Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Reason Christmas is Bittersweet in Bethlehem

The New Britain Herald published, on the day before Christmas, a vile, anti-Israel screed, entitled Christmas Is Bittersweet in Bethlehem, written by George Rishmawi and viewable on the Minuteman Media web site and was unfortunately probably published in some other newspapers.

Minuteman Media was founded by a former mayor of Norwalk, Connecticut who has since gone rather rogue.

The following is a letter from PrimerPrez, written in response to Rishmawi's screed, which was published by the New Britain Herald.

One would get a rather distorted perspective reading George Rishmawi's "Christmas Is Bittersweet in Bethlehem" commentary in Thursday's Herald.

According to the Palestinian Authority's tourism minister, Khuloud Deibes, the number of tourists to the Palestinian Authority controlled territories has quadrupled to two million over the last two years, with 80 percent of them going to Bethlehem.

In large measure, this boom results from the efforts Israel has taken, particularly the security barrier about which Rishmawi rails, which have broken the back of the wave of terrorism the Palestinian Arabs launched when they rejected peace and the establishment of their own state in 2000. The decline of terrorism has enabled a measure of normality to return to the disputed territories.

Unfortunately, the situation for Christians living in Bethlehem and other parts of the disputed territories is far from happy, but the primary culprit is not, as Mishmawi would have one believe, the Israelis but rather the Arab Muslims.

Since Hamas took over Gaza, the owner of Gaza's only Christian bookstore was abducted and murdered, Christian shops and schools have been firebombed and Christians have been fleeing.

The situation is little better in the West Bank. According to the Associated Press, even in Bethlehem, "Christians live on a knife's edge ¦ and Muslims often stand in front of the gate of the Bible College and read from the Quran to intimidate Christian students. Other Muslims like to roll out their prayer rugs right in Manger Square."

Ironically, according to UPI, "the story's [oppression of Christians] the same in Egypt, Iraq and elsewh! ere in t he Mideast. Practically the only place in the region where the Christian population is growing is in Israel."

This reality is completely missing from the distorted picture painted by Rishmawi.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Norwegian Doctor Thinks He's From Sweden

Erik Fosse may be from Norway, but he must think he's from Sweden since he suffers from a cousin of the Stockholm Syndrome, the malady which causes hostages to sympathize with their abductors.

Fosse has long supported the Hamas terrorists.

During Operation Cast Lead, when Israel finally responded to nearly a decade of rockets launched by Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza against its civilians, Fosse went to Gaza and broadcast Hamas propaganda from one of the hospital's Hamas had commandeered so it could use its basement as headquarters.

Back in Gaza and attending a Hamas rally, Fosse just got stabbed by an Arab for whom Fosse's support obviously wasn't good enough.

Naturally, Fosse didn't blame Hamas or his attacker for the stabbing; he blamed "the west," saying "I take it as a sign of how desperate people are. They have cause to be dissatisfied with the west."

This even though Fosse acknowledged he was stabbed "because I was the only blond westerner present."

As Tundra Tabloids points out, "There's the racism for you, this Lefty doctor KNOWS that the Arabs are racists, yet he continues to pimp their propaganda because he believes it helps to chip away at the credibility of Israel and the west that he hates."

For more on this incident, read this post on Tundra Tabloids.

I take Fosse's irrational reaction to his being the victim of a terror attack to be just one more illustration of the depth of hatred so many fanatics have for the only liberal, Western-oriented democracy in the Middle East.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Jimmy Carter's Al Het: Does He Really Mean It?

ADL director Abe Foxman called Jimmy Carter's open letter of apology to the Jewish people "beginning of reconciliation," with the qualification that "time will tell" the extent to which "it is an epiphany."

Others have questioned whether Carter's letter is primarily an attempt to keep his anti-Israel advocacy from damaging the political aspirations of his grandson, who just launched a campaign for the state Senate in Georgia.

In an open letter of her own, CAMERA executive director Andrea Levin wrote "we hope your conciliatory words are indicative of a true change of heart in which Israel is no longer subjected to unwarranted and false criticism" and noted a handful of very recent lies and distortions made by Carter which he needs to correct. (The text of her letter may be viewed on the CAMERA web site.)

We suggest a few other steps Carter should take, besides ceasing future incitement against Israel and issuing corrections to his latest lies and distortions, if he is actually sincere in his apology.
  1. Stop the distribution of his anti-Israel books.

    Regardless of his future statements, as long as people are buying his existing books those books will continue to spread hatred.
  2. Compensate the organizations, such as CAMERA, Honest Reporting, the Anti-Defamation League and others, which have been forced to expend a tremendous amount of time and resources to combat the lies, distortions and innuendoes in Carter's books and articles.

    A reasonable start would be to transfer the royalties earned from his books to those organizations.
  3. Donate copies of CAMERA's "Bearing False Witness," refuting a small portion of the lies and distortions in his "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" screed, to every library containing copies of either that or any of his other books on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Whether Jimmy Carter follows up his public apology with actions to undo the damage he's caused will show whether or not he's sincere.

Carter's Open Letter:

The time of Chanukah and the Christian holidays presents an occasion for reflection on the past and for looking to the future. In that vein, I wish to share some thoughts with you about the State of Israel and the Middle East.

I have the hope and a prayer that the State of Israel will flourish as a Jewish state within secure and recognized borders in peaceful co-existence with its neighbors and with all the Moslem States, and that this peaceful co-existence will bring security, prosperity and happiness to the people of Israel and to the people of the Middle East of all faiths.

I have the hope and a prayer that the bloodshed and hatred will change to mutual respect and cooperation, fulfilling the prophetic aspiration that the lion shall lie down with the lamb in harmony and peace. I likewise hope that violent attacks against all civilians will end, which will help set a better framework for commencing negotiations. I further hope that peace negotiations can soon commence, with all issues on the negotiating table.

I have the hope and a prayer that just as Chanukah is the Festival of Lights, the State of Israel will fulfill its destiny as a light unto the nations.

We must recognize Israel’s achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel. As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so.

May we work and pray for that better day.

Hag Semach and Happy Chanukah.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Yes, Virginia, The Palestinian Arabs Don't Really Want a State

Barry Rubin, director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal has posted an excellent article, Why Can't H. Clinton Bring Israeli-Palestinian Peace? Look at What B. Clinton Offered which the Palestinians Rejected, on the GLORIA Center web site.

Among the interesting points:

When her [Hillary Clinton's] husband left office there wasn't just a "lull." Bill Clinton had spent two terms working hard to achieve a peace agreement and he failed because the Palestinians rejected every offer he made and then launched a massive terrorist-based war on Israel that lasted five years. The beginning of understanding the issue is to admit that the reason there hasn't been a Palestinian state for nearly a decade is because the Palestinian leadership turned it down.

Until that admission happens, all of this running around is a wasted effort.

Actually, even if that happens, any running around will still be a wasted effort unless and until Gaza comes back under the umbrella of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas is either transformed or eliminated, and the Palestinian Arabs finally have some leadership that is really moderate, rather than the current leadership which is still really extremist and rejectionist but appears moderate in comparison to the even more fanatical rulers in Gaza.

"I have been committed to a two-state solution, a Palestinian state for more than 10 years. I was the first person associated with any American administration who said that the Palestinians deserved and should be given their own state. So I am very committed to both the Palestinian state to fulfill the aspirations of the Palestinian people, and security for the Israelis so that they would be given the guarantee of their own future."

The word "deserved" here is worth noting. It implies that the Palestinians have earned a state of their own. While one can justify this on the basis of consciousness and conditions, it is ironic to think of such an idea in light of Palestinian political performance in the last sixty years which has consisted all too largely of saying "no" and a rather large element of terrorism.

If the world was really interested in creating states for national groups which "deserved" them, the Palestinian Arabs would be behind hundreds of national groups which have existed far longer and which have not repeatedly rejected their own state while resorting to brutal terrorism and murdering thousands of innocent people.

There's lots more in Barry Rubin's article. Read it.

Between the Lines: Abbas Really Means He Has No Interest in Peace

The latest gambit from Mahmoud Abbas is his insistence that a final status agreement can be completed within six months if only Israel would completely freeze construction in the disputed territories.

If that were the case, then a final status agreement could be reached within six months, period, since there's absolutely no reason for construction within Jewish communities in the disputed territories - or even the rampant Arab construction in the disputed territories - to affect real negotiations.

The real meaning of Abbas' words is - no surprise - he really isn't interested in a settlement.

Of course, even if he was, and if he was willing to make some reasonable compromises - something he's shown zero inclination for thus far - any agreement would be at best meaningless since Abbas also has zero influence in Gaza and can't put any agreement into effect.

