Tuesday, January 17, 2017

From Ian:

Caroline Glick: Trump, the pistol and the olive branch
Trump will take office on Friday. Since he was elected, he has given every reason to believe that Abbas and his deputies and their European and American enablers will have to either put up or shut up.
Speaking of the president-elect, Henry Kissinger said that Trump is the first man in recent memory who doesn’t owe anybody anything for his victory.
The only people he is answerable to are the voters who elected him.
Trump’s electoral victory owes to his success in tapping into the deep reservoir of popular disaffection with the elitist culture and policies that have governed post-Cold War West. He has used the mandate he received from American voters to revisit the basic assumptions that have driven US policies for the past generation.
His skepticism at NATO and the EU are examples of his refusal to simply accept the received wisdom of his predecessors. Just this weekend he told Germany’s Bild magazine that he continues to question the purpose of NATO, which is a drag on US taxpayers and doesn’t fight terrorism.
He similarly restated his ambivalence toward the EU and that its open border policy has been a “catastrophic failure,” and he expects more countries to follow Britain’s lead and exit the EU.
Trump’s position on the PLO and the Palestinian war on Israel is of a piece with his wider rejection of the common wisdom of Western elites. Just as he didn’t hesitate to say that the EU mainly serves as an instrument for Germany to dominate the European market, so he has made no mystery of his rejection of the moral equivalence between Israel and Palestinian terrorists which forms the basis of the twostate formula.
Not only won’t Trump join the Obama administration and the French in criminalizing Israeli homeowners, Trump is celebrating them. He has invited the leaders of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria – that is, the so-called “settlements” – to attend his inauguration.
And he appears dead serious about moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Melanie Phillips: Britain gets it right. Twice. What gives?
Extraordinary! The British government has started making bold and good moves. No fewer than two such sets of developments have been spotted in as many days.
On Sunday, at the Paris conference called to get the Middle East peace process back on track stick the knife into Israel good and proper before Obama leaves the White House, Theresa May’s government refused to sign its closing statement. “There are risks,” said the UK Foreign Office,“that this conference hardens positions at a time when we need to be encouraging the conditions for peace. We have particular reservations about an international conference intended to advance peace between the parties that does not involve them – indeed which is taking place against the wishes of the Israelis.”
You don’t say.
Not content with that, according to Ha’aretz the UK this afternoon used its veto to prevent the EU Foreign Affairs Council from passing a French resolution adopting the Paris conference conclusions.
Can this really be the same British government that just over three weeks ago not only voted for the infamous Israel-bashing UN Security Council resolution 2334 but helped draft it and push it through? No wonder Ha’aretz called today’s move “highly irregular”.
It would be thoroughly uncharitable to suggest that Britain’s stance at Paris, like Mrs May’s onslaught on US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech attacking Israel a few days after resolution 2334, happened because she suddenly became aware that it might not be the most brilliant strategy to thoroughly cheese off the incoming, pro-Israel US President. So I won’t.
It would be even more uncharitable to suggest that because President-Elect Donald Trump stated in his interview with The Times (£), published today but conducted last week, that “the UK may have another chance to veto if what I’m hearing is true, because you know you have a meeting as you know, this weekend”, Mrs May promptly fell into line. So I won’t suggest that either.
“Occupied” Territories? Hebrew Origins of Palestinian Arab Towns in Judea-Samaria
With the approval of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which declares as illegal any Israeli presence beyond the 1967 “Green Line” — including the Old City of Jerusalem and its Temple Mount (Judaism’s holiest site) and the Mount of Olives cemetery where Jews have been burying their dead for more than 3,000 years– and an earlier UNESCO resolution disassociating the Jewish People from Jerusalem and other holy sites, one wonders how the U.N. and UNESCO ambassadors involved in these decisions can keep a straight face.
Given the recorded history of that land from the Bible and other recognized sources, a well-known phrase from Shakespeare is instructive: “What’s in a name?” When it comes to Eretz Israel, plenty. The place-names verify the absurdity of accusations that Jews are colonizers, strangers to this land and “occupiers of” these areas.
It is equally absurd to claim that the Arabs are the indigenous peoples of Israel, because virtually all the place-names used by local Arabs are non-Arabic in origin, and derived either from biblical Hebrew names or from later Greek or Roman names.
The Romans renamed the entire region Syria-Palestina (named for the Philistines and Assyrians) after they destroyed the Second Temple so as to erase its Jewish roots. This was later shortened to Palestina and it eventually became known as Palestine. As noted scholar Daniel Pipes points out: “Palestine (Arabic: Filastin) as a political unit only came into use as a Zionist triumph when imposed by the British occupiers following the issuance of the Balfour Declaration in 1917. Palestinians (Arabic: Filastiniyun) also came into use only in the twentieth century.” (“Is There A Palestinian People? Can It Be Defeated?” 1-10-17, Middle East Forum blog).

