Saturday, October 25, 2014

More Than Something Is Rotten at Foggy Bottom

...The Obama administration’s public temper tantrums are at this point a regular feature of the president’s second term. That they’re directed at allies is becoming commonplace but still disturbing. That the State Department seems to prioritize retribution against Israel over holding those who kill American citizens accountable unfortunately encapsulates American diplomacy in the age of Obama and Kerry

Seth Mandel..
Commentary Magazine..
24 October '14..

After the Wall Street Journal broke the news that President Obama reined in the U.S.-Israel military partnership while Israel was at war, it could not be plausibly denied that Obama has sought to downgrade the special relationship. But the story was alarming not only because of the lengths Obama was willing to go to tie Israel’s hands but also because it showed the president was chipping away at the rest of the U.S. government’s ability to pick up the slack when Obama tried to hamper Israel’s ability to defend itself.

That has always been the silver lining, and it’s always annoyed much of the American left: other American governmental institutions, such as Congress and the military, are consistently pro-Israel and can thus keep the relationship strong when a president tries to weaken it. And it’s also why it should be of great concern now that another American governmental institution that is usually far less pro-Israel is becoming, under Secretary of State John Kerry, even more antagonistic toward Jerusalem than usual: the U.S. State Department.

Much has been made about the unimaginably incompetent and incoherent management of Foggy Bottom’s communications under spokeswomen Marie Harf and Jen Psaki. But it’s too easy–and not totally accurate–to dismiss Harf and Psaki as misplaced campaign attack hacks. They are out of place at State, but they are there for a reason. And the culture of the diplomatic corps more broadly also resembles the same spiteful ignorance routinely displayed by the president and his secretary of state. The latest example is the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem’s memo to employees referring to Wednesday’s terror attack, in which a Palestinian murdered a Jewish baby, as a “traffic incident.”

After that terror attack, Harf had initially told both sides to exercise restraint. At yesterday’s briefing, Jen Psaki was asked about one of the major sources of gasoline being poured on this fire: the incitement to violence coming from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Here is the exchange:

QUESTION: I’m not making any relation, but there’s been some concern over the last week or two about comments by President Abbas that believe to have incurred incitement. And are you concerned about that? You haven’t really spoken out about that. Do you in any way feel that this is inciting Palestinians to take actions into their own hands?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, Elise, one, I mean, we obviously believe that the act last night warrants condemnation evidence (sic) by the statement we released last night. I’m not going to characterize the comments made or not made by President – Prime Minister Netanyahu or the response from President Abbas.

QUESTION: Well, if you haven’t really received a condemnation from President Abbas, then don’t you think you should offer one?

MS. PSAKI: I think our view of it is clear by – evidenced by our statement last night. I would point you to him on any comments that they would like to make.

QUESTION: But what about his comments, like, over the past – I mean, there has just been several comments that people have remarked about that seem to be incurring incitement. Is that not concerning?

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think that’s – as you know, President Abbas has renounced violence and consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states. I don’t have any other analysis for you to offer.

That’s right, all Psaki would say is that Abbas “has renounced violence and consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution”–an obviously false statement–along with the strident insistence that she doesn’t “have any other analysis for you to offer.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Finally starting to see this is not some passing wave of disturbances

...Those who want to "re-liberate Jerusalem" must understand that sovereignty in all parts of the city, including the most remote Arab neighborhoods, cannot be only defined in a rule book alone, it must be seen in the streets, everywhere, over time, by the renewal of Jewish settlements in all parts of Jerusalem, even if it makes Obama angry.

Nadav Shragai..
Israel Hayom..
23 October '14..

An intifada is breaking out in Jerusalem. Wednesday was its 112th day. It may be a (semi) popular movement but it has long not been spontaneous. The disturbances and continuous attacks on Jews in Jerusalem's periphery is organized and funded by elements identified with Fatah and Hamas.

