Monday, October 20, 2014

The Proud Western Enablers of Abbas’s Incitement

...Hamas gets results, in other words, though they may come at a high price. Abbas does not spill enough Jewish blood and he does not put enough fear into the hearts of Israeli civilians to compare favorably to the genocidal murderers of Hamas. Therefore, he has to step up his game. If the international community were to do the right thing and isolate Hamas while refusing to fund the next war on Israel, Abbas could plausibly have the space to do something other than incite holy war. But they won’t do the right thing, and Abbas predictably resorts to terror and incitement. I hope the humanitarians of Washington and Brussels are proud of themselves.

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

It was not a quiet holiday weekend in Jerusalem, though all things considered the violence and anti-Semitism against Jews in their eternal home and capital was not as vicious as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas might have hoped. Abbas, Israel’s supposed “peace partner” and raving anti-Semite, echoed some of the ugliest moments in the modern history of the land when he explicitly attempted to incite violence against Jews seeking to enter the Temple Mount and resorted to the kind of fear mongering over Jerusalem that has long been a prelude to anti-Jewish rioting.

And yet the revolting persona Abbas has adopted more publicly of late is an indictment of the international community as well. Here is a brief rundown of Abbas’s Jew hate over the weekend:

Abbas said it was not enough for Palestinians to say that “settlers” have come to the Temple Mount.

“We should all remain present at the Noble Sanctuary [Temple Mount],” he added.

“We must prevent them from entering the Noble Sanctuary in any way. This is our Al-Aksa and our church. They have no right to enter and desecrate them. We must confront them and defend our holy sites.”

Abbas said Palestinians must be united to defend Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem has a special flavor and taste not only in our hearts, but also in the hearts of all Arabs and Muslims and Christians,” he said. “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Palestinian state and without it there will be no state.”

What Abbas wants is to enforce by terror and rioting a full-fledged ethnic and religious apartheid against Jews on the Jewish holy site. He won’t be the target of “apartheid weeks” the way Israel is on college campuses because most young leftists are ignorant hypocrites, and their defense of “human rights” in the Middle East has always had precisely zero to do with human rights. But Abbas would be a good candidate for such opprobrium, were the Western left to at any point develop a degree of intellectual integrity.

Sincere wishes for a complete and thorough recovery as soon as possible

...We again wish the people of Gaza better times, better health, better lives. And we also wish them - and ourselves - a complete and rapid separation from that iron-fisted, ideologically-crazed cursed Islamist leadership which never hesitates to impose cruel hardships, high infant mortality, horrible medical care and massive managerial indifference on their own society while reserving to its own well-connected insiders the privilege of efficiently engaging with the Zionist Entity when it suits them personally.

Haniyeh: The power to ensure he is always
just a phone call away from arranging whatever
needs to be arranged [Image Source]
Frimet/Arnold Roth..
This Ongoing War..
20 October '14..

Generally, if you have some authoritative information about another person's medical condition or treatment, you keep it to yourself. Everyone is entitled to privacy when it comes to such things. But this note is about an exception.

Not for the first time, it's been revealed via media reports in the past day that the immediate family of one of the inner-circle Hamas families who have the Gaza Strip in their iron-fisted grip benefited from access to world-class Israeli medical care.

The details:

An Israeli hospital confirmed Sunday that it had treated the daughter of Hamas’s top leader in the Gaza Strip, weeks after a brutal war between Israel and the Islamist terror group. Avi Shushan, a spokesman for Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, said the daughter of Ismail Haniyeh was hospitalized for “a number of days” this month. He did not disclose what she was treated for. A spokeswoman for the Israeli military also confirmed the hospital stay. Hamas officials were not immediately available for comment... Haniyeh’s daughter was treated in Israel following complications during a standard medical procedure in Gaza, Reuters reported Sunday. [Times of Israel, October 19, 2014]

Haniyeh was, maybe still is, prime minister of a major part of the Palestinian political entity (see Wikipedia). It's complicated because in their world, reality is what the powerful demand it to be, and does not always fit well with the facts.