  • Tuesday, January 17, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

The official Fatah Facebook page shows photos from an arts festival in Tyre, Lebanon last Sunday that celebrated the 52nd anniversary of Fatah's first terror attack.

The speakers said, among other things:
We meet here today in the city of Tyre, the city of rebel martyrs rebels and the Liberals to commemorate the 52nd anniversary of the start of  Fatah. We say that  the struggle and revolution is not only weapons and fighting but also struggle with the pen, poetry and art in all the revolutionary methods to reach the goal to deliver our truthful ideas to the whole world.  
Congratulations to Fatah on the anniversary of its launch, and congratulations to our Palestinian people on the birth of a revolution, a revolution that is still going on to this day. It  is manifested today by the Palestinian people resisting the Zionist enemy with the knife; we will kill you with the stone, God willing, and will defeat you, and with reason, culture and art. We are a people worthy of life and you people should go into extinction.

Hail to the heroes, our prisoners in the prisons of the usurper enemy,  wishing for the healing of our wounded heroes, and glory and immortality for all the martyrs of a free and Arab Palestine. It is a revolution until victory.
The theater did not seem to be exactly crowded.

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  • Tuesday, January 17, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

Since there are so many experts who are confidently predicting that the Arab world will rise up in intense anger if the US moves the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, I decided (again) to find evidence of this groundswell of anger that will  spill over into extreme violence.

Finally, after weeks of searching, I found two protests.

This one in a West Bank city had perhaps 30 lethargic protesters:

And in Gaza, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Culture organized a protest that still had a pathetic turnout:

Chances are, the earlier protest was also organized by the PA, given the consistency in the flags being flown. Someone clearly organized it.

So there you have it. This is the current state of the "spontaneous" and "angry" protests against the US because this issue is considered such a tinderbox by so many supposed experts who generally have their own agendas. And this is after weeks of warnings and at least two weeks of direct incitement in mosques.

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  • Tuesday, January 17, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
Palestinian media are buzzing about a statement from Hamas leader Ismail Radwan, saying that Hamas was ready to hand over the reigns of the government in Gaza to the Palestinian Authority.

Radwan reportedly said that Hamas is ready to hand over all its government functions and ministries to the government led by PA prime minister Rami Hamdallah, as long as the PA is committed to its responsibilities and duties towards the Gaza Strip and its people, according to previous and unimplemented agreements.

Hamas has been under unprecedented popular pressure over the past week over the lack of electricity in Gaza. Qatar and Turkey have pledged to provide more fuel for the power plant.

It is probably too early to celebrate any "unification."

Palestinian Minister of Labour Mamoun Abu Shahla reacted cautiously, saying he was waiting to see if this was a serious offer and not an empty political statement. He said the PA was waiting for more details to see if Hamas was ready to end "this obnoxious division."

Perhaps the biggest indication that this is not serious is the fact that mainstream Hamas media has not reported this, as far as I can tell.

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  • Tuesday, January 17, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

Zvi compiled this list from this document: (h/t Johannan Edelman for slight corrections)

