Friday, January 19, 2018

USA Pops Palestinian Bubble

U.S. Won't Pay Additional $45 Million Pledged for Palestinian Aid

The U.S. will not provide $45 million in food aid for Palestinians that it pledged last month as part of the West Bank/Gaza Emergency Appeal led by UNRWA - the UN refugee agency for Palestinians, the U.S. State Department said.

The State Department said that Washington would withhold a separate $65 million from UNRWA, saying it needed to make reforms. 

US Pops Palestinian Bubble - Caroline Glick 

The Trump administration may be just about done allowing the PLO to use the US as its piggy bank and punching bag. 

The US’s first response to Abbas’s call for Trump’s “house to be destroyed” was to announce on Tuesday that it will postpone the transfer of $65 million of its annual $370m. contribution to UNRWA. 

On Wednesday, Haley indicated that the hold on the funds was not going to be the administration’s last move.  Speaking to Voice of America, Haley said the administration is done being the Palestinians’ patsy.

On Thursday, Israel Hayom reported that Haley isn’t UNRWA’s only problem. The US Justice Department is conducting an investigation of UNRWA’s relationship with the PLO and Hamas for the US Congress.

Abbas said that Jews have no ties to the Land of Israel. He said the Zionist movement – that is, the Jewish national liberation movement – has nothing to do with the Jews. Rather, Abbas the historian, who got a doctorate for his dissertation denying the Holocaust, said that Zionism is a European imperialist conspiracy cooked up by Oliver Cromwell four centuries ago and implemented by mercantile mariners from the Netherlands.

On Tuesday, Channel 2’s diplomatic reporter Dana Weiss had a “scoop.”

It works out, she revealed, that Abbas only torched his relations with the Americans because he was desperate and hopeless, poor thing. His representative had just been to Saudi Arabia. The Saudis told him the details of Trump’s developing peace plan. Trump, it seems, is willing to give Abbas far less than he is demanding.

Obviously, under the circumstances, he had no recourse but to call for Trump’s home to be destroyed and to curse Trump’s ambassadors.

As ridiculous as Weiss’s scoop was on its face, it was even more ridiculous at second blush. Abbas has never met an offer he liked. In 2008, thenprime minister Ehud Olmert offered him everything he demanded, and Abbas walked away.

In 2014, then-president Barack Obama offered him even more than Olmert did.

And Abbas walked away.

So the fact that Abbas now rejects the draft of the Trump proposal is no surprise.

Weiss’s story tells us more about the Israeli media than it does about Abbas.

Her report, which every major and minor Israeli media outlet then re-reported, begs the question: What is our problem? Why do we make excuses for our enemy? 

For 25 years Abbas and his predecessor Yasser Arafat, and the PLO, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority more generally, have not hidden that they are Israel’s enemies. They have said outright that they will never make peace with Israel, and seek our destruction.

And for 25 years, our media and security and political elites have made excuses for them.

Right after Arafat signed the initial Oslo Accord on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, he jetted off to give a speech at a mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa. A courageous member of the Jewish community recorded the speech.

Arafat told the faithful that the peace process was a Koran-inspired ruse. He was simply following the example that the Prophet Muhammad set with the Quraish tribe of Jews in Arabia. When Muhammad started out, the Jews of Quraish were more powerful than he. So he signed a peace deal with them. When the balance of power shifted in his favor, he invaded their territory and annihilated them.

When news of Arafat’s Johannesburg’s speech reached Israel, the media, along with then-prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and then-foreign minister Shimon Peres, were quick to dismiss its importance.

What did you expect Arafat to say, our betters sneered? Did you expect him to be a Zionist? And anyway, what does it matter what he says? If he so much as tries to continue his terrorism, we’ll crush him like a bug and send him packing back to Tunis.

And when the suicide bombers started exploding on buses and cafes, they said it wasn’t Arafat, it was Hamas.

And when Arafat rejected then-prime minister Ehud Barak’s peace and statehood offer at Camp David in 2000, the media said it was Barak’s fault. He was rude and domineering. The two men just didn’t have the right chemistry.

And when Arafat launched the largest terrorist campaign against Israel in its history, our elite said Arafat was a patsy. He was too weak to stop the attacks so we shouldn’t blame him. And then they turned around and said Arafat was the only one who could stop the attacks, so we needed to be nice to him.

Finally they said, true, Arafat was our enemy. But it didn’t matter because Abbas was replacing him and Abbas was a real peacemaker.

