Friday, July 29, 2016

Monsters and a very incomplete list of children used as human shields in Gaza - by Elder of Ziyon

...Gideon Levy isn't crying about what sort of society would do such a monstrous thing. Because he doesn't really care about the dead children. He wants to do what Hamas does - use them as a weapon against Israel. Just like B'Tselem. Just like Amnesty. Just like Human Rights Watch. Which means that it is Gideon Levy and these NGOs who are the real monsters for not saying a word about - or worse, exonerating - Hamas and other Gaza armed groups for literally using their children as weapons in war.

Elder of Ziyon..
28 July '16..

Gideon Levy is outraged at Israelis:

One hundred and eighty babies and children up to the age of 5. One hundred and eighty helpless babies and toddlers that the Israel Defense Forces killed in Gaza in the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. In their sleep, in their play, as they fled; in their beds or in their parents’ arms.
Try to imagine – the army killed 546 children in the course of 50 days. More than 10 children a day, a classroom every three days. Try to imagine.
But these updated, verified figures, released by the B’Tselem NGO on the second anniversary of the killing, are hard to imagine. It’s easier to dismiss them with a shrug, a look in the other direction or the lame excuses of Israeli propaganda.
The figures that should have haunted Israeli society and keep it awake at night – that should have sparked a stormy public debate and shaken it– are of no interest at all. Any natural disaster at the end of the world would have evoked more human feelings here than this slaughter, which Israel committed an hour’s drive from Tel Aviv.

As usual, Levy is only telling a small part of the story.

Because most of these innocent children were human shields. It is Palestinian society which is so sick as to willingly put their own children (and many other family members) at risk in the hopes that Israel would not attack their terrorist relatives.

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Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com. If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work. 
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The F-35? Time to walk away from US aid - by Caroline Glick

...If Israel walks away from the military assistance package currently under discussion, it will be in a position to sign joint development deals with the US and other governments on a project by project basis and so ensure that we develop the weapons systems we need, not the ones the US thinks we should have, as we need them. Just as India is investing billions of dollars in joint projects with Israel, so will the US in the future.

Caroline Glick..
Column One/JPost..29 July '16..
Link: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Column-one-Time-to-walk-away-from-US-aid-462677

On Monday, acting head of the National Security Council Yaakov Nagel will sit down with his US counterpart, Susan Rice, and try to conclude negotiations about a new, multi-year defense assistance package.

We must all hope that he fails.

No clear Israeli interest will be advanced by concluding the aid deal presently on the table.

Indeed, the deal now being discussed will cause Israel massive, long-term economic and strategic damage. This is true for a number of reasons.

First, there is the issue of the deal’s impact on Israel’s military industries, which are the backbone of Israel’s strategic independence.

Under the current defense package, which is set to expire next year, a quarter of the US aid Israel receives is converted to shekels and spent domestically.

Reportedly, the deal now under negotiation will bar Israel from using any of the funds domestically.

The implications for our military industries are dire. Not only will thousands of Israelis lose their jobs. Israel’s capacity to develop its own weapons systems will be dangerously diminished.

Then there is the problem of joint projects.

Today, Israel receives additional US funds to develop joint projects, including the Iron Dome and David’s Sling short range missile and rocket defense programs. These programs were undertaken in response to threats that weren’t foreseen when the current deal was negotiated a decade ago.

According to reports, the deal now being negotiated denies Israel and the US the ability to fund jointly new projects or to provide supplemental funding for existing projects. All funding for all projects will be covered by the lump sum that is currently being negotiated.

Not only does this preclude new projects, it prevents Congress from exercising oversight over administration funding of existing joint projects with Israel. President Barack Obama has consistently tried to slash funding of missile defense programs, only to be overridden by Congress. Under the deal now on the table, Congress will be denied the power to override a hostile administration.

Given the obvious problems with the aid program currently being proposed by the Obama administration, there’s little wonder that until now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly stated that if necessary, Israel is ready to wait for the next administration. Some argue that Netanyahu’s apparent newfound interest in concluding negotiations on Obama’s terms owes to his fear that this is the best offer Israel is likely to get. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump for various reasons, it is argued, will be less likely to offer significant increases in US military assistance.

