Think again. There's still time to change course. We all deserve a chance for a better future.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fighting the oldest hatred

Fighting the oldest hatred

Judith Bergman

Many people around the world feel that they would like to act against the current rise in anti-Semitism ‎and the boycott, divest and sanctions movement against Israel -- the latest variation on the theme of the "oldest hatred."

But if you are not a diplomat or the head of a large organization with a lot of time and money on your ‎hands, what can you do in the face of what sometimes seems an overwhelming task?

Actually, a great ‎deal.‎

Surprisingly, it need be neither very difficult nor particularly time-consuming to fight the BDS movement.‎

What is most important to keep in mind is that the aim of any anti-BDS effort, however small, is two-fold: ‎One is to change the way that Israel is perceived around the world, including in your local community. The ‎smearing campaign of Israel has been quite successful, resulting in a grossly distorted view of Israel across ‎a large number of countries, especially in the Western world. ‎

The other is to expose the hypocrisy of the BDS movement, which targets Israel, but not the countless ‎undemocratic and indeed murderous regimes around the world, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and ‎many others.‎

Another thing that is important to keep in mind: The fight against BDS should be proactive. Your efforts should never be limited to ‎reacting to a BDS campaign, although efforts against concrete BDS campaigns are, of course, crucial. The ‎aim should be to pre-empt the efforts of the BDS movement.‎

Any fight begins with baby steps. A war of this kind is never won on the first day, hardly ever in the first ‎month, and probably will not be decisively won in the first couple of years. Forget about seeing quick ‎results. You are in this for the long haul.‎

Remember that stores care very much about what their customers ‎want. There is a wealth of action waiting to be taken in the supermarkets, drugstores and other ‎shopping outlets in your area. Inquire after Israeli products regularly. Ask for Israeli fruits and vegetables ‎‎-- Israel produces excellent organic produce as well -- but do not ask just for that. Go to the shops that sell ‎beauty products, even online shops, and ask them for Israeli products. Ahava is perhaps ‎the most known of these, but Israel produces many others. Go to the kitchen appliance ‎shop and ask for SodaStream. If they do not market it, ask them to do so in the future. Get all your ‎friends and family involved, and double, triple or quadruple your efforts. Make it a whole community ‎effort of your synagogue, church or local football team.‎

If consumers demand and repeatedly inquire after Israeli products, stores will pay attention. ‎Perhaps not the first time, not even the second time, but they will not want to ignore consistent ‎demands for particular Israeli products in the long run. Demand and supply is as valid as ever in this ‎respect.‎

However, actively asking for Israeli products need not be limited to physical products. Israel has a rich and ‎exuberant cultural scene, consisting of talented dancers, musicians, singers, actors and filmmakers. At the ‎beginning of June, an attempt by British filmmakers Ken Loach and Mike Leigh along with 39 other ‎signatories to boycott the London Israeli Film and Television Festival in London was rejected by the large ‎British theater chain Curzon Cinemas.‎

‎"Curzon Cinemas hosts many festivals throughout the year, including the Human Rights Watch film ‎festival, the London film festival and festivals representing regions from around the world, including the ‎Kinoteka Polish film festival, the Romanian film festival and many more. ... We have not previously ‎considered asking questions about the funding of a festival booked at one of our cinemas, and we do not ‎consider booking a festival as any kind of political comment," said a company statement quoted by The ‎Guardian.‎

Israeli television series are among the best and most popular in the world, and several of them have been sold to ‎Hollywood, where they have been remade as American TV series. "Hatufim" was remade with a slightly different content as one of the most highly rated American TV shows, ‎‎"Homeland." The series "Betipul" was remade into "In Treatment," starring Gabriel Byrne and Dianne Wiest. ‎

Curzon Cinemas obviously did not want to lose out in this regard. ‎

You can also help bring Israeli culture -- film, television and other performing arts -- to your country and ‎your area, by actively asking for it. Theatres, cinemas, concert halls and libraries host a plethora of foreign ‎acts in their halls, and if you don't see any Israeli names there you should contact those cultural venues in ‎your area and ask them, if they would like to bring Israeli acts there -- and if not, why not? Again, by ‎creating a demand, it becomes so much easier for those venues -- such as Curzon Cinemas -- to say no to ‎the boycotters and stand by the Israeli performers that they have booked. Simultaneously, by displaying ‎more Israeli acts, these venues will be helping to promote Israeli culture abroad. ‎

