Tuesday, May 31, 2011

AIPAC Policy Conference 2011

This was originally published in my synagogue's June, 2011 Bulletin.

On May 22-24, my wife Marsha and I spent three incredibly important days at the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, DC.

AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, is the organization that comes to mind when anyone refers to "the Israel lobby." Its primary mission is to preserve and strengthen one of the most important pillars of American foreign policy, the critical strategic relationship binding America and Israel together.
We've been members of AIPAC for more than thirty years, ever since we were part of the Young Leadership Program organized by what was then the Jewish Federation of Waterbury.
In the course of that program, which featured monthly meetings over a period of two years, we learned about most of the key alphabet soup of national and international Jewish organizations. One program featured a speaker from AIPAC; we naturally, along with just about everyone else, joined up and began receiving Near East Report, its then weekly report on American Middle East Policy.

The Near East Report, like many other publications, is now published primarily online and may be read at www.aipac.org/NearEastReport. If you're trying to minimize your reading, it's one of two must-read publications, the other being the Daily Alert put out for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, which may be obtained by email or read at www.dailyalert.org.

Although we were members of AIPAC, we never went to its Annual Policy Conference until 2005, when it conveniently took place during spring break. Once we went, we kept going; we haven't missed a Policy Conference since.

The 2005 Policy Conference was by far the largest ever held up until that time, with over 5,000 people attending and hearing then Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon talk about the upcoming withdrawal from Gaza. One revelation for me was that Sharon had a wonderful sense of humor.

Everyone thought 5,000 was a big Policy Conference, but it's doubled in size in the short time we've been attending: there were more than 10,000 people at the Conference this May!
This year's highlights included:
  • President Barack Obama
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • A gala banquet Monday night with more than two-thirds of Congress
  • For those of us from Connecticut's 4th and 5th districts, a midnight tour of the Capitol with Congressmen Jim Hines and Chris Murphy
  • Going to Capitol Hill on Tuesday and lobbying Senators and Congresspersons. Along with the rest of the Connecticut delegation, we lobbied Senators Richard Blumenthal and Joe Lieberman, then lobbied Congressman Chris Murphy with the small contingent from the 5th district.
On Sunday morning, President Obama clarified controversial remarks he had made three days before, that "the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps," saying "by definition, it means that the parties themselves ... will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4th, 1967." Unfortunately, this still amounted to the abandonment of commitments made to Israel by President George W. Bush prior to the disengagement from Gaza and also ignores the provisions of the armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan which specify that the armistice lines would not prejudice the determination of borders.

The polite reception Obama received this year contrasted with the repeated, enthusiastic applause when he spoke at AIPAC three years ago, the morning after he clinched the Democratic presidential nomination, and proclaimed "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided."

At AIPAC's gala banquet Sunday evening, Prime Minister Netanyahu repeatedly received standing ovations as he contrasted Israel's desire to make peace with the refusal of the leader of the Palestinian Authority to even sit down and negotiate and he explained the impossibility of ever returning to the temporary armistice lines in effect from 1949-1967.

The climax of every AIPAC Policy Conference comes Tuesday morning, when thousands of delegates take buses to Capitol Hill to lobby Congress. Each year, AIPAC selects three issues to discuss with our representatives. This year, the issues were foreign aid, particularly ensuring the $3.075 billion in defense assistance Israel needs to preserve its ability to safeguard its people; Iran's nuclear weapons program, this year lobbying for the Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011 strengthening economic sanctions; and adhering to existing law prohibiting aid to the Palestinian Authority if it includes an unrepentant Hamas.

Most people who come to the Policy Conference return again and again, because it combines doing a wonderful mitzvah - helping to ensure the wellbeing of the Jewish homeland - with an incredibly interesting and enjoyable experience.

Next year's Policy Conference will take place in early March. Be there.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Misplaced Assumptions

GS Don Morris, Ph.D.

“The status quo situation is unsustainable… The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state. “ President Obama provided us with these assertions and has apparently based his Israel-Arab Conflict policies upon these and other assumptions. Let us examine them.

No context nor any explanation has ever been provided with respect to the unsustainable statement so one can only speculate. Since Israel’s entry to the nation states of the international community she has been under constant attack by her enemies and yet she has not only survived, she has thrived. Outnumbered by population, attacked a minimum of 12 times these last 63 years by our “neighbors” and having withstood thousands of rocket and homicidal bombing attacks, Israel remains the center piece of Democracy in the Middle East. Did you know that today our unemployment is 6% during an international time of recession, we had a 39% increase in high-tech investments during the 1st quarter of 2011 - $479MN invested in 140 companies – the best quarter in two years, compared with $234MN in 91 companies during the 1st quarter of 2010. 28% invested by Israeli investors (Globes, April 14).

Furthermore the following businesses and capital investment funds continue to find their way to Israel:
The London-based Sam Capital and the Minneapolis-based Piper Jaffray participated in a $60MN investment in Israel CleanTech Ventures; Pacific Technology Fund and the Menlo Park-based Bessemer participated in a $26MN 4th round by Israel's Altair (Globes, April 11). The Boston-based Spark Capital and the Menlo Park Bessemer and Redpoint Ventures participated in a $20MN round by Israel's AdaptTV (Globes, March 30); The Boston-based Globespan and the Menlo Park-based Sequoia Capital participated in a $15MN 3rd round by Israel's Kaminario (Globes, May 3). Motorola Ventures, the Needham-based Stata Ventures, the Tulsa-based Argonaut Private Equity, the San Jose-based Stryker Endoscopy and the Japan-based NTT invested $15MN in Israel's Amimon (Globes, March 25); The Waltham-based Northbridge Venture Partners, the Boston-based Egan Venture Capital and the Deerfield-based Vernon & Park Capital invested $4MN in a 3rd round by Israel's CurrenSee (April 21). The Boston-based Schooner Capital participated in a $4MN 1st round by Israel's Zixi (Globes, April 13). The Menlo-Park Benchmark and the Bellevue-based Trilogy Partners and Ignition Partners invested $4MN in a 4th round by Israel's Xeround (Globes, April 6). Eric Schmidt, Google's outgoing CEO invested $1MN in Israel's EyeView (Globes, May 2).(Ettinger).