There were some other parts of the interview with Abbas, available on the Haaretz web site, which have been given even less attention but which are rather interesting.

The article describes Abbas as saying the "Palestinians had no preconditions for talks with Israel," but insisted on a construction freeze.

Hmm. That sure sounds like a precondition.

Abbas was also rather witty, saying: "We were required to stop terror attacks, recognize Israel and even stop incitement. So come and see what we did. Although the joint committee against incitement is no longer active, we did act and are acting against incitement. They said there is a problem with incitement in speeches in mosques during Friday prayers. Today there is no more incitement at any mosque."

I admit I haven't been to any of the mosques in the West Bank or Gaza lately, but I'm certainly aware that there is plenty of incitement at mosques. There is also plenty of incitement coming directly from Abbas' Palestinian Authority, including in its schools.

From the article:
What would happen with Hamas-ruled Gaza if an agreement were signed between the Palestinian Authority and Israel? "Hamas has no connection to the negotiations for which I am responsible. We have said this in the past. Any agreement we reach, we will submit for a referendum," Abbas said.

Of course, Abbas can't even hold elections because Gaza is under Hamas control. If he reached an agreement, he wouldn't be able to submit it for a referendum and it would be pointless anyway because Hamas wouldn't adhere to it.

Actually, given the PLO's track record, they wouldn't adhere to it either.

It's time for Israel to stop trying to appease Abbas. It declared a ten-month moratorium on new construction in the disputed territories with the purpose of drawing Abbas into renewed negotiations, even though such negotiations themselves are a violation of the road map since they are not supposed to take place until the earlier, performance-based steps are taken and the Palestinian Authority, despite Abbas' words, hasn't come anywhere close to implementing its first step obligations.

Israel should give Abbas one month and declare that if he doesn't renew negotiations within a month the moratorium ends immediately rather than after ten months.

One final point, which has been made by others but is given little attention: if the Palestinian Arabs were really concerned about the effects of construction within Jewish communities in the disputed territories, such construction would be a spur to negotiate, rather than an impediment, since a negotiated agreement is the only way for the Palestinian Authority to actually gain control of territory and establish the apartheid state they claim to crave.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Know Nothing Mentality of the Israel-Haters

A brief wire service story about funds pledged to the Palestinian Authority, published in The Hartford Courant (and, I'm sure, many other newspapers) on Monday, December 7, contained a brief reference to talks between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel being "stalemated."

This struck me as being factually incorrect, since there are no talks, and I immediately wrote a letter to the Courant pointing that out. I did so, in large measure, because one connotation of talks being stalemated is an equality of blame.

The Letters Editor of the Courant disagreed with my opinion that the term stalemated was factually incorrect since one might consider talks to be ongoing even though none are taking place now. This may not be a completely accurate description, but it was a reasonable position even if one with which I disagreed. In any case, he very quickly (two days later) published my letter with a very minor modification. This is what was published.

Mideast Sides Aren't Talking

The Dec. 7 news brief "The Number," about $64 million the World Bank and other donors pledged to help the Palestinian Authority prepare for statehood, incorrectly stated that "talks with Israel are stalemated."

Talks are not stalemated. There simply are no talks.

The reason there are no talks is that the supposedly moderate leaders of the Palestinian Authority, at least those in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria), as opposed to the recognized fanatical terrorists in charge of Gaza, refuse to negotiate with Israel.

Given that the content of negotiations always boils down to how much more Israel will give the Palestinian Arabs to induce them to agree to live in peace in a state of their own alongside Israel, one must wonder whether the goal of the Palestinians really is an independent state or remains, as still written in the charters of Hamas, Fatah and the PLO, the elimination of the free and democratic state of Israel.

Alan H. Stein, president, Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting-Connecticut, Waterbury

That very morning, I received the following email from a Mr. Peter Dudack <>.
the editor was a joke. Like you could give an un-biased opinion to save your life.


Pete Dudack
Windsor Ct

Usually, I don't respond to crank emails like that, but perhaps because the fact that he used an email account from the Hamilton Sundstrand subsidiary of United Technologies, indicating he might be one of the more intelligent cranks, I sent a short response, simply noting: "Two of the interesting aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict are that the Arabs continually falsely accuse Israel of sins for which they are guilty and their supporters continually accuse the supporters of Israel of sins for which they themselves are guilty."

To this, I received an even shorter response: "and you are guilty of I said quite the joke."

It seems clear further correspondence would be pointless, but his clearly (at best) misguided statement of equivalence between Israel and 9/11 did make me think more about the strong connections between those who have perpetrated six decades of war on Israel and those who perpetrated 9/11.

The motivation of both is the fear and loathing of the liberal, Western culture and values held and exemplified by both Israel and America.

Israel's sin is being a bastion of Western freedom in the midst of a Middle East dominated by Arabs and Islam, even though Israel is basically the continuation, after a long interruption, of a sovereign nation that existed long before Mohammed created Islam.

Those who say Arabs and Muslims in the Middle East resent America because of its support of Israel actually have it backwards; they resent Israel because it is looked upon as an outpost of America and the West.

Similarly, as is clear to anyone who pays attention to what Al-Qaeda was saying before it realized it could find additional recruits if it added in anti-Israel rhetoric, the motivation for 9/11 was connected to the fanatical opposition to the American presence in Saudi Arabia that came when the United States came in to rescue Kuwait after Saddam Hussein's invasion and to save Saudi Arabia from the same fate.

But facts never get in the way of the hatreds of those who try to promulgate the absurd theory of Jewish complicity with 9/11.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Do the Palestinian Arabs Deserve Their Own State?

The questionnaire below has been floating around cyberspace for years, but it's always worth keeping in view.

It also brings to mind the oft-repeated statement "the Palestinian Arabs deserve a state of their own," which makes one wonder about other national groups which do not have their own independent states.

I looked up the Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations on Wikipedia and found the entry began with the following:
Encyclopedia of the Stateless Nations: Ethnic and National Groups Around the World is a four volume set of books by James Minahan. The 2002 book follows and expands upon his 1996 Nations without States. In the volumes, Minahan chronicles 350 national groups that are not recognized as independent states. He presents a defined criterion for a stateless nation:
  1. Self-identity as a distinctive group,
  2. the display of the outward trappings of national consciousness (particularly the adoption of a flag),
  3. the formation of a specifically nationalist organization or political grouping that reflects its claim to self-determination.

One never hears anyone say any of those other 350 stateless national groups deserves its own state. Perhaps it has something to do with the following four characteristics of the Palestinian Arabs which are not shared by the others:
  1. The Palestinian Arabs have a much shorter history than any of the others, having formed a still tentative national identity only since the Arabs lost the war they forced on Israel in 1967.
  2. None of the other groups forged their identity as an anti-group, as a way of denying the right of another group (in the case of the Palestinian Arabs, the right of the Jews) to its homeland.
  3. None of the other groups has repeatedly spurned opportunities to establish its own sovereign state.
  4. None of the other groups has made terrorism such a core value at the heart of its identity.

An interesting questionnaire for Palestinian Advocates

By Yashiko Sagamori

If you are so sure that "Palestine, the country, goes back through most of recorded history," I expect you to be able to answer a few basic questions about that country of Palestine:

  1. When was it founded and by whom?

  2. What were its borders?

  3. What was its capital?

  4. What were its major cities?

  5. What constituted the basis of its economy?

  6. What was its form of government?

  7. Can you name at least one Palestinian leader before Arafat?

  8. Was Palestine ever recognized by a country whose existence, at that time or now, leaves no room for interpretation?

  9. What was the language of the country of Palestine?

  10. What was the prevalent religion of the country of Palestine?

  11. What was the name of its currency? Choose any date in history and tell us what was the approximate exchange rate of the Palestinian monetary unit against the US dollar, German mark, GB pound, Japanese yen, or Chinese yuan on that date.

  12. And, finally, since there is no such country today, what caused its demise and when did it occur?

You are lamenting the "low sinking" of a "once proud" nation. Please tell me, when exactly was that "nation" proud and what was it so proud of?

And here is the least sarcastic question of all: If the people you mistakenly call "Palestinians" are anything but generic Arabs collected from all over — or thrown out of — the Arab world, if they really have a genuine ethnic identity that gives them right for self-determination, why did they never try to become independent until Arabs suffered their devastating defeat in the Six Day War?

I hope you avoid the temptation to trace the modern day "Palestinians" to the Biblical Philistines: substituting etymology for history won't work here.