You should not stop there, however. Because the aim, as mentioned before, is not only to clear Israel's ‎name of all the damage that has been done to it in the past many years. It is also to expose the ‎endless hypocrisy of the BDS movement and indeed of the stores who choose to succumb to it by not ‎marketing Israeli products. Many supermarkets, especially in Europe, sell fruits from regimes such as Iran. Ask ‎these supermarkets why they have no qualms selling produce from countries where women have no ‎rights, political prisoners are summarily executed, and homosexuals are hanged from cranes, while ‎they refuse to sell Israeli avocados or oranges.‎

Then there are those times when it turns nasty and an actual BDS campaign is launched against ‎a particular store or venue. This happens too frequently in Europe, but increasingly in other places as well. ‎It is important to stay in the know about such campaigns so that you can react if they happen. One way to ‎do that is to sign up for information from one of the many Jewish organizations, such as StandWithUs, who ‎do tremendous work to counter the BDS movement, or to ask to receive information from your local ‎Israeli embassy. They will frequently post about such campaigns, along with lists of emails and phone ‎numbers of the shop or venue in question, where one can call or send a complaint.‎

One recent example of a BDS attempt that was defeated was the Swedish supermarket chain COOP, ‎which has over 600 branches across Sweden. A few months ago, there was a BDS move to boycott ‎Israeli products in this chain, but the move was protested so vehemently by pro-Israel ‎activists, who called and threatened to boycott the chain if it continued its boycott against ‎Israel, that the boycott was abandoned. Israeli Ambassador to Sweden Isaac Bachman, who became ‎involved, said that "we didn't talk about the righteousness of Israel, rather we spoke in the name of fair ‎trade and avoiding discrimination of any state."‎

This is very crucial. Pro-Israeli activists are often drawn into long and nasty debates about who is wrong ‎and right in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it is rare for these debates to have any positive ‎outcomes in the sense of making any constructive difference. The ambassador's argument -- fair trade ‎and nondiscrimination against any state -- is much more efficient, since it is so obvious. Boycotting a democratic state like Israel goes against every principle of free and fair trade.‎

There are undoubtedly countless other ways in which to counter the oldest hatred in its current form. ‎However, just choosing one of the many ways mentioned above has the potential of making a real ‎difference to Israel.

It is up to you.‎

Judith Bergman is a writer and political analyst living in Israel.

Monday, June 22, 2015

How Obama Opened His Heart to the ‘Muslim World’

How Obama Opened His Heart to the ‘Muslim World’
And got it stomped on. Israel’s former ambassador to the United States on the president’s naiveté as peacemaker, blinders to terrorism, and alienation of allies.
Days after jihadi gunmen slaughtered 11 staffers of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and a policeman on January 7, hundreds of thousands of French people marched in solidarity against Islamic radicalism. Forty-four world leaders joined them, but not President Barack Obama. Neither did his attorney general at the time, Eric Holder, or Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, both of whom were in Paris that day. Other terrorists went on to murder four French Jews in a kosher market that they deliberately targeted. Yet Obama described the killers as “vicious zealots who … randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli.”
Pressed about the absence of a high-ranking American official at the Paris march, the White House responded by convening a long-delayed convention on “countering violent extremism.” And when reminded that one of the gunmen boasted that he intended to kill Jews, presidential Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained that the victims died “not because of who they were, but because of where they randomly happened to be.”
Obama’s boycotting of the memorial in Paris, like his refusal to acknowledge the identity of the perpetrators, the victims, or even the location of the market massacre, provides a broad window into his thinking on Islam and the Middle East. Simply put: The president could not participate in a protest against Muslim radicals whose motivations he sees as a distortion, rather than a radical interpretation, of Islam. And if there are no terrorists spurred by Islam, there can be no purposely selected Jewish shop or intended Jewish victims, only a deli and randomly present folks.
Understanding Obama’s worldview was crucial to my job as Israel’s ambassador to the United States. Right after entering office in June 2009, I devoted months to studying the new president, poring over his speeches, interviews, press releases, and memoirs, and meeting with many of his friends and supporters. The purpose of this self-taught course — Obama 101, I called it — was to get to the point where the president could no longer surprise me. And over the next four years I rarely was, especially on Muslim and Middle Eastern issues.
“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward based on mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama declared in his first inaugural address. The underlying assumption was that America’s previous relations with Muslims were characterized by dissention and contempt. More significant, though, was the president’s use of the term “Muslim world,” a rough translation of the Arabic ummah. A concept developed by classical Islam, ummah refers to a community of believers that transcends borders, cultures, and nationalities. Obama not only believed that such a community existed but that he could address and accommodate it.
The novelty of this approach was surpassed only by Obama’s claim that he, personally, represented the bridge between this Muslim world and the West. Throughout the presidential campaign, he repeatedly referred to his Muslim family members, his earlier ties to Indonesia and the Muslim villages of Kenya, and his Arabic first and middle names. Surveys taken shortly after his election indicated that nearly a quarter of Americans thought their presidentwas a Muslim.
This did not deter him from actively pursuing his bridging role. Reconciling with the Muslim world was the theme of the president’s first television interview — with Dubai’s Al Arabiya — and his first speech abroad. “The United States is not, and will never be, at war with Islam,” he told the Turkish Parliament in April 2009. “America’s relationship with the Muslim community … cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism.… We seek broader engagement based on mutual interest and mutual respect. We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith.” But the fullest exposition of Obama’s attitude toward Islam, and his personal role in assuaging its adherents, came three months later in Cairo.
Billed by the White House as “President Obama Speaks to the Muslim World,” the speech was delivered to a hall of carefully selected Egyptian students. But the message was not aimed at them or even at the people of Egypt, but rather at all Muslims. “America and Islam are not exclusive,” the president determined. “[They] share … common principles — principles of justice and progress, tolerance, and the dignity of all human beings.” 