Since the 1967 6-day war we have had 9 Nobel Peace winners. We have over 120 companies listed on the NASDAQ-this is more than any country outside North America. The list of accomplishments from a country of 7.5 million people go on and on, here is a partial list:

1. The cell phone was developed in Israel by Israelis working in the Israeli branch of Motorola, which has its largest development center in Israel.

2. Most of the Windows NT and XP operating systems were developed by Microsoft-Israel.

3. The Pentium MMX Chip technology was designed in Israel at Intel. Both the Pentium-4 microprocessor and the Centrino processor were entirely designed, developed, and produced in Israel.

4. The Pentium microprocessor in your computer was most likely made in Israel.

5. Voice mail technology was developed in Israel.

6. Both Microsoft and Cisco built their only R&D facilities outside the US in Israel.

7. The technology for the AOL Instant Messenger ICQ was developed in 1996 by four young Israelis.

8. According to industry officials, Israel designed the airline industry's most impenetrable flight security. US officials now look to Israel for advice on how to handle airborne security threats.

9. Israel's $100 billion economy is larger than all of its immediate neighbors combined.

10. Israel has the highest percentage in the world of home computers per capita.

11. Israel has the highest ratio of university degrees to the population in the world.

12. Israel produces more scientific papers per capita than any other nation by a large margin — 109 per 10,000 people — as well as one of the highest per capita rates of patents filed.

13. In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has the second largest number of startup companies after the US (3,500 companies mostly in hi-tech).

14. With more than 3,000 high-tech companies and startups, Israel has the highest concentration hi-tech companies in the world — apart from the Silicon Valley, US.

15. Israel is ranked #2 in the world for venture capital funds right behind the US.

16. After the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies.

17. Israel has the highest average living standards in the Middle East. The per capita income in 2000 was over $17,500, exceeding that of the UK.

18. On a per capita basis, Israel has the largest number of biotech startups.

19. Twenty-four percent of Israel's work-force hold university degrees — ranking it third in the industrialized world, after the United States and Holland — and 12% hold advanced degrees.
AND 20. Relative to its population, Israel is the largest immigrant-absorbing nation on earth. Immigrants come in search of democracy, religious freedom, and economic opportunity. Courtesy of the Joint Action Taskforce

It is beyond my comprehension for anyone to suggest that we cannot sustain our way of life. Of course Israel will continue to contribute to humankind in spite of our enemies. Perhaps they should emulate our model for their own citizenry rather than be occupied with their resources trying to eliminate us from our rightful place in the international community.

Finally the idea that a state must have contiguous borders does not pass the test of international boundaries. For example, the USA has two major states, Alaska and Hawaii that are not contiguous with its mainland proper. The fact is that there are multiple countries with non-contiguous land masses: New Zealand; The French territories in/on the Caribbean (Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guyana; Kaliningrad is separated from the rest of Russia by Lithuania and Latvia or Belarus; Spain has Ceuta and Melilla and St. Pierre et Miquelon that is part of France.

Of course I have not begun to discuss the nature of the enclaves of the world. An enclave is a geographical territory that is completely surrounded by foreign territory [including foreign territorial waters]. Such a territory is called an enclave in respect to the surrounding foreign territory and an exclave in respect to the territory to which it is politically attached. (www.vasa.abo.fi) There are 22 countries with enclaves and for the international community to insist that Gaza and the PA in the disputed territories of Samaria and Judea must be connected flies in the face of world reality. Yet, the mantra is these must be “connected”. I suggest that any future “peace plan” consider utilizing the notion of enclave status or as has been done successfully in the USA simply allow Gaza to be politically connected to its future state. This resolves multiple issues not the least of which is that Israel remains whole and not divided into two non-contiguous sections.

I humbly submit that the two afore-mentioned assumptions that are driving policy discussions and hence decisions are patently false. Israel need not nor should it fall prey to the politically driven strategy that rushes it to an unsafe and unwarranted “peace agreement” that is in fact based upon morally wrong assumptions.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Real Issue: Ethnic Cleansing

This is from Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown, Connecticut. Rabbi Praver is also the host of the Rabbi Rock cable access television show and a former "CAMERA Letter Writer of the Year."

President Obama tells Israel to pull back to 1967 borders and allow for a self-governing Palestinian state. Do you agree with this?

In my humble opinion:

This is not the first question that we need to ask. Here is the bigger question which everybody needs to address: Let's say for a moment that the land were divided as President Obama suggested; back to the 67 line, Why can't the Jews who live on the "Palestinian" side of the border continue to live in their homes under the Palestinian flag just like Arab-Muslims live on the Israel side of the border under the Israeli Flag? Why is there a demand for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from Judah and Samaria?