Many of the 900 arrested in this intifada enjoy legal defense funded by the Palestinian Authority. The huge number of incidents, more than 10,000, their wide distribution over Jerusalem's periphery, their nature, the use of "cold weaponry," such as stones, Molotov cocktails and fireworks -- are all reminiscent of the First Intifada.

This time there are no popular resistance committees, but many small organizations that operate on the neighborhood level. They all carry the slogans of a "popular resistance," preached to them by the Palestinian Authority its president, Mahmoud Abbas. The car attacks, like Wednesday's, may be on one man acts for which intelligence cannot be gathered, but their inspiration comes from the general atmosphere in the city, the loss of deterrence, the continued riots at the al-Aqsa mosque that police seem unable to put down.

There have also been isolated incidents of gunfire, primarily from Shuafat into Pisgat Zeev, which could be seen as the next stage in the third intifada in Jerusalem and the transition to using guns, which are present in the Arab towns and have stopped only being used for "celebratory gunshots."

Imagine if the New York Times knew how to sincerely apologize

...But to be honest, what prompted us to write now is not to quote Arab reports to you but rather a fierce desire to hear you say something contrite. Like this for instance:
"Yes, friends, for a moment my colleagues and I here in Israel's capital and in our company's editorial suites in Manhattan, did indeed lose our moral compasses again last night. But we're better now...

Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
24 October '14..

Jodi Rudoren
New York Times Jerusalem Bureau
Jerusalem, Israel

Dear Mrs Rudoren

We are writing to you for the first time. It's about something quite shocking you published on your Twitter account this morning.

You Tweeted about an article penned by one of your Jerusalem NYT colleagues. It relates to a sickening attack - one that epitomizes what most people think about when they call an act 'cowardly' - by a violent Palestinian Arab man, Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi, with a demonstrated commitment to terror and violence, driving a car. But someone in your newspaper tacked the words "police say" onto the headline. So reasonable people are going to know that there's no compelling reason to believe it was what the police say at all.

But what we know is Al-Shaludi very deliberately, and at devastatingly high speed, veered off Jerusalem's Route 1 on which he was traveling on Wednesday evening and drove directly into a cluster of ordinary Israelis standing on the platform of a Jerusalem Light Rail stop, the public transport system that makes it so simple - finally - for Arab Jerusalemites to head into the center of town comfortably, cheaply and often, which they do in large numbers.

The unsuspecting Israelis were mowed down like skittles. All, that is, apart from one, a tiny, pretty girl baby of three months old. She was flung violently into the air, we heard, but what was done to her tiny body is irrelevant to us at this point. Her grieving parents buried her last night.


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Mahmoud Abbas is an enemy of Israel and should be treated accordingly

...He may not don the keffiyeh that was worn by Yasser Arafat, nor wave a gun in the halls of the United Nations. But even if the packaging is slightly different, the contents remain the same. Abbas, like his predecessor, stands in the way of peace and aims to do Israel harm. The time has come to treat him accordingly.

Michael Freund..
23 October '14..

For the past decade, ever since Mahmoud Abbas took the reins of the Palestinian Authority in January 2005, the international community has gone out of its way to portray him as a moderate.

Ignoring his long record of anti-Israel incitement and Holocaust denial, American presidents, European prime ministers and even various Israeli leaders often spoke of Abbas in glowing terms, describing him as a man of peace and a visionary.

Indeed, earlier this year, when Abbas visited the White House on March 17, US President Barack Obama told reporters, "I have to commend President Abbas. He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security."

More recently, at the Gaza donor conference held in Cairo on October 12, US Secretary of State John Kerry went out of his way to heap praise on the Palestinian leader, saying, "President Abbas, thank you for your perseverance and your partnership."

But the jig is up. Abbas' behavior, along with his recent anti-Israel remarks, clearly demonstrates that his ostensible moderation is nothing more than a hoax.

Calling Abbas a moderate is the diplomatic equivalent of asserting that Elvis isn't dead, the Boogeyman is hiding under your bed, and Keeping up with the Kardashians is quality entertainment.