With multiple quotes from the Quran — each enthusiastically applauded — the president praised Islam’s accomplishments and listed colonialism, the Cold War, and modernity among the reasons for friction between Muslims and the West. “Violent extremists have exploited these tensions in a small but potent minority of Muslims,” he explained, in the only reference to the religious motivation of most terrorists. And he again cited his personal ties with Islam which, he said, “I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed.”

These pronouncements presaged what was, in fact, a profound recasting of U.S. policy. While reiterating America’s support for Israel’s security, Obama stridently criticized its settlement policy in the West Bank and endorsed the Palestinian claim to statehood. He also recognized Iran’s right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, upheld the principle of nonproliferation, and rejected former President George W. Bush’s policy of promoting American-style democracy in the Middle East. “No single nation should pick and choose which nations hold nuclear weapons,” he said. “No system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.” In essence, Obama offered a new deal in which the United States would respect popularly chosen Muslim leaders who were authentically rooted in their traditions and willing to engage with the West.
The Cairo speech was revolutionary. In the past, Western leaders had addressed the followers of Islam — Napoleon in invading Egypt in 1798 and Kaiser Wilhelm II while visiting Damascus a century later — but never before had an American president. Indeed, no president had ever spoken to adherents of a world faith, whether Catholics or Buddhists, and in a city they traditionally venerated. More significantly, the Cairo speech, twice as long as his inaugural address, served as the foundational document of Obama’s policy toward Muslims.
Whenever Israeli leaders were perplexed by the administration’s decision to restore diplomatic ties with Syria — severed by Bush after the assassination of Lebanese president Rafik Hariri — or its early outreach to Libya and Iran, I would always refer them to that text. When policymakers back home failed to understand why Obama stood by Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who imprisoned journalists and backed Islamic radicals, or Mohamed Morsi, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and briefly its president, I would invariably say: “Go back to the speech.” Erdogan and Morsi were both devout Muslims, democratically elected, and accepting of Obama’s outstretched hand. So, too, was Hassan Rouhani, who became Obama’s partner in seeking a negotiated settlement of the Iranian nuclear dispute.
How did the president arrive at his unique approach to Islam? The question became central to my research for Obama 101. One answer lies in the universities in which he studied and taught — Columbia, Harvard, and the University of Chicago — and where such ideas were long popular. Many of them could be traced to Orientalism, Edward Said’s scathing critique of Middle East studies, and subsequent articles in which he insisted that all scholars of the region be “genuinely engaged and sympathetic … to the Islamic world.” Published in 1978, Orientalism became the single most influential book in American humanities. As a visiting lecturer in the United States starting in the 1980s, I saw how Said’s work influenced not only Middle East studies but became a mainstay of syllabi for courses ranging from French colonial literature to Italian-African history. The notion that Islam was a uniform, universal entity with which the West must peacefully engage became widespread on American campuses and eventually penetrated the policymaking community. One of the primary texts in my Obama 101 course was the 2008 monograph, “Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy,” written by foreign-relations experts, many of whom would soon hold senior positions in the new administration. While striving to place its relations with the Middle East on a new basis, the authors advised, America must seek “improved relations with more moderate elements of political Islam” and adapt “a narrative of pride in the achievements of Islam.”
