Saturday, February 4, 2017

Implications of Trump comment on "settlements;" time for a new paradigm

This was submitted as a letter to the Washington Post.

To the editor:

The implications of the statement from the Trump administration, that new Israeli construction outside existing Jewish communities in the disputed territories "may not be helpful" ("Trump policy on Israel is evolving in somewhat surprising ways," February 4) are interesting and suggest the possibility of a creative, new policy that may have a chance of doing the impossible: inducing the Palestinian Arabs to finally get serious about negotiating a peace agreement with Israel.

The statement clearly leaves room for the possibility that, contrary to the conventional wisdom that has been so counterproductive, Israeli construction is actually helpful.

Nearly a quarter century ago, the Oslo Accords called for a five-year transition period during which the Palestinian Arabs and Israelis would negotiate a permanent agreement. Since then, Israel has been very restrained in its building, authorizing construction almost entirely within existing Jewish communities, which will remain with Israel under any conceivable peace agreement, and refraining from establishing any new "settlements" in the disputed territories. This obviously cannot, and should not, go on forever.

President Trump and the Israeli government would be wise to embark on the following experiment.

Israel would commit to continuing to exercise its extraordinary restraint for another five years, limiting construction to the Israeli side of its anti-terror barrier and the existing Jewish communities on the other side. This would give the Palestinian Arabs another golden opportunity to come to the table without Israel doing anything that would significantly effect the parameters of any agreement.

If the Palestinian Arabs had still not made peace after five more years, Israel would resume full administrative control over Area C, as agreed under the Oslo Accords, allowing life in that area to proceed normally, while Areas A and B, including Gaza and more than 95 percent of the Arab population, would continue to be ruled by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Such a departure from the long-standing negative sum game, where every Arab rejection of peace, every Palestinian Authority violation of the Oslo Accords and every Palestinian terror attack is rewarded with more pressure on Israel, might be just what is needed to, for the first time ever, bring about a legitimate peace process.

Sincerely,

Alan Stein

UNSC Resolution 2334 is an Assault on Israel and the Jewish People that doesn’t lead to peace

By Barry Werner

Published in The Times of Israel at http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/unsc-resolution-2334-is-an-assault-on-israel-and-the-jewish-people-that-doesnt-lead-to-peace/.

Introduction: UNSC Resolution 2334 (December 23, 2016)

The resolution points only to Israeli settlements as “a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.
The resolution calls it a crime for Jews to live in their ancestral homeland, including Jerusalem, the ancient capital of Israel where the Temple once stood, the holiest city for Jews, where Jews lived almost continuously for 3,000 years, and from which the army of Transjordan (now Jordan) illegally expelled the Jews in 1948. The resolution says: “the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”, and the resolution calls “for a freeze by Israel of all settlement activity, including ‘natural growth’, and the dismantlement of all settlement outposts erected since March 2001.”
The resolution intensifies the UN’s obsession with Israel. It “Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Council every three months on the implementation of the provisions of the present resolution,” and calls for the UNSC to “remain seized of the matter.”
The resolution implies that the Jews of Israel oppress innocent Arabs.

UNSC Resolution 2334 is based on unfair and faulty assumptions

The UNSC resolution unfairly singles out Israel for censure

As Samantha Power, the US Ambassador to the UN reminded the UN after she allowed Resolution 2334 to pass, the UN obsessively and unfairly singles out Israel for censure. UNSC Resolution 2334 intensifies that obsession, making the censure of Israel a fixed UNSC agenda item, repeating every three months.
There are many examples of countries acquiring territory by force and violating the Fourth Geneva Convention that the UNSC should attend to closely but doesn’t, such as Russia’s acquisition of territory from Ukraine, China’s acquisition of Tibet, and in the Middle East, the 1975 Turkish occupation of Cyprus (one-third of the Greek Cypriot population fled or were expelled from the occupied northern part of the island). Before 1967, there was Jordan’s expulsion of the Jews from the West Bank in 1948. Israel’s West Bank occupation is hardly comparable in importance.
Eugene Kontorovich conducted a comprehensive study of all the occupations carried out since the adoption of the Geneva Conventions in 1949 (lasting more than one year, resulting from an international armed conflict governed by the Geneva Conventions, involving countries that signed the Geneva Conventions before the occupation, and involving the movement of civilian population into occupied territory, other than the case involving Israel), (Kontorovich, “Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territories,” Northwestern University School of Law, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 16-20, September 7, 2016, https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2835908). The study finds “First, the migration of people into occupied territory is a near-ubiquitous feature of extended belligerent occupations. Second, no occupying power has ever taken any measures to discourage or prevent such settlement activity, nor has any occupying power ever expressed opinio juris suggesting that it is bound to do so. Third, and perhaps most strikingly, in none of these situations have the international community or international organizations described the migration of persons into the occupied territory as a violation of Art. 49(6). Even in the rare cases in which such policies have met with international criticism, it has not been in legal terms. This suggests that the level of direct state involvement in “transfer” required to constitute an Art. 49(6) violation may be significantly greater than previously thought. Finally, neither international political bodies nor the new governments of previously occupied territories have ever embraced the removal of illegally transferred civilian settlers as an appropriate remedy.” And, “No one has ever been prosecuted for this war crime, and its interpretation has been confined to academic and political statements - entirely within the particular context of Israel.” In every case studied, except for Israel, the international community condemned the occupations but “the UN, the EU Parliament, PACE, and other bodies have been asked to denounce these activities as illegal, and have refused. … In these cases, we are not dealing with pure silence, but rather with the kind of silence that suggests the underlying conduct is either legal or not clearly illegal.” The UNSC says Israel is a criminal for taking actions the UNSC condones when taken by other countries.
The resolution’s call to the UNSC to “remain seized of the matter” of Israeli settlements is a misappropriation of the UNSC ’s agenda that unfairly singles out Israel for censure.

The UNSC resolution disregards the Oslo Accords

Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) agreed to negotiate directly with each other and work towards peace and a two-state solution using the mechanism of the Oslo Accords (1993 and 1995). The agreement set up and gave the Palestinian Authority (PA) all the Arab cities and towns on the West Bank, and recognized the legality of Israeli settlements in what is called Area C. Yet the resolution now calls the Israeli settlements illegal.
If the UN wants to facilitate a two-state solution, it should respect the Oslo process and insist that the PA honor its commitments rather than try to get a better deal in the UN. It seems that the Oslo Accords is an inconvenient truth for the UNSC.

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the war of 1947-49, Israel’s “War of Independence”

The Arab world invaded Palestine to destroy the Jewish state immediately upon its creation, but lost the war. The majority, but importantly, not all, the Arabs of Palestine joined the invading armies to destroy the very concept of Palestine. They did not fight to create an Arab Palestinian state, rather to slaughter (they said) the Jews and absorb the land of Palestine into Syria and Jordan.
The Arab world effectively annulled the partition plan. The Arabs who chose to remain with the Jews chose to remain in the Jewish state, so after the war partition was no longer necessary. The world recognized that the de facto border of Israel is the “Green Line”, the collective ceasefire lines, giving Israel all the land of Palestine including the land that had been allocated to the Arabs, except for the land under foreign domination.

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the de facto boundary of Israel and inequitably gives the West Bank to the Arabs

The ownership of the West Bank is in dispute. The last time it’s ownership was clear is when it was part of pre-partition Palestine. Since Israel inherited de facto all of pre-partition Palestine in 1949, except land that was inaccessible due to foreign occupation, Israel has a claim to the West Bank now that the foreign occupation is over. 
Although the Arabs who fled to the West Bank rejected their portion of the UN partition plan of 1947, and fought to absorb Palestine into Syria and Jordan, they have a chance to reassert a claim to land on the West Bank through the Oslo process, but so far they haven’t done so, and they violated the Oslo Agreements egregiously.
The UNSC’s legal opinion has a practical result that is even worse than the possibility of Israel acquiring territory it only debatably owns. The UNSC’s legal opinion would give all the West Bank to the Arabs, whose claim to the land is weaker than that of Israel’s since the Arabs would be free to move out of the limited areas they occupied in 1967 and create small settlement all over the whole West Bank while Israelis would be restricted from settling anywhere. The Arabs would then inherit the whole West Bank by default. It would be far more equitable if the Israelis and Arabs agreed, as they did in the Oslo Accords, to share the disputed land. And, the agreed-upon Oslo Accords should supersede the UNSC’s legal opinion.

