Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Much Ado About Golan

The short video gives a straightforward look at why the Golan Heights are so important

- Zvi Bar'el

Arab countries are expected to condemn President Trump's recognition of Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights, but - unlike the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital - the Golan isn't a holy site. It isn't very high on the Arab or Muslim agenda.
At the end of the month, the leaders of the Arab countries will gather for their annual summit in Tunisia and will harshly condemn the American decision.
But as far as they're concerned, the American declaration is a bit of revenge against Assad for massacring his own people.

Trump's Golan Strategy - Elliot Kaufman

President Trump's decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights puts the Palestinians on notice. The fear is that if a U.S. president can tell Syria to forget returning to the pre-1967 borders, he can tell the Palestinians the same thing: Shape up and cease your intransigence, or America could let Israel annex parts of the West Bank, too.

The pre-1967 lines are no longer sacrosanct, and they never should have been. They merely reflect where armies stopped in 1949, when the Arab states failed to smother Israel in its infancy. The armistice established the borders "without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines."

The Trump strategy has been to back Israel and pressure the Palestinians into moderating their maximalist objectives. Palestinian leaders have long assumed time was on their side. The longer they held out and refused to make peace, the more the international community marginalized Israel and pressured it for further concessions. But if the Palestinians don't face reality, their own dreams of a state could be swept away. 
(Wall Street Journal)

Israel's Sovereignty over Heights: Legal & Justified - Vivian Bercovici

An Israeli declaration of sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and American recognition of it, is not contrary to international law. Since World War II, the accepted understanding of international law that involves territorial loss during conflict is quite straightforward: the attacking nation may not retain permanently land acquired as a result of armed conflict.

We have heard a lot about how the Russian occupation of Crimea is indistinct from Israel's hold over the Golan. But Russia invaded Crimea; Crimea did not invade Russia. Syria attacked Israel in 1967; Israel did not attack Syria. International law only addresses the situation where the attacker, not the defender, conquers. Syria violated international law in 1967 and 1973 by attacking Israel without provocation.
The writer served as Canada's ambassador to Israel from 2014 to 2016.

U.S. Announcement Frees Israel from "Land for Peace" Formula
- Shmuel Rosner

President Trump announced that "it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights." Across the Israeli political spectrum, politicians are supportive of America recognizing Israel's control of the Golan Heights. It is the final nail in the coffin of the 1967 line - the armistice line that separated Israel from its neighbors before the Six-Day War.

The "land for peace" formulation has been a basis of all peace processes between Israel and Egypt, Syria and the Palestinians for the past five decades. Withdrawal worked for Israel once, in 1979, when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt and left the Sinai Peninsula. But Israel's adversaries, in future negotiations, would demand the same kind of compensation. It became a sacred formula, worshiped by the international community.

The American president is setting the clock back to before the peace deal with Egypt, to a time when Israel could argue that the reward for peace is peace - not land. Israelis agree on much more than many outside observers imagine. And one of the things they largely agree on is that the 1967 line is no longer relevant.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute.
(New York Times)


Aggression Shouldn't Be Cost-Free - Evelyn Gordon

The principle that territory can't be acquired through force, far from deterring aggression, actually rewards it. For an aggressor, starting a war becomes almost cost-free. If he wins, he achieves whatever goal he sought to achieve. And if he loses, the international community will pressure his victim to return any captured lands, thereby ensuring that he pays no territorial price.

After World War II, the Allies had no qualms about forcing Germany, the aggressor, to cede territory to its victims.

Claiming that Trump has just legitimized acts of aggression like Russia's seizure of Crimea is possible only under the warped interpretation of international law that makes no distinction between offensive and defensive wars. The Golan and Crimea are completely different cases because the former was acquired in a defensive war and the latter in an offensive one.

The claim that the decision undermines prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace is also wrong. Until now, every time the Palestinians rejected an Israeli peace offer, the international community rewarded them by demanding additional Israeli concessions. But now, Trump has shown that rejectionism carries a price. Trump is restoring the distinction that used to exist between offensive and defensive wars, thereby restoring international law to sanity.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Poking Fun at Radical Jewish Group IfNotNow [VideoBite]

  Radical Jewish Group IfNotNow is criticized in this short, well edited video

As Caliphate Crumbles, Reflection on How ISIS Grew [VideoBite]

Tania Joya, featured in Clarion’s upcoming film, is a former extremist now working in deradicalization. Her ex-husband was radicalized as a teenager in Texas and was ISIS’ main propagandist in Syria. Tania explains why she married a jihadi and gives insights into her husband's life as a terrorist and ISIS spokesman.  