The truth should be obvious to everyone who wants to know it. Arab countries have never abandoned the dream of destroying Israel ; they still cherish it today. Having time and again failed to achieve their evil goal with military means, they decided to fight Israel by proxy. For that purpose, they created a terrorist organization, cynically called it "the Palestinian people" and installed it in Gaza , Judea, and Samaria . How else can you explain the refusal by Jordan and Egypt to unconditionally accept back the "West Bank" and Gaza , respectively?

The fact is, Arabs populating Gaza , Judea, and Samaria have much less claim to nationhood than that Indian tribe that successfully emerged in Connecticut with the purpose of starting a tax-exempt casino: at least that tribe had a constructive goal that motivated them. The so-called "Palestinians" have only one motivation: the destruction of Israel and in my book that is not sufficient to consider them a nation" — or anything else except what they really are: a terrorist organization that will one day be dismantled.

In fact, there is only one way to achieve peace in the Middle East . Arab countries must acknowledge and accept their defeat in their war against Israel and, as the losing side should, pay Israel reparations for the more than 50 years of devastation they have visited on it. The most appropriate form of such reparations would be the removal of their terrorist organization from the land of Israel and accepting Israel's ancient sovereignty over Gaza, Judea, and Samaria.

That will mark the end of the Palestinian people. What are you saying again was its beginning?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Barrier in Israel strives to preserve right to life

This letter was published in The New London Day on Sunday, November 29, 2009.

The analogy implied by the author of the letter titled "Hope for Reagan-type to utter his words," published Nov. 22, is absurd. Indeed, the security barrier constructed by Israel, only about 5 percent of which can reasonably be referred to as a "wall," could not be more different than that of the Berlin Wall.

While the Berlin Wall was built to repress the desire of East Germans for freedom, the security barrier forced on Israel by the terror offensive launched by the Palestinian Arabs was built to save lives. In that, it has succeeded extremely well, likely already saving thousands of lives, not just Israeli lives, but Arab lives as well.

One cannot help but question the motives of those who ignore numerous walls around the world, generally built either for economic reasons or to simply keep innocent but unwanted people away, while reserving their criticism for the one barrier built to preserve the most important human right of all, the right to life.

Alan H. Stein

Editor's note: The writer is president of Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting - Connecticut.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Frustration is misdirected

This letter was sent to The Connecticut Post in response to an article published there November 16. It was published November 27.

The article in The Connecticut Post was an abridged version of an Associated Press article by Mark Lavie which may be found on the WFSB web site.

The letter may also be viewed on The Connecticut Post web site. (One needs to scroll down since there are other letters on the same page.)

I found it interesting to read the article "Frustrated Palestinians to appeal to U.N. for state," published Nov. 16, since the only reason they don't yet have another state, along with the existing Palestinian Arab state of Jordan, is that they keep refusing offers to establish one.

Their most recent refusals came in 2000, when Yasser Arafat chose to launch a terror offensive rather than accept the overly generous offer by Israel that they establish a state on virtually all the disputed territories, including parts of Jerusalem, and then again when his supposedly "moderate" successor, Mahmoud Abbas, turned down a similarly generous proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

And now Mahmoud Abbas, also know by his nom de guerre, Abu Mazen, refuses to even talk to the Israeli government, even though the prime focus of negotiations have always been on Israeli concessions to the Palestinian Arabs.

Were I a Palestinian Arab, I would indeed be frustrated, but my frustration wouldn't be directed at either the United States or Israel; my frustration would be directed at my own leadership for insisting on perpetuating a conflict and forcing so many of my brethren to live in refugee camps for so many years.

Alan H. Stein
PRIMER: Connecticut Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Issue of Settlements

By Joel Abramson

Looking at maps of settlements in the West Bank, and reading polemics by Palestinians and pundits, one could be excused for thinking the West Bank has been taken over by Israeli zealots whose settlements leave too little land for an eventual Palestinian State to be viable.

I’ve had the privilege of being flown all over the West Bank -- once with Doris with an IDF intelligence officer in a small Israeli Air Force plane -- and another time in a Beechcraft two-seater, courtesy of Honest Reporting, the media-monitoring organization. Both times I was greatly surprised to see that most of the land was just open space. How are we to square that with the impression we are given that settlers are seizing all the land?

Well, the fact is that the area taken up by settlements is actually only about 1.7% of the total. That estimate is made by B’Tselem, an Israeli civil rights group that is harshly critical of Israeli policy. Another estimate, made by Peace Now, an Israeli organization vigorously opposed to all settlements, is only 1.36%. The figures differ because B’Tselem includes roads and land between settlements. In both scenarios, settlements actually take up a very small percentage of the West Bank. So when we hear settlements described as the major obstacle to a peace agreement we need to wonder.

However, when perceptions are hyped up, they tend to take on a reality of their own.

Let’s examine some diplomatic and legal aspects of the Settlements Issue. We hear over and over that settlements are illegal; so often that many accept it as fact. The last binding international legal document which divided the territory in the region that we now know as Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, dates back to the League of Nations Mandate of June 1922, which explicitly recognized the right of Jewish settlement in ALL territory allocated to the Jewish national home in the British Mandate. Under International Law, these rights under the League are still preserved by its successor organization, the United Nations, under Chapter XII of its charter. Go to Google and read it for yourself.

It must be remembered that Israel won the West Bank from Jordan, not from the Palestinians, in a defensive war in 1967. Jordan in turn had seized the West Bank illegally in an aggressive war it started in 1948, when it attacked the newly independent state of Israel. In fact, there was no Palestinian entity at the time, and Jordan’s occupation was never recognized by the international community, with the exception of Britain and Pakistan.

Another claim of illegality is that settlements violate the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. But that deals with “mass forcible transfers” of protected persons from occupied territories, and prohibits deporting or transferring parts of its own population into territory it occupies. But forced transfers never took place. Eminent legal authorities such as Morris Abram have held that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to this issue.

Other legal authorities, such as Eugene Rostow, a former Dean of Yale Law School and Undersecretary of State under President Johnson, and Stephen Schwebel, a legal advisor to the State Department and later President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, have held that Israel has an unassailable right to establish settlements in the West Bank, and that Israel’s claims to the territory captured in a defensive war are better than those of Jordan or Egypt . History (including American history) abounds with examples of keeping territory acquired in war.

Others claim that UN Resolution 242 supersedes prior law. They claim that 242 requires Israel to withdraw to the pre 1967 borders. That really means the 1949 cease fire lines at the end of Israel’s War for Independence. This, too, had been a defensive war. Those lines were not borders. They were truce lines. But UN 242 does not say Israel must withdraw from ALL territory it captured in the 1967 war. It says it must withdraw from TERRITORY it captured. This, Israel has done. Justice Arthur Goldberg, who negotiated UN 242, has explained that omission of the word ALL was deliberate and had been carefully negotiated. Further, UN 242 calls for Israel to withdraw behind defensible borders. This is a crucial phrase for a country as small as Israel, where TelAviv, for example, is a scant 9 miles from the West Bank.

Opponents of settlements often describe them as having been declared illegal by the 1993 and 1995 Oslo Accords. To the contrary, the accords do no such thing. Don’t take anybody’s word for it, ask Google and read the actual documents for yourself.

It’s interesting to note that it was not until the Carter administration that a State Department legal advisor expressed the view that settlements violated international law. But the Carter policy was reversed by all succeeding administrations until now, and I’ll discuss the Obama policy shortly.

I don’t believe settlements violate international law. But the question remains, are they really the - or even an - obstacle to peace?

Prior to 1967 there was not one single settlement, but there was war and terror. From 1949 to 1967 Jews were forbidden to live in the
West Bank, but still the Arabs refused to make peace.

Then, in 1994, Jordan signed a peace agreement with Israel and settlements were not an issue. So what is the basis for saying settlements stand in the way?

In 2005, Israel made the agonizing decision to unilaterally disengage from Gaza. It was a risky, wrenching decision. Israeli settlements had developed a thriving greenhouse agribusiness of growing and exporting fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers. Thousands of jobs were created for Palestinian workers. The decision to disengage alienated the more than 8,000 settlers and profoundly upset much of the population in Israel proper. After all, they had been there for 38 years and it was the only home their children knew. All Israelis in Gaza, including those buried there, were removed, some forcibly, by the IDF. Instead of peace, the disengagement brought violence. The Palestinians destroyed the greenhouses, and with them thousands of their own jobs. Gaza became a launching pad for thousands of rockets relentlessly fired into Israeli cities over the following years. Removing settlements was a devastating setback to the cause of peace.

In the West Bank, Palestinians say settlements and their connecting roads create Bantustans that prevent Palestinians from having a contiguous state of their own. But the big settlements, such as Ma’ale Adummim are really suburbs of Jerusalem and are basically contiguous to Israel proper.

