Friday, February 15, 2019

"New Era" Begins in MidEast: Warsaw Conference

In an unprecedented miracle, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait participated in the Warsaw summit with Israel.  
In the above photo, Benjamin Netanyahu greets Omani Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah.  Pinch me.




Warsaw Sees Growing Israeli-Arab Alignment - Laura Rozen

Veteran U.S. peace negotiator Dennis Ross moderated a panel of three Arab foreign ministers at a closed-door dinner in Warsaw on Wednesday. Ross wrote on Twitter, "The PA may not like it, but Arab states will pursue their interests even when the Palestinian leadership opposes. Case in point: the Warsaw Conference. Arab states had more of an interest in arguing for unity of effort against Iran than boycotting a conference the PA opposed."
    
"At the Warsaw Conference, I conducted back-to-back discussions first with three Arab ministers and then with Israeli PM Netanyahu. Same room, same views of Iran's aggressive, threatening posture in the Middle East, and unmistakable convergence of what should be done to counter it."
    
U.S. Middle East peace hand Aaron David Miller said: "Look, the prime minister of Israel had dinner in a private session with...a number of Arab foreign ministers....What is so stunning, so preternaturally amazing, is that at a time when there is no peace process and no prospect of one...Israel's stock in the region and in the international community is higher now than at any point since the state was created."  
(Al-Monitor)



Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that statements by Arab leaders at the Warsaw conference on the Middle East have laid the groundwork for the Arab public to accept normalization of ties with Israel. Arab foreign ministers speaking together with Israel about a common enemy is a "process of legitimization" for Arab public opinion. Netanyahu said that Arab foreign ministers "spoke blatantly against Iran and about Israel's right to defend itself," which he called a "momentous event."
    
Netanyahu said he had never talked about reaching peace with Arab countries "before solving the Palestinian issue....But I did say we would continue with normalization and flights [over Arab countries], diplomatic steps or changes in public opinion, slowly and gradually."  
(Ha'aretz)


- Tovah Lazaroff

Iran's funding of violence in the region has prevented the resolution of conflicts in the Middle East, Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said at a closed-door session of the Warsaw summit on Wednesday. "When we come to Palestine-Israel, there was a Camp David agreement. There was Madrid. There were many other ways of solving it, and had we stayed on the same path, and if it wasn't for the toxic money, guns and foot soldiers of the Islamic Republic, I think we would have been much closer today in solving this issue with Israel. But this is a serious challenge that is preventing us from moving forward anywhere, be it Syria, be it Yemen, be it Iraq, be it anywhere. My country is under threat."  
(Jerusalem Post)


- Jessica Donati and Sune Engel Rasmussen

President Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner, in a closed-door presentation in Warsaw on Thursday, focused his appeal for support of his peace efforts on Israel and the Gulf Arab countries. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the "normalization" of relations with the Arab world would help, adding, "I am happy to say there is progress on that." 

Saudi Arabia's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Adel al-Jubeir, said, "We strongly believe it's time to find a solution to this long-running conflict."  
(Wall Street Journal)
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Friday, February 01, 2019

Arab Reflects on Israel

A video, unrelated to the article, but obviously relevant

  • We Arabs have so far fought Israel for over 70 years with two openly stated objectives: Either destroy Israel by force, or destroy Israel by transforming it into an Arab state through a "solution" that would see Palestinian so-called refugees join the Jewish state.
  • If we had destroyed Israel, we would have entered history as responsible for another genocide of the Jewish people, not long after the Holocaust. By resisting and defeating the coalitions of Arab armies that attempted to destroy it, Israel prevented us from becoming the second Nazis of history.
  • And if we had succeeded in changing Israel into an Arab state, we would have found ourselves with one more failed Arab state, where democracy is fictional and where torture, muzzling of the press, and political assassinations are not.
  • Instead of this, Israeli Arabs live in a world-class country, with extensive economic opportunities and democratic freedoms. Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria and Gaza could have achieved those benefits too, if they had chosen peace over war.
  • Israel gives its Arab citizens equal rights even though the Arab world violently expelled practically all its Jews. Israel welcomes Arab visitors even though Israelis are banned from most of the Arab world.

    The writer is a Canadian of Arab origin.
(Times of Israel)
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Sunday, January 27, 2019

VideoBite: Antisemitism & Anti-Zionism

V

This 3 minute gem from Yossi Klein Halevi is profound and contains some unique observations

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

VideoBite: Christian Persecution


2 minute video highlighting Christian persecution in the MidEast
[Source: Christians United for Israel]

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Zoom Out!