And when Abbas wouldn’t make peace, it was our fault. And when he financed Hamas and paid hundreds of million a year to terrorists, he had no choice. If he didn’t finance terrorism, he would be overthrown.

And when he incited terrorism and said Jews were poisoning Palestinian wells and “polluting the Temple Mount with their filthy feet,” well, he was hopeless and frustrated, and anyway, he’s really old.

The thing of it is that the public has never bought these excuses. Rabin was elected on an anti-PLO platform in 1992. And despite the fact that the media and the Left said the entire right wing was responsible for Rabin’s assassination in November 1995, the public’s desire not to be associated with the murder couldn’t surpass its desire not to be murdered. So less than six months after Rabin was killed, the public voted in the Likud and Binyamin Netanyahu into power.

[T]he Israeli media make[s] excuses for a tin pot dictator who spends his time inciting the murder of Israelis and pretending that the Palestinians are the Canaanites, the Philistines, the Jebusites and the Hittites, all rolled in one[.] 
[Jerusalem Post via Jewish World Review]

U.S. to Relocate Embassy to Jerusalem by 2019 - Mark Landler

The Trump administration is moving to transfer the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv by 2019, senior officials said, following Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Instead of constructing an entirely new embassy compound, the State Department has settled on a more modest plan to convert an existing consular building in Arnona, a neighborhood in west Jerusalem. That will reduce the cost of the project and allow Ambassador David M. Friedman and his staff to move there as early as next year.
The building, which now issues visas and offers consular services to American citizens, is a fairly new structure with better physical security than the embassy in Tel Aviv. 
(New York Times)

On Jan. 15, the Palestinian Central Council called on the PA to stop "all forms" of security coordination with Israel and declared all Palestinian commitments under the Oslo Accord "null and void." Yet the PCC decisions will probably quickly be exposed as empty threats. The PA is in a bind. It cannot exit the Oslo Accord and survive.
An Israeli security source said "[o]n the day the PA, backed by the PLO, decides to suspend recognition of Israel and cast off the Oslo and Cairo [economic] accords, it will collapse."
The PA's entire structure and that of its security, economic and civilian institutions are based on the Oslo Accord. If Abbas decides to adopt the PCC's recommendations, he will be signing the death warrant of his rule and of the PA he is heading. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Reframing The Arab Israeli Conflict

The existing approach of a "peace process," which goes back 30 years, is not working. It can be improved, which the Trump administration is doing, but it ultimately will crumble because it depends on Palestinian acceptance of Israel, which has not come about, and isnot coming about. And that is the problem that needs to be addressed, a problem that cannot be addressed by diplomacy. It needs to be addressed in a very different way.
I'd like to take a step back into history before proposing the new approach. Please consider two sets of three dates. The first three are 1865, 1945, and 1975 – the end of the Civil War, World War II, and the Vietnam War. All of those were conclusively ended wars. They ended the fighting, nothing more followed. The South never rose again. The Germans didn't try to conquer Europe again. And Americans didn't return to Vietnam.
Then, three other dates: 1918, 1953, and 1967 – the end of the First World War, the Korean War, and the Six-Day War. Those were inconclusive. The Germans did try again. Any day, the Korean War could restart. Hostilities did resume between the Arabs and Israel.
The difference between these two sets of dates lies in the losers' sense of defeat. In the former triad, that sense existed; in the latter, it did not. Losing a round of a war is not tantamount to feeling defeated. Defeat means the loser giving up on war goals. That's what we Americans experienced in 1975. Victory means imposing one's will on the enemy. The enemy gives up; the winner prevails.
Applying this analysis to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, one finds that for 45 years, from 1948 to 1993, the Israelis sought victory. After that, meaning since the Oslo Accords were signed, they have not. Israelis have tried various other approaches – appeasement, unilateral withdrawal, putting out brush fires – but not sought victory.
The peace process has been dominated in those years by an emphasis on diplomacy, on assuming that what PLO leader Yasir Arafat said on the White House lawn in September 1993 was valid – that the Palestinians now accepted Israel, that the war was over. But it wasn't, and it isn't. It continues. So, what is needed is an approach that confronts the irreducible problem of Palestinian rejectionism.
As Elliott Abrams pointed out, there's a delusion among Palestinians that they can defeat Israel, that they can cause the Jewish state of Israel to disappear. That fantasy needs to be broken.
That is what the U.S. government, as a great power, needs to deal with. I'm suggesting that it should adopt a policy encouraging the Israelis to win. To win, as in 1865-1945-1975, to end the conflict by causing the Palestinians to understand that the jig is up and they lost. When they're really upset they can write a strongly worded letter to the editor. Enough with the UN resolutions against Israel; enough with building up militaries; enough with the campus BDS. Enough. Over. It's done.
I'm hoping that some American president – this one or a future one – will say to his staff, "You know, diplomacy isn't working. We've been at this for decades, it's not going anywhere. Is there an alternative?" And yes, there will be another alternative, what we call Israel Victory.
Let me emphasize that this is an approach, not a policy. We're not saying two-states or not two-states. The point is, Israel needs to convince the Palestinians that it's over. The conflict has been resolved by the objective facts in that Israel is a flourishing, powerful state whereas the Palestinians have oppressive and dysfunctional polities.
It's a long-term effort. The goal is not to change policy in the next few months. But it is, with time, to put something else on the table that fits the historical pattern. You don't end wars through negotiating. Think of Vietnam: It didn't end through diplomacy but by the North Vietnamese army coming in and taking over. Wars end when one side gives up.
We have close relations with Israel. As Rep. De Santis said, we share interests and a moral base with it. Therefore, we should help it win.
Ironically, once the Palestinians give up, then they can go on to build something good. When they abandon the foul, irredentist goal of eliminating the Jewish state, they can then build their own polity, economy, society, and culture. In the long run, the Palestinians will gain even more than the Israelis. Yes, the Israelis will not be murdered on their way to the pizzeria, will not face this barrage of hostility at the United Nations and elsewhere. But Israelis already live the good life. Palestinians don't. They live under oppression, backwardness. They will only be able to build once they give up on rejectionism and move on to something constructive.
This offers a new paradigm that pulls us out of the mire of the "processing" that goes nowhere and that, in fact, is counterproductive. Palestinian-Israeli relations are worse today than 25 years ago, when the Oslo Accords were signed. So, we need new thinking. I offer this to you as new thinking, as a way for the "ultimate deal" to be achieved.