In addition to its academic and international affairs origins, Obama’s attitudes toward Islam clearly stem from his personal interactions with Muslims. These were described in depth in his candid memoir, Dreams from My Father, published 13 years before his election as president. Obama wrote passionately of the Kenyan villages where, after many years of dislocation, he felt most at home and of his childhood experiences in Indonesia. I could imagine how a child raised by a Christian mother might see himself as a natural bridge between her two Muslim husbands. I could also speculate how that child’s abandonment by those men could lead him, many years later, to seek acceptance by their co-religionists.
Yet, tragically perhaps, Obama — and his outreach to the Muslim world — would not be accepted. With the outbreak of the Arab Spring, the vision of a United States at peace with the Muslim Middle East was supplanted by a patchwork of policies — military intervention in Libya, aerial bombing in Iraq, indifference to Syria, and entanglement with Egypt. Drone strikes, many of them personally approved by the president, killed hundreds of terrorists, but also untold numbers of civilians. Indeed, the killing of a Muslim — Osama bin Laden — rather than reconciling with one, remains one of Obama’s most memorable achievements.
Diplomatically, too, Obama’s outreach to Muslims was largely rebuffed. During his term in office, support for America among the peoples of the Middle East — and especially among Turks and Palestinians — reached an all-time nadir. Back in 2007, President Bush succeeded in convening Israeli and Arab leaders, together with the representatives of some 40 states, at the Annapolis peace conference. In May 2015, Obama had difficulty convincing several Arab leaders to attend a Camp David summit on the Iranian issue. The president who pledged to bring Arabs and Israelis together ultimately did so not through peace, but out of their common anxiety over his support for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and his determination to reach a nuclear accord with Iran.
Only Iran, in fact, still holds out the promise of sustaining Obama’s initial hopes for a fresh start with Muslims. “[I]f we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion,” he told the New Yorker, “you could see an equilibrium developing between [it and] Sunni … Gulf states.” The assumption that a nuclear deal with Iran will render it “a very successful regional power” capable of healing, rather than inflaming, historic schisms remained central to Obama’s thinking. That assumption was scarcely shared by Sunni Muslims, many of whom watched with deep concern at what they perceived as an emerging U.S.-Iranian alliance.
Six years after offering to “extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” President Obama has seen that hand repeatedly shunned by Muslims. His speeches no longer recall his Muslim family members, and only his detractors now mention his middle name. And yet, to a remarkable extent, his policies remain unchanged. He still argues forcibly for the right of Muslim women to wear — rather than refuse to wear — the veil and insists on calling “violent extremists” those who kill in Islam’s name. “All of us have a responsibility to refute the notion that groups like ISIL somehow represent Islam,” he declared in February, using an acronym for the Islamic State. The term “Muslim world” is still part of his vocabulary.
Historians will likely look back at Obama’s policy toward Islam with a combination of curiosity and incredulousness. While some may credit the president for his good intentions, others might fault him for being naïve and detached from a complex and increasingly lethal reality. For the Middle East continues to fracture and pose multiple threats to America and its allies. Even if he succeeds in concluding a nuclear deal with Iran, the expansion of the Islamic State and other jihadi movements will underscore the failure of Obama’s outreach to Muslims. The need to engage them — militarily, culturally, philanthropically, and even theologically — will meanwhile mount. The president’s successor, whether Democrat or Republican, will have to grapple with that reality from the moment she or he enters the White House. The first decision should be to recognize that those who kill in Islam’s name are not mere violent extremists but fanatics driven by a specific religion’s zeal. And their victims are anything but random.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Monster We Can’t Get Rid Of

The Monster We Can’t Get Rid Of

By Moshe Feiglin

Missiles once again slammed into Ashkelon on Saturday night. When Rabin and Netanyahu shook the hands of the murderer, Arafat, and recognized the “Palestinian nation” and the justice of its claim to our Land, we got stuck with a monster that we can’t get rid of.