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the ceasefire agreements of 1949

The states bordering Israel that invaded Palestine, namely Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon, all signed ceasefire agreements in 1949. Using slightly different wording in each case, all the ceasefire agreements said that the provisions of their agreements were dictated exclusively by military considerations and were not to be construed in any sense as the Arabs agreeing to political or territorial boundaries that legitimized the establishment of the state of Israel. The Arab states claimed the right to continue their war against Israel, which they did in 1967.
So, the ceasefire lines of 1949, also called the Green Line, also the pre-1967 border of Israel, are only ceasefire lines and not, as the UNSC claims, the border of Israel for purposes of dividing the West Bank from Israel. Once the Arabs restarted their war to destroy Israel in 1967, they effectively erased the ceasefire lines so the de facto borders of Israel should expand to include the whole West bank.

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the 1967, “Six Day” war

The Arab world restarted the war to destroy Israel in June 1967 (the “Six Day War”) and lost. Israel liberated Gaza and the West Bank from illegal occupation by Egypt and Jordan.
The UN Partition Plan of 1947 envisioned Jerusalem to be an international city in which both Jews and Arabs could live. The Jordanians illegally exiled the Jews from Jerusalem. So, it was legal for Israel to restore the Jewish presence, and make the Western Wall of the ancient Jewish temple once again available for Jewish worship. Israel also restored Jordanian control of the Muslim holy places on the Temple Mount, Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.  

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the Fourth Geneva Convention  

The Fourth Geneva Convention, entitled “Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War,” of August 12, 1949, was written to protect noncombatant civilians caught in a war zone. UNSC resolution 2334 claims incorrectly that because Arabs lived on parts of the West Bank, the Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits any Israeli settlement on any part of the West Bank, even on public land, even in Jerusalem.
The intention of the Fourth Geneva Convention was to govern situations in which one country occupies territory of another country. But the West Bank is not another country, it is land whose ownership is in dispute but for which Israel has the best claim. The West Bank is liberated “disputed territory” which does not clearly belong to the Arabs. Even though the West Bank is home to Arabs who are hostile to Israel, Israelis have at least as much right to live there as the Arabs do.
The human rights of the West Bank Arabs is a separate issue from the ownership of the disputed land. Both issues need to be addressed, one issue shouldn’t cancel the other. The Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the human rights of the Arab population under Israeli military control, but their rights should only be to that part of the land they lived on before the 1967 war. And, following the 1967 war, Israel carefully protected those human rights of the Arab population.
Eventually, when Israel finally allowed its citizens to settle in the West Bank, it specifically made use of the pre-existing laws in the West Bank to determine which lands were private, that is, lived on or used for cultivation, and which lands were public. Israel respected the rights of the Arabs to continue to live on the land they owned before the 1967 war, and Israel restrained its population from settling on private Arab land. When Israeli citizens did try to settle on land that could rightfully be claimed as private Arab land, the Arabs had recourse to Israeli courts to evict the settlers. (By far, almost everything built in Israeli settlements on the West Bank was built on public land, not on private Arab land. There were some disputes about land ownership but the Arabs had recourse to the Israeli judicial system, which could and, when they were right, did rule in their favor.)
Prohibiting Israeli settlement anywhere in the West Bank is morally wrong. There were Jewish communities on what is now called the West Bank, especially in Jerusalem, only 19 years before the 1967 war. The Jews were massacred or expelled during the illegal Jordanian invasion. It is a distorted view of human rights to say that the illegal expulsion of the Jews from their ancestral homeland in 1947-48 should be rewarded by giving the expropriated land to the perpetrators, the local Arabs, who fought alongside the Jordanian army.

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the UNSC resolution 242 (1967)

UNSC resolution 2334 says it reaffirms the previous relevant resolutions, including UNSC resolution 242, which was passed at the end of the 1967 war, but in fact it deliberately misrepresents resolution 242 and reverses it’s meaning.
Resolution 242 was carefully worded to mean that Israel should take the opportunity to trade some of the conquered territory for peace, but not, as UNSC resolution 2334 deliberately misrepresents it, all the conquered territory. Israel offered to trade almost all, but not quite all, the conquered territory for peace several times in accordance with the intension of UNSC resolution 242.
Resolution 242 was the first in a long series of resolutions on the subject. Since all the resolutions affirm the previous ones, changing the meaning of the first one retroactively changes the meaning of all the subsequent resolutions.

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the Israeli efforts to make peace in the years following the 1967 war

It is a serious distortion of reality to accuse Israel of bearing the main responsibility for the lack of peace while disregarding the long history of Israeli attempts to negotiate peace with the Arabs on generous terms; to totally disregard the Arab world’s long history of belligerency and refusal to make peace on any terms; and the PA’s ongoing incitement of terrorism.
In the interests of making peace with its neighbors, as soon as the 1967 war was over, even though the West Bank is Israel’s historic patrimony and should have reverted to Israel after being liberated from illegal foreign occupation, Israel did not allow its citizens to settle on the conquered territory, except for Jerusalem. Israel tried to trade most of the land for peace.
The Arab League immediately declared after the war in 1967 that the Arab world refused to recognize the right of Israel to exist and refused to make peace with it, even to negotiate with it; it forced Jordan to turn down Israel’s offer of the West Bank in exchange for peace; it empowered the PLO to fight a war of terrorism against Israel; and the Arab world renewed its war against Israel in 1973.
Israel’s settlements policy was a slowly evolving reaction to Arab intransigency. Israel’s patience was tried beyond what any other country in the world would have tolerated. As the Arabs continued to say they would never make peace with Israel it became increasingly difficult to restrain would-be settlers. At first Israel successfully restrained its citizens from settling in the conquered territory. With time, the settler movement developed, becoming strong only after the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the 1973, “Yom Kippur” War

All wars are dangerous, but the 1973, “Yom Kippur” War traumatized Israelis especially deeply. After the Arab defeat in the 1967, “Six Day War”, Russia massively resupplied and trained the Egyptian and Syrian armies. Egypt and Syria then led a coalition of Arab states (and Cuba) to invade Israel unexpectedly on Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, a day of fasting. The Arab armies were better prepared than ever before and quickly made significant advances in the field. A large number of Israeli soldiers were killed or wounded, and the Israeli citizenry feared for their lives. Although Israel finally defeated the invaders, that memory is still felt by the Israelis who lived through it. (In retrospect, the invasion should have been expected, the political recriminations that followed were also traumatizing.)
Israeli politics changed radically in the decade following the Yom Kippur War. Israelis became much less optimistic about the possibility of making peace with the Arab world and more concerned about the possibility that the Arab world would once again try to annihilate them.

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the Gulf War, the intifadas, and terrorism in general 

Although the Yom Kippur War was exceptionally traumatic, it is important to remember that there have been 100 years of deadly violence against Jews in the land that is now Israel, and that the West Bank Arabs still hold that hatred. Most Israeli citizens today were terrified children either during the 1947-49 War of Independence, 1956 Sinai Campaign war, 1967 Six Day War, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 war in Lebanon, the 1991 scud missile attacks from Iraq during the Gulf War, the 2006 war in Lebanon, the 2008-09 and 2012 and 2014 wars in Gaza, or during one of the many intifadas, mini-intifadas, and missile attacks from Gaza and Lebanon, etc. Now adults are afraid for their children serving in the army. Almost anyone who has lived in Israel for any length of time knows someone who has personally been in a terrorist attack or was nearby when it happened, or knows someone who has been killed or injured in a war. In Israel, terror attacks and wars are personal matters, not abstractions.
The Israeli communities in the neighborhood of Gaza, especially the town of Sederot, were hit by thousands of rockets from Hamas, and other radical Islamist groups, over many years. Many Israelis were killed and injured and many children grew up terrified. Then, when Iran smuggled in longer-range rockets enabling Hamas to target half of Israel, Israel struck back. The Israeli army used precision weaponry in military actions against Hamas, but because Hamas was too intertwined in the civilian population, using the civilians as human shields, Israel has still not been able to completely remove them.

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty understanding of Israel’s desire to live in peace with the Arab world

The outside world doesn’t understand Israelis or the world they live in.
The outside world doesn’t understand that Israelis combine their fears with a sincere desire for Israel to be accepted by its neighbors in the Middle East, and a sincere desire to help the Arab citizens of Israel fully integrate into Israeli society (some Israeli Arabs identify with the “Palestinian cause,” some with the State of Israel, but most are confused about which identity to adopt)

The UNSC decision is based on a faulty reading of the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005

In a unilateral attempt to reduce tensions with the Arabs, Israel dismantled all its settlements in the Gaza Strip and four small settlements in the northern West Bank in 2005. Israel gave the Gaza Strip to the PA, but Hamas soon took it over in a violent coup and since then Hamas continues to threaten Israel by firing missiles and digging attack tunnels through which it intends to send squads of terrorists.
The memory of the Hamas takeover of the Gaza strip is fresh in Israelis’ minds and impacts the way Israelis think of the West Bank. It's not sufficient to talk about Israeli military control of the West Bank as if that is the only thing going on there. Unless and until the PA is willing to accept meaningful peace terms with Israel, Israel's continued military control of the West Bank must be considered a reasonable defensive action. If the PA sets up a state on the West Bank under the conditions they demand, Hamas and other radical Islamist groups with help from Iran, would soon take over and attack Israel the way they do from the Gaza Strip.