Abbas' Ramallah Rant - Lt. Col. Jonathan D. Halevi

In his speech to the PLO Central Council in Ramallah on Sunday, Mahmoud Abbas denied the Jewish people's historical and religious link to the Land of Israel, and hence its right to the land. "This is our land since the days of the Canaanites, and in this context we are the descendants of the Canaanites." He maintained that the Jews were brought to Israel in the 20th century as part of a Western colonial endeavor "that has no connection to Judaism." 

(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin told a visiting AIPAC delegation in Jerusalem on Monday that in Mahmoud Abbas' speech on Sunday, he reengaged with ideas for which he had in the past been accused of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial. "To say that Israel is the result of the Western conspiracy to settle Jews in Arab lands? To say that the Jewish people have no connection to the Land of Israel? He said exactly what he had been accused of years ago with anti-Semitism and denial of the Holocaust. These are exactly the things that block us [from making any progress]."

In his words, he denies our return to our homeland, even though Abu Mazen [Abbas] also knows very well that the Koran itself mentions the recognition of the Land of Israel as our land."  


Monday, January 01, 2018

Iran Percolates

Dec. 30, 2017: In this photo taken by an individual not employed by the Associated Press and obtained by the AP outside Iran, anti-riot Iranian police prevent university students from joining other protesters in Tehran, Iran.  (AP)

New Protests in Iran - Editorial

A durable truth about dictatorships is that their surface stability disguises discontent that needs only a spark to ignite. The demonstrations have grown into a broad display of discontent with Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani's repressive regime.
One notable theme are denunciations of the Islamic Republic's foreign
adventurism. Iranians are frustrated that the mullahs are spending so much of their national wealth to build a Shiite version of the Persian empire to dominate the Middle East. Religious imperialism is expensive, as is the ballistic-missile development the regime continues despite the nuclear deal.
Iranians need to know that the world supports their demands for freedom. 
(Wall Street Journal)

Iran's Leaders Face Challenge over Protests - Aresu Eqbali and Asa Fitch

Iran's biggest wave of street protests in almost a decade, which began Thursday, is presenting a mounting challenge to the country's leadership, as demonstrations mushroomed Sunday. Video shared on social media showed unrest Sunday in dozens of cities including Tehran, Mashhad, Shiraz, Sandanaj, Kermanshah, Isfahan, and Chabahar.
Some videos showed large numbers of people in the streets chanting against Khamenei and in some cases clashing with security forces. The precise scale of the protests was difficult to judge because foreign media access to the country is tightly controlled.
"We support the right of the Iranian people to express themselves peacefully," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Sunday. "Their voices deserve to be heard. We encourage all parties to protect this fundamental right to peaceful expression and to avoid any actions that contribute to censorship."
"It's the most antiregime event I've ever seen," said Alireza Nader, a senior researcher at the Rand Corp. in Washington. "People are not calling for reforms....Their anger is directed toward the entire establishment."  
(Wall Street Journal)

The current protests in Iran have quickly spread while morphing into mass demonstrations. The protesters are openly calling for the leader to be removed and for the regime to fall.