There Is No 'Israeli-Palestinian Conflict:'
To Understand Why, Zoom Out
 

- Matti Friedman 

Th[e] phrase “the Israeli-Palestinian conflict”contains a few important assumptions. That the conflict is between two actors, Israelis and Palestinians. That it could be resolved by those two actors, and particularly by the stronger side, Israel. That it’s taking place in the corner of the Middle East under Israeli rule.

To someone here in Israel, [t]here isn’t an Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the way that many outsiders seem to think, and this perception gap is worth spelling out. It has nothing to do with being right-wing or left-wing in the American sense. To borrow a term from the world of photography, the problem is one of zoom. Simply put, outsiders are zoomed in, and people here in Israel are zoomed out. Understanding this will make events here easier to grasp. In the Israeli view, no peacemaker can bring the two sides together because there aren’t just two sides. There are many, many sides.

Most of Israel’s wars haven’t been fought against Palestinians. Since the invasion of five Arab armies at the declaration of the State of Israel in May 1948, the Palestinians have made up a small number of the combatants facing the country. To someone here, zooming in to frame our problem as an Israeli-Palestinian conflict makes as much sense as describing the “America-Italy conflict” of 1944. American G.I.s were indeed dying in Italy that year, but an American instinctively knows that this can be understood only by seeing it as one small part of World War II. The actions of Americans in Italy can’t be explained without Japan, or without Germany, Russia, Britain and the numerous actors and sub-conflicts making up the larger war.

Over the decades when Arab nationalism was the region’s dominant ideology, Israeli soldiers faced Egyptians, Syrians, Jordanians, Lebanese and Iraqis. Today Israel’s most potent enemy is the Shiite theocracy in Iran, which is more than 1,000 miles away and isn’t Palestinian (or Arab). The gravest threat to Israel at close range is Hezbollah on our northern border, an army of Lebanese Shiites founded and funded by the Iranians.

A threat of a lesser order is posed by Hamas, which is Palestinian — but was founded as the local incarnation of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, affiliated with the regional wave of Sunni radicalism, kept afloat with Qatari cash and backed by Iran.

If you see only an “Israeli-Palestinian” conflict, then nothing that Israelis do makes sense. (That’s why Israel’s enemies prefer this framing.) In this tightly cropped frame, Israelis are stronger, more prosperous and more numerous. The fears affecting big decisions, like what to do about the military occupation in the West Bank, seem unwarranted if Israel is indeed the far more powerful party.

That’s not the way Israelis see it. Many here believe that an agreement signed by a Western-backed Palestinian leader in the West Bank won’t end the conflict, because it will wind up creating not a state but a power vacuum destined to be filled by intra-Muslim chaos, or Iranian proxies, or some combination of both. That’s exactly what has happened around us in Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. 

In the “Israeli-Palestinian” framing, with all other regional components obscured, an Israeli withdrawal in the West Bank seems like a good idea — “like a real-estate deal,” in President Trump’s formulation — if not a moral imperative. And if the regional context were peace, as it was in Northern Ireland, for example, a power vacuum could indeed be filled by calm.

But anyone using a wider lens sees that the actual context here is a complex, multifaceted war, or a set of linked wars, devastating this part of the world. The scope of this conflict is hard to grasp in fragmented news reports but easy to see if you pull out a map and look at Israel’s surroundings, from Libya through Syria and Iraq to Yemen.

The fault lines have little to do with Israel. They run between dictators and the people they’ve been oppressing for generations; between progressives and medievalists; between Sunni and Shiite; between majority populations and minorities. If our small sub-war were somehow resolved, or even if Israel vanished tonight, the Middle East would remain the same volatile place it is now.

Abandoning the pleasures of the simple story for the confusing realities of the bigger picture is emotionally unsatisfying. An observer is denied a clear villain or an ideal solution. But it does make events here comprehensible, and it will encourage Western policymakers to abandon fantastic visions in favor of a more reasonable grasp of what’s possible. And that, in turn, might lead to some tangible improvements in a world that could use fewer illusions and wiser leaders.
[New York Times]
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Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Bibi in Saudi Arabia?



Will Netanyahu Go to Riyadh?  - Karen Elliot House 

The Trump administration has worked for nearly two years to get Riyadh and Jerusalem openly working together. Crown Prince Mohammed loves risk and is eager to turn the page from the Jamal Khashoggi murder.

Israel and Saudi Arabia share a fear of Iranian expansionism and are the closest U.S. allies in the region. They have maintained informal but not-so-secret contacts, sharing intelligence on their common nemesis. Why not make it official?

A Netanyahu-Mohammed meeting would be a capstone of the Trump administration’s effort to isolate and contain Iran. The so-called Arab Street’s indifference to the U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem is said to have given the crown prince the confidence to take his relationship with Israel public at the right time. On a more political level, it surely would divert public and media attention from problems currently besetting each of the three leaders involved.