Moreover, if the "Palestinians" were really for a Palestinian state, they'd respect the rights of their Jewish Minority just as Israel respects the rights of the Arab Muslim minority in Israel. And specifically because there is a demand for total ethnic cleansing of Jews from the communities they've built on the "Palestinian" side of the 67 border, such a two-state solution is being discussed in bad faith, and the move is just trying to prop up the "Palestinian" power base for continued demands and "Para-military" actions directed towards the total ethnic cleansing of Jews from all parts of Israel as clearly spelled out in the Hamas charter. The Hamas charter is now the Fatah charter once again because of the unity government just formed between these two political entities of "Palestinians."

Any kind of real peace between Israelis and "Palestinians" starts with the way in which each group treats the other group of people; as such, the discussion about Land and borders only diverts everyone from the real issue; and that is what is being discussed is not so much a division of land but a negotiated ethnic cleansing of the Jews from the cradle of their civilization.

Whereas, a two state solution could be negotiated if the Palestinians simply acknowledged that the Jews are indigenous to Israel and as such they have a right to live in Israel and "Palestine" just as the Arab Muslims have a right to live in both Israel and "Palestine." The question of borders is easily solved once this basic respect for people is in place.

In conclusion, The "Palestinian" demands for total ethnic cleansing of Jews from "Palestine" show that the real goal is the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the Middle East. It all starts with recognition of the Jews and Israel by the "Palestinians." Then everything else is possible.

Let me be clear, the "Palestinian" demand for a state is acceptable, but the "Palestinian" demand for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from "Palestine" is not acceptable. If one has trouble understanding this, just put the shoe on the other foot.

What if Israel said, "OK we'll allow for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from "Palestine" if the "Palestinians" allow for a simultaneous ethnic cleansing of Muslims from Israel?" Of course this can't fly - and so why is the ethnic cleansing of Jews any more acceptable. It is all unacceptable. We can't solve the issue of borders until we solve the issue of people.

(By the way, the only reason I have the word "Palestine and "Palestinians" in quotation marks is simply because at the moment, there is no state of "Palestine" it is being negotiated. If it comes to pass than I will take the quotations marks off those words.)

Mahmoud Abbas Proves Abraham Lincoln Wrong

Beryl Ratzer is the author of "A Historical Tour of the Holy Land." Information about that book and lots of other interesting stuff may be found at www.ratzer.com.

19th May 2011

To my Family, friends and readers Shalom

The Arab and Moslem world is in a turmoil as citizens revolt against their tyrannical leaders who in turn attempt to deflect the demonstrations with accusations against Israel / Zionists / Jews. It is too soon to know whether there is one guiding hand behind all the uprisings and we can only hope those who predict rigorous Sharia (Moslem law) regimes will be proven wrong.

The recent Naqba protests by "Palestinian refugees" and their supporters have once again thrown the spotlight on Israel. Abraham Lincoln said "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." I think he is about to be proven wrong. To me it seems that as far as the "Palestinian refugee problem" is concerned, all of the people are being fooled all of the time.

So that you won't be counted among the fooled, allow me to bring to your attention some less known facts about the "Palestinian people" and their refugee problem that can easily be verified. And I ask you to do so. Don't take my word for it.

Prior to 1967 there was no such a thing as a Palestinian people / nation. "There is no such a thing as Palestine in history, absolutely not." (Prof Philip Hitti, Arab historian to the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry, 1946)

"There is no such a country as Palestine. 'Palestine is a term the Zionists invented … Our country was for centuries part of Syria. 'Palestine' is alien to us. It is the Zionists who introduced it." (Evidence before the Peel Commission 1937).

"It is common knowledge that Palestine is nothing but southern Syria." Ahmed Shukeiri, (Founder of PLO in 1964) UN Security Council, 1956.

The 1954 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica makes no mention of the 'West Bank' and later editions which do, refer to the historical names Judea and Samaria.

Actually the term wasn't invented by the Zionists. It was invented by the Romans who, after two revolts by the Jews against Roman rule wanted to erase the names Israel and Judah from history. Sound familiar? That's what the modern delegitimisation of Israel is all about.

For almost two thousand years, first under Roman and Byzantine rule, when this area was called the province of Palaestina and then under the Arab Caliphs, Mamelukes and Ottoman Empire when it was called Jund Falastin, there was always a Jewish presence.

As agreed by the League of Nations, Palestine, the English form of Palaestina and Falastin, was to be the National Home Land of the Jewish people and was to include the entire area on both sides of the Jordan river. In 1923 Britain unilaterally created the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan on the eastern side of the river.

From then and until 1948 Palestine shrunk to the western side of the Jordan river. All who lived in it were known as Palestinians, Jew and Arab alike. Palestinian Jews served in the British army during WWII. Arab Palestinians, led by the Mufti Haj al Husseini, supported the German Reich.

In a survey of Palestine, prepared by the Anglo-American Committee of Enquiry, the authors use the titles Judea and Samaria when referring to areas now called 'the West Bank'. Resolution 181 of the UN General Assembly passed on 27th November, 1947 refers to Judea and Samaria by their historical names.

That UN resolution called for Palestine to be divided between the Arab and Jewish population, based mainly on demography. Arabs in Palestine and throughout the Arab world rejected the Partition Plan. Jews accepted it with trepidation, desirous of a place to which the survivors of the Holocaust could freely come. (Britain imprisoned survivors trying to reach to shores of Palestine or exiled them to camps in Cyprus or returned them to Europe).