Who participated in the farce in Paris? Over HALF of the participants (36) are at best supporters of 2334 and at worst virulently anti-Semitic.
GROUP 1: Officially reject Israel's right to exist. No diplomatic relations with Israel. Most are overtly anti-Semitic.
1. Algeria
2. Saudi Arabia
3. Bahrain
4. Bolivia  (severed diplomatic relations 2009-10)
5. Djibouti
6. United Arab Emirates
7. Indonesia
8. Iraq
9. Kuwait
10. Lebanon. A failed state whose foreign policy is controlled by Iran, whose official policy is to destroy Israel.
11. Libya. A failed state.
12. Morocco. The occupier of Western Sahara. 
13. Mauritania  (severed diplomatic relations 2009-10)
14. Oman
15. Qatar 
16. Venezuela (severed diplomatic relations 2009-10)
17. Arab League
18. Organization of Islamic Co-operation
GROUP 2: Officially extremely hostile toward Israel, although they maintain embassies or diplomatic missions. Invariably vote to harm Israel and Israelis in every international forum.
1. Egypt (Original sponsor of 2334. Cooperates when it needs help, but not when Israel needs help)
2. Ireland
3. Jordan (cooperates when Jordan needs help, but not when Israel needs help)
4. South Africa 
6. Sweden 
7. Turkey
8. United Nations
GROUP 3: Supported UNSC 2334. Almost always vote to harm Israel in international forums.
1. Angola (Voted for 2334)
2. China (voted for 2334. Occupier of Tibet. Sponsors Iran & other horrific regimes)
3. France (voted for 2334)
4. Senegal (co-sponsored 2334)
5. Japan (voted for 2334)
6. Russia (voted for 2334. Occupier of the Crimea, S. Ossetia, etc. Sponsors Iran and Syria, & therefore indirectly sponsors Hezbollah and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Recently committed war crimes in Aleppo)
7. Spain (voted for 2334)
8. UK (Voted for 2334. But sent only junior staff to Paris, and pointedly refused to sign "Joint Declaration")
9. Ukraine (Voted for 2334)
10. Uruguay (Voted for 2334)
GROUP 4: John Kerry
1. United States (Sneakily drove 2334. Refused to veto it)
GROUP 5: EU members. Couldn't really stay away. But the UK "and several Balkan countries" blocked the EU from adopting the summit's final declaration (JPOST).
1. Germany
2. Austria
3. Belgium
4. Bulgaria
5. Croatia
6. Cyprus
7. Denmark
8. Estonia
9. Finland
10. Greece
11. Hungary
12. Italy
13. Latvia
14. Lithuania
15. Malta
16. Netherlands
17. Poland
18. Portugal
19. Czech Republic
20. Romania
21. Slovakia
22. Slovenia
23. European Union
GROUP 6: Recently friendly toward Israel
1. Australia ("While the Australian government was represented at the Paris conference this does not mean we agree with every element of the final statement." - FM Julie Bishop )
2. Canada ("Canada must maintain its principled stance on Israel and support our democratic ally, particularly given the fact that no Israeli representative will be in attendance,” Mostyn said. He added even the title of the conference is strange because many conflicts in the Middle East have nothing to do with Israelis or Palestinians.).
3. India  (Briefly: still sucking up to the Arabs, trying to gain benefits of friendship with Israel, don't want to have anything to do with Israel-Arab conflict or its resolution. Showed up because they want to look like players.)
GROUP 7: Misc.
Most of these remaining participants reliably vote to harm Israel in every international forum, but they usually smile to Israel's face.
1. Argentina
2. Brazil
3. Chile
4. Kazakhstan
5. Mexico
6. Norway
7. Holy See
8. Switzerland 
9. South Korea

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Monday, January 16, 2017

From Ian:

What Martin Luther King Really Said about the Six-Day War
Supporters of Israel have marshaled two pieces of evidence to demonstrate that the great civil-rights leader shared their commitment to the Jewish state: first, that he was among a number of prominent Christian theologians who signed a strongly worded pro-Israel statement that was published in the New York Times on the eve of the 1967 Arab-Israel war; and, second, that he once rebuked someone in a private conversation, “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You’re talking anti-Semitism!” Critics of these positions have found sufficient reason to question whether the New York Times statement accurately reflects King’s views, and whether he ever made the second remark at all. Having thoroughly investigated the matter, Martin Kramer concludes that King did in fact equate anti-Zionism with anti-Semitism (although it is unclear whether he had in mind anti-Zionism in general or specific anti-Zionists) but also had regrets about signing the public declaration in support of Israel. From here Kramer offers some general thoughts about King’s positions:
King’s careful maneuvering before, during, and after the Six-Day War demonstrated a much deeper understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict than critics credit him with possessing. . . . Palestinian-Americans who sought to dismiss the [anti-Zionism] quote suggested that the conflict “was probably not a subject he was well-versed on,” and that his public statements in praise of Israel “surely do not sound like the words of someone familiar with both sides of the story.”
Not so. King had been to the Arab world, had a full grasp of the positions of the sides, and was wary of the possible pitfalls of favoring one over the other. He struck a delicate balance, speaking out or staying silent after careful assessments made in consultation with advisers who had their ears to the ground. .
MLK on Israel - Ari Lesser
A new song from Ari Lesser in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day today and celebrating MLK's embrace of Israel, Zionism, and the Jewish people:

How Zionists Helped Destroy Segregation in Baltimore
After a year when Jewish and African-American relations were strained by the Black Lives Matter’s denunciation of Israel and other uncomfortable incidents, it’s worth recalling a little-known episode that points to the kind of intergroup relations that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. worked so hard to foster.
In the autumn of 1946, Zionist activists known as the Bergson Group sponsored a Broadway play called “A Flag is Born,” which was authored by the Academy Award-winning screenwriter and playwright Ben Hecht. Starring a young Marlon Brando and Yiddish theater luminaries Paul Muni and Celia Adler, “Flag” depicted the plight of Holocaust survivors in post-war Europe, and the fight for Jewish independence in British Mandatory Palestine.
The London Evening Standard expressed horror that large audiences were flocking to what it called “the most virulent anti-British play ever staged in the United States.” American publications took a different view: Time called the play “colorful theater and biting propaganda,” while Life complimented its “wit and wisdom.”
After a successful 10-week run on Broadway, “Flag” was scheduled to be performed in various cities around the country, including the National Theater in Washington, DC. When the Bergson Group realized that the National barred African-Americans from attending, they quickly looked for an alternative venue.

  • Monday, January 16, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

The minister for Jerusalem affairs in the Palestinian Authority, Adnan al-Husseini, said that Israel implemented "policy of ethnic cleansing" against the Arabs in the city.

In a press release issued today he said that " the occupation authorities" deliberately demolished Arab homes to make way for Jews to move in.

He said that the "occupation is aimed at uprooting and expulsion of the largest number of Palestinian citizens from their homes and build more illegal settlements."

How many Jerusalem homes were demolished in 2016? According to the article, 183.

Let's compare that two two recent stories..

In 2015, Israel approved 2,200 new Arab units to be built in the Jabel Mukaber neighborhood in Jerusalem, and retroactively approved the illegal building for 300 other units. Arab leaders complained about it!

In 2016, Israel approved 600 new Arab home units in Beit Safafa.

If Israel is approving far more Arab homes than it is destroying, then "ethnic cleansing" doesn't quite seem accurate.

One would think that there would be one or two English-language reporters for mainstream media, somewhere in Israel, who would do what I just did.

I haven't found  them.

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  • Monday, January 16, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon
By Petra Marquardt-Bigman

Several recent articles provide a wealth of data that indicate how truly miserable conditions in many Arab countries are, and how grim the outlook for much of the Arab world is. The most shocking data are from Syria (though the situation in Yemen is probably similarly dire). A recent NYT article outlines the devastation wrought by five years of war in Syria:

Let’s take a look at the numbers. (While the following statistics are estimates, they will, if anything, get worse with the continuing matrix of wars in Syria.) More than 80 percent of Syrians live below the poverty line. Nearly 70 percent of Syrians live in extreme poverty, meaning they cannot secure basic needs, according to a 2016 report. That number has most likely grown since then. The unemployment rate is close to 58 percent, with a significant number of those employed working as smugglers, fighters or elsewhere in the war economy. Life expectancy has dropped by 20 years since the beginning of the uprising in 2011. About half of children no longer attend school — a lost generation. The country has become a public health disaster. Diseases formerly under control, like typhoid, tuberculosis, Hepatitis A and cholera, are once again endemic. And polio — previously eradicated in Syria — has been reintroduced, probably by fighters from Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Upward of 500,000 are dead from the war, and an untold number of Syrians have died indirectly from the conflict […] With more than two million injured, about 11.5 percent of the prewar population have become casualties. And close to half the population of Syria is either internally or externally displaced. A 2015 survey conducted by the United Nations refugee agency looking at Syrian refugees in Greece found that a large number of adults — 86 percent — had secondary or university education. Most of them were under 35. If true, this indicates that Syria is losing the very people it will most need if there is to be any hope of rebuilding in the future.”

But the future also doesn’t look rosy for the rest of the Arab world. MEMRI recently summarized some of the relevant findings of the latest UN Arab Human Development Report (AHDR), which focuses on “challenges and opportunities facing youth in the Arab region.” Needless to say, the comprehensive UN report is carefully “balanced,” which is to say it tries hard to package all the bad news with some slightly better news or upbeat talk about opportunities that are waiting to be seized.
As the MEMRI summary notes:

“While we would have wished otherwise, in reviewing the report we find that the critics of the ‘Arab Spring’ were more realistic in their assessment of the events of 2011 than those who were inclined to see bright stars in the sky. […] Arab youth today remain mired in poverty; they are politically marginalized and voiceless, economically disenfranchised, and socially prone to radicalization and violence. Theirs is a fragile and often volatile existence.”
“The [UN] report highlights the fact that in the last decade the region has experienced ‘the most rapid increase in war and violent conflict’ compared with other regions of the world. The Arab world also has ‘the dubious distinction’ of comprising the largest number of failed states showcasing a high scale of ‘fragility and failure’ in addition to being the source of the largest number of refugees and displaced people. While the report would not predict the level of conflict in the region, it does project that number of people living in conflict areas will increase from 250 million in 2010 to over 305 million in 2020.”