This hospitalization is not an isolated incident:


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The Real Issue is Kerry’s Incompetence, Not Israeli Manners

...The point here isn’t that Kerry is foolishly picking quarrels with Israel but that he has demonstrated his unfitness for office at a time when the United States is once again engaging in a conflict with a dangerous Islamist foe. President Obama has allowed Kerry to embark on a futile effort to revive the dead-in-the-water peace process thinking that there would be few consequences for another failure. But Kerry’s incapacity to focus on the ISIS threat presents a bigger problem for the president. If he is truly serious about building a coalition against ISIS, the president needs to stop letting his administration pick pointless fights with Israel. Kerry needs to be fired.

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

On Friday, the U.S. State Department rejected criticisms from Israeli Economic Minister Naftali Bennett that Secretary of State John Kerry had sought to blame the rise of ISIS on Israel. Spokesperson Marie Harf said Kerry’s remarks a day earlier were “taken out of context” for “political reasons” by Bennett and other Israelis who cried foul. That in turn set off criticisms of Bennett by his Cabinet colleague and rival, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said the Jewish Home Party leader should keep his mouth shut about the United States. But while most observers seemed to focus on the Israeli political dimension of the controversy or the chances that the spat would worsen the already shaky relations between Israel and the U.S., what escaped notice was the fact that in claiming that the failure to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians was helping ISIS, Kerry was actually contradicting President Obama.

On September 24, in his speech to the General Assembly of the United Nations, Obama said the following:

Leadership will also be necessary to address the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis. As bleak as the landscape appears, America will never give up the pursuit of peace. The situation in Iraq, Syria and Libya should cure anyone of the illusion that this conflict is the main source of problems in the region; for far too long; it has been used in part as a way to distract people from problems at home. And the violence engulfing the region today has made too many Israelis ready to abandon the hard work of peace.

Leaving aside Obama’s willingness to blame Israel for not working for peace when, in fact, all they are reacting to is the consistent refusal of their supposed Palestinian peace partners to accept repeated offers of independence and peace, this statement represented genuine progress in the president’s thinking. Obama had in the past repeatedly embraced the notion that ending the Arab-Israeli conflict would solve all the problems in the region but the rise of ISIS had sobered him up a bit. The willingness of many Arab regimes to make common cause with Israel against both ISIS and radical Islamists such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood illustrated the obvious fact that conflict within the Arab world is a function of the division among Muslims, not discontent about Israel’s existence or the failure of peace negotiations.

This was a remarkable departure for a president who had spoken of Western and Israeli guilt for Muslim grievances in his address to the Muslim world in Cairo in June 2009, seemingly having finally woken up to the fact that no amount of apologizing or engagement will make radical Islam go away. But for some reason Kerry is still sticking to the old playbook in which Israelis can be scapegoated for the existence of bloody conflicts in which Jews play no part.

Kerry was, no doubt, playing to his audience of Muslims when he told a State Department ceremony honoring the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha that resentment about the Arab-Israeli conflict was fueling recruitment for ISIS. Since Kerry has consistently and wrongly blamed Israel for the collapse of his peace initiative, it didn’t take much imagination to see that what he was doing was blaming the Jewish state for the fact that ISIS terrorists have overrun much of Syria and Iraq while beheading Westerners. But while the Arab leaders he cited may pay lip service to anti-Israel sentiment by referencing the alleged “humiliation and denial and lack of human dignity” suffered by the Palestinians, ISIS’s popularity is based on promoting hatred of all Westerners and non-Muslims, not just Israelis. Which is to say that Bennett wasn’t off target or taking things out of context when he said, “When a British Muslim decapitates a British Christian, there will always be someone to blame the Jew.”

Iran Still Remains the Threat in the Middle East

...It is crystal clear that the Iran-led Shiite axis remains the main threat to stability in the Middle East. Iran’s journey toward a nuclear arsenal – a true game changer – must be stopped. Unfortunately, the gullible West seems to continue to appease Iran, while the “threat” of the Islamic State serves as a welcome diversion.