Take for example Abbas' decidedly immoderate remarks last Friday to a Fatah Party gathering.

Referring to Jews who wish to visit Jerusalem's Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, Abbas denounced them as "herds of cattle" and "settlers," and called on Palestinians to use "any means" to stop them.

"It is not enough to say the settlers came, but they must be barred from entering the compound by any means," he said, adding, "This is our Aqsa... and they have no right to enter it and desecrate it" – as if the very presence of Jewish visitors in the area constituted an abomination.

If that's not a call to violence, what is? Needless to say, Abbas' scandalous outburst did not fall on deaf ears. Less than 48 hours later, Palestinian hoodlums defaced the Temple Mount, spray-painting swastikas and other offensive anti-Semitic imagery at the site whose sanctity they claim they wish to protect.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The 14th century lives on in 21st century Washington

...In essence, blaming the blameless for what they have no involvement in, is as morally reprehensible as the mid-14th century scapegoating of Europe’s Jews during the Black Death. Right across the continent, the recommended remedy was to accuse Jews of poisoning the wells. With adaptations, this still remains the undisputed conventional wisdom.

Medieval manuscript showing Jews burned
at the stake in Flanders according to the
popular antidote to the Black Death
Sarah Honig..
Another Tack..
23 October '14..

In all fairness, it’s not just the Obama Administration which is fond of insinuating that somehow Israel is to blame for all that ails the Mideast. This has been the underlying theme of the US State Department since Israel’s birth in 1948.

The variations in the stance vis-à-vis Israel derive from the intensity of antipathy – the subtlety and sophistication of the tone in which it’s expressed. Given its strident hectoring, the Obama Administration is doubtless America’s least-subtle and least-sophisticated ever.

While past presidents and their secretaries of state took greater pains to pretend not to side with glaring Arab anti-Israel falsehoods, such niceties are all but absent from Barack Obama’s and John Kerry’s rhetoric. Anti-Israel idioms and calumnies are repeated by them as an obvious and infallible politically-correct gospel.

And thus Kerry had the colossal gall last week – significantly at a White House ceremony for the Muslim fest of Eid al-Adha – to claim no less that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (i.e. the Jewish state’s struggle for survival) bolsters the mass appeal of Islamic State radicalism.

Hardly knocking Israelis for a loop, the State Department’s spokeswoman later accused us of getting it all wrong. In deadpan delivery she insisted that Kerry “did not make a linkage between Israel and the growth of ISIL [Islamic State]. Period.”

But her boss’s words speak for themselves and belie her assertion.

Here, verbatim, is Kerry’s syntax-defying wisdom: “As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL coalition, the truth is we – there wasn’t a leader I met with in the region who didn’t raise with me spontaneously the need to try to get peace between Israel and the Palestinians, because it was a cause of recruitment and of street anger and agitation.”

Translation: “peace between Israel and the Palestinians” means Israeli concessions of the sort that will critically compromise Israel’s self-preservation prospects. Only that and that alone will satisfy the “leaders” with whom the insightful Kerry met “in the region.” These were all Arab and/or Muslim and obviously they “spontaneously” gave voice to their enmity toward Israel – enmity which supersedes any discomfort arising from the hideous internecine Arab feuds.

These non-too-objective leaders are chronically prone to blaming any and all misfortunes on Israel (including the polio epidemic back in the day, followed by cancer, later by AIDS and most recently we’re told that Israel deliberately spreads Ebola). Is it then really any wonder that they would blame Israel for the Islamic fanaticism that overruns Iraq, Syria and threatens other domains?

Israel is expected to adopt an Arab peace plan? The Arab world is a war zone

...Those “peace-processors” who claim that Israelis should take their fate into their hands are therefore correct, but for the wrong reasons. They would have us rely on the peaceful intentions of jihadists, believe in the sincerity of the Europeans, and trust the competence of the Americans. With a fate like this in your own hands, you need good feet with which to run.

Dr. Emmanuel Navon..
i24 News..
22 October '14..