For Mr. Netanyahu, facing domestic political problems and a new election, it would be a dramatic breakthrough on the order of Anwar Sadat’s 1977 visit to Jerusalem. And for Crown Prince Mohammed, it could restore some of his international luster, tarnished by the Khashoggi murder. 

Such a meeting would offer only upsides for Messrs. Trump and Netanyahu. For Crown Prince Mohammed it would entail some risk. Openly cooperating with Israel without resolving the future of Jerusalem and its Islamic holy sites surely would provoke opposition from religious Saudis, though only sotto voce given the crown prince’s severe repression of domestic opponents. 

For two years Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has worked to unite Israel and Saudi Arabia in a Mideast peace deal, ideally including full diplomatic relations. It isn’t clear the two countries are ready to go that far, but it does seem likely they are ready to leapfrog the intractable Palestinian issue and publicly cooperate with the U.S. to bring Iran to heel. Tehran’s growing influence in Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, and its intention to possess missiles that could reach the U.S., raises new alarms that militate in favor of a public Saudi-Israeli embrace.

Crown Prince Mohammed has been dropping hints that a formal rapprochement may be in the offing. On his April visit to the U.S., he publicly said when asked that the Jewish people, like “each people, anywhere, has a right to live in their peaceful nation.” 

Until recently a public meeting between Israel’s prime minister and Saudi Arabia’s de facto ruler would have seemed impossible. Then again, so did the Sadat visit, President Nixon’s 1972 trip to China, and Mr. Trump’s summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un last year. 

New reality often sweeps away the logic of impossibility. And Mr. Trump loves spectacles. Imagine him watching the historic drama on television—or flying to Riyadh to join it.
Ms. House, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal, is author of “On Saudi Arabia: Its People, Past, Religion, Fault Lines—and Future”
[Wall Street Journal]
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Friday, January 04, 2019

Podcast: David Luria, Director, Ateret Cohanim


Daniel Luria, Executive Director of Ateret Cohanim, discusses various topics related to Jerusalem and Zionism.  Fascinating podcast above.  At 48 minutes, it's no soundbite.  But I couldn't resist posting this excellent conversation. 

[Source: Jewish Journal]

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

"Tectonic Shifts" in MidEast



Tectonic Shifts in Attitudes Toward Israel - Daniel Pipes, PhD 

As Arabs and Muslims warm to Israel, the Left grows colder. 

It is striking to note that full-scale Arab state warfare versus Israel lasted a mere 25 years (1948-73) and ended 45 long years ago; and that Turkey and Iran have since picked up the anti-Zionist torch.

That Arab and Muslim enmity has fractured, probably never to be reconstituted, amounts to one tectonic shift in the Arab-Israeli conflict. The second, no less important, involves the global Left's growing hostility to Israel.

Attitudes toward the Jewish state follow an almost linear progression of growing negativity as one goes from right to left. 

It was not always thus. Joseph Stalin was so instrumental to Israel's birth in 1947-49 by providing diplomatic support and armaments that Abba Eban, Israel's first UN ambassador, observed that "we couldn't have made it, either diplomatically or militarily," if not for Soviet help. Democrats Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy rank among the most pro-Israel of American presidents, but Republican Dwight Eisenhower was unquestionably the most antagonistic.

MbS versus Jeremy Corbyn symbolizes these two tectonic shifts, as does Israel now enjoying better relations with Egypt than with Sweden. The president of Chad turns up in Israel but a singer from New Zealand does not. Israel's athletes compete in the United Arab Emirates but get banned in Spain. Muslims show increasing indifference to the breakdown in Palestinian-Israeli diplomacy, but Leftists express growing anger over it.

Only an Israel victory and a Palestinian defeat will achieve [a resolution of this issue]. In other words, getting the Palestinians to cry uncle is an urgent priority for Israel and its supporters.
[Washington Times] 
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Friday, December 14, 2018

‘Game Changing’ Arab Israeli Reconciliation?

Report claims Saudi Crown Prince planning ‘game-changing’ meeting with Israeli Prime Minister
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and President Donald Trump
The Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, is planning a “game-changing” meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the Middle East Eye reported Thursday.

According to the London-based, Qatari-funded outlet, the sources in the Saudi kingdom claimed that the Crown Prince is “seriously considering” a “game-changing” meeting with Netanyahu, which would be hosted by President Donald Trump.

The plan for a meeting with the Israeli leader, including a public handshake modeled on the Begin-Sadat handshake at Camp David in 1978, is reportedly being developed by a special team put together by the Crown Prince to deflect criticism following the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at a Saudi consulate in Turkey in October.