Prof. Efraim Inbar..
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 272..
19 October '14..

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The novelty of the Islamic State, as well as the magnitude of the threat it poses, are greatly exaggerated. Iran remains the main threat to stability in the Middle East. Its journey toward a nuclear arsenal must be stopped.

The emergence of the Islamic State (IS) on the battlefields of the civil war in Syria, and its subsequent spectacular successes in conquering parts of Syria and Iraq, have grabbed international attention. The gruesome pictures of IS’s barbaric beheadings supplied to the international media has only added to IS’s notoriety. The Islamic State’s quest to establish a new bloody Caliphate became a cause célèbre.

Many pundits have decided that the Islamic State is fundamentally changing the Middle East and they grope for new strategies to meet the challenge. In reality, however, the novelty of the Islamic State, as well as the magnitude of the threat it poses, are greatly exaggerated.

This organization is a reflection of the rise of radical political Islam in the Middle East over the last decades. Islam has always been a central component in the identity of the peoples of the Middle East. While Egypt, Iran and Turkey succeeded in maintaining a strong ethno-statist parallel identity, most of the Arab states have failed to instill statist identities through their education system. This means that primordial identities, tribal or sectarian, usually were stronger than the demand for loyalty by the particular states.

Moreover, many of the Arab states failed to modernize and deliver basic services, allowing for alternative Islamist structures to do a better job in providing education, medical and social work services to the impoverished masses. It is worth noting that the Muslim Brotherhood was established as early as 1928. Ever since, it has developed grassroots by trying to take care of the masses, while subverting the statist order in Muslim states with the goal of building a new Caliphate. Pan Arabism – a popular ideological inclination among the Arab elites – also undermined the legitimacy of the statist order, reinforcing Pan-Islamist impulses. Among the Shiites, the religious zeal turned Iran into an Islamic Republic in 1979 that has been trying since then to export its version of radical Shiite Islam.

For decades, it was the security services, probably the only well-functioning governmental agency, which provided stability, law and order. But maintaining a monopoly over the use of force was a challenge that has not been met successfully by the statist order established after the end of World War I and it has been disintegrating for quite a while. We have seen a failed state develop – where there is no monopoly over the use of force, but a myriad of militias – in Lebanon since the 1970s. In Yemen, there was a civil war in the 1960s which created much instability to this very day. Somalia is the best know example of a failed state. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority turned into a battlefield among competing militias almost immediately after its establishment in 1994. Strong dictators held Libya and Iraq together, but when they were gone these states became failed political entities. The Assad republican dynasty seems to have gone in the same direction.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Turkey's Warm Love Affair with Hamas

...But it was the Islamists who, in the 2000s, made the biggest gains from the concept. Since 2002, when they came to power, they have reaped enormous political gains from the "Palestine-fetish," to which they also love to be ideologically attached. For the Turks, it has been like abusing alcohol and wanting to have a healthier life. It still is.

Burak Bekdil..
Gatestone Institute..
19 October '14..

"The Palestinian cause" is a unique charm that brings together Turks from different ideologies. Turkish Islamists view it as an indispensable part of "jihad;" the conservatives feel attached to it because it has a religious connotation; for the leftists it is part of an "anti-imperialist" struggle; the nationalists embrace it just because most Turks embrace it. In the 1970s, when a dozen Turks a day on average were killed in street violence, the "Palestinian cause" was the only issue that otherwise warring fractions of the Turkish left, right and Islamists could agree on.

But it was the Islamists who, in the 2000s, made the biggest gains from the concept. Since 2002, when they came to power, they have reaped enormous political gains from the "Palestine-fetish," to which they also love to be ideologically attached. For the Turks, it has been like abusing alcohol and wanting to have a healthier life. It still is.