Assuming this is accurate, the question becomes whether Israel has an interest in the assistance at all.

And so we come to the F-35.

The Latest State Department Assault on Israel by Elliott Abrams

...With all the misery and bloodshed in the Middle East; with all the terrorist attacks Israel must face; with chaos in Iraq and Syria; with a PLO thinking not about talks but about lawsuits against the UK, it’s remarkable that housing construction strikes State as the critical problem we face.

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
28 July '16..
Link: http://blogs.cfr.org/abrams/2016/07/28/the-new-state-department-assault-on-israel/

This week the State Department engaged in a remarkable assault on Israel. Both in tone and in content, it marks a new hostility–and plenty of sheer ignorance.

The comment was entitled “Recent Israeli Settlement Announcements” and the full text ran as follows:

We are deeply concerned by reports today that the Government of Israel has published tenders for 323 units in East Jerusalem settlements. This follows Monday’s announcement of plans for 770 units in the settlement of Gilo.

We strongly oppose settlement activity, which is corrosive to the cause of peace. These steps by Israeli authorities are the latest examples of what appears to be a steady acceleration of settlement activity that is systematically undermining the prospects for a two- state solution.

In just the past few weeks, we have seen reports of the advancement of plans for 531 units in Ma’ale Adumim, 19 in Har Homa, 120 in Ramot, and 30 in Pisgat Ze’ev; the advancement of a plan to retroactively legalize an outpost near Ramallah; and the issuance of tenders for 42 units in Kiryat Arba.

We are also concerned about recent increased demolitions of Palestinian structures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which reportedly have left dozens of Palestinians homeless, including children.‎ More than 650 Palestinian structures have been demolished this year, with more Palestinian structures demolished in the West Bank and East Jerusalem thus far than in all of 2015.

As the recent Quartet Report highlighted, this is part of an ongoing process of land seizures, settlement expansion, legalizations of outposts, and denial of Palestinian development that risk entrenching a one-state reality of perpetual occupation and conflict. We remain troubled that Israel continues this pattern of provocative and counterproductive action, which raises serious questions about Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.
Wow.

This statement not only protests certain recent activities (of which more in a moment) but actually accuses Israel of no longer being interested in a negotiated settlement. The history of Obama administration efforts gives the lie to that accusation: it’s quite clear that the Palestinians refused to come to table repeatedly and ultimately defeated Secretary Kerry’s efforts to get something going. Here is what Obama negotiator Martin Indyk said in 2014, as reported in Haaretz:

“Netanyahu moved to the zone of possible agreement. I saw him sweating bullets to find a way to reach an agreement,” said Indyk. Abbas, for his part, did not show flexibility, Indyk added.

“We tried to get Abu Mazen to the zone of possible agreement but we were surprised to learn he had shut down. We were ready to go beyond policy positions the U.S. had taken on the core issues to bridge the gaps and resolve it, and therefore there was something in it for him – and he didn’t answer us. Abbas [effectively] checked out of the talks in mid-February,” said Indyk.

So Abbas checks out, Abbas destroys Obama’s and Kerry’s efforts, and the State Department two years later is saying Israel’s commitment is in doubt.

Why? Because this construction is going to make the two-state solution impossible and “risks entrenching a one-state reality.” That conclusion reflects pure ignorance. The position of the United States is, and has been under Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, that Israel and the Palestinians should engage in land swaps as part of a final status agreement. Just as one example, President Obama told AIPAC in 2011 that “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.”