The move is reportedly being promoted in part in the hopes of curbing plans by Western powers, including a pending motion in the US Senate, against the Saudi leadership over Khashoggi’s murder.

“MBS asked his task force to study this proposal and he hinted that he liked the idea,” a Saudi official told the Middle East Eye.

“The task force agreed that without a major stunt, there is a real danger of a series of decisions from Congress that would fundamentally set back the Saudi-US relationship, which is key for the crown prince.”

Bruce's notes
Pinch me.  While most likely a Saudi 'trial balloon' or a nefarious leak, if this report turns out to be accurate, we could be looking at a major development that would change the course of MidEast politics.  It could eclipse the failed Oslo agreement and be the most significant handshake in ages.  Could the [murderous, and now vulnerable/more flexible] Saudis provide the juice needed to move the Arab-Israeli conflict toward resolution? Will the exchange include a plan to hit Iran's underground nuclear facilities with bunker bombs?  

Thursday, November 29, 2018

West Bank As Security Buffer


Why Israel Can't Walk Away from the West Bank 
- Lt.-Col. Peter Lerner

Topography and geography play a key role in the strategic debate about peace with the Palestinians. The West Bank is a mountain ridge that Israel requires in order to safeguard its civilians. In the shadows of the West Bank's hills, between Haifa and Ashkelon, lies 70% of Israel's population and 80% of its industry. Anyone who controls that mountainous area controls everything beneath it. 

With Iranian leaders calling Israel a cancerous tumor and eyeing Jordan as its next playground, can any Israeli leadership relinquish security control over such a strategic asset?
    
The writer served for 25 years in the IDF as a spokesperson and liaison officer to international organizations in the West Bank and Gaza.
(Ha'aretz)
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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Jihadists Are Neo-Barbary Pirates



Recalling Western-Muslim History - Raymond Ibrahim 
  • From Islam's first contact with Western civilization and for more than a millennium thereafter, Muslims behaved not unlike the Islamic State and on the same conviction: that Islam commands war on - and the enslavement or slaughter of - non-Muslims.
  • During this perennial jihad that began in the seventh century, almost 3/4 of Christendom's original territory was permanently swallowed up by Islam. European nations and territories were attacked and/or came under Muslim occupation (sometimes for centuries). An Islamic army of 200,000 martyrdom-seeking jihadis came as late as 1683 to conquer Vienna, but failed.
  • Between the 15th and 18th centuries alone, approximately five million Europeans were abducted and enslaved in the name of jihad. Muslim slavers of the Barbary States of North Africa wreaked havoc all along the coasts of Europe; America's first war was against these Islamic slavers.
  • In short, for well over a millennium - punctuated by a Crusader rebuttal - Islam posed an existential threat to Western civilization. Yet today, the predominant historic narrative is that Muslims are the historic victims of intolerant Western Christians.
  • But all this is history, it might be argued. Why not let it be and move on, and begin a new chapter of mutual tolerance and respect?
  • This would be a somewhat plausible position if not for the fact that, all around the globe, many Muslims are still exhibiting the same imperial impulse and intolerant supremacism of their forbears.
  • In classrooms all across the Islamic world, Muslim children are taught to glorify the jihadi conquests of yore - while despising infidels.

    The writer, a former Arabic language specialist at the Library of Congress and editor and translator of The Al Qaeda Reader, is a fellow at the Middle East Forum.
(Jerusalem Post)
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Thursday, November 01, 2018

Understanding Anti-Semitism

Scholar Dr. Ruth Wisse

The Many Faces of Jew-Hatred - Ruth Wisse

Instead of prompting a serious inquiry into the ideology that fuels the murder of Jews, the atrocity in Pittsburgh seems to be reinforcing a misconception that can only worsen the problem. Anti-Semitism is a politics of misdirected blame, and Americans must be sure to avoid its trap.
    
Anti-Semitism becomes truly dangerous to a society only when espoused by its leaders and politicians. But unlike in Germany, where the attacks on Jews were launched by the Fuhrer, our head of government ordered the full press of law enforcement to prosecute the sole gunman. Unlike in Germany, where the SS directed and fomented the attacks on Jews, here four policemen were shot trying to save the Jews. Moreover, the American people are united in horror at this atrocity.
    
