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Palestine I (The Bank):

 

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on April 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Brazen Hamas Billboard Links Hamas to Turkey, Qatar.

April 3, 2014    1 comment
Hamas's publicity billboard that reads, 'Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.' Photo: Screenshot.

Hamas’s publicity billboard that reads, ‘Jerusalem is Waiting for Men.’ Photo: Screenshot.

In a rather conspicuous propaganda stunt, Hamas, the terror group ruling Gaza, foisted a new billboard showing the heads of its Islamist leadership, along with the leaders of Turkey and Qatar, with a caption that implies their help has been recruited to wrest Jerusalem from Israeli control.

The billboard shows Hamas political chief  Khaled Meshal and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, alongside previous and current Qatari leaders Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The billboard reads ”Jerusalem is Waiting for Men,” along with a photo of the Dome of the Rock.

The massive banner was photographed in Gaza by the Palestinian News Agency, and flagged on Thursday by blogger Elder of Ziyon.

The blogger wrote that the sign also implies two other messages.

First, the belittling of leaders of other Arab countries, especially Egypt, where Hamas gained under the Muslim Brotherhood leadership, and is now being shunned after that group, its political “big brother,” was expelled last year.

And, second, that Hamas, which played second fiddle to Islamic Jihad in last month’s shelling of Israel, is the stronger of the two groups and will be on the winning team to, one day, take Jerusalem.

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Egyptian Entrepreneur Laments Lack of Open Business With Israel.

April 3, 2014   3 comments
Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

Cairo International Airport, where sources spied Israeli and Egyptian security officials meeting to discuss cooperation to fight terrorists in the Sinai. Photo: Cairo International Airport.

An Egyptian entrepreneur said he resents his country’s hostility to Israel which prevents him from openly conducting any business with the Jewish state, Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported late last week.

“It is very unfortunate that we cannot be pragmatic and say this particular country has good quality and inexpensive commodities and we are going to import from it because it is in our interest,” said the unnamed Egyptian, who still does business with Israel on the down low. “After all these years an Israeli commodity on, say, the shelf of a supermarket would not be picked up except by a few people — if we assume that any supermarket would at all dare to carry, say, Israeli fruit juice.”

Like most Egyptian businessmen who work with Israelis, he insisted on remaining anonymous for fear of being “stigmatized as dealing with the enemy,” he told Al-Ahram.

“I really don’t understand; we have a peace deal and we cannot do business, it has been 35 years since this peace treaty was signed and still it is a big issue if someone said let us do business with Israel or let us benefit of their agricultural expertise,” he said.

Trade between Israel and Egypt dropped after President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in 2011, but government officials in Cairo say the fall was possibly a result of the subsequent political turmoil, according to the report.

Despite any current animosity Egypt may harbor toward Israel, an independent economic source told Al-Ahram that Egyptian authorities are considering all options in dealing with the country’s current severe energy shortages, not excluding the import of natural gas from Israel.

“Cooperation in natural gas has been very stable for many years despite the suspension and trade dispute that occurred after the 25 January Revolution removed Mubarak — but this is the case with trade cooperation in general, limited and stable,” said a government official.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 29th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Palestinian students visit Auschwitz in first organized visit.

Visit is part of program that aims to teach Israeli and Palestinian students
about the other side’s suffering in effort to study how empathy could
facilitate reconciliation.

By Matthew Kalman | Mar. 28, 2014

A group of 30 Palestinian students arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau on
Thursday (yesterday), in what is believed to be the first organized visit by Palestinian
students to a Nazi death camp.

The students are spending several days in Kraków and O?wi?cim guided by two
Jewish Holocaust survivors.

A news blackout on the trip was requested by the organizers. The presence of
the Palestinian group at Auschwitz-Birkenau is being reported here for the
first time.

The students from Al-Quds University and Birzeit University, near Ramallah,
are participating in a joint program on Reconciliation and Conflict
Resolution with the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany, and
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.

The program’s aim is for Israeli and Palestinian students to learn about the
suffering that has helped shape the historical consciousness of the other
side.

Last week, a group of Israeli students visited the Dheisheh refugee camp,
located south of Bethlehem,  to learn about the Palestinian experience of
suffering during the founding of Israel in 1948 ­­– known to Palestinians as
the Nakba (“the catastrophe”).

The reactions of each group will be studied by a group of PhD psychology
students to see whether exposure to the conflicting historical narrative
helps the students to understand their enemy, and facilitates efforts toward
reconciliation and coexistence.

The Palestinian side of the program is directed by Mohammed S. Dajani,
professor of American Studies at Al-Quds. Because of the Palestinian freeze
on joint projects with Israeli universities, the Palestinian students are
participating under the banner of Prof. Dajani’s Wasatia movement of
moderate Islam.

Israeli groups regularly visit refugee camps in the West Bank searching for
cross-border understanding, but the Palestinian visit to Auschwitz is
unprecedented. It grew out of a visit by Prof. Dajani as part of a large
Jewish-Muslim-Christian delegation in 2011, after which he coauthored a New
York Times op-ed entitled “Why Palestinians Should Learn About the
Holocaust.”

Since then, Prof. Dajani has written what he believes to be the first
objective introduction to the Holocaust for Palestinian students in Arabic,
which he hopes will become a textbook used in Palestinian schools and
universities.

“Basically, we want to study how empathy with the Other could help in the
process of reconciliation,” Prof. Dajani says. “I feel I would like
Palestinians to explore the unexplored, and to meet these challenges where
you might find that within their community there will be a lot of pressure
on them not to do it or questioning why they are doing it, or that this is
propaganda. I feel that’s nonsense.”

Prof. Dajani says more than 70 students applied for the 30 places on the
Poland trip, but five later dropped out because of peer pressure.
He says the choice of Dheisheh for the Israeli students was not meant to
suggest there was an equivalence or even a direct link between the Holocaust
and the Nakba. They were chosen as the symbolic events that have deeply
affected the psyche on both sides of the conflict.

“We are seeking knowledge,” he says. “We are seeking to know what has
happened; why did it happen; how can it be prevented from happening again? I
believe it is very important to break this wall of bigotry, ignorance and
racism that has separated us from crossing over to this new realm.”

“One of my students asked me why we should learn about the Holocaust when
the Israelis want to ban even the use of the word ‘Nakba,’” he adds. “My
response was: ‘Because in doing so, you will be doing the right thing. If
they are not doing the right thing, that’s their problem.’”

Prof. Dajani, who was banned from Israel for 25 years for his activities for
Fatah in Lebanon in the 1970s and ’80s, says the student program is a
practical expression of his belief that Israelis and Palestinians can settle
their differences through compromise, moderation and human contact. He says
his own visit to the Nazi death camp had a profound effect that he wishes to
share with his students.

“I was also raised in the culture of denial, so for me, to go and see and
look and be on the ground – it was a very sad experience for me.
It had a lot of impact,” he admits. “I was shocked about the inhumanity of
man to man. How can this happen? Why did it happen? Why would man be this
cruel?

“It was shocking for me, because it showed me the deep, deep, dark side of
human evil,” he adds.

Prof. Dajani has a track record of espousing views that are unpopular with
the Palestinian academic mainstream. He is one of the few Palestinian
professors to openly oppose the call for Palestinians and others to boycott
Israeli universities.

Hanna Siniora, a veteran campaigner for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation,
says Prof. Dajani’s initiative should be welcomed.

“It’s very important for people to see the viciousness of such acts,”
he says. “It should touch them in their humanity, in their sense of
understanding that human beings don’t do evil things like that. This has
caused a major problem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, because the
psyche of the Israelis is so tormented by what happened to the Jewish people
that they cannot trust anybody.

“This is an educational trip. It opens the eyes and minds,” he adds.
“If there is an empty place, I’d like to come along,” he says.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 25th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Israeli Technology Helps Secure Statue of Liberty.

March 25, 2014- The Algemeiner.

The Statue of Liberty. Photo: Wiki Commons.

MODI’IN, ISRAEL – An Israeli company was recently chosen to be part of a nine-member team of technology vendors to protect the Statue of Liberty.

BriefCam is part of a “dream team” of top technology companies that will enhance public safety and operation efficiency at the famous monument.

BriefCam was selected for its award-winning Video Synopsis technology, which summarizes hours of events into a “brief” that takes just minutes to watch. The Israeli company, headquartered in Modi’in, Israel, has projects in several cities in North America, China, and Taiwan, a company representative told Tazpit News Agency. “We are being used by law enforcement and investigative agencies in the U.S., China, and of course, Israel.”

The current surveillance deployment marks the first time an all-digital surveillance system has been installed at the Statue of Liberty monument, which previously used an old analog system that had been unable to reach certain areas of Liberty Island.

Following the heavy damage caused by deadly Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the Statue of Liberty underwent eight months of renovation and repairs. The monument reopened to the public on Independence Day, July 4, 2013.


“The National Park Service and Statue of Liberty National Monument greatly appreciate the comprehensive security system donated by Total Recall,” Capt. Gregory Norman, Commander of Liberty District of the U.S. Park Police said.

“The lack of electricity, flooding, and damage caused by Sandy could not stop the amazing team from making sure that Lady Liberty could welcome visitors – as she always has,” said Jordan Heilweil, president of Total Recall Corporation.

“We assembled a Dream Team of cutting-edge security technology providers to give her the best protection possible while helping the Park Police, Department of the Interior and National Park Service deliver a memorable experience for the millions of families who visit the Statue each year,” added Heilweil.

Dror Irani, CEO and President of BriefCam, further added that “for over a hundred years, as people arrived at Ellis Island from every part the world, they would see the Statue of Liberty and feel they had reached a safe haven in the USA. Today, we’re extremely proud to be part of the team bringing 21st century safety and security technology to this long-standing symbol of hope and freedom.”

The Statue of Liberty was a gift of friendship to the United States from the people of France and was dedicated in October 1886. The robed female figure, holding a torch and tablet, represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. Approximately four million people visit the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island each year, according to the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Towards Obama-Abbas meeting: hundreds of Israeli public figures present proposal for Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

from: Adam Keller otherisr@actcom.co.il
by:     
Naftali Raz <zar89@netvision.net.il

March 17, 2014

Towards Today’s crucial meeting between President Obama and President Mahmud Abbas (Abu-Mazen),  regarding the proposed American “framework agreement”, hundreds of Israeli public figures – academics, writers, artists, former senior military officers, business CEO’s, Laureates of the Israel Prize and many others – are making a public proposal of principles on which such an agreement could and should be based.
This initiative is intended to support and facilitate the ongoing diplomatic process, let it move forward towards peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and prevent a collapse which might prove highly disastrous to both peoples and to the entire region.
“We appreciate the tireless efforts of Secretary of State Kerry, but we cannot stand aside passively and wait for outsiders to decide issues which are crucial for out future in this country. A voice must be heard, loud and clear, from the very heart of Israeli society, pointing the way forward” says campaign organizer Naftali Raz..
Contact: Naftali Raz, +972-(0)54-5494172<zar89@netvision.net.il>
==========================================================
Following is the text of the petition, due to be published today in the Hebrew and English editions of Israel’s Haaretz newspaper (see attachments).
We, the undersigned, call Upon Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Mahmud Abbas (Abu-Mazen)  to accept an Israeli-Palestinian “framework agreement” consisting of the following principles:
 • The establishment of a sovereign State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, based on the 1967 borders with agreed-upon border changes
 • The Palestinian state will be demilitarized, in line with Israeli security requirements
 • Jerusalem will be the capital of the two States, according to the Clinton parameters: Jewish neighborhoods to Israel, Palestinian neighborhoods to Palestine
 • Special arrangements will be agreed upon regarding the management of Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif)
• Full civil rights will be guaranteed to citizens belonging to national minorities in both States
• Peace and co-operation will be established between the two states
• Signing the agreement will signify the complete and absolute end of any mutual claims
• Both States will request the blessing and backing for the agreement of all the countries in the region, signatories of the “Arab League Peace Initiative”
 Because among both Israeli and Palestinian peoples, the majority has decided for peace .

(signed)
Achinoam Nini (Noa) – Singer and Musician, Shfayim
Ali El Assad – Dr., Lawyer, Lagiya
Aliza Zissman – Alternative Medicine, Herzliya
Alla Shainskaya – Dr. of life-sciences, Tel-Aviv
Alon Liel – Dr., former CEO of Foreign Office, Mevasseret Zion
Amiram Goldblum – Prof. of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, Jerusalem
Amos Davidovich – Tour Guide, Lieutaenant-Colonel (Res.), Gezer
Amos Gvirtz – Human Rights Activist, Shfayim
Amos Korczyn – Prof. of Medicine, Tel Aviv
Amos Mokady – Author and Cinematographer, Tel Aviv
Amos Oz – Author, Tel Aviv
Anat Zanger – Prof. of Cinema and Television, Givatayim
Aner Preminger – Prof. of Cinema and Filmmaker, Jerusalem
Arie Nadler – Prof. of Social Psychology, Tel_aviv
Avi Glazerman – CEO, Hi-tech firm, Tel-Aviv
Avner Ben-Amos – Prof. of History of Education, Omer
Avraham Ronen – Prof. of Archaeology, Haifa
Avrasha Burstin – Colonel (Res.), Reut
Ayelet Hashachar Seidoff – business woman, Petachya
Baruch Vlamen – Pensioner, Hanaton
Ben-Ami Gov – Brigadier-General (Ret.), Israel Security Prize Laureate, Tel-Aviv
Beth Shamgar – Dr., Musicology, Rehovot
Binyamin Neuberger – Prof. of Political Science, Ra’anana
Celia Fassberg – Prof. of Law, Jerusalem
Chaim Cohen – Social Activist, Modi’in
Dalia Amit – Translator, Jerusalem
Dalia Golomb – retired teacher, Tel-aviv
Dan Jacobson – Prof. of Organizational Behavior, Hezliya
Dani Rosin – Medical dr., Surgeon, Tel-Aviv
David Har’el – Prof., Israel Prize Laureate – Computer Science, Bet-Zayit
David Shamgar – Economist, Rehovot
David Shamla – Secretary of JCALL (European Peace promoting Jewry
Doris Arkin – Sculptor, Kfar Shmaryahu
Doron Lieber – Agriculturist, Kibbutz Metzer
Doubi Shwartz – Chair of Bereaved Families for Peace, Hod Hasharon
Duby Barak – Educator, Jerusalem
Eli Meshulam – Lawyer, Raanana
Eli Safran – Tourism, Sasa
Elihu Katz – Prof., Israel Prize Laureate in Communication, Jerusalem
Emanuel Shaked – Brigadier-General (Ret.), Herzliya
Erel Shalit – Dr., Psychoanalyst, Ra’anana
Ester Kalinsky – Pensioner, Holon
Eytan Kalinsky – Poet, Holon
Fuaz Chsein – Author & Head of Education Department, Hurfeish
Gabi Salomon – Prof., Israel Prize Laureate in Education, Kiryat Tiv’on
Galit Raz-Dror – Project manager, Jerusalem
Gershon Ben-Shachar – Prof. of Psychology, Jerusalem
Gideon Shichman – Dr. of Science, Tel Aviv
Hanoch Gutfreund – Prof. of Physics, Jerusalem
Hasida Shafran – Human Rights Activist, Haifa
Hillel Shenker – journalist, Tel Aviv
Huda Abu Chmeid – Sociologist and Social Activist, Haifa
Idit Zartal – Prof. of History, Tel Aviv
Ilan lachish – CEO, Jerusalem
Inbal Harpaz – Hydro-therapist, Hod Hasharon
Iris Dotan-Katz – psychologist, Ramat Hasharon
Iris Pinchober – Social activist, Haifa
Iris Yotvat – Artist and Mentor, Caesaria
Ivri Verbin – Lieutenant-Colonel (Res.), CEO, Former Consultant to the Foreign Minister – Tel Aviv
Liora Eylon – Education, Kfar-Aza, “Gaza Hugging”
Micha Ben-Hilel – Education, Nir-Am, “Gaza Hugging”
Micah Leshem – Prof. of Psychology, Haifa
Micha Weiss – Clinical Psychologist, Givatayim
Michael Cohen – Lieutenant-Colonel (Ret.), Haifa
Michael Shemer – Vice CEO, Kfar Vradim
Michael Shiloh – Former Ambassador, Jerusalem
Michal Preminger – Psychologist, Jerusalem
Micky Gur – Economic Consultant, Neve Monuson
Miron Nomis – Educator and Tour Guide, Ben-Gurion College, Sde-Boker
Mohammad Walid Diab – Dr. of Social Work, Tamra
Mordechay Rokney – Prof. of Physics, Mevasseret Zion
Mory Arkin – Buisness Man, Kfar Shmaryahu
Mossi Raz – Former Knesset Member, Shoham
Naftali Raz – Educator and Tour Guide, Mevasseret Zion
Naomi Chazan – Former Knesset Member, Prof. of Political Science, Jerusalem
Naomi (Nomika) Zion – Head of Center for Social Justice and Democracy, Shderot, “Gaza hugging”
Naomi Raz – Psychologist, Mevasseret Zion
Netanel Katz – Management consultant, Ramat Hasharon
Nurit Gretz – Prof. of Literature and Cinema, Tel Aviv
Oded Hon Honigwax – Lawyer, and Social Activist, Tel Aviv
Ora Nelken Rotem – pianist, Jerusalem
Rami Ronen – Entrepreneur, Shoeva
Ran Shorer – Author, Talmey Yehiel
Reuven Choshen – Economic Consultant, Tel Aviv
Reuven Gerber – Author & Dr. of Judaism, Mevasseret zion
Ruby Peled – Colonel (Res.), Tel Aviv
Ruth Handzel – Dr. of Information Management, Tel Aviv
Ruth Katz – Prof., Israel Prize Laureate in Musicology, Jerusalem
Samir Chualed – Grocery, Sha’ab
Sari Sela – Head of Women’s Movement, Rosh Ha’ayin
Shaul Givoli – Police Major-General & IDF Brigadier-General (Ret.), Ramat Hasharon
Shifra Sagy – Prof., Head of Conflict Management program, Beer Sheva
Shimon Redlich – Lieutenant-Colonel (Res.), CEO, Tel Aviv
Shimon Zandbank – Prof., Israel Prize Laureate for Translation, Jerusalem
Shmulik Merzel – Educator, Tel Aviv
Sidra Ezrahi – Prof. of Hebrew Literature, Jerusalem
Steve Fassberg – Prof. of Hebrew Language, Jerusalem
Taha Abu Amin – Sheich, Muchtar of Sawa’ed Chumeira
Tamar Ronen – Pensioner, Haifa
Tawfik Hussry – Bookkeeper, Shfar’am
Udi Mori – CEO, Ramat Gan
Uri Croch – Dr. of social work, Kamon
Uri Or – CEO, Kiryat Tivon
Ya’acov Raz – Prof. of East Asian Sudies, Tel Aviv
Yael Admi – Computer Engineering, Ganey Yehuda
Yael Alfasi – Computer Programmer, Rosh Ha’ayin
Yael Ben Yehuda Rokny – Human Rights Activist, Mevasseret Zion
Yael Dayan – Former Knesset Member, Tel Aviv
Yael Gur – Educational Projects Manager, Neve Monusson
Yair Zaban – Former Minister in the Rabin Cabinet, Ramat gan
Yehoshuah Rosin – Economist, Rehovot
Yehoyada Amir – Rabbi, Prof. of Judaic Studies, Jerusalem
Yehuda Golan Ashenfeld – Brigadier-General (Res.), Kiryat Ono
Yehuda Pinchover – Social activist, Haifa
Yeshayahu Tadmor – Colonel (Res.), Prof. of Education, Haifa
Yishay Polachek – Social Activist, Tel Aviv
Yisrael Shafran – Human Rights Activist, Haifa
Yoav Has – Human Rights Activist, Jerusalem
Yoav Rodan – Lieutaenant-Colonel (Res.), CEO, Lavon
Yoela Har Shefi – Lawyer, Tel Aviv
Yoram Agmon – Brigadier-General (Res.), Karmei Yosef
Yoram Avnimelech – Prof. of Environmental Engineering, Haifa
Yosef Neuman – Prof. of Biology and Philosophy, Tel Aviv
Ze’ev Charles Greenbaum – Prof. of Psychology, Jerusalem
Ze’ev Zachor – Prof. of History, Sapir, Shderot, “Gaza Hugging”
Zehava Gov – Teacher, Tel-Aviv
Zohar Avitan – Education, Sderot, “Gaza Hugging”
=======================================================================================
 The “Leading the Leaders to Peace” group will hold an ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN WALK FOR PEACE
on Friday March 28, starting at 11:00 am from the Tel-Aviv Harbor (Reading parking lot), wearing white shirts
 For details: Info@LeadingTheLeadersForPeace.com , 972- (0)54-5661922, www.facebook.com/LeadingLeadersForPeace

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on March 4th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

03/04/2014 05:57 AM EST

 

Remarks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee Conference.

Remarks

John Kerry
Secretary of State
Washington Convention Center
Washington, DC
March 3, 2014

 


 

 

Norm, thank you. Thank you very, very much. Thank you all, 14,000 strong or more. (Applause.) Howard, Howard Friedman and Executive Director Howard Kohr, incoming president Bob Cohen, incoming chairman Michael Kassen, outgoing chairman Lee Rosenberg, and Ambassador Ron Dermer and Ambassador Dan Shapiro. I don’t know where our ambassadors are. Would they – somebody ought to applaud both of them here. (Applause.) There they are. Thanks for your own, Norman.

Let me tell you, it really is an enormous pleasure for me to be able to be here. It’s a privilege. And good to see so many friends, all 14,000 of you – a little frightening to see myself on about eight, nine, ten screens up here – (laughter). The last time I spoke to AIPAC, I joined your national summit in Napa Valley. I did it via satellite. And you were in the vineyards, I was overseas – a different kind of vineyard. So today, I think I’m getting the better end of the deal because I am here with you in person, and your wine selection is a lot more limited this time.

I have to tell you, I had the pleasure of speaking to AIPAC back in the 1990s, it was a great honor, and every time I come here, whether I get a chance to talk to a smaller group during the daytime sessions or otherwise, this is a remarkably inspiring gathering – people from every corner of the country coming together to demonstrate our deep support as Americans for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship. (Applause.)

And it is no exaggeration. It’s not just words to say that every single one of you brings here such a special passion to a cause that you so fiercely believe in. And let me tell you something unequivocally: After almost 30 years in the United States Senate, I can tell you that is precisely why AIPAC’s work is in the best traditions of American democracy, and I thank you for practicing it. (Applause.)

I want you to know that in my judgment, these democratic values are stamped in the DNA of both the United States and Israel. But we also share something much deeper than that. Like no other two countries on the planet, against the deepest odds, both America and Israel confidently, purposefully set out to be examples to the world. Think about it. From its earliest days, Israel has always said it’s not enough just to be one of many in a community of nations; Israel has strived since Isaiah’s time to serve as a light unto the nations. (Applause.) And that responsibility to be a light unto the nations sounds actually unbelievably similar to something that we as Americans know is part of who we are, too.

My grandfather ten times over – too hard to count in other terms – was a man by the name of John Winthrop. And he came to what was then the New World, and he came in search of freedom, freedom to worship as he wished. He was a minister. He and his congregants were outcasts, persecuted, heading into a rough and unforgiving land with no guarantee even of survival. And on his way here, he delivered a now fairly famous sermon at sea in which he called on his community to create a city upon a hill in their new home, America.

So whether you call it a city upon a hill or a light unto the nations, it actually means the same thing: being a model to the world. It means having a home that sets a standard, a standard of dignity and a standard of freedom. So the foundation of the friendship between the American people and the people of Israel was actually laid centuries before a single stone was set under the U.S. Capitol or under the Knesset. And looking around this room tonight, it is clear that our friendship has never been stronger. (Applause.)

And I’ll tell you why. Because today, as Israel faces serious challenges to her future, it is America that will stand firmly by her side. (Applause.) I will tell you that with the leadership of President Obama – and you can look it up, you can measure it; this is not an exaggeration, it’s a matter of fact – there has been a complete, unmatched commitment to Israel’s security. The record of this Administration in providing aid and assistance, consultation, weapons, help, standing up in various international fora, fighting, I am proud to tell you, is unrivaled. And the bottom line, pure and simple, has been making sure that Israel has the means to defend itself by itself and defending Israel’s right to be able to do so. That is what we’ve done. (Applause.)

Security. Security is fundamentally what President Obama is committed to. And so too is he committed to using the full force of our diplomacy to resolve the two great questions that most matter when it comes to ensuring the security of Israel: preventing a nuclear Iran and ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Applause.)

Now let me start with Iran because I know there are many questions. I know many people – there’s been a healthy debate about the approach. We welcome that. But let me sum up President Obama’s policy in 10 simple, clear words, unequivocal: We will not permit Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon, period. (Applause.) Now, I added an eleventh word just for punctuation. (Laughter.)

But I want you to understand there are no if, ands, or buts. This is not a political policy. This is a real foreign policy. And we mean every word of what we say. You have the word of the President of the United States that Iran will not get a nuclear weapon. Now, as we said at the outset, and I say it again today, our diplomacy is guided by a simple bottom line: No deal is better than a bad deal. (Applause.) And we absolutely will not accept a bad deal. We are committed to a deal that gets the job done. (Applause.)

Why? Because we get it, we understand it. As President Obama said in Jerusalem, no one can question why Israel looks at the Iranian program and sees an existential threat. We understand it. We understand it in our gut. And we also know something else. This is not some favor that we do for Israel. This is something that is also in the interest of the United States of America, and it’s in the interest of countries surrounding Israel. (Applause.) A nuclear bomb for Iran would also threaten the stability of the region, indeed the entire world. It would produce an arms race among the surrounding countries. There is no way the world is safer anywhere in the world with a nuclear weapon in Iran, and we are not going to let it happen, period, end of story. (Applause.)

Now, to do that, to achieve this all-important goal, important for America’s security and for Israel’s security, it is crucial that we seizes what might be the last best chance to be able to have diplomacy work, and maybe the last chance for quite some time. Because the reality is only strong diplomacy can fully and permanently achieve the goal. Those who say strike and hit need to go look at exactly what happens after you’ve done that, whether that permanently eliminates the program or opens up all kinds of other possibilities, including Iran leaving the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty, not even allowing IAEA inspectors in, not living under any international regimen. That’s a possibility. Only strong diplomacy can guarantee that a nuclear weapons program actually goes away for good instead of just going underground and becoming more dangerous. Only the exhaustion of diplomacy can justify more forceful options if you have to take them in the end.

So we say – President Obama and myself and others – we say let’s seize the diplomatic moment. And that’s what we are trying to do. And the truth is it is strong diplomacy that has actually made this moment possible. And we need to give it the space to work. We need to make sure that if this opportunity were to elude us, it is not because we are the ones that close the window.

Now, I understand the skepticism. I’ve been around this city for 29-plus years as a senator, became chairman of the foreign relations committee, worked with most of the members of your board and with AIPAC and others around the country, and proud to tell you that during that time I had a 100 percent voting record for Israel. (Applause.)