Recent talks about the Arab Peace Initiative beg disbelief. The Arab world is a war zone. Syria has been destroyed by a more than three years of an ongoing civil war. Iraq and Libya have imploded, replaced by belligerent fiefs. Lebanon has lost its sovereignty to Iran and Hezbollah. The Islamic State organization is spreading despite Western airstrikes, and it might overtake the weak Hashemite Kingdom. ​Iran now controls four Arab capitals: Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa.​ How foolish and paranoid of Israel, then, not to thankfully grab the peace promised by the world’s most violent, dysfunctional, and war-torn region.

The “Arab Peace Initiative” is an oxymoron. It calls for an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights to achieve peace with Syria. One minor problem is that Syria no longer exists. Is Israel supposed to sign a peace agreement with Bashar Assad, who barely controls a quarter of his virtual country, or with ISIL?

On the Palestinian issue, the text of the initiative calls for “a just solution to the Palestinian refugee problem to be agreed upon in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” The meaning of this article is that Israel should agree on the so-called right of return of the Arabs who lived here until 1948. Once Israel becomes a bi-national state with an Arab majority, in other words once Israel ceases to be the nation state of the Jewish people, it will gain recognition from its neighbors.

In 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas a full Israeli withdrawal but without a full-fledged implementation of the Palestinian right of return. Abbas said he could not give in on that crucial issue.

The Arab League cannot deliver peace with Israel on behalf of a Palestinian leadership that is adamant on right of return. Not surprisingly, the Arab Peace Initiative includes the right of return by way of reference to UN Resolution 194.

If Israel had any doubts about the sincerity of its neighbors and their ability to deliver, it can certainly count on European guarantees. No European diplomat would ever buy into flimsy promises or compromise on Israel’s security. The recent donors’ conference on Gaza is a case in point.

Today’s Jerusalem Terror Attack - A Case Study in Media Bias

...The Israeli government built rail access to Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem to better integrate them into Israeli society. Arab Jerusalemites have made the very instruments of Israeli outreach and integration into targets of sporadic violence. That violence resulted, today, in a member of a Palestinian terror group carrying out an attack and murdering a baby. In response, the Palestinians rioted. Welcome to Jerusalem 2014.

Seth Mandel..
Commentary Magazine..
22 October '14..

I mentioned today’s Jerusalem terror attack in my earlier post, but I think it’s worth returning to in light of the information we now have as well as the bias-on-steroids we witnessed in the aftermath of the deadly attack. The only way to understand how major media outlets could behave so disreputably is to keep in mind a point I’ve made here before: the perseverance of the Palestinian narrative of the Arab-Israeli conflict depends entirely on the ignorance and dishonesty of the Western press.

Here, briefly, is what happened:

A three-month-old girl was killed Wednesday afternoon and eight others were injured when a car crashed into a crowd at a light rail station in Jerusalem in what officials said was a likely terrorist attack.

A suspect, identified by an Israeli official as a member of terror group Hamas, attempted to flee the scene on foot and was shot by police, a police spokesperson said.

And here, also via the Times of Israel, is the aftermath:

Major clashes took place Wednesday evening between Palestinians and Israeli police forces in the East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Silwan and Issawiya, following a suspected terrorist attack in which a three-month-old Israeli girl was killed.

Dozens of masked Palestinians set tires and dumpsters ablaze and threw stones and Molotov cocktails at police officers in Silwan and Issawiya, police said in a statement.

If you want to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict, those two stories are a good introduction. The Israeli government built rail access to Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem to better integrate them into Israeli society. Arab Jerusalemites have made the very instruments of Israeli outreach and integration into targets of sporadic violence. That violence resulted, today, in a member of a Palestinian terror group carrying out an attack and murdering a baby. In response, the Palestinians rioted. Welcome to Jerusalem 2014.

But that’s not the end of the lesson. The media’s reaction to the murder was stomach turning–and, unfortunately, not atypical.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

And the Early AP Headline Reported: "Israeli Police Shoot Man in East Jerusalem."