Turkey's leaders, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, are probably the loudest supporters of the Palestinian cause in world politics today. Only one flag, other than the Turkish, is sported at their party's election rallies: that of "Palestine." It was because of the "Palestinian case" that Erdogan and Davutoglu premeditatedly chose to move from friendly relations with Israel to a "cold war." Votes and ideological satisfaction followed.

But the Turkish rhetoric on "solidarity with our Palestinian brothers" often seems askew to how solidarity should be.

In 2012, the Turks' "Palestinian brothers" sounded an alarm when they found out that they were incapable of paying salaries to 160,000 government employees on time. The shortfall was considered the biggest crisis in Palestinian history, and the authorities said they heavily relied on the availability of Arab and international aid.

Davutoglu, then foreign minister, said of the "Mavi Marmara" incident -- the raid by the Israeli Defense Forces on the Turkish flotilla that killed 10 pro-Palestine activists who wanted to "break the naval siege of Gaza" -- that it was "Turkey's 9/11." He further said that more Turkish-led flotillas would be on their way to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, that Turkish military planes and ships would protect these "aid vessels," and that "Israel would eventually be entirely isolated."

That was when Erdogan and Davutoglu often boasted that "We are the world's 17th biggest economy and we are running fast to become one of the top 10." Yet, at an international donors' conference for Gaza in March 2009, the Turkish pledges stood at a mere $93 million. That pledge accounted for only 2.1% of all international pledges made there, which totaled $4.257 billion.

As of 2012, of all 216 approved projects for Gaza, 180 were run by international aid organizations, three by the World Bank, three by the Red Crescent, 13 by Germany, two by France, and one by each of Belgium, Egypt, Holland and Sweden. Turkish projects? Zero. In 2010, the Turks purchased $270,000 worth of Palestinian goods – 0.00000033 percent of the Turkish economy.

(Part 1) How to deal with irrationality and chaos

...As the US moves away from Israel and as the charade of nuclear negotiations with Iran continues, making it more and more likely that Iran will become a nuclear power, the Israeli policy of simultaneously aligning herself with the US and trying to resist US pressure to give up the store to the Palestinians is becoming more and more dangerous.

Vic Rosenthal..
Abu Yehuda..
17 October '14..

Words like ‘insanity’, ‘derangement’ and (more mildly) ‘irrationality’ are used more and more these days in discourse about the Middle East.

In no particular order:

The insane hatred for Israel in Europe. David P. Goldman explains the European derangement (his word) here:

The flowering of Jewish national life in Israel makes the Europeans crazy. It is not simply envy: it is a terrible reminder of the vanity of European national aspirations over the centuries, of the continent’s ultimate failure as a civilization. Just as the Europeans (most emphatically the Scandinavians) would prefer to dissolve into the post-national stew of European identity, they demand that Israel do the same. Never mind that Israel lacks the option to do so, and would be destroyed were it to try, for reasons that should be obvious to any casual consumer of news media.

Europeans cannot live with their past. They cannot live with their present, and do not plan to have a future, for they do not bear enough children to forestall demographic ruin at the hundred-year horizon. With its high fertility, national spirit, religiosity and unabashed national self-assertion, Israel reminds the Europeans of everything that they are not. Much worse: it reminds them of what they once desired to become. The idea of Israel as well as the fact of Israel are equally intolerable to them.

Europe is still Israel’s biggest market, unfortunately, and its spite can be painful, although not fatal.

While we’re talking about attitudes toward Israel, there is the consistent irrationality of the Obama Administration. For example, John Kerry said this yesterday:

I think that it is more critical than ever that we be fighting for peace, and I think it is more necessary than ever… As I went around and met with people in the course of our discussions about the ISIL (Islamic State) 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 that they felt.