And I’m not coming here to stand up in front of you and tell you that I know that Iran is going to reach an agreement. I don’t know. I don’t know what they’ll do. I don’t know if they are able to make some of the tough decisions they’re going to have to make in the months ahead. But I know that if the United States is going to be able to look the world in the eye and say we have to do something, we have to have exhausted the possibilities available to us for that diplomatic peaceful resolution. Let me make it clear our approach is not Ronald Reagan’s and the Soviets –We’re not looking at this and saying trust, but verify. Our approach is a much more complex and dangerous world – it’s verify and verify. And that’s what we intend to do. (Applause.)

Now, there is very good reason for these sanctions to exist in the first place, and good reason that we have kept the architecture of these sanctions in place. And we continue to enforce it even as we negotiate a comprehensive agreement. In the last weeks, we have announced additional sanctions with respect to individuals who have been tempted to go around it or violate it. We have not changed one piece of the sanctions architecture. And yet we are able to negotiate. Our eyes, my friends, are wide open. This is not a process that is open-ended. This is not a process that is about trusting Tehran. This is about testing Tehran. And you can be sure that if Iran fails this test, America will not fail Israel. That, I promise. (Applause.)

Now, we have taken no options off the table, but so far there is no question but that tough sanctions and strong diplomacy are already making Israel and America safer. The first step agreement, the first step agreement – it’s not an interim agreement, it’s a first step agreement – and the agreement that’s in force today didn’t just halt the advance of the Iranian nuclear program for the first time in a decade; it’s actually rolled it back. And we all remember how Prime Minister Netanyahu highlighted Iran’s 20 percent enriched uranium in the 2012 speech at the United Nations. Well, today Iran is reducing its stockpile of 20 percent uranium. And without the agreement in force today, the opposite would have been in effect. The stockpile would have grown even more dangerous, and the amount of breakout time that they have would have grown smaller. Because of the agreement, Iran will soon have to take its entire stock of 20 percent enriched uranium down to zero. Zero. Zero. (Applause.) You don’t have to be a math major to know that Israel is safer when Iran has zero uranium enriched to 20 percent, and that’s what we’ve achieved.

The same independent inspectors who also tell us that Iran has halted its advances on the heavy water reactor known as the Arak reactor, without the agreement in force today, we could not have stopped them making progress on the Arak heavy water reactor, plutonium reactor. Iran has also stopped enriching all uranium above 5 percent, and it has given inspectors daily access to the facilities at Natanz and at Fordow. You know Fordow, you’ve heard about it, that underground facility that was a secret for so long. We’ve never had people in it. But because of this first step agreement, we now have people inside Fordow every single day telling us what is happening. (Applause.)

None of these things would have happened without forceful diplomacy by the United States and our international partners. But now, my friends, we have to finish the job. Like I tell my staff, there aren’t any exit polls in foreign policy. It’s results that count, final results. And that means we have to let forceful diplomacy keep working in order to put this test to Iran.

Now, right now we are carefully – and I mean carefully – negotiating a comprehensive agreement. We are consulting with our friends in Israel constantly. The minute Under Secretary Wendy Sherman finished her last set of meetings in Vienna the other day, she went immediately to Israel, briefed thoroughly on the talks, then went to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and continued to brief and briefed our European partners.

You might be asking: If no deal is better than a bad deal, what does the United States consider a good deal? Well, you have my word – and the President’s – that the United States will only sign an agreement that answers three critical questions the right way. First, will it make certain that Iran cannot obtain a nuclear weapon? Second, can it continuously assure the world that Iran’s program remains entirely peaceful as it claims? And third, will the agreement increase our visibility on the nuclear program and expand the breakout time so that if they were to try to go for a bomb, we know we will have time to act?

Those are the tests. Those are our standards for any comprehensive agreement. It’s that simple. And those objectives, if they’re not met, then there won’t be an agreement. (Applause.) Now make no mistake, make no mistake; we can’t resolve the answer to those questions. It’s up to Iran. It’s up to Iran to prove to the world that its program is peaceful, and the world will hold Iran accountable.

Now, if it turns out that Iran cannot address the world’s concerns, I guarantee you it will face more pressure, Iran will face more pressure, more and more isolation. And Congress will introduce more tough sanctions. And let me assure you – I know Eric Cantor is here, sitting here – I assure you it’ll take about two hours to get it through the House and the Senate and it won’t be delayed and the Congress will have to do nothing more than schedule the vote, because President Obama and I fully support those sanctions under those circumstances. (Applause.)

In the meantime, as I said earlier, we are enforcing every letter of the existing sanctions. I have personally instructed every State Department bureau and mission around the world to watch vigilantly for any signs of the sanctions being skirted. And to any country that wants to trade with Iran with these sanctions firmly in place, the United States will tell them exactly what I have told foreign leaders in no uncertain terms: Iran is not open for business until Iran is closed for nuclear bombs. (Applause.)

Now, strong diplomacy is also essential to another threat to Israel’s security: ending the conflict with the Palestinians, and in doing so, preserving the Jewish and democratic nature of the state of Israel. (Applause.) I’ve had some folks ask me why I’m so committed to these negotiations and why I’m so convinced that peace is actually possible. And they ask, “Why does John Kerry go to Israel so often?” I think I heard Steny Hoyer say he’d been there 13 times, Eric Cantor who’s been there 12 times. I’ve been there more times than that just in the last nine months. (Laughter.) And I’ve been in the Middle East more times than even that in the last months because I don’t always wind up going to Israel.

But apart from the question, I’m surprised because people ask, because apart from my affection for Israel which dates back to my first visit back in 1986, and it just strikes me that it’s the wrong question to ask, why do I go. This isn’t about me. This is about the dreams of Israelis and the dignity of Palestinians. It’s about reconciling two peoples who want at long last to live normal secure lives in the land that they have fought over for so long. It’s about answering King David’s timeless call that we seek peace and pursue it. It’s about fulfilling the fervent prayer for peace that Jews around the world recite to welcome Shabbat. It’s about parents from Tsefat to Eilat who want to raise their families in a region that accepts the nation-state of the Jewish people is here to stay. (Applause.)

Now, it’s not news to any Israeli to hear me say that they live in a difficult neighborhood. Israelis know that better than anyone. No one needs to explain the importance of peace and security to a mother who has just sent her daughter to the army or a son who is waiting for his father to come home from another mission. No one knows the stakes of success or failure better than those who will inherit them for generations to come. And I have seen all of these realities in so many different ways in my travels in Israel, from the rocket casings in Sderot to the shelter in Kiryat Shmona that I visited years ago where children had to hide from Katyusha rockets. I’ve seen it.

My friends, I also believe that we are at a point in history that requires the United States as Israel’s closest friend and the world’s preeminent power to do everything we can to help end this conflict once and for all. Now, that is why America – (applause) – that is why America helped bring the parties back to the table, where, let’s be honest, Israelis and Palestinians have difficult choices to make. And no one understands just how complex those choices are or how emotional they are better than the leaders who have to summon the courage in order to actually make them.

I have sat with Bibi Netanyahu for hours and hours and days and days. We have become good friends. (Applause.) I believe – in fact, he ought to be charging me rent. (Laughter.) I’ve seen up close and personally the grit and the guts of this man and his love of country. And I can tell you with absolute certainty and without question, Prime Minister Netanyahu has demonstrated his courage and his commitment in pursuit of peace with security. (Applause.) He knows that it is the only way for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic state; not a bi-national state. (Applause.)

As President Obama said publicly in the Oval Office today, and I quote him: “Prime Minister Netanyahu has approached these negotiations with a level of seriousness and commitment that reflects his leadership and the desire of the Israeli people for peace.”

Thus far, I will tell you also that President Abbas, and I know there are many doubters here – I’ve heard the arguments for 30-plus years, 40 years – that there’s no partner for peace, that Abbas won’t be there, that – both sides, by the way, say the same thing about each other. That’s one of the difficulties we have to try get through here. A very small needle to try to thread in terms of the trust deficit. Thus far, President Abbas, I will tell you, has demonstrated he wants to be a partner for peace. He’s committed to trying to end the conflict in all of its claims, but he obviously has a point of view about what’s fair and how he can do that. Let’s be candid. I know that some of you doubt that. But as Israeli security officials will attest, President Abbas has been genuinely committed against violence, and his own security forces have worked closely with Israel in order to prevent violence against Israeli citizens.

I’ve also spent many hours with President Abbas, and I believe that he clearly understands both the tremendous benefits of peace and the great costs of failure. He understands that in terms of his own people, his own grandchildren, the country he hopes to be able to lead, and in terms of the history that beleaguers all. He knows the Palestinian people will never experience the self determination that they seek in a state of their own without ending the conflict in a solution that delivers two states for two peoples. (Applause.)

And so does Prime Minister Netanyahu. When Bibi looks me in the eye and says, “I can’t accept a deal with Palestinians that doesn’t make the people of Israel safer,” we agree 100 percent. (Applause.) But I argue that there is a distinction between a unilateral withdrawal from Lebanon or from Gaza where nothing is resolved, and a phased withdrawal that is negotiated where everything is at least in an agreement resolved.

Now, I learned about Israel’s security on many different trips over there, but one stands out. I was – I’d been a pilot since I was in college and I was on a trip over there. I was having a luncheon at Ovda Airbase with the Israel Air Force. And the colonel who was in charge was – had flown. He was an ace from the Six-Day War. And we were having lunch at the time at Ovda and I had been badgering them to maybe let me go up and fly. And they disappeared at lunch and finally he comes back and he says, “Senator, I hope you don’t eat too much. We’re going flying.” I said, “Wow, great. This is what I’ve wanted.” And we went out, the two of us, drove out to this jet, and he trusted me. We put on our helmets, got in the jet, and he says, “The moment we’re off the ground, it’s your airplane.”

So literally, we took off, I take the stick, we go up, we’re flying around. Next thing I know in my ear he says, “Senator, you better turn faster. You’re going over Egypt.” (Laughter.) So I turned very fast and then I asked him if I could do some aerobatics over the Negev. And I turned upside down and did a big loop and I was coming down, I was looking upside-down, and I said to myself, “This is perfect.” I could see all of the Sinai. I could see Aqaba. I could see Jordan. I see all of Israel below me, each side to each side. Said, “This is the perfect way to see the Middle East upside-down and backwards.” I understand it. (Applause.)

The real point of this story is just to tell you that I can’t tell you the imprint on me, being up there and tiny – almost turning. You had barely space to turn. You get the sense of a missile from here, or a rocket from there, or the threat of war. You understand it’s impossible to ignore just how narrow those borders are, how vulnerable Israel can be, and why Israel’s security is our first priority. We understand that. (Applause.)

That is why, my friends, President Obama sent a four-star general, John Allen, one of the most respected minds in United States military to do something we’ve never done in all the history of administrations negotiating for Israel’s and Palestinians’ future and that is to work with Israelis and Jordanians and Palestinians to make the Jordan River border as strong as the strongest borders on Earth. That’s what makes this effort different from anything we’ve ever done before. With the combination of the best military experience America can offer and the best ideas in the Pentagon and the best technology that we could deliver, we believe we can deliver to Israel security that Israel needs in order to make peace, and President Obama is committed to doing that.

Now we have no illusions. We saw what happened after Israel withdrew unilaterally from Gaza and Lebanon. We all learned lessons from that, I hope. That’s why a negotiated agreement is so important. That’s why the security arrangements that we are helping to design will need to be operationally proven. We’re not doing this on a whim and a prayer. We will never let the West Bank turn into another Gaza. (Applause.)

My friends, we understand that Israel has to be strong in order to make peace. But we also understand that peace will make Israel stronger. Any peace agreement must also guarantee Israel’s identity as a Jewish homeland. (Applause.) As Ehud Barak said on this stage last year, a two-state solution is the only way for Israel to stay true to its founding principles – to remain both Jewish and democratic. At last year’s AIPAC conference, he said statehood is not a favor for the Palestinians, and let me reaffirm: He is right; it is not.

Israel also needs peace in order to create greater prosperity. All of you here know the great economic benefits of peace. All of you have already seen what Israel has already been able to build with the forces of the region that raid against it. Just imagine what it will be able to build as a result of peace with Palestinian neighbors. I’ve had the foreign minister of one of the surrounding countries – a very wealthy country and a very smart foreign minister say to me if we make peace – this is under the Arab Peace Initiative and the Arab Follow-on Committee that is following everything we’re doing very closely and supporting it – and they said if we make peace, Israel will trade more in this community within a few years than it trades with Europe today. That’s what we have available to us. (Applause.) And I believe that we need to stand together with a single voice to reject any of the arbitrary unwarranted boycotts of Israel. For more than 30 years, I have staunchly, loudly, unapologetically opposed boycotts of Israel – (applause) – and I will continue to oppose those boycotts of Israel. That will never change. (Applause.)

Every time that Israel is subjected to attacks on its legitimacy, whether at the United Nations or from any nation, the United States will use every tool we have to defeat those efforts and we will stand with Israel. (Applause.)

Finally, peace demands that Israel fulfill its destiny not just as a nation but also as a neighbor. And that begins with the Palestinians, and it extends to the entire Arab League whose Arab Peace Initiative can open the door to peace and normalized relations with 20 additional Arab countries and a total of 55 Muslim countries. The upheaval in the Middle East has shown us all that Arabs and Israelis share some of the very same security concerns. Without the Palestinian conflict to divide them, these common interests can grow into real relationships and transform Israel’s standing in the region. And I just invite you – I promise you these conversations take place. I’ve had them throughout the Gulf region, throughout the Middle East, where increasingly those countries begin to see the possibilities of mutual security interests coming together for all of them against an Iran, against terrorism, against religious extremism. This is a commonality that is a new thread in the region, and I believe it brings the potential of new possibilities.

It is also important to remember that ending the conflict means ending the incitement. President Abbas has called incitement a germ that must be removed. And he has sought our help in order to try to deal with the problem. And I can tell you that with any final agreement it will also include a larger endeavor in order to help people on both sides move beyond a painful past and promote a culture of peace and tolerance.

After all these years, my friends, it is really no mystery what the end-game really looks like. I think you know that in your hearts. We understand what the end-game is. I know what peace looks like. When I talk to Prime Minister Netanyahu and others, I think everybody shares this because this is not new. After Camp David and Oslo and Wye and Annapolis and Taba and all of these efforts, what the end-game should look like is straightforward: security arrangements that leave Israelis more secure, not less; mutual recognition of the nation-state of the Jewish people and the nation-state of the Palestinian people; an end to the conflict and to all claims; a just and agreed solution for Palestinian refugees, one that does not diminish the Jewish character of the state of Israel; and a resolution that finally allows Jerusalem to live up to its name as the City of Peace. (Applause.)

It will take hard work. I’m not pretending any of the answers – these are all narrative issues. They’re tough issues. They complicated. But there is a vision of peace, and it takes tough choices on both sides, especially over the coming days. I guarantee you that America, that President Obama and this Administration will be there every day of the week, every step of the way. And we will stand with Israel’s leaders today and with the leaders of the future. And we will ensure that our light shines not just throughout the nations, but throughout the generations.

Leaders like a fellow named Guy – I’ll leave his last name out – but he’s a young Israeli who took part in an exchange program with the State Department, sponsors that brings Israelis and Palestinians together to talk about their histories and their hopes. Guy’s grandparents fled Europe. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. He served in the IDF. And he worked as an entrepreneur in Israel’s booming tech industry. And this is what he said in that program: We respect our past, but we don’t want to live it. We are young enough to dream, to believe that change is possible, and that fear can be defeated.

I think Guy is right. Change is possible. Fear can be defeated. But those are choices we have to make now.

My friends, a few months ago I landed in Tel Aviv and it was the 18th anniversary of Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination. I went straight to Kikar Rabin, and I stood with the late-prime minister’s daughter, Dalia, at the site of her father’s murder. And we stood just steps away from where the great general, in the last moments of his life, sang the famous lyrics of Shir LaShalom: Don’t whisper a prayer; sing a song of peace in a loud voice. Don’t say the day will come; bring that day. (Applause.) That is our mission. All of us, in whatever capacity that we can, but just as important our mission is also to raise our voices for peace, and we also need to listen. We have to listen to those who first gave voice to our values, voices that still echo thousands of years later.

He almost – I think it was the first time I went to Israel. I spent a week there and went all over the country and like many first-time visitors, I climbed Masada. I climbed it with a guide – some of you may know him or heard of him, a fellow by the name of Yadin Roman. Yadin, the publisher of Eretz Israel. And our group debated Josephus Flavius’s account of what happened on the top of that mountain, the account of what happened 2,000 years before we were there.

Then Yadin, after we’d had this long debate, made us all vote to determine did it happen as he recounted or was it different. And we all voted unanimously it did happen the way he recounted. He told us to then walk to the edge of the precipice which we did, and to look out across the chasm and to shout, to shout across the ancestral home of the Jewish people. And as we stood where every new Israeli soldier begins his or her service, by swearing an oath to honor that history and secure the future, Yadin instructed us to shout, all at the same time, “Am Yisrael chai.” We shouted. (Applause.) And then I have to tell you, echoing across the chasm in the most eerie and unbelievably unforgettable way were these haunting echoes of “Am Yisrael chai, Am Yisrael chai, chai, chai.” I’ll never forget hearing the echo of those words bouncing off that mountain. It was literally like we were hearing the voices of the souls of those who had perished sacrificing their lives for Israel a thousand years ago. And we were affirming those words, the state of Israel lives. The people of Israel live.

We have to listen to those voices. Those long ago who encouraged us to build a city on a hill to be a light unto the nations, an example to the world, to ensure Israel’s survival. And we have to listen to the voices of young people whose futures depend on the choices that we, the leaders of today, make. It’s for their future that we will give new strength to the U.S.-Israel partnership as AIPAC does like no other organization in our country. It’s for their future that we will come together giving greater voice to the timeless oath and we will remember forever those words and be driven by them: “Am Yisrael chai” will be said generations upon generations into the future because of the work you do and the work we will do together.

Thank you all very much. Honored to be with you. (Applause.)

The Office of Website Management, Bureau of Public Affairs, manages this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 21st, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Uri Avnery

February 22, 2014

 

                                 Captain Boycott Rides Again.

 

IT HAS always been a secret ambition of mine to have a bagatz ruling bearing my name.  (Bagatz is the Hebrew acronym for “High Court of Justice”, the Israeli equivalent of a constitutional court. It plays a very important role in Israeli public life.)

  Having a ground-breaking Supreme Court decision named after you confers a kind of immortality. Long after you are gone, lawyers quote your case and refer to the judgment.

 Take Roe v. Wade, for example. Whenever abortion is debated in the US, Roe v. Wade (1973) comes up, though few remember who Jane Roe and Henry Wade actually were. Now there is “Uri Avnery and Others v. the Knesset and the State of Israel”, which came up this week before the Israeli Supreme Court. It concerns the anti-boycott law enacted by the Knesset.

A few hours after the law was passed, Gush Shalom and I personally submitted to the court our application to annul it. We had prepared our legal arguments well in advance. That’s why it bears my name. The applicants rather disrespectfully called “Others” are about a dozen human rights organizations, both Jewish and Arab, who joined us.

After this ego-trip, let’s get to the point.

 

THE COURT session was rather unusual. Instead of the three justices who normally deal with such applications, this time nine judges – almost the full complement of the court – were seated at the table. Almost a dozen lawyers argued for the two sides. Among them was our own Gabi Lasky, who opened the case for the applicants.

The judges were no passive listeners fighting boredom, as they usually are. All nine judges intervened constantly, asking questions, interjecting provocative remarks. They were clearly very interested.

The law does not outlaw boycotts as such. The original Captain Charles Boycott would not have been involved.

 Boycott was an agent of an absentee landlord in Ireland who evicted tenants unable to pay their rent during the Irish famine of 1880. Instead of resorting to violence against him, Irish leaders called on their people to ostracize him. He was “boycotted” – no one spoke with him, worked for him, traded with him or even delivered his mail. Pro-British volunteers were brought in to work for him, protected by a thousand British soldiers. But soon “boycotting” became widespread and entered the English language.

By now, of course, a boycott means a lot more than ostracizing an individual. It is a major instrument of protest, intended to hurt the object both morally and economically, much like an industrial strike.

In Israel, a number of boycotts are going on all the time. The rabbis call on pious Jews to boycott shops which sell non-kosher food or hotels which serve hot meals on the holy Sabbath. Consumers upset by the cost of food boycotted cottage cheese, an act that grew into the mass social protest in the summer of 2011. No one was indignant.  Until it reached the settlements.

 

 IN 1997 Gush Shalom, the movement to which I belong, declared the first boycott of the settlements. We called upon Israelis to abstain from buying goods produced by settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories.

 This caused hardly a stir. When we called a press conference, not a single Israeli journalist attended – something I have never experienced before or since.

 To facilitate the action, we published a list of the enterprises located in the settlements. Much to our surprise, tens of thousands of consumers asked for the list. That’s how the ball started rolling.

 

We did not call for a boycott of Israel. Quite the contrary, our main aim was to emphasize the difference between Israel proper and the settlements. One of our stickers said: “I Buy Only Products of Israel – Not the Products of the Settlements!”

While the government did everything possible to erase the Green Line, we aimed at restoring it in the consciousness of the Israeli public.

We also aimed at hurting the settlements economically. The government was working full-time to attract people to the settlements by offering private villas to young couple who could not afford an apartment in Israel proper, and lure local and foreign investors with huge subsidies and tax reductions. The boycott was intended to counteract these inducements.

We were also attracted by the very nature of a boycott: it is democratic and non-violent. Anyone can implement it quietly in their private life, without having to identify himself or herself.

 

THE GOVERNMENT decided that the best way to minimize the damage was to ignore us. But when our initiative started to find followers abroad, they became alarmed. Especially when the EU decided to implement the provisions of its trade agreement with Israel. This confers large benefits on Israeli exports, but excludes the settlements which are manifestly illegal under international law.

 The Knesset reacted furiously and devoted a whole day to the matter.     (If I may be allowed another ego-trip: I decided to attend the session. As a former member, I was seated with Rachel in the gallery of honored guests. When a rightist speaker noticed us, he turned around and, in a flagrant breach of parliamentary etiquette, pointed at us and snarled: “There is the Royal Couple of the Left!”)

 

 Abroad, too, the boycott was initially aimed at the settlements. But, drawing on the experience of the anti-apartheid struggle, it soon turned into a general boycott of Israel. I do not support this. To my mind, it is counter-productive, since it pushes the general population into the arms of the settlers, under the tired old slogan: “All the world is against us.”

 

The growing dimensions of the various boycotts could no longer be ignored. The Israeli Right decided to act – and it did so in a very clever way.

  It exploited the call to boycott Israel in order to outlaw the call to boycott the settlements, which was the part which really upset it. That is the essence of the law enacted two years ago.

 THE LAW does not punish individual boycotters. It punishes everyone who publicly calls for a boycott.

 And what punishment! No prison terms, which would have turned us into martyrs. The law says that any individual who feels that they have been hurt by the boycott call can sue the boycott-callers for unlimited damages, without having to prove any damage at all. So can hundreds of others. This way the initiators of a boycott can be condemned to pay millions of shekels.

 Not just any boycott. No pork or cottage cheese is involved. Only boycotts aimed against institutions or people connected with the State of Israel or – here come the three fateful Hebrew words: “a territory ruled by Israel”.

 

 Clearly, the whole legal edifice was constructed for these three words.  The law does not protect Israel. It protects the settlements. That is its sole purpose.

The dozens of questions rained down on our lawyers concerned mainly this point.

 Would we be satisfied with striking out these three words? (Good question. Of course we would. But we could not say so, because our main argument was that the law restricts freedom of speech. That applies to the law as a whole.) 

Would we have opposed a law directed against the Arab Boycott maintained against Israel during its early years? (The circumstances were completely different.)

Do we oppose the freedom of speech of rabbis who prohibit the leasing of apartments to Arab citizens? (That is not a boycott, but crass discrimination.)

After hours of debate, the court adjourned. Judgment will be given at some undefined date. Probably there will be a majority and several minority decisions.

Will the court dare to strike out a law of the Knesset? That would demand real courage. I would not be surprised if the majority decide to leave the law as it is, but strike out the words concerning the settlements.

Otherwise, it will be another step towards turning Israel into a state of the settlers, by the settlers and for the settlers.

There are examples for this in history. The eminent British historian Arnold Toynbee – a favorite of mine – once composed a list of countries which were taken over by the inhabitants of their border regions, who as a rule are hardier and more fanatical than the spoiled inhabitants of the center. For example, the Prussians, then the inhabitants of a remote border region, took over half of Germany, and then the rest. Savoy, a borderland, created modern Italy.  

WHATEVER THE outcome, the decision in the case of “Uri Avnery and Others v. the State of Israel” will be quoted for a long time.
Some satisfaction, at least.

—————————————

This e-mail reached me just days after I witnessed at the UN what can best be described as a concerted effort to ostracize Israel and enhance what they call – the Boycott movement against Israel. As said – I bet most of those involved actually do not understand what they are doing, and those that do understand that they are calling for the annihilation of a UN Member State, bury in the process those people they profess to help – the villagers of Palestine.

The following is an excerpt of a very recent posting of mine that dealt with Commodities – and the following comments show how far superior is Israel’s Uri Avnery to the “thinking-constraint” antagonists that just hate Israel for being the State that Jews created. Israel is not a monolith and people like Uri Avnery want a better future for their land – including a better future for the Palestinians who attach true value to life. As follows:

“On Wednesday February 19, 2014, I went to the UN specifically as a group that claims solidarity with the Palestinians was hosting Mr. Imad  Bornat from the village of Bil’in – a farmer and self-styled cameraman whose documentary “5 Broken Camera”  is being promoted by activist Oscar-winning filmmaker Michael Moore – and nominated for an Oscar, like another Palestinian film called “Omar.” {the UN misspelled his name – Emad Burnat – I mention this for the sake of search engines}

Imad Bornat started filming in 2005 daily life in his village, and clearly had the talent to bring out the abnormal life under a foreign occupation  – that is if you consider living in the Colorado State of the Columbine shootings as normal, or life in any village in an Arab State normal.

I knew what to expect, but wanted to see how the UN sells the commodity I call – “Hate Israel” – because really – the hand clapping had nothing to do with trying to alleviate suffering of the Palestinians, but rather I saw there various people – some claiming Jewishness for unclear reason – and heaping it on Israel. There were so called Press or Media people that have never written a word about climate change,  and there was an Arab who lived in Brazil and loves to speak Portuguese and Spanish for his outreach.

I asked Mr. Bornat if he spoke ever with Uri Avnery – the Israeli maverick who was the one to bring to the public’s eye the problems the villagers of Bil’in were having, and who tried to help?  After all the film-maker’s statement was that it is his intent to help the villagers and himself? I said that talking with people like Avnery can help him on the ground – and what can the people in this room at the UN actually do on the ground?