That a single shooter wants to kill the Jews is less dangerous to this country than Louis Farrakhan's smiling designation of Jews as "termites," broadcast to a vast audience, or the vicious movement to boycott Israel - an extension of the Arab boycott launched in 1945. 
The writer, a senior fellow at the Tikvah Fund, is a former professor of Yiddish and comparative literature at Harvard. 
(Wall Street Journal)
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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

When Hate Poses As Liberty: Romanticizing Terror

Hate posing as Liberty

The West Must Stop Fetishizing Palestinian Extremists - Stephen Daisley 
  • He is bare-chested, muscular and not unattractive. A Palestinian flag blazes in one hand, a slingshot is strained taut in the other. All around him is smoke and press photographers. Aed Abu Amro [pictured above], a 20-year-old Gazan, is rioting on the boundary between the Hamas-run statelet and Israel's southern frontier. Amro, who was snapped mid-rampage on Monday, has stirred that morbid romanticism which draws Western progressives to the Palestinians.
  • Newsweek gushed of "the now-iconic photo." The New Zealand Herald told its readers the image had "drawn comparisons with the iconic French Revolution painting, 'Liberty Leading the People,' by Eugene Delacroix [pictured above]." There is scarcely an anti-Israel agitator who has not tweeted, Facebooked or Instagrammed the picture. Depictions of heroic resistance rewrite the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a romantic epic in which righteous victims are ennobled by their oppression at the hands of inhuman tormentors.
  • Amro is the new Ahed Tamimi [pictured at right], the 17-year-old Palestinian jailed for eight months for assaulting Israeli soldiers. In a series of interviews with Tunisian media this month, she said: "We should always be slapping
    Tamimi
    soldiers, wherever they may be, regardless of whether they did anything or not....We, as a generation, will fight for the liberation of Palestine in its entirety."
  • Tamimi will fight for the destruction of the world's only Jewish state, which is located, for those who still inhabit the fact-based community, on land to which Jews are indigenous, in which they alone have ever been sovereign, from which they were expelled, to which they returned, and upon which a rival Palestinian nationality so defined has staked a claim to nationhood for little more than a century and to statehood for around half that time.
  • Westerners have little time and even less comprehension for Palestinians who seek comity and compromise, who acknowledge Israel as the state of the Jewish people, who recognize Israel's legitimate security needs and who spurn the self-harming violence of their fellow Palestinians. The peacemakers exist but they do not capture the imagination of remote revolutionaries. They are the wrong kind of Palestinians.
  • Instead, Aed Abu Amro will be the face of Palestine and Tamimi its voice. The Palestinians will go on being pin-ups and go on being stateless.
(Spectator-UK)
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Bruce's notes
In the real world, the Palestinian movement is fading: abandoned by fellow Sunnis the world over and increasingly spurned by Sunni majority countries.  The real world has grown tired of the contradictions in the Palestinian "narrative."  Nonetheless, there are significant portions of the progressive movement who are clinging to this dying cause.  This article highlights that trend in poignant fashion.  

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Saudi Crisis: Don't Make It Worse

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (AFP)

Take a Deep Breath on Saudi Arabia - Sohrab Ahmari

When it comes to Saudi Arabia and the Jamal Khashoggi affair, everyone needs to take a deep breath. 

That's an almost impossible task given the heinousness of the crime and the Saudi regime's feckless efforts to dodge responsibility for it. An alliance that withstood the melting heat of the 9/11 attacks, carried out by a team of mostly Saudi terrorists, now appears on the verge of collapse over the fate of an op-ed columnist.
    
Before endorsing calls to scrap the Saudi-American relationship, keep in mind the following: First, the Saudis can be terrible friends. But they are friends in a region full of enemies. What Riyadh did to Khashoggi was awful and appalling. The Saudis do lots of other awful and appalling things, too. Beheadings. Judicial amputation. Outright bans on the practice of religions other than Islam.
    
Even so, Saudi Arabia isn't a sworn, systemic enemy of the U.S. Their state is not founded on the mantra of "Death to America, Death to Israel, Death to Britain" (that would be the Islamic Republic of Iran, Riyadh's archenemy).
    
Second, destabilizing Saudi Arabia would be an enormous folly. Tightening the diplomatic screws on the Saudi regime could have deeply unsettling effects. As the outcome of the Arab Spring taught Western elites, don't flirt with a destabilizing rupture with Riyadh unless you are prepared to countenance an Islamist takeover and/or further Iranian encroachments. 
(Commentary)
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Don't Whitewash What He Believed - Petra Marquardt-Bigman

It doesn't really matter what views Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi held. Opinions quite simply never justify murder. Yet there is a widespread misperception that Khashoggi was some kind of liberal dissident.
    
As the New York Times noted, Khashoggi joined the Muslim Brotherhood as a young man, and he "remained conversant in its conservative, Islamist and often anti-Western rhetoric." 

