February 2010 Archives
By Shmulik Grossman
2. New House Letters Grandstanding on Israel/Palestinian Issues
4. New Ambassador to
Video footage (with English subtitles) from Saturday's demonstration is now available.
Check it out:
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Iran watchers keep two clocks: One counts down to a nuclear Iran, the other counts down to a democratic Iran.
Neither clock is guaranteed to keep ticking all the way down.
The Israel Defense Forces, the country's binding institution, recently set up a unit to combat, not Palestinian terror or a regional threat, but violence by the country's own citizens - specifically Jewish settlers in the West Bank against both Palestinians and fellow Israeli Jews.
Baker on Obama's Iran policy thus far: "I think it's too soon to say everything has failed. I don't -- I think you keep doing what you're doing. In other words, I think what you need to do is keep pushing for stronger sanctions and keep talking to or being ready to talk to the Iranian leadership, if they're willing to talk. Those things -- and support the reformers in the streets. Those three things. They're not mutually exclusive. It's exactly what we did for 40 years with the Soviet Union. We talked to them about nuclear -- we negotiated arms control agreements. We supported the dissidents in the Soviet Union. We worked hard on Soviet-Jewish emigres to get them the right to leave. We met with dissidents when we would go over there as -- as Secretary of State. And so there's no reason why we can't do all three of those things and continue to do them."
Over a thousand Peace Now activists and supporters gathered in Tel Aviv Saturday for a satirical demonstration to assert the notion that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Defense Minister Ehud Barak's peace rhetoric is not backed up by actions.
In the masquerade tradition of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which is celebrated this week, demonstrators were handed masks of Netanyahu and Barak, and placards referring to the Netanyahu government's make-believe peace overtures.
When you've spent years working to bring peace to Israel and to build support for that idea, watching someone else kick it around like a political football is just too much to swallow without speaking up.
(go HERE to read an Op-Ed on this issue by Peace Now's Yariv Oppenheimer)
Recent developments suggest that the settlers and their supporters are working to apply the tactics they have successfully used in the takeover of Silwan (and other areas of the Old City's historic basin) in Sheikh Jarrah. This means expanding the settler presence and settler dominance over the area not just through the takeover of homes, but through seizing control of the public domain (for the benefit of the settlers). It also means working to shift the Israeli (and international Jewish) public perception of the area in order to make this Palestinian neighborhood part of the so-called Jewish "consensus" -- an area viewed as being home to core Jewish religious and historic equities that must never be left under Palestinian control.
What we are seeing here is the Silwan-ization of Sheikh Jarrah.
On Saturday night hundreds of Peace Now activists will converge in Tel Aviv to make an important statement: Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak may talk a lot about peace, but - when it comes to actions - they are implementing an anti-peace agenda.
In recent days, Peace Now activists have been posting flyers about the demonstration all across Israel. Here is an English version of the flyer:
As the RJC makes clear in the piece, it is especially frustrated with the 54 members of Congress who signed a letter to President Obama expressing concern about the humanitarian suffering in Gaza. The RJC wants the world to know that everything -- yes, everything -- Israel does with respect to Gaza reflects bona fide Israeli security needs, and that any resulting suffering is 100% the fault of the Palestinians for making bad choices. And the RJC is putting these members of Congress - and everyone else - on notice that suggesting otherwise is no less than anti-Israel calumny. (The RJC is so excited about taking on APN and J Street over the Gaza letter that today it sent out a fund-raising email highlighting the JPost articles.)
The RJC's logic is the latest example of the kind of tactics Hadar and I are talking about in our article: "No American - Jewish, Muslim or Christian, Democrat or Republican - who recognizes the security benefit to Israel in ending rather than enabling Hamas' monopoly over basic goods in Gaza, who sees that furthering a humanitarian crisis does not equate to fighting terrorism, and who cares for the future of children in the Middle East, Israeli and Palestinian, should let anyone use fear and smear tactics for their own partisan benefit."