Time and again, Israel has offered to withdraw from most of the West Bank. Figures vary, but percentagewise it is estimated that it would give up 97% of the land. Further, Israel has offered to swap other land from within the Green Line in compensation. All these offers have been flatly rejected, never with a counter offer, and sometimes with extended murderous violence.

It is easy to find many major obstacles to a peace agreement, other than Israeli settlements, but they are beyond the purview of today’s discussion. How then do we explain President Obama’s policies toward Israel? I find them puzzling. In Cairo on June 4 this year he stated, "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: "He wants to see a stop to settlements - not some settlements, not outposts, not ‘natural growth' exceptions." This harsh language contradicts the policies of every administration except that of Jimmy Carter.

Israelis really resented being told no natural growth exceptions. Most people do see a problem in expanding the areas of settlements and expropriating more real estate. They don’t see a problem in building upward, within existing boundaries. Families grow. Children marry, have babies. They want their own apartments. What’s the harm in building an extension to a house or more floors to an existing building? As long as the geography of an existing settlement is no greater, one is left to wonder how that harms the Palestinian cause. Thus it was seen as a gratuitous slap at Israeli civil rights and an unnecessary intrusion into Israel’s internal affairs.

Indeed, according to a recent poll commissioned by The Jerusalem Post, Israeli perceptions of President Barack Obama's administration as "pro-Israel" have dropped precipitously. Only 6 percent of Jewish Israeli respondents believe the Obama administration is pro-Israel.

Many analysts attribute the plunging Israeli perception of the president's policies to his call for Israel to stop all construction in Jewish West Bank settlements, including allowances for natural growth of the population. By a firm majority, Israeli Jews support the dismantling of outposts their government has deemed illegal. 

But when it comes to halting construction in large settlement blocs such as Ma'ale Adumim and Gush Etzion just outside Jerusalem, and Ariel in Samaria, 69 percent of those surveyed oppose a construction freeze.

This is alarming the supporters of the alliance between the United Sates and Israel, and Obama has since been going out of his way to reaffirm the strength of that alliance. In fact, when Hilary Clinton made a statement reaffirming America’s support of Israel and recognizing Israel’s concessions for peace, Mahmoud Abbas threw a hissy fit.

For all the reasons I’ve been mentioning, I find it hard to understand why President Obama made freezing settlements the centerpiece of his new strategy to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians, when there are so many other issues. I can mention the intractable schism between HAMAS and Fatah; the cultural chasm dividing Jews and the Islamists who hold sway in the area; and oh yes, the prospect of seeing Iran’s Revolutionary Guards encamped in the West Bank. Perhaps we’ll get into some of these obstacles to peace in a future forum.

Before I close, I would like to ask you to think of names like Judea, Samaria, Hebron, Shiloh, Bethlehem. We know these names from the Bible, which tells the ancient stories of our people. These are the place names where we lived. They happen to be in the West Bank. In many of them, there has always been a Jewish presence. Our roots in Hebron go back to the time of Abraham. Our patriarchs and matriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Leah, Rachel are buried in the Cave of Machpelah, in Hebron. Rebecca is buried in Bethelhem. Our brethren in Hebron were massacred by the Arabs in 1929. I find the notion that Jews should not be allowed to live where Judaism was born deeply offensive. So do many Israelis. Yet, they stand ready to yield this historic land for the cause of peace. No, the settlements are not the obstacle to peace. In my opinion, the main obstacle to peace is the oft-stated and well-documented goal of so many of our enemies to eradicate Israel and the Jews, and the inability, or unwillingness, of the so-called moderate Palestinians to confront them. Evacuating settlements will not change that.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, wages in the West Bank have increased 24%. While Palestinian officials say they demand a complete settlement freeze, others say that it would damage their livelihoods as 12,000 Palestinians are employed on construction work in settlements. Palestinian unemployment in the West Bank has decreased by 3%. Tourism to Bethlehem is up 94%. Olive harvest income is up 158%. The West Bank GDP has grown 2.3%. Why do I have to get this information from web postings instead of the mainstream media? Why aren’t Abbas and Obama shouting, “It’s the economy, stupid.” I think the disheartening reason is that really, “It’s the ideology, stupid.”

To sum up, I’d like to quote from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:

“One may legitimately support or challenge Israeli settlements in the disputed territories, but they are not illegal, and they have neither the size, the population, nor the placement to seriously impact upon the future status of the disputed territories and their Palestinian population centers.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Obstruction of Peace

Published in The Waterbury Republican-American November 18, 2009:


I could only laugh at the Nov. 16 article "Palestinians ask U.N. to endorse a state," suggesting such a request "appeared more an expression of frustration with U.S. and Israeli policies and stalled peace talks than a real effort to go it along."

Perhaps there is some frustration with the understandable refusal of the Israelis to cave to all of the Palestinian Arabs' outrageous demands, but it has been the Palestinian Arabs themselves who repeatedly have refused offers for the establishment of a state on virtually all the disputed territories.

Peace talks are not just stalled now; they are nonexistent. The reason there are no peace talks is Mahmoud Abbas, the supposedly "moderate" leader of the West Bank portion of the Palestinian Authority as well as the Fatah and PLO terror groups, refuses to talk with Israel.

Like most of the Arab-Israeli conflict, Palestinian Arabs' refusal to negotiate with Israel is hard for the rational, Western mind to understand because the substance of those talks would focus on the establishment of the state the Arabs claim to want along with the quantity and quality of additional Israeli concessions.

Any frustration on the part of reason able Palestinian Arabs should be with their own, rejectionist leadership rather than with America and Israel, both of which have gone to extremes to appease the Arabs.

Alan H. Stein

The writer is president of PRIMER Connecticut (Promoting Responsibility in Middle East Reporting;

The following was submitted to The Waterbury Republican-American October 26, 2009 but was not published:

Reading the October 26 article about the Muslim riots on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, one might miss the single sentence, "There was no evidence to support either claim."

This notes the vacuousness of claims that Israel was plotting to damage Islamic sites and to let Jews pray on the Temple Mount.

This demonstrates the Muslim "religious" leaders whom Israel, with incredible tolerance, has allowed day-to-day control over Judaism's most sacred site, deliberately instigated the riots.

The first false claim is doubly ironic. The Islamic sites were built on the ashes of the Jews' destroyed Temple, while irresponsible and illegal Arab construction activity has done extensive structural damage to the Temple Mount and destroyed irreplaceable historical artifacts.

The second false claim highlights the undue consideration Israel has given to Muslim sensitivities. It is mind-boggling that, in deference to Muslims, Israel has even prohibited Jews from praying at their own holiest site!

Imagine an analogous situation such as Saudi Arabia prohibiting Muslims from praying at Mecca or Medina. Contrast this with the horrible treatment of Christians in Hamas-controlled Gaza and Palestinian Authority-controlled Bethlehem.

An Arab-Israeli peace awaits the emergence of a Palestinian Arab leadership which puts the welfare of its people ahead of its desire to destroy Israel, the one bastion of Western-oriented democracy in the Middle East. That one of the rioters, arrested after reportedly physically attacking a police officer, was Hatam Abd al-Qadir, advisor on Jerusalem affairs to the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, reinforces this sad truth.

The following was submitted to The Hartford Courant November 2, 2009 but was not published:

Those who wish to understand why the Arab-Israeli conflict defies resolution should carefully read the November 1 article, "Clinton pushes peace talks."

Praising Israeli concessions being made even in the absence of negotiations, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said "What the prime minister has offered in specifics on restraints on a policy of settlements ... is unprecedented."

In response, the supposedly "moderate" leader of the West Bank branch of the Palestinian Authority "Mahmoud Abbas is sticking to his refusal to resume negotiations."

Aside from isolated exceptions, the Arab world hasn't really progressed from its rejectionist position of forty-two years ago, when the Arab League met in Khartoum and responded to Israel's clear willingness to withdraw from the then recently captured territories if the Arabs would only agree to peace with its infamous "Three Nos:" no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel and no negotiations with Israel.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tree of Lies, Distortions and Hatred

There is a church in Connecticut, the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, which puts a tremendous amount of energy into what it professes is an effort to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs but in actuality simply spreads lies, distortions and outright hatred.

One of the centerpieces of its efforts is an annual conference, generally on a Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, which it misleadingly calls a "Tree of Life Conference."

I recently attended the Sunday afternoon portion of this year's conference, on November 8. This is their fifth conference and I've gone to four of them. (I missed it one year when I blessedly had another commitment.)

There are lessons which may be learned at events such as this, although it sometimes takes a strong stomach. One improvement this year was not including a luncheon in the middle.