This is nothing more than the discredited ‘linkage theory’ which claimed that every problem in the Middle East would be solved if only the Palestinians could be appeased by being given a nice piece of Israel to chew on. The fact that Kerry could bring this stinking red herring back from the garbage dump of bad excuses to squeeze Israel with a straight face is remarkable (but then Kerry has always been impervious to reality when it goes against his ideology).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Perfidious Albion reverts to type

...With this vote, Britain has reverted to historic type. In Mandatory Palestine, it tried to destroy its own (never abrogated) legal obligation to settle Jews in what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Instead it stopped Jewish immigration during the Holocaust and, in response to pogroms against the Jews carried out by the Nazi-affiliated Arabs of Palestine, offered them a state of their own.

Melanie Phillips..
As I see it/JPost..
16 October '14..

In a spectacular display of ignorance, moral illiteracy and malice, Britain’s House of Commons this week unwittingly resurrected the specter of its own historical perfidy towards the Jewish people.

By 274 votes to 12, MPs voted to “recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.”

Most MPs didn’t turn up for the vote at all. In the Middle East, it will make no difference on the ground. The prime minister, David Cameron, who abstained, says it won’t alter British government policy “to recognize a Palestinian state at the moment of our choosing,” whatever that means. So does it matter? Yes. Mahmoud Abbas is using unilateral recognition of “Palestine” as a weapon of war to isolate and choke Israel to death.

The Commons vote may encourage other countries to follow suit. It also threatens to deepen the Middle East conflict.

To head off a damaging split in the Labor Party, the motion was amended to support Palestine recognition “as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

But a state of Palestine cannot precede a two-state solution. It has to be negotiated into existence, not least because of the evidence that its real purpose is as a beachhead to destroy Israel.

Unilaterally declaring a Palestine state tears up the Oslo treaty committing both sides to such a negotiation, thus destroying the peace process by its own lights.

Mahmoud Abbas has repeatedly said (in Arabic) that the Palestinians will never accept the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. His Palestinian Authority glorifies those who murder Israelis, and teaches Palestinian children to hate and kill Jews.

Not just Hamas but Abbas’s Fatah threatens to exterminate Israel. Last year, Fatah official Tawfiq Tirawi declared on PA TV that “the two-state solution does not exist,” that Palestine included Israeli cities such as Haifa, Jaffa and Acre, and that “not a centimeter of Jerusalem will be liberated unless every grain of Palestinian soil is soaked in the blood of its brave people.”

These are the people the MPs declared have a “right” to a state.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Surprise! The New York Times and Israel (Again)

...Second, note the way the Times refers to the recent Gaza war: It seems that “violence will keep recurring.” How nasty of Violence to do that. The Times does not consider that Hamas deliberately started this conflict, and by burying this sentence in an editorial censuring Israel makes it clear that Israel is really to blame.

Elliott Abrams..
Pressure Points..
15 October '14..

The New York Times, whose hostility to Israel is visible in both its news and its editorial pages, was at it again yesterday. In an editorial (about the symbolic vote in the UK parliament backing Palestinian statehood) entitled “A British Message to Israel,” the Times‘s editorial board unloaded yet again with a barrage of advice, opinion–and untruths.

Here are some of the key words:

The vote is one more sign of the frustration many people in Europe feel about the failure to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement despite years of promises.

The most recent American-mediated talks collapsed in April. Meanwhile, Israel continues to build new settlements or expand existing ones, thus shrinking the territory available for a Palestinian state and ignoring an international community that considers such construction illegal. The recent war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, which killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 73 Israelis, has increased the sense that violence will keep recurring while peace remains elusive.

There are a couple of points worth making in reaction to this. First, on settlements, note that the Times makes two claims: that “Israel continues to build new settlements” and that expansion of existing ones is “shrinking the territory available for a Palestinian state.” Neither assertion is true. In the last decade the Israelis removed all the settlements in Gaza and four very small ones in the West Bank. The days of building new settlements all over the West Bank are long gone. And “settlement expansion” has meant expansion of population, not territory, so their footprint in the West Bank has not changed. The so-called “peace map” is the same.

Second, note the way the Times refers to the recent Gaza war: It seems that “violence will keep recurring.” How nasty of Violence to do that. The Times does not consider that Hamas deliberately started this conflict, and by burying this sentence in an editorial censuring Israel makes it clear that Israel is really to blame.