As I did not get an answer to my very direct public question – just a few grunts and something that a TV reporter meant as an insult – “Zionist” I spoke to Imad after the presentation in private and then I heard from him that it is not about the village but larger – about Palestine. OK – so be it – the commodity at sale here is simple hatred – nothing else – but the problem is real and involves real people – and this is not his issue. I also said to him that in Israel people do not want to revisit the Holocaust and I would expect from him to not like the killing of the Syrian Arabs by Arabs – it does not make sense to score points over dead bodies.

I must also note that the UN DPI that posts a list of UN activities for the information of the media – had the “5 Broken Cameras” information, but then never has other topics of general interest – like the presentation today by Ms. Angela Kane – The UN Representative for Disarmament Affairs who spoke on her experiences as head of the UN spearhead on the issue of Chemical Weapons in Syria. She was very diplomatic and made sure she says only things she can prove. The Syrian Ambassador could not have had reason to doubt her impartiality.  She did her work out of her Vienna based headquarters and gave support to the UN Security Council – in case the UN wants to come up with decisions – but the question is will they?  For journalists the question is what is actually going on – and this presentation could have helped them – but the UN Department of Public Information keeps the “Information Commodity” very close to the Arab side – whatever that might be the case.

OK, I am sure that I might have over extended the use of the term Commodities – but I do believe that there is indeed much more to this word if we try an ounce of real Aqua Vita. Individual Nations are suffering when the value of commodities is in decline – our job ought to be to explain why this happens – and the suffering – not of Governments but of their subjects.”

URI AVNERY EXPLAINED HIS EFFORT TO BOYCOTT INSIDE ISRAEL THE SETTLEMENTS AND THEIR PRODUCE – HE HAD NO INTENT  TO HARM THE ISRAELI STATE.

IMAD BORNAT WANTS TO ELIMINATE ISRAEL AND REPLACE IT WITH PALESTINE – SO HIS IDEA OF BOYCOTT IS A SUBVERSIVE ACTION THAT UNSURPRISINGLY WILL LEAD TO A CLAMMING UP OF THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT – THUS IT IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE.

THE ONLY WAY OUT IS FOR VILLAGE BASED PEOPLE TO COOPERATE WITH PROGRESSIVE ISRAELIS BY SWITCHING TO  REAL INTEREST IN LIFE. WHY NOT START BY LINING UP WITH TRUE ETHICISTS LIKE AVNERY?

 

 

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 16th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Do ‘Syria,’ ‘Iraq’ and ‘Lebanon’ Still Exist?

based on the  original article by Jonathan Spyer that was posted by the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum and that we re-post with a series of changes that are mainly of editorial nature.
The Tower
February 2014

www.meforum.org/3751/syria-iraq-lebanon-nation-states

For almost a century, the Middle East has been defined by the nation-states that emerged following the Allied Europeans – British and French – victory in World War I which was the end of the Ottoman Empire, and followed later by the unraveling of the resulting colonial era. Since then, strategic analyses of the region have concentrated on the relations between these states, created by bureaucratic lines drawn by the interim colonial powers, and diplomatic efforts have generally attempted to maintain their stability and the integrity of these borders. As a result, the current map of the Middle East has remained largely unchanged over more than nine decades.

But these actually never made sense and do so much less now.  The old maps do not reflect the reality on the ground, and the region is now defined not by rivalry between nation-states, but by sectarian divisions that are spilling across the old borders and rendering them irrelevant. Today, there is a single sectarian war underway across the Middle East, one that threatens to engulf the entire region.

This war has a number of fronts, some more intense and active than others, but it is everywhere defined by sectarian conflict – especially the divide between Sunni and Shia Muslims. It is most intense in the area encompassing the current states of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon; but has also spread further afield—to Bahrain, northern Yemen, and to some degree Kuwait and eastern Saudi Arabia.

The core power on the Shia side is the Islamic Republic of Iran, the world’s leading state that accepts terror as a means to implement its plans.  Iran was the founding patron of Hezbollah, which even before 9/11  had killed more Americans than any terror group in the world. The Assad regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Maliki government and assorted Shia militias in Iraq, the Houthi rebels in northern Yemen, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, are all allies or proxies of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which is capable of rendering substantial assistance to its friends through the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – a powerful military and economic force that possesses substantial expertise and experience in building proxy organizations and engaging in political and paramilitary warfare.

On the Sunni side, the dominant power is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has been wary of Tehran, but also has struggled since 9/11 – on and off -  against the Islamists of Al Qaeda. Its allies include various groups among the Syrian rebels, the March 14 movement in Lebanon, the military regime in Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Jordan, and sometimes Turkey. The Saudis, however, are at something of a disadvantage. They possess no parallel to the IRGC, and have problematic relations with the extreme Sunni jihadists of al-Qaeda, who have played a prominent role in the fighting on all three major fronts and who are an outgrowth of the Saudi Wahabbi movement – the kind of Islam on which the Saudi throne is based. (Here we have a clear different approach to the issue then we found in the original article – that seemed to be over friendly to the Saudis – possibly because of the way Washington is siding with the Saudis.)

How did this situation come about? Is there evidence of a clear linkage between the various forces on the respective sides? Why is this conflict so extreme in certain countries—like Syria and Iraq—where it appears to be leading to the breakup of these states? How dangerous are these changes for the West?

Focusing on the areas of most intense conflict—Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon—can help us answer these questions.

This war is a result of the confluence of a number of circumstances. First, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon are all home to a host of different sectarian and ethnic communities. The stark divisions that exist in these societies have never been resolved. In Syria and Iraq, they were suppressed for decades by brutal dictatorial regimes. The Assad regime in Syria and Saddam Hussein’s in Iraq – were family dictatorships based on minority sectarian communities – the Alawis in Syria, and the Arab Sunnis in Iraq – while claiming to rule in the name of pan-Arab nationalism. In service of this ideology, the Syrian and Iraqi regimes ruthlessly put down ethnic and sectarian separatism in all its forms; in particular, Shia Islamism in Iraq, Sunni Islamism in Syria, and the Kurdish national movement in both countries. All were treated without mercy.

Lebanon, by contrast, is a far weaker state, which was ruled by a power-sharing arrangement between ethnic and religious groups that collapsed into civil war in 1975. The issues underlying that war were never resolved; instead, between 1990 and 2005 the Syrian army presence in Lebanon ended all discussion of basic issues of national identity. (Here we must add something the original article has completely left untackled – the fact that in Lebanon the French colonial power has sponsored a Christian – mainly Maronite – minority and allowed for its governing over the Sunni and Shia parts of the population in a  prearranged structure that fell apart with the influx of Sunni Palestinian refugees. These refugees ended up being supported by the Shia backed Hezbollah and eventually got attacked from the outside by the Israelis). Lebanon thus developed a different dynamics that is still tripartite in its Arab make up. Lebanon’s Maronite families with their French backing did not become dictators like in the cases of Iraq and Syria.

Over the last decade, the once ironclad structures of dictatorship and suppression that kept ethnic and sectarian tensions from erupting, have weakened or disappeared.

The 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq destroyed the Saddam Hussein regime. A sectarian Shia government, based on the Shia Arab majority and conditionally accepted by the Kurds, took its place. In Syria, a brutal civil war has severely curtailed the power of the Assad regime, which now rules only about 40 percent of the country’s territory. The Sunni Arab majority and the Kurdish minority have carved out autonomous sectarian enclaves in the 60 percent that remains.

Western hopes that a non-sectarian identity would take hold in the areas formerly ruled by Saddam and the Assads are persistent but proven illusory. Remarks about Iraq made by then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice in 2004 sum up these hopes and the tendency to self-delusion that often accompanies them. “What has been impressive to me so far,” Rice said, is that Iraqis—whether Kurds or Shia or Sunni or the many other ethnic groups in Iraq—have demonstrated that they really want to live as one in a unified Iraq…. I think particularly the Kurds have shown a propensity to want to bridge differences that were historic differences in many ways that were fueled by Saddam Hussein and his regime… What I have found interesting and I think important is the degree to which the leaders of the Shia and Kurdish and Sunni communities have continually expressed their desires to live in a unified Iraq.

This faith is expressed also by the Obama Administration, and as a result, it has continued to support the Shia-dominated government in Iraq, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. It sees Maliki’s opposition to Sunni insurgents in western Anbar province as an elected government’s opposition to extremist rebels. This fails to take into account the sectarian nature of the Maliki government itself, and the discriminatory policies he has pursued against the Sunnis of western Iraq.

The reemergence of sectarian conflict so evident in Iraq has also emerged in Syria and is, in turn, showed up in neighboring Lebanon.

Lebanon was first drawn into the Syrian  conflict as a result of the significant and highly effective intervention in Syria in support of the Assad regime by Iran’s Lebanon-based terrorist army, Hezbollah. This quickly led to retaliation against Hezbollah targets in Lebanon by elements among Syria’s Sunni rebels. Supporters of the Sunni rebels have succeeded in attacking Hezbollah’s Dahiyeh compound in south Beirut five times. The bombing on January 2, 2014,  was carried out by a young Lebanese member of an organization called ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) named Qutaiba Muhammad al-Satem; ISIS are Islamic extremists who have been operating as a branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.

 

 

A map of Syria showing zones of control by the regime and various militias. (Image Source: WikiMedia Commons)

While Hezbollah’s decision to intervene on behalf of the Assad regime in Syria and the subsequent Sunni reaction is partially the result of the divided nature of Lebanon, and Syria, and their unresolved questions of national identity, larger regional conflicts, also of a sectarian nature, are a driving force behind the violence.

Hezbollah’s participation in the Syrian civil war came not as a result of automatic sentiments of solidarity, but because Hezbollah forms part of a regional alliance headed by Iran, to which the Assad regime also belongs. When Assad found himself in trouble, Hezbollah was mobilized to assist him. On the opposing side, the Syrian rebels have benefited from the support and patronage of Iran’s rival, Saudi Arabia, and other states along the Arabian peninsula, including the United Arab Emirates.

This rivalry is long standing and not just rooted in theological differences. It is about power. Iran is controlled by a revolutionary regime whose goal is to become the hegemonic force in the Middle East. Although the Iranians certainly regard the Saudis as an enemy and as unfit custodians of Islam’s most holy sites, Tehran’s main goal is to assert control over Arabian Gulf energy supplies, replacing the U.S. as guarantor of resources upon which world is dependent. Tehran understands that the real source of power in the region is the Gulf itself, with its enormous reserves of oil and natural gas that are essential to the global economy. To achieve its goals, Iran must tempt or coerce the Gulf monarchies away from U.S. protection and toward an alliance with Tehran, and ironically, American perceived weakness in the face of Tehran’s nuclear pursuit makes that all the more possible.

Riyadh has emerged as the principle opponent to Iran’s regional ambitions, mainly because the former guarantor of the current regional order, the United States, has chosen to leave the field. Until 2011, the Middle East appeared to be locked into a kind of cold war, in which the Iranians, along with their allies and proxies, sought to overturn the U.S.-dominated regional order, which was based on U.S. alliances with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel. Events over the last five years, however, have created the impression that the U.S. no longer wishes to play this role: America failed to back its longtime Egyptian ally, Hosni Mubarak, when he faced domestic unrest in early 2011. It failed to support the rebel forces fighting the Iran-backed Assad regime. And it failed to back Bahrain against an Iran-supported uprising in the same year. Now, the U.S. appears to be seeking a general rapprochement with Iran.

As a result of all this, Saudi Arabia has begun to take a far more active role in the region. Riyadh and its Gulf allies have certainly helped to finance and stabilize Egypt after the military removed Muhammad Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government from power. It began to take a leading role in supporting the Syrian rebels. It has well-documented relations with the anti-Syrian March 14 movement in Lebanon. In December 2013, the Saudis pledged $3 billion to the official Lebanese army. They also support anti-Maliki elements in Iraq. In addition, they are seeking to create an alliance among the other Gulf states in order to oppose Iranian ambitions, with some success.

But all of the above will not work for the Saudis unless they also stretch out a friendly hand to Israel and do a “SADAT” – that is – backing the right of Israel provided it settles with the Palestinians and do this in a pro-active way by showing their readiness to bankroll a solution of the Palestinian conflict. We say this is the cheapest way for the Saudis to wrestle the region from the Iranians – but we found no such conclusion in the original article. This might be too revolutionary for the conventional mindset that believes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is just another Middle East intractable conflict like the one in the article. The trick is to see how an opportunity is created when trying to go about two seemingly intractable problems in tandem!

The original article follows instead by saying -  “increasingly violent rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran, intensified by American withdrawal from the region, has helped turn a conflict that was once cold into an increasingly hot cross-border sectarian war.”

There is considerable evidence of links between Iran and Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and their respective allies in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, on the other.

On the Iranian side, Tehran no longer makes any serious attempt to deny the enormous assistance they have given the Assad regime in Syria. Indeed, the Iranians have effectively mobilized all their available regional assets in order to preserve it. The commander of the Revolutionary Guards’ elite Qods Force, Qassem Suleimani, went to Syria himself in order to coordinate these efforts. Perhaps most notably, in mid-2012 the Iranians began training a new light infantry force for Assad. Called the National Defense Force, it was necessary because Assad was unable to use much of his own army, which consisted of Sunni conscripts whose loyalty was unreliable. Iran has even sent its own IRGC fighters to fight in Syria; a fact revealed by footage taken by an Iranian cameraman who was later killed by the rebels, the testimony of Syrian defectors, and the capture of a number of IRGC men in August 2012.

In April 2013, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah was summoned to Iran and instructed to deploy his own fighters in Syria. Up to 10,000 of them are now on the ground in Syria at any given time, and they played a crucial role in retaking the strategic town of Qusayr in August 2013. Hezbollah fighters are also taking a prominent role in the battle for the Qalamun area near the Lebanese border, as well as the fighting around Damascus.

Iranian financial donations have also been vital in keeping the regime alive. In January 2013, Iran announced a “credit facility” agreement with Syria that extended a $1 billion line of credit to Assad. Later the same year, an additional credit line of $3.6 billion was announced.

Iraq has also played a vital role in supporting Assad, mainly by allowing Iran to use Iraqi territory and airspace to transfer weapons to Syrian forces. At first glance, this appears to be a strange policy. Relations between Iraq and Syria prior to the civil war were not good, with Maliki openly accusing Assad of supporting Sunni insurgents. But this has now changed. Indeed, Maliki has openly supported Assad since the beginning of the Syrian civil war. This reflects his increasing closeness to Iran, which helped ensure Maliki’s emergence as prime minister after the 2010 elections and pressured Assad to support him as well. Relations between Iraq, Iran, and Syria have only improved since.

In addition to government support, Iraqi Shia militias are now fighting in Syria on behalf of Assad. The Abu Fadl al-Abbas Brigades, Ktaeb Hezbollah, and the Ahl al-Haq group all have forces in Syria. They are playing an important role, given that one of Assad’s major weaknesses is his lack of reliably loyal soldiers. The eruption of violence in Iraq’s western Anbar province has further cemented this alliance, since the insurgency is a direct result of advances made by Sunni jihadis in Syria.

As a result of all this, the Iranian-led side of the regional conflict has emerged as a tightly organized alliance, capable of acting in a coordinated way, pooling its resources for a common goal, and fighting effectively from western Iraq all the way to the Mediterranean.

The Sunni side of the conflict is more chaotic and disjointed. Saudi Arabia is its main financier, but it lacks an equivalent to the Qods force and the IRGC, who are world leaders in subversion and irregular warfare.

Only the most extreme jihadi elements appear capable of clear coordination across borders. For example, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, as its name suggests, is active in both countries and controls a contiguous area stretching from the western Anbar province in Iraq to the eastern Raqqa province in Syria. ISIS regards itself as a franchise of al-Qaeda, although it does not take orders directly from the al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan. Another al-Qaeda group, Jabhat al-Nusra, is active in Syria. In Lebanon, a third branch of al-Qaeda, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, has played a role in the attacks on Hezbollah. In addition, both the ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra are active in Lebanon.

But there are also less extreme groups opposing the Syrian-Iranian axis. Saudi Arabia has backed the March 14 movement, which is the main Sunni opposition party in Lebanon, as well as providing financial support to the Lebanese army. In Syria, the Saudis have fostered the Islamic Front, an alliance of eight Islamist groups unconnected to al-Qaeda. It includes some of the strongest rebel brigades, such as Ahrar al-Sham, Liwa al-Islam, and Liwa al-Tawhid. It is now emerging as the key bloc among the rebels. The Saudis also dominate the Syrian opposition in exile, with Ahmed Jarba, who has close links to Riyadh, recently reelected chairman of the Syrian National Coalition.

There are no indications that the Saudis are backing Sunni insurgents in Iraq, but the larger Sunni community is certainly looking to Riyadh for help. Relations between Saudi Arabia and the current Iraqi government are very bad. The border between the two countries is closed except during the Hajj pilgrimage, there is no Saudi embassy in Baghdad, and commercial relations are kept at a minimum. Some of the Sunni tribes in western Anbar have close links to the Saudis. While they are hostile to al-Qaeda, they are also opposed to the Maliki government, which they regard as a sectarian Shia regime.

There is a third element to this regional conflict that is something of a wild card: The Kurds. A non-Arab people who have long sought an independent state, the Kurds have succeeded in creating a flourishing autonomous zone in northern Iraq that enjoys most of the elements of de facto sovereignty. Since July 2012, another Kurdish autonomous zone has been established in northeast Syria. These two areas occupy a contiguous land mass, but are not politically united. The Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq is controlled by the Kurdish Democratic Party, led by Massoud Barzani, while the autonomous zone in northeast Syria is controlled by the PYD (Democratic Union Party), which is the Syrian branch of the Turkish-based leftist PKK movement.

These movements are rivals, and each sees itself as the appropriate leader of the Kurds. But while there is tension between them, each appears to be securely in control of its respective areas. The Kurds do not enjoy the support of any state in the region, and both the Iranians and the Saudis regard Kurdish national aspirations with suspicion. Nonetheless, the Kurds have managed to accumulate sufficient organizational and military strength to ensure the survival of their self-governing enclaves.

All these factors indicate that two rival alliances are clashing for hegemony over the region. There are myriad practical links between the various combatants, and their activities have long since spilled across the borders of the various states involved in the fighting; as indicated by the presence of Iranian fighters, ISIS, and Hezbollah in Syria; Syrian rebels in Lebanon; and many other examples. Iran is the leader of one side, Saudi Arabia is the main backer of the other, while the Kurds are concerned with maintaining their areas of control and are trying to stay out of the conflict.

The most significant result of the analysis is that the continued existence of Syria and Iraq as unified states is now in question. Practically speaking, Syria has already split into three areas, each controlled by one of the three elements listed above. Iraq has also effectively split into Kurdish and Arab zones, with Sunni and Shia groups fighting over the latter.

In many ways, Lebanon ceased to function as a unified state some time ago; since Hezbollah essentially functions as a de facto mini-state of its own. The Lebanese Sunnis lack a military tradition and have proved helpless in the face of Iran’s support for Hezbollah. But now, the emergence of the Syrian rebels and the growing popularity of Islamism among the Sunni underclass may be altering this balance. This appears to be borne out by the recent surge in Sunni violence against Hezbollah, which is the result of an attempt by Syrian jihadis and other rebels—in concert with their local allies—to bring the war to Lebanon.

Taken together, this indicates that a massive paradigm shift is underway in much of the Middle East. The eclipse of Arab nationalist dictatorships in Iraq and Syria, the historical failure to develop a unified national identity in these states, their mixed ethnic and sectarian makeup, and the U.S.’s withdrawal from its dominant position in the region—with the resulting emergence of a Saudi-Iranian rivalry—have all combined to produce an extraordinary result: A region-wide sectarian war is now taking place in the areas still officially referred to as Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

For the West, as in the region itself, this has very serious implications. Dealing with it effectively will required an equally massive paradigm shift in strategic thinking on the Middle East, one that is capable of dispensing with previous illusions and admitting that sovereign borders once regarded as sacrosanct are swiftly becoming meaningless.

There are new borders taking shape, defined by sectarian divisions that the West ignores at its peril. Despite fantasies of withdrawing from the region, the security of global energy supplies and the maintenance of regional stability are still essential to Western interests. The West has as large a stake in the outcome of this sectarian conflict as the regional players involved. If it cannot adapt to the new Middle East that is swiftly taking shape, it will find itself on the losing side.

Jonathan Spyer is a senior research fellow at the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center, and a fellow at the Middle East Forum.

The concluding paragraphs are why we thought highly about the article even we had to make some changes in it – and now again – we do not think the Western powers – the United States and the former Middle East colonial Powers of Britain and France have to try to keep onto the internal borders of the fictional States of Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, they helped create years ago, and then helped maintain by helping the dictatorial and monarchic regimes that they helped institute.

It is obvious – if the Iran led Shia forces and allies come out victorious in Syria, there will be immediate follow-ups in Bahrain and the oil regions of Eastern Saudi Arabia itself – regions with clear Shia majorities.

As we said, the self preservation of the Saudi regime, that is if Saudi Arabia wants indeed to be considered as half of the tongues that hold together the Middle East – takes them to Jerusalem/Tel Aviv/Ramallah – and this might not be what the original article intended.

That article wanted the Saudis to travel to Washington instead – but really – President Obama with the US experience in Iraq and Afghanistan is best advised to let the Arabs stew in their own pot, go for alternate energy, help China go for alternate energy as well – so they are not dependent on this imaginary Middle East source of global oil either. After all – the US has already lost the oil of Iraq and the contracts now are with China – who imagines the US thinks they will still manage the Saudi oil? The only ones still ready to hang on to strong positions in the region are the Israelis – and that is where the Saudis could find real brothers. Trying  to differentiate between varieties of Islamic extremists will not help create that devil with talent to know the difference between an Al-Qaeda Sunni who works well with the Iranian Shia and the Iraqi Sunni who still likes Saudi money.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on February 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

FROM THE AL MONITOR OF FEBRUARY 15, 2014.

Fair-trade olive oil supplier has origins in Jenin, The Palestinian Authority on the West Bank.

Bottles of olive oil are displayed at the Canaan Fair Trade company in the village Burqin, near Jenin, Oct. 17, 2009.  (photo by SAIF DAHLAH/AFP/Getty Images)

World’s largest fair-trade olive oil supplier has origins in Jenin

Various fair-trade initiatives have begun in Israel over the past decade and even before; however, most of them have failed. Only a few stores in Israel sell fair-trade products (primarily, the Achoti shop in Tel Aviv). And the local movement that sought to promote the use of fair-trade vouchers has shut down business. The concept has not seeped in and has not been adopted by the major Israeli manufacturers, and contrary to the global trend, it is not used as a marketing tool locally. It seems that Israeli consumers do not really care.

Summary? Print Few in Israel have heard of the Canaan Fair Trade commercial enterprise; however, in the West it is a well-known brand name, a Palestinian venture that has succeeded where its Israeli counterparts have failed.
Author Gil Kelian Posted February 13, 2014

Translator(s)Hanni Manor
Original Article ????? ??????? ??????

Given the failure of the fair-trade cause in Israel, the success of Canaan Fair Trade, based in the West Bank Palestinian city of Jenin, is particularly notable. The fair-trade supplier of olive oil and other Palestinian agricultural products has clients all over the world, including international corporations like Ben & Jerry’s, LUSH Cosmetics and the giant retailers Whole Foods, Williams-Sonoma and Sainsbury’s.

A world renowned venture unknown in Israel

Canaan Fair Trade came into being and has grown and flourished entirely removed from the Israeli efforts in this domain, and it has actually surpassed the Israeli initiatives, going unnoticed by the local food industry. Canaan is virtually unknown in the Israeli arena of food companies and retailers. And if you wonder where it is known; well, the brand name is widely recognized among international bodies engaged in fair trade and social investments.

Since it began operations in 2005, Canaan Fair Trade has succeeded in bringing 2,149 Palestinian farmers under its umbrella. Its sales volume for 2013 reached 321 tons of olive oil, yielding revenues of $4.1 million. Yet, impressive as the figures may seem, they represent a certain decline compared to Canaan’s peak year of 2011, when its sales volume totaled 440 tons of olive oil, yielding revenues of $4.7 million. These figures make Canaan the largest fair-trade venture in Israel — or in Palestine — its officially announced base of operations. In fact, according to its founder and managing director, Palestinian-American businessman Nasser Abufarha, Canaan Fair Trade is the largest fair-trade enterprise in the Middle East, and the largest fair-trade supplier of olive oil in the world.

Canaan Fair Trade was conceived in 2003, at a conference organized by Abufarha on behalf of local olive growers in the Palestinian Authority. Many of the olive growers attending the conference voiced their interest in the model presented by Abufarha, who had been exposed to the model of fair trade in the course of his doctoral studies at the University of Wisconsin in the Unites States. Abufarha then went on to establish Canaan, basing it on three fundamental guidelines — the traditional principle of financial profitability, supplemented by the guiding principles of social profitability and environmental sustainability.

An increase in profits that makes all the difference for the growers and their families

Among the first investors financing the activities of Canaan Fair Trade was the American soap manufacturer Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, a family-owned-and-operated company founded by Emmanuel Bronner, a scion of soap makers. The Bronners’ company was one of the pioneers of fair trade in the cosmetics industry (which rendered its products highly popular in the United States in the 1960s), and to this day it has remained a family-owned company that promotes business ethics. Through the years, Bronner emphasized the association between the family company and the establishment of the State of Israel, and he even painted his first product blue and white. What’s more, the company has taken care not to limit its purchases to Palestinian olive oil, but rather makes it a point to buy Israeli-made oil for the manufacture of its soaps.

Drawing on the capital it raised from the Bronners, coupled with the financial support it received from the Palestinian Authority and the funding by the Dutch government, Canaan Fair Trade was able to invest $5 million in infrastructures for the production, bottling and marketing of olive oil and other agricultural products. The funds were also used for the acquisition of a building in Jenin and the establishment of the Palestinian Fair Trade Association.

The branding strategy of the products it resells as fair-trade products has made it possible for Canaan Fair Trade to charge a higher price for the produce, and it has thus managed to triple the income of farming families taking part in the venture. Abufarha said that before Canaan entered into the market, the price per ton of olive oil was approximately NIS 9,000 [about $2,560] in the open market, while the Palestinian olive oil growers could get through Canaan no less than NIS 24,000 [more than $6,800] per ton. “For a farmer producing 4 to 5 tons of olive oil a year, these amounts can make all the difference,” he notes.

The price the farmer receives for his produce is the focal point of any fair-trade activity. As a matter of fact, the fair-trade movement was initially formed to tackle situations where farmers in the Third World could not receive a fair price for their produce that would provide them and their families with a dignified existence.

Setting a fair price for the farmer is the fundamental principle at the base of the social and economic activity of Canaan, which was a global pioneer in fair-trade marketing of olive oil. The price the farmer receives for 1 liter of olive oil is currently fixed at NIS 15 [roughly $4.25], and Canaan would never pay the farmer less than that.

Given that price, one can understand why the Israeli farmer operates as a rule under fair-trade conditions, even though no such framework has been officially defined in this case. The Olive Board in the Israeli Plants Production & Marketing Board sets a recommended price for the farmer, which stands at NIS 18 [just over $5.10] per liter. While Israeli farmers do not always get the recommended price, it seems that the Palestinian floor price is applicable to them. too, in the majority of cases, at least. That price is guaranteed to Israeli farmers primarily by virtue of import and customs barriers.