The protesters are unequivocally demanding the cessation of financial support for Hizbullah, Hamas and the tyrannical Syrian regime.

They are shouting "Death to the dictator," "Khamenei next," "Leave Syria and take care of the Iranian people," "Let go of Palestine," and "Not Gaza, not Lebanon, I'd give my life only for Iran."

The lifting of sanctions, which should have boosted the country's economy, has failed to do so. The protesters accuse the regime of stealing vast sums of money from the pensions of ordinary Iranians.
The writer is former head of the Israel Broadcasting Authority's Persian language division.
(Israel Hayom)

Protests Spread across Iran - Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

Since Dec. 28, 2017, thousands of Iranians have been demonstrating across the country against the Islamic regime in the most widespread demonstrations in Iran since 2009.

Although it is not clear at this point who is behind the demonstrations, the fact that they have "spontaneously" erupted at a number of locations suggests a guiding hand that has organized them.

Even if the Iranian regime succeeds in suppressing the current wave of protest, the next wave is already in the making.

The Iranian people yearn for an improvement of their living conditions, and the current Iranian regime cannot meet their demands with its adventurous foreign policy and export of the revolution.

At the same time, the Revolutionary Guards will not give up any power without a violent struggle to preserve their share.
The writer is a senior Iran affairs analyst at the Jerusalem Center.
(Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)


An Iranian woman raises her fist amidst the smoke of tear gas at the University of Tehran during a protest in Tehran on Dec. 30, 2017. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) 
The Explosion of Truth - Caroline Glick 

The protests are potentially so important because the Iranian regime is so dangerous. Thanks to Obama, the regime is on a glide path to a nuclear arsenal. Its proxy armies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq possess sophisticated armaments most militaries can only dream of. Its tentacles spread throughout the globe.

The longer the Iranian regime remains in power, the greater the likelihood humanity will soon face a global conflagration that will dwarf World War II.

It is self-evident that if the protesters get their way and the ayatollahs are overthrown, that money would stop flowing to Hezbollah, Hamas, the Houthis and the Shi’ite militias in Iraq. Instead, that money, and billions more, would be spent developing Iran.

There are many ways that the nations of the world can help the protesters in Iran. The US and Iran’s other targets can expose the financial corruption in the Islamic Republic, including the bank account information of everyone from Supreme Dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei down to local Basij commanders. They can broadcast anti-regime information into Iran through multiple platforms outside the regime’s control. They can bypass the regime and unblock Twitter, Facebook, Telegraph and other social media platforms.

[E]ven if the protesters’ prospects of success are small, there is no excuse for not supporting them, as constructively, enthusiastically and unconditionally as possible. There is certainly no excuse for working to preserve Obama’s foreign policy legacy at the expense of a popular uprising that has the potential to avert a world war.
[Jerusalem Post]

The West Should Support the Protesters in Iran - Editorial

Five days of street protests in cities across Iran have underlined the fundamental weakness of a regime sometimes portrayed in Washington as a regional juggernaut. Protests quickly mushroomed into a nationwide uprising directed squarely at the rule of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The popular demand for change is justified and deserves international support. 

(Washington Post)

The Lion and the Sun are traditional emblems of the Persian nation. They remained the official symbol of Iran until the 1979 revolution, when the "Lion and Sun" symbol was removed from public spaces and government organizations

It Was a Mistake to Ignore Iran Demonstrations in 2009 - Dennis Ross

In 2009, I was serving in the Obama administration as the secretary of state's special advisor on Iran and was part of the decision-making process. Because we feared lending credence to the regime's claim that the demonstrations in Iran at the time were being instigated from the outside, we adopted a low-key posture.