With the establishment of Israel in May 1948 all who lived within its borders would be known as Israeli, Jew and Arab alike. All Jews living in the areas of Palestine which did not come under Israeli rule, including the Old City and many parts of Jerusalem, were expelled. These are part of the forgotten Jewish refugees which include almost a million Jews expelled from Arab countries stretching from Iraq to North Africa.

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan annexed Judea and Samaria which would henceforth be known as the West Bank. Egypt imposed military rule on the Gaza Strip. At no time between 1948 and 1967 did the population of those two areas demand the creation of an independent state. At no time during those nineteen years did we hear of a Palestinian people seeking to fill their national aspirations. They had none.

It is therefore clear that the history of the "Palestinian people" goes back no further than 1967. In fact, UN Resolution 242, in the aftermath of the Six Day War, makes no mention of Palestine or Palestinian refuges.

I would venture to say that virtually "all of the people" have been fooled into thinking otherwise.

Which brings us to the "Palestinian refugees".

"The Arab civilians panicked and fled ignominiously. Villages were frequently abandoned before they were threatened by the progress of the war". Glubb Pasha (John Baggot Glubb, founder of the Arab Legion and its commander between 1939 and 1956 BR), London Daily Mail 12th August, 1948.

"The Arab states encouraged the Palestine Arabs to leave their homes temporarily in order to be out of the way of the Arab invasion armies". Jordanian Falastin, 19th February, 1949

"The fact that there are these refugees is the direct consequence of the action of the Arab states in opposing the partition and the Jewish State. The Arab states agreed on this policy unanimously and they must share in the solution of the problem." Emil Ghoury, Secretary of the Arab Higher Committee, Beirut Daily Telegraph, 6th September, 1948.

"The Secretary General of he Arab League, Azzam Pasha, assured the Arab peoples that the occupation of Palestine would be as simple as a military parade … he pointed out that …all the millions the Jews had spent on land and economic development would be easy booty, for it would be a simple matter to throw the Jews into the Mediterranean … Brotherly advice was given to the Arabs of Palestine (note: not the Palestinians BR) to leave their land, homes and property to stay temporarily in neighbouring fraternal states, lest the guns of the invading Arab armies mow them down". Habib Issa, The New York Lebanese daily, Al Hoda, 8th June 1951.

That's a rather different picture from the one of cruel, vicious, post-Holocaust Israelis forcibly expelling the Arab population from the newly created Jewish State. I would be remiss if I did not mention that there were Arabs who were expelled from their villages, from which they were launching attacks.

The Arab villages throughout Israel are testimony to the fact that not all Arabs took part in the aggression. Many Arabs did not believe they would be harmed by the Israelis and they did not hearken to the words of their leaders and so they chose not to flee. Today, they and their descendants make up 18% of the Israeli population.

Contrary to accusations that they are the victims of an Israeli apartheid regime, Israeli Arabs vote in elections and have their own representatives in Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

It would appear then that the Naqba, the catastrophe, was of their own making. In 1948 the Arabs of Palestine, having no national identity or aspirations, did not create their own state alongside the State of Israel. The Arabs of Palestine fled at the behest of their leaders and not as the result of Israeli expulsion.

Here too I would venture to say that virtually "all of the people" have been fooled into thinking otherwise.

What exactly is a refugee?

In the aftermath of WWII there were millions of refugees - " persons who owing to a well founded fear of being persecuted … are outside the country of their nationality". Clearly the refugee's descendants are not refugees. The creation of India and Pakistan in 1947 and other world conflicts, including the expulsion of almost one million Jews from the Arab countries, added millions more.

The UN Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, founded in 1944, was replaced in 1947 by the International Refugee Organisation which was in turn replaced by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in 1949.

Its "mandate is to provide, on a non-political and humanitarian basis, international protection to refugees and to seek permanent solutions for them by assisting governments. …. As of 1 January 2007, UNHCR reported a total of 21,018,589 individuals falling under its mandate. As of April 2008[update], the UNHCR employed a staff of 6,351 people in 117 countries". (1 staff member per 3,309 refugees BR) In other words, the aim of UNHCR is to resettle refugees.

In 1949 the UN established a separate agency for Palestinian (Arabs,not Jews BR) refugees, UNRWA, UN Relief and Works for Palestinian Refugees, with a very different definition of refugee and a very different definition of its mandate.

Palestinian refugees are "any Arabs, native or not, who sojourned in Palestine between June 1946 and May 1948 and who lost their homes and means of livelihood as a result of the 1948 Arab-Israeli conflict … and that right extends to descendants of persons who became refugees in 1948".

In plain English, any Arab who lived in Palestine for a minimum of two years and his descendants for ever onwards can define themselves as Palestinian refugees. No matter if they are happily settled anywhere in the world and have American, Canadian, British etc etc citizenship, they are still Palestinian refugees and brandish large keys to their former homes.

UNRWA's sole mandate is to "provide the Palestinian refugees with humanitarian assistance". In plain English, to perpetuate the problem, not to solve it.

According to World Bank statistics Palestinians receive between ten and thirty times more than starving refugees in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia and Pakistan whereas their earning capacity is greater in the same ratio.

Who provides this 'humanitarian assistance'? A staff of over 28,000 provide aid to about 4.4 million refugees, a number which has never been verified. (a ratio of 1:157 compared to 1:3,309 for all other refugees BR).

And the budget? Well over 80% from US, Canadian, Japanese, European and 'western' donors. Less than 8% from their oil rich Arab brethren.

Did you know this? Once again, I would venture to say that virtually "all of the people" have been fooled into thinking otherwise.

"The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny, but instead they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, imposed upon them a political and ideological blockade and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live in Eastern Europe." Falastin al-Thawra, the official journal of the PLO in Beirut, 1976.