According to Abufarha, fair-trade ideology is not as relevant to the Israeli farmer as it is to his Palestinian counterpart, since it is an ideology primarily intended to strengthen Third World farmers who have to cope with global conglomerates, while the Israeli farmer lives in the First World.

The profits are used to buy computers for schools

Canaan’s business model involves the sale of products officially labeled as fair-trade products, enabling the company to collect a certain premium from the consumer. Its customers are for the most part socially aware consumers who are willing to pay a little more for the produce, realizing that their personal consumption serves to promote a social cause. In fact, 22.4% of the retail price set per a bottle of olive oil marketed by Canaan represents a “social premium.”

Of this the social premium, 50% directly forwarded to the farmer, 25% is funneled to the agricultural cooperative the farmer is associated with, while the remaining 25% is invested in upgrading the education system and other infrastructures serving the Palestinian farmers.

There is a whole range of infrastructures that benefit from the social premium — from farming tools to computers for the schools attended by the farmers’ children. The improvement of infrastructure has also helped to improve the olive oil quality. When Canaan launched its operations, only 15% of the olive oil marketed was extra virgin oil, whereas at present, 80% of the oil produced is of the highest (and most expensive) quality.

Canaan is also active in promoting the cooperatives of Palestinian women who find a source of income in handling agricultural produce. There are currently 200 such cooperatives organized under the auspices of Canaan, which produce a variety of products — dried tomatoes, hyssop and coconut soap, to name but a few. Over the years, Canaan has diversified its product offerings, and in addition to olive oil, it is currently marketing a range of other agricultural products, including canned food, spreads, sesame, honey and more.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 20th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

Israel Permanent Representative to the UN in New York, Ambassador Ron Prosor addressed the UN Security Council on the Situation in the Middle East on January 20, 2014 – Martin Luther King Jr. birthday – a US holiday. In his speech Ambassador Prosor  attacked the Palestinian leadership’s continuous incitement against Israel and discussed the violence and instability afflicting the Middle East region.

 

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

 

 

Before I begin, I want to express Israel’s condolences on the death of United Nations personnel in Friday’s terrorist attack in Kabul.  There is no excuse for targeting civilians and UN workers.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Allow me to take this opportunity to congratulate Jordan on its election to the Security Council.  We thank the Secretary-General, Foreign Minister Judeh, Mr. Jean Asselborn, and Vice Minister Cho Tae-yul for being here today.

 

 

 

We also congratulate the new non-permanent members of the Security Council – Chad, Chile, Lithuania and Nigeria. You as Ambassadors have the privilege of representing your countries – good luck.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

The Middle East is known as the cradle of civilization – the birthplace of history’s greatest empires and three world religions.  The region was once admired for its stirring art, striking architecture and significant innovations.

 

 

 

Today, the world looks at the Middle East and sees a region shaken by violence.  From the Arabian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, not a day goes by when we do not read about brutality and bloodshed or new threats looming on the horizon.

 

 

 

Amidst this sea of hostility, Israel is an island of stability and democracy.  It is a nation in which the majority governs, but the minority enjoys equal rights; a nation that embraces diversity and welcomes diverse opinions; and, a nation that leads the world in human rights and encourages women to be leaders.

 

 

 

Israel is proud of its democracy and yearns for peace with its neighbors and security in its borders.  The people of Israel are still mourning the loss of their legendary statesman and soldier, Ariel Sharon.  He was a fearless leader who knew the heavy price of war and was willing to take bold steps for peace. 

 

 

 

The State of Israel is still willing to take courageous steps for peace and is committed to serious and meaningful negotiations with the Palestinians. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the United States and Secretary Kerry, in particular, for his tireless devotion to promoting peace in our region.

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Twenty years ago, I recall watching King Hussein and Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin meet in the Arava desert to sign the historic peace treaty between our two countries.  At the signing, King Hussein said (and I quote), “This is peace with commitment. This is our gift to our peoples and the generations to come.” 

 

 

 

Fifteen years after his death, King Hussein’s legacy of peace lives on. Israelis from across the political and religious spectrum still admire King Hussein’s towering morality and his profound belief in the sanctity of life and the dignity of every human being. 

 

 

 

I and most Israelis will never forget the sight of King Hussein consoling the Israeli families whose children had been killed in a terrorist attack.  After learning that a Jordanian soldier had murdered seven Israeli schoolgirls, King Hussein traveled to Israel to visit the homes of the bereaved families.  One by one, he sat with the grieving parents, held their hands, offered words of condolence and hugged and kissed them.

 

 

 

King Hussein told them (and I quote), “I feel that if there is anything left in life, it will be to ensure that all the children enjoy the kind of peace and security that we never had in our times.”  This is the legacy that his son, King Abdullah, proudly continues today.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Contrast this picture, with a picture from just a few weeks ago. In December, Israel once again made the heartbreaking decision to release convicted Palestinian terrorists in an effort to advance the peace process. 

 

 

 

The released terrorists were given a heroes’ welcome by the Palestinians and embraced by President Abbas.  Murderers were met with fireworks and festivities and showered with candies and congratulations.  The Palestinian Authority is rewarding terrorists with tens of thousands of dollars. The motto of the PA’s pension plan seems to be ‘the more you slay, the more we pay.’ 

 

 

 

This is coexistence? This is tolerance? This is mutual respect?  Grieving Israelis watched as Palestinians celebrated men like Abu Harbish who threw a firebomb at a bus, murdering 26-year-old Rachel Weiss and her three young children. 

 

 

 

To everyone in this room I ask – how would you feel if you had to watch your family’s murderers being celebrated?  Would you call into question the so-called ‘peaceful’ intentions of your neighbors? President Abbas could learn a great deal from King Hussein of Jordan about demonstrating his commitment to making peace.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Since peace talks began in July, there have been hundreds of examples of Palestinian incitement against Israelis and Jews.  From cradles to kindergartens and from schools to soccer stadiums, Palestinian children are besieged by messages of hate. 

 

 

 

They are born in hospitals named after violent Palestinian groups, attend schools named after terrorists, and are taught from textbooks that describe Zionism as racism.  In their free time, Palestinian children play on sports teams named after murderers and watch television programs that teach that Jews are “our enemies and should be killed.”

 

 

 

Rather than condemning this incitement, the Palestinian Authority is amplifying the messages of intolerance.  President Abbas’s Fatah party regularly displays maps that erase Israel. In one map, for example, the Palestinian flag flies over the entire geographic area of the State of Israel.  This map extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River and is entitled “Palestine.” 

 

 

 

In a speech on Christmas Day, President Abbas declared that Jesus was a (quote) “Palestinian messenger” and suggested Israel was to blame for the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.  This is a blatant attempt to rewrite history and erase any connection between the Jewish people and the land of Israel.  Today we are witnessing a mass exodus of Christians from the Palestinian territories and the Arab world because of the constant persecution and discrimination that they face by the Arab states.

 

 

 

Abbas’s made-up maps and mythical accounts could join the fables of One Thousand and One Nights.

 

 

 

We have already lost an entire generation to incitement.  How many more children will grow up being taught hate instead of peace; violence instead of tolerance; and martyrdom instead of mutual understanding?  The international community must finally confront Palestinian leaders and publically demand an end to the incitement.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

The glorification of terrorists combined with unrelenting messages of hate are having deadly consequences.  In 2013, there were 1,500 attacks against Israelis, 700 of which occurred after peace negotiations began in July.  In recent months there has been a sharp increase in terrorist attacks including the murder of five Israelis.

 

 

 

Just last month, a Palestinian sniper murdered 22-year-old Saleh Abu Latif, an Israeli Bedouin civilian.  Two day earlier, a bomb exploded on a civilian bus in a suburb just outside Tel Aviv.  Had it not been for the quick thinking of the bus driver and an alert passenger, dozens of people could have been killed.  A successful attack could have had disastrous consequences for the peace talks.

 

 

 

In the face of this violence and bloodshed we have yet to hear President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, utter a single word denouncing these attacks. They even remained silent when it was revealed that one of the bus bombers was a member of the Palestinian police force.  While most police forces have officers that uproot terrorism, this police officer was busy planting bombs.

 

 

 

The Palestinian leadership has yet to learn that real peace requires real commitment. You cannot condemn terrorism to international media and congratulate terrorists on Palestinian media.  You cannot victimize others and then insist you are the victim.  And you cannot use this forum to spread destructive messages and expect constructive results.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

How many times have you heard that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the major conflict in the Middle East?  ‘You solve this conflict, you solve all the conflicts in the Middle East.’ Some in this Chamber have even repeated this fiction.

 

 

 

Really?  The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the major conflict in the Middle East? Wow. People who say this need an eye doctor to help them see clearly – beginning maybe with the ophthalmologist from Damascus, Bashar al-Assad, who is butchering his people every day.  I’m sure that’s connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

 

 

 

Shiites fighting Sunnis fighting Alawites; extremist groups battling one another in Libya, Yemen and Tunisia; Al-Qaeda forces overrunning major cities in Iraq – all of this is caused by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? That’s a revelation.

 

 

 

The truth is that Israel is an island of stability in a sea of tyranny.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose legacy is being celebrated today, once described Israel as (quote): “one of the great outposts of democracy in the world and a marvelous example of what can be done – how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security, and that security must be a reality.”

 

 

 

I think it should be obvious that the violence and instability afflicting the Middle East has nothing to do with Israel. We must solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on its own merits because it’s important for us. Solving this conflict isn’t a prescription to cure the epidemic of violence plaguing the Middle East.

 

 

 

Despite what you constantly hear, the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has never been about borders or settlements. The major obstacle to peace remains the refusal of Palestinian leaders to accept the Jewish State in any border. You will never hear President Abbas or any Palestinian leader utter the phrase “two states for two peoples.”

 

 

 

Let me understand this – the Palestinians call for an independent Palestinian state, but want millions of their people to flood the Jewish state?  It will never happen.  It is a complete nonstarter.  Many in this Chamber are vocal about telling Israel what to do, but begin to stutter, mumble and fall silent when it comes to telling the Palestinians what they must do.  

 

 

 

Each and everyone here must tell the Palestinians that there will never be peace as long as they refuse to recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people and insist on a so-called right of return.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Despite what many may believe, Israel dedicates a great deal of its energy and resources to assisting the Palestinian people.  Today, more than 100,000 Palestinians earn their living in Israel and their income constitutes more than 10% of the Palestinian GDP. 

 

 

 

Israel helps generate solutions to energize the Palestinian economy.  We transfer millions of dollars in electricity, water and natural gas to power Palestinian homes, schools and hospitals.  When a giant storm struck last month, Israel delivered humanitarian aid and water pumps and facilitated the passage of fuel and cooking gas to Palestinians in need.

 

 

 

Yet for every truckload in the name of coexistence, we seem to be feeding a Palestinian opposition that challenges our very existence.  It is time for Palestinians leaders to lead.  It is time for them to set a course towards coexistence.  And it is time for them to build the Palestinian people up rather than tear Israel down.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

The Middle East is plagued by a reign of tyrants and a drought in leadership.  Millions of people have taken to the streets demanding better lives, better economies and greater opportunities.  The first peaceful protests in the region were in the streets of Tehran, where the government brutalizes it citizens and throws innocent people into jail. 

 

 

 

Many in the international community believed that the new Iranian president would set a new precedent.  It has been almost six months since President Rouhani took office and Iran is still persecuting minorities, imprisoning journalists, and targeting political adversaries.  The Iranian government has executed more of its citizens per capita than any other government. Last year alone, the regime executed almost 600 people, including 367 since President Rouhani took office in August. 

 

 

 

Iran does not confine its violence and extremism to its own borders.  From Buenos Aires to Burgas, Iran is the world’s primary sponsor of terror.  Just this month, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif paid tribute on behalf of the Islamic Republic at the grave of one of Hezbollah’s most notorious murderers.

 

 

 

Rather than cleaning house, the new president believes he can sweep Iran’s atrocities under the Persian rug by introducing UN resolutions that condemn violence and extremism. Iran’s WAVE resolution may have made a splash at the UN, but messages of intolerance and violence continue to trickle down from the top.

 

 

 

Behind Iran’s smiling façade, President Rouhani and Ayatollah Khamenei continue to preach hatred and provoke hostility.  Ayatollah Khamenei recently appeared on state television and delegitimized Israel using disgusting profanity that doesn’t bear repeating.

 


The ink is barely dry on the interim nuclear agreement and Iran is already showing its true colors. This is a regime that crosses red lines, produces yellow cake, and beats its citizens black and blue.  Meanwhile, some in the international community are willing to serve Iran its yellow cake on a silver platter.  Permitting Iran to keep its enrichment capabilities today means that Iran will retain the ability to breakout and build a nuclear bomb tomorrow.

 


Mr. President,

 

 

 

Violence is encoded in the Iranian regime’s DNA.  It doesn’t take a crime scene investigator to see Iran’s fingerprints on the violence erupting in parts of the Middle East. 

 

 

 

In the Gaza Strip, Iran backs the Hamas terrorist organization that uses Palestinian schools, hospitals and mosques to launch rockets at Israeli citizens.  We are barely three weeks into the new year and Hamas has already launched 17 rockets at Israel – attacks that have closed schools and kept tens of thousands of children in Southern Israel at home.

 

 

 

The international community has yet to find the time to utter even a single condemnation of these attacks – attacks that could derail the peace process.  It has also yet to condemn Hamas for deliberately exploiting children.  Schools in Gaza have become the training ground for the next generation of terrorists. Last week, Hamas graduated 13,000 students from paramilitary camps geared at training children to fight Israel.

 

 

 

In Lebanon, Iran has helped Hezbollah hijack the Lebanese state and transform it into an outpost for terror.  For years, Hezbollah insisted it needed a private army to defend Lebanon against Israel. Today, that army has sent 2,000 fighters to butcher the Syrian people and shoot rockets into Israel.

 

 

 

Hezbollah has positioned 60,000 missiles and rockets in the heart of Southern Lebanon’s civilian population.  General Hajizadeh, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards recently boasted that Hezbollah has improved its missile capabilities and can now “hit and destroy any target” in Israel.

 

 

 

Hezbollah intentionally hides these missiles in the basements of homes, in the playgrounds of schools, and in the back rooms of hospitals.  In doing so, Hezbollah is committing a double war crime – first by using Lebanese civilians as human shields and second by targeting Israeli citizens.

 

 

 

The Government of Lebanon cannot continue to ignore what is happening in Southern Lebanon and it can no longer ignore its international obligations under resolution 1701.  Throughout December, armed terrorists fired shots across the Blue Line into northern Israel.  In one incident, a member of the Lebanese Armed Forces shot Israeli, Shlomi Cohen, in a ruthless and unprovoked attack.

 

 

 

It is time for this Council to hold accountable all those that arm, train and harbor terrorists. It is time to speak out against those who callously disregard human life.  As we have seen in Syria, the failure to do so has disastrous consequences.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

The war in Syria is approaching its fourth year and the death toll continues to climb.  The Syrian government has resorted to new depths of brutality by dropping “barrel bombs” packed with explosives, nails and other shrapnel on markets and hospitals. In just a few days, more than 700 people were killed and over 3,000 were injured. 

 

 

 

The State of Israel and the Jewish people are deeply troubled by the suffering of the Syrian people and are reaching out to help them.  While some in the region are aiding the murderous Assad regime, Israel is providing medical aid. 

 

 

 

Sunnis, Alawites and Shiites are running to Israel – the so-called “enemy” because they know that Israel will treat anyone without prejudice and regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender. And we will continue to lend humanitarian assistance to the victims with open arms and an open heart.

 

 

 

Mr. President,

 

 

 

Today, the Middle East stands at a critical juncture.  There are two roads before us.  The first is the future offered by Iran and Syria – a future of more extremism and greater violence.  And the second is the road towards equality, reform and stability.  

 

 

 

Study after study has shown the clear connection between advancing peace and advancing equal rights.  When a woman receives an education, her children are healthier and more likely to get an education. And when a woman generates her own income she reinvests 90% in her family and community.  But women can only help drive a nation’s economy if they are allowed into the driver’s seat.

 

 

 

As we begin this new year, the international community must call upon Arab leaders to choose the path of progress and abandon the road of repression.  Tell them that tyranny will fail; tell them peace is built on tolerance; and tell them that every man and every woman is entitled to equal rights and equal opportunities.

 

 

 

As Winston Churchill said: “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom… honor…hope.”  The international community must stand on the side of human rights and human dignity. You must speak up and speak out so that the people of the Middle East can finally enjoy freedom, honor and hope.

 

Thank you, Mr. President.

======================================

 AND FROM THE UNITED STATES:

 

01/20/2014 02:46 PM EST

 


 

 

 

Thank you, Mr. President, thank you for joining us here today and for chairing this critical session. Thank you Secretary General Ban, Mr. Deputy Secretary General. And thank you also Foreign Minister Judeh for your remarks.

Mr. President, ministers, colleagues, the Middle East has often been prey to the turbulence of conflicting forces, but rarely have we seen efforts toward peace and the staggering human costs of war so vividly and simultaneously evident.

This contrast is especially striking in Syria, where diplomatic initiatives have intensified against the backdrop of an ever more brutal civil war. The best way to begin to end that war is through the Geneva II talks scheduled to start in Switzerland on Wednesday. My government has been working closely with the international community and the Syrian Opposition Coalition to prepare for that conference. We welcome the Coalition’s courageous decision this past weekend to participate in the talks, the purpose of which is implementation of the Geneva Action Group Communiqué. That document calls for the establishment, based on mutual consent, of a transitional governing body with full executive authority, including over military and security entities. It is vital that all participants in the opening ministerial and subsequent talks support that core goal. As of this morning, Iran still has yet to demonstrate its willingness to explicitly and publicly subscribe to the full implementation of the Geneva communiqué that is a minimum requirement for participation in this peace process.

Mr. President, the Syrian government’s recent and deadly bombing campaign — including the use of SCUD missiles and “barrel bombs” — in the Aleppo and Damascus suburbs provides a further demonstration of the Asad regime’s cruelty and of the fact that there is no military solution to this conflict. That is why we are so focused on a negotiated political transition of the type to be discussed in Geneva.

The urgency of diplomatic progress is highlighted by the deepening of the humanitarian crisis created by the war and by the Syrian government’s failure to implement the Council’s October 2 presidential statement. In recent days, the Syrian regime has seemingly agreed to improve humanitarian access to besieged areas, but we haven’t seen evidence of meaningful implementation on the ground. For months, communities including Yarmouk, East Ghouta, Darayya, Old City of Homs, and Mouadhamiya have been besieged and cut off from food and medical supplies. And it is not just the case that food can’t get in. People, starving people, desperate people, can’t get out. And in the very rare occasions that evacuations from besieged areas are organized, the regime has taken inhabitants away to be screened. In many cases the whereabouts of those individuals are unknown and remain unknown today.

East Ghouta is an egregious example of Syrian obstruction. This is an area where international chemical weapons inspectors were allowed access, but 160,000 civilians remain cut off from humanitarian aid. Pro-Assad snipers regularly target residents attempting to travel through checkpoints. The government has blockaded fuel supplies and residents have electricity for only a couple of hours a day. A young child even died of carbon monoxide poisoning because his family had been compelled to burn firewood inside their house to keep warm. Let us be clear: if inspectors can obtain access to East Ghouta, so too should the providers of medicine and food.

Yarmouk provides another tragic example. It has been under constant siege since July 2013. Recent reports of more than a dozen malnutrition-related deaths among children and other Palestinian residents are horrifying and should shock the conscience of all of us. We received reports from the UN in recent days that UNRWA was able, finally, to carry in a small amount of food parcels: 200 parcels that will feed 1,000 people for one month. There are 18,000 people in Yarmouk who are under siege, lacking food and medicine. It is devastating to imagine how starving people will divide up the food parcels. Humanitarian providers who managed to deliver these parcels literally had to dodge sniper fire.

Although the regime is primarily responsible for denying humanitarian assistance, some opposition groups have also been culpable in such communities as Nubl, Zahra and Fuo. This is unacceptable. The deliberate blocking or withholding of life-giving aid by any party cannot be justified and must stop now – before more innocent people die.

Mr. President, the plight of Syrian civilians and refugees is heartbreaking and makes last week’s conference in Kuwait all the more important. The United States pledged $380 million in new funds to help tackle the crisis, bringing our total commitment since the fighting began to more than $1.7 billion. We welcome the new pledges from other donor nations, as well as the international community’s renewed commitment to assist the Syrian people and the neighboring countries that are providing a safe haven for refugees.

In the brief period before Geneva II, and as the talks go forward, it is critical that we make concrete progress on humanitarian access issues. We must also do everything that we can to halt the violence. To that end, we call urgently on all parties to agree on local ceasefires and to move ahead with prisoner releases.

We commend, Mr. President, your country of Jordan for sheltering some 600,000 refugees and we recognize the enormous economic and social toll the conflict has taken on your country. Jordan has opened its doors for an emergency situation and we know that that is draining its domestic resources. The international community has an obligation to ensure that Jordan’s generosity does not become an unsustainable burden on its population.

In Lebanon, the situation has grown even more perilous, as the Syrian war has exacerbated the security, financial, and social pressures faced by the nation’s leaders. More than 1,600 Lebanese communities bear the burden of hosting more than 900,000 refugees from Syria. My government continues to help Lebanon tackle its massive challenges via the recently-established International Support Group (ISG), and we urge other donors also to provide aid that is consistent with ISG priorities.

A stable and united Lebanon, with strong democratic institutions, is in the best interests of the Lebanese people and of citizens throughout the Middle East. In that context, we encourage formation of a new cabinet to address the country’s security, economic and humanitarian challenges and to meet its international obligations.

The Syrian civil war has contributed to rising sectarian violence and political friction inside Lebanon. As has been said, the December 27 assassination of the widely-respected former finance minister, Mohammad Chattah was an outrage. The January 2 suicide bombing in southern Beirut’s Haret Hreik neighborhood killed five people and wounded many more. Meanwhile, sporadic violence has continued for weeks in Tripoli and near the Syrian border. To that end, we note Saudi Arabia’s commitment – announced last month – to provide generous amounts of additional aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces. We will continue to partner closely with Lebanon’s security services, which have a pivotal role to play in support of Lebanon’s security and its sovereignty.

We condemn the violence and urge all parties to exercise restraint, and commend the LAF for their efforts to stem the violence. The Lebanese government’s policy of disassociation from the Syrian conflict, as enshrined in the Baabda declaration, must be upheld.

It is equally vital that all relevant Security Council resolutions be implemented, including numbers 1559 and 1701, which call for the disbandment and disarmament of all militias in Lebanon. The United States strongly condemns the December 29 rocket attack that was launched from Lebanese territory into Israel.

Finally, we welcome the start of the trial before the Special Tribunal for Lebanon of four persons charged with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and others who were killed in the bombing. This trial is a positive step toward justice and away from the acceptance of impunity for political violence. We commend the Lebanese Government and other donor countries for supporting the court.

Turning to the subject of Middle East peace, the United States is continuing its efforts to assist the Israelis and Palestinians in reaching a final-status agreement that recognizes two states for two peoples, living side-by-side in peace and security. Secretary of State Kerry returned to the region earlier this month in support of a proposed framework that addresses all core issues. As the parties consider the difficult decisions ahead, the United States remains convinced that the benefits of peace – for both sides – can best be achieved through the kind of process in which we are presently engaged.

Accordingly, the United States reiterates its view that all parties should refrain from actions that might undermine the atmosphere required for ongoing negotiations. Steps that diminish trust, such as continued settlement activity, only feed skepticism on both sides.

Further, we are deeply troubled by the escalation of violence leading to civilian casualties and condemn rocket attacks from Gaza into Israel and the attempt to kill civilians by placing a bomb on a public bus in Tel Aviv.

We are also seriously concerned about the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and urge all parties to cooperate in expanding access for people, goods, and humanitarian supplies.

The consistent support of peace efforts by key partners is essential. We particularly welcome the European Union’s generous pledge last month to provide “unprecedented” political and economic support for Israel and the Palestinians in the context of a final status peace agreement. We are gratified, as well, by the decision of the Arab League, whose representatives met with Secretary Kerry in Paris on January 12, to reaffirm its commitment to these negotiations.

Finally, Mr. President, on Iraq, I thank the Secretary General for reporting on his recent visit and would like to commend the United Nations Assistance Mission and the High Commissioner for Refugees for their efforts to ensure the delivery of aid to the people of Anbar Province. The U.S. strongly condemns the attacks carried out by forces affiliated with Al-Qaida in Anbar and elsewhere in Iraq. Their brazen attempt at destabilization cannot be allowed to succeed. As this Council, in its recent statement made clear, “No terrorist act can reverse the path towards peace, democracy and reconstruction, which is supported by the people and Government of Iraq and the international community.” In that spirit, we are encouraged by the cooperation being shown by Iraq’s government, its national security forces, and local tribal leaders in trying to restore stability, resist terrorist aggression, and ease the hardships faced by Iraqi civilians.

Mr. President, I too note that, in the United States, today is a national holiday. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. taught the citizens of my country and people everywhere to pursue justice and the resolution of differences by peaceful means. In his words, “returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.” The wisdom in that warning is always and everywhere relevant, but never more so than now in the Middle East, where peace initiatives demand our support amid the anguish of continued conflict.

Thank you.

==============================================================

Statement by UK Ambassador Sir Mark Lyall Grant to UN Security Council on Situation in the Middle East – 20 January 2014  

 

 

 

Thank you, Mr President.

 

I welcome your Foreign Minister’s attendance in the Security Council today. And I would also like to thank the Secretary-General for his statement and the representatives of Palestine and Israel for their contributions to this debate.

 

 

 

As we enter 2014, we are at a moment of opportunity for the Middle East Peace Process. Entering back into direct negotiations last year was a bold step forward. It was a welcome move toward peace in a troubled area. It is the responsibility of all of us here to support the parties, led by the United States, to capitalise on this opportunity.

 

 

 

My government continues to put its full support behind Secretary Kerry and his team, and we urge the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships to continue their admirable focus and commitment.

 

 

 

This year started on a positive note with the implementation of Israel’s brave decision to release the third tranche of Palestinian prisoners. The United Kingdom firmly believes that such steps, despite their difficulty, are important to achieving a lasting peace and security.

 

 

 

However, we are very concerned by Israel’s decision to announce further settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. My government condemns these announcements and considers such actions as a serious a threat to peace. We urge Israel to avoid any further illegal settlement activity and to reverse the advancement of plans.

 

 

 

The United Kingdom has also been clear that for this process to be a success, people on the ground – both Israelis and Palestinians – need to see the real and tangible benefits of peace. We remain deeply concerned about the 663 Palestinian-owned homes and livelihood structures demolished in Area C and East Jerusalem in 2013. Demolitions and evictions are harmful to the peace process; and, in all but the most limited circumstances, are contrary to international humanitarian law.  Reports of “price-tag” attacks, including on a mosque in Deir Istiya village on 15 January, are also of serious concern. We condemn such acts and urge the Israeli authorities to bring those responsible to justice.