Khashoggi told Al Jazeera Arabic a year ago he "deplored the [Saudi] authorities' decision to allow some in the Saudi news media to express support for Israel against the Palestinians." For Khashoggi, the "struggle against Israel" was a critical part of the Islamist agenda he embraced.

Khashoggi's intense hatred for Israel is clearly reflected in his Al Hayat columns. Israel's "existence is outside the context of history and logic...it came into being by force, it will live by force and it will die by force," he wrote. He praised Hamas for accomplishing the "miracle" of procuring rockets and explosives, and was full of admiration that "the huge network of tunnels that extends for miles under Gaza and the borders with Israel and Egypt were used brilliantly to inflict unprecedented losses on the enemy."  
(Ha'aretz)
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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Truth Leaks Out

Abd Al-Bari Atwan, a Palestinian journalist, lets the truth leak out

Arafat Told Me He Went Along with Oslo Accords "to Bring the PLO Back to Palestine" 
    
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, Palestinian journalist Abd Al-Bari Atwan [pictured] revealed in Rai Al-Yawm on Sep. 13 that PLO leader Yasser Arafat told him he did not believe in the Oslo path, but that he was going along with it because it was an opportunity "to bring the PLO and the resistance back to Palestine" and to drive out the Jews.
    

Atwan also noted that Arafat had cooperated with, funded, and armed members of Hamas, and had coordinated with Hizbullah to dispatch ships bringing weapons to the Gaza coast. 
(MEMRI)
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Monday, August 27, 2018

Cyber Siberia & Return from Cyber Exile





Returning from Cyber Exile - Bruce

"Cyber exile" is a relatively new concept.

I never thought it would happen to me.  I'm an "ideas" guy.  I like debate and find the free flow of intellectual discourse to be one of the most enjoyable things about being alive.  That, apparently, is no longer in vogue.  That ideas are to be banned from the public square is a relatively new concept in the American psyche.  It seems to have gained traction, as my experience attests to.

I've been associated with the National Havurah Committee [NHC] secondary to my membership in an affiliated congregation.  Thus, I've been a relatively quiet member of their electronic listserv for many years.  Periodically I would post an article I found interesting and thought others would find interesting as well. 

(Note: a "listserv" is an electronic bulletin board/mailing list that distributes emails to subscribers. It is not unusual for organizations to use listservs to facilitate communication among its members.)


It's not that I didn't know most NHC listserv members were very liberal and left wing.  Of course I did; some of them are my friends.  It's that I severely underestimated how much the world has changed...how much ideas can be shunned.  Or rather, I was to be shunned.

Jonathan Tobin has called this phenomenon "...the twenty first-century's version of Puritan New England's stocks where the public could mock and pelt offenders with garbage for violating community norms."

It began innocently enough on December 21st, 2016.  I read, enjoyed and posted a piece I thought worthy of consideration on the National Havurah Committee listserv.

Even now the piece strikes me as intellectually sound and interesting.  The scholarly article was called "Celebrating Orientalism" by Richard Landes.  It was published in a journal called Middle East Quarterly [Winter 2017, Volume 23].  Click HERE to view the article.

In my email to the NHC listserv I introduced the article as follows:

Dear Cyberspiritualists,

I just read a rather lengthy article, that lays out a fresh intellectual
reframe for understanding the MidEast.  Worth printing, reading and
debating over Shabbat.

Many on the left have a strong distaste for religious triumphalism...except
when it comes to the religious triumphalism of Islam.  This piece offers an
analysis of that tendency and its dangers.

For those averse to long pieces, allow me to tempt you with this gem:

*"It took a millennium of constant and painful efforts for Western culture
to learn how to sublimate man's libido dominandi to the point of creating a
society tolerant of diversity, one that resolved disputes with a discourse
of fairness rather than violence, and one where positive-sum encounters are
a desired norm. To insist, as many liberals do, that this exceptional
achievement be considered the default mode for mankind regardless of how
far the "other" is from this cherished goal, and to exempt enemies of
democracy from the civic responsibility of self-criticism even while
redoubling its burden on oneself, is to undermine the freedoms Western
civilization has built up over centuries."*

See:
http://www.meforum.org/6400/celebrating-orientalism

Warmly,
Bruce Xxxxxxxx :}

The avalanche that followed my post was not to be believed.  In the hundreds of email postings that followed, I was accused of Islamophobia, racism, white supremacy, fascism and bigotry.  It should be noted that many listserv members, even those disagreeing with the piece I posted, defended me.