Friday, March 08, 2019

The Intersectional Embrace: Omar Wins

Rep. Ilhan Omar does not like Israel. That's a shame, not least because Israel is the only country in its region that embraces the sorts of values the Democratic Party claims to champion. When was the last time there was a gay-pride parade in Ramallah, a women's rights march in Gaza, or an opposition press in Tehran?
America is a free country, and Omar is within her rights to think what she will about Israel or any other state. There's rarely a social or reputational penalty for publicly criticizing Israeli policies today. It's ubiquitous on college campuses and commonplace in editorial pages. Omar, however, isn't just a critic of Israel.
For those who don't get it, claims that Israel "hypnotizes" the world, or that it uses money to bend others to its will, or that its American supporters "push for allegiance to a foreign country," repackage falsehoods commonly used against Jews for centuries. Those who support Israel should not have to face allegations that their sympathies have been purchased, or their brains hijacked, or their loyalties divided.
As the criticism of Omar mounts, it becomes that much easier for her to seem like the victim of a smear campaign, rather than the instigator of a smear. The secret of anti-Semitism has always rested, in part, on creating the perception that the anti-Semite is, in fact, the victim of the Jews and their allies.
(New York Times)

No one ever accuses supporters of the U.S.-Britain "special relationship" of owing allegiance to a foreign country. Nor do supporters of the U.S. alliances with Canada, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Poland or any other country face such accusations. Only supporters of Israel. This is an old and ugly anti-Semitic canard. It should be a no-brainer for Democrats to condemn what Omar said.
Omar's defenders suggest that to criticize her is to "stifle" debate and to equate any criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism. Wrong. It's perfectly legitimate to criticize Israel. I do it myself: But Omar wasn't criticizing Israeli policies. She was criticizing Israel's supporters by suggesting that they are not loyal Americans. That's textbook anti-Semitism.
(Washington Post)
Making Jews Choose: Our Progressive Values or Ourselves -
Batya Ungar-Sargon

Are Jews supposed to stay in a progressive movement that resents us for standing up for ourselves? That has leaders who are "hurt" when they see Congress defend us? A movement that is lionizing a woman for the fact that she has offended us?
America - and its progressive wing - will surely be worse off if Jews can no longer find a political home there, and it's for the soul of this country that we are fighting as much as for ourselves.

Palestinians will not benefit from the controversy resulting from Rep. Ilhan Omar's repeated use of familiar anti-Semitic themes. If Ms. Omar wants to support Palestinians, there's no end to the urgent tasks she could champion as Palestinians are enduring a crisis in relations with the U.S.
Omar's rhetoric is a disaster that reinforces divisive stereotypes about supposed Muslim hostility to Jews. As someone who has spent more than 20 years in Washington working on Arab and Muslim-American problems and championing the Palestinian cause, I implore Omar to learn more about the issues at stake. In the meantime, I have one thing to say to her: Please, just stop it! 
The writer is a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. 
- Eliot A. Cohen

In 2017, the FBI recorded more than three times as many anti-Jewish as anti-Muslim religious hate incidents, or almost 60% of the total. What is particularly scary now is that Jew-hatred seems to bring with it no real penalties.

The writer is Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins University.


What about "the Benjamins" from Gulf States? - Barbara Boland

Do foreign nations and their money influence U.S. policy? Pro-Israel groups spent roughly $5 million on lobbying in 2018. That might sound like a lot of money, until you realize that in 2013, Norway spent $5 million to push U.S. officials to double spending on foreign aid.

If Rep. Ilhan Omar wants to deal with the "problematic role" of "Benjamins" in our foreign policy, she should take a hard look at contributions from the Gulf states. The United Arab Emirates secretly contributed $20 million to the Middle East Institute, a leading Washington think tank, between 2016 and 2017. In 2014, the UAE's rival, Qatar, gave a $14.8 million four-year donation to the Brookings Institution. From 2015 to 2017, Saudi Arabia multiplied its number of foreign agents from 25 to 145, and poured $18 million into D.C.-based lobbying. 

The Democratic Party's New Math - Lee Smith

Palestinians are replacing Israelis in the hearts of the party’s base.

The inability of senior U.S. Democrats, including senior Jewish members of Congress, to muster a counteroffensive, or even much of a defense, shows that a pillar of the increasingly disoriented liberal political establishment is being pulled down by institutionalized identity politics. As it turned out, they couldn’t even get a pro forma denunciation of anti-Semitism.  Liberal Jews are being replaced...

Maybe the Democratic Party’s new math is why no one is making too much of the African-American kids beating up Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. Because the former sit at the top of the hierarchy of grievance, it’s OK for them to work through their pain by punching down at the latter. Condemning them, or Omar, would only cause more pain.

It’s Obama’s agenda, and that’s why liberal Jews are effectively scapegoating Omar. It is too painful to identify the real source of the problem: An American president that the Jewish community not only overwhelmingly supported but also defended even as his language and his policies clearly spelled danger for them. They believed his validators because they wanted to—the Jewish journalists, diplomats, policymakers, Obama’s envoys to the Jewish community who all vouched for him, how he felt love for Israel and the Jews in his “kishkes.”

Where Obama and his surrogates always claimed that re-aligning the U.S. with Iran, or tilting towards the Palestinians, or condemning Israel at the U.N., were measures being taken for Israel’s own good, and therefore in fact proved how much they cared about Israel, progressives like Omar feel no compunction to engage in such rhetorical flimflam, to palliate “donors” or anyone else. Their pitch is simple: Israel is evil and should be eradicated. What Obama and his surrogates whispered and implied, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and their fellow progressives now feel confident enough to say openly.

[Obama] went after AIPAC not because he personally dislikes Jews or Israel, but because he promised to radically transform America. So he had to start with the one institution he had absolute control over: the Democratic Party. He hacked away at the Jewish community because American Jewry is the pillar of the liberal political establishment.

By targeting AIPAC, and rejecting the foundational nature of the U.S.-Israel relationship, Obama crippled the party’s then-dominant liberal wing and empowered the progressives, whose ranks the Jews are more than welcome to join—but on new terms. On Rep. Ilhan Omar’s terms.
[Tablet Magazine]