Swapping for what? Swapping for major Israeli settlement blocs–such as Maale Adumim, population 40,000. The notion that peace is more distant if Israel builds in Maale Adumim is ridiculous. Or how about construction in Gilo? Same: this is a Jerusalem neighborhood of 40,000. Construction there is no obstacle to a two-state solution. Same for Har Homa. In 1997, the United States vetoed two UN Security Council resolutions demanding that construction in Har Homa stop…and it might be recalled that the president at that time was a Democrat, and was the husband of the current Democratic nominee. Besides, the State Department’s criticism regarding Har Homa is about 19 units. 19 units! One might wonder if the Department has no other matters to concern it these days. Checking the State web site, I find no similar five-paragraph attacks or critiques on any subject. It seems nothing is as dangerous to the world as construction in Israel and in settlements.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

I agree with Cornel West. One Day, the Palestinians Will Be Free. - by Stephen M. Flatow

...So, I agree with Cornel West: one day, the Palestinians will be free. The question is--how long will it take Professor West to acknowledge just who it is that the Palestinians need to be liberated from?

Stephen M. Flatow..
JNS.org..
27 July '16..

I never thought I would find myself writing those words. West, a leading African-American author and intellectual, is a vicious critic of Israel. He supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. He says Israel's leaders are "war criminals." In a speech at Princeton last year, he made the wildly absurd claim that the Israelis "are killing hundreds [of Palestinians] daily."

But even a broken clock gives the right time twice a day, so on the rare occasion that West utters words of truth about the Palestinians or Israel, I must acknowledge that.

West was appointed by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to serve on the Democratic Party's Platform Committee. He lobbied hard for a platform plank supporting the Palestinian cause, and was partly successful.

Speaking to a Jerusalem Post reporter on July 26, on the floor of the Democratic convention, West said that he was disappointed the platform did not go further, but he vowed to continue his struggle. He declared: "The Palestinians will be free, brother. Ain’t no doubt about that.”

And that's where Cornel and I agree.

Since 1995, more than 98 percent of the Palestinians have been living under the occupation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) (and, since 2007, 100 percent of the residents of Gaza have been living under the occupation of Hamas). Ain't no doubt in my mind: one day, brother, the Palestinians will be free of the cruel totalitarian Palestinian regimes that occupy and oppress them.

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Guess the missing word in the BBC’s report on the capture of a Hamas terror cell - by Hadar Sela

...In short, in a report concerning a terrorist cell linked to a proscribed terror organisation which carried out a fatal terror attack on Israeli civilians, the BBC once again refrained from using any form of the word ‘terror’ itself, with the sole use of the term ‘terrorist’ found in a quote preceded by the qualifier “The Israeli military said”. Apparently the BBC was once again afraid of making a “value judgement“.

Hadar Sela..
BBC Watch..
28 July '16..

Visitors to the BBC News website’s Middle East page on July 27th found the following headline:



That link led them to an article with a title which similarly suggested to audiences that there was reason to doubt Mohammed Fakih’s involvement in a terror attack reported by the BBC earlier in the month: “Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian suspected of killing rabbi“. The article opened:

“Israeli forces have shot dead a Palestinian who they said was behind a recent attack which killed an Israeli father-of-10 in the West Bank.” [emphasis added]

However, audiences were not told that one of Fakih’s accomplices had previously identified him as the gunman – as reported by Israeli media.

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Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com. If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work. 
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When a world power allows Israel to attack ally as its forces watch - by Dr. Aaron Lerner

A significant achievement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that's mostly ignored. But not by everyone.

Dr. Aaron Lerner..
IMRA Weekly Commentary..
27 July '16..
Link: http://www.imra.org.il/story.php3?id=71125




Earlier this week Israeli fighter jets attacked Syria following mortar fire that struck on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights.

And it was barely a news item.

It reflects a significant achievement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that's mostly ignored.

But not by everyone.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Europe, Terror, and Glaring Hypocrisy on Israel - by P. David Hornik

...Although, for now, the focus of Islamic terror has shifted from Israel to Western Europe, Israel’s situation remains precarious. With ISIS in Sinai, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other terror groups in Gaza, Hizballah in Lebanon, and a mix of Sunni terror groups, Hizballah, and Iranian militias in Syria, another armed conflict between Israel and terrorists is only a matter of time. And when the time comes, in light of all that has happened since the days of the Second Intifada, will Israel be able to count on Europe to give it support instead of reflexive criticism and pressures to lay down its arms? Despite all, only the very naïve could think so.