Whose words are those?

The same person who said in am interview on Al-Palestina TV in September 2009:

"I am among those who were born in Safed. We were a family of means". Fearing Zionist revenge for the Arab massacre of Jews in Safed in 1929 "we decided to leave. The entire city was abandoned based on this thought. …At night we left by foot from Safed, to the Jordan river and then to Damascus…"

The same person who wrote a PhD thesis denying the Holocaust.

The same person who, together with many other senior PA officials, participated in a recent Fatah event, clapping enthusiastically when a Palestinian singer defined all of Israel as being Palestinian, singing:

"my land, … our coast … spans from Rosh Hanikra in Israel's north to Rafah in the Gaza Strip in the South, and from Haifa on Israel's Western coast to Beit Shean on Israel's Eastern border". The event was re-broadcast on PA TV on 12th May, 2011.

You guessed it!! Mahmoud Abbas, a.k.a. Abu Mazen, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority.

This is the man who is proving Abraham Lincoln was mistaken. Mahmoud Abbas is proving that you can fool all of he people all of the time.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pressuring Israelis not necessary

This letter was published in the New Haven Register on Tuesday, May 17, 2011.

Aaron David Miller's Forum column, "Payoff key to taking on Netanyahu," includes highly questionable assertions, but the bigger problem is that he ignores the refusal of the Palestinian Arabs to show any interest in living in peace with America's only real friend in the Middle East.

In response to the death of Osama bin Laden, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades published a statement calling his death a "catastrophe" and those who killed him "gangs of heretics." The group is a branch of Fatah, led by Mahmoud Abbas, who leads the Palestinian Authority, which we support to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

Everyone knows Israelis will go along with any reasonable proposal to bring peace. Pressuring Israel is unnecessary and counterproductive, since it simply rewards Arab intransigence. The key to peace is putting pressure on those responsible for the continued conflict, Israel's Arab enemies.

Alan Stein

Arab rhetoric of hate to backfire

This commentary by Neil Berro was published Tuesday, May 17, 2011 in the New Haven Register.

So now, Hamas and Fatah want to play together in the sandbox. This is, perhaps, the final drop of poison in the witches' brew of what is turning into the Arab spring of repression, hatred and murder.

As someone who dreams of peace for the Middle East, I hoped these two Palestinian factions - best known for acts of killing, kidnapping and rejection - would say this to each other:
Let us renounce violence, terrorism and incitement against Jews, Israel and all who support them.

Let us cease teaching our preschoolers with "Sesame Street"-style characters who extol martyrdom.

Let us cease teaching our elementary school kids mathematics by counting the number of dead Jews killed at bus stations, restaurants, Passover Seders and in homes.

Let us end our textbooks that eliminate Israel and target Jews as victims and scapegoats. -
Let us insist that our religious leaders end their unyielding and uncompromising calls for Islamic rule and supremacy.

Let us stop passing out candy when Americans are destroyed at the World Trade Center or an Israeli family is butchered in a knife attack in their home.

Let us show the Arab and Muslim world that strength and greatness is not in how many Jewish school buses we can blow up, and that the commitment to peace will bring enduring light to all people.

Let us hope Hamas and Fatah will say to all Palestinians: We misled you. We treated you as cannon fodder. While Jews built a nation, gained the respect of the world for their science, modernity, competitive economy, human rights and progressive treatment of women, gays and minorities, we have done the opposite for decades.

Our martyrs are not those who kill Jews who are unable to defend themselves, like Leon Klinghofer, thrown overboard in the Mediterranean; Gail Rubin, an aspiring nature photographer killed by terrorists on an Israeli beach; or Dora Bloch, a grandmother suffocated while helpless in a hospital. Our martyrs are the lost generations who could have become soldiers for peace, equality and liberty.

Palestinians can only look at their Israeli Arab brethren in envy and ask, why not us? It is Israeli Arabs who since Israel's creation in 1948 have enjoyed growth and prosperity, while we taste our very bitter fruit of refusing to accept Israel.

The entire Arab and Muslim world, in a historic convulsion of change, can only look at Israel, and ask, why not us? The answer may start with being honest with oneself.

Prayerfully, may the Palestinians realize that peace is the way and the actions and rhetoric of hate and rejection will backfire.

With the death of Osama bin Ladin, some will want to proclaim peace and seek one-sided concessions from Israel. It would be nice if the diplomats would stare into the reality of Palestinian polemics, starting with the hateful words from Hamas on the death of bin Laden, calling the murderer of thousands a "holy warrior." Peace would then have a better chance.

Neil Berro of New Haven has worked for Jewish and Israeli causes since 1981. Write to him in care of the Register, 40 Sargent Drive, New Haven 06511. Email: nberro@comcast.net.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Double Standards

This was originally posted by the British Israel Group in its "Articles of the Week" blog. It may be read in its original location by clicking here.

A Tale Of Two Terrorists

Here are some contrasting opinions by leaders of the UN, EU, Britain, France, Norway, the Vatican, Japan and elsewhere, following Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin, the leader of the Hamas terrorist organization in 2004 and the killing of Osama bin Laden last week.

Yassin, of course, was proportionately responsible for far more deaths of Israelis than bin Laden was of Americans, particularly the deaths of Israeli children. Yassin had ordered the bombing of school buses, children's birthday parties and so on, and was continuing to order more attacks at the time of his death. Soon after Yassin and his deputy Abdel Aziz Rantissi were killed, there was a sharp decrease in the number of suicide bombings against Israel.