If you check out the report itself, there are plenty of findings that indicate how dire the situation in many Arab countries is and how little chance there is for rapid improvement – indeed, further decline seems more likely:

“the region still scores lower than the world average on the HDI [Human Development Index] and already lags three of the world’s six regions, namely, East Asia and the Pacific, Europe and Central Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean. By the year 2050, the region is projected to rank fifth, only a little ahead of sub-Saharan Africa.”

“Evidence shows that the prospects of young people in the region are, now more than ever, jeopardized by poverty, economic stagnation, governance failure and exclusion, all compounded by the violence and fragility of the body politic.”

“Overall, the quality of education is poor. Standardized international tests in education such as the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Programme for International Student Assessment show Arab countries scoring well below the average.”

“The rise of women in Arab countries is inseparably and causally linked to the future human development of the Arab region. The pervasive disempowerment of women in Arab countries is grounded in cultural, social, economic and political factors. As the 2005 and 2009 AHDRs observed, the seeds of discrimination are embedded in cultural beliefs and traditions in childraising, education, religious structures, the media and family relations.”

Among the particularly noteworthy figures in the report is the following, which shows that the overwhelming majority of Arabs consider religion, i.e. mostly Islam, as “an important part” of their daily life:

This is also an interesting finding in the context of the ongoing mass migration to very secular Europe – a migration that is most warmly welcomed by liberals who don’t think much of their own religious fellow citizens and look down on religious Americans. The importance of religion for Arabs is also noteworthy in the context of another finding in the UN report:

“It is mainly because of its high levels of social and religious intolerance that the region stands out among countries at similar levels of development around the world. Tolerance is a core value in pluralistic societies and a cornerstone of more democratic systems. […]  This wide regional deficit and lack of progress on values of tolerance are worrying for the future of democracy in the region.”

While Israel has so far managed to remain “a villa in the jungle” – as Ehud Barak once put it famously – it is clearly bad news that the region looks set to remain mired in conflict and that so many fundamental factors are likely to impede social progress and economic development. A year ago, a still very relevant article in The New York Jewish Week outlined the resulting problems for Israel as explained by veteran political analyst Ehud Yaari. The article begins with an anecdote:

“Ehud Yaari characterizes his friend Bernard Lewis, the eminent scholar of the Middle East [who turned 100 last May], as possessing ‘this ability to see into the future.’ Over a recent dinner in Israel, Yaari asked Lewis what he thought the Middle East would look like in fifty years. Without hesitating, Lewis leaned over the table and said decisively, ‘Any Arab who can will be out of here.’”

Unfortunately, many of those who can’t escape the hopelessness of the Arab Middle East may end up fueling sectarian conflict and bloodshed. And for frustrated young Palestinians, it is obviously tempting to commit terror attacks. In a very interesting piece published a few days ago, Yaari writes about Israel’s efforts to curb the wave of attacks that started in fall 2015, and it turns out that the motivations of the mostly young perpetrators clearly reflect the deep discontent and frustration as well as the religious fervor described in the UN report on the Arab world:

“most of the attackers came from the fringes of West Bank society: young people struggling with social marginalization, who had experienced repeated setbacks in their private lives or faced insurmountable personal or financial hardship. The collective profile of the assailants identified most as frustrated individuals who felt that their lives had reached a dead end, to the point that many sought salvation through martyrdom. Many of those captured during assaults told interrogators that they believed that death for the sake of jihad would reward them with the recognition they failed to obtain in life.”

Regarding the motivations of the surprisingly high number of female assailants, Yaari writes:

“Investigations showed that almost all of these women—including a 72-year-old grandmother from Hebron—were seeking to escape family hardships, such as pregnancies out of wedlock, arranged marriages, violence within the family, and so forth. Quite often it seemed that these women were seeking death or arrest in order to break away from their environment. In more than one instance, a young woman would wave a kitchen knife or scissors far from the Israeli soldiers, not posing any real threat, knowing that she would be immediately taken into custody.”

For some more on Palestinian frustration and discontent, you can check out this recent lament on “A Life of Degradation and Bitterness under Fatah Rule,” and this curse of “Israel, Hamas and Fatah” – the latter by a Palestinian who was “born and raised as a proud refugee from the Jabalia Refugee Camp in Gaza.” As much as the Palestinians may see themselves as part of the Arab world, it is definitely uniquely Palestinian to be “born and raised as a proud refugee” in a Palestinian city among Palestinians.