P. David Hornik..
Frontpage.com..
27 July '16..
Link: http://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/263643/europes-glaring-hypocrisy-terror-and-israel-p-david-hornik

Western Europe is now being hit by a wave of terror. Israel has expressed sympathy to the governments and peoples, and is helping or has offered to help the hardest-hit countries—France, Germany, and Belgium—fight the terror.

It has been different when terror has pounded Israel. Even during the five-year onslaught known as the Second Intifada (2000-2005), Europe was sharply critical of Israel and denounced all its terror-fighting methods as immoral.

The contrast is particularly striking in light of some disparities. From the Charlie Hebdo attack on January 7, 2015 to Tuesday’s attack in a church, 239 have been killed in France (pop. 67 million). In the Brussels bombings on March 22 this year, 32 were killed in Belgium (pop. 11 million). Since September 15, 2015, terror attacks (counting the Munich shooting late last week) have killed 15 in Germany (pop. 82 million).

During the five years of the Second Intifada, however, 1000 were killed in Israel (current pop. 8.5 million; even smaller then)—a much higher rate even than France has endured since the start of 2015.

Yet, in the course of those intifada years—and since then as well, including, of course, the Gaza wars—Europe’s criticism of Israel’s fight against terror has been unremitting.

The irony is deepened by the fact that some of the Israeli measures that Europe has most fiercely condemned are now used routinely by European countries themselves—without, of course, having to put up with criticism from Israel or anyone else.

Hamas terrorists who murdered Rabbi Miki Mark are located and forcibly retired - by Arnold Roth

...A martyr al-Fakih assuredly is becoming as we write these lines. Hamas, which de facto controls large swathes of the nominally Fatah/PA towns and villages of the mis-named "West Bank", is active now preparing for a showcase funeral and demonstrations of rage and power, intended not only as a token of how far away peace is, but to show that the PA - with all its foreign aid, its police and its European-supplied limousines for insiders - actually takes a back seat to the Hamas organizers on the ground.

In the PA-controlled village of Surif this morning, the body of a
terrorist gunman is removed by IDF soldiers [Image Source]
Arnold/Frimet Roth..
This Ongoing War..
27 July '16..

Violent riots erupted in the PA-controlled village of Surif, north of Hebron, early this morning (Wednesday) as a joint IDF, Shin Bet and Israel Police operation trapped the four-person terror cell that murdered Rabbi Michael Mark, the executive director of the Otniel Hesder Yeshiva, on July 1 [link] and seriously injured his wife and children. The victims of that attack were traveling in a car that came under murderous gunfire on Route 60 ["01-Jul-16: The drive-by shooting near Otniel"].

Times of Israel reports that the members of the Hamas-aligned terror cell

opened fire at the Israeli troops from inside the house in which he was hiding, and the IDF responded by firing several anti-tank missiles... The IDF then used a bulldozer to knock down most of the building, and when the troops finally entered the destroyed home they found Fakih dead inside...

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Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com. If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work. 
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The Otto Weininger syndrome - by Sarah Honig

...Weininger’s suicide was regarded by Third Reich ideologues as the only “honorable” way for a Jew to cleanse the world of his existence. Repulsive as this undeniably is, it’s hardly irrelevant....The mental aberration Weininger took to extremes is still being taken to extremes by his torchbearers. But there’s one very significant difference. Latter-day Weiningers look out quite nicely for their own well-being. Their self-abhorrence is channeled onto the Jewish collective. They promote national Jewish suicide, not their own personal demise.

Sarah Honig..
Another Tack..
First Posted 03 June '10..
Link: https://sarahhonig.com/2010/06/03/another-tack-the-otto-weininger-syndrome/

While first published 6 years ago, this piece remains just as relevant and insightful today as before. A special nod to Sheri Oz at Israel Diaries who inspired hunting this out to post once again

Suicide can be individual or collective. In either manifestation it can share similar attributes and arise from parallel psychological anomalies. It can be perversely popular.

In early 20th-century Vienna, for example, a spate of high-profile suicides triggered a pseudo-romantic fad. There seemed to be something dashing in taking one’s own life in a grand gesture that apparently made a statement. Pivotal in sensationalizing the fashion was 23-year-old philosopher Otto Weininger who shot himself in 1903 in the same hotel room where Beethoven died (presumably to enhance the dramatic effect).