In retrospect, that was a mistake. We should have shined a spotlight on what the regime was doing and mobilized our allies to do the same; we should have done our best to provide news from the outside and to facilitate communication on the inside. 
The writer, a former American envoy to the Middle East, is counselor at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 
(Foreign Policy)

- Natan Sharansky (Washington Post)

  • An opinion piece in the New York Times recently argued that the best way for the U.S. government to help the Iranian protesters is to "Keep quiet and do nothing." It is vital to understand why failing to support the protesters at this critical juncture would constitute a moral and strategic mistake.
  • Any regime that refuses to respect its citizens' most basic rights, and especially the right to think and speak freely, can maintain its power only by intimidation and force. Revolutions take place when enough people simultaneously cross that fateful line between silent questioning and open dissent. Once they do so, the regime can no longer contain the upsurge of opposition and must either begin to liberalize or collapse.
  • World powers should warn Tehran - and thereby reassure protesters - that it must respect its citizens' rights if it wishes to continue receiving benefits from their countries. Articulating a clear policy of linkage would put pressure on the regime to make genuine changes and give hope to protesters that their sacrifices will not be in vain.
  • It is time for all those who value freedom to state clearly that the Iranian people - like all people - deserve to be free, and that when they fight for this right, those of us who already enjoy it will stand unequivocally by their side.
    The writer was a prisoner in the Soviet Gulag for nine years for his human rights activities. He is Chairman of the Executive of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

Protests Threaten Iran's Ascendant Role in the Middle East - Liz Sly

The eruption of political unrest in Iran has presented an unforeseen challenge to Tehran's rising influence in the Middle East. "Before the protests, you had this dominant narrative that Iran is unstoppable, Iran is undefeatable, Iran is as solid as a rock," said Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East politics at the London School of Economics. "The protests have undermined the posture of the Islamic Republic in the region as the unrivaled superpower."

"This will make Iran's allies and proxies nervous and feeling vulnerable," added Paul Salem of the Middle East Institute in Washington. 
(Washington Post)

Friday, December 22, 2017

VideoBite: Trump Postures Against UN

President Trump postures against UN vote
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley sent an invitation Thursday to the 65 countries that didn't vote against the U.S. in the UN General Assembly vote to denounce President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. The invitation invites them to the Jan. 3 reception "to thank you for your friendship to the United States."  
(Fox News)

President Trump's foreign policy team is exploring possible responses to a UN vote Thursday condemning the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday, "The president's foreign policy team has been empowered to explore various options going forward."  
(The Hill)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

The Trump Doctrine Focuses On Iran

Trump has kept the promises he made at AIPAC, dramatically breaking with Obama's policies. 

A blueprint for U.S. national security presented by President Trump notes: 

"For generations the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been understood as the prime irritant preventing peace and prosperity in the region. Today, the threats from jihadist terrorist organizations and the threat from Iran are creating the realization that Israel is not the cause of the region's problems. States have increasingly found common interests with Israel in confronting common threats."
As a "priority action," "we will work with partners to deny the Iranian regime all paths to a nuclear weapon and neutralize Iranian malign influence."  
(White House)

Monday, December 18, 2017

Saudi Think Tank: 'Israel's Historic Right'

Saudi Academic: Arabs Should Accept Israel's "Historic Right"

Abdulhameed Hakeem, head of the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, told the U.S.-based
 al-Hurra TV channel that the U.S. decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital "will prompt a positive shock towards moving the stagnant water surrounding negotiations....We have to admit and realize that Jerusalem is a religious symbol for the Jews that is just as holy for them as Mecca and Medina are for Muslims."
"Arab mentality must free itself from the heritage of Gamal Abdel Nasser and political Islam of both the Sunni and Shia sects, which has instilled for purely political interests the culture of hating Jews and denying their historic right in the region."  
(Al-Araby Al-Jadeed-UK)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Arab Street is a Dud

In the wake of President Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the "experts" predicted strategic calamity: vast, violent protests and a wave of terror would sweep the Muslim world. Rather than waves of protest, the waiting world got tepid statements of disapproval from otherwise-occupied Arab governments and demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza of a few thousand activists. An act of justice for Israel did not ignite Armageddon.