NY Times post – There should be no Palestinian state by Caroline Glick

...Former British foreign minister and Labor MP Jack Straw went a step further this week as he addressed his Parliament before its lopsided 274-12 vote to recognize “Palestine.” The vote, he explained, was not about advancing peace. It was a straightforward bid to harm Israel. In his words, “The only thing that the Israeli government…understands is pressure.”

Caroline Glick..
17 October '14..

The New York Times online debating forum Room For Debate asked me to participate in an online forum regarding the rationale for recognizing the non-existent state of Palestine.

Here’s what I wrote:

When Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven announced his decision to recognize the non-existent state of “Palestine” earlier this month, he inadvertently gave the game away.

Lofven said, “A two-state solution requires mutual recognition and a will to peaceful coexistence. Sweden will therefore recognize the State of Palestine.”

The Palestinians refuse to recognize or peacefully coexist with the State of Israel.

Like his coalition partner Hamas terror master Khaled Mashaal, and despite his sweet talk to Western audiences, PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas has pledged, repeatedly, over decades that he will never, ever recognize Israel. During his speech to the UN General Assembly last month he reverted to PLO language from the 1970s, referring to Israel repeatedly as “the occupying Power,” and “the racist occupying State.”

So when Lofven recognized “Palestine,” he joined the Palestinian campaign to destroy Israel. He used the language of the “two-state solution,” to reject the Jewish state.

Former British foreign minister and Labor MP Jack Straw went a step further this week as he addressed his Parliament before its lopsided 274-12 vote to recognize “Palestine.”

The vote, he explained, was not about advancing peace. It was a straightforward bid to harm Israel.

In his words, “The only thing that the Israeli government…understands is pressure.”

Stoking the Flames of War Through Fabricating Icons of Outrage

...The goal of these activists is to obtain images that can be used to undermine Israel’s legitimacy. But there is more to it. They also use these images to raise funds and generate support for their institutions back in the United States and Europe. It’s a reprehensible practice, but one that is all too effective.

International “peace” and “human rights”
activists in Hebron waiting for Jews to do
something bad so they can catch it
on camera. (Photo: Dexter Van Zile.)

Dexter Van Zile..
Times of Israel..
16 October '14..

The anti-Israel crowd is currently feasting its eyes on a photo of a Jew behaving badly in the Old City of Jerusalem. The photo, sold by Andalou Agency, a Turkish news organization, which has been Tweeted by Max Blumenthal and hundreds of others, shows an angry Orthodox Jew yelling at an innocent-looking Arab woman. She looks mortified and frightened.

The man looks angry and terrifying.

The photo has been re-Tweeted hundreds of times with the misleading caption “Israeli religious fanatics stop Palestinians from praying at Al Aqsa mosque in #Jerusalem…”

There’s just one problem. As bloggers Elder of Ziyon and Israellycool have pointed out, the woman being yelled at is holding a Hebrew prayer book. Videos of the confrontation reveal she grabbed the book from the man’s hand prior to the photo being taken.

She grabbed the Orthodox Jew’s prayer book out of his hand and he responded with anger. Observers might argue that he overreacted to the provocation, but the fact remains, the woman perpetrated an aggressive and provocative act. This was no “micro-aggression.”

It was not the Israeli Jew who was interfering with the woman’s right to pray as Max Blumenthal and others stated on Twitter. It was the other way around. She was messing with someone trying to worship and intentionally provoked an angry response that was captured by a nearby photographer from a Turkish news agency.

As a result of the woman’s successful act of provocation, the photographer’s well-timed click, and a dishonest caption attributed to the photo, thousands of people, many of them who already hate Israel, have been exposed to an image and a narrative that portrays Israeli Jews as unable to leave peacefully in the land with Palestinian Muslims.

The image affirmed what many people already believe about the Jews and their state – that they are an intolerable presence in the Middle East.

This is a textbook example of what Nidra Poller calls a “lethal narrative” – a story told with the intention of encouraging violence against a particular group of people.