 

 

 

We are also concerned about rocket fire from the Gaza strip into Israel and in particular condemn the rockets fired at Ashkelon on 16 January in violation of international law.  All parties must respect the November 2012 ceasefire agreement in full. The people of Gaza and Israel will only lose from further violence.

 

 

 

There will be difficult decisions in the months ahead, but we urge all those involved to keep their shared goal in mind – a negotiated two state solution leading to a sovereign, viable and contiguous Palestinian state living in peace and security alongside a safe and secure Israel. The United Kingdom stands ready to do its part. That is why we strongly back the European Union’s readiness to offer an unprecedented package of political, economic and security support to both parties in the event that a final status deal is reached.

 

 

 

Mr President, on Syria,

 

The United Nations Secretary-General has made clear that the aim of this week’s Geneva Conference on Syria is to “assist the Syrian parties in ending the violence and achieving a comprehensive agreement for a political settlement, implementing fully the Geneva Communiqué, while preserving the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Syria”.  As the permanent members of this Council agreed on 30 June 2012, and was endorsed by the whole Council in Resolution 2118 last September, this means agreeing a transitional governing body in Syria with full executive powers, formed by mutual consent, to meet the aspirations of the Syrian people. 

 

 

 

Yesterday, the Secretary-General announced that he was extending an invitation to Iran to attend the opening of the conference at Montreux on the basis that they acknowledge that the conference’s purpose is the full implementation of the original Geneva Communiqué. If they are to attend, it is now vital that the Iranian government confirm publicly and clearly that they share this understanding.

 

 

 

We have also urged the United Nations, as mandated by the Security Council in many resolutions, including resolution 2122 of October 2013,  to ensure a full role for women in the Syrian peace negotiations. 

 

 

It is important to remember these negotiations  will be a process – not a single event . We should not underestimate the formidable challenges ahead and we must not lose sight of the desperate situation Syrian civilians are facing on a daily basis. 

 

 

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights now puts the death toll at over 125,000 people.  In Aleppo and across all of Syria, we have seen the regime continue to attack its own civilian population with barrel bombs.  This indiscriminate bombardment is yet another war crime on the part of the regime and Assad and those around him should be in no doubt that the world will hold them to account.   The situation in Syria should be referred to the International Criminal Court.

 

 

 

Mr President,

 

The humanitarian crisis has reached catastrophic proportions.  11 million Syrians are in desperate need of urgent assistance, particularly in besieged and hard to reach areas.  This is an unparalleled crisis and the world needs to respond accordingly.  We welcome the $2.4 billion in pledges made at the Kuwait Pledging Conference last week.  My government announced a further pledge of $163 million in humanitarian assistance, bringing our total contribution to nearly $1 billion – the largest sum that the United Kingdom has ever committed to a single crisis.  This funding is going towards meeting the basic lifesaving needs of Syrians affected by the conflict, both inside Syria and in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. 

 

 

 

We pay tribute to those neighbouring countries, including Jordan, for the burden that they are carrying to help alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.

 

 

 

But increased funding can only make a difference if there is progress on access and protection for humanitarian actors in Syria – where 21 UN staff members remain in Government detention and 47 humanitarian workers have now been killed.  Progress on implementing this Council’s Presidential Statement of 2nd of October remains extremely limited.  It is unacceptable that humanitarian organisations are being deliberately obstructed by the regime from delivering aid. The regime has shown it can facilitate access for chemical weapons inspectors – it needs to show the same commitment to ensuring aid reaches those most in need. 

 

Thank you, Mr President.

 

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 17th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Uri Avnery

January 18, 2013

           

 

                                                The Imperator

 

IN THE middle of the 70s, Ariel Sharon asked me to arrange something for him – a meeting with Yasser Arafat.

 

A few days before, the Israeli media had discovered that I was in regular contact with the leadership of the PLO, which was listed at the time as a terrorist organization.

 

I told Sharon that my PLO contacts would probably ask what he intended to propose to the Palestinians. He told me that his plan was to help the Palestinians to overthrow the Jordanian monarchy, and turn Jordan into a Palestinian state, with Arafat as its president.

 

What about the West Bank?” I asked.

 

Once Jordan becomes Palestine, there will no longer be a conflict between two peoples, but between two states. That will be much easier to resolve. We shall find some form of partition, territorial or functional, or we shall rule the territory together.” 

 

My friends submitted the request to Arafat, who laughed it off. But he did not miss the opportunity to tell King Hussein about it. Hussein disclosed the story to a Kuwaiti newspaper, Alrai, and that’s how it came back to me.

 

 

SHARON’S PLAN was revolutionary at the time. Almost the entire Israeli establishment – including Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Defense Minister Shimon Peres – believed in the so-called “Jordanian option”: the idea that we must make peace with King Hussein. The Palestinians were either ignored or considered arch-enemies, or both.

 

Five years earlier, when the Palestinians in Jordan were battling the Hashemite regime there, Israel came to the aid of the king at the request of Henry Kissinger. I proposed the opposite in my magazine: to aid the Palestinians. Sharon later told me that he, a general at the time, had asked the General Staff to do the same, though for a different end. My idea was to create a Palestinian state in the West Bank, his was to create it in the East Bank.

 

(The idea of turning Jordan into Palestine has a generally unknown linguistic background. In Hebrew usage, “Eretz Israel” is the land on both sides of the Jordan River, where the ancient Hebrew tribes settled according to the Biblical myth. In Palestinian usage, “Filastin” is only the land on the West side of the river. Therefore is quite natural for ignorant Israelis to ask the Palestinians to set up their state beyond the Jordan. For Palestinians, that means setting up their state abroad.)

 

 

AT THE time, Sharon was in political exile.

 

In 1973 he left the army, after realizing that he had no chance of becoming Chief of Staff. This may seem odd, since he was already recognized as an outstanding battlefield commander. The trouble was that he was also known as an insubordinate officer, who despised his superiors and his peers (as well as everybody else.) Also, his relationship with the truth was problematical. David Ben-Gurion wrote in his diary that Sharon could be an exemplary military officer, if only he could abstain from lying.

 

When he left the army, Sharon almost single-handedly created the Likud by unifying all the right-wing parties. That’s when I chose him the first time as Haolam Hazeh’s Man of the Year and wrote a large biographical article about him. A few days later, the Yom Kippur War broke out, and Sharon was drafted back into the army. His part in it is considered by many as pure genius, by others as a story of insubordination and luck. A photo of him with his head bandaged became his trademark, though it was only a slight wound caused by hitting his head on his command vehicle. (To be fair, he was really wounded in battle, like me, in 1948.)

 

After the Yom Kippur war, the argument about his part in that war became the center of “the battle of the generals”. He started to visit me at my home to explain his moves, and we became quite friendly.

 

He left the Likud when he realized that he could not become its leader as long as Menachem Begin was around. He started to chart his own course. That’s when he asked for the meeting with Arafat.

 

He was thinking about creating a new party, neither right nor left, but led by him and “outstanding personalities” from all over the political landscape. He invited me to join, and we had long conversations at his home.

 

I must explain here that for a long time I had been looking for a person with military credentials to lead a large united peace camp. A leader with such a background would make it much easier for us to gain public support for our aims. Sharon fitted the recipe. (As Yitzhak Rabin did later.) Yet during our conversations it became clear to me that he had basically remained a right-winger.

 

In the end Sharon set up a new party called Shlomtzion (“Peace of Zion”), which was a dismal failure on election day. The next day, he rejoined the Likud.

 

The Likud had won the elections and Begin became Prime Minister. If Sharon had hoped to be appointed Minister of Defense, he was soon disabused. Begin did not trust him. Sharon looked like a general who might organize a coup. The powerful new Finance Minister said that if Sharon became commander-in-chief, he would “send his tanks to surround the Knesset.”

 

(There was a joke making the rounds at the time:  Defense Minister Sharon would call for a meeting of the General Staff and announce: “Comrades, tomorrow morning at 06.00 we take over the government!” For a moment the audience was dumfounded, and then it broke out into riotous laughter.)

 

However, when Begin’s preferred Defense Minister, the former Air Force chief Ezer Weizman, resigned, Begin was compelled to appoint Sharon as his successor. For the second time I chose Sharon as Haolam Hazeh’s Man of the Year. He took this very seriously and sat with me for many hours, in several meetings at his home and office, in order to explain his ideas.

 

One of them, which he expounded at the same time to the US strategic planners, was to conquer Iran. When Ayatollah Khomeini dies, he said, there will begin a race between the Soviet Union and the US to determine who will arrive first on the scene and take over. The US is far away, but Israel can do the job. With the help of heavy arms that the US will store in Israel well before, our army will be in full possession before the Soviets move. He showed me the detailed maps of the advance, hour by hour and day by day.

 

This was typical Sharon, His vision was wide and all-embracing. His listener was left breathless, comparing him to the ordinary little politicians, devoid of vision and breadth. But his ideas were generally based on abysmal ignorance of the other side, and therefore came to naught.

 

 

AT THE same time, nine months before the Lebanon War, he disclosed to me his Grand Plan for a new Middle East of his making. He allowed me to publish it, provided I did not mention him as the source. He trusted me.

 

Basically it was the same as the one he wanted to propose to Arafat.

 

The army would invade Lebanon and drive the Palestinians from there to Syria, from whence the Syrians would drive them into Jordan. There the Palestinians would overthrow the king and establish the State of Palestine.

 

The army would also drive the Syrians out of Lebanon. In Lebanon Sharon would choose a Christian officer and install him as dictator. Lebanon would make official peace with Israel and in effect become a vassal state.

 

I duly published all this, and nine months later Sharon invaded Lebanon, after lying to Begin and the cabinet about his aims. But the war was a catastrophe, both militarily and politically.

 

Militarily it was a demonstration of “the Peter principle” – the brilliant battle commander was a miserable strategist. No unit of the Israeli army reached its objective on time, if at all. The Israeli-installed dictator, Bachir Gemayel, was assassinated. His brother and successor signed a peace treaty with Israel, which has been completely forgotten by now. The Syrians remained in Lebanon for many years to come. The Israeli army extricated itself after a guerrilla war that lasted 18 full years, during which the despised and downtrodden Shiites in Israeli-occupied South Lebanon became the dominant political force in the country.

 

And, worst of all, in order to induce the Palestinians to flee, Sharon let the barbarous Christian Phalangists into the Palestinian refugee camps Sabra and Shatila, where they committed a terrible massacre. Hundreds of thousands of outraged Israelis protested in Tel Aviv, and Sharon was dismissed from the defense ministry.

 

At the height of the Battle of Beirut I crossed the lines and met with Yasser Arafat, who had become Sharon’s Nemesis. Since then, Sharon and I did not exchange a single word, not even greeting each other.

 

 

IT LOOKED like the end of Sharon’s career. But for Sharon, every end was a new beginning.

 

One of his media vassals, Uri Dan (who had started his career in Haolam Hazeh) once coined a prophetic phrase: “Those who don’t want him as Chief of Staff, will get him as Minister of Defense. Those who don’t want him as Minister of Defense, will get him as Prime Minister.” Today one could add: “Those who did not want him as Prime Minister, are getting him as a national icon.”  

 

An ex-general, Yitzhak Ben-Israel, told me yesterday: “He was an Imperator!” I find this a very apt description.

 

Like a Roman imperator, Sharon was a supreme being, admired and feared,

generous and cruel, genial and treacherous, hedonistic and corrupt, a victorious general and a war criminal, quick to make decisions and unwavering once he had made them, overcoming all obstacles by sheer force of personality.

 

One could not meet him without being struck by the sense of power he emanated. Power was his element.

 

He believed that destiny had chosen him to lead Israel. He did not think so – he knew. For him, his personal career and the fate of Israel were one and the same. Therefore, anyone who tried to block him was a traitor to Israel. He despised everyone around him – from Begin down to the last politician and general.

 

His character was formed in his early childhood in Kfar Malal, a communal village which belonged to the Labor party. His mother, Vera, managed the family farm with an iron will, quarreling with all the neighbors, the village institutions and the party. When little Arik was injured in a fall on a pitchfork, she did not take him to the village clinic, which she hated, but put him on a donkey and led him for several kilometers to a doctor in Kfar Saba.

 

When rumor had it that the Arabs in neighboring villages were planning an attack, little Arik was hidden in a haystack.

 

Later in life, when his mother (who still managed the farm) visited his new ranch and saw a low wall with holes for irrigation, she exclaimed: “Ah, you have embrasures! Very good, you can shoot through them at the Arabs!”

 

How could a poor army officer acquire the largest ranch in the country? Simple: he got it as a gift from an Israeli-American billionaire, with the help of the finance minister. Several dubious large deals with other billionaires followed.

 

 

SHARON WAS the most typical Israeli one could imagine, embodying the saying (to which I modestly claim authorship): “If force does not work, try more force.”

 

I was therefore very surprised when he came out in favor of the law dispensing with the military service of tens of thousands of orthodox youngsters. “How can you?” I asked him. His answer: “I am first of all a Jew, and only after that an Israeli!” I told him that for me it was the other way round.

 

Ideologically, he was the pupil and successor of David Ben-Gurion and Moshe Dayan, leaders who believed in military force and in expanding the territory of Israel without limit. His military career started for real in the 1950s when Moshe Dayan put him in charge of an unofficial outfit called Unit 101, which was sent across the border to kill and destroy, in retaliation for similar actions committed by Arabs. His most famous exploit was the massacre of Qibya village in 1953, when 49 innocent villagers were buried under the houses which he blew up.

 

Later, when requested to put an end to “terrorism” in Gaza, he killed every Arab who was caught with arms. When I later asked him about killing prisoners, he answered: “I did not kill prisoners. I did not take prisoners!”

 

At the beginning of his career as commander he was a bad general. But from war to war he improved. Unusual for a general, he learned from his mistakes. In the 1973 war he was already considered the equal of Erwin Rommel and George Patton. It also became known that between the battles he gorged himself on seafood, which is not kosher.

 

 

THE MAIN endeavor of his life was the settlement enterprise. As army officer, politician and successively chief of half a dozen different ministries, his central effort was always to plan and set up settlements in the occupied territories.

 

He did not care whether they were legal or illegal under Israeli law (all of them, of course, are illegal under international law, for which he did not give a damn).

 

He planned their location, with the aim of cutting the West Bank into ribbons which would make a Palestinian state impossible. Then he rammed it through the cabinet and the ministries. Not for nothing was he nicknamed “the Bulldozer”.

 

The “Israel Defense Army” (its official Hebrew name) turned into the “Settlers Defense Army”, sinking slowly in the morass of the occupation.

 

However, when settlements obstructed his plans, he had no compunction about destroying them. When he was in favor of peace with Egypt, in order to concentrate on the war with the Palestinians, he destroyed the entire town of Yamit in North Sinai and the adjacent settlements. Later he did the same to the settlements in the Gaza Strip, attracting the enduring hatred of the settlers, his erstwhile proteges. He acted like a general who is ready to sacrifice a brigade to improve his overall strategic position. 

 

 

WHEN HE died last week, after lying in a coma for eight years, he was eulogized by the very people he despised, and turned into a shallow folk hero. The Ministry of Education compared him to Moses.

 

In real life he was a very complex person, as complex as Israel. His personal history is interwoven with the history of Israel.

 

His main legacy was catastrophic: the scores of settlements which he implanted all over the West Bank – each of them a landmine which will have to be removed at great risk when the time comes.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 14th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

TWO VERY DIFFERENT ARTICLES OF THE SAME BLOG – The Al-MONITOR OF THE SAME DAY: HOW THEY DEAL WITH A VERY COMPLEX BUT AN IMMENSE FIGURE.

 

Palestinians may be missing the point on Sharon legacy.

by Mazal Mualem    Posted January 13, 2014

Mazal Mualem picture

Mazal Mualem

Columnist

Mazal Mualem is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse, specializing in Israeli politics and social issues. From 2003 until 2011 she served as the senior political correspondent of Israeli daily Haaretz. Later she joined Israeli daily Maariv as their senior political correspondent and wrote a weekly political column. Parallel to her writing activities, she presents a weekly TV show covering social issues on the Knesset channel.

Mazal Mualem was born in the town of Migdal Haemek, and started her journalistic career during her military service in Israel, where she was assigned to the weekly army newspaper Bamachane.

Mazal Mualem holds a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University in security/political science.

From her name we assume that her family came to Israel from an Arab country.

—————————————————————————–

She writes:

The Palestinians’ insistence on regarding late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, even after his death, as nothing more than a war criminal responsible for the massacre in Sabra and Shatila and the construction of the settlements is overly simplistic and anachronistic. More than anything else, this approach misses the complexity of the man and the central leadership role he had in Israeli history. Yes, Sharon did build settlements, but on two occasions he also removed Jews from their homes: once, when serving as defense minister, when he evacuated the Sinai settlements in 1982, as part of the peace agreement with Egypt; and again, as prime minister, when he developed and implemented the plan to disengage from the Gaza Strip and the north of the West Bank in 2005.

When senior Fatah member Jibril Rajoub bemoans the fact that he never got to see Sharon tried as a war criminal by the International Criminal Court and accuses him of assassinating PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat — and he does this on the very day that Sharon died — he is giving voice to a very narrow and selective worldview. When my colleague Daoud Kuttab turns to the younger generation of Palestinians and only attributes the massacre in the refugee camps to Sharon, without mentioning the evacuation of Yamit (from the Sinai), the Disengagement and the establishment of the Kadima Party — which Sharon thought of as a platform to consolidate an agreement with the Palestinians — he is distorting the image and person of Sharon as a bold and pragmatic leader.

 

Some of the Palestinian spokespeople sounded a lot like Israel’s extreme right, which was also happy about the death of the former prime minister. They chose to disparage him and his memory before he was brought to rest. Knesset member Orit Strock of the HaBayit HaYehudi Party, for example, accused Sharon of destroying his country and thanked God for his death. Both Rajoub and Strock, who has since apologized, regard Sharon as a demonic, destructive figure. The one-dimensional way in which the Palestinian representative and the representative of Israel’s extreme right wing see Sharon is, perhaps, the best possible proof of the many layers and conflicts that made up his life.

 

Sharon’s second term as prime minister, in which he made some of the most fundamental decisions by any Israeli leader concerning the Palestinians since Rabin decided to embrace the Oslo Accord, sums up his leadership. He was pragmatic, cynical and capable of making a decision and implementing it through the power of his leadership. With regard to the conflict with the Palestinians and the promotion of a two-state solution, he left an enormously important legacy behind that will determine how future challenges are confronted. He proved that the sovereign State of Israel is capable of making a controversial decision and implementing it, without having the government’s legitimacy be challenged.

 

The man who once declared that Gaza Strip settlement Netzarim is just like Tel Aviv, and then went through a metamorphosis and evacuated Netzarim out of a deep belief that by doing so he would be bolstering Israel’s security, proved that an Israeli prime minister can make pivotal decisions, great decisions, even if threats of bloodshed and civil war loom in the background. Sharon did not blink when he evacuated the settlements, even though he was also the person who put them there. He did it at the very moment it seemed as if the state had since lost its ability to make big decision, and in so doing he restored faith in the state to many. That is a central part of his legacy.

 

He displayed great courage when he shattered the political status quo between the Likud and Labor parties. In what has since become known as the “Big Bang,” he united politicians from the left and the right into a large centrist party. What did President Shimon Peres and former Minister Haim Ramon, two dovish politicians from the Labor Party, see in Sharon that the Palestinians still do not see today? They said it themselves on countless occasions: the man who rightfully earned the title of “Father of the Settlements,” woke up from the illusion of the occupation and became a powerful leader, who could make difficult decisions and bring them to fruition.

 

Sharon even paved the way for his heir former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and later for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to make painful concessions, when he showed them that the state remains intact even after the evacuation of settlements from a strip of land and its transfer to the Palestinians. Then, like now, the predominant feeling was that given the large number of settlements, no one could move them. Furthermore, before Sharon the last prime minister to make concessions to the Palestinians and seriously withdraw from the occupied territories was Yitzhak Rabin, who paid for it with his life.

 

It’s no coincidence that US Vice President Joe Biden, perhaps even more than Israeli leaders, was able to put his finger on precisely what it was about Sharon’s multifaceted personality that made him a great leader. In a very moving and personal speech that Biden delivered at the state funeral in Knesset Square on Jan. 13, he described Sharon as a complex individual and noted that it was this feature that characterizes all the great leaders of history. He related how Sharon would come into conflict with the US administration on numerous occasions, but, “like all historic leaders, all real leaders, he had a north star that guided him, a north star from which he never, in my observation, never deviated. His north star was the survival of the state of Israel and the Jewish people wherever they resided.” Biden spoke of the political courage that Sharon had, and recalled the Disengagement Plan, when he told thousands of Israelis to leave their homes. “I can’t think of a more difficult and controversial decision he made,” said Biden.

 

Biden added that Sharon “was a complicated man, and to understand him, history will judge that he also lived in complex times, in a very complex neighborhood. I would say that Ariel Sharon’s journey and the journey of the State of Israel are inseparable.” At the end of his speech, Biden rightly raised the question, “What would have happened if he had been healthy and lived?” Sharon left the public stage when he was at the height of his political career as a leader. He had big plans to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians, and he had the strength needed to implement those plans. So what would have happened had he not slipped into a coma? We can only imagine.

Read more:

Top Story

Sharon’s legacy: Only death is irreversible

by Akiva Eldar, January 13, 2014

Akiva Eldar is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He was formerly a senior columnist and editorial writer for Haaretz and also served as the Hebrew daily’s US bureau chief and diplomatic correspondent. His most recent book (with Idith Zertal), Lords of the Land, on the Jewish settlements, was on the best-seller list in Israel and has been translated into English, French, German and Arabic.

Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/israel-pulse?utm_source=Al-Monitor+Newsletter+%5BEnglish%5D&utm_campaign=bfa213c780-January_9_20141_8_2014&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_28264b27a0-bfa213c780-93102841#ixzz2qOdBXfEu

It was in the spring of 1992, a number of months after the Madrid Conference, which began the peace process, and before the elections to the Knesset that ended 15 years of Likud Party rule. Ariel Sharon, then the minister of housing in the Shamir government, invited me to tour the Samaria region. From the heights of one of the hills near the Alfei Menashe settlement, he pointed to innumerable, randomly scattered clusters of red roofs, and many gleaming asphalt roads crisscrossing the landscape.

“You’re probably asking yourself, what’s the point of scattering small settlements on every hilltop, instead of concentrating all of them in one settlement?” Sharon thundered in his unique voice and explained, “This dispersion is intended to prevent any government established in Israel from returning to the borders of the Green Line and enabling the creation of a Palestinian state.”

Twenty-two years later, cabinet members who passed before Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s coffin, knew that not too long from now they will have to choose between the creation of a Palestinian state, with a western border based on the Green Line, and a diplomatic-security crisis and the risk of an economic boycott. The motto “Another goat and another dunam” that Sharon inherited from the leaders of the mother party of Israel’s Labor Party, Mapai, who founded the state, has ended its role. The 1977 plan, “A million Jews in Judea and Samaria,” which was meant to thwart the plan to divide the land, has passed from the world.

Despite the generous aid that Sharon and his heirs have offered, and still offer, the settlers, less than 400,000 Jews, 5% of Israel’s population, have chosen to settle in the West Bank. Two-thirds of them are crowded in areas abutting the Green Line. The vast dispersion of isolated settlements all over the West Bank has not swayed the international community to abandon its insistence on the 1967 borders and on territorial exchange as a key to a diplomatic agreement. There is no phenomenon that causes more damage to Israel’s status in the world like the settlement enterprise.

As defense minister in Begin’s government (1981-83), Sharon’s goal was to destroy once and for all the idea of dividing the land and perpetuate the vision of Greater Israel. On this issue, too, he achieved the opposite of his intentions. The pursuit of the leadership of the PLO, and Palestinian Authoriy Chairman Yasser Arafat specifically, into Beirut, in the Lebanon War (1982), which was meant to create a “new order” in Lebanon and push out the PLO, embroiled the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in a bloody war and strengthened the Shiite, pro-Iranian forces in Lebanon.

More so, the loss of control in Lebanon was the main incentive for Arafat and his exiled friends in Tunisia to recognize Israel within the 1967 borders in 1988, on the basis of UN Resolution 242. From there, the road was already paved for international recognition of the PLO, the convening of the Madrid Conference, the return of the Israeli Labor Party to power, led by the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and to the Oslo Accord.

From his seat in the opposition, Sharon acted as a vocal trumpet for the extreme right, which did not shrink from incitement against Rabin. In an interview with the Kfar Habad ultra-Orthodox journal in 1995, extensively quoted in the daily press, Sharon claimed that Rabin had gone mad. After a short period of calm in the foreign minister’s office in the first Netanyahu government (1996-99), Sharon made his way to the prime minister’s office, upon the ruins of the Oslo process.

His provocative ascent to the Temple Mount in September 2000, at the height of the efforts to revive the failing negotiations at Camp David, gave the signal for the outbreak of the second intifada. The journalist Uri Dan, who was Sharon’s good friend, later recounted, “Arik would call me and ask, do I think there’s a connection between his ascent to the Temple Mount and him becoming prime minister? I answered him in the same way that he asked, ‘And what do you think, Arik, is there a connection?’ There was silence on the other end of the line.”

The series of suicide bombings, whose peak was the murder of 30 Israelis gathered for a Passover traditional meal at the Park Hotel in Netanya, was the grounds for Prime Minister Sharon’s decision, in March 2002, to launch Operation Defensive Shield. While the IDF assault on the cities of the West Bank fatally damaged terrorist elements, it also heavily damaged the physical and political infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority.

Moreover, in his book, A Look at the Resistance from Within, Mohammed Arman, a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, who is sentenced to 36 life sentences for the murder of more than 40 Israelis, tells how Sharon played into Hamas’ hands. The arch-terrorist revealed that all Hamas units received directions from above to thwart the Arab peace initiative on the eve of its anticipated approval at the Arab League summit in Beirut. The initiative was approved on March 28; the bombing in Netanya took place on March 29. On March 29, Sharon announced Operation Defensive Shield. The din of battle in Jenin and Ramallah drowned out the regional voice of peace from Riyadh to the Maghreb.

A few months before Sharon directed the IDF to surround the Muqata and isolate Arafat from the outside world, the former head of the Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, who was one of Sharon’s advisers, said in an interview with the Israeli daily Yedioth Aharanoth (Dec. 7, 2001) that if Israel could get rid of Arafat, “No one could step into his shoes to open doors among world leaders, and the Palestinian question will fall from the international agenda.” In the same interview Shavit also argued that [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is “a member of the Bahai faith,” and therefore his appointment as Arafat’s heir “is like appointing a Samaritan as president of the State of Israel.”