(Among past dispatches on this, please see: "A minute's silence by British MPs for Sheikh Yassin" (April 19, 2004) www.tomgrossmedia.com/mideastdispatches/archives/000198.html)

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan: "I condemn the targeted assassination of Ahmed Yassin. Such actions are not only contrary to international law but they do not help the search for a peaceful solution."

Killing Bin Laden:

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hailed Osama bin Laden's death as a key turning point in the struggle against terrorism.

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, described the assassination as "very, very bad news".

Killing Bin Laden:

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said: "I would like to congratulate the U.S., pay tribute to its determination and efficiency in reducing the threat posed by terrorists and underline the close cooperation between the EU and U.S. in the fight against terrorism."

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said: "Israel is not entitled to go in for this kind of unlawful killing and we condemn it. It is unacceptable, it is unjustified and it is very unlikely to achieve its objectives."

Killing Bin Laden:

Prime Minister David Cameron said that bin Laden's death would "bring great relief" around the world.

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

French President Jacques Chirac "unreservedly condemned" Israel's assassination of Hamas terror leader Yassin. French Foreign Ministry spokesman Herve Ladsous also said: "France condemns the action taken against Sheikh Yassin, just as it has always condemned the principle of any extra-judicial execution as contrary to international law."

Killing Bin Laden:

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé said on that bin Laden's death is a "victory for all democracies fighting the abominable scourge of terrorism. France, the United States and European states work closely together to fight terrorism, so I'm overjoyed at the news."

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jan Petersen: "This act will contribute to increased tensions in the area and will make it more difficult to implement an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza."

Killing Bin Laden:

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre called the death of bin Laden "a break-through in the fight against terror".

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

"The Holy See unites with the international community in deploring this act of violence that cannot be justified in any state of law. Lasting peace cannot come from a show of force."

Killing Bin Laden:

Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said that while Christians "do not rejoice" over a death, bin Laden's death serves to remind them of "each person's responsibility before God and men" and "bin Laden must answer to God for having killed an innumerable number of people and exploiting religion".

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuo Fukuda said Israel's actions were "thoughtless and reckless, and cannot be justified."

Killing Bin Laden:

Japan's Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto said today that the country welcomed the death of Osama bin Laden as "significant progress of counter-terrorism measures. I pay respect to the US officials concerned."

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

The Brazilian government said it "deplored the murder of Sheik Ahmed Yassin."

Killing Bin Laden:

Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota said the death of Al Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden is "important and positive".

Israel's killing of Ahmed Yassin:

Malaysia strongly condemned the assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin: saying the action was a manifestation of terrorism.

Killing Bin Laden:

Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said he hopes that the death of bin Laden would help bring universal peace and harmony.

***This list could go on and on...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

South Africa, Hamas-PLO Reconciliation And Gilad Shalit

This letter from Maurice Ostroff to the South African Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mr. Ismail Coovadia may also be viewed at http://www.2nd-thoughts.org/id338.html. That site also contains the statement by the South African government welcoming and supporting the efforts of the Hamas and Fatah terrorists to set up a transitional unity government. The letter is posted here with the permission of the author.

May 9, 2011

Dear Ambassador Coovadia,

I thank you for sending me a copy of the statement by the South African government on the rapprochement between Fatah and Hamas and I enthusiastically endorse the sentiment expressed "we urge all Palestinian factions to unite behind a reformed Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) so as to carry forward the hopes and aspirations of all Palestinians for freedom, self-determination and human dignity".

I believe you will agree that Israel and the Palestinians can gain from studying South Africa's successful bloodless transition and that the united PLO-Hamas government to which you refer would make a giant step towards peace if it adopted a new combined charter based on the the ANC's Freedom Charter.

Unfortunately the hate-filled PLO and Hamas covenants bear no similarity at all to the ANC Charter which states “South Africa shall strive to maintain world peace and the settlement of all international disputes by negotiation - not war”. By stark contrast, the Hamas charter declares that there is absolutely no room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously states so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences contradict its principles and are a waste of time since there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except jihad; such conferences are used by the infidels to prevail over Muslim land.

The imaginative irrationality of the Hamas concept, so different from the sober tone of the ANC Charter, is illustrated by obsessive phobia about and promises to obliterate freemasons, rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations. They are accused of everything from control of the world media, stirring the French Revolution, the Communist revolution, World War I and even of forming the League of Nations. They are alleged to have been behind World War II, and instigating replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council. It is difficult to believe that these fanciful ideas are actually written in the Hamas charter.

I believe you will confirm sir, that this type of irrationality has no place in ANC thinking. Nor would the ANC tolerate the type of incitement to violence which has been emanating for years from the mosques and PA controlled media and taught in schools from the earliest age.

And now with great respect sir, I suggest a confidence building measure that could create an immediate atmosphere of goodwill and encourage serious negotiations towards peace. Putting political considerations aside for the moment in favor of plain humanity,I suggest that in accordance with the concern for human dignity inherent in the ANC Charter and its noble aspirations, it would be fitting if the government of the Rainbow Nation would insist that as a condition of its support, Hamas must immediately end the savage torture of their prisoner Gilad Shalit and his family; an unbearable torture that has continued 24 hours per day, 7days a week for nearly five years in flagrant violation of human decency, international law and the Geneva convention.

I am calling merely for compliance with the Third Geneva Convention that provides for humane treatment and the right to unfettered access to the Red Cross, as well as the right to send and receive monthly letters and cards. Even the Nazis respected this provision for prisoners of war, but not only does Hamas deny these rights to Shalit, they have held him incommunicado for the entire period of his incarceration.