After Suspected Terror Attack Against Israelis, Early AP Headline Reported: "Israeli Police Shoot Man in East Jerusalem."

Gilead Ini..
CAMERA Snapshots..
22 October '14..

A three-month-old in Israel is in critical condition (she subsequently succumbed to her wounds) and at least 7 others were wounded when an car slammed into an Israeli train station in a suspected terror attack. (Video here — warning, shows from a distance a car hitting people.) The driver of the car was subsequently shot by Israeli police, reportedly as he tried to flee the scene.

The Associated Press ran an initial report on the incident with the headline, "Israeli police shoot man in east Jerusalem."

Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestine Is the Real Apartheid State

...Were Israel to ban Arabs from moving into homes they owned in West Jerusalem, it would prompt an international outcry and condemnations from the United States. But instead America condemns Jews who move into Arab neighborhoods and stays silent when Abbas seeks to treat those who sell to Jews as criminals. Instead of the Jewish home buying in Jerusalem being an obstacle to peace as Israel’s critics claim, it is the Arab attempt to criminalize selling to a Jew that best illustrates why peace is not yet possible.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
Commentary Magazine..
22 October '14..

In recent weeks, critics of Israel have been crying foul over the fact that Jews have moved into some apartments in East Jerusalem neighborhoods. The fact that the homes were legally purchased and that the new residents were merely attempting to reside in the country’s as-yet-undivided capital was seen as irrelevant since the presence of Jews in Arab-majority areas is considered to be an obstacle to a potential partition of the city should a peace agreement with the Palestinians ever be signed. But even if we were to concede that such moves do infuriate Arabs, surely no one, not even Israel’s most adamant opponents, would be comfortable with laws that banned the presence of Jews in parts of Jerusalem or anywhere else. Right? Wrong.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas reacted to the fact that Jews have bought homes from Palestinians in parts of Jerusalem by vowing to toughen existing PA laws that forbid such sales. Yes, that’s right. In “Palestine”—be it the existing PA or Hamas states or the future independent Palestinian state that Europe is so eager to recognize even without it having to make peace with Israel—it is against the law to sell land or a home to a Jew.

The question of whether Jews should move into majority Arab neighborhoods or towns is a question of judgment. Let’s ignore for the moment the fact that the Palestinians have repeatedly rejected any peace deal that would give them an independent state and a share of Jerusalem since it would require them to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders are drawn. It is possible to argue that the two communities are better off living separately. But voluntary separation is one thing, legal restrictions on the right of Jews to live in some areas is something very different.

After all, in the State of Israel, which is routinely and falsely accused of being an “apartheid state,” Arabs may live where they please. When some areas have tried to restrict sales of property to Arabs, Israel’s courts have ruled that this is inconsistent with the principles enunciated in the country’s basic laws. While Israel is not a perfect society and the Arab minority faces challenges that are often rooted in the century-old war over the land, the principle of equality before the law for all citizens is upheld.

But in “Palestine,” not only are there no courts or government to prevent individuals or groups from discriminating, but there it is the government itself that both promulgates and ruthlessly enforces such bias.

A British vote that epitomized ignorance, opportunism and malice

...The implications of passing such a resolution are harrowing, exceeding the worst excesses of perfidious Albion when the anti-Semitic British foreign secretary Ernest Bevin displayed his hostility to the Jews during the last years of the mandate. One cannot justify such behavior on the basis of ignorance. Clearly, the motivations represent a combination of electoral opportunism, leftist political correctness which transforms Israel the victim into the aggressor, cultural relativism which no longer distinguishes between good and evil and promotes moral equivalency; and above all, an indisputable odor of outright anti-Semitism.

Isi Leibler..
Candidly Speaking/JPost..
21 October '14..