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From Ian:

A farce in Paris
The conference in Paris belongs to the legacy of U.S. President Barack Obama's administration: A moment before it all falls apart, strike a blow at the Jews. Just before French President Francois Hollande's government falls apart (the candidates from his party are "hiding" their involvement in his administration), the French have remembered to strike a blow at the Jews. For one long moment -- too long -- the enormous massacre in Syria, in Aleppo, was forgotten. Also forgotten is the ongoing return of Arab states to tribal and clan structures and the dismantling of the nationalist structures forced upon them by Colonial France and England after the World War II. The crazed rise of jihadi Islam has been forgotten, too. The hundreds of murdered citizens of France and Germany, killed in bizarre manners by Muslim fanatics, have been forgotten. Everything has been forgotten, because the reason for all this chaos has been discovered: the settlements.
Hollande said that "the two-state solution is threatened by the continued building of settlements, by the weakness of the peace camp, by mistrust between the two sides, and by the terrorists who have always feared a peace settlement." We have grown far too accustomed to this intellectual disgrace, having heard it from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in his last speech, from Hollande on Sunday evening and from other leaders (including the U.N. Security Council's scandalous resolution), according to which there is a correlation between the settlement enterprise and terrorism. We must not agree with this lie, which indirectly justifies the murder of Jews and ignores the reasons for the murder of Christians on European land. This approach is a recipe for the defeat of Europe at the hands of those seeking to destroy it.
We are focusing too much on the war against the Islamic State group, Hollande complained, and if we want to "stabilize the Middle East," we must not forget the "oldest conflict," the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Absolutely not, Mr. Hollande. The oldest conflict, which began several hundreds of years prior, is that between Islam and Christianity. The first Crusade left primarily from France toward Jerusalem some 920 years ago, at the encouragement of Otho de Lagery, or Pope Urban II.
Now, it has become clear that almost a millennium later, the French have submitted to the Muslims. They are seeking to liberate Jerusalem from its rightful owners and to transfer it to Muslim occupiers, in the hope that they will be spared and that the killing campaign in the streets of Europe will stop. What a shameful defeat.
Senior State Department Correspondent Says Paris Peace Conference ‘Marks End to Obama’s Failed Mideast Diplomacy’
Ahead of the Mideast peace summit held in Paris on Sunday, Associated Press correspondent Matthew Lee, known for his piercing questions at State Department briefings, indicated that the gathering of world representatives in the French capital would be the culmination of the “Obama administration’s eight years of unsuccessful Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy.”
Analyzing the reason for US participation in the conference, which he said “isn’t expected to produce any tangible progress,” Lee wrote:
At a time when President-elect Donald Trump’s administration is promising a fundamental shift toward Israel, the State Department said Kerry was only participating in the French-hosted event to ensure America’s interest in a two-state solution to the conflict is preserved. The blunt statement reinforced the dwindling hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough.
Lee said that because no representatives from either Jerusalem or Ramallah were among the diplomats from more than 70 countries attending the summit, “[T]he US is primarily focused on shielding Israel from unfair criticism and ensuring concerns about Palestinian incitement to violence aren’t ignored.”
However, he wrote, “[T]he administration may find its voice ignored. While the US received credit from close allies in Europe and elsewhere for abstaining” from the vote on the anti-settlement UN Security Council Resolution 2334 last month, “America’s partners have grown tired with its leadership on the peace process.”
Hillel Neuer: No, President Hollande, focusing on Israel won’t bring “stability” to Syria, Iraq or Yemen
My open letter to French President Francois Hollande in response to his speech at the Paris Middle East Peace Conference.
January 15, 2017
Dear President François Hollande,
In your speech thjs afternoon, after you cited the wars in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen, and the struggle against the Islamic State, you sought to justify the focus of today’s Paris summit on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by saying the Middle East cannot “regain its stability” unless we address “the oldest of its conflicts.”
Are you not aware that today’s Middle East wars in the name of Jihad, and internecine conflicts such as the Sunni-Shiite schism, are 1300 years older than the Arab-Israeli conflict?
Do you really believe that increased world focus on the Israeli-Palestinian issue will cause Syria—a country that has disintegrated from Bashar Assad’s genocidal bombings of his Sunni population, backed by Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia—to somehow “regain stability”?
Do you really believe that what Israel does or doesn’t do will affect the Islamic State’s genocidal massacre, abductions and rape of Yazidis and Christians in Iraq?
David Keyes - BBC Interview on Paris Conference

I am very pleased to announce a new columnist, Divest This!, the foremost expert in what's really going on in BDS-land.