By way of contrast, Palestinian prisoners in Israel enjoy visitation rights, including conjugal visits, access to telephones, newspapers, television and radio broadcasts, lawyers' visits and even academic studies at state expense.

The continued mental torture of Shalit’s family compounds the crime immeasurably. What greater torture can there be than tormenting parents with unrelenting continuous anxiety for nearly five years about whether their son is dead, or if alive, in what condition?

The Shalit family continues to live this horrendous nightmare, not knowing if Gilad is dead or alive and fearing that he is possibly being tortured. To compound the heinous crime, Hamas held a public rally during which a boy dressed in IDF uniform masqueraded as Gilad Shalit reading a letter in Hebrew, telling the jeering crowd, how he misses his parents. No human being with a conscience can refuse to protest this diabolical cruelty.

As mental torture is included in the UN ban on torture, the politicians dealing with Hamas cannot ignore the deliberate torture of Gilad’s family. Clearly acts of torture are violations of both International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law. Amnesty International describes every act of torture as a crime under international law.

Article 1 of the UN “Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment” defines torture as any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person….” and a study by scientists published on March 6, 2007 in “News in Science” describes mental torture as bad as physical.

South Africa's intervention in this humanitarian matter would be greatly appreciated by the entire civilized world and it would certainly contribute to an atmosphere of trust and goodwill, so essential to meaningful negotiations towards a peaceful settlement.

I will be very grateful if you will kindly forward a copy of this email to President Zuma.


Maurice Ostroff

Monday, May 9, 2011

Senators Call for Evaluation of U.S. Relations with Fatah-Hamas Government

This was a press release issued by U.S. Senator Bob Casey. Of course, our government continues to pretend that Fatah is not a terrorist group.

Casey, Menendez and Colleagues Call for Evaluation of U.S. Relations with Fatah-Hamas Government, Possible Suspension of Aid to Palestinian Authority

Friday, May 6, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) today sent a letter to President Obama asking him to evaluate the U.S. relationship with the Palestinian Authority and consider taking stronger measures in condemnation of the recently formed Fatah-Hamas unity government. In the letter signed by 27 Senators, the Senators urged the Administration to stand by its refusal to work with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas and consider cutting aid should the U.S. designated terrorist group remain in the government. Preconditions in U.S. law prevent aid from being provided to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, unless the government and all its members have publicly committed to the Quartet principles.

“It is imperative for you to make clear to President Abbas that Palestinian Authority participation in a unity government with an unreformed Hamas will jeopardize its relationship with the United States, including its receipt of U.S. aid. As you are aware, U.S. law prohibits aid from being provided to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, unless the government and all its members have publicly committed to the Quartet principles. We urge you to conduct a review of the current situation and suspend aid should Hamas refuse to comply with Quartet conditions,” wrote the Senators.

The full text of the letter is below.

Dear Mr. President:

The decision of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to form a unity government with Hamas – a designated terrorist group – threatens to derail the Middle East peace effort for the foreseeable future and to undermine the Palestinian Authority’s relations with the United States.

Hamas rejects peaceful efforts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and continues to call for the destruction of the State of Israel. Soon after this agreement was signed, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar declared that "our plan does not involve negotiations with Israel or recognizing it." Hamas and other Iranian-backed terrorist groups in Gaza have also stepped up their smuggling of Iranian arms and increased their mortar and rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, firing more than 130 during the past month alone and nearly 300 this year. Hamas’ response to the killing of Osama Bin Laden, condemning “the assassination and killing of an Arab holy warrior” is emblematic of Hamas’ ideology and underscores Hamas’ continued support for terrorism.

The United States should stand by its refusal to work with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas. We welcome statements from the Administration recognizing that Hamas is a terrorist organization and insisting that it accept the Quartet conditions (of recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence, and endorsing previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements). We strongly support Secretary Clinton’s 2009 Statement that: “we will not deal with nor in any way fund a Palestinian government that include Hamas until Hamas has renounced violence, recognized Israel and agreed to follow the previous obligations of the Palestinian Authority.”

It is imperative for you to make clear to President Abbas that Palestinian Authority participation in a unity government with an unreformed Hamas will jeopardize its relationship with the United States, including its receipt of U.S. aid. As you are aware, U.S. law prohibits aid from being provided to a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, unless the government and all its members have publically committed to the Quartet principles. We urge you to conduct a review of the current situation and suspend aid should Hamas refuse to comply with Quartet conditions.

Ultimately, the legitimacy of any peace process must always be weighed against the assurances Israel needs for its security and the security of the region. Hamas’ participation in the Palestinian government eliminates the trust and commitment to peace that must exist between the parties to move forward and therefore, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated, the choice is between “peace with Israel or peace with Hamas” because “there is no possibility for peace with both.”

As fellow Democrats, we thank you for your continued commitment to and investment in Israel’s security. We urge you to make clear to President Abbas and the international community the United States’ opposition to a Fatah-Hamas unity government that does not fully accept the Quartet principles. Such a government will prove fatal to the peace effort, as well as to efforts to establish a Palestinian state, and will severely harm relations with the United States. The Palestinian Authority needs to get back to the negotiating table rather than pursue futile and harmful efforts to join with Hamas or seek recognition of Palestinian statehood at the UN.


Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr.
Senator Robert Menendez
Senator Daniel Inouye
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Max Baucus
Senator Joseph Lieberman
Senator Kent Conrad
Senator Frank Lautenberg
Senator Charles Schumer
Senator Barbara Boxer
Senator Daniel Akaka
Senator Barbara Mikulski
Senator Ron Wyden
Senator Bill Nelson
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Senator Ben Nelson
Senator Mark Pryor
Senator Benjamin Cardin
Senator Sherrod Brown
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Senator Jon Tester
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Al Franken
Senator Joe Manchin
Senator Christopher Coons
Senator Richard Blumenthal
Senator Claire McCaskill

Saturday, May 7, 2011

So What Else Is New? New York Times Gets It Wrong Again

Sent to The New York Times April 25, 2011.

Re the editorial "President Obama and the Peace Process," published April 25:

One wonders where the editors of The New York Times have been the last 64 years.

The United Nations put forth a proposal back in 1947. The Zionists accepted it; the Arabs rejected it and launched a war. Little has changed since.

Israel has put forth proposal after proposal, the latest, absurdly generous one less than three years ago. The Arabs, including the Palestinian Arabs, have rejected them all - or not even bothered to respond. The supposedly "moderate" Mahmoud Abbas refuses to even pretend to negotiate and insists he will never make any concessions on any of the core issues.

The United States has also put forth numerous plans, including President Clinton's proposals in 2000. None has done any good, because of the intransigence of the Arabs.

Rather than continuing the counterproductive policy of appeasing the Palestinian Arabs every time they reject peace and while they continue to promote hatred and glorify brutal terrorists, President Obama should give Mahmoud Abbas the phone number of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and tell him to pick up the phone when he's ready to talk about peace.

Alan Stein
President, PRIMER-Connecticut

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Renee Montgomery Update From Israel

For more updates and information from Renee, visit her website at www.r21m.com.

Hello there Good People... It's been awhile since I blogged, I feel like I say that every time I blog but I guess it's true. It's been a scary couple of days for me.

I am in Israel right now playing for Macabi Ashdod in the second round of the playoffs (we are up 1- 0). Two nights ago I was eating dinner at my teammates house when I hear an alarm. I ask "what is that?" and everyone gets quiet and hears it then says its a bomb alarm. Needless to say we start freaking out and ask the only Israeli there with us what we should do and she has no idea. (When a bomb alarm goes off you have a minute to get to a safe place before the bomb hits) My other American teammate, Ambrosia Anderson (Broski), lives there and tells us that they have a "safe room" so we, meaning Ashley Robinson, Tamara James (TJ), and I, run into the safe room and TJ tries to close the door multiple times but it wont shut. I’m looking at TJ like what is going on, you need to wait for our other teammates! But when TJ had looked out the door she saw that Broski was icing a cake. No, I did not type the wrong thing. This woman was icing the cake because she said "it was fresh out of the oven and the icing melts best that way." Hearing her say this lets me know that Broski has lost her mind. Our other teammate Katia Levitsky (Ms. Lewinsky) sat on the couch and watched the news to "see what was going on" while we ran to the safe room. She too must have been drinking from the same crazy juice that Broski was sipping. We sit in the safe room for about 5 minutes and nothing happens.

Now our team owners and teammates are calling us asking us if we are ok, and also telling us that our apartment doesn’t have a safe room so do we want to stay with them. Huh? Now Im thinking, why in the world is our apartment the only one that doesn’t have a safe room. They are telling me, its no big deal I can go to the stairwell and walk down one floor and I will be ok.

Now after hearing this, I’m beginning to think that Ashley, TJ, and I are the only sane people in Israel. If bombs are coming, I do not want to be standing in a stairwell.

So things die down for A DAY and now today, I’m sound asleep in my bed taking a pre-game nap when I hear "Renee!" I jump up and Ashley is like "the bomb alarm" so I get out of bed and run out the apartment, without any shoes or socks on. (Now a lot of you don’t know me well, but I’m not a fan of germs, so for me to walk barefoot out of my apartment is unheard of). We get into the hallway and our neighbor is trying to get her children, (there were about 6 of them) into the stairwell. We were in the stairwell for about 2 minutes when we hear a boom. After the boom, all the Israeli's start leaving so we leave too but at this point I've had about enough. Our coach calls us a half hour later and tells us that our game has been cancelled and that they are moving us out of Ashdod.

I was mad that our game was cancelled because now we are prolonging our time here in Israel but I was happy to get out of Ashdod. So we pack our bags and head to Tel Aviv, and when I say pack, we acted like we were packing to go back home to America, but we are women so what do you expect? So now I am sitting here in my hotel room safe and sound. When things like this happen in other countries it makes me realize how blessed I am to live in America where we don't have to worry about war on our home soil. Below is a summary from a yahoo article about the details of what’s going on here in Israel. But I’m going to end with this... Pray for Israel and also pray for me because I’m greedy and like to receive as many prayers as I can : ) Until next time... Be Blessed

Renee Montgomery

JERUSALEM – Israeli aircraft struck the Gaza Strip on Thursday in response to militant rocket and mortar attacks, stoking concerns that a grave new round of hostilities will fill the vacuum left by an impasse in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Two years of relative calm have been unraveling in recent weeks with acts of violence against Israelis — including a deadly bombing in Jerusalem on Wednesday that killed a British tourist — and Israeli reprisals against Gaza militants, which in one case killed four Palestinian civilians. Militants operating near the Israeli border sent at least nine rockets and mortars — including two rockets that reached the city of Ashdod — flying at Israeli communities throughout the day, drawing an Israeli airstrike in retaliation. No injuries were reported on either side.

Received from