One lesson I learned years ago was that groups which include either peace or justice in their name or their mission are generally not really interested in either.

(Food for thought: It is obviously impossible to undue the injustice done to the Jews by the Arabs over six decades of rejectionism, war and terror. For Israel to insist that there could be no peace without justice would effectively say there could be no peace, period.)

Evidence of the extremism of the Tree of Life Conference was that one of the more moderate voices was Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR, the Council of American-Islamic Relations. CAIR was named by Federal prosecutors as an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal conspiracy to support Hamas and keeps finding its officials and employees arrested on terrorism-related charges. Daniel Pipes has a compilation of some of CAIR's legal problems at

The organizers do provide what they call the Jewish or Israeli perspective, scouring the sewers for Jews and Israelis on the fringe to defame Israel. One of the lessons from these conferences is that the Israel and the Jewish community are both very good at producing Jews who enjoy defaming their own people and nation.

The final portion of the conference prior to a question and answer period was for three people to present what was billed as the Christian, Muslim and Jewish perspective.

What was supposedly the Jewish perspective was given by Mark Braverman, who admits he's on the fringe and doesn't even belong to a synagogue. More telling is that while some of the other presenters gave lip service to peace and a two-state solution, Braverman went right out, asserted the very concept of a Jewish state was unsustainable and effectively said he hoped Israel would not continue to exist. Braverman also tried to use the Holocaust against the Jewish people, describing as a vehicle for political indoctrination.

In Braverman's defense, it must be pointed out he never repeated a blood libel; that was left to Huda Musleh, a thirteen year old Palestinian Arab who repeated the libels about Israel stealing and selling body parts.

In terms of balance, there was none other than an observation I made during the last portion of the program, when there was an opportunity for questions from people in the audience.

I pointed out that there are multitudinous accusations that people only get to hear the Israeli side, but the Tree of Life Conference certainly put a lie to that. Along with those accusations usually come the assertion that it's important that all sides be heard, and that certainly wasn't the case that day at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. While Israel isn't perfect, it is not the devil incarnate as depicted that day and the Palestinian Arabs aren't the blameless angels they are depicted as.

The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme certainly has the right to organize incredibly biased and misleading programs, but nobody should be fooled into thinking those programs do anything to promote peace; they do just the opposite.

Those who really do want to further the cause of peace need to pick up the ball.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Afternoon report: Israeli and Arab experts agree a nuclear conflagration is at least a year off.

Courtesy of Dan Friedman

The IDF confirms that none of the Iranian weapons it seized on Wednesday appear to be nuclear devices. One high-level Israeli military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told our correspondent, "it was a calculated risk bringing the ship and its cargo into a major Israeli port like Ashdod. Even a low-yield nuclear bomb could have blown half the country sky high. But we are pretty confident it will take at least a year before Iran can miniaturize an atomic weapon and get it to fit inside the small wooden boxes they now use for their Katyushas. We'll worry about it when the time comes."

In other reassuring news, UN Atomic Energy chief Mohamed ElBaradei said there was "nothing to be worried about" at Qom, the previously secret uranium enrichment site Iran revealed in September. "It's a hole in a mountain," he said. The Egyptian-born ElBaradei, whose name means "Mohamed the liar" in Arabic, also told reporters he was examining possible compromises to unblock a draft nuclear cooperation deal between Iran and three major powers that has foundered over Iranian objections. "We still have plenty of time to get back on track," he told the New York Times. "It will take at least a year before Iran can miniaturize an atomic weapon and get it to fit inside the small wooden boxes they now use for their Katyushas."  

On a personal note, ElBaradei, who will be retiring next year, was asked if he planned to spend his golden years in his native Egypt. "Are you shittin' me?," the suave diplomat replied. "The whole freakin' Middle East is going to become one radioactive powder keg the day after I hang up my dark grey suit. A nice basement apartment near the White House, that's where you'll find me."

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Letter to Jeffrey Fleishman

That news articles these days almost always seem to contain the embedded opinions of the writers doesn't make it good journalism. A version of the article referred to in the letter to its author included below may be read on the Chicago Tribune web site.

This letter was sent to the author, Jeffrey Fleischman, at his email address of <>

Dear Mr. Fleischman:

I read one of your articles today in The Hartford Courant, published with the headline "Clinton seeks Egypt's help on talks, Arabs, Palestinians fear U.S. tilt favoring Israel on building settlements," and have two criticisms regarding regarding the first and third paragraphs:

"Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday in a move to rescue shrinking Middle East peace prospects and regain the confidence of Arab nations angry that Washington has not pressed Israel harder to stop building settlements."

"Arab capitals have grown exasperated over Israel's settlement activity and are expressing doubt whether the Obama administration can create grounds for a new round of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations."

One criticism is that they both contain opinions, that Middle East peace prospects are shrinking, that Clinton's move was to rescue those prospects and "regain the confidence of Arab nations," that those nations are angry about Washington not pressing Israel even harder on the Jewish communities in the disputed territories and that "Arab capitals have grown exasperated."

Reasonable or not, opinions of the journalist do not belong in what are supposed to be news articles.

(I recognize that the injection of opinions into news articles seems to be the rule these days. Indeed, several years ago I wrote an op-ed published in The Hartford Courant in which I analyzed The New York Times for one particular day and found that almost every news story on its front page that day inappropriately contained expressed opinions of the writer.)

The second criticism is that I believe your opinion is incorrect. While there may be some spokespersons who have said they are angry or have grown exasperated about Israeli settlements - and writing that would be reporting rather than injecting your opinion - far more reasonable is the inference that they have taken advantage of President Obama's foolish and counterproductive pressure on Israel to try to create the false impressions you have conveyed.


Alan H. Stein, Ph.D.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

J Street Admits to Part of the Truth

According to the Jerusalem Post, "J Street's university arm has dropped the 'pro-Israel' part of the left-wing US lobby's 'pro-Israel, pro-peace' slogan to avoid alienating students." (See

Since J Street has been harshly critical about just about everything Israel does, particularly actions taken to save lives, while pretty much condoning attacks on Israel, it's been pretty obvious Israel is not a Zionist organization.

"Yonatan Shechter, a junior at Hampshire College, said the ultra-liberal Massachusetts campus is inhospitable to terms like 'Zionist' and that when his former organization, the Union of Progressive Zionists (which has been absorbed into J Street U), dropped that last word of its name, 'people were so relieved.'"

Obviously, for the activists at J Street, the term that designates the national liberation of the Jewish people is a dirty word.

"Shechter said that J Street U allows students who support Israel to have an address on his campus, adding that nothing more to the right exists or would be sustainable and the only other Jewish student group 'is decidedly not political... they won't go beyond having felafel on Independence Day.'"

One wonders what address Shechter is talking about, since it obviously isn't J Street U.

"Ben-Ami described his organization's goal as one that includes changing the nature of the debate about Israel in America to one of a big-tent approach where different viewpoints and perspectives were welcomed."

The pro-Israel community already had a big-tent approach, including many different viewpoints and perspectives. It's rather ironic that Ben-Ami can say what he said with a straight face, especially since there doesn't seem to be much room in the J Street tent for the Zionist perspective.

J Street's web site still claims "J Street is the political arm of the pro-Israel, pro-peace movement," an assertion which would be misleading even if J Street was pro-Israel, since the definite article "the" falsely implies other groups, which actually are pro-Israel, are not pro-peace.

Indeed, while Palestinian Arab groups including Hamas and the supposedly "moderate" Fatah proclaim the centrality of armed struggle and one would be hard pressed to come up with a single Palestinian Arab leader who could honestly be described as pro-peace, I've never heard of a single Zionist organization that isn't pro-peace. Indeed, that someone who is pro-Israel is pro-peace is taken for granted.

Also from their web site: "J Street was founded to promote meaningful American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli and Israeli-Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically. We support a new direction for American policy in the Middle East and a broad public and policy debate about the U.S. role in the region."

It is the greatest desire of all Zionist groups that the entire Arab-Israeli conflict, including the Palestinian Arab portion of that conflict, be settled peacefully and diplomatically. The only disagreements regard the best means for achieving that goal. Unfortunately, J Street's prescription is to strengthen the counterproductive elements of American policy, to pressure Israel to make unreciprocated concessions which have in the past only fed Arab intransigence and made the conflict more intractable. If an organization were to be judged by the likely outcome of its agenda rather than its stated goals, J Street would have to be judged as anti-peace.

If anything, American policy needs to be changed to impress upon the Arabs that they need to come to terms with the reality of Israel, end their reliance on war and terror and negotiate in good faith, matching already immense Israeli concessions with at least minimal concessions of their own.