After a brief hiatus to deal with some family matters, it’s time to return to the fight, both at Divest This! and now with a weekly column at the incomparable Elder of Ziyon site!

Having missed some comings and goings over the last couple of months, it’s time to take a look at what’s gone on that might impact the fight against BDS which – as all of you reading this should know by now – is simply a propaganda tactic in a multi-faceted global war against the Jewish state.

Starting from the top, the surprising result of last year’s US election is clearly going to have a more  dramatic impact on domestic and international politics than, for example, English teachers deciding not to join an academic boycott

Given the effort many of us put into fighting on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people, it’s sometimes difficult to admit how little control we have over the most significant factors impacting our struggle. 
At the top of the list, global geopolitics – the interplay of state and powerful non-state actors – will always dictate the terms within which our battles play out.  Simply put, if those involved with the decades-long war in the Middle East between kings, dictators and religious fanatics determine that attacking Israel is in their interest, there will be war.  Similarly, if Western governments decide it is in their interests to cater to 50+ Islamic states vs. one Jewish one, then – at best – Israel and its friends will be forced to fight an uphill battle on unfriendly terrain.

Who leads Israel is the second most influential factor over what situations Israel’s supporters will have to deal with.  If you look over Israel’s success (starting with founding of the state, defending it, ingathering exiles and liberalizing and expanding its economy) and failures (notably Oslo and its aftermath – including the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza), these were all actions instigated by Israeli leaders at the time.  Yes, those leaders were responding to pressures generated by the aforementioned geopolitics.  But no amount of outside influence (short of invasion) can impact a democratic society more than choices made by its own government.

A close third behind geopolitics and who runs Israel is who runs America.  For a variety of historical reasons, the alliance between Israel and the US has become so vital to the Jewish state that the occupant in the White House can have an outside effect on everything Israel is doing or trying to do. 
Fortunately, Israel benefits from strong support from power structures beyond 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, notably Congress, but ultimately the American people.  As we have seen over the last eight years when the US President was hostile to Israeli interests, strong support for the Jewish state from every level below the Executive Branch (down to the man and woman on the street) creates constraints with which even a popular President must contend.

With a handful of days left to go in his presidency, I think it’s fair to accept that those who criticized the soon-to-be ex-President as harboring an ideological dislike of Israel and letting that drive irrational policy choices were right, while those who felt his animus was driven more by incompetence in delicate foreign affairs overall were wrong.  (We won’t bother with those who tried to pretend that Obama’s needless warring on Israel were examples of “tough love” offered by a sincere friend.)

A President unfettered by democratic constraints (as all Presidents are during their lame duck session) provides the opportunity to let the political id run wild.  And given all he could have done (or not done) during his last weeks in office, it is telling indeed that Obama used this period to throw Israel to the jackals at the UN, even at the cost of cementing his reputation as betrayer (not to mention further eroding his own party’s support of and by Jewish Americans and other friends of Israel).

With a week to go, there is still a possibility that the administration will use its last days in office to kick an ally in the face one last time.  Fortunately, much of this can be undone by the incoming President (there are ways, after all, to marginalize the UN that don’t require expending political capital getting it to reverse its most horrendous official pronouncements).

But if the last eight years (really the last eight decades) teach us anything, it is to not count on the occupant of the White House, or anyone else, to solve our problems for us.  And with the keys to the Executive Mansion changing hands in just a few days, it’s worth drawing some lessons from the past that can help us navigate an unpredictable future.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
  • Monday, January 16, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

Ten days before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King answered questions at the Rabbinical Assembly.

One set of questions included:
“What steps have been undertaken and what success has been noted in convincing anti-Semitic and anti-Israel Negroes, such as Rap Brown, Stokely Carmichael, and McKissick, to desist from their anti-Israel activity?... What would you say if you were talking to a Negro intellectual, an editor of a national magazine, and were told, as I have been, that he supported the Arabs against Israel because color is all important in this world? In the editor’s opinion, the Arabs are colored Asians and the Israelis are white Europeans. Would you point out that more than half of the Israelis are Asian Jews with the same pigmentation as Arabs, or would you suggest that an American Negro should not form judgments on the basis of color? What seems to you an appropriate or an effective response?”
Here is the relevant parts about how King viewed the Middle East conflict in 1968:
On the Middle East crisis, we have had various responses. The response of some of the so-called young militants again does not represent the position of the vast majority of Negroes. There are some who are color-consumed and they see a kind of mystique in being colored, and anything non-colored is condemned. W e do not follow that course in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and certainly most of the organizations in the civil rights movement do not follow that course.