Weininger’s intense auto-anti-Semitism loomed large among his motivations. Born Jewish, he converted to Christianity in his last year but obviously found no salvation. His book Geschlecht und Charakter (Gender and Character) testifies to boundless self-loathing. Weininger lambastes modernity as “Jewish” and asserts that ”women and Jews are pimps; their goal is to make man guilty. Our era is not only the most Jewish, but also the most feminine of eras” which “no longer has a single great artist, a single great philosopher. It has the least originality and the biggest hunt for originality.”

Moreover, Weininger makes hair-raising “anthropological observations,” even embracing notions that “Jewish hair… points to the Negro, and the completely Chinese or Malaysian skull shapes, which one so often finds among the Jews – who frequently have a yellow complexion – point to partly Mongolian blood.” Harrowing stuff.

Unsurprisingly Weininger’s most ardent posthumous fans were the Nazis, foremost Hitler himself who reportedly said he “had only encountered one decent Jew, Otto Weininger, who killed himself when he realized that the Jew thrives on contaminating the authentic folk bloodlines of others.”

Weininger’s suicide was regarded by Third Reich ideologues as the only “honorable” way for a Jew to cleanse the world of his existence.

Repulsive as this undeniably is, it’s hardly irrelevant. The noxious Weininger syndrome still afflicts certain Jews. The mental aberration Weininger took to extremes is still being taken to extremes by his torchbearers. But there’s one very significant difference. Latter-day Weiningers look out quite nicely for their own well-being. Their self-abhorrence is channeled onto the Jewish collective. They promote national Jewish suicide, not their own personal demise.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Suing Lord Balfour? - by Elliott Abrams

...But there is something more serious to ponder: that the Palestinian leadership is wasting its time and energy on this nonsense instead of trying in practical ways to improve the lives of Palestinians. Suing Lord Balfour, or to be more exact suing the United Kingdom over the Balfour Declaration of 1917, is a substitute for decent governance and the evasion of even an effort to provide it.

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
26 July '16..
Link: http://blogs.cfr.org/abrams/2016/07/26/suing-lord-balfour/

The unseriousness of the PLO’s desire for peace with Israel was demonstrated in a comic manner this week. Here’s the news item from the AP:

The Palestinian president says he will sue Great Britain over the 1917 Balfour Declaration and its support for a Jewish national home in the Holy Land.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki made the announcement on behalf of Mahmoud Abbas at Monday’s opening of the Arab League summit in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.

Malki said the suit would be filed in an international court. He didn’t elaborate.

Perhaps Mr. Malki “didn’t elaborate” because he recognizes, at some level, the lunacy of this approach. Is it to be the International Criminal Court, where perhaps they could seek a warrant to arrest Lord Balfour? Problem: he died in 1930. Perhaps he has heirs whose property might be attached. In fact, he never married and had no children. Or perhaps the PLO might try to attach all the streets named for Balfour throughout Israel, or the community there called Balfouria after him.

(Part 1) Leftist Jews: Jewish Uncle Toms?

...Leftist Jews sincerely believe that they are acting in Israel’s best interests. They are, in their opinion, trying to raise the ethical and moral standards demonstrated by leaders of the country so that Israel corresponds to their image of a just and tolerant society. In some cases, leftist Jews may believe that they are successors of those who fought for civil rights in the USA and against apartheid in South Africa. They draw some kind of equivalency between the Palestinian Arabs in Judea & Samaria and the Blacks of the States/South Africa.....However, they are aligning themselves with those who seek Israel’s destruction and not simply redress for crimes they accuse Israel of committing against Palestinian Arabs.

Sheri Oz..
Israel Diaries..
26 July '16..

Credit for inspiration for this two-part piece goes to both Diane Weber Bederman and to Sarah Tuttle-Singer. Diane wrote that J Street Jews (and I suppose others like them) can most accurately be understood as Jewish Uncle Toms. Sarah wrote about privilege. In Part I, I will expand upon Weber Bederman’s application of the term Uncle Tom to leftist Jews; in Part II, I will discuss how Uncle Tomism interacts with a (false) sense of privilege leading to Jewish leftism.