And as Hadar and I point out: "There are real threats to Israel. There really are people out there who don't support Israel as a Jewish democratic homeland. We don't need to invent opposition to Israel and we certainly don't need to push people who are supportive of Israel away from us by calling them 'anti-Israel' every time someone expresses either concern for Palestinians or opposition to a particular Israeli government position."
Shame on the RJC for this further shameless partisan grandstanding at the expense of Israel.
Once again, even Americans can not stand up to a small group of settlers, who show - more often than not - that they have the last word on what takes place in the West Bank. This time, a small group of settlers insisted, and succeeded, to squash a plan for building a hospital for Palestinian children at "Oush Grab" ("the Crow's Nest") east of Bethlehem.
By Ben Harris · February 18, 2010
On Tuesday, Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon essentially called J Street an organization of liars. Yesterday, the Israeli media reported that Ayalon intervened to prevent a Congressional delegation from meeting with representatives of the Israeli Foreign Ministry and other senior governmental officials.
As a political analyst, I understand that Ayalon wants headlines that appeal to his hard-line constituency. Sooner or later he will have to face re-election and to fight off other politicos eager for his senior rank within his party's Knesset list. Headlines like this probably help his political career.
This is of course a silly argument - imagine two doctors arguing about how to treat a patient: Doctor 1: "We've tried everything we can think of and he's not getting better, so I propose we try radiation." Doctor 2: "Are you nuts? Given his condition, all medical science points to the fact that radiation won't do anything to help him and will almost certainly make him worse" Doctor 1: "Well, unless you have a better idea you have no choice but to accept my recommendation." Doctor 2: "Where did you get your medical degree??"
But imaginary dialogues aside, there are some sanctions that actually make sense. For example, it seems self-evident that it makes sense to impose sanctions on those who are enabling Iran to block the internet, censor electronic communications, and otherwise interfere with the ability of Iranian citizens to communicate with each other and the outside world (anyone remember the term "twitter revolution?")
To which I think most people would reply: great idea! Someone in Congress should get working on this!
Yesterday, Israel's Hasbara Ministry launched a new web site, in Hebrew, to supply the Israeli traveler with ammunition against defamers of Israel abroad.
As an Israeli, I find this site offensive.
The Israeli High Court responded favorably to a Peace Now petition about following through on the mandated removal of two West Bank outposts.
Ha'aretz: "High Court orders Israel to speed up outpost demolitions"
Ynet: "State on illegal outpost: Delay in relocating settlers"
The structures were built in violation of Israeli law. Some of the land in these outposts is listed in Israeli-government documents as Palestinian-owned, private property. None of the land is owned by the squatters.
Violations of the West Bank settlement construction freeze have occurred in at least 34 settlements, a quarter of the total. Below, see footage captured by Peace Now of stealth construction of foundations during the night in the settlement of Talmon.
AFP: "Quarter of Israeli settlements violate building ban: group"
Ha'aretz: "U.S. denies dropping demand for Israel settlement freeze"
Reuters: "Abbas seeks U.S. answers before talking to Israel"
According to Defense Ministry figures, construction continues in dozens of settlements in violation of building moratorium. Peace Now: 'Begin was right - freeze means nothing'
Jerusalem Post: "29 settlements defy freeze order"
Ynet: "Defense Ministry: Building in 29 settlements despite freeze"
BBC News: "Israeli settlers 'still building'"
JTA: "Many settlements violating building freeze, Israel says"
Ha'aretz: "Defense Ministry reveals West Bank settlement freeze abuses"
Peace and security for Israel are inextricably linked to the welfare of the Palestinian public.
This letter marks an important achievement. It demonstrates a substantial constituency in Washington that wants to see the president take action. Click here to read the full text of the Congressional letter.