The monster’s self definition is not national sovereignty (a state is the last thing that they want) but rather, negating Israel’s sovereignty. In other words, the war against the Jews is how they define themselves.  That is why every Israeli retreat breeds more violence.

It is impossible to satiate the monster. All the truckloads of cash, the free electricity, concrete and iron (for terror tunnels) and more and more will never h elp. The monster will always  demand – and will sometimes get – the blood of the residents of southern Israel and our IDF soldiers.

But it is also impossible to destroy the monster because Rabin and Netanyahu told the world – in the name of the entire Israeli society – that the Gazans are right. This is their land. Since then, we have become conquerors in a land that does not belong to us. Certainly, we have no legitimate right to assassinate terrorists. All that we can do is to try to catch the missiles as they fly into our cities…

How Obama Abandoned Israel

How Obama Abandoned Israel

Netanyahu and the president both made mistakes, but only one purposely damaged U.S.-Israel relations.


‘Nobody has a monopoly on making mistakes.” When I was Israel’s ambassador to the United States from 2009 to the end of 2013, that was my standard response to reporters asking who bore the greatest responsibility—President Barack Obama or Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—for the crisis in U.S.-Israel relations.

I never felt like I was lying when I said it. But, in truth, while neither leader monopolized mistakes, only one leader made them deliberately.

Israel blundered in how it announced the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods and communities in Jerusalem over the border lines that existed before the Six Day War in 1967. On two occasions, the news came out during Mr. Netanyahu’s meetings with Vice President Joe Biden. A solid friend of Israel, Mr. Biden understandably took offense. Even when the White House stood by Israel, blocking hostile resolutions in the United Nations, settlement expansion often continued.

In a May 2011 Oval Office meeting, Mr. Netanyahu purportedly “lectured” Obama about the peace process. Later that year, he was reported to be backing Republican contenderMitt Romney in the presidential elections. This spring, the prime minister criticized Mr. Obama’s Iran policy before a joint meeting of Congress that was arranged without even informing the president.

Yet many of Israel’s bungles were not committed by Mr. Netanyahu personally. In both episodes with Mr. Biden, for example, the announcements were issued by midlevel officials who also caught the prime minister off-guard. Nevertheless, he personally apologized to the vice president.

Mr. Netanyahu’s only premeditated misstep was his speech to Congress, which I recommended against. Even that decision, though, came in reaction to a calculated mistake by President Obama. From the moment he entered office, Mr. Obama promoted an agenda of championing the Palestinian cause and achieving a nuclear accord with Iran. Such policies would have put him at odds with any Israeli leader. But Mr. Obama posed an even more fundamental challenge by abandoning the two core principles of Israel’s alliance with America.

The first principle was “no daylight.” The U.S. and Israel always could disagree but never openly. Doing so would encourage common enemies and render Israel vulnerable. Contrary to many of his detractors, Mr. Obama was never anti-Israel and, to his credit, he significantly strengthened security cooperation with the Jewish state. He rushed to help Israel in 2011 when the Carmel forest was devastated by fire. And yet, immediately after his first inauguration, Mr. Obama put daylight between Israel and America.

“When there is no daylight,” the president told American Jewish leaders in 2009, “Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs.” The explanation ignored Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and its two previous offers of Palestinian statehood in Gaza, almost the entire West Bank and half of Jerusalem—both offers rejected by the Palestinians.

Mr. Obama also voided President George W. Bush’s commitment to include the major settlement blocs and Jewish Jerusalem within Israel’s borders in any peace agreement. Instead, he insisted on a total freeze of Israeli construction in those areas—“not a single brick,” I later heard he ordered Mr. Netanyahu—while making no substantive demands of the Palestinians.

Consequently, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas boycotted negotiations, reconciled with Hamas and sought statehood in the U.N.—all in violation of his commitments to the U.S.—but he never paid a price. By contrast, the White House routinely condemned Mr. Netanyahu for building in areas that even Palestinian negotiators had agreed would remain part of Israel.

The other core principle was “no surprises.” President Obama discarded it in his first meeting with Mr. Netanyahu, in May 2009, by abruptly demanding a settlement freeze and Israeli acceptance of the two-state solution. The following month the president traveled to the Middle East, pointedly skipping Israel and addressing the Muslim world from Cairo.

Israeli leaders typically received advance copies of major American policy statements on the Middle East and could submit their comments. But Mr. Obama delivered his Cairo speech, with its unprecedented support for the Palestinians and its recognition of Iran’s right to nuclear power, without consulting Israel.