I think it is necessary to say that what is basic and what is needed in the Middle East is peace. Peace for Israel is one thing. Peace for the Arab side of that world is another thing. Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all of our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel, and never mind saying it, as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land almost can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality.

On the other hand, we must see what peace for the Arabs means in a real sense of security on another level. Peace for the Arabs means the kind of economic security that they so desperately need. These nations, as you know, are part of that third world of hunger, of disease, of illiteracy. I think that as long as these conditions exist there will be tensions, there will be the endless quest to find scapegoats. So there is a need for a Marshall Plan for the Middle East, where we lift those who are at the bottom of the economic ladder and bring them into the mainstream of economic security.
King may have gotten Israel right, but he did not understand the Arab world nor antisemitism.

The idea that Arab hatred of Israel is based on economics is pure wishful thinking. Palestinian Arabs are better off economically than their neighbors in Egypt and Jordan. Several years ago Egypt opened the border with Gaza and residents of the Sinai had the opportunity to visit. they discovered that Gaza was a nicer place to live than Egypt, and not at all how the media portray it.

In another section King placed all antisemitism into two buckets:

Anti-Semitism historically has been based on two false, sick, evil assumptions. One was unfortunately perpetuated even by many Christians, all too many as a matter of fact, and that is the notion that the religion of Judaism is anathema. That was the first basis for anti-Semitism in the historic sense. Second, a notion was perpetuated by a sick man like Hitler and others that the Jew is innately inferior. 
King ignores the antisemitism of the Jew as the controller of the world, the Protocols version of antisemitism.

Beyond that, there is the antisemitism inherent in Islam and Islamic supremacism, which combined with the virulent antisemitism of Middle East Christians has informed how the Arab world looks at Jews.

Most importantly, King fell into the trap of most Westerners in believing that people are generally the same and have the same way of thinking. It isn't true. The reason why the Arab world will never, ever truly accept Israel is because Israel's very existence is an affront to Arab and Muslim honor. The poor, weak, pitiful Jew convincingly beat the strong, sword-wielding Arab. That shame cannot be erased no matter how many concessions Israel makes or how rich the Arab nations become.

Arab antisemitism and anti-Zionism is not based on economic disadvantages. The hate comes first, the justifications come after. It is a shame that King, who was very pro-Israel, didn't delve into the existence of this kind of hate.

(You can read a lot more about MLK's attitudes towards Israel here.)

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.
  • Monday, January 16, 2017
  • Elder of Ziyon

I touched on this yesterday but it is worth highlighting.

From AP:

The chief Palestinian representative to France said moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv would violate international law and adds that he does not think Donald Trump's new administration will make such a decision.

Salman Elherfi told The Associated Press that a Mideast peace conference Sunday in Paris sent a "very clear" message calling on everyone not to make any changes that would affect a final solution for the region, especially regarding the status of Jerusalem.

He said,"I do not believe that the United States will violate international law because transferring the embassy of the United States into an occupied territory would mean admitting the annexation of this territory by Israel."
Elherfi knows quite well that any US embassy would be to the west of the Green Line, and would not be considered to be in "occupied territory" by the world.

Even though he is knowingly lying, he is the official Palestinian representative in France and speaks for the PLO leadership.  This means that the official PLO position is that all of Jerusalem is Palestinian and Jews have no rights to the city at all.

As outrageous as this is, I am more fascinated by the fact that statements like this are given a pass by the dozens of reporters and scores of diplomats on the scene, especially the AP reporter who quoted it. While the statements of Israeli officials are dissected endlessly to find the tiniest grounds to assume that they really don't want peace, a statement like this - a bombshell in any other context - is simply ignored. And it has been over 18 hours since he said it.

This was a prime opportunity to have a Palestinian official explain exactly why they are against the move. So far the only reason given has been the threat of violence - violence that the PLO itself is encouraging, another fact that the world media and the diplomats in Paris choose to simply ignore.

This lack of pushback indicates at least one of the following:

- Everyone assumes that Palestinians are liars and therefore no one holds them to any standards.
- Reporters are so thoroughly ignorant about the basics of the stories that they cover that they simply let insane lies like this fly by without having a clue.
- The meme of "Israel is intransigent, Palestinians only want their rights" is so strong that anything that contradicts it is simply ignored; violating the meme is a worse crime for reporters and diplomats than admitting the truth.

Experience shows that all three statements are correct.

We have lots of ideas, but we need more resources to be even more effective. Please donate today to help get the message out and to help defend Israel.

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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 12 years and over 25,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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