Nonetheless, two days later I was removed from the listserv, receiving this simple notification banishing me to cyber-Siberia:

The Executive Committee of the NHC Board of Directors has decided to remove you from the NHC-DISCUSS listserv, as your most recent email is really not appropriate.  We have all kinds of lively debates in our community, on everything from Israel politics to how to count a minyan, but we feel strongly that an NHC listserv cannot be used to disseminate Islamophobia or any other form of bigotry. 
-Harpo Jxxxxx, Treasurer of the Board

There was enormous pressure on the NHC Board of Directors from the membership to reinstate me.  Despite this pressure, it was almost a year before I was reinstated.

As I reflect on this experience, it is not hard to chalk this up to an increasingly polarized polity and a partisan divide that has worsened significantly over the last decade or so.  Tolerance for opposing views is limited by an elevated sense of political correctness gone amok.  The First Amendment, while still intact, has been socially chipped away at by accusations of "hate speech" that have been applied so liberally [no pun intended] as to be rendered almost meaningless.

As fate would have it, an early mentor of mine just died as I'm writing this.  David McReynolds, a pacifist and long time socialist, was a friend and a strong influence on me in my 20's and early 30's.  His New York Times obituary stated:

Mr. McReynolds resigned from the Socialist Party in 2015 after he was censured for comments he had made on social media. In one, he expressed concern over Islamist extremism following a terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo, a newspaper in Paris. 
“The failure of the Socialist Party, its tendency to substitute a kind of left rhetoric for serious analysis, is to be regretted...,” Mr. McReynolds wrote after his resignation.
Source: New York Times [8/18/18]
Even David McReynolds, a morally centered soul from the left wing intelligentsia, could not escape politically correct cyber exile!

I don't mean to compare myself with such a great thinker as David McReynolds, but the irony is poignant.

I am sad to say that my cyber exile was quite effective.  I no longer identify with the NHC community.

I am planning to leave the NHC listserv...this time voluntarily.
[Bruce's MidEast Soundbites]
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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

To Palestinian Arabs: "It's Over"

Palestinian Arab flashes a V for "victory" sign with his hand...but have they reached the end of the road?

Time for Palestinians to Stop Fighting Lost Battles - Daniel J. Arbess 

Palestinian Arabs need to realize it's time to stop fighting lost battles and accept reality.

Israel is the ancestral and legal homeland of the Jewish people. Its capital is Jerusalem, as the U.S. has belatedly recognized, with other countries following. 

Israel's enemies lost the Six-Day War more than 50 years ago and relinquished the West Bank and the ancient city of Jerusalem.

The 1967-borders-and-land-swaps formula of the 1993 Oslo Accord is an artifact of history, overtaken by developments on the ground, and the Palestinians rejected itA broad alignment is coalescing among Israel and its treaty partners, Egypt and Jordan, and the consensus now informally includes Saudi Arabia and the UAE, among others. With this Israeli-Arab detente, the Palestinians are finding that they are the last holdouts of an Arab world that has accepted Israel and will make peace with it.

Arab leaders who truly want to help their people know the path is through creativity, negotiation and compromise, not violent "resistance" - a euphemism for terrorism - and war.

Polls show the Israeli public wants a dignified outcome that integrates the Palestinian people into Israel's thriving economy and culture of innovation.

But security comes first. How could Israel ease security restrictions while Palestinian leaders are indoctrinating and inciting new generations to violence?
The writer is CEO of Xerion Investments and a co-founder of No Labels.
(Wall Street Journal)
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UPDATE


Palestinian Leadership Does Not Understand the U.S. President 
- Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The Palestinian leadership does not understand the character of President Donald Trump. Since the beginning of his presidential term, one of Trump's acquaintances warned: Try to understand how to disagree with him, otherwise he will throw you under the bus! This is what happened to Mahmoud Abbas, whose friends are now rushing to get him from under the bus.
    
Among the mistakes committed by the Palestinian leadership is that it tried a confrontation and forgot that the American government has huge influence on Palestinian activity as it's the largest funder of the Palestinian refugees and their organization UNRWA, contributing a quarter of a billion dollars each year.
    
When delegates dispatched by President Trump went to the Palestinian territories to explain their ideas, the Palestinian leadership refused to receive them. The leadership was angry because the American government had executed an old decision to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The opposite should have happened; the Palestinians should have met the American delegation. Sitting down and talking would have been the right approach.
    