Finally, also from its web site: "J Street represents Americans, primarily but not exclusively Jewish, who support Israel and its desire for security as the Jewish homeland, as well as the right of the Palestinians to a sovereign state of their own - two states living side-by-side in peace and security. We believe ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is in the best interests of Israel, the United States, the Palestinians, and the region as a whole."

This is a statement which reflects the policies of virtually every pro-Israel organization.

Were J Street truly driven by the goals it professes to favor, it would disband, recognizing there are already many pro-Israel organizations working towards those goals whose effectiveness can only be compromised by by a new organization whose words and actions are antithetical to those goals.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bob Hope Shows Up Alive and Hilarious in Iran

An analysis of an article posted by the Fars News Agency, Ahmadinejad, Erdogan Discuss Campaign against Terrorism, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan must be comedians.

According to the article, during a phone conversation between the two, Ahmadinejad said "Campaign against terrorism would yield fruit only through the presence and joint cooperation of the regional states" while Erdogan emphasized "Turkey is fully ready to render cooperation in the fight against the terrorists in the region."

Given that Iran is probably the world's top supporter of terrorism, being a prime supplier of Hamas, Hezbollah and other terror groups, while Erdogan used Israeli measures taken to stop rockets from being launched at civilians as an excuse to destroy a de facto alliance while siding with the terrorists, one can only conclude they are trying to humor the rest of the world.

Unfortunately, as a comedy sketch, this one's a turkey.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Jimmy Carter Acknowledges Jerusalem Isn't Holy to Islam

Hidden in Jimmy Carter's heavily biased book, "The blood of Abraham: insights into the Middle East," is an acknowledgement that Jerusalem isn't a holy city for Muslims.

The peanut farmer doesn't explicitly write it in so many words, but that's the clear meaning of the following from Carter's book:

"Damascus and then Baghdad and other cities became the dominant centers and Arabia was relegated to a mere province, its remaining importance being as the site of the two holy cities of Islam, Mecca and Medina."

Carter didn't write "two of the holy cities of Islam" or even "two of the three holy cities of Islam;" he clearly acknowledges there are really only two truly holy cities in Islam, Mecca and Medina. Jerusalem simply isn't on the radar.

This is one of a number of instances of Carter accidentally telling the truth and undermining his own basic anti-Israel message.

It's no accident that Jerusalem isn't mentioned in the Koran; it's just not important for Muslims.

One of the litmus tests for recognizing when the Arabs are ever getting serious about living together in peace is when they stop insisting on the redivision of Israel's capital, a city they have always ignored when it hasn't been controlled by those they consider infidels.

UK Commander Challenges Goldstone Report

This is available in several places and a video may be viewed on the UN Watch web site, but it's important enough we feel it should get as wide exposure as possible.

UN Watch Oral Statement

Delivered by Colonel Richard Kemp, 16 October 2009

UN Human Rights Council: 12th Special Session

Thank you, Mr. President.

I am the former commander of the British forces in Afghanistan. I served with NATO and the United Nations; commanded troops in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Macedonia; and participated in the Gulf War. I spent considerable time in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, and worked on international terrorism for the UK Government's Joint Intelligence Committee.

Mr. President, based on my knowledge and experience, I can say this: During Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli Defence Forces did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Israel did so while facing an enemy that deliberately positioned its military capability behind the human shield of the civilian population.

Hamas, like Hizballah, are expert at driving the media agenda. Both will always have people ready to give interviews condemning Israeli forces for war crimes. They are adept at staging and distorting incidents.

The IDF faces a challenge that we British do not have to face to the same extent. It is the automatic, Pavlovian presumption by many in the international media, and international human rights groups, that the IDF are in the wrong, that they are abusing human rights.

The truth is that the IDF took extraordinary measures to give Gaza civilians notice of targeted areas, dropping over 2 million leaflets, and making over 100,000 phone calls. Many missions that could have taken out Hamas military capability were aborted to prevent civilian casualties. During the conflict, the IDF allowed huge amounts of humanitarian aid into Gaza. To deliver aid virtually into your enemy's hands is, to the military tactician, normally quite unthinkable. But the IDF took on those risks.

Despite all of this, of course innocent civilians were killed. War is chaos and full of mistakes. There have been mistakes by the British, American and other forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq, many of which can be put down to human error. But mistakes are not war crimes.

More than anything, the civilian casualties were a consequence of Hamas' way of fighting. Hamas deliberately tried to sacrifice their own civilians.

Mr. President, Israel had no choice apart from defending its people, to stop Hamas from attacking them with rockets.

And I say this again: the IDF did more to safeguard the rights of civilians in a combat zone than any other army in the history of warfare.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Know Thine Enemies: The Peanut Farmer's Fables

We thank Tundra Tabloids for the photo of Saudi Arabia's lackey.

I'd never been enamored of Jimmy Carter's forays into the Arab-Israeli conflict, believing the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel came about despite, not because of, the peanut farmer's intervention.

When Sadat announced his readiness to go to Jerusalem, Carter's Administration reacted with dismay, since it destroyed Carter's dream of putting together multilateral Geneva conference that at best would have been counterproductive.

Had Carter simply brooded and stayed away, Sadat's visit would have been followed by face-to-face negotiations and a peace treaty between the parties that might have actually been observed in spirit by Egypt. Instead, Carter injected himself between Egypt and Israel, encouraged Sadat to be intransigent while pressuring Israel, subverting the process, leading to a peace which is at best cold and creating dynamics which froze real progress.

I read Carter's error-filled apartheid screed, but had never read his earlier book, "The Blood of Abraham," published in 1985, until I saw it in the library recently. (I certainly didn't want to buy a copy and contribute to Carter's royalties.)

I read "The Blood of Abraham" hoping to get more insight into the sources of Carter's anti-semitism. I gained no more insight into that, but certainly saw lots of evidence of Carter's skewed perspectives. There's clearly something sick in the mind of someone who not only likes Anwar Sadat and King Hussein while hating Menachem Begin, but also loves the Saudi royal family and Hafez Assad and seems to admire Yasser Arafat.

It's astounding that Carter devotes a chapter to the Palestinian Arabs and barely mentions terrorism and devotes a chapter to Saudi Arabia and doesn't as much as hint at the brutal oppression of women.

It is interesting that Carter's own words sometimes betray the misconceptions he tries to promulgate. For example, he tries to portray the Saudis as benevolent peace-seekers, but writes "Although the Saudis look upon Israel as a disturbing irritant that might ultimately be removed, in the meantime they would probably give tacit support to a peace arrangement based on U.N. Resolution 242 or the Fez declaration."

In other words, Carter recognizes that for the Arabs a peace agreement would really be a tactic used if they felt it could further their goal of destroying Israel, but he chooses to ignore that reality.

Also, while repeatedly implying Israel has to totally withdraw from every inch of territory it captured in 1967, and ignoring the fact that all this territory, including portions of Jerusalem, had been illegally occupied by Egypt and Jordan prior to 1967, along with the fact that no part of Jerusalem had ever been designated for the Arabs, he contradicts himself when he rightly points out "The Arabs must acknowledge openly and specifically that Israel is a reality and has a right to exist in peace, behind secure and recognized borders."

The armistice lines from 1948 could certainly never qualify as secure borders, so Carter, in agreement with Security Council Resolution 242, tacitly recognizes secure borders need to be negotiated. Until that happens, something the Arabs have continued to refuse to let happen, all the captured territories remain disputed and Israel has as much right to them as any other party.

Perhaps one of the most typical examples of the distorted prejudice in Carter's view comes at the start of the next-to-last paragraph: "Many Israelis, like their neighbors, are eagerly seeking a measure of normalized existence."

The false implication is that the Arabs want a normal existence but are prevented from attaining one by the obstruction of the Israelis, but there are a handful of Israelis who share the aspirations of their peaceful Arab neighbors and peace could be achieved if only that handful of Israelis could convince their brethren to join them.

The truth, as it is so frequently, is virtually the opposite of Carter's implication. The primary goal of Zionism is to be able to live a normal existence in their homeland, but the Arabs have fought violently from the beginning to prevent that.

I would recommend Carter's book to those who wish to better understand this leading opponent of the Jewish state, but don't expect to gain much understanding for the source of Carter's hatred. Please, however, don't buy this book.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Comment & Analysis: More Lies and False Accusations Against Israel

The University of Connecticut Daily Campus published a typically irresponsibly biased and factually challenged op-ed on Friday, October 9, "Apartheid is alive and well in the state of Israel."

It is so slanted and error-filled that primerprez put together this "Comment & Analysis," with each comment being a quote from the article and each analysis referring to that quote.