By Jewish leftism I am referring only to the issue concerning attitudes to the Israeli-“Palestinian” conflict, or political leftism. I am not a political leftist. Political leftism stands in contrast to economic leftism with which I do concur to a large extent.

Jewish leftists engage in behaviours that non-leftists see as directly or indirectly harming Israel, whether in the short term or the long term. Harming the Jewish state (either intentionally or unintentionally) can be seen as a form of self-harm. Some critics of the Jewish left call the leftists antisemitic Jews or self-hating Jews.

Defining Self-Hating Jews

Many of us struggle trying to understand the apparent willingness of certain Jews to operate against the Jewish state all the while proclaiming that they are concerned with the well-being of the Jewish state. Many of those, like me, do not feel that calling leftists self-hating Jews is either accurate or really captures the phenomenon.

Surely there are those who hate the fact that they were born into The Tribe. But that is likely not the majority. I am certain that those who act in ways that I see as being against the better interests of Israel, in fact believe that they are trying to save Israel’s soul.

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Updates throughout the day at http://calevbenyefuneh.blogspot.com. If you enjoy "Love of the Land", please be a subscriber. Just put your email address in the "Subscribe" box on the upper right-hand corner of the page.Twitter updates at LoveoftheLand as well as our Love of the Land page at Facebook which has additional pieces of interest besides that which is posted on the blog. Also check-out This Ongoing War by Frimet and Arnold Roth. An excellent blog, very important work. 
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Truth Versus the Pernicious Myth About ‘Settlement Growth’ - by Michael Rubin

...The more scholars delve into statistics, the more apparent it is that professional peace processors have become so blind to reality that they would discount any data that does not conform to their preconceived assumptions. With so much conventional wisdom about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict unsupported by reality, is it any surprise that U.S. and European diplomacy on the issue has such a poor track record of success?

Image by © Howard Davies/CORBIS
Michael Rubin..
Commentary Magazine..
25 July '16..
Link: https://www.commentarymagazine.com/foreign-policy/middle-east/how-much-are-settlements-growing/

There are four common myths or misconceptions that infuse U.S. and European peace process diplomacy when it comes to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The first is that there are millions of Palestinian refugees. This number is arbitrary, the result of UN sleight-of-hand. After all, the United Nations uses a different definition with regard to Palestinians than it does everywhere else in the world. The late University of Illinois Professor Fred M. Gottheil tackled this issue a decade ago in Middle Eastern Studies.

Then, there is the issue that demographic reality means that Israel must make peace now lest Palestinian population growth mean that Israel will lose its democratic character. At the root of this view, however, is blind acceptance of Palestinian Statistics Agency numbers, as Yakov Faitelson definitively showed in the Middle East Quarterly.

A third myth appeals to the humanitarian impulses embraced by so many across the political spectrum. It holds that the plight of the Palestinians (and especially the Gaza Strip which hasn’t been under occupation for a decade) is a humanitarian tragedy. And while the Palestinian leadership may be tragic in its disdain for life, liberty, and the bettering opportunities and freedoms within society, the simple fact of the matter is that living standards in the Gaza Strip are better than those in Turkey and many other developing countries.

The fourth and perhaps most pernicious myth is that settlements are the chief impediment to fruitful peace talks. A bit of background: The Obama administration entered office putting Israeli settlements in the disputed West Bank front and center. In contrast to his predecessors, President Obama made freezing the expansion of settlements and towns in disputed territories—both in terms of area and population—a prerequisite to further peace talks rather than a subject for diplomatic discussion. In effect, by acting as the zoning commissioner for Jerusalem rather than the leader of the free world, Obama gave Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a free pass on his refusal to respond to previous Israeli peace offers, be they from 2000 or 2008. The Israeli government might offer talks anytime, anywhere but the Palestinian Authority could and did use Obama’s initial statements as a reason not to engage.