Accompanied by Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels and Cantor Ken Cohen of Beth Shir Sholom of Santa Monica, the grandchildren of Yitzhak Rabin Peace Award Recipient Irwin Levin speak about the life of the former Israeli Prime Minister and then sing the song "Shir L'Shalom". This concluded the Americans for Peace Now Yitzhak Rabin Peace Award Luncheon on Sunday, January 24, 2010.
Following is a the full text of the letter:
That is what Alan Dershowitz did.
Last month, Eretz Nehederet -- a prime-time satire show broadcast by Israel Television Channel Two -- produced a series of skits about settlers holding Israel's defense forces hostage.
by Ronen Medzini Published
By Nathan Guttman
Published February 03, 2010, issue of February 12, 2010.
Washington -- A congressional letter calling on the United States to press for the lifting of the blockades imposed by Israel and Egypt on Gaza has sparked controversy within the Jewish community.
Picture: Reps. Jim McDermott (left) and Keith Ellison sponsored effort to ease blockade on movement of civilian goods.
Didn't G-d Give Israel to the Jewish People?
They say:The Torah explicitly says that G-d gave Israel to the Jewish people. It is our birthright. The birth of the modern state of Israel in 1948 is the fulfillment of this right. No other national or religious claims are relevant. Those who ask Jews to give up an inch of our G-d-given trust, in the na‹ve hope of achieving "peace" with our enemies, fail to appreciate this birthright and the obligations it entails.
An irreconcilable difference?
They say: The Palestinian demand for the "right of return" is nothing more than a veiled call for the destruction of Israel. The fact that Palestinian leaders and negotiators, including from the so-called "moderate" parties, will not drop this demand proves that the Palestinians don't really want peace and a two-state solution, but really want a one-state solution - Palestine, located on all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
Even an Inch of Jerusalem?
They say: Jerusalem is the heart and soul of the Jewish people. Israel cannot give up any of this holy city to the Arabs, especially in light of history, where under Arab regimes Jews were denied access to our most important holy sites, and our holy sites were abused and damaged.
How can Israel be expected to leave Hebron?
They say: Hebron was the first capital of the Jewish state under King David, and it is the site of the tomb of the patriarchs and matriarchs of the Jewish people - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca, and Leah. Hebron cannot be given to the Arabs because, fundamentally, it belongs to the Jews.
Why shouldn't Israelis/Jews live in the Bank?
They say: Arabs live in Israel, so why can't Jews live in the West Bank? To accept this is to enforce a double-standard that demands tolerance from Israelis but accepts Arab anti-Semitism.
A Smart Move or a Strategic Blunder?
They say: In 2005, Israel gave Gaza to the Palestinians. Israel gave up every inch of the land, uprooting thousands of settlers from their homes and fields and relinquishing strategically vital territory like the Philadelphi Corridor. Rather than getting peace in return for this concession, Israel got more terror: Hamas control of Gaza, Qassams raining down on southern Israel, and the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit. The Gaza experience proves that "land for peace" doesn't work.
How is the dismantling of some checkpoints and roadblocks in Israel's interest, and not just opening the door for more terrorism?
They say: The Left demands that checkpoints and roadblocks be dismantled. This is irresponsible. Checkpoints are not about punishing the Palestinians but about saving Israeli lives. It is Palestinian terrorism that makes the checkpoints necessary. When terrorism stops, checkpoints can come down. Until then, removing them now only opens the door for more terrorism.
Will removing West Bank settlements and outposts satisfy the Arabs and bring peace?
They say: Removing settlements and outposts from the West Bank will not satisfy the Arabs and bring peace. The Arabs regard even Tel Aviv as "occupied territory" and aspire to "liberate" all of Palestine.
that the UN can play a constructive role in resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict?
They say: The UN is stacked against Israel. From the "Zionism is racism" resolution to the seemingly unending gratuitous criticism of Israel, to the numerous UN bodies dedicated to Palestinian rights, it is clear that at best the UN is NOT an honest broker in this conflict and at worst the UN is anti-Israel. Why, then, does the Left seem to believe that the UN can play a constructive role in resolving the Israeli-Arab conflict?
when most Israelis adamantly oppose ceding the Golan Heights?