The UNSC doesn’t understand it is jeopardizing the Christian and Jewish religious sites on the West Bank, including in Jerusalem

Note well that if Hamas and the other radical Islamist groups take over the West Bank, they would certainly destroy all the Christian and Jewish religious heritage sites they can find.   

The presence of Israeli settlements on the West Bank is not an obstacle to the two-state solution

Are Israeli settlements on the West Bank a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace”, as UNSC 2334 says? They are only if you assume that to have peace a future Palestinian state must encompass the whole West Bank, including all of Jerusalem. But a Palestinian state does not have to take up the whole West Bank, it need only be large enough to encompass the land the Arabs now occupy, with room to grow into, which is what Israel has been offering all along, with generous terms.
Is peace impossible if the Arabs don’t keep the whole West Bank exclusively for themselves, free of Jews (which they demand)? What if the Arabs start another intifada, won’t that be the end of the possibility of peace? We’ve had intifadas before and yet we still spoke of peace, even with Israeli settlements on the West Bank.  
If the Arabs keep the whole West Bank exclusively for themselves, free of Jews, will peace be possible then? There was no peace before Israel recaptured the West Bank. Whether or not the Arabs get to keep the whole West Bank exclusively for themselves is not in itself a guarantee of peace.

What is a workable two-state solution and why haven’t we achieved it? The third party in the picture.

Unless a future sovereign Palestinian state is carefully demilitarized there will be no peace. Peace is attainable if the world disarms Hamas and the PLO, and forces the future Palestinian state, whatever it’s size, to be peaceful. The world must also take into consideration Iran’s influence on Hamas and other local extreme Islamist groups, and the presence of ISIS in the neighborhood.
If we know what peace looks like, why hasn’t it been achieved? The problem isn’t that a two-state solution is impossible because of Israeli settlements, the problem is that the world outside the Middle East, mainly the Christian West, is a problem. They control the purse strings, the UN, the EU, and the US.
The world, as represented by the UN, the EU, and the US before the presidency of Donald Trump, believes that peace can be attained by giving the homeland of the Jewish People entirely and exclusively to the Arabs. But the world doesn’t understand that the extremist Arabs will not be satisfied with anything less than the destruction of what’s left of the Jewish state after that. Why does the world have this unrealistic image of the Middle East?

Understanding how the West sees the Arab-Israeli conflict

Here is an attempt at understanding the motivations of the predominantly Christian countries of the Western World.

Misplaced good intentions:

There is a genuine desire on the part of most Westerners to help the Jews and the Arabs settle their dispute over the Holy Land. Many in the Western World feel sympathy for the Jews, especially after the Holocaust; the Holy Land is important to them for their own religious reasons; the Middle East conflict has come home to them in the form of radical Islamist terrorism; they feel political pressure from the large number of Muslim citizens that recently arrived in their countries from the Middle East and North Africa; and the Middle East is rich in petroleum. The Western World invested a lot of money and effort in helping the Arabs and the Jews, and the Western World has been trying to help bring about peace.
But the West takes the paternalistic view that they know more than the Israeli government about what is best for Israel. The say they want to help Israel remain a “Jewish and democratic” state against Israeli resistance so they try to force Israel to make what they think are the necessary sacrifices for peace. Most Israelis resent the misdirected efforts of the West that has made peace much more elusive.

Left-wing pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist, practically antisemitic protestors:

Left-wing, pro-Palestinian, anti-Zionist, practically antisemitic protestors are disrupting the colleges and universities of the West, interfering with attempts at rational discussion about the Middle East, and radical Islamic terrorists are conducting anti-Zionist and antisemitic terrorist actions all over the Western world. These violent protests against Israel seem to be having the intended influence on Western policy makers.

Left-wing revulsion against ultra-nationalism and colonialism:

Westerners with a left-wing political outlook, think Zionism is a form of European ultra-nationalism and colonialism because the early Zionists were Europeans. Ideological blindness keeps them from seeing that the true ultra-nationalists are the radical Arabs who believe fanatically that only Muslim Arabs have the right to political independence in the land of Israel. Israelis are only trying to protect their nation, and military deterrence is essential for that.

Appeasement:

Many in the West believe that appeasing terrorists will bring peace to the Middle East and end Islamist terrorism at home. But you can't appease religious fanatics. By demonstrating weakness Westerners encourage the extremists to be bolder, both in the Middle East and in their own countries.

Self-interest:

Many in the West think their self-interest lies more with the larger Arab/Muslim world more than it does with small Israel. But their calculation of self-interest is shortsighted.

“Progressive” or “liberal” ideology:

Progressive Western Europeans internalize the often-shameful history of Europe’s colonial past. When the Arabs tell them that Israel is a Western colonial entity, which it isn’t, progressive Western Europeans feel personally responsible and feel that they can atone for their parents’, grand parents’, and great grand parents’ sins by restraining Israel from what they mistakenly believe is colonialism.
In the United States, progressives internalize the shameful history of slavery and present-day poor race relations. When the Arabs tell them Israel is a racist entity, which it isn’t, many progressives imagine that the Jews of Israel are oppressing the Arab the same way white Americans oppressed their slaves. (Progressives link the “Black Lives Matter” movement to the BDS movement by invoking the new concept, “intersectionality,” which was just created to justify linking such disparate causes.)
Progressives believe oppressed people have the right to “struggle for freedom" unrestrained by conventional rules of warfare. They believe that terrorism is justified since modern states have powerful modern weapons but insurgents must defend themselves with whatever is available. Progressives refuse to see that Islamist extremists aren’t in a “progressive” struggle against colonialist oppression but rather they are in a rage of religious fanaticism and racist hatred of non-Arabs.
The obsession with anti-Zionism on the Left is very old. For traditional Communists it is as least as old as the 1950’s when during the Cold War the Comintern opposed Israel because Israel aligned with the West and the Kremlin backed the Arabs. Anti-Zionism expanded to a new, younger audience in the 1960’s and 1970’s with the explosive growth of violent left-wing activism. Many of those activists are today’s college and university professors, and newspaper reporters. It expanded again with: the influence of Arab students enrolled in Western colleges and universities; Arab money funding Middle East studies departments at major universities; and with Arab money building and refurbishing mosques in the West and installing Salafist imams. The liberal West, concerned about Islamophobia, wanting to curry favor with the oil rich Arab of the Persian Gulf, and afraid of angering terrorists at home has been too tolerant of Islamist activists.  
Progressives who support the Arabs against Israel out of good intentions are not actually doing good, they are only feeling good about what they do. But what they actually do is evil.

Medieval Christian antisemitic prejudice:

Before we discuss antisemitism, let me make it perfectly clear that many modern Christians feel a special affinity for the Jewish People since Jesus was a Jew and lived as a Jew. They believe that God’s biblical promise to the Jewish People, that He would restore them to their land, has never been abrogated. The Christian Zionist movement preceded and encouraged the Jewish Zionist movement in the 19’th Century. Lord Arthur Balfour, for example, was deeply influenced by it and Christian Zionism is still active today. Modern Christian churches, especially in the US, reject antisemitism and feel a strong affinity for and kinship with the Jewish People. Several important Christian groups are actively helping Israel.
With that said, we will discuss the Christians who take the opposite view and still hold Medieval antisemitic views.
UNSC Resolution 2334 supports the prejudice that Jews oppress innocent Arabs. It paints a picture in which only Jews are moral actors, and that the Arabs are passive. This supports the Medieval European Christian antisemitic “blood libel” that Jews oppress innocents. The blood libel was often used in the thousand-year history of persecution of the Jews of Europe when Christians turned from a religion of love to a religion of revenge for the accusation of deicide. (The name “blood libel” comes from the accusation that Jews slaughter innocent Christian children to use their blood to make matzos for Passover. This is a jumble of disparate ideas such as the biblical Passover story of the Jews in Egypt marking their door posts with lamb’s blood so that the Angel of Death would know that Jews were living there, and Christian references to the blood of the innocent, suffering Jesus, the Lamb of God.)
One of the basic tenets of Christian antisemitism is that the Jewish People were cast out and damned to wander the Earth like the biblical Cain, never to restore their political independence, as God promised them they would, because of the accusation that the Jews rejected Jesus and were responsible for His death. According to this form of antisemitism, Christians should block the Jewish People from establishing a national homeland in their ancestral land, which sounds eerily like UNSC Resolution 2334, which calls the establishment of a national homeland for the Jews in their ancestral homeland a war crime subject to UN sanctions.
For all these reasons, and probably more, the West has encouraged Arab intransigency by supporting Arab extremists while unfairly attacking Israel. This gives the extremists reason to believe that time is on their side, and that the Jews will eventually disappear like the Crusaders once did.