One of the major mistakes is believing that Palestine is a pivotal cause which Arabs and Muslims will not give up on. Truth is they have given up on it a long time ago, as each state is preoccupied with its causes. This is the truth, which the dreamers in the Arab world must realize. 
The writer is former general manager of Al Arabiya and a former editor-in-chief ofAsharq al-Awsat. 
(Al-Arabiya)
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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words


In the wake of Israel's announcement that they will be the forth country to land on the moon [the United States, Russian and China were first], this gem was done by awesome blogger Aussie Dave on IsraellyCool

Friday, June 15, 2018

Pipes: 'War is Not Traditionally Conducted Like This'



Interview with Dr. Daniel Pipes 

Question: Was Israel hurt by the recent Gaza conflict beyond the PR black eye? Did Hamas gain anything from it?
Hamas and the PA both know that if Palestinians die, Israel looks bad. It doesn't matter what the circumstances are. I don't know how deep and important that PR black eye is. There's so much else going on in the world that I think this is not the most important development of late.
But there is this bizarre transformation where the Palestinian leadership wants Palestinians dead and the Israeli leadership wants them alive. It's not the way war was traditionally conducted.


Question: Getting back to the embassy move, it seemed the reaction in Arab capitals was muted compared to what it might have been in previous years?
It was extraordinary. Not a single Arab capital, including Damascus and Baghdad, said more than a perfunctory word or two about this. Instead, it was Ankara and Tehran that were exercised about it, and, to some extent, the Europeans as well.
The Arab states used the conflict with Israel, for some decades, as a way of mobilizing opinion and distracting opinion away from the current local problems. It's a tiger they want to get off of.
What's really interesting is that you see major cracks in Muslim hostility towards Israel, spectacularly in Saudi Arabia
[Canadian Jewish News]
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Friday, June 01, 2018

Gaza Woes Began with a Tragic Mistake

Ariel Sharon was the force behind the disgraced Gaza disengagement.

Looking Back, the Gaza Pullout Was a Mistake - Sever Plocker 

Gaza isn't controlled by the Palestinian Authority, as the supporters of the disengagement - myself included - expected. Gaza was basically handed over to Hamas, which failed to establish a civilian government there. Instead, it established a wild military regime seeking conflicts and lacking any civilian goals.
    
Immediately after Israel pulled out of there, it turned out the strip wouldn't be like Singapore - but rather like Benghazi. The Hamas militias had no interest in an organized transfer of the production and real estate assets Israel had left behind. They preferred to build training camps in greenhouses than grow tomatoes there. And the PA vanished from the area. That sealed the enclave's fate.
    
The economic, social, and security situation in Gaza has deteriorated in the years that have passed since the disengagement.
    
Looking back, the disengagement was a mistake. Had Israel remained in Gaza, the economic gap between the Palestinians in the strip and the Palestinians in the West Bank would have been narrowed, and a solution would have been found for the transfer of goods and people between Gaza and Hebron. The PA would have maintained its rule - and would have even grown stronger. Tens of thousands of Gazans would be working in Israel, as they did in the past, and the level of violence would have dropped
(Ynet
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UPDATES: 

Gaza Casualties Don't Tell the Story - Aron Heller

A senior Israeli Cabinet minister rejected international criticism of Israel's open-fire policies along the Gaza border, saying the disproportionate number of Palestinian casualties does not reflect the true story.
    

Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yoav Gallant, who once commanded the Gaza region, urged the world not to "calculate who is right and who is wrong by the numbers of the casualties."
    

"In the Second World War, 7.5 million Germans were killed and only 500,000 British. So who was the aggressor, the Germans or the British? The issue is not the numbers. The issue is who is doing what."
(AP)
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- Efraim Karsh 

  • The perception of Palestinian violence as a corollary of Gaza's dire economic condition has dominated the discourse on the situation there. Yet this is not only completely unfounded but the inverse of the truth. It is not Gaza's economic malaise that has precipitated Palestinian violence; rather, it is the endemic violence that has caused its humanitarian crisis.
  • Countless nations and groups in today's world endure far harsher socioeconomic or political conditions than the Palestinians, yet none has embraced violence and terrorism against their neighbors with such alacrity and on such a massive scale.
  • There is no causal relationship between economic hardship and mass violence. In the modern world, it is not the poor who have carried out the worst acts of terrorism and violence, but rather the militant vanguards from among the better educated and more moneyed circles of society.
  • The 9/11 terrorists were not impoverished peasants or workers driven by hopelessness and desperation, but educated fanatics motivated by hatred and extreme religious and political ideals.
  • In short, it is not socioeconomic despair but the total rejection of Israel's right to exist which underlies the relentless anti-Israel violence emanating from Gaza and its attendant economic stagnation and decline.
  • Only when the population sweeps its oppressive rulers from power, eradicates endemic violence from political and social life, and teaches the virtues of coexistence with Israel can Gazans look forward to a better future.

    The writer, director of the Begin-Sadat Center, is emeritus professor of Middle East and Mediterranean studies at King's College London.
(BESA Center for Strategic Studies-Bar-Ilan University)
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