The Daily Campus accepts letters sent to . The writer's Linkedin profile may be found at <>.

Comment & Analysis


In Israel there is a concrete wall 25 feet high sealing off the occupied Palestinian territories from the rest of Israel.

Its gates are guarded by heavily armed Israeli soldiers, and very few Palestinians are permitted to leave the West Bank or Gaza.


In the plans for the complete security barrier, designed to prevent Arab terrorists from setting off bombs in shopping centers, pizza parlors and discotheques, roughly 97 percent is made up of chain link fence and only about 3 percent is made of concrete. The concrete is required in urban areas and those close to roadways where Arab snipers would otherwise easily be able to shoot at civilians through a chain link fence.

In criticizing the existence of the security barrier, the writer is implicitly rejecting the notion of an independent Palestinian Arab state. Inherent in the concept of sovereignty is the existence of borders beyond which citizens may not go without the permission of the sovereign on the other side of the border.


Within the walls, Palestinians are isolated from all economic trade or political representation with the outside, while still being held under the authority of Israel.


Roughly 95 percent of the Arabs in the disputed territories live under their own Palestinian Authority, not Israeli rule.


They are alienated in poverty while their patrons bask in prosperity, with military might just a stones-throw over the wall.


See above. The Palestinian Arabs in the territories have lived under their own government since the mid-1990's. During that time, their condition has worsened because they chose to build up a terror infrastructure rather than create a state living in peace with its neighbors.


This condition of apartheid causes those born Palestinian in Israel is to be denied dignity, freedom or security.


Even Jimmy Carter doesn't libel Israel by falsely claiming there is apartheid in Israel, where the Arabs citizens live together with full rights, equal to those of their Jewish neighbors.


The few Palestinians that can travel freely through the checkpoints must obtain papers from the Israeli government.

These permits require having a pre-existing relationship established with an Israeli outside the wall that sponsors them. For many Palestinians, attempting to get one of these permits is like befriending one's captor. They would rather stay behind the wall and maintain the only dignity that they have left: not selling out to the Israelis.


Israel, like all sovereign states, has the right to determine who will be permitted in its territory. Given the massive amounts of terrorism it has suffered from Palestinian Arabs it has let enter, Israel obviously has to exhibit due diligence.


Outside the walls, Israelis continue to build settlements on land that the United Nations has continually declared as Palestinian.


Israel has not built any new settlements in more than a decade, despite the fact that it has as much if not more legal, moral and historical right to the disputed territories as the Palestinian Arabs.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 calls for the negotiation of secure and recognized borders, something the Palestinian Arabs have refused. Until they do, none of that territory can legitimately be considered Palestinian.


The Palestinians are powerless to resist. Their sticks and stones are no match for the advanced military might of the Israeli Defense Forces.


The Arab terrorists also have enormous fire power, including Kassam and Grad rockets, provided by Iran, Syria and other rogue supporters. Israel has shown amazing restraint in the face of enormous provocation.


The international community continues to demand that Israel not allow continued settlements, but even as recently as yesterday, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman insisted that no peace agreement is possible.


What Lieberman actually said was "Whoever says that it's possible to reach in the coming years a comprehensive agreement that means the end of conflict, that both sides sign up to the end of conflict, simply does not understand the reality. He is spreading illusions and in the end brings only disappointment and drags us into comprehensive confrontation." (See .)

This is obviously true, for many reasons, primarily related to the unwillingness and the inability of the fractured Palestinian Authority to make peace. The so-called "moderate" leader of the West Bank branch of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, isn't even willing to negotiate with Israel.


Israel has continually stalled, sabotaged and made a mockery of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and legitimate steps to peace. Israel's continual premise is their own security.


Israel has offered the Palestinian Arabs virtually all of the disputed territories, including parts of its own capital. The Arabs, unfortunately, have refused all offers and today refuse to even negotiate.


They keep millions of Palestinians behind walls cut off from almost any form of upward mobility or political representation, kill hundreds of them every year at checkpoints and then take the position that the burden of a peace agreement lies entirely on the Palestinians.


This repeats false allegations refuted above.


Some Palestinians turn to political violence in desperation. The vast majority are acquiescent, taking life one day at a time and attempting to ignore their bleak futures. They go from checkpoint to checkpoint, from gun barrel to gun barrel, asking only to live.


The writer reverses cause and effect. The checkpoints and the security barrier are responses to waves of Arab terror directed at innocent Israeli civilians.


They hope that one day Israel will allow them to exist; that one day there will not be roads that Palestinians are not allowed on; that one day being Palestinian will not exclude them from citizenship.


More repetition of already refuted allegations. Israel has offered the Palestinian Arabs their own state on land including almost all the disputed territory. Arabs in Israel have full citizenship now.

Ironically, it is the Palestinian Arabs who insist that their future state, if they ever agree to establish it, will be free of Jews.


Yet, the world does nothing.


Actually, the world gives disproportionate and undeserved attention to the Palestinian Arabs, effectively perpetuating their plight by giving them hope of destroying Israel rather than trying to get them to accept reality and agree to live in peace.


The United States continues to give more than six billion dollars of military aid to Israel every year since the 1970s. Almost every bullet and bomb fired at Palestinians is paid for by American tax payers.


The writer exaggerates the amount of assistance given to Israel by a factor greater than 2. Our current assistance is only about $2.4 billion per year and over the next ten years is scheduled to average just half of what the writer asserts.


Yes, apartheid is alive and well in the state of Israel.


Already refuted. The Arabs in Israel have full citizenship with equal rights.


Israel has no plans to negotiate a settlement with the Palestinian Authority.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly called for negotiations without preconditions; the Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas refuses to negotiate.


It will continue to develop communities on Palestinian territory, cage the Palestinians behind walls and repulse every form of pressure to negotiate a settlement until the Palestinians cannot even remember a time when they were once equal citizens.


See above.


The United States will continue to pour military power and support into Israel because of its stabilizing force on the region.


As the only democracy in the region and the only outpost of Western values, Israel is indeed a stabilizing force whose existence and prosperity is in our interest.


Palestinian independence and reform in Arab countries threatens the balance of power, and hence American ability to influence oil trade in our favor.


There are already dozens of Arab states in the region, all of them dictatorships, authoritarian or monarchies. One more will have little effect on American interests. President George W. Bush promoted reform in the Arab countries, but met great resistance.

The price of oil was close to $10 per barrel shortly before the inauguration of the Bush administration; it has since spiraled to over $140 per barrel and now stands at about $70 per barrel. America clearly has little ability to influence oil trade in our favor.

The clear American need is to promote alternative sources and become independent of Arab-controlled oil supplies and in that way end a situation where the repressive Arab regimes wield enormous power over American foreign policy, to the detriment of America and our friends and allies.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Ethan Bronner and השמיניסטים - Demonstrating the Difference

October 6 was an interesting day in Connecticut. I went to two different programs related to the Arab-Israeli conflict, one a typical anti-Israel program at Central Connecticut State University and the other hosted by the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. The contrast illuminated the differences between those who are pro-Israel and those who are anti-Israel and the reasons why anti-Israel is a far more accurate description than pro-Palestinian.

The day after these two programs, my wife and I had some friends over to look at the Alan Dershowitz "The Case for Israel" video. One of the questions a friend asked brought the contrast further into focus and led to some thinking about encouraging people to recognize the need to treat the assertions of the Israel-haters with a healthy degree of skepticism.

The program at CCSU was organized by Jewish defamers of Israel and featured Israeli defamers of Israel. The speakers were Maya Wind and Netta Mishly, shown in the photo, two "Shministim" on an anti-Israel tour of the United States.

They showed an incredible naivete and eagerness to accept and spread the lies and distortions about Israel which are the mainstay of those trying to destroy the only free and democratic state in the MIddle East.

The Shministim are a small group of disenchanted high school seniors who wrote a disgraceful letter in 2008 declaring their unwillingness to serve in the Israeli army and defend their fellow Israelis, including their own families, from brutal Arab terror attacks.

Wind and Mishly are now touring America and promoting anti-Israel activity. In a way, they are poster children for why Israel deserves our support: they are effectively traitors, promoting the war against Israel. Most countries would probably throw them in jail, but Israel is so liberal they are free to work against their own country during a war and suffer nothing more than the well deserved disdain of their saner countrymen. They found a willing audience at CCSU, where many naive students have already been misled by a group of irresponsible faculty.

Their presentation was a combination of distortions, baseless accusations and outright falsehoods. In this, they were abetted by the anti-Israel moderator, who also did his best to stifle any expressions of skepticism.