The regional ambitions of Iran, Israel's top enemy, have ironically made it Israel's unintentional benefactor. To the Arabs, yesteryear's Israeli boogeyman now looks more like Caspar the Friendly Ghost. And blame the Palestinians, not Israel, for their lack of statehood. Since the failed 1948 Arab assault on newly reborn Israel, the Palestinians have had literally dozens of opportunities for an advantageous peace.
Will there be more terrorism? Sure. As there would have been more terrorism, anyway. Terrorism isn't about us, it's about them. If Arab leaders refuse to let the "Palestinian question" shape their policies, why should we allow it to deform ours? 
(New York Post)

We have heard all the talk about violence when the U.S. acknowledges Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The coming days and months will prove those warnings to have been overblown. Yes, there will be protests, but Arab governments criminalize free speech and right to assemble. Any protests, the ensuing violence, and rioting are likely to be staged or permitted by Arab governments to blackmail the U.S. policy community into following their views, which unfortunately previous U.S. administrations have tolerated.
The more likely reality is that, in this Arab Spring world, Arab citizens are less likely to protest and die for the cause of Palestinians. They would rather focus on making a living. Those who do protest will be driven by a political agenda that denies Israel's right to exist outright and are fundamentally hostile to the U.S.  Moreover, many of the protests are likely to be led by Iranian proxies in Arab states. We cannot let the Iranian-led axis dictate U.S. foreign policy. 
The writer is a Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 
(New York Daily News)

  • President Trump's move regarding Jerusalem, far from ending peace talks - which in any case have hardly been going anywhere for years - will more likely revive them.
  • The Arab governments in particular have had enough of Palestinian intransigence. They are much more concerned now about the Iranian threat and their own domestic problems, and many want to be rid of the Palestinian issue which is no longer as politically useful for them as it used to be. Speak to them in private as I do, and you will hear this time and again. The Sunni Arab states want and need cooperation with Israel and are tired of the Palestinians' refusal to even negotiate with Israel.
  • Nowhere in world history, to my knowledge, has the party that lost militarily (and in this case it would be the Palestinians) been allowed to dictate the terms of the peace. Israel should be generous to the Palestinians so the peace will hold, but I believe it is the international community that has done a disservice to the Palestinians by encouraging them to believe that they can dictate the terms of peace and therefore not compromise.
  • Can you imagine the Tibetans, or Kurds, or Chechens saying "no" if they were offered independence on 98% of the land that they said they wanted. And yet the Palestinians have said "no" and walked away from negotiations when they have been made similar offers by Israel.
  • President Obama, who was generally well disposed to the Palestinian cause, pleaded with them to negotiate, as did his secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry. Yet in those entire eight years, President Abbas agreed to sit down for only about four hours with the Israelis.

    The writer, a British-born journalist and human rights campaigner, is a former Jerusalem correspondent for the London Sunday Telegraph.
(Mideast Dispatch Archive)


Trump's Jerusalem Move Hasn't Sparked an Intifada - Rachel Elbaum 

Less than a week after President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, Palestinian protests have largely fizzled out.

On Monday, fewer than 20 demonstrators gathered outside the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and chanted pro-Palestinian slogans, but they were outnumbered by journalists.  
(NBC News)

Trump's Jerusalem Move Didn't Destabilize the Middle East 

- Sarah Wildman 

After President Trump's decision on Jerusalem, the predicted tidal wave of regional instability has so far failed to materialize. Analysts say part of the reason is that the primary feeling among Palestinians right now is not rage, but rather despair and fatigue.

"Many Palestinians who went through the Second Intifada don't want to repeat it," says Ghaith al-Omari, a senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Plus, Omari adds, Palestinians sense there is a lack of direction from their political leaders, and are thus reluctant to protest without a clear purpose. 


Muslims Ignored Jerusalem for Centuries - Jeff Jacoby

After 1948 when east Jerusalem and the Temple Mount were under Muslim rule, they were ignored by the Arab and Muslim powers. No foreign Arab leader ever paid a visit, not even to pray at the al-Aqsa mosque. Palestinians placed so low a priority on Jerusalem that the Palestinian National Covenant of 1964, the PLO's founding charter, makes no reference to it. 

Only when the Jews returned after the Six-Day War did the Arabs grow passionate about Jerusalem
(Boston Globe)
- Hillel Frisch

The strongest reactions to President Trump's declaration on Jerusalem emanated from Iran and Turkey rather than from Arab states or even segments of Palestinian society, reflecting the centrality of the Iranian-Arab conflict compared to the former Israeli-Arab divide.

Many Palestinian youth will only take the risk of confronting the IDF if they feel that those calling for such sacrifices are placing themselves at risk, which the PA and Hamas aren't. The PA and Hamas are preserving their troops for the showdown between them rather than wasting them against Israel. 
The writer, a professor of political and Middle East studies at Bar-Ilan University, is a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategic Studies. 
(Jerusalem Post)

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Trump Elevates Jerusalem in Historic Move

In a stunning move, President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and began the process of moving the US Embassy to the city. 
May G*d bless President Trump.  