Westerners don’t understand the rejectionists of the Arab world

Arab attempts to make peace with Israel

Before we talk about the rejectionists, those who reject the idea of a Jewish state in the land of Israel, let’s talk about the courageous secular and religious leaders in the Arab and general Muslim world who are trying to accept Israel. They are courageous because they are opposing the antisemitism and anti-Zionism that is common in the Arab world. The Arab countries that have not yet fallen are at risk of having their religious and secular institutions taken over by religious extremists. These countries are facing severe demographic challenges, both from the natural growth of their populations and from the influx of refugees from the countries with internal conflict; their economies are struggling to support their rapidly increasing populations, and they are facing ecological and environmental challenges such as reduction in annual rainfall and pollution. Their leaders know they need Israel as a cooperative member of their neighborhood to repel the extremists and to build up the economy of the region. But by supporting the rejectionists as they do, the West makes it more difficult for these courageous leaders to make the needed changes.

Rejection of a Jewish state

Rejectionist Arabs complain about the Jews, and the West reacts accordingly. But the West doesn’t understand that at the core of their complaint is the fact that Israel is a Jewish state, not a Muslim Arab state. The rejectionist claim to exclusive ownership of the land is true only within their worldview; they believe the land belongs exclusively to Arab Muslims in perpetuity because the followers of Mohamed conquered the land in the 7’th Century. It is irrelevant to them that most of the Arabs in Palestine descended from immigrants who came there in the 19’th Century when the Europeans created an economy that could use their labor, and that these Arabs were just about as recent as the Jewish immigrants were. It is equally irrelevant to them that before the 19’th Century, the land was inhabited by both Arabs and Jews, and that the Jews were in the majority in Jerusalem. Replacing Western criteria for ownership with Arab Muslim criteria and agreeing with the rejectionists that only Arabs may live in the Jewish historical homeland, including Jerusalem, effectively exiling the Jews from their homeland, will not make the world better or more peaceful.
Until the Arab world accepts the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state rejectionists will not give up trying to destroy it. The West should be trying to encourage the Arab world to accept the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state. But by falsely accusing Israel of war crimes, the UNSC makes the situation worse. Instead of encouraging the Arab and the general Muslim world to teach their children a more accommodating view of the Jews and Israel, the UNSC gives the rejectionists more arguments to use against peace with Jews and Israel.
By the way, what the West is doing is counter-productive for them because the jihad against the Jews is also being fought in the cities of the West.

Arab suffering

Westerners cannot relate to the fact that Arab rulers intentionally cause their citizens to suffer in order to gain political advantage, and that they can get away with being phenomenally corrupt. Westerners think it is bizarre when they see the al-Assad family (Hafez, and after him his son Bashar) in Syria, or Saddam Hussein in Iraq, torture and massacre tens of thousands of citizens of their own country, or when they see Hamas use the residents of Gaza as human shields, but they think it is unique and can’t generalize from it. Westerners have no internal conceptual model with which to understand it. (Westerners could never comprehend or internalize the cruelty of Stalin, Mao Zedong or the Nazi Holocaust either.) Westerners can’t imagine that the PLO and Hamas would create the conditions that cause their own people to suffer in order to use the suffering as a political weapon against the Jews. So when the Arabs tell them the West Bank Arabs are suffering Westerners are prepared to accept that the Jews must be responsible for it. They can’t understand that a lot of that suffering is due to corruption and the brutality of the PLO and Hamas toward their own people. (Nor can they understand that the UN’s own UNWRA refugee camps perpetuate the suffering of the “refugees” as a propaganda weapon against Israel.)
It doesn’t make sense to Westerners that the PLO won’t settle for a reasonable peace treaty with Israel even though Israel offered generous terms, although not complete capitulation, in negotiations on several occasions. The West refuses to understand that the PLO leaders turned down Israel’s offers each time knowing that if they make any compromises, the extremists standing right behind them would quickly call them traitors and assassinate them. (Arafat famously said jokingly, he didn’t want to drink tea with Sadat, who had been assassinated for making peace with Israel.) They use the naive goodwill of the Westerners as a political weapon. They believe they could get everything by manipulating the sympathies and using the power of the Western world. Instead of negotiating for a part of the West Bank, they are engaged in an “all or nothing” gamble for all of it.
The PA is now threatening that if they don’t get everything they demand, they will turn over responsibility for governing the West Bank to Israel. The threat is that Western TV will show Arabs suffering even more than now and Israeli soldiers fighting with Arab youth. Who will be blamed? Not the PA, because after all, how can the PA be blamed for making their own people suffer? Westerners will certainly understand it only as Israel’s fault.
Imagine the following scenario. A thief comes into a store holding a gun to his son’s head and says to the shopkeeper, “give me all your money or I’ll shoot my son.” What should the shopkeeper do? Who would be responsible for the death of the thief’s son if the shopkeeper refused? It would be suicidal for the West to fall for that kind of threat, yet that’s what the West is allowing to happen in the Middle East.

The Israeli Settlements in Historical Context

The West Bank is important to Israel in two ways, it is Judea and Samaria, the ancient Israelite homeland, which has intense religious significance for Jews and Christians, and it is part of the homeland granted to the Jewish People by the League of Nations and the UN. Even so, the Jews were willing to trade the West Bank for peace when they accepted the UN partition plan of 1947 and then again after they recaptured it in the 1967 war.
Israel has always been willing to use the 1967 borders as a benchmark for negotiations but Israel has always balked at forgetting that when the Green Line was agreed to in 1949, the Arab world insisted they were not legitimizing Israel’s existence by agreeing to political borders. The UNSC should drop its insistence that the pre-1967 borders, with land swaps, must be the borders of the Palestinian state.
Israel has always held out the possibility of making peace with the Arabs, but that patience is balanced by the opposite feeling in response to unrelenting Arab militancy and terrorism, namely if you won’t make peace then we will keep what is ours. Most Israelis would be willing to allow the Arabs to create an independent state on the West Bank and Gaza if that would put an end to the conflict and if it would not result in a Gaza-like Hamastan on the West bank. But first, the Arabs must convince the Israeli public that they are willing to negotiate in good faith. However, under the present circumstances, if the PA were allowed to set up a state on the West Bank with the conditions it insists upon, it would certainly and quickly become another Hamastan, which Israel can’t be expected to allow.  
Israel entered into the Oslo Process with the Arabs, which requires that each party prepare their people for peace. But the PA is in serious violation by continuing to teach its people antisemitism and by honoring terrorists. The PA spends 20% of the annual foreign aid it receives to pay “salaries” to imprisoned terrorists and their families, thus effectively soliciting terrorism. It cooperates with Israel in making sure that the low intensity intifada it instigates doesn’t get out of hand, and it cooperates with Israel in preventing a coup against itself by Hamas, but it refuses to make peace with a Jewish state. This should be the focus of the UNSC’s concern.