Similarly, in May 2011, the president altered 40 years of U.S. policy by endorsing the 1967 lines with land swaps—formerly the Palestinian position—as the basis for peace-making. If Mr. Netanyahu appeared to lecture the president the following day, it was because he had been assured by the White House, through me, that no such change would happen.

Israel was also stunned to learn that Mr. Obama offered to sponsor a U.N. Security Council investigation of the settlements and to back Egyptian and Turkish efforts to force Israel to reveal its alleged nuclear capabilities. Mr. Netanyahu eventually agreed to a 10-month moratorium on settlement construction—the first such moratorium since 1967—and backed the creation of a Palestinian state. He was taken aback, however, when he received little credit for these concessions from Mr. Obama, who more than once publicly snubbed him.

The abandonment of the “no daylight” and “no surprises” principles climaxed over the Iranian nuclear program. Throughout my years in Washington, I participated in intimate and frank discussions with U.S. officials on the Iranian program. But parallel to the talks came administration statements and leaks—for example, each time Israeli warplanes reportedly struck Hezbollah-bound arms convoys in Syria—intended to deter Israel from striking Iran pre-emptively.

Finally, in 2014, Israel discovered that its primary ally had for months been secretly negotiating with its deadliest enemy. The talks resulted in an interim agreement that the great majority of Israelis considered a “bad deal” with an irrational, genocidal regime. Mr. Obama, though, insisted that Iran was a rational and potentially “very successful regional power.”

The daylight between Israel and the U.S. could not have been more blinding. And for Israelis who repeatedly heard the president pledge that he “had their backs” and “was not bluffing” about the military option, only to watch him tell an Israeli interviewer that “a military solution cannot fix” the Iranian nuclear threat, the astonishment could not have been greater.

Now, with the Middle East unraveling and dependable allies a rarity, the U.S. and Israel must restore the “no daylight” and “no surprises” principles. Israel has no alternative to America as a source of security aid, diplomatic backing and overwhelming popular support. The U.S. has no substitute for the state that, though small, remains democratic, militarily and technologically robust, strategically located and unreservedly pro-American.

The past six years have seen successive crises in U.S.-Israeli relations, and there is a need to set the record straight. But the greater need is to ensure a future of minimal mistakes and prevent further erosion of our vital alliance.

Mr. Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States and a member of the Knesset, is the author of “Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide” (Random House, 2015).

Sunday, June 14, 2015

HYPOCRISY OF BDS'ERS.....BDS'ing in Ireland

HYPOCRISY OF BDS'ERS.....BDS'ing in Ireland

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Time to be honest about Israel's capital

Time to be honest about Israel's capital

By Frida Ghitis

Editor's note: Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review and a former CNN producer and correspondent. Follow her @FridaGhitis. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)Diplomacy sometimes creates moments of delusion, when learned men and women seem to lose touch with reality and speak in confusing sentences. That fact is on clear display when it comes to the issue of Israel's capital.

Let's be clear here: In every reasonable, logical way, the capital of Israel is Jerusalem. That is where the seat of government resides, where the country's parliament stands and legislates and where the President, Prime Minister and Cabinet have their offices and meet. Whatever some governments or politicians might say to the contrary, this fact should be accepted by everyone.

Now, this should not preclude parts of Jerusalem becoming part of another country, say, a future Palestinian state. But when it comes to Jerusalem, as we were reminded Monday by a Supreme Court ruling, nothing is simple.

On Monday, America's top court ruled on the case of 12-year-old Menachem Zivotofsky, who was born in Jerusalem and wanted his passport to state Israel as his country of birth.

Sounds simple, doesn't it?

Sadly, it isn't. In reality, in many situations where the U.S. government talks of Jerusalem, it refuses to say in what country that city is actually located. Indeed, official U.S. policy says the status of Jerusalem is unresolved, subject to the outcome of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. But while this position is based on the laudable wish to avoid harming the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace, there are surely better ways to achieve the same goal without denying reality.

If you want proof of how crazy this gets, I recommend watching a 2012 exchange at the State Department, when a journalist asked the U.S. spokesperson what the capital of Israel is. It happened after an awkward incident, when the itinerary for a U.S. official traveling to the Middle East reportedly listed cities and capitals, including Jerusalem, Israel. The State Department said the announcement was "issued in error," then released a new one, in which the name Jerusalem floated by itself, unmoored to any country.