President Donald Trump displays the signed "Presidential Proclamation Recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of the State of Israel and Relocating the United States Embassy to Israel to Jerusalem," on December 6, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Image source: White House video screenshot)

Why Trump is Right - Alan Dershowitz 

Terrorists should not have a veto over American policy. If the United States were to give in to threats of violence, it would only incentivize others to threaten violence in response to any peace plan.

So let's praise President Trump for doing the right thing by undoing the wrong thing President Obama did at the end of his presidency.
[Gatestone Institute]

Jewish Groups Welcome Recognition of Jerusalem 

Mainstream Jewish groups welcomed President Trump's announcement that the U.S. will recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said, "When you do the right thing, you do not have to ask questions, you just do it."

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee said, "Today's action by @POTUS is an important, historic step for which we are grateful."

The Anti-Defamation League called the step "important and long overdue."

The American Jewish Committee, Hadassah, and the Jewish Federations of North America also welcomed the president's announcement without reservations.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center said that with his announcement, Trump "will right a historic wrong." 

In Congress, Robust Backing for Trump's Jerusalem Move 

U.S. lawmakers across the political spectrum reacted positively to President Donald Trump's announcement Wednesday that he is recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

In the Arab World, the Rallying Cry of Jerusalem May Have Lost Its Force 
- Anne Barnard

For decades, the idea of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital served as a powerful rallying cry that united the Arab world. In officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Wednesday, President Trump struck what many considered the death blow to those aspirations.

But as Arab and Muslim leaders raised their voices to condemn the move, many across the Middle East wondered if so much had changed in recent years that the real Arab response would amount to little more than a whimper

"'Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine' joins 'Palestinian refugees are going back home one day' in the let's-hope-it-will-happen-but-it-never-will department," wrote Mustapha Hamoui, a Lebanese blogger.

While Arab leaders have continued to pay lip service to the Palestinian cause, it has slipped in importance, displaced by the Arab Spring uprisings, the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the threat of the Islamic State, and the contest between Saudi Arabia and Iran for regional dominance. 
(New York Times)

Palestinian Rage Won't Turn Into a Third Intifada - Muhammad Shehada

President Trump's speech giving America's blessing to Jerusalem as Israel's capital is widely touted as the spark that will provoke a mass popular uprising among Palestinians. 

The truth is that likelihood is at an all-time low. With a growing sense of abandonment by the international community and Arab regimes, Palestinians are seeing their cause fade away and a grassroots explosion is not in the cards

Any desire for an uprising is currently muffled by official and popular pressure to continue the Palestinian reconciliation process undisturbed. Palestinian rage over this move by Trump will dissipate, and it won't take that long. 


Trumps Great and Ingenious Gifts - Caroline Glick 

Trump’s move wasn’t merely strategically brilliant. It was a political masterstroke.

Consider the liberal Union for Reform Judaism’s contradictory responses to his recognition of Jerusalem. In the lead-up to Trump’s declaration, URJ President Rick Jacobs condemned Trump’s anticipated move which he claimed would harm chances for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Jacobs’s statement – which was supported by key groups within the Reform movement – effectively divorced Reform Judaism from Zionism. By giving the PLO a veto over Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, Jacobs said that the Reform movement thinks PLO claims to Jerusalem are stronger than Jewish claims. This self-evidently anti-Zionist position apparently didn’t go down well with the Reform rank and file. Because less than 24 hours after Trump gave his speech, the URJ issued a new statement praising Trump’s move.

And the URJ leaders aren’t the only ones with egg on their face.

Trump risked political support in the opinion polls by deepening US support for Israel in the face of strident opposition from the Democrats, the State Department, the media, the Europeans and the Arabs because he believed it was the right thing to do.  And as it works out, it was also an astute, if incredibly gutsy political move.

By standing up to the Democrats who just months ago called for him to take the very actions he took, but now opposed them because it was Trump adopting them, Trump exposed the likes of Booker and Feinstein as hypocritical opportunists. At the same time, he took ownership of a policy of supporting Israel that enjoys broad and deep public support.

[B]y recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Trump made clear that US support for Israel is not conditioned on anything. Israel, the Jewish state, is supported by the US because it deserves US support as an allied democracy.

Trump strengthened himself against his political opponents by taking ownership of a deeply popular foreign policy position. He took control of US foreign policy from a State Department that opposes his policies. He made reality, rather than the defiance of reality, the foundation of US Middle East policy.