Conclusion

UNSC Resolution 2334 gives the Arab rejectionists an undeserved victory. It says the presence of Israeli settlements on the West Bank is the major obstacle to achieving the two-state solution, whereas the main obstacle has always been that the conditions the PA demands would make an Arab state on the West Bank an unacceptable threat to Israel. The resolution hides the fact that the PA egregiously reneged on its obligations in the Oslo process and refused to accept generous terms that required them to agree to real peace. If the West wants to help bring about the two-state solution, it should make it clear to the PA that they will lose even more territory unless they finally agree to a realistic peace. It’s counter productive for the West to force Israel to make concessions that would only result in Arab demands for yet more concessions, and harden Israeli resistance to the West’s disingenuous interference. The West should honor the agreements the Arabs and Israelis made in the Oslo Process to negotiate directly, not through proxies.
UNSC Resolution 2334 supports the rejectionist Arab campaign to deny the Jews’ historic connection to their ancestral homeland, including Jerusalem, in order to delegitimize the Jewish presence in Israel and establish the Arabs’ claim to exclusive ownership. The UNSC is helping the Arabs exile the Jews once again from their ancestral homeland.
UNSC Resolution 2334 supports lawfare to deny Israel’s legitimacy by invoking unconvincing legal interpretations used exclusively against Israel.
By supporting the illusion that Jews cause innocent Arabs to suffer, and by denying the Jews access to their ancestral homeland, UNSC Resolution 2334 supports antisemitic prejudice, in contravention of the UN Charter.
Regardless of the reasons the Western world has for supporting the Arabs against the Jews of Israel, turning over the institutions of the UN, such as UNWRA, UNHRC, UNGA, UNESCO, and now the UNSC, to the Arabs for this purpose is disgraceful and self-destructive. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Putting the U.S-Israel conflict in context

The following letter was published in the MetroWest Daily News (Massachusetts) on January 2, 2017.

The article "Pick sparks hot debate," published December 27, touches on the controversy surrounding the appointment of David Friedman as American ambassador to Israel and Security Council Resolution 2334, enabled by the Obama Administration's clear signal that it would reverse longstanding policy and not veto this incredibly one-sided, anti-Israel resolution.

Both issues need to be put in context.

With modern communications, ambassadors are far less important than they used to be, since important communications are handled directly rather than going through ambassadors. I doubt very many people know the name ofthe current ambassador to Israel (Dan Shapiro); I'm sure even fewer know the names of our ambassadors to far larger countries like Great Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China. And it really doesn't matter, since the ambassador is compelled to represent the policies of the president, regardless of his personal opinions. It seems to me that people are using this particular appointment as an excuse to indirectly criticize the president-elect.

Personally, although I did not vote for him, I believe people should give him a chance and, for the good of all of us, wish him success.

Still, I recognize it's everyone's right to criticize him, but it would be more honest to do it directly.

With respect to the Security Council resolution, theproblem isn't just that it's so one-sided, that the Obama administration's going along with it reneged on the president's word to veto such one-sided resolutions and that his action of making a major change in American foreign policy as a lame duck and in opposition to the clear position of the incoming president was virtually unprecedented. Even if the resolution wasn't so outlandishly one-sided, what it said about the so-called Israeli "settlements" made a travesty of international law and, looked at objectively, was blatantly anti-Semitic.

The beginning of the resolution includes the text "Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, and reaffirming, inter alia, the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, ...

"It uses this as a pretext to claim all building by Jews in the territory Israel recaptured in 1967 is a violation of international law.

However, all that territory was designated for a Jewish homeland by the League of Nations before it was captured by Jordan (then called Transjordan) when it, along with five other Arab armies, invaded Israel the day after its reestablishment in 1948. If Jews should not be allowed to build in that territory because it captured it by force in 1967 (after being attacked by Jordan), similarly Arabs should not be allowed to build there either, especially since they captured that territory in a war they started.

One may question the wisdom of Israeli building in certain areas, although the reality is that almost allIsraeli building has been in areas which everyone recognizes will remain with Israel in any conceivable peace agreement, but it is preposterous and a hypocritical double-standard to question Israel's legal right to build.

This Security Council Resolution claims it's a violation of international law for Jews to build homes in the Jewish Quarter. According to this resolution, if a Jew builds a home on the spot where his grandparents had their home before being forced out by Jordan, he's an international criminal. According to this resolution, it was a violation of international law for Israel to rebuild any of those synagogues destroyed by Jordan.

Can you imagine anything more absurd?

Anything more immoral?

Yet this immoral resolution, which drives another nail in the coffin of the so-called "peace process," was passed unanimously by the United Nations Security Council, enabled by the Obama administration.

Growing up, my father's office was just a few blocks from the United Nations.

I frequently passed by the UN and was always in awe.

No longer.

The passage of this latest, disgraceful United Nations resolution was abetted by our president. I've disagreed with some actions of every president in my lifetime, starting with Eisenhower, but never before have I been ashamed of an American president.

Alan Stein
Natick, Massachusetts and Netanya, Israel

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Letter to German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier

Dear German Foreign Minister Dr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier,

I have recently been informed that in your role as German Foreign Minister, you have been making critical statements and sending critical tweets about Israeli democracy that even the Editor in Chief of Bild, Julian Reichelt, has characterized as astonishingly harsh. You are apparently blind to the devastatingly negative optics of a German government official referring harshly to anything regarding the world's only Jewish state, given that it has only been a few decades since your country's industrialized genocide of the Holocaust.

Your country has had very little experience with, or affinity for anything to do with democracy. Germany's first genuine foray into democracy, the Weimar Republic, was destroyed by German Nazis. Germany's current foray into democracy was militarily imposed on you at the cost of tens of millions of deaths, soldiers and civilians. Germany therefore has very little warrant to tell anyone else about democracy, and what is necessary for it to flourish.

Which brings me to your recent statement that "...a democratic Israel is only achievable through a two-state solution." I have news for you, Dr. Steinmeier. Israel is a Jewish and democratic country already, as even Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman Steffan Siebert stated. Furthermore your own personal history of soft-pedaling statements regarding human rights violations in Russia, China, and Iran due to your pursuit of business opportunities there further impairs your credibility as an arbiter of democracy.

One of your recent tweets stated misleadingly that "Israeli settlements in occupied territories jeopardize possibility of peace process." A German official calling Jewish homes a menace evokes a great deal of concern, and awful memories. In fact Israeli towns and homes in the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria have every right to be there. Nonetheless they exist on only two per cent of the land area, and Israel has a history of removing these homes in service of peace, as in Sinai in 1982 and Gaza in 2005. In return Israel has been attacked from every area it has vacated. And why, Dr. Steinmeier, have you made no reference to the real obstacle to peace, relentless Palestinian rejections of all generous Israeli peace offers because what they really want is Israel's destruction, and actually couldn't care less about a state of their own?

Unlike Germany, Israel has been a vibrant democracy by choice in the face of non stop attacks and attempts to destroy it, since its rebirth in 1948. Your proper approach to Israel should be one of remorse and support given your country's awful history. I am deeply offended by your statements of the German Foreign Ministry critical of Israel.

Daniel H. Trigoboff, Ph.D.
Williamsville, New York

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Top Ten Causes of the Death of the Two State Solution

Courtesy of Daniel H. Trigoboff, Ph.D.

As of December 23, there has been an addition to the top ten.

Actually killed by:

1. Multiple Palestinian refusals of generous offers of their own state.

2. Official Palestinian policy that no signed agreement will end their war against Israel.

3. Unending Palestinian terrorism.

4. Palestinian refusal to negotiate.

5. Insisting that Palestinian "refugees" will "return" to Israel, not to a nascent Palestinian state.

6. Refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

7. Clueless progressives enabling Palestinian recalcitrance and violence by providing aid and support and expecting nothing in return, with the bigotry of low expectations.

8. Financially incentivizing murders of Israeli civilians.

9. Denying Jewish historical connections to the land of Israel.

10. Ceaselessly indoctrinating their own children to hate Jews and to destroy Israel, insuring that new generations of Palestinians will never make peace.

The late addition:

11. Barack Obama.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Another Voice: Keith Ellison’s history makes him unfit to head the DNC

The following op-ed by Elinor Weiss, CAMERA's Letter Writer of the Year for 2016, was published in the Buffalo News on December 12, 2016. It may be read on the Buffalo News website at http://buffalonews.com/2016/12/09/another-voice-keith-ellisons-history-makes-unfit-head-dnc/. Comments may also be posted there.

Another Voice: Keith Ellison’s history makes him unfit to head the DNC

By Elinor Weiss

I ran as a proud Democrat for the 142nd State Assembly District seat in 1992, when Bill Clinton campaigned for president. The Democratic Party fit my worldview: it was centrist then. How times have changed.

I don’t recognize much of the Democratic Party anymore. Today, the fringe elements of the party are as troubling as the fringes of the Republican Party. Take Sen. Charles Schumer’s support for Keith Ellison as Democratic National Committee chairman.

Schumer says he is backing the Minnesota congressman because Bernie Sanders, who isn’t even a member of the party, likes him. Schumer feels Ellison is “a very good organizer.” But what would Ellison organize the Democratic Party for?

In an article he wrote, Ellison called for a black separatist country. For 10 years he was associated with the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, a racist who slanders white people and Jews. Ellison even defended organizations with ties to the terrorist group, the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as defending convicted cop killer Assata Shakur.