As a result, a reporter asked the spokesperson where Jerusalem is. The response sounds like an Abbott and Costello routine.

Q: What is the capital of Israel?

U.S. official: Our embassy, as you know, is located in Tel Aviv.

Q: So does that mean you regard Tel Aviv as the capital of Israel?

U.S. official: The issue on Jerusalem has to be settled through negotiations.

It went on and on. Turns out, the United States is unable to name the capital of one of its main allies.

Congress fought the executive for years on this. In 1995 and again in 2002, U.S. law directed the president to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The law still stands, but every six months, the President issues a waiver. On Monday, the Supreme Court sided with the Obama administration, denying the boy's request that his passport acknowledge that he was born in Israel.

The court was right in saying the executive should have wide latitude on foreign policy. That, however, doesn't mean the U.S. stance should remain unchanged. America looks foolish, tying itself in knots with a convoluted, illogical policy.

This is despite the fact that a better, more reasonable approach is available.

Jerusalem was under Ottoman rule until 1917; then British rule until 1948. In 1948, when the British left, the Jews kept the newer, western side of the city, and Jordan captured the east. In 1967, Israel captured the eastern section and reunified Jerusalem.

Fast forward to recent years, and Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have focused on whether eastern neighborhoods, taken by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War, would be placed under Palestinian sovereignty to become the capital of a new state.

But U.S. policy should reflect the fact that the western side of the city is not in play, because the only people who reject Israeli sovereignty over the west are those who reject Israel's right to exist. Why, then, does Washington not acknowledge that western Jerusalem, at the very least, is Israel's capital?

Of course, many Israelis would not be happy hearing that verbal, diplomatic partition of Jerusalem, a city first made the capital of the Jewish state by King David 3,000 years ago, where Solomon built the ancient Jewish Temple. But Jerusalem, conquered and fought over for thousands of years, is also home to hundreds of thousands of Muslims, who say it is their third holiest city after Mecca and Medina.

And while Arabs would likely not be happy with a change in U.S. policy, the realignment would go a long way in tethering U.S. policy to reality without prejudging the outcome of negotiations.

But the politics of any change to the U.S. position are thorny, as was demonstrated in 2008, when candidate Barack Obama declared "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided." Within 24 hours, he started backtracking.

His secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, tried to adhere to the official line, but she kept slipping. Visiting Jerusalem she talked about being "Here, in Israel." (Oops.) Even National Security Adviser Susan Rice slipped, tweeting "Great to be back in Israel." (Oops again).

When Obama traveled to Jerusalem in 2013, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointedly told him, "It's a profound honor to host you in our ancient capital." In response, Obama watched his language carefully to avoid acknowledging that Jerusalem is in Israel.

It's hard not to feel a little bit sorry for him, having to visit a country's capital, standing with the Prime Minister, trying to pretend that you're not actually there -- or that the city isn't really where it is. Or whatever it is the U.S. is trying to pretend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Unsolicited advice for Israelis and Jews


Unsolicited advice for Israelis and Jews

Never in the history of humankind has one group of people misunderstood itself so thoroughly. It’s not the fault of Israelis and Jews; I’ll show you how nobody can withstand being pounded on the head with a sledgehammer day after day after day. Then I’m going to offer some unsolicited advice. You’ll think it’s unfair. Well, itis unfair. But life itself is unfair. Once you accept that, you’ll be able to appreciate your gifts more than you do now.
First, let me show you how I myself internalized a toxic message that made me ashamed of myself.
I was in a hobby store, buying wargaming figures. They’re made of metal. Back when I could see, I converted them to use in a giant diorama that I realize now will never be made. Each figure is about one inch (2.5 centimeters) tall. These are German trench raiders.
Though I never had the chance to paint mine, you can see that a huge diorama filled with such figures would be very impressive.
To be clear, I’m not a wargamer. My plan was to make a static diorama. Wargamers do exactly what the name says: They recreate battles, moving the figures around on little bases.
So one day at the hobby shop, I was buying some German World War I trench raiders. Another guy purchased the same figures. He was a wargamer, not a dioramist. We got into a long conversation about the equipment of German World War I trench raiders. Since he was much younger than I am, I was able to tell him things that he didn’t know. He was excited at the prospect of converting his German trench raiders to use the weapons I described, and he also wanted to know if I could tell him anything about Russian grenadier platoons.
These units were so secretive that it was illegal to photograph them. I told the wargamer all about them, so he bought some regular Russian infantrymen that he would convert to a grenadier platoon. His wargaming buddies would be blown away. He shook my hand and left the store a very happy young man.
Admit it: You’re surprised. So was I. And I was disgusted at myself. I’d been infected by the propaganda without even knowing it. Those with an agenda of separating us into “us” versus “them” had won. Because of the poisonous, arbitrary “rules of society,” a young man can’t even indulge his interest without people like me thinking it’s odd or just interesting! I put that guy in a kind of prison without even aware that I’d done it.
So Israelis and Jews, don’t beat yourselves up. Nobody’s immune to a message that’s screamed into your face all day, every day. Still, here’s my unsolicited advice for how you move forward.