One example: After the presentation, there was time for questions and answers along with statements from those in the audience. The moderator explained the questions/comments would be restricted to a minute per person, a restriction that was ignored as the first few people he called on did their best to reinforce the misrepresentations in the presentations.

I was actually surprised when he recognized me. I briefly talked about one forcefully stated but clearly false assertion: One of the presenters had talked about the Green Line being an "internationally recognized border" that was recognized by every country in the world but two, the United States and Israel. I pointed out the Green Line clearly was no such "border," noting the armistice agreements clearly stated they were not borders and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 called for the negotiation of borders, something that obviously would be unnecessary if borders already existed.

I then referred to the way Israel had completely left Gaza to the Palestinian Authority only to have the Arabs there launch thousands of missiles at Israeli citizens, a situation no country can accept.

When one of the presenters responded by insisting there was an occupation of Gaza even if there were no soldiers in Gaza and that Israel blockaded Gaza, I tried to point out that Gaza also shared a border with Egypt and that arrangements had been made with the European Union to assure supplies reaching Gaza, but the moderator suddenly decided there could be no back-and-forth discussion -- after he had permitted such discussion as long as it was confined to Israel-bashing.

Later, another person in the audience who was not anti-Israel pointed out some important facts that had been ignored, was asked a question by one of the presenters, and the moderator actually tried to prevent the participant from answering the question!

If one was naive, one might expect the program put on by a Center for Judaic Studies to be a mirror-image, with the pro-Israel positions supported by lies and distortions and the anti-Israel positions stifled. But, contrary to the mantra of Jimmy Carter and his ilk, supporters of Israel are not afraid of the truth and don't feel the need to censor opposing viewpoints.

The program featured a single speaker, Ethan Bronner, the Jerusalem Bureau Chief for The New York Times.

Bronner has been criticized by some as being biased against Israel. My impression, based on his speech rather than his articles, is that if he did not feel bound by journalistic ethics he would be accepted as a moderately dovish supporter of Israel.

A major theme of his speech was that partisans of the Arab-Israeli conflict tried to paint things in black-and-white but reality is mostly grey. He would take an assertion or position from one side and balance it with one from the other side, invariably giving each both equal weight and treating each as if they were equally valid or invalid.

There were some items he mentioned which a knowledgeable listener would recognize showed the asymmetry of the conflict, showing the unwillingness of the Arabs to accept the existence of Israel no matter how forthcoming Israel was, but that required inferences derived by the listener.

One example was the way the Palestinian Arabs, even the so-called moderates, insist there has never been any Jewish connection to Jerusalem!

An intelligent, impartial observer who listened to Bronner's speech out of context, without an introduction pointing out its connection to the Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies and without understanding the asymmetry between the reasonableness of the pro-Israel community and the unreasonableness of the anti-Israel community would probably have thought it was hosted by an organization with no emotional tie to the conflict.

Unfortunately, this asymmetry does a disservice both to Israel, to the pursuit of truth and to the pursuit of peace.

Giving equal weight to truth and false distorts the truth. Always trying to find a middle ground between the outrageous, uncompromising demands of the Arabs and the already moderate proposals of Israel encourages the Arabs in their intransigence. (This was one of the fatal flaws leading to the disastrous failure of the Oslo Experiment .)

In "The Case for Israel," Dershowitz describes himself as pro-Israel, but also pro-Palestine and pointed out that if one divided a population into supporters of Israel and supporters of the Palestinian Arabs, most of the supporters of Israel would also be pro-Palestine but almost all the supporters of the Palestinian Arabs would be anti-Israel.

In other words, the conflict is between one side (Israel) which wants to live in peace with its neighbor and another side (the Palestinian Arabs) that wants to live without its neighbor. Choosing a middle ground between such adversaries is inherently unfair to the reasonable side.

There is a similar asymmetry between the ways the advocates of the two sides present their positions. The contrast between the programs at CCSU and the University of Hartford illustrates that contrast.

The supporters of Israel strive for balance and try to make their case based on the truth while recognizing the concerns and needs of the Palestinian Arabs. The anti-Israel activists, perhaps out of necessity, ride roughshod over the truth and do their best to stifle any efforts to inject reality balance.

The question a friend asked after viewing "The Case for Israel" was how could she get her friends to recognize those in that video were telling the truth.

Supporters of Israel generally try to stick to a positive message, pointing out the shared values of America and Israel, the democratic nature of Israel and the sacrifices and compromises it has made in pursuit of peace. They generally try to trust in the intelligence of people leading them to recognize the justice in the case for Israel and the lies and distortions of the Israel-haters.

This may be a little too naive. Perhaps supporters of Israel have to be more active in pointing out the lies and distortions of the Israel-haters.

There is the general tendency of people who listen to two views to believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. That's generally the case, but not when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Concerns About Obama's Anti-Israel Speech

The following comes from a message from a PRIMER activist using the pen name Iam Yuno. PrimerPrez still has hopes President Obama is not deliberately sabotaging both Israel and the virtually non-existent prospects for peace in the foreseeable future and may at some time in the future ease off his counterproductive policies, but Iam Yuno is right on the mark in his analysis of those current policies.

Concerns About Obama's Anti-Israel Speech

Iam Yuno

I have a quote from Obama's speech to the United Nations yesterday in which he talks about Israel. Would anyone now try to argue Obama is a friend of Israel? (Or even Jewish people?) Would anyone care to argue Obama does not prevaricate liberally and side heavily with the Islamacists?

"We continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued israeli settlements. The time has come to re-launch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues – security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees and Jerusalem. The goal is clear: two states living side by side in peace and security. A jewish state of Israel with true security for all Israelis and a viable independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people."

"Continued Israeli settlements." Now Mr. Obama's is a highly intelligent man. We need not debate this. Can you not see he is now questioning ALL Israeli settlements, NOT just the "expansion" of settlements he previously complained about. Are we talking about an insistence on Israel returning to unsustainable 1967 borders? Since when did Israel lose the right to live within its own borders? Are we giving back Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California to Mexico? Actually, ALL of America is occupied territory if put to the same test Obama uses for Israel.

His suggestion that negotiations proceed "without preconditions" is a joke isn't it? Are we supposed to laugh? Has he not set out a hardline Arab stance right here, in angry tones in fact, with preconditions - no, DEMANDS he's making of one side - Israel? What is he demanding of the Palestinians? (Nothing.) Where is the finger pointing at the Palestinians for all the innocent civilians they've killed in innumerable terrorist attacks on Israel? (Nowhere.)

He uses the word "refugees." These are the Arabs who, on the order of the invading Arab nations in 1947, fled Israel to join with the Arab armies in an attempt to destroy Israel; kill all the Jews there. These people now, according to Obama, have the RIGHT to return to a country they attempted to destroy? If they return to Israel, by the way, the nation becomes a defacto Arab nation. And do you not think Obama understands this? The refugee issue has never been a part of U.S. peace plans and could never be. No President has ever said it should be - before Obama.

"Jerusalem." He's now effectively making that a demand - the surrender of half of Jerusalem to the Arabs.

"Contiguous territory." CONTIGUOUS? Look at a map. Is Gaza anywhere near the West Bank? What is he now suggesting? That we DIVIDE ISRAEL, make it non-contiguous, so the Palestinians can have one bigger piece of territory, halving Israel? Are we now gifting the Arabs land no one has ever claimed they deserved?

"Occupation." What history lessons did Mr. Obama learn about 1967? He's too smart NOT to know the Arabs engaged in war against Israel and that the territory he says is "occupied" was in fact lost by the Arabs in a war to destroy Israel.

Would anyone care to argue that our President has not only set down numerous "preconditions" in his speech unilaterally aimed at hurting Israel's negotiating stance? Does anyone think peace negotations can now proceed toward a solution? Has no one noticed the Palestinians taking a hardline stance echoing Obama's? (And who could blame them, now that Obama has essentially told them to.)

Would anyone care to argue that his views are NOT very similar to those held by the Muslims with whom he grew up in Indonesia and Kenya?

Would anyone care to explain why he makes Israel out to be the bad guy has not a stitch of rebuke for the Palestinians and their bloody ways? Why in his recounting of history did he not point out the many wars the Arabs initiated to obliterate Israel? Do the Arab transgressions vis a vis warfare and violence not greatly outweigh the complaints Obama has against Israel? Why is he so morally lost in this equation? Why is he such an apologist for the Muslims and Arabs? Will he support or sell out Israel in the next war (which HE predicted would break out next year; he said the King of Jordan told him it would occur unless Israel caved to the Arab demands)?

I feel it's time all Jews realized the truth and brought pressure to bear on Washington (and the Democratic leadership) to stop the anti-Israel Obama train before it's too late.