In 2008, Ellison went on a trip sponsored by Saudi Arabia. As a sitting congressman, he met with a cleric who supported the killing of American soldiers and with a bank president who gave financial rewards to suicide bombers.

Congressman Ellison told the House Ethics Committee that the Muslim American Society (which even the United Arab Emirates labeled a terrorist organization), prepared his itinerary. The Muslim American Society’s website encourages Muslims to take up arms to help form Islamic governments worldwide.

I fear that Ellison, as the leader of the Democratic Party, would support candidates who deny the existence of radical Islam. Based on his history, he might support far left fringe candidates who blame America and not the terrorists for terrorism. That’s what Ellison did after 9/11 until he walked his words back after getting much criticism.

There’s more. Ellison has worked with organizations seeking Israel’s demise. He has made extremely disturbing statements about Israel. In 2014, he didn’t vote for additional funding for the Iron Dome missile defense system. Without Iron Dome, Israel would have been devastated by Gaza’s thousands of rocket attacks, with countless civilians blown to smithereens.

Schumer has said that he wasn’t worried about Ellison’s anti-Israel “stuff.” Why not? Why do statements from over 30 years ago, denied by Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Trump’s pick for attorney general, bother Schumer but not Ellison’s far more recent and far more voluminous anti-American rhetoric and activities?

When Democratic Party leaders dismiss fringe behavior within their ranks, they not only do a disservice to their party. They hurt America, as well. It’s not too late for the Democratic Party to reclaim its soul and choose a leader who is moderate and centrist. Democrats like me are yearning to come home.

Elinor Weiss of East Amherst was a member of the Amherst Democratic Committee.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Open letter to the president of Kent State University

Background: Some students at Kent State University pressured the administration to remove a photo of and quotation by Golda Meir. Their stated reason was that it was a daily reminder of racism on campus.

In a sane world, one would infer that it reminded them of racism on campus because seeing the photo of Golda Meir reminded them of the hatred permeating the genocidal campaign being waged against Israel by Arabs and Muslims, particularly by the Palestinian Arabs, and those coddled students were uncomfortable by being reminded about all the racism in the world. This not being a sane world, their motivation was to spread their own hatred and racism.

Kent State's president Beverly Warren initially said the university would take those hateful demands into consideration, but after a negative reaction from some who do not share the anti-Semitic agenda of the diabolically named "Students for Justice in Palestine," Muslim Students Association and other hateful groups, has apparently come to her senses.

A good article about the sordid affair, "Following Major Backlash, Kent State Says It Won’t Cave to Anti-Israel Groups Demanding Removal of Golda Meir Display," can be found in the algemeiner (https://www.algemeiner.com/2016/11/15/kent-state-university-refuses-take-down-golda-meir-display-in-wake-of-anti-israel-outcry-says-such-action-runs-counter-to-institutional-values/).

The situation led Massachusetts resident Marty Greenstein to send the following letter to Kent State's president:


Dear Ms. Warren,

Kent State University will always be remembered by my generation as the place where four students died at a war protest and others were injured, some seriously.  This incident was a factor when, in my senior year in college, the school year was cut short when, in its aftermath, numerous universities realized that neither students nor faculty could concentrate on formal schoolwork.  Like others, I had to deal with the dilemmas of the morality and rightfulness of the Vietnam War, the limits of protest when the subject was truly one of life and death, and the morality of even bringing guns onto campus, particularly by the National Guard who were mostly young people themselves; people not prepared to encounter students with whom they shared nationality and common concerns.  Most importantly, the parallel between our troops, bombers, and gunships in Vietnam and our troops with guns on a college campus was painfully obvious.

Kent State symbolized at that time the ineffectiveness of a University to identify right and wrong, properly instruct, and most importantly be a satisfying forum for clashing ideas.

Kent State is so much better today than it was back then.   At my Ohio high school in those days, only the most marginal of the college bound went to Kent State.  Today, it is magnificently better.  Any failure of Kent State to properly nurture its students will no longer be excusable given its current stature and the elapsed half century.

Today, Kent State has a similar dilemma with a solution equally elusive to its administration, faculty, and students.  Golda Meir was an American school teacher who so much wanted to live with her Jewish people that she emigrated to what was then known as Palestine simply to live on a farm.  The Jews in Palestine were endangered by a nationalistic Arab world.  Just like today where there are essentially no Christians or Jews in Arab lands (with the exception of Coptic Christians in Egypt who are highly discriminated against), in the late 1940s the Arabs resented the presence of anyone else.  This is why, when the United Nations agreed to provide a small amount of the British protectorate known as Palestine to host a Jewish state, all neighboring and, even some non-neighboring, Arab states invaded with the goal not just of preventing that state from occurring, but to kill all the Jews who were there.  The efforts of Golda Meir helped prevent a complete massacre.  Every woman (and man) can learn from her courage and motivation to exceed expectation.

Golda Meir ultimately became Prime Minister of Israel, one of the first modern day female government leaders.  Unfortunately, during her time as Prime Minister, Egypt once again tried to destroy Israel simply because it existed.  Golda was forever blamed for hesitating from preparing and even going to war when the intelligence was very strong that Egypt was planning a surprise attack, which they did on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar.

Today, Golda is remembered for her famous quote, “We will only have peace with the Arabs when they love their children more than they hate us.”

Unfortunately that hate has not gone away, and, most unfortunately for the Palestinian Arabs, that hate has been unmerciful in its cruelty.  Specifically, not only did the Palestinian Arabs pursue murderous attacks despite no threat to their own lives, but the same hate blinds them from opportunities to have peace and even to prosper.  Arabs who live in Israel are among the most prosperous in the Arab world and are in no danger.  But the Arabs who live in, for instance Gaza, are mostly in immense poverty and under threat from a cruel government that knows nothing but to prepare for yet more attacks against Israel.  Notice, that is not attacks from Israel, but attacks on Israel.

The people in Gaza are not stupid.  However, they are subjected to immense propaganda and control.  Their children are taught to hate.  A person who would even say as we did in the Sixties, “Give peace a chance”, would be treated as a traitor and likely killed.

As a university president, you likely know this.  One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected President was because he says what he thinks rather than sinking into the swamp of political correctness.  His opinion is that Israel is a true friend of the United States, and this stalwart friend owes its existence to great people like Golda Meir.  Sure, Israel has made mistakes.  Some Arabs who lived in what was the Jewish Partition back in 1948 were probably scared into fleeing from their homes by Jews as well as the invading Arab armies.  This is very sad, but the United States has made errors too.  This does not mean that we would not want to honor the memories of people like George Washington (Indian fighter) and Thomas Jefferson (Slave holder).

Knowing Israel to be a vibrant democracy with a government which is a peaceful collaboration of Arabs and Jews, we ask ourselves what other Middle Eastern country is similar?  Actually, what country does more to give rights and prosperity to all its citizens, not just those in power?   But asking ourselves that question is not as important as asking that question, and similar ones, to those who would be in opposition to the principles of someone like Golda Meir.

Be aware, that foreign money is used to foment anti-Israel thought and even violence on campus.  This is an organized effort by Islamic governments and groups to discredit Israel.  Jewish students in California and even the University of Michigan are intimidated by those who call them racist or worse.  Efforts are made by so-called pro-Palestinian groups to ban pro-Israel speakers from campus, or if that fails, to disrupt their lectures.

The truth is that lies, when repeated often enough, will be believed.  Plus academic research has shown that when people believe something deeply and are shown they are wrong, they double down on their original beliefs.   Perhaps this is why teachers have it so tough.  Students walk in with set ideas, and it is difficult to open their minds to anything contrary.  Moreover, academic research shows that a political group’s agenda is adhered to even by people who go along just to get along.  Specifically, the so-called Left has picked up the Palestinian Arabs as a group to sympathize with in the face of Israel, a country that they even call an apartheid state.  Again, whatever merit their claims have pales behind the ethnic cleansing of the Arab nations that they will not discuss.

Adolph Hitler said that if one tells a preposterous lie, the public will believe it.  They reason that the lie cannot be true, but, then again, why would anyone say such a thing if it isn’t?  Hence, a preposterous lie is believable simply because of one’s inability to believe that someone would dare to say it if it were not true.

So, Ms Warren, your university has a deep problem.  A group of students who, for ethnic or religious loyalty and perhaps even financial support, sponsor undue hatred of a country half a world away.  Other students, vulnerable to propaganda and “group think”, to their credit look for a social cause but find one that is destructive to Western values.  Does the university have an obligation to present all its students with its own sense of morality?  Do students who wish to spout hatred have a right to do so and in particular intimidate those who do not hold their views?  Even more important perhaps, does a university have a right to decide what is right and what is wrong?