Abu Mazen, as we know, was appointed prime minister, a fact that did not prevent Sharon from calling him “a chick who hasn’t sprouted feathers” in a government meeting. When it became clear that despite his efforts to ground Abu Mazen, the two-state solution wasn’t disappearing from the world’s agenda, Sharon formulated the plan for disengagement from the Gaza Strip. The problem was that the disengagement, which was not coordinated with Abu Mazen, led to the Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Nevertheless, the diplomatic process was launched again.

The followers of the “new Sharon,” who claim that the evacuation of the settlements of Gush Katif testifies to Sharon’s reversal in his final political days, are urged to read the interview/confession Sharon’s right-hand man, Dov Weissglass, gave the Israeli daily Haaretz in October 2004.

Here are some enlightening quotations: “The disengagement is actually formaldehyde in which you put the president’s [George W. Bush’s] plan, so that it can be kept for a very long time. It supplied the necessary amount of formaldehyde so that there wouldn’t be a diplomatic process with the Palestinians. … Arik [Ariel Sharon] does not see Gaza as an area of national interest today. He does see Judea and Samaria as a region of national interest. He justifiably thinks that we are still very, very far from the time where we could reach final arrangements in Judea and Samaria.

“What I basically agreed with the Americans was that we don’t deal at all with some of the settlements, and with other settlements we won’t deal until the Palestinians turn into Finns. … Basically, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all it entails, has been removed from our agenda for an unlimited time. And all this is officially authorized. All this is with a presidential blessing and the approval of the two houses of Congress.

“There was a very difficult package of commitments that they expected Israel to accept. They called this package the diplomatic process. It included components that we could never accept and components that we can’t accept today. But now we have succeeded in taking this package and pushing it past the mountains of time. With the right management, we’ve succeeded in removing the issue of the diplomatic process from the agenda. And we have educated the world that there’s no one to talk to.”

There’s something symbolic, perhaps historical poetic justice, in that the man who dedicated his life to creating an irreversible reality in the occupied territories has passed away just as the diplomatic and political reality at the beginning of 2014 reminds us that only death is irreversible.  

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 12th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

The World Union for Progressive Judaism marks with sadness the passing of -

Ariel Sharon z”l – Throughout his life, he was always in service to his country.  We will ever be grateful for his passion for the State of Israel.  

We share the words of our Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism:

“All Rend for 

the Fallen President”  

(Mishneh Torah, Laws of Mourning 9:14)

 

Ariel Sharon 1928-2014

The Reform Movement in Israel, its communities, its members and its rabbis express their grief over the death of Ariel Sharon, the 11th Prime Minister of Israel;
a native son and lover of his country.

In an era where the willingness to devote one’s greatest personal efforts to “the public need for faith” (from the Shabbat morning prayers) is not obvious, the life’s work of the late Ariel Sharon is another chapter in the story of a generation, who knew that his actions would tip the scales.

In view of his passing on Shabbat “Beshalach” – with the Song of the Sea – we dedicate to his memory this beautiful Gemara passage:

“Rabbi Judah said: [while the Children of Israel stood at the shores of the Sea] Each one argued with the next saying, “I do not want to go into the sea first.” While they argued, Nahshon son of Amminadav jumped up and went into the sea first.”
Bavli Sotah 36, 72

 

Our condolences

to his family

==============================

American Jewish Leaders Mourn Ariel Sharon; Praise Political Pragmatism and Military Prowess

by the Algemeiner Staff

 

January 12, 2014 3:35 pm

American Jewish organizations and their leaders expressed condolences to the family of recently deceased Israeli premier Ariel Sharon, in statements issued Saturday and Sunday.

The groups recounted their experiences working with Sharon who died on Saturday aged 85, and remembered him as a bold and courageous leader.

Robert G. Sugarman, Chairman, and Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, “There were few in Israel’s history who contributed so much to the State, who demonstrated courage and bravery as well as keen insight and incisive thinking.”

“Prime Minister Sharon always went out of his way to discuss and take into consideration the views of the diaspora community and valued his role not only as Prime Minister of Israel but also as a leader of the Jewish people,” Hoenlein and Sugarman said.

Leaders of the Anti-Defamation League, Barry Curtiss-Lusher and Abraham H. Foxman remembered Sharon as, “A great military leader who fought in Israel’s five wars,” and who “capped his career by becoming a true statesman and a prime minister who earned the support of a wide swath of the Israeli public and the international community.”

“Through his steadfast leadership, and his courageous advocacy of positions and policies that were often controversial yet always with Israel’s best interests at heart, Prime Minister Sharon helped his people emerge” from the second Intifada, they said. “His legacy is a more secure State of Israel, safe on its borders and resolved to put an end to the campaign of Palestinian terrorism once and for all.”

B’nai B’rith International President Allan J. Jacobs said that, “Israel lost a unique and unusual leader who demonstrated the ability to change his way of thinking and seeking out new paths.”

“He was a brave and fearless soldier, a wise and brilliant leader, who left a lasting impact on Israel,” he said. “Each time Israel was threatened with extinction, Ariel Sharon rose to defend her.”

“He lived the Zionist dream as farmer, soldier and statesman, always mindful of the tremendous responsibilities cast his way on the battlefield or at the diplomatic table,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin added.

“With the passing of Ariel Sharon, a defining chapter in Israel’s history goes with him,” said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee. “He was a man of towering strength, uncompromising commitment, steely determination, and creative vision.”

“He was among the giants of Israel’s founding generation. Against all the odds, they established the democratic state, defended it against those who sought its destruction, and participated in its remarkable growth and development over the last nearly six decades,” the AJC said. “While he fully understood the importance of military strength and strategic acumen to ensure Israel’s security in a turbulent region, he also displayed a political pragmatism that surprised his external and domestic critics.”

The Friends of the Israel Defense Forces highlighted Sharon’s military career. “He fought and won many battles,” the group said. “We appreciate his contribution to the defense of Israel and will remember him as one of the most well respected commanders of all time.”

Rabbi Leonard Matanky, president of the Rabbinical Council of America, said, “We are grateful for the many positive contributions he made to the State of Israel.”

The National Jewish Democratic Council called Sharon “a true defender of Israel,” while the Republican Jewish Coalition said, “He was a great warrior who fought wholeheartedly for Israel’s existence, security, and well-being.”

Sharon will be buried in a military ceremony, in a State Funeral,  on Monday, January 13th,  at his ranch in Israel’s Negev. World leaders, including U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, are expected to be in attendance.

=============================================

Late PM’s bureau chief Dov Weissglass, in a conference call for The Israel Project a few hours after Israel’s eleventh prime minister passed away on Saturday, Weissglass said Sharon and president George W. Bush established a relationship of deep trust and open affection. The strength of that bond between the two leaders and their administrations, he said, helped ensure firm backing from the US for Sharon’s battle against Palestinian terrorism in the Second Intifada.

The partnership also yielded two “significant political accomplishments” for Israel, Weissglass added — citing what he said was written support from the US president for Israel’s retention of major settlement blocs under a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians, and for the resettlement of Palestinian refugees in a Palestinian state “rather than in Israel.”

Weissglass’s description of the warm Sharon-Bush relationship contrasted sharply with the strains in ties between the administrations of Netanyahu and President Barack Obama, which have been openly at odds over Israeli settlement expansion and over strategies for thwarting Iran. In recent weeks, Netanyahu has repeatedly slammed the interim accord on curbing Iran’s nuclear program, negotiated by the US and other world powers in Geneva in late November, as a historic mistake.

Weissglass would not be drawn on how Sharon would have been handling peace efforts with the Palestinians, or whether he would have ready to withdraw from the West Bank if he were prime minister today, saying he didn’t want to speculate on what Sharon might have done.

He did highlight Israel’s current regional strength, however, saying that, as a consequence of the Arab spring and current instabilities in neighboring states, “no single Arab state jeopardizes the existence of the state of Israel.”

On Iran, he specified that Sharon saw the nuclear threat as “an international problem, for the international community to deal with.” Sharon viewed a nuclear Iran as a threat “not just to the Middle East but even to Europe,” Weissglass said. He said Sharon believed Israel “should play a part” in the effort to stop Iran, “but not … a leading role.”

Nevertheless, extolling late leader for making ‘tough decisions’ and realizing ‘peace will make Israel stronger,’ US Secretary of State John Kerry hopes current PM will learn lesson.

Reading through the various statements made by presidents and prime ministers in the aftermath of Sharon’s death, one could get the impression that Sharon, in his 32 years in the Knesset and two terms as prime minister, did nothing but remove settlers from Palestinian territories in the pursuit of peace.

Western politicians, with almost no exception, looked only at Sharon’s life after he broke away from Likud and created the centrist Kadima party in late 2005, soon after he had overseen the dismantling of the Gaza settlements and the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, for instance, focused his statement on the one action that the world appears to want to remember about Ariel Sharon: the “painful and historic decision to withdraw Israeli settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip.” Sharon’s successor, Ban continued, without naming any names, now “faces the difficult challenge of realizing the aspirations of peace between the Israeli and Palestinian people. The Secretary-General calls on Israel to build on the late Prime Minister’s legacy of pragmatism to work towards the long overdue achievement of an independent and viable Palestinian state, next to a secure Israel.”

A statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry also came off as less a personal tribute to Sharon and more a plea addressed to Netanyahu, imploring him to muster the courage to make the concessions necessary for the peace process to advance.

Kerry called Sharon a “big bear of a man,” who, after he became prime minister, “sought to bend the course of history toward peace, even as it meant testing the patience of his own longtime supporters and the limits of his own, lifelong convictions in the process.”
He was prepared to make tough decisions because he knew that his responsibility to his people was both to ensure their security and to give every chance to the hope that they could live in peace,” Kerry said of Sharon.

Tough decisions and difficult choices — that’s exactly what Kerry is asking of Netanyahu (and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, conspicuously silent in the immediate aftermath of Sharon’s passing). “We are now at a point where the choices narrow down and the choices are obviously real and difficult,” Kerry said on January 5, during his last visit in Jerusalem. As he prepared to present the two sides with a “framework agreement,” a position paper trying to help the two sides find some common ground, it was becoming “much more apparent to everybody what the remaining tough choices are and what the options are with respect to those choices,” he said.

The Kerry message to Netanyahu in his statement on Sharon could not have been clearer, or more similar to his recent peace-related remarks. Sharon “surprised many in his pursuit of peace,” Kerry stated, “and today, we all recognize, as he did, that Israel must be strong to make peace, and that peace will also make Israel stronger.”

Other world leaders also used the opportunity of eulogizing Sharon to talk about Netanyahu — or rather, talk to Netanyahu.

In a rather formulaic statement, US President Barack Obama paid tribute to a leader “who dedicated his life to the State of Israel,” and then went on to reaffirm America’s unshakable commitment to Israel’s security. “We continue to strive for lasting peace and security for the people of Israel, including through our commitment to the goal of two states living side-by-side in peace and security.”

UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s implied message to Israel’s current prime minister was blunt, as he praised Sharon as a leader who “took brave and controversial decisions in pursuit of peace.” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, through a spokesman, applauded Sharon’s “courageous decision” to withdraw settlers from the Gaza Strip, during the Disengagement, a “historic step on the path to a deal with the Palestinians and a two-state solution.”

But this approach is unfair to the deceased – bless his memory – and that is why we chose the Reform Judaism’s notice as opener to our posting. Indeed – there is much more to this “Bear of a Man” – he had a clear vision – was pragmatic and ready to change approach – but he never left his eye from the ultimate goal of a secure, prosperous, home for Jews living in a peaceful neighborhood – and indeed  he had no  place in his large stomach for those with a narrower vision.
The fact that Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority seemingly, have no intent to send representatives to the General’s funeral is just one little further proof that the recognition that Israel is there as part of a new Middle East has not reached yet their leaders.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 11th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

 

 

 Gibson Bible Atlas   –  Canaan before Abraham

Copyright 1927, 2003

The land of Canaan before Abraham

Annexation and the return of the one-state solution.

Monday, January 6, 2014 – published by the Palestine Center, The Jerusalem Fund, Washington DC – Written by Jack LeVine it was previously posted by Al Jezeera.www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/display/ContentDetails/i/43942/pid/895

 

From time to time, the Palestine Center distributes articles it believes will enhance understanding of the Palestinian political reality. The following article is by Mark LeVine was published by Al Jazeera on 2 January 2014.

Mark LeVine writes what he writes – and we like to extend it to its logical target – the establishment of an Abrahamic State that is neither Jewish nor Muslim, in parts of the pre-Abraham Land of Canaan,  and to allow our readers the right to think for themselves and decide if this albatross can fly:

“Annexation and the return of the one-state solution

It was yet another slap in the face of the United States, Israel’s main patron without whom its existence, never mind its ability to maintain an ever intensifying occupation without fear of mentionable consequence, would be very much in question.

In direct response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s attempt to establish a set of “security arrangements” that would, some day (Kerry apparently is suggesting after another decade), allow some level of Palestinian control over the security of the West Bank (wasn’t that supposed to happen during Oslo?  And isn’t it in fact already the de jure arrangement in Areas A and B?),  the Ministerial Legislative Committee voted to annex the Jordan Valley permanently to Israel.

Modus operandi

This is, by no means, the first vote or decision taken by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu government to challenge the Obama Administration’s attempts to play at peace-making in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In fact, announcing settlement expansion plans whenever a senior US official is visiting Israel to “jumpstart” or “save” the “peace process” has long been standard operating procedure for the Israeli government, as the Obama Administration learned early in 2010 when Vice President Joe Biden was greeted upon arriving in Israel with the “highly inflammatory announcement” of plans for 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem. The Americans feigned anger at the “brutally contemptuous rebuff” to their good-faith efforts to resuscitate Oslo, but no one should have been surprised at the actions of  Netanyahu then, or now. Indeed, Netanyahu has been outmanoeuvering Obama since day one of the relationship.

This latest slap in the face comes after PA President Mahmoud Abbas once again “renounced claims” to Israel within its 1967 borders, this time singling out the one-time Palestinian-populated towns of Jaffa and Haifa, and accepted on-going settlement construction in return for freeing Palestinian prisoners. A few hundred Palestinian “detainees” are wonderful bargaining chips to play in lieu of actual policy changes whenever negotiations get serious.

Not surprisingly, the vote on annexation provoked the usual outcries by Palestinian officials, who decried the “indifference” to and “disrespect” for international law the vote represented.

Falling on deaf ears

This evaluation is certainly true, although the PA attacking Israel for disregarding international law is about as meaningful as the US criticising Saudi Arabia for refusing to let women drive. That is to say, it’s utterly devoid of meaning as long as they continue business as usual, which for the PA means doing whatever is necessary to keep the foreign aid, and salaries, flowing through its coffers.

But this latest attempt to annex the West Bank, as 2013 came to a close, offers both a tantalising glimpse of the future of Israel/Palestine and a good opportunity for Palestinians to start the New Year off in a way that throws the Israeli government back on its heels.  It could also turn the tide in the century-long conflict over the territory of Mandate-era Palestine.  It was not the PA, however, but the liberal Zionist Party Meretz that have taken the lead in doing so however.

Rather than denouncing the latest attempt to annex the West Bank as marking yet another nail in the coffin of a long rotted Oslo peace process, Meretz publicly declared it would no longer oppose votes to annex the Jordan Valley, which increases the likelihood such a vote could in fact pass the Knesset.

Meretz leaders have neither suddenly become territorial maximalists nor have they joined the one or bi-state camp that most self-described Zionists, regardless of how comparatively liberal their politics (from an Israeli perspective), still broadly refuse to support. But I don’t buy the refusal of Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon even to discuss a one-state future as reflecting the true nature of the shift inside Israeli liberal politics.  As the Israeli right becomes ever bolder in asserting territorially maximalist policies, and the religious establishment more blatantly bigoted, there is simply less space for liberal Zionists to operate as both liberal and Zionist.

The fact is that soon Israeli liberals, who are still a sizable minority of the population, are either going to vote with their heads or their feet – if the mainstream of Israeli political culture keeps moving to the right. A democratic state with rough demographic parity with Palestinians suddenly would offer a more positive alternative than an ultra-chauvinistic Jewish state that holds them in almost as much scorn as it does “Arabs” and “Africans”.

A new coalition?

The question is: When will the majority of Palestinians, who long ago lost faith in Oslo and in their hearts would prefer a one-state solution, give up the two-state illusion and come out in force demanding precisely what the Ministerial Legislative Committee voted to do – be annexed to Israel, and have the same voting rights as their fellow Palestinians across the quickly evaporating Green Line. Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned of just this eventuality as the doomsday scenario facing Zionism, which is why a man who did more than almost anyone to create a Jewish-dominated Jerusalem became a firm supporter of two-states.

The PA will never go down this route because it would mean its dissolution and the loss of jobs, money and power for the entire political class, and perhaps the fatal weakening of Fatah along with it. Neither, strangely, would Hamas accept it as it would become moot in a one or bi-national solution.

Of course, while the Israeli right would actually welcome Palestinian acquiescence to the annexation of the West Bank, whose population can be absorbed into Israel without creating a Palestinian majority, their plan for a Greater Israel specifically excludes Gaza, whose incorporation would tip the demographic balance immediately, and permanently, in the Palestinian’s favour. A test of wills and political strategisation would emerge between the two sides as to whether Israel could convince West Bank Palestinians permanently to separate their fortunes from benighted Gaza, or Palestinians once “inside” Israel would constitute a large enough force with 1948 Palestinians and liberal/left Israeli to push, however fitfully, for a bi-national or even parallel states solution.

This leads to a final question:Will 2014 be the year Palestinian and Israeli exhaustion with Oslo and fear of a bleak and chauvinistic future creates the unstoppable force that finally buries Oslo and moves both peoples, and the land they inevitably share, towards a common future?

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Jerusalem Fund.

Click here for more Reports and Commentary of the site we tapped.

To view this article online, please go to:
www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/01/annexation-return-one-state-solution-2014125435732443.html.

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And an Israeli description of what it looks like now in the Israeli political arena – the Uri Avnery article of this week –
that in the “Gush Shalom” publication was titled more to the point as BIBI & LIBI & TIBI – referring to Dr. Ahmad Tibi, Currently a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, who defines himself as  Arab-Palestinian in nationality, and Israeli in citizenship – thus trying to make sense in a situation that he sees himself as directing his party Arab Movement for Change (Ta’al), an Arab party in Israel, to full rights within Israel.
He is for the two State solution but wants to be an Israeli as well. Can he be the bridge to a One-State solution as well?

 

Uri Avnery

 

January 11, 2014

 

 

 

                                             Bibi & Libie

 

 

 

PERHAPS I am too stupid, but for the heck of me I cannot understand the sense of the Israeli demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

 

On the face of it, it seems like a clever trick by Binyamin Netanyahu to divert attention from the real issues. If so, the Palestinian leadership has fallen into a trap.

 

 

Instead of talking about the independence of the putative State of Palestine and its borders, its capital in Jerusalem, the removal of the settlements, the fate of the refugees and the solution of the many other problems, they quarrel endlessly about the definition of Israel.

 

 

One is tempted to call out to the Palestinians: what the hell, accord them this damn recognition and be done with it! Who cares!?

 

 

 

THE ANSWER of the Palestinian negotiators is twofold.

 

 

First, recognizing Israel as a Jewish State would be an act of betrayal towards the million and a half Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, If Israel is a Jewish State, where does that leave them?

 

 

Well, that problem could be solved by a provision in the peace treaty stating that irrespective of anything else in the agreement, the Palestinian citizens of Israel will enjoy full equality in every respect.

 

 

Second, that the recognition of Israel’s Jewishness would block the return of the refugees.

 

 

That argument is even less valid than the first. The solution of the refugee problem will be a central plank of the treaty. The Palestinian leadership, at the time of Yasser Arafat, already tacitly accepted that the solution will be an “agreed” one, so that any return will be at most symbolic. The recognition issue will not affect it.

 

 The debate on this Israeli demand is entirely ideological. Netanyahu demands that the Palestinian people accept the Zionist narrative. The Palestinian refusal is based on the Arab narrative, which contradicts the Zionist one on practically every single event that happened during the last 130 years, if not the last 5000.

 

 Mahmoud Abbas could just come forward and announce:  OK, if you accept our practical demands, we shall recognize Israel as whatever you want – a Buddhist State, a Vegetarian State, you name it.

 

 On September 10, 1993 – which happened to be my 70th birthday – Yasser Arafat, on behalf of the Palestinian people, recognized the State of Israel, in return for the no less momentous recognition of the Palestinian people by Israel. Implicitly, each side recognized the other as it is. Israel defined itself in its founding document as a Jewish State. Ergo, the Palestinians have already recognized a Jewish State. 

 

 By the way, the first step towards Oslo was made by Arafat when he told his representative in London, Said Hamami, to publish in the “Times” of London on December 17, 1973,  a proposal for a peaceful solution, which stated among other things that “the first step must be the mutual recognition of these two sides. The Jewish-Israelis and the Palestinian-Arabs must recognize each other as peoples with all the rights of peoples.”

 

 I saw the original draft of this statement with corrections in Arafat’s hand.

 

 

 

 THE PROBLEM of the Palestinian minority in Israel – about 20% of Israel’s eight million citizens – is very serious, but it has now acquired a humorous twist.

 

 Since his acquittal from corruption charges and return to the Foreign Office, Avigdor Lieberman is at it again. He has come out supporting John Kerry’s peace efforts, much to the chagrin of Netanyahu, who does not.

 

 Why, for heaven’s sake? Lieberman aspires to become prime minister some day, as soon as possible. For this he has to (1) unite his “Israel Our Home” party with the Likud, (2) become leader of the Likud, (3) win the general elections. But over all these there hovers (4): obtain the approval of the Americans. So Lieberman now supports the American effort and peace.

 

 Yes, but under one condition: that the US accept his master plan for the Jewish State. 

 

 This is a masterpiece of constructive statesmanship. Its main proposal is to move the borders of Israel – not eastward, as could be expected from an arch-nationalist, but westward, slimming Israel’s narrow hips even further, to a mere 9 (nine!) km.

 

 The Israeli territory that Lieberman wants to get rid of is the site of  a dozen Arab villages, which were given Israel as a gift by the then king of Jordan in the armistice agreement of 1949. Abdallah I, the great-great-grandfather of the current Abdallah II of Jordan, needed the armistice at any price. Lieberman now wants to give these villages back, thank you.

 

 Why? Because for this stalwart of Jewish Israel, the reduction of the Arab population is a sacred task. He does not advocate expulsion, God forbid. Not at all.  He proposes attaching this area, with its population, to the Palestinian state. In return, he wants the Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank to be joined to Israel. A transfer of areas with their populations, reminiscent of Stalin’s redrawing the borders of Poland, except that Lieberman’s borders look completely crazy.

 

 Lieberman presents this as a peaceful, liberal, humane plan. No one will be displaced, no property expropriated. Some 300 thousand Arabs, all of them ardent supporters of the Palestinian struggle for statehood, will become Palestinian citizens.

 

 

 

 SO WHY do the Palestinians in Israel cry out? Why do they condemn the plan as a racist assault on their rights?

 

 Because they are far more Israeli than they care to admit, even to themselves. After living in Israel for 65 years, they have become accustomed to its ways. They don’t love Israel, they don’t serve in its army, they are discriminated against in many ways, but they are deeply rooted in the Israeli economy and democracy, much more than is generally recognized.

 

 “Israeli Arabs”, a term they hate, play a significant role in Israeli hospitals and courts, including the Supreme Court, and in many other institutions.

 

 Becoming citizens of Palestine tomorrow would mean losing 80% or 90% of their standard of living. It would also mean losing the social security net enjoyed in Israel (though Lieberman promises to continue payments to those currently eligible(. After being used for decades to fair elections and the lively give-and-take of the Knesset, they would have to get used to a society in which, as of now, important parties are forbidden, elections are postponed and parliament plays a minor role. The place of women in this society is very different from their role in Israel.

 

 The situation of the Palestinians in Israel is unique in many respects. On the one side, as long as Israel is defined as a Jewish State, the Arabs will not be fully equal. On the other side, in the occupied Palestinian territories, these Israeli citizens are not accepted as fully belonging. They straddle both sides of the conflict. They would like to be mediators, the link between the two sides, bringing them closer to each other. But this has remained a dream.

 

 A complicated situation, indeed.

 

 

 

 IN THE meantime, Netanyahu and Lieberman are hatching another plan to make Jewish Israel even Jewisher.

 

 There are today three factions in the Knesset which derive their votes from the Arab population. They constitute almost 10% of the Knesset. Why not 20%, to reflect their part in the general population? First because they have many more children, who have not yet reached voting age (18 years). Second, their rate of abstention is significantly higher. Third, some Arabs are bribed to vote for Zionist parties.

 

 The part of the Arab MKs in enacting laws is negligible. Any bill they introduce is almost automatically voted down. No Jewish party ever considered including them in a government coalition. Yet they have a very noticeable presence, their voice is heard.

 

 Now, in the name of “governability” (a trendy new term that can be used to justify any attack on human rights), Bibi & Libie, as someone called them, want to change the minimum share of votes that any election list needs to enter the Knesset.

 

 I was elected three times to the Knesset when the threshold was 1%. Later it was raised to 2%. Now the plan is to raise the threshold to 3.25%, which in the elections a year ago would have equaled 123,262 votes. Only one of the three “Arab” parties crossed this line – and then only barely. There is no assurance that it could do so again.                                                             

 

 In order to survive, they would have to unite and form a large Arab bloc. Many would think that this was a good thing. But it is very difficult to accomplish. One party is communist, another Islamist, another secular-nationalist. Also, competing extended families play an important role in Arab electoral politics.

 

 The Arab lists may disappear altogether. Or two may unite, eliminating the third.

 

 Some Israeli leftists fantasize about a dream party – a united parliamentary bloc that would include all the Arab parties with the Labor party and Meretz, turning it into a formidable challenger of the right wing.

 

 But that would be too good to be true – no chance at all of this happening in the near future.

 

 

 

 IT SEEMS that Kerry and his Zionist advisors already identify with the Israeli demand for recognition as a Jewish State or, worse, the State of the Jewish People (who were not even consulted).

 

 The Palestinian side is unable to accept this.

 

 If the negotiations come to naught on this point, Netanyahu will have achieved his real aim: to abort the negotiations in a way that will enable him to blame the Palestinians.

 

 As long as we have a Jewish State – who needs peace?

 

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 7th, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Majallie Whbee (L) is handed his letter of appointment as roving ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in Jerusalem, Dec. 31, 2013.  (photo by Knesset Spokesperson’s Office)

PAM (the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean) was founded in 2006. Apart from Israel, its member states include Morocco, Cyprus, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, France, Greece, Bosnia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority.

Read more: www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/01/majallie-whbee-pam-interview-syria-egypt-palestine-israel.html?utm_source=&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=8862#ixzz2pk5SBy1m

 

Longtime Sharon associate calls on parties to close peace deal

by Mazal Mualem – a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse and formerly the senior political correspondent for Maariv and Haaretz.
She also presents a weekly TV show covering social issues on the Knesset channel. 
Posted January 6, 2014

 

 “The reason that we miss [Ariel] Sharon so much is simply because he knew how to bang on the table and decide yes or no. With Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu], nothing is clear … and there is no worse feeling than that.” Former Knesset member and Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee followed former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon almost blindly when he bolted from the Likud Party and established Kadima in November 2005. It was two months before the then-prime minister suffered a stroke and dropped off the public stage, leaving behind him a party in its infancy, a country dealing with the implications of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and an enormous leadership vacuum.