The manner in which the Andalou Agency photo was manipulated to promote a lethal narrative raises a larger issue – the willingness of so-called peace and human rights activists to assist in the ongoing cognitive war against Israel perpetrated by Islamists and jihadists throughout the world.

Machinations and the Settlements Dodge

...We are talking about 600,000 Israeli settlers planted on Palestinian soil,” declared Slaughter. But this is pretty astounding stuff. Would Slaughter describe an Arab living in Israel as “planted on Jewish soil”? Indeed, he’d cause a minor crisis within British politics if he started describing Pakistani immigrants to Britain as colonizers “planted on English soil.” Presumably, Slaughter’s belief that the very soil of the West Bank is somehow intrinsically and exclusively Palestinian stems from his equally misguided view that the West Bank is a foreign country.

Tom Wilson..
Commentary Magazine..
15 October '14..

Responding to Monday’s Palestinian statehood vote in Britain’s parliament, Times of Israel editor David Horovitz penned an op-ed provocatively titled “It’s the Settlements, Stupid.” Horovitz argues that the erosion of Israel’s diplomatic standing that made Monday’s vote possible has in large part been on account of Israel’s settlement policy. If true, then we live in strange times, where building homes for Jews can cause more outrage than Hamas stockpiling rockets and Iran developing nuclear weapons with which to murder those same Jews. And yet the following day, Sir Alan Duncan, Britain’s envoy to Yemen and Oman, gave a shocking speech asserting that those endorsing settlements should be considered on par with racists and hounded from Britain’s public life. The reality is, it is not the settlements that have eroded Israel’s standing, but rather the completely warped narrative that now surrounds them. And what’s worse, many Israelis have in no small part helped to create that narrative.

As Horovitz points out, settlement building was referenced some 40 times during the Westminster debate. That is certainly testament to the extent to which this issue has been turned into the weapon of choice for those looking to pour scorn on Israel. Horovitz also gives examples of the kind of talk about settlements that he’s referring to. One Conservative MP, who began by professing his deep friendship for Israel, went on to say that the recent “annexation” by Israel of 950 acres of West Bank land had outraged him more than anything else in his entire political life. He explained that, given all his support for Israel in the past, this move had made him appear the fool. But the truth is, many people had been fooled by the way that this event was willfully misrepresented, first by the Israeli left, and then by the international media. For as Eugene Kontorovich pointed out here at the time, there had in reality been no annexation whatsoever. Israel had simply come to a factual administrative finding about the status of the land in question (much of it purchased by Jews before Israel’s founding), but the world was encouraged to imagine privately owned Palestinian property being appropriated for colonization.

This sense of alien colonization of Palestinian land sits at the core of what many feel about the settlements. That was certainly the notion promoted in the other statement referenced by Horovitz, this time from Labor’s Andy Slaughter. “Who can defend settlement building — the colonization of another country? We are talking about 600,000 Israeli settlers planted on Palestinian soil,” declared Slaughter. But this is pretty astounding stuff. Would Slaughter describe an Arab living in Israel as “planted on Jewish soil”? Indeed, he’d cause a minor crisis within British politics if he started describing Pakistani immigrants to Britain as colonizers “planted on English soil.” Presumably, Slaughter’s belief that the very soil of the West Bank is somehow intrinsically and exclusively Palestinian stems from his equally misguided view that the West Bank is a foreign country.

There is of course an argument for turning the West Bank into a Palestinian state one day, but like the misbelief that the green line holds some sacrosanct status under international law, it is hard to understand why the territory seized and occupied by Jordan for just 19 years represents the precise boundaries for any future Palestinian state. Besides, long before anyone starts trying to determine exactly which areas should constitute a Palestinian state, someone has to come up with a model for making the land-for-peace transaction workable. So far this exchange has proved catastrophic. Gaza is the most obvious example, although there are several others. But in Gaza the Israeli experience has been one of removing settlements and getting a security nightmare in return.