They say: Polls show that most Israelis object to ceding the entire Golan Heights to Syria, even in return for a full peace accord. Peace Now supports negotiations with Syria, knowing that the return of the entire Golan Heights is a core Syrian demand. How can Peace Now support something that most Israelis adamantly oppose?
of the refugee problem and open the door for resettling these Palestinians immediately in the host countries?
They say: If you really care about peace and about the Palestinian people, why aren't you demanding that UNRWA - which has been accused of supporting terrorists - be disbanded?Wouldn't that end the perpetuation of the refugee problem and open the door for resettling these Palestinians immediately in the host countries?
(Abu Mazen), who has clearly not sworn off violence against Israel, is a partner for Israel?
They say: How can you say that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a "partner" for peace? He may sound good when he talks to left-wing Americans, but he shows his true colors when he talks to other Arabs: Earlier this year he told the Jordanian daily "al-Dustur" that he was currently opposed to armed struggle against Israel, but that "maybe in the future things will be different." How can you seriously argue that this man, who has clearly not sworn off violence against Israel, is a partner for Israel?
why aren't they also leading the calls on Israel to use every tool possible to root out the terrorists and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure that supports them?
They say: The Left always wants negotiations, talks, and ceasefires, and criticizes Israel when it takes strong action against terrorists. If the Left is serious about talking to "moderate" Palestinians, why isn't it leading the calls on Israel to use every tool possible - like major military force, detentions and arrests, home demolitions, targeted killings, stronger economic pressure, and whatever else Israeli security strategists can come up with - to root out the terrorists and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure that supports them??
as "occupied" when they never belonged to any other sovereign nation and Israel gained control of them as an outcome of a war forced on them?
They say: Why does the Left insist on referring to "Occupied Territories?" Judea and Samaria (or as the Left would say, the West Bank and Gaza) cannot be "occupied" because they never belonged to any other sovereign nation. Israel gained control of these areas as an outcome of a war that was forced on Israel by the Arabs. And now the Arabs have the temerity to blame Israel for not handing them back to the people who attacked it. This is ridiculous. Israel has every right to hold onto this land; if someone disagrees with that, then this makes the status of these areas "disputed."
in supporting this Palestinian leadership when the Palestinians themselves are not doing their share?
They say: Claiming political impotence has become part of a strategy of the Palestinian leadership in order to evade accountability and responsibility. This is a ruse. Abbas and his cronies have the resources and ability to govern. What they lack is the willingness and determination to do so. Instead, they blame Israel and demand more and more political and security concessions, and they beg for more and more economic handouts. Why should Israel and the international community invest in supporting this Palestinian leadership and trying to create a Palestinian state when the Palestinians themselves are not doing their share?
The attack on NIF concerns all progressive Israelis and their supporters in the United States.
Here is the text of the press release.
protects Israel from another "Hamastan" like exists in Gaza. Withdrawal would put Israelis in jeopardy.
They say: The only thing preventing the West Bank from looking like Gaza is the presence of the Israeli military in these territories. Israeli control of the West Bank is actually the only way to protect Israel from another "Hamastan," on its east. An Israeli withdrawal under any circumstances would put Israelis in jeopardy. So why does APN constantly demand an end to the "occupation" and an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank?
Sacred Site or Fabricated Excuse for Israel Haters?
They say: Arab opposition to this project is fake. Arabs never cared about the site until now, and now it is just an excuse for Israel haters - like the Islamic Movement of Israel, an organization that is anti-Zionist, which has contacts with militant Islamists worldwide, including with Hamas - to attack and try to embarrass Israel. By opposing the project, Americans for Peace Now is siding with anti-Semites, Israel haters, and terrorists.