1. Expose every Palestinian lie.

Do so without hesitation, and call it a lie. Don’t waste your time telling the world that you’re nice people, not monsters. The world already knows that. What’s happening to you is part of a long-term plan to destroy you. Nobody is listening when you point out the good things you do. They don’t care. Also, nobody is listening when you point out Palestinian terrorism. The world approves of Palestinian terrorism.
Instead, when the Palestinians lie, call it a lie, and do so at the tops of your lungs. When people talk about all the Palestinian children killed, ask them why in the 9-17 age cohort, twice as many boys as girls died. It took me weeks to analyze all the casualty lists, so I can’t point you to a particular post or site or page that has these things written out. Maybe I’ll create a PDF with all the lists and their multiple problems.
Go looking for Palestinian lies, memorize the details, and be prepared to use them. The Palestinians are liars. Nothing they say can be taken at face value. Tell people that. Tell the truth in a matter-of-fact way. Be unapologetic.

2. Stop criticizing Israel publicly.

Your enemies use every one of your criticisms against you. Here’s what I hate to see.
[Brian] Mast is a veteran, a U.S. Army Ranger sergeant from Florida, a double amputee after stepping on an improvised explosive device while doing explosives disposal in Afghanistan in 2010.
Back in civilian life, Mast decided to snag one honor that had eluded him — a college diploma — so he took his wife and kids to Harvard University, where he’s studying economics.
There he discovered a new battle.
As with so many campuses in the United States, undergraduates at Harvard, in their undergraduate hunger to abolish the injustices of the world, throw themselves with particular vigor into ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through sheer public outcry, casting the complex, half-century-old tragedy into a set piece Victorian melodrama with a mustache-twiddling villain, the Israelis, and a Little Nell victim, the Palestinians.
“Being up in Boston, no question there is a lot of anti-Israel sentiment, and protests going on around Harvard,” said Mast, who stumbled upon a protest last year while walking with his family on Boston Commons.
“I don’t know why certain battles find their way into my life, but this is how fighting for Israel found its way into my life. This kind of torment goes on in Israel’s neighborhood daily. Syria. Jordan. Iran. Egypt, doing this, day after day. It’s a sign to me I need to stand up and show my support. This battle has come to me. I don’t want to turn my back.”
Over the Christmas holidays, Mast went to Israel as a volunteer.
Then the writer says this.
You don’t have to praise Israel, but stop issuing disclaimers. If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything. Israel is the only nation on earth for which we’re expected to give qualified support.
Screw that.
It’s not necessary for you to add your voice to the demonic, global chorus of criticism. Keep your ambivalence to yourself. This is a war for your survival. Don’t kid yourselves: They hate you as much today as they did eighty years ago. You need to adopt a wartime mentality.

3. Learn about Israel’s military capabilities.

By doing so, you’ll sleep more peacefully at night. Nobody on earth can defeat the IDF. It doesn’t matter that the Islamic State is next door in Syria. Your armed forces will give them a pasting that’ll make them wish that their mothers had never met their fathers. Also, by learning about IDF weapons and munitions, you’ll be able to tell their signatures. When someone then says that the IDF killed this or that person, you’ll be able to look at the photo and say, “No. That was caused by a terrorist IED. See the round holes? No IDF munition makes round holes like that.”
You won’t be fooled into believing that your troops committed atrocities or were careless or used “disproportionate, indiscriminate force.”
Currently the world is insane. The old ways of defending yourselves don’t work. They’re ineffective because your enemies are arguing in bad faith. This is a coordinated attack meant to culminate in your extermination.
But you’ve got a lot of friends. And do you really care if degenerates like this don’t like you?