He put US allies and enemies on notice that he is calling the shots in US foreign policy. And he took a large step toward restoring US credibility as a superpower.

Oh, and he accomplished all of these things without spending a dime.

For his gift to Israel, Trump now enters the pantheon of Israel’s friends in the annals of Jewish history.

For his gifts to America he has taken his place among the most astute American statesmen.

And for his political and economic mastery, he enters the ranks of the geniuses of American political history. 

[Jerusalem Post via JWR]

Trump's Truth-Telling on Jerusalem - John Podhoretz

Trump could have just signed the waiver of the law passed in 1995 compelling the executive branch to move America's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. He did it six months ago, just like his three immediate predecessors did every six months since 1996. Instead, he called the international community's seven-decade bluff and ended a delusion about the future that has prevented Palestinians from seeing the world and their own geopolitical situation clearly.  

The Palestinians continue to act as though they will get what they want through rejection and resistance and rage. The Palestinian refusal to accept Israel has been the greatest bar to peace. 
(New York Post)

  • Appeasing those who threaten violence doesn't reduce it. It encourages it. The more concessions are offered, the more the Palestinians believe even greater violence will deliver them final victory. Britain, France and Germany have obligingly once again genuflected to the men of violence by disapproving of Trump's speech. If they had said they, too, would now recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the threat of violence would lose much of its point.
  • The Arab war against Israel is not a conflict about the division of land. It is a war of extermination based on a refusal to accept that the Jews have any right to that land. And Jerusalem is central to that refusal. They deny the Jews any rights to Jerusalem at all. That's because they need to suppress what they can never admit: that Jerusalem was the capital of the Jews' ancient kingdom which preceded Islam and the Arab and Muslim conquest by many centuries.
  • Far from the Israeli presence there being illegal, the Jews are the only people who are entitled to the city as a matter of international law, historical truth and natural justice. Which is why the refusal by Western countries to recognize the unique Jewish right to Jerusalem has been so malevolent.
  • Those who say Trump's move makes peace less likely couldn't be more wrong. Recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital is the essential step without which peace can never be achieved.

    The writer is a columnist for The Times (UK).
(Jerusalem Post)


Trump's Recognition: What Does It Mean?  - Daniel Pipes, PhD 

As a specialist on the Middle East, I hate to admit it, but this step results from fresh faces breaking with a stale past.

The move sends exactly the right message to the Palestinians: your continued attempt to eliminate the Jewish state of Israel will cost you.

Trump's December 2017 moving the embassy neatly checks and refutes Obama's December 2016 abstaining from U.N. Security Council resolution 2334.

Denunciations of the move came in fast and hard from the pope, the UN Secretary-General, European leaders, Ankara and Tehran, Islamists, the Left, and Palestinians. Strikingly, however, Arab states were largely mum, for they have much higher priorities to contend with.

Good for Trump ignoring threats of the Arab street rising up; the riot veto must not be allowed to determine policy.
[BESA Center]

Why the Fuss about Jerusalem as Israel's Capital? - Marc D. Angel

The Muslim Ottoman Empire, which controlled the Land of Israel for hundreds of years, could very easily have established a Muslim country there with Jerusalem as its capital city. The thought never occurred to them. Jerusalem was an old, decrepit city that no one (except Jews) cared very much about

There was no call for a Palestinian state, and no claim that Jerusalem should be the capital of a Muslim country. Between 1948 and 1967, when Jordan controlled the West Bank and the Old City of Jerusalem, it did not cede one inch of territory to Palestinian Arab rule and did not declare Jerusalem the capital city of the Palestinians.
The writer is founder and director of the Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals and rabbi emeritus of the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York City. 
(Jerusalem Post)
President Trump's choice to recognize the Israeli capital in Jerusalem exposed a political dynamic in the region that holds new possibilities for an eventual settlement. Arab countries, historically a guarantor of strategic depth for Palestinian rejectionist forces, are increasingly a bastion of support for compromise.
The true political departure lay within the Arab region, in the relatively modest and short-lived protests from Sunni-majority Arab countries. This weak showing matters greatly to prospects for peace. Now Arab societies have given their leaders and the world a preview of how minimally the region would convulse in the event of a future renunciation of Palestinian maximalist demands.
Arab supporters of a regional peace, myself included, will continue to act on the belief that Arab conciliation begets Israeli conciliation. With this principle in mind, we see the outcome of the Jerusalem controversy as a sign that more is possible.
The writer, a Moroccan publisher, is on the board of directors of the Atlantic Council and an international counselor of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 
(National Interest)