 

Summary? Print Former Knesset member Majallie Whbee, a close associate of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, deplores Israeli leaders for not seizing the moment: “We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to complete an agreement.”
 

 

In the last election, Whbee, who was close to Sharon politically, joined HaTenua Party, headed by Tzipi Livni, but was not elected to the Knesset. He watches from the sidelines now as the glorious party that Sharon hoped to establish, and which was supposed to serve as a political platform to advance a diplomatic solution with the Palestinians, goes through all its various incarnations.

 

Sharon has been in a coma since January 2006, and over the past few days his condition has deteriorated considerably, putting his life in danger. The party that he founded split in two because of a serious clash between Justice Minister Livni and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on the eve of the last election. At its peak, Kadima won 29 seats in the Knesset. In the last election, the party, now headed by Mofaz, dropped to just two seats. Until it is proved otherwise, Livni’s party serves as the diplomatic fig leaf for the Netanyahu government. It is a pale shadow of former Prime Minister Sharon’s political vision.

 

Whbee doesn’t know exactly what diplomatic arrangement Sharon intended to reach, but it is obvious to him that the disengagement plan in Gaza was to be continued somehow. “Sharon said, ‘Why do we have to rule over another people?’ He realized that in the long term, the occupation would not lead us to a good place, and he wanted to bring about an arrangement.” Like many senior members of the Likud who followed Sharon on his Kadima escapade, he thinks back now on the diplomatic momentum during Sharon’s term in office and wonders what would have happened had he not collapsed.

 

The interview with Whbee took place one week after he was appointed roving ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), alongside professor Mohamed Abou El Enein, former speaker of the Egyptian parliament. At a modest ceremony held Dec. 31, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein handed him his letter of appointment. Whbee already has plenty of plans how to promote two main causes: tracking and reducing the scope of civilian casualties in Syria, and supporting an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

PAM was founded in 2006. Apart from Israel, its member states include Morocco, Cyprus, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, France, Greece, Bosnia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. This is the first time that an Israeli has been appointed to a senior position in PAM. Considering all the international condemnations and boycotts that Israel is facing, as well as the ongoing diplomatic crisis it is immersed in, Whbee’s appointment is noteworthy.

 

Very soon, Whbee, a Druze, will leave his home in the northern locality of Beit Jann to engage in shuttle diplomacy between the states of the region. He will attempt to use his diplomatic, political and defense experience, as well as his moderate worldview, to promote the assembly’s objectives and to realize the common interests of the countries in the region.

 

Majallie Whbee, when the states of the region are contending with the revolutions and conflicts of the Arab Spring, can anyone even determine what their common interests are?

 

“First of all, there is an interest in the Syrian issue. It is in everyone’s interest to defend the civilian population. Our objective is to flood the world with the problem and to put it on the tables of Europe’s leaders, now that the United States abandoned its plans to attack. What we have here is a Middle East population without anyone to care for it, and it is still at risk. There are Syrian representatives in PAM, too, and that is an advantage. While they are excluded from most places, they are still members of our assembly, and through them we can have an impact. We will demand that they use their influence over the Syrian regime.

 

“But it is not limited to Syria. The situation in Egypt is also difficult. The Egyptian representatives to PAM warn us of the risks posed by Hamas and the [former Mohammed] Morsi government. They are opposed to religious extremism, so they regard Morsi, who supported Hamas, as acting against Egyptian interests. In that sense they regard us, the Israelis, as their allies.”

 

Has your appointment already provided you with new insights into the region?

 

“Yes — that the Arab Spring was exploited by the religious extremists to seize control of the region in a kind of effort to establish a large Islamic force that will extend over several countries. We witnessed the cooperation between Morsi and Hamas, while those forces with a pro-Western orientation fell between the cracks. In that sense, I consider [US President Barack] Obama turning his back on Egypt to have been a resounding slap in the face. Unfortunately, the West did not anticipate fundamentalist factors attempting to hitch a ride on the Arab Spring.”

 

There is an argument that the chaos in the Arab states will actually improve Israel’s security situation.

 

“That is true in the short term. In the long term it is catastrophic, because it is possible that the fundamentalists will take over, and that would pose a threat to us. This leads me to the Palestinian issue. We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to reach an agreement, and Israel is not exploiting that window of opportunity. The situation is that right now the Palestinians do not have the backing of the Arab states. Egypt isn’t helping with anything, and Syria is torn apart. Under these circumstances, it is possible to pressure the Palestinians. [US Secretary of State John] Kerry should bang on the table and bring about an agreement. He should determine the facts and put both sides in a situation in which they have to decide. That is his role as a mediator, because if there won’t be an agreement we will be living by our swords here for many years to come.”

 

The situation of the Palestinians actually seems better than our own in the international arena.

 

“In my opinion, it is important to distinguish the leadership, which wants the conflict to continue. It’s good for those people to be the side that is discriminated against in the conflict. What’s so bad for them? They fight, and somebody else pays. But unlike the leadership, the people want to live a normal life. They want to make a living and improve their quality of life. They are tired of all the struggles and wars. They want normalcy. That is also why I don’t think there will be a third intifada. There is no one who wants to fight that battle, because even the Palestinian mothers are tired. After all, who do they send to blow themselves up with suicide belts? [Palestinian Chairman] Abu Mazen’s sons? [Former Palestinian Chairman Yasser] Arafat’s sons? It is the simple people who struggle to make a living, who end up paying the price.

 

“What’s so bad for the leadership? They continue driving around in their Mercedes and living in mansions, with tight security to protect them. It is convenient for them for the situation to remain as it is, because once a peace agreement is signed and they will be under supervision, it will be hard for them to keep up that kind of lifestyle.”

 

Was Sharon’s disengagement plan a mistake?

 

”In my opinion it was a stroke of diplomatic genius. After all, we had five brigades there, the security costs were astronomical, and soldiers were getting killed and wounded to defend 23 settlements. How was that to our advantage? As soon as Israel left Gaza, the international community granted us legitimacy to act in our defense from within our borders.”

 

 “The reason that we miss [Ariel] Sharon so much is simply because he knew how to bang on the table and decide yes or no. With Bibi [Benjamin Netanyahu], nothing is clear … and there is no worse feeling than that.” Former Knesset member and Deputy Foreign Minister Majallie Whbee followed former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon almost blindly when he bolted from the Likud Party and established Kadima in November 2005. It was two months before the then-prime minister suffered a stroke and dropped off the public stage, leaving behind him a party in its infancy, a country dealing with the implications of the disengagement from the Gaza Strip, and an enormous leadership vacuum.

 

Summary? Print Former Knesset member Majallie Whbee, a close associate of former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, deplores Israeli leaders for not seizing the moment: “We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to complete an agreement.”
Author Mazal Mualem Posted January 6, 2014

Translator(s)Danny Wool

 

In the last election, Whbee, who was close to Sharon politically, joined HaTenua Party, headed by Tzipi Livni, but was not elected to the Knesset. He watches from the sidelines now as the glorious party that Sharon hoped to establish, and which was supposed to serve as a political platform to advance a diplomatic solution with the Palestinians, goes through all its various incarnations.

 

Sharon has been in a coma since January 2006, and over the past few days his condition has deteriorated considerably, putting his life in danger. The party that he founded split in two because of a serious clash between Justice Minister Livni and former Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz on the eve of the last election. At its peak, Kadima won 29 seats in the Knesset. In the last election, the party, now headed by Mofaz, dropped to just two seats. Until it is proved otherwise, Livni’s party serves as the diplomatic fig leaf for the Netanyahu government. It is a pale shadow of former Prime Minister Sharon’s political vision.

 

Whbee doesn’t know exactly what diplomatic arrangement Sharon intended to reach, but it is obvious to him that the disengagement plan in Gaza was to be continued somehow. “Sharon said, ‘Why do we have to rule over another people?’ He realized that in the long term, the occupation would not lead us to a good place, and he wanted to bring about an arrangement.” Like many senior members of the Likud who followed Sharon on his Kadima escapade, he thinks back now on the diplomatic momentum during Sharon’s term in office and wonders what would have happened had he not collapsed.

 

The interview with Whbee took place one week after he was appointed roving ambassador of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean (PAM), alongside professor Mohamed Abou El Enein, former speaker of the Egyptian parliament. At a modest ceremony held Dec. 31, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein handed him his letter of appointment. Whbee already has plenty of plans how to promote two main causes: tracking and reducing the scope of civilian casualties in Syria, and supporting an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

 

PAM was founded in 2006. Apart from Israel, its member states include Morocco, Cyprus, Libya, Jordan, Egypt, France, Greece, Bosnia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. This is the first time that an Israeli has been appointed to a senior position in PAM. Considering all the international condemnations and boycotts that Israel is facing, as well as the ongoing diplomatic crisis it is immersed in, Whbee’s appointment is noteworthy.

 

Very soon, Whbee, a Druze, will leave his home in the northern locality of Beit Jann to engage in shuttle diplomacy between the states of the region. He will attempt to use his diplomatic, political and defense experience, as well as his moderate worldview, to promote the assembly’s objectives and to realize the common interests of the countries in the region.

 

Majallie Whbee, when the states of the region are contending with the revolutions and conflicts of the Arab Spring, can anyone even determine what their common interests are?

 

“First of all, there is an interest in the Syrian issue. It is in everyone’s interest to defend the civilian population. Our objective is to flood the world with the problem and to put it on the tables of Europe’s leaders, now that the United States abandoned its plans to attack. What we have here is a Middle East population without anyone to care for it, and it is still at risk. There are Syrian representatives in PAM, too, and that is an advantage. While they are excluded from most places, they are still members of our assembly, and through them we can have an impact. We will demand that they use their influence over the Syrian regime.

 

“But it is not limited to Syria. The situation in Egypt is also difficult. The Egyptian representatives to PAM warn us of the risks posed by Hamas and the [former Mohammed] Morsi government. They are opposed to religious extremism, so they regard Morsi, who supported Hamas, as acting against Egyptian interests. In that sense they regard us, the Israelis, as their allies.”

 

Has your appointment already provided you with new insights into the region?

 

“Yes — that the Arab Spring was exploited by the religious extremists to seize control of the region in a kind of effort to establish a large Islamic force that will extend over several countries. We witnessed the cooperation between Morsi and Hamas, while those forces with a pro-Western orientation fell between the cracks. In that sense, I consider [US President Barack] Obama turning his back on Egypt to have been a resounding slap in the face. Unfortunately, the West did not anticipate fundamentalist factors attempting to hitch a ride on the Arab Spring.”

 

There is an argument that the chaos in the Arab states will actually improve Israel’s security situation.

 

“That is true in the short term. In the long term it is catastrophic, because it is possible that the fundamentalists will take over, and that would pose a threat to us. This leads me to the Palestinian issue. We have a window of opportunity of just a few years to reach an agreement, and Israel is not exploiting that window of opportunity. The situation is that right now the Palestinians do not have the backing of the Arab states. Egypt isn’t helping with anything, and Syria is torn apart. Under these circumstances, it is possible to pressure the Palestinians. [US Secretary of State John] Kerry should bang on the table and bring about an agreement. He should determine the facts and put both sides in a situation in which they have to decide. That is his role as a mediator, because if there won’t be an agreement we will be living by our swords here for many years to come.”

 

The situation of the Palestinians actually seems better than our own in the international arena.

 

“In my opinion, it is important to distinguish the leadership, which wants the conflict to continue. It’s good for those people to be the side that is discriminated against in the conflict. What’s so bad for them? They fight, and somebody else pays. But unlike the leadership, the people want to live a normal life. They want to make a living and improve their quality of life. They are tired of all the struggles and wars. They want normalcy. That is also why I don’t think there will be a third intifada. There is no one who wants to fight that battle, because even the Palestinian mothers are tired. After all, who do they send to blow themselves up with suicide belts? [Palestinian Chairman] Abu Mazen’s sons? [Former Palestinian Chairman Yasser] Arafat’s sons? It is the simple people who struggle to make a living, who end up paying the price.

 

“What’s so bad for the leadership? They continue driving around in their Mercedes and living in mansions, with tight security to protect them. It is convenient for them for the situation to remain as it is, because once a peace agreement is signed and they will be under supervision, it will be hard for them to keep up that kind of lifestyle.”

 

Was Sharon’s disengagement plan a mistake?

 

”In my opinion it was a stroke of diplomatic genius. After all, we had five brigades there, the security costs were astronomical, and soldiers were getting killed and wounded to defend 23 settlements. How was that to our advantage? As soon as Israel left Gaza, the international community granted us legitimacy to act in our defense from within our borders.”

 

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on January 2nd, 2014
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

So much for all that talk about transfer to an Arab State – as the best living Arabs in the Middle East are still the sometimes downtrodden Arabs of Israel. If this does not wake up the Monarchs of the Gulf, why make of the US Secretary of State, Senator Kerry, a martyr of unreasonableness? 

Sure, the two State Solution was the best solution in 1948, but the new facts on the ground work against it now not only on the Palestinian side – but also on the Israeli and Arab-Israeli  side.
Q.E.D. will say Netanyahu to Kerry when he sees him today.

And they will not let anyone forget – they have at least 12 freely elected members of Parliament in Israel which is more then in all Arab States combined!!!
 www.algemeiner.com/2014/01/02/isr…

Israeli Arabs Object to Palestinian Authority Rule in Proposed Triangle Swap

January 2, 2014 – The Algemeiner – While Kerry visits Netanyahu.

Israeli-Arabs and their representatives in the Knesset refuse to consider a territory swap backed by U.S. negotiators at the Israel-PA peace talks, which resumed on Thursday in Jerusalem, according to Israeli press reports.

 

The swap would see Israel cede sovereignty over 10 towns, home to 300,000 Israeli-Arabs, along the Green Line, in an area called the Triangle, to the Palestinian Authority in exchange for a similar amount of land developed by Jewish settlers.

 

Deputy Speaker of the Knesset – The Israeli Parliament - MK Dr. Ahmed Tibi, founder of the Arab Movement for Change Party, Ta’al, said, ”This is a bizarre proposal which relates to Arab citizens as chess pieces that can be moved and changed,” according to Israeli daily Ma’ariv on Thursday. “Once we feared for our nationhood and now we fear for our citizenship.”

 

A senior Israeli source involved in the peace talks told Ma’ariv that the Triangle proposal was being raised “in discussions between Israel and the United States over the issue of land swaps.” According to the source, the idea has become more widely discussed because of the U.S. effort to advance talks, Ma’ariv said.

 

“Many senior officials on the Israeli side agree with the exchange of territory and population, and the Americans know it’s a possible solution,” he said.

 

The Triangle, HaMeshulash, in Hebrew, or al-Muthallath, in Arabic, is split between the Central and Haifa Districts of Israel, in the eastern Plain of Sharon, in the Samarian foothills. Its geography, made it important for Israel militarily, and it was awarded to Israel officially in the 1949 Armistice Agreement as part of a swap, with Transjordan receiving Wadi Fukin, in the southern hills of Hebron.

 

Internally, the Triangle has developed economically under Israeli sovereignty, while it is split politically, with three towns surrounding the small city of Umm al-Fahm, around the lush Wadi Ara, in the north, being separate from the five surrounding towns around Taibe, in the south.

 

Israeli-Arab MK Dr. Afu Agbaria, from the Democratic Front for Peace and Equality Party, Hadash, a resident of Umm al-Fahm, told Ma’ariv, “Citizens in a democracy are not pawns or hostages in the hands of the government.”

 

While Agbaria is not known as a friend to Israel — in 2010, at the European Parliament, he called for Israeli leaders to be tried at the International Criminal Court, and accused Israel of attacking “its neighbors and its Arab citizens nonstop” during its 62 years of existence — local polls show that most Israeli-Arabs in the Triangle also still prefer being Israeli citizens to the alternative.

 

In 2000, when the Triangle proposal was first put forward by current Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, a survey conducted by Israeli-Arab weekly Kul al-Arab among 1,000 residents of Umm al-Fahm, found that 83 percent opposed transferring their city to Palestinian Authority rule.

Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, along the Green Line. Photo: WikiCommons.

Israeli-Arab city of Umm al-Fahm, along the Green Line. Photo: WikiCommons.

 

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on December 15th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Just see – there is a storm and floods and see what you get:

“Israel opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing to the Gaza Strip on Friday to transfer emergency aid to residents suffering from wide-scale flooding and no heating.

The Jewish state sent gas for heating and water pumps to deal with the rampant flooding in Gaza. Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot stressed that Israel would do everything necessary to help the Gaza and Judea and Samaria populations, Israel Hayom reported.”

Yet Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said, “Israel is the one to blame for what is happening in the Gaza Strip. The Knesset’s restriction on bringing building materials prevents us from fixing infrastructure and that is why we have floods.”

And what does that mean?

The Hamas Gaza leadership uses up all construction materials to build those infamous underground tunnels to Egypt and Israel – this for smuggling and for terrorism. So why send in more cement? Israel would be crazy to give in just because the UN keeps voting against Israel blaming them for everything under the son and the moon – rain or snow.    No pity for the Gazan’s and sorry for the Turkish mess that led to an Israeli apology for no good reasons.

All this amounts for pragmatic reasons to the need to push for a THREE STATES SOLUTION – that is for Israel-Palestine (the West Bank) agreements backed by Saudi Arabia and the other gulf States – this for the interest of everybody involved. That is achievable in the present conditions of the Middle East. Then Hamasstan remains as a renegade speck of land waiting for its own people to take the leadership in their own hands and chase out the Hamas. Sure – this will take time, but it should not cause a mortal danger to Israel as long as  it can withstand UN pressure.

###

Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on November 11th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 

Coca-Cola

Trophy touches down in Israel and Palestine

 FIFA.com) Sunday 10 November 2013
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Trophy touches down in Israel and Palestine

© Getty Images

The FIFA World Cup Trophy has been steadily making its way around the globe through the planned 90 countries, and having just completed its Caribbean tour, it has now landed in the Middle East for the first time.

Bringing the joy of football to the region, FIFA together with Coca-Cola have brought the FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour to Israel and Palestine for two days, before heading off to Jordan. Accompanying the trophy for this trip is special guest, former FIFA World Cup™ participant and Argentina national team player and coach Gabriel Calderon. He will be with the trophy through all the local activities that the tour is planning for the coming two stops, where kids from schools, universities and local football clubs will have the opportunity to experience the magic of most powerful symbol in world football.

“I think it’s extremely important that every child gets the same opportunities to enjoy the world’s game. Playing regularly when I was young is what shaped me into the player I turned out to be,” Gabriel said as he arrived in Israel for his first stop. “I am extremely honoured that I have been asked to be part of the tour, and especially to visit this historical region, as it is a cause I truly believe in, and I am happy to play my part.” added the former Argentina star.

Joining Gabriel on the tour in Palestine and Jordan is FIFA Vice President Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein who is very excited to be welcoming the trophy to his home for the first time.

I think it’s extremely important that every child gets the same opportunities to enjoy the world’s game.
Gabriel Calderon, former Argentina midfielder and coach

The situation in the Middle East has prompted a mandate to be received by FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter during the 63rd FIFA Congress. This mandate was brought about by several years of conflict and unrest, making it challenging to improve and develop the game, and as part of FIFA’s statutes to develop the game. The President took this matter to heart to ensure that everyone has equal access and opportunities to play football, and the tour is another sign of the commitment which FIFA and its Partners have outlined to develop the sport in the Middle East.

A special FIFA Task Force, chaired by the FIFA President, was created with the aim to help improve the situation of football in Palestine and Israel, more specifically to analyse different bilateral matters including facilitating the movement of players, referees and equipment in and out of and within Palestine. The ultimate objective is to improve the situation of football in the region, particularly so that FIFA can implement its mission of developing and promoting the game in accordance with the FIFA Statutes.

As a result of the historical meeting, the football associations of Israel and Palestine will implement a mechanism under the umbrella of FIFA that will facilitate the movement of persons and goods. This mechanism includes the modalities and notification requirements as well as the appointment of liaison officers within each association. A meeting will be held under the auspices of FIFA within four months to assess the level of cooperation, with a view to signing a memorandum of understanding at the 2014 FIFA Congress.

To find out more about the stops, the stars and the trophy, visit the official trophy tour’s Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

IMPORTANT TO NOTE HERE THAT IN 2022 THE WORLD CUP GAMES WILL BE HELD IN QATAR – this after 2018 in Russia.
FOLLOWING THE 2014 SERIES IN BRAZIL – the home of World Soccer...

Those that qualified for the 2014 games are:

Iran is thus the only Middle East State (or World Cup team – this being different as England is a player rather then the UK) to participate in Brazil.  Israel had to play in the European preliminaries as it is impossible to match it with an Arab State.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on October 19th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

 ON THE SAUDI UN EVENT – FROM INSIDE THE UN – by MATTHEW RUSSELL LEE of INNER CITY PRESS:

On October 17th:

For Security Council – Saudi Where Women Can’t Drive Loses 10 Votes –
got only 176 votes out of the 191 states present.

Afterward Inner City Press asked Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari about Saudi Arabia’s election to the Security Council, which now has chemical weapons in Syria on its agenda. Ja’afari shook his head and hearkened back to when Qatar was elected to the Security Council, and then got the President of the General Assembly position. Money.

Next posting – on October 18th:

After Saudi Arabia announced it would not take the UN Security Council seat to which it was elected yesterday without competition, in front of the Security Council Friday morning most Ambassadors entering for day’s meeting declined comment or said, we are trying to figure it out. (This was from UK Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson.)

  But France’s Permanent Representative Gerard Araud used the announcement in the way it appears the Saudis wanted. He said France understands the Saudis frustration. He said 120,000 people have been killed in Syria, most by the “Assad regime.”

  When a reporter asked about the recent Council “unity” around the Syria resolution, Araud said dismissively that is only about chemical weapons.

  France last month sponsored a meeting in the UN’s ECOSOC Chamber declaring Saudi-supported Syria rebel Ahmad al Jarba the sole legitimate representative of the Syria people. One wag mused, will Saudi try to give the seat to Jarba?

  Ban Ki-moon met with Jarba in his (UN provided) residence. Here is video of Ban speaking of Saudi Arabia Friday morning:

Inner City Press checked with a well-placed UN Secretariat source, who told it exclusively that Qatar’s foreign ministry reached out “in the middle of the night” (New York time), right after the Saudi announcement, to ask what the next step will be.

  So does Qatar want the seat? They recently had it. And since they compete with Saudi Arabia in which Syrian rebels to arm, and in Egypt, if Saudi has any role in picking a replacement, look for United Arab Emirates, for example.

The source told Inner City Press that “nothing starts until Saudi Arabia sends a note verbale to the Secretary General.” Ban Ki-moon, going into the Council to speak on Women, Peace and Security (while his UN Peacekeeping continues supporting the Congolese Army units implicated in 135 rapes in Minova last November) had no comment.

  Neither did US Ambassador Samantha Power, last seen tweeting about the Red Sox and Detroit.

  Some are predicting that the US will try to talk Saudi Arabia out of it, trying to make nice after the Saudis were miffed by President Barack Obama’s telephone call to Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.

   But either way, the Saudi’s look “bad,” as one Ambassador put it to Inner City Press. “Their Perm Rep thanked us for our vote,” the Ambassador continued. “So did he not know?” See tweeted photos here, and of   Saudi gift box here. Watch this site.

Update of 1:20 pm — A Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that Saudi Arabia would meet the President of the General Assembly today. But then, from closer sourcing, Inner City Press is informed that the meeting is canceled.

 At Friday’s noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson for any rules on gifts (he referred the question to the PGA’s office) and when Ban last spoke with the Saudi government or ruling family.

then –

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 — The UN is abuzz with the question, why did Saudi Arabia run for a Security Council seat only to this morning decline it? And, this being the UN, the question of which country would replace them.

  From well-placed Arab Group sources comes the name: Kuwait. These sources, when Inner City Press asked of the possibility that Saudi Arabia will find a way to reverse its reversal said no.

“This is what happens when a country is run by one family,” one observer put it, likening it to a decision made in Pyongyang.

Given the way Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative spoke at the UNTV stakeout after his country’s election yesterday, either he didn’t know or he deserves an Academy Award for acting.

The Saudi mission has been getting training for this seat for some time. And now, not.

One of his staffers is re-tweeting the stories of Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the seat, and expressing pride.

What will happen with Saudi Arabia’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council? In the future, how can their candidacies be taken seriously? At least, debate should be required, at which the question can be asked: are you serious?

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky if there are any rules on the gifts given in the General Assembly for votes, as Saudi Arabia did. He said to ask the office of the President of the General Assembly, which now tells Inner City Press there is no cap, no procedure, this is not under the scope of any GA rule so gifts of any size can be given.  Ah, the UN.

After Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari gave a speech Friday in the UN Security Council saying “the French regime” should give up its permanent seat on the Council, and slamming Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Inner City Press asked him what he thought the reason was for Saudi Arabia renouncing the Security Council seat it won Thursday without competition.

  Ja’afari made some expected points — that Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive and so is not qualified for the Council, for example, and that its mission does not have the capacity to serve on the Council. But this is true of others too, Inner City Press noted. What changed?

  Then Ja’afari offered this explanation, as an exclusive to Inner City Press: now that the Security Council has passed a resolution, and the push is on for the so-called Geneva Two talks, Saudi Arabia “cannot” (or does not want to be) part of that consensus. Even France cannot vote against Geneva Two. But could Saudi Arabia stand to be seen voting against it, isolated 14 to 1?

  This is something that changed, and recently – the coming together of the Council to vote for the chemical weapons mission, and singing from the same choir book about Geneva Two.

  It is not implausible, that as the date of starting on the Council grew closer, and the sides on the Security Council grew closer together and not farther apart, Saudi Arabia or someone in its royal family saw serving on the Council in a different light.

Kuwait, Ja’afari told Inner City Press, is no different.

  But Kuwait is not as aligned publicly – voting for a Geneva Two would not be seen as contradicting its positions or, as for Saudi Arabia, those it funds. We’ll see.

And on the Saudi event from inside the UN by Matthew Russell Lee pf Inner City Press.On October 17th:


For Security Council – Saudi Where Women Can’t Drive Loses 10 Votes –
got only 176 votes out of the 191 states present. Afterward Inner City Press asked Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari about Saudi Arabia’s election to the Security Council, which now has chemical weapons in Syria on its agenda. Ja’afari shook his head and hearkened back to when Qatar was elected to the Security Council, and then got the President of the General Assembly position. Money.

Next posting – October 18th:

After Saudi Arabia announced it would not take the UN Security Council seat to which it was elected yesterday without competition, in front of the Security Council Friday morning most Ambassadors entering for day’s meeting declined comment or said, we are trying to figure it out. (This was from UK Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson.)