I live in Massachusetts now.  A few years ago, there was a bombing at the Boston Marathon.  One of the perpetrators was a college student living in a dormitory.  What was the most upsetting thing about it to me was that another student in the dormitory covered for the student bomber.  I personally think this reflects upon the university.  It may be unreasonable to think the university will get all of its students to do the right thing, but there was no evidence of its even trying.  Instead, they in their ivory tower left even matters of life and death in ambiguous  terms.  I guess ethics was not part of the curriculum or, frighteningly, not based on the fundamental values that, hopefully, define who we are.

Things can be better.  I, maybe three years ago, went to a graduation at the University of Amherst, arguably the best liberal arts school in the country.  At the graduation, the President of that college took a stand on sexual violence and harassment, since there had been incidents.   This is to be applauded since it is clear that sexual harassment or violence, and even sexual discrimination, is at total odds with the ideals of our society.  Similarly there is no room for slander of any people, but most outrageously slander of the Israelis who fervently aspire only to peace.

Thank You and Best Wishes,

Marty Greenstein

Monday, October 10, 2016

Inconvenient Truths the Anti-Zionists Don't Want You to Know

The following is the text of a talk given by Alan Stein at the University of Connecticut's Waterbury Campus on October 10, 2016:

It's nice to be back in Waterbury.

I grew up and went to school in New York and then taught mathematics on this campus for 37 years. My office was on this very floor.

I was active both in the Jewish and general communities, serving as president of the Jewish Federation of Waterbury, being part of the Waterbury Progressive Caucus and a leader in the Connecticut Coalition to Save Darfur. I'm a liberal Democrat, in the tradition of Harry Truman, Hubert Humphrey, JFK and RFK.

When my wife and I started thinking about getting away from the brutal New England winters in retirement, my wife wouldn't consider Florida, which my father used to refer to as "the land of our people," and instead we went to the real land of our people. We now spend seven months a year in Netanya, a beautiful resort city. We eat dinner watching the sun set over the Mediterranean.

Here's one special connection between Waterbury and Netanya in Israel, where I now spend most of the year: Miriam Fierberg, our Netanya mayor, is under house arrest, being investigated for corruption.

I was president of PRIMER-Connecticut for ten years while living in Waterbury. I've since founded PRIMER-Massachusetts and PRIMER-Israel. PRIMER is an acronym for "Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting." There is an enormous amount of irresponsible reporting, creating a distorted picture that's taken advantage of by hateful anti-Zionists such as those involved in the BDS - Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions - movement.

Hence the title of this talk: "Inconvenient Truths the Anti-Zionists Don't Want You to Know."

Today, I'll take for about a half hour to describe some instances of irresponsible reporting, briefly list a small subset - after all, I'm a mathematician - and document a few of them in more detail.  You'll then have the opportunity to ask questions.

Okay, first a recent example of irresponsible reporting.

On September 20, William Booth and Ruth Eglash wrote an article for the Washington Post about the Trump campaign wooing American citizens living in Israel. The article, which was published in numerous newspapers, included these two sentences:

"The settlements are on the land that many Jews say is their biblical and historical home. It is also land the Palestinians want for a future state."

In the first sentence, Booth and Eglash gratuitously insert the words "many Jews say" to cast doubt about something that is indisputable, historical fact.

The second sentence does the opposite: it presents an opinion as fact.

The Arabs have repeatedly spurned golden opportunities to establish a state, casting doubt on whether they really want one.

The Arabs rejected the Peel Commission proposal for a state in 1937, the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947 and Israeli proposals in 2000, 2001 and 2008.

They didn't bother setting up a separate state between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan annexed the West Bank and made all the resident Arabs Jordanian citizens.

Now, maybe the Palestinian Arabs do want their own state, but it's definitely not established fact, especially given that the evidence strongly suggests otherwise. It should not have been presented as fact in a news article.

Headlines are often even more distorting.

Another recent example from the Washington Post: A September 18 article had this headline: "Israeli authorities kill 3 suspected assailants in Jerusalem, West Bank attacks." There have been dozens, probably hundreds or thousands, of similar headlines in recent months.

That short headline was ambiguous, inaccurate and, at best, inverted the actual news. As I explained in a letter to the Washington Post:

"The ambiguity: readers could incorrectly infer that Israeli authorities attacked people in Jerusalem and the disputed territories. It was Arab terrorists who did the attacking.

"The inaccuracy: the attackers were not merely "suspected;" there is no doubt the three dead were assailants.

"The inversion: the heart of the news was that there was another Arab terror attack; the fact that some of the terrorists wound up dead was just a consequence of what were, fortunately, mostly "unsuccessful" attacks."

Most of you probably remember what happened on September 11, 2001. On the next day, did anyone see the headline "Plane crashes kill 19 suspected hijackers in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania?"


Okay. Now I'll list a handful of inconvenient truths, and then go into detail about others.

•Zionism is simply the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.

•Anti-Zionists deny the right of the Jewish people to our own state.

•Denying that right to the Jewish people, while promoting it for others, is anti-Semitic.

•Until relatively recently, the people today calling themselves Palestinians were insisting they weren't.

•The articles in the PLO Charter calling for the destruction of Israel have never been removed.

•Taken together, Israel and the disputed territories take up less than a quarter of what constituted Palestine at the time of the British Mandate.

•Historically, Jerusalem has never held much interest for Arabs or Muslims except during those times when it was controlled by others.

•Jerusalem has been at the heart and soul of the Jewish people since King David made it his capital about 3,000 years ago. Every Passover, Jews all over the world end their Seders with the chant בשנה הבאה בירושלים - "Next Year in Jerusalem."

•The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 declares, as official United States policy: "Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel."

•The term "West Bank" is a relatively new one. Historically, that area, the heartland of the Jewish kingdoms in Biblical times, was referred to as Judea and Samaria, or Palestine, or southern Syria.

•Only a handful, perhaps 50,000, of the so-called Palestinian refugees are really refugees. The youngest of the refugees are now 68 years old and have no recollection of ever living in what is now Israel.

•Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is in the twelfth year of his four year term. He is no moderate, has shown no inclination to make peace with Israel and has neither the ability nor the authority to do so even if he wanted.

•More than 95 percent of the Arabs in the disputed territories have lived under their own government for more than two decades.

•The Christian community is increasing and thriving in just one country in the Middle East: Israel. It's being decimated in the Palestinian Authority and Hamas-run Gaza. Under the Palestinian Authority, Bethlehem has turned from a Christian city into a Muslim city.

•The proportion of civilian casualties in the Gaza wars has been amazingly low compared to the norm for post-World War II conflicts. General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said "Israel went to extraordinary lengths to limit collateral damage and civilian casualties." Israel has been criticized by international military leaders for setting a standard their countries can't possibly match.

Now I'll go into a few other inconvenient truths, in more depth - as our very limited time permits - with some documentation, including historical texts and the words of Palestinian Arab leaders.

•The Palestinian Arabs have shown far more interest in there not being a Jewish state than in having one of their own.

The PLO was established in 1964, while the West Bank was part of Jordan. Rather than promoting a separate Palestinian Arab state, the PLO was established to destroy Israel. This goal was enshrined four years later in the PLO Charter. It's sobering reading, although far less so than the Fatah and Hamas charters. Among its provisions:

The PLO "aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine."

"The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine."

AND

"Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. Thus it is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase."

In their fundamental covenants, the Palestinian Arabs clearly say they reject the existence of Israel, but do not call for their own state.

•Mahmoud Abbas has admitted he's responsible for the continuation of the conflict.

In his own words, spoken in Ramallah on October 15, 2010: "If we showed flexibility on these issues the peace agreement would have been signed a long time ago."

•Mahmoud Abbas has also told his people he will never compromise on any of the key issues. 

As quoted in the Palestinian Authority's own newspaper, Al-Ayyam, on September 7, 2010: "If they demand concessions on the rights of the refugees or the 1967 borders, I will quit. I can't allow myself to make even one concession."

•Abbas clearly rejects the very concept of a two-state solution, vigorously insisting he will never acknowledge Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

•Abbas even bluntly told President Obama he would not commit to an "end of conflict" - in other words, even if he signed some agreement with Israel, the conflict would continue.

Peace requires concessions, by both sides.

Israel has made enormous concessions. Benjamin Netanyahu may be considered "right wing," but he's offered concessions, such as offering the Palestinian Arabs a state, Yitzhak Rabin insisted he would never make.