The British parliamentary resolution that called for the immediate and unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state, endorsed by an overwhelming majority of 274 to 12, was an unprecedentedly aggressive act. Although not binding, and with the participation of only 44 percent of parliamentarians (primarily opposition Labour MPs under instructions to vote in favor of the motion), it nevertheless provides evidence of the dramatic surge of hostility against Israel that is sweeping through Europe.

It reflects a growing trend among European countries to encourage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to pursue his intransigent policy, rejecting meaningful negotiations, refusing to make any concessions and proceeding on the supposition that he has international support to bring Israel to its knees. Regrettably, over the past few months, the Obama administration has been widely perceived as giving a wink to the Europeans to pursue policies toward Israel along these lines, which neither American public opinion nor Congress would endorse.

That such a resolution was even contemplated during the regional meltdown of the past few months has created an Alice-in-Wonderland environment – especially as it failed to even pay lip service to the obligations of the Palestinians. Nor did it acknowledge that both Yasser Arafat and current “peace partner” Mahmoud Abbas rejected offers of 95 percent of the territories formerly occupied by the Jordanians.

Abbas continues to incite to violence and hate and his Fatah party still calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. In recent months, the official PA TV revived the medieval blood libel accusing Jews of using the blood of Palestinian children to make matzot for Passover, promoted The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and alleged that Israel was poisoning Palestinian water wells. Abbas continues to glorify mass murderers and insists that there will never be an agreement unless Israel accepts the right of return of the five million descendants of Arab refugees, which would entail the end of Israel as a Jewish state. He also reaffirmed his union with Hamas – the globally designated terrorist organization.

The UK parliamentary resolution effectively endorses a state in which the genocidal Hamas occupies a central role and which, according to polls, would emerge victorious in an election. To make matters worse, Abbas has publicly stated that should that occur, he would hand over control of the state to Hamas.

Guess What? Muslims Fight for ISIS But Not Palestine

...The John Kerrys of the world rarely let facts disturb their theories. But for anyone who does care about facts, the foreign fighters flocking to Iraq and Syria offer a good clue as to what issues really inflame the Muslim world. And neither Israel nor the Palestinians are high on the list.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
21 October '14..

For anyone who thinks the lack of a Palestinian state is a primary cause of Muslim grievance, the flood of foreign fighters into Syria and Iraq in recent years poses a real problem. After all, none of the jihadi groups in those countries are fighting against Israel or for the Palestinians; indeed, as journalist Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out yesterday, ISIS ranks “liberating Jerusalem” way down on its list of goals and “did not even bother to comment” on this summer’s war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. Yet while ISIS and its ilk have attracted thousands of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, the number of foreigners who have joined the Palestinian fight against Israel is near zero.

This certainly isn’t a problem of access. The thousands of Western Muslims now fighting in Iraq and Syria could easily and legally have reached the West Bank via either Israel or Jordan; so could those from Turkey, Jordan and Egypt. They simply never cared enough to do so.

And until last year, when Egypt cracked down on the cross-border smuggling tunnels, Gaza was accessible even to nationals of Muslim countries that lack diplomatic relations with Israel: They could enter Egypt legally and cross to Gaza via the tunnels. Hamas would surely have welcomed reinforcements, but they never cared enough to come.

In short, no matter how often Westerners like Secretary of State John Kerry say the Palestinian issue is a major source of the “street anger and agitation … humiliation and denial and absence of dignity” that helps jihadi groups recruit foreign Muslims, Muslims themselves are saying the opposite with their feet: There are causes they are willing to travel across the world to fight and die for, including the dream of an Islamic caliphate and the sectarian Sunni fight against Shi’ite- and Alawite-dominated governments in Iraq and Syria. But “Palestine” isn’t one of them.

The foreign fighters flocking to Iraq and Syria also undermine another common canard: that Israel is a “racist” or “apartheid” state. After all, a “racist, apartheid state” by definition subjects its minorities to far more “humiliation and denial and absence of dignity” than non-racist, non-apartheid Europe does, so if Israel were really such a state, one would expect its Arab citizens to head the pack of foreign recruits to ISIS and company.