 

  But France’s Permanent Representative Gerard Araud used the announcement in the way it appears the Saudis wanted. He said France understands the Saudis frustration. He said 120,000 people have been killed in Syria, most by the “Assad regime.”

 

  When a reporter asked about the recent Council “unity” around the Syria resolution, Araud said dismissively that is only about chemical weapons.

 

  France last month sponsored a meeting in the UN’s ECOSOC Chamber declaring Saudi-supported Syria rebel Ahmad al Jarba the sole legitimate representative of the Syria people. One wag mused, will Saudi try to give the seat to Jarba?

 

  Ban Ki-moon met with Jarba in his (UN provided) residence. Here is video of Ban speaking of Saudi Arabia Friday morning:

 

Inner City Press checked with a well-placed UN Secretariat source, who told it exclusively that Qatar’s foreign ministry reached out “in the middle of the night” (New York time), right after the Saudi announcement, to ask what the next step will be.

 

  So does Qatar want the seat? They recently had it. And since they compete with Saudi Arabia in which Syrian rebels to arm, and in Egypt, if Saudi has any role in picking a replacement, look for United Arab Emirates, for example.

 

The source told Inner City Press that “nothing starts until Saudi Arabia sends a note verbale to the Secretary General.” Ban Ki-moon, going into the Council to speak on Women, Peace and Security (while his UN Peacekeeping continues supporting the Congolese Army units implicated in 135 rapes in Minova last November) had no comment.

 

  Neither did US Ambassador Samantha Power, last seen tweeting about the Red Sox and Detroit.

 

  Some are predicting that the US will try to talk Saudi Arabia out of it, trying to make nice after the Saudis were miffed by President Barack Obama’s telephone call to Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.

 

   But either way, the Saudi’s look “bad,” as one Ambassador put it to Inner City Press. “Their Perm Rep thanked us for our vote,” the Ambassador continued. “So did he not know?” See tweeted photos here, and of Saudi gift box here. Watch this site.

 

Update of 1:20 pm — A Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that Saudi Arabia would meet the President of the General Assembly today. But then, from closer sourcing, Inner City Press is informed that the meeting is canceled.

 

 At Friday’s noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson for any rules on gifts (he referred the question to the PGA’s office) and when Ban last spoke with the Saudi government or ruling family.

 

then –

 

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 — The UN is abuzz with the question, why did Saudi Arabia run for a Security Council seat only to this morning decline it? And, this being the UN, the question of which country would replace them.

 

  From well-placed Arab Group sources comes the name: Kuwait. These sources, when Inner City Press asked of the possibility that Saudi Arabia will find a way to reverse its reversal said no.

 

“This is what happens when a country is run by one family,” one observer put it, likening it to a decision made in Pyongyang.

 

Given the way Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative spoke at the UNTV stakeout after his country’s election yesterday, either he didn’t know or he deserves an Academy Award for acting.

 

The Saudi mission has been getting training for this seat for some time. And now, not.

 

One of his staffers is re-tweeting the stories of Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the seat, and expressing pride.

 

What will happen with Saudi Arabia’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council? In the future, how can their candidacies be taken seriously? At least, debate should be required, at which the question can be asked: are you serious?

 

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky if there are any rules on the gifts given in the General Assembly for votes, as Saudi Arabia did. He said to ask the office of the President of the General Assembly, which now tells Inner City Press there is no cap, no procedure, this is not under the scope of any GA rule so gifts of any size can be given.  Ah, the UN.

 

After Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari gave a speech Friday in the UN Security Council saying “the French regime” should give up its permanent seat on the Council, and slamming Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Inner City Press asked him what he thought the reason was for Saudi Arabia renouncing the Security Council seat it won Thursday without competition.

 

  Ja’afari made some expected points — that Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive and so is not qualified for the Council, for example, and that its mission does not have the capacity to serve on the Council. But this is true of others too, Inner City Press noted. What changed?

 

  Then Ja’afari offered this explanation, as an exclusive to Inner City Press: now that the Security Council has passed a resolution, and the push is on for the so-called Geneva Two talks, Saudi Arabia “cannot” (or does not want to be) part of that consensus. Even France cannot vote against Geneva Two. But could Saudi Arabia stand to be seen voting against it, isolated 14 to 1?

 

  This is something that changed, and recently – the coming together of the Council to vote for the chemical weapons mission, and singing from the same choir book about Geneva Two.

 

  It is not implausible, that as the date of starting on the Council grew closer, and the sides on the Security Council grew closer together and not farther apart, Saudi Arabia or someone in its royal family saw serving on the Council in a different light.

 

Kuwait, Ja’afari told Inner City Press, is no different.

 

  But Kuwait is not as aligned publicly – voting for a Geneva Two would not be seen as contradicting its positions or, as for Saudi Arabia, those it funds. We’ll see.

- See more at: 


For Security Council – Saudi Where Women Can’t Drive Loses 10 Votes –
got only 176 votes out of the 191 states present. Afterward Inner City Press asked Syrian Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari about Saudi Arabia’s election to the Security Council, which now has chemical weapons in Syria on its agenda. Ja’afari shook his head and hearkened back to when Qatar was elected to the Security Council, and then got the President of the General Assembly position. Money.

Next posting – October 18th:

After Saudi Arabia announced it would not take the UN Security Council seat to which it was elected yesterday without competition, in front of the Security Council Friday morning most Ambassadors entering for day’s meeting declined comment or said, we are trying to figure it out. (This was from UK Deputy Permanent Representative Peter Wilson.)

 

  But France’s Permanent Representative Gerard Araud used the announcement in the way it appears the Saudis wanted. He said France understands the Saudis frustration. He said 120,000 people have been killed in Syria, most by the “Assad regime.”

 

  When a reporter asked about the recent Council “unity” around the Syria resolution, Araud said dismissively that is only about chemical weapons.

 

  France last month sponsored a meeting in the UN’s ECOSOC Chamber declaring Saudi-supported Syria rebel Ahmad al Jarba the sole legitimate representative of the Syria people. One wag mused, will Saudi try to give the seat to Jarba?

 

  Ban Ki-moon met with Jarba in his (UN provided) residence. Here is video of Ban speaking of Saudi Arabia Friday morning:

 

Inner City Press checked with a well-placed UN Secretariat source, who told it exclusively that Qatar’s foreign ministry reached out “in the middle of the night” (New York time), right after the Saudi announcement, to ask what the next step will be.

 

  So does Qatar want the seat? They recently had it. And since they compete with Saudi Arabia in which Syrian rebels to arm, and in Egypt, if Saudi has any role in picking a replacement, look for United Arab Emirates, for example.

 

The source told Inner City Press that “nothing starts until Saudi Arabia sends a note verbale to the Secretary General.” Ban Ki-moon, going into the Council to speak on Women, Peace and Security (while his UN Peacekeeping continues supporting the Congolese Army units implicated in 135 rapes in Minova last November) had no comment.

 

  Neither did US Ambassador Samantha Power, last seen tweeting about the Red Sox and Detroit.

 

  Some are predicting that the US will try to talk Saudi Arabia out of it, trying to make nice after the Saudis were miffed by President Barack Obama’s telephone call to Iran’s Hassan Rouhani.

 

   But either way, the Saudi’s look “bad,” as one Ambassador put it to Inner City Press. “Their Perm Rep thanked us for our vote,” the Ambassador continued. “So did he not know?” See tweeted photos here, and of Saudi gift box here. Watch this site.

 

Update of 1:20 pm — A Deputy Permanent Representative told Inner City Press that Saudi Arabia would meet the President of the General Assembly today. But then, from closer sourcing, Inner City Press is informed that the meeting is canceled.

 

 At Friday’s noon briefing, Inner City Press asked Ban’s spokesperson for any rules on gifts (he referred the question to the PGA’s office) and when Ban last spoke with the Saudi government or ruling family.

 

then –

 

UNITED NATIONS, October 18 — The UN is abuzz with the question, why did Saudi Arabia run for a Security Council seat only to this morning decline it? And, this being the UN, the question of which country would replace them.

 

  From well-placed Arab Group sources comes the name: Kuwait. These sources, when Inner City Press asked of the possibility that Saudi Arabia will find a way to reverse its reversal said no.

 

“This is what happens when a country is run by one family,” one observer put it, likening it to a decision made in Pyongyang.

 

Given the way Saudi Arabia’s Permanent Representative spoke at the UNTV stakeout after his country’s election yesterday, either he didn’t know or he deserves an Academy Award for acting.

 

The Saudi mission has been getting training for this seat for some time. And now, not.

 

One of his staffers is re-tweeting the stories of Saudi Arabia’s rejection of the seat, and expressing pride.

 

What will happen with Saudi Arabia’s candidacy for the Human Rights Council? In the future, how can their candidacies be taken seriously? At least, debate should be required, at which the question can be asked: are you serious?

 

  Inner City Press asked UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky if there are any rules on the gifts given in the General Assembly for votes, as Saudi Arabia did. He said to ask the office of the President of the General Assembly, which now tells Inner City Press there is no cap, no procedure, this is not under the scope of any GA rule so gifts of any size can be given.  Ah, the UN.

 

After Syria’s Permanent Representative Bashar Ja’afari gave a speech Friday in the UN Security Council saying “the French regime” should give up its permanent seat on the Council, and slamming Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Inner City Press asked him what he thought the reason was for Saudi Arabia renouncing the Security Council seat it won Thursday without competition.

 

  Ja’afari made some expected points — that Saudi Arabia does not allow women to drive and so is not qualified for the Council, for example, and that its mission does not have the capacity to serve on the Council. But this is true of others too, Inner City Press noted. What changed?

 

  Then Ja’afari offered this explanation, as an exclusive to Inner City Press: now that the Security Council has passed a resolution, and the push is on for the so-called Geneva Two talks, Saudi Arabia “cannot” (or does not want to be) part of that consensus. Even France cannot vote against Geneva Two. But could Saudi Arabia stand to be seen voting against it, isolated 14 to 1?

 

  This is something that changed, and recently – the coming together of the Council to vote for the chemical weapons mission, and singing from the same choir book about Geneva Two.

 

  It is not implausible, that as the date of starting on the Council grew closer, and the sides on the Security Council grew closer together and not farther apart, Saudi Arabia or someone in its royal family saw serving on the Council in a different light.

 

Kuwait, Ja’afari told Inner City Press, is no different.

 

  But Kuwait is not as aligned publicly – voting for a Geneva Two would not be seen as contradicting its positions or, as for Saudi Arabia, those it funds. We’ll see.

- See more at: Saudi Arabia Rejects U.N. Security Council Seat in Protest Move.

{THOUGH SAUDI ARABIA DID NOT OFFICIALLY NOTIFY THE UN OF ITS DECISION – IN EFFECT IT COULD HOLD ON TO THAT SEAT BUT NOT PARTICIPATE AT THE SECURITY COUNCIL MEETINGS. WE THINK THIS WOULD BE A MUCH STRONGER POSITION THEN JUST LEAVING IT. This is our website’s comment.}

 

Fayez Nureldine/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

 

WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia stunned the United Nations and even some of its own diplomats on Friday by rejecting a highly coveted seat on the Security Council, a decision that underscored the depth of Saudi anger over what the monarchy sees as weak and conciliatory Western stances toward Syria and Iran, Saudi Arabia’s regional rival.

The Saudi decision, which could have been made only with King Abdullah’s approval, came a day after it had won a Security Council seat for the first time, and it appeared to be unprecedented.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry released a statement rejecting the seat just hours after the kingdom’s own diplomats — both at the United Nations and in Riyadh, the Saudi capital — were celebrating their new seat, the product of two years of work to assemble a crack diplomatic team in New York. Some analysts said the sudden turnabout gave the impression of a self-destructive temper tantrum.

But one Saudi diplomat said the decision came after weeks of high-level debate about the usefulness of a seat on the Security Council, where Russia and China have repeatedly drawn Saudi anger by blocking all attempts to pressure Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad. Abdullah has voiced rising frustration with the continuing violence in Syria, a fellow Muslim-majority nation where one of his wives was born. He is said to have been deeply disappointed when President Obama decided against airstrikes on Syria’s military in September in favor of a Russian-proposed agreement to secure Syria’s chemical weapons.

And Saudi officials made no secret of their fear that a nuclear deal between Iran and the West, the subject of multilateral talks this week in Geneva with another round scheduled for early November, could come at their expense, leaving them more exposed to their greatest regional rival.

The Saudi decision may also reflect a broader debate within the Saudi ruling elite about how to wield influence: the Saudis have long resisted taking a seat on the Security Council, believing it would hamper their discreet diplomatic style.

Still, the sudden about-face came across as a slap to the United Nations and the United States, one of Saudi Arabia’s strongest Western allies. On Thursday evening, the American ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, had issued a statement congratulating the five new nonpermanent members — Chad, Chile, Lithuania, Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. Officials at the United States Mission to the United Nations had no immediate comment.

Russia was sharply critical of the Saudi gesture. “We are surprised by Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented decision,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement from Moscow carried by news agencies. “The kingdom’s arguments arouse bewilderment and the criticism of the U.N. Security Council in the context of the Syria conflict is particularly strange.”

There was shock and dismay in Riyadh, too, where the Saudi political elite had seemed thrilled at the prospect of a shift to a more public and assertive diplomatic stance.

Late on Thursday, the spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Osama Nugali, forwarded a message on his Twitter account celebrating the kingdom’s election to the Security Council. The message was written by Jamal Khashoggi, a journalist with links to the ruling elite. Many other prominent Saudis also forwarded the message, which congratulated the kingdom for winning a seat it had “sought for more than two years with the help of a team of the best Saudi diplomats to represent the kingdom.”

Many experts had assumed that Saudi Arabia’s pursuit of a Security Council seat signaled a new desire to be more public and assertive in its stances toward the Syrian civil war and the Arab-Israeli conflict. The Saudi ambassador to the United Nations, Abdallah Y. al-Mouallimi, was clearly elated after the General Assembly vote on Thursday.

“We take this election very seriously as a responsibility to be able to contribute to this very important forum to peace and security of the world,” he told reporters. “Our election today is a reflection of a longstanding policy in support of moderation and in support of resolving disputes by peaceful means.”

The statement on Friday struck a far different tone, calling for changes to enhance the Security Council’s contribution to peace. It did not say what those should entail.

“Allowing the ruling regime in Syria to kill and burn its people by the chemical weapons, while the world stands idly, without applying deterrent sanctions against the Damascus regime, is also irrefutable evidence and proof of the inability of the Security Council to carry out its duties and responsibilities,” the statement said.

The statement accused the Security Council of failing to find a “just and lasting solution” to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, and of failing to free the Middle East of “all weapons of mass destruction,” an apparent reference to Israel’s presumed nuclear arsenal.

“This is very bad for the image of the country,” said one Saudi political insider, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the decision was assumed to be by the king, whose judgment is rarely questioned in public. “It’s as if someone woke up in the night and made this decision.”

But some others in Riyadh said they were not entirely surprised, given the kingdom’s long ambivalence about assuming a position that would strain friendships and alliances, particularly against the backdrop of the high profile and volatility of the Security Council’s recent decisions.

The kingdom has seen its reputation suffer in some quarters in recent years, in part because of the perception that it was combating the democratic aspirations of the 2011 Arab uprisings. On Thursday, the Pew Research Center released a poll indicating that Saudi Arabia’s popularity had declined in several Middle Eastern countries since 2007.

“The Saudis no doubt quickly realized that being on the U.N.S.C. would mean they could no longer pursue their traditional back seat and low-key policies and therefore decided to give it up,” said Bernard Haykel, a professor of Middle East studies at Princeton University and an authority on Saudi Arabia.

“Regardless of the short-term costs, a seat on the U.N.S.C. may have also meant that Saudi Arabia would be more constrained in backing the Syrian opposition,” Mr. Haykel said.

Diplomats at the United Nations said they did not believe the Saudi decision would be reversed, given its unequivocal and accusatory language. It also was unclear when the 193-member General Assembly would take a vote on a replacement.

As of late Friday, the Saudis had not officially notified the United Nations of their decision. Afaf Konja, a spokeswoman for John W. Ashe, the ambassador for Antigua and Barbuda, who is the current president of the General Assembly, said he had not received formal notification nor had held any meetings with Saudi representatives. Given the nature of the Saudi announcement, the spokeswoman said in an e-mail, “the next steps are yet to be determined and will be based on formal language from Saudi Arabia.”

The council has met before without a full membership. Diplomats recalled that in 1950, the Soviet Union refused to sit at the council table, though it did not repudiate its seat.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on September 8th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

Israel just had no public transportation for three days – it was the Jewish New Year celebration bridging to the weekly Sabbath – and the Orthodox Jews force the government not to use public funds to allow non-religious poor to enjoy nature during the holidays. To do so they have to use private transportation in order to get out of town.

But President Yohanan Peres stated that despite the memory of the Yom Kippur War of 1973 – people wanting to travel to the north of the country ought not to cancel their Holiday-trips, the Israeli Army and the Air Force are watching over them this year of internal fighting in Syria. In 1973 – 40 years ago, the Arab States attacked an unsuspecting Israel and eventually got the tremendous blow they deserved – but that after years may now strangely turn into an unforeseen victory of theirs. Israel made the mistake to hold on to the territories where they could have helped establish a Palestinian homeland on land that was liberated in 1967 from Arab occupation. Now the Syrians and Egyptians fight among themselves – each country with its own special problems. So do Lebanon and Iraq – that like Syria are not Nation-States – and never were, because of the Ottoman Empire rule in the region, and the fact they were stitched together by European Colonialists. Egypt is obviously a Nation State with a long past in history – so is Israel in spite of its deniers.

Should the US and Europe get involved in Syria? Was the US right to get involved in Iraq? should Putin be told off for his moves of restarting a new cold war on the skeletons of dead Syrians? The world has a new game in their Capital towns – but Israel? Is it to benefit from the fact that the real schism among forces of Islam and a budding resistance are just stirring? Will the Palestinians decide to aim for Israel protection from their retrogressive brothers? Will Israel understand what is right and helpful to their own cause?

In the meantime – out of a little over 8 million Israeli citizens – over one million took advantage of a peaceful holiday and celebrated nature. Our own setback – turns out that a masked individual killed with a knife-stabbing an Israeli in Kefar Ya’abetz ( a centrally located village ) which obviously is named after an historian Zeev Ya’abetz a relative of our Jawetz family. A reminder that this is the Middle East after all.

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Posted on Sustainabilitank.info on August 28th, 2013
by Pincas Jawetz (PJ@SustainabiliTank.com)

According to Al-Monitor:

“UN Leader’s Visit to Israel Shows Waning US Influence in Mideast.”

By: Ben Caspit for Al-Monitor Israel Pulse Posted on August 23.

While on a visit to Israel on Aug. 15-16, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held some interesting talks, receiving the red carpet treatment from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who oversees the slow yet chanceless negotiations with the Palestinians.

I would like to suggest to you not to talk about the settlements, Livni told Ban. At around that time, Israel was issuing new tenders for construction in the territories, mainly in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs. Ban wanted to know why. Since your position on this issue is well-known, Livni replied, I would propose that you do not talk about it at this particular time. According to her, any statements to that effect at this juncture would only render the negotiations harder, forcing Palestinian Authority Chairman Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) to say something harsh, which could perhaps then undercut the possibility of progress. Abu Mazen cannot come off as more moderate than the UN. He, too, faces an opposition.

Livni explained to Ban how sensitive the situation was, imploring him not to make the same mistake the Americans had made during US President Barack Obama’s first term. Back then, the administration put Abu Mazen on a high horse from which one cannot dismount peacefully. You can only fall off, and they left him to his own devices. Finally, the negotiations resumed, she told him, and the future of the settlements will have to be determined in the bilateral discussions. That’s why at this point it’s better to be smart than right and leave the talking to us (the recent sentences are my own interpretation.)

Livni adopted the same approach when the discussion touched on the Palestinian prisoners-murderers whom Israel had released just two days earlier. What I would like to suggest to you, she said, is not to issue a statement in support of the release. When the secretary-general wanted to know why, she explained to him that some 85% of the Israeli public was opposed to the release. If you find out what those people were convicted of, you would understand too. No other country in the world would have released such prisoners. This is an open Israeli wound. This move is hard for everyone, myself included, mainly because Israel did not get anything real in return.

In other words, Livni suggested to Ban that he let the Israelis and Palestinians run their own affairs without interfering by making unnecessary statements. When all is said and done, the peace treaties that Israel signed with the Arabs — Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinians in Oslo — were always accomplished through direct negotiations between the parties without involvement, interference, pressure or threats. Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin made such a strategic decision and executed it, and the same is true of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The world can only stand in the way. Whenever the world meddled, wielded pressure or lectured, it all came crashing down.

Then, it was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s turn. That was interesting, too. Netanyahu is a weak prime minister, a failed manager and a controversial leader. However, when it comes to public diplomacy he is unmatched. Having studied Ban, he knew exactly how to strike a chord with him.

Netanyahu presented Ban the ongoing Palestinian incitement against Israel that comes across from the Palestinian curriculum which continues to call for Israel’s obliteration from the face of the earth, while describing Jews as “monkeys and pigs,” etc. Then it was time for [Prime Minister Netanyahu] Bibi to get to the punch line. The prime minister compared the Palestinian campaign of incitement and lies against Israel to North Korea’s unending and unbridled incitement against South Korea. Bibi had a long list of examples which left the secretary-general dumbfounded.

Then, as was to be expected, Bibi proceeded to discuss the Iranian nuclear program. He drew a similar comparison to North Korea, or, to put it more precisely, to North Korea’s nuclear project. Netanyahu masterfully delineated the similarities between Iran’s nuclear program and that of North Korea. The latter didn’t give a hoot about the world or the United States, until South Korea woke up one morning only to find out that its neighbor to the north has a nuclear bomb.

In that case, too, the world believed that diplomacy could postpone or do away with the bad news — a belief which proved to be baseless. When Netanyahu switched over to the Iranian nuclear project, he let Ban understand how dangerous Iran is to world peace — not just to Israel. He explained to the secretary-general how messianic Iran’s leadership is and how it is guided by radical religious edicts. The Iranians must not be allowed to do what the North Koreans did, Netanyahu said. Iran is a huge country with immense oil deposits and high capabilities. Such a country cannot be isolated the way the West has isolated North Korea. A nuclear Iran will exact a heavy price from the world — a price it cannot afford.

The comic relief in the meeting between Ban and Netanyahu took place when the Israeli premier started talking about “construction in the settlements.” Most of the construction takes place in Jerusalem — Israel’s capital. It is carried out in places that everyone understands will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement, Netanyahu explained. For example, we build in Gilo, which is a neighborhood in Jerusalem across the Green Line, the premier explained. Then took the UN secretary-general to the window and pointed out the neighborhood. Can you possibly imagine that we won’t be able to build here, a place you can see from the prime minister’s office? Bibi asked.

Fortunately, Ban is not familiar with Jerusalem.

On the one hand, Bibi is right. The Palestinians know all too well that Gilo will remain in Israeli hands even in the settling of a final status arrangement. On the other hand, you cannot see Gilo from the prime minister’s office. What Bibi showed Ban is the Israel Museum, which is not too far from his office. But Ban is from South Korea. As far as he is concerned, the Israel Museum can represent Gilo, can’t it?

Incidentally, Ban did not hear anything substantially different from the leader of the opposition, Knesset member Shelly Yachimovich (chairwoman of the Labor party). When it comes to these issues, there is a consensus in Israel.

Later during his visit, it felt like the UN secretary-general had listened closely to what the Israeli leadership had said to him in that room. His statements sounded relatively mellifluous to Israeli ears.

I would assume that Ban is well-aware of the fact that the only capital in the Middle East where he can move about freely nowadays — without the fear of being targeted by rockets, car bombs, chemical missiles, mass demonstrations or other similar perils — is Jerusalem. He cannot do this in Cairo, Damascus, Beirut, Tripoli or Sanaa. Even Amman is not what it used to be. By way of comparison, Jerusalem and Ramallah are a paradise of leisure, although this is temporary, too. In the Middle East the tables can turn in a matter of a split second.

Since I last described here in Al-Monitor the relative quiet in Jerusalem and Ramallah, Israel was hit by rockets fired at Eilat on Aug. 13 (which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system) and at the Western Galilee on Aug. 22 (likewise intercepted). On Aug. 19, 25 Egyptian policemen were executed by armed militants in Rafah in the Sinai, a car bomb exploded in Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah’s Dahiyeh quarter in Beirut on Aug. 15 and the Syrian regime killed hundreds, if not thousands of civilians in a chemical attack in east Damascus on Aug. 21.

Whenever we think that the Middle East has hit rock bottom, we hear heavy pounding from below, and then it turns out that hitting rock bottom is still quite a ways away. There’s one truth, however, that’s emerging right before our eyes: The West is losing control over the events. Western deterrence is already nonexistent. The days when everybody would hold their breath waiting for the daily press briefing from the White House are long gone. US President Barack Obama has made a mockery of himself, so much so that nobody really cares about what America thinks, says or does.

This is best illustrated when drawing a comparison between the events in Cairo and Syria. The Americans had long ago set a “red line” for Syria, namely the use of chemical weapons.

However, when a high-ranking Israeli intelligence officer revealed that chemical weapons had been used in Syria, the Americans gagged, got muddled, denied and ultimately confirmed this. Preposterously enough, they announced that “there might have been a possibility” that the Syrian regime had indeed masterminded the recent chemical attack in Damascus. Great. If that’s the case, what will you do? Nothing, it seems.

I’m not calling on the Americans to act in Syria. If I were the US president, I would not intervene in Syria no matter what. Anyone in his right mind has to steer clear from that. Intervention in Syria would pay off and be deemed legitimate only if it were supported by the entire international community. Since this is not going to be the case, there’s no point in goading this or that sheriff to hold the reins in Syria. The world has to come to terms with the new reality: You cannot avert every horror across the globe. Using moral principles, it’s very hard to decide between two similar devils — such as the warring factions in Syria.

It is against this backdrop that the Western conduct in connection with Egypt is becoming more perplexing. My friends, when will it dawn on you that what the Egyptian army is trying to do is to prevent replicating the harrowing reality in Syria? The nonsense of Western democracy and values are unsuitable for societies that still enslave women, minorities and weak castes.

The Americans placed their bet on the Muslim Brotherhood two years ago and now they find it hard to accept that they bet on the wrong horse. The Egyptian public doesn’t want “the brothers” to dictate their life, laws and customs. In Egypt, there are no checks and balances as one would find in a true democracy, at least not for now. So the only way of coping with the events is to determine that having the Egyptian army take control for a transitional period and disperse the riots with force is better than the alternative.

What’s the alternative? That’s simple. The alternative is an armed gang that takes 25 plainclothes men off two minibuses, forces them to lie on the ground and shoots all of them — one by one — to death in broad daylight. This is the face of radical Islam, of which all of us — regardless of religion, sex, color, race or nationality — should be afraid of.
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Ben Caspit is a contributing writer for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He is also a senior columnist and political analyst for Israeli newspapers, and has a daily radio show and regular TV shows on politics and Israel.

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