Mahmoud Abbas may be called "moderate," but he has yet to make a single significant concession; he's still clinging to the same demands Arafat was making in 1993. It's one thing to start negotiations with extreme demands; I thought only my mother-in-law, may she rest in peace, could refuse to budge for more than two decades. I was wrong.

•Abbas demands ethnic cleansing.

For example, on Christmas Day, 2010, in Ramallah, he said: "We have frankly said, and always will say: If there is an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, we won't agree to the presence of one Israeli (meaning Jew) in it." How's that for the Christmas spirit!

•Mahmoud Abbas was a prime instigator of the year-long and counting wave of knifings, shootings and vehicular attacks.

On September 16 last year, he proclaimed "Al-Aksa is ours and so is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. They (meaning the Jews) have no right to desecrate them with their filthy feet. We won’t allow them to do so and we will do whatever we can to defend Jerusalem."

Praising Muslim women who harass Jews on the Temple Mount, he said "Each drop of blood that was spilled in Jerusalem is pure blood as long as it’s for the sake of Allah. Every shahid (martyr) will be in heaven and every wounded person will be rewarded, by Allah’s will."

•In Israel, Arabs comprise nearly a quarter of the population and have full, equal rights.

Of course there's some discrimination; I challenge you to name a single country in which there's no discrimination. I also challenge you to name a country, other than Israel, giving equal rights to a minority which in significant measure is loyal to the nation's enemies.

Arabs participate in every area of Israeli civil life. They're doctors, lawyers, teachers, police. They're in the Knesset, the parliament. Majalli Wahabi, an Israeli Druze, actually served as Acting President for a time in 2007. George Karra, an Israeli Arab Supreme Court Justice, convicted President Moshe Katzav and sent him to prison.

Think about that: an Israeli Arab sent the president of Israel to prison!

When it comes to legal discrimination, if anything, it's the Jews who suffer. Jews are compelled to serve in the army. They don't have a choice. Arabs have a choice. They may serve if they wish, but they don't have to.

•The BDS movement is anti-Zionist and thus inherently and irredeemably anti-Semitic.

Omar Barghouti, the most prominent of the founders of BDS, has said: "Definitely, most definitely we oppose a Jewish state in any part of Palestine. No Palestinian, rational Palestinian, not a sell-out Palestinian, will ever accept a Jewish state in Palestine.”

Anna Baltzer, a frequent speaker at "Tree of Life" events, was even more blunt, saying, quote: "“We need to wipe out Israel.” unquote.

•While Mahmoud Abbas may refuse to make peace with Israel, may defame and slander Israel at every opportunity, when push comes to shove he knows Israel is his only friend.

In April, Abbas' brother, who lives in Qatar, was in critical condition with cancer. Where did Abbas make sure he went to get the best medical care? Assuta Medical Center in Tel Aviv, where the doctors had saved his brother-in-law's life with a delicate heart operation six months before, and where his wife underwent leg surgery in 2014.

Ismail Haniyeh is even more extreme than Abbas. Haniyeh is the chief Hamas terrorist in charge of Gaza. But he wasn't too proud to send his granddaughter for treatment at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv in 2013. In 2014, he sent both his mother-in-law and his daughter there, one shortly before the war he launched and the other shortly after.

•The "illegally occupied territories" aren't even occupied. They are disputed territories and Israel has a strong legal claim to them.

At the San Remo Conference in 1920, following World War I, Britain was assigned a mandate over Palestine - which then comprised all of what is today Israel, Jordan and the disputed territories. The mandate called for Britain to prepare for the reestablishment of the Jewish homeland, including the "close settlement" of the land by the Jewish people. This actually included the "East Bank," the 77-78 percent of Palestine east of the Jordan River which Britain separated from the rest, renamed Transjordan and gave to the Hashemites. The decisions made at the San Remo Conference were confirmed by the League of Nations in 1922, and incorporated into the founding documents of the United Nations. That makes them international law.

So, under international law, Israel has claim to all of the disputed territories and building in those territories is not only not illegal, but encouraged.

•The "1967 borders" were never borders.

Article II of the 1949 armistice agreement with Jordan stated "no provision of this Agreement shall in any way prejudice the rights, claims and positions of either Party hereto in the ultimate peaceful settlement of the Palestine question, the provisions of this Agreement being dictated exclusively by military considerations."

In plain language, the armistice lines were specified to have no political significance.

References to "1967 borders" are factually wrong; no borders existed.

Insisting on "negotiations based on the 1967 borders" is actually an insistence on the violation of that signed agreement! It's also an insistence on the violation of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338.

Resolution 242 was adopted November 22, 1967, exactly five years after the assassination of President Kennedy. Its provisions called for:

"Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" in conjunction with the "termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."

So, according to this binding Security Council resolution, any Israeli withdrawal awaits a peace agreement and must not be a total withdrawal to the temporary armistice lines. The Security Council itself has given legitimacy to an Israeli presence in the disputed territories until that time.

My apartment in Netanya lies about nine miles from the armistice line and the Arab town of Tulkarm, which is already under the control of the Palestinian Authority. I'm across from the Mediterranean, so the actual width of Israel at that point is only about 9 miles and 50 yards. Secure borders, as called for in the resolution, are unfortunately an impossibility, but the goal should be to make them as close to secure as reasonably possible.

•The Palestinian Arab leadership accepted the Israeli presence in the disputed territories and depends on it.

They agreed to it in the Oslo Accords and Mahmoud Abbas knows that he wouldn't last a week if it wasn't for the Israeli military maintaining security.

Abbas may demand an Israeli withdrawal, but he stakes his life on Israel not caving in to that demand.

My final three inconvenient truths:

1. We keep hearing that the Palestinians deserve a state of their own. There is actually an "Encyclopedia of Stateless Nations." Most people know of the Kurds and the Tibetans, but there are literally hundreds of others, almost all with a far longer and more peaceful history than the Palestinian Arabs. None have repeatedly rejected statehood the way the Palestinian Arabs have. Every one of those national groups is arguably far more deserving of statehood than the Palestinian Arabs.

When my wife and I bought an apartment in Israel, we decided we needed to sell our private home in Waterbury and move to a condo in Massachusetts nearer our daughter. We joined the nearest synagogue, Temple Israel of Natick, which has a "Rabbi Laureate" you may have heard of, Harold Kushner, of "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" fame. One week ago today, on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, I was in the first row, right in front of Rabbi Kushner, when he gave his sermon and said: 

"I would remind you that for almost twenty years, from 1948 to 1967, the Palestinians had a state of their own on the West Bank and half of Jerusalem, including the Old City and the Temple Mount."

Now, when Jews say "Jordan is Palestine," people tend to dismiss it as propaganda. But it turns out that Mahmoud Abbas - remember, he calls himself the president of Palestine, even though there is no Palestine - agrees with Rabbi Kushner. Just last year, on June 2, 2015, Abbas said "Jordan and Palestine are one people living in two states."

There are two basic reasons the Palestinian Arabs get so much undeserved attention: They are the world's most successful practitioners of terrorism ... and their target has been the world's only Jewish state.

2. Israel is the front line state in the fight against fanatical, Islamist terrorists. Every method used by those terrorists against the United States, against France, against Britain, was first used against Israel. Had the civilized world stood solidly with Israel in the past, we might not be suffering from today's outbreak of terrorism. The first, essential step in defeating terrorism around the world is standing with Israel.

3.

If you value human rights, Israel stands with you.

If you value freedom of the press, Israel stands with you.

If you value the rights of gays, Israel stands with you.

If you value the rights of women, Israel stands with you.

If you value diversity and multiculturalism, Israel stands with you.

If you believe children should grow up and not blow up, Israel stands with you.

If you treasure the values that have made the United States of America the greatest country in the history of the world, Israel stands with you.

Israel exemplifies the very values true liberals cherish most, while Palestinian Arab society rejects those same values.

Rabbi Kushner said, in his Rosh Hashanah sermon: "We were privileged to see the rebirth of a Jewish nation in the ancestral Jewish homeland. Be grateful that you were privileged to live in the age of the Third Jewish Commonwealth."

In my years of involvement with the Arab-Israeli conflict, I've rarely read a news story, or a letter to the editor, or a presentation by someone anti-Israel, that wasn't tainted by what I'll euphemistically call false information. I urge you to read, and listen, skeptically, and find the real truth, the inconvenient truth, so often denied.


On that note, thank you for listening to these inconvenient truths. I'm eager to hear your questions, with the usual qualification: questions, not long-winded statements.