Monday, April 27, 2015

Israel, China and Membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)

...Because the United States seems to have lost the courage of its convictions, it is losing the confidence of its allies. Instead of trying to lobby Western countries (including Israel) not to join the AIIB, America should convince its allies that it is reliable and determined. When America displays moral relativism and weakness, there are consequences. China’s success with the AIIB is one of them, and Israel made the right decision by joining this new bank.

Dr. Emmanuel Navon..
i24 News..
24 April '15..

In October 2014 China established, together with other Asian countries, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). The creation of the AIIB was a consequence of China’s exasperation at America’s refusal to reform the Bretton Woods institutions (i.e. the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, and the World Bank) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB). For years, China has asked to reform the IMF and the World Bank so as to reflect the global clout of the Chinese economy. But the US Congress is adamant not to yield influence, within institutions dominated by America, to a country it perceives as a threat. As for the ADB, Japan has more voting rights there than China, even though China is Asia’s biggest economy. Since China owns the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves, it can afford to build alternative institutions and to bypass the United States.

The creation of the AIIB clearly indicates that Asia’s balance of power is swinging to China’s advantage, for this is the first time that America is unable to thwart the creation of a rival Asian financial institution. After the Asian financial crisis of 1997, for example, the United States blocked the creation of a proposed Asian Monetary Fund (AMF). Nearly two decades later, China’s will has prevailed.

Despite its intensive lobbying, America has not been able to convince its allies to stay out of the AIIB. In March 2015, Britain, France, Germany and Italy announced their intention to join the AIIB as founding shareholders. In Asia, major US allies such as South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, and Thailand have announced that they will join the AIIB despite Washington’s pressures. Even Japan and Australia, which had originally indicated that they would not become AIIB members, are likely to join soon. In the Middle East, Israel just added its name to the list of “rebels” by submitting its application to the AIIB.

Israel’s decision to join the AIIB is but another indication of a growing Israeli readiness to defy US President Barack Obama. The looming agreement between the Obama administration and Iran raises concerns in Israel about America’s reliability. While China will never replace America as Israel’s strategic ally, Israel is definitely taking some eggs out of the American basket.

Arab Terrorism: The Real Motive

...The horror of the 1903 Kishinev pogrom was a turning point for many Jews, including Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Jew-hatred was finally seen to be implacable and a permanent feature of Diaspora life, and only a complete separation from the haters by the establishment of a Jewish state and the relocation of the Jewish people to it could be a permanent solution....Now there is a Jewish state, but the problem of hatred-spawned violence against Jews has not ended, even here. There is a simple reason for that: we allow it.

The murder weapon in the April 15
killing of Shalom Sherki
Vic Rosenthal..
Abu Yehuda..
26 April '15..

On April 15, Khaled Koutineh, a resident of eastern Jerusalem who was angry about having been delayed at a checkpoint drove his car into a bus stop, killing Shalom Yohai Sherki, 25, and seriously injuring Shira Klein, a young woman. Yesterday there was another vehicular attack, in which four police officers were injured, one ‘moderately’. There were also two separate incidents on the same day in which Jews were attacked by knife-wielding Arabs.

There have been at least 5 vehicular attacks on Jews by Arabs since November 2014, and numerous knife and meat-cleaver attacks. Every single day, Jewish cars are bombarded with rocks and firebombs, sometimes resulting in death. Sure, they are always angry and “frustrated,” but there is a deeper ideological reason for what they do.

I want to rerun an article I wrote last year, after a particularly horrible firebombing, and add something to it.


My personal Kishinev
Posted on December 27, 2014 by Vic Rosenthal

You probably heard about the 11-year old girl who was critically burned on Thursday when the car she was riding in was struck by a firebomb thrown by an Arab terrorist. And you certainly know about the attack on the Kehilat Bnei Torah synagogue in Jerusalem in which four worshipers and a policeman were brutally murdered. You probably know about the several incidents in which Arabs drove their vehicles into groups of Jews, including one in which a 3-month old baby and a tourist from Ecuador were murdered, and another in which the driver got out and ran back to his not-yet-dead victim and cut her throat.

If you follow these things, you may also know that Jews are afraid to go to the historic Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem because of continued violent attacks on buses, cars and people. You may also have heard about the daily rock-throwing attacks on the light rail in Jerusalem, against Jewish-driven cars on the roads in Judea and Samaria, the acid thrown on a Jewish family, etc. I could go on. And on.

The horror of the 1903 Kishinev pogrom was a turning point for many Jews, including Ze’ev Jabotinsky. Jew-hatred was finally seen to be implacable and a permanent feature of Diaspora life, and only a complete separation from the haters by the establishment of a Jewish state and the relocation of the Jewish people to it could be a permanent solution.

I think the firebomb incident was my own personal Kishinev experience. Now there is a Jewish state, but the problem of hatred-spawned violence against Jews has not ended, even here.

There is a simple reason for that: we allow it.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Would it have been so difficult? …After Attacking Officers with Knives…

...With just five words, “after attacking officers with knives,” they could have let those who skim headlines know what actually happened. Would it have been so difficult?

Yarden Frankl..
Honest Reporting..
26 April '15..

For millions of people who spend a few seconds scanning the headlines of the New York Times, here is what they saw the other day:

While it is admittedly difficult to boil the essence of a news story into a few words, the Times failed miserably in this case. Did Israeli police officers stroll through a cafe and shoot dead two innocent people sipping coffee? Not at all. As the article points out, the men had attacked the officers with knives. The Israeli police officers were acting as any police officer anywhere in the world would act when attacked with a deadly weapon.

Yet for some inexplicable reason, whomever had the task of attaching a headline to the article decided that the most important thing for people to know was that Israeli police officers had killed Palestinians.

What makes it even stranger, is that the New York Times website also published an earlier version of the story by Reuters that had a similar headline but used the words “knife-wielding” before the word “Palestinians.” A day later the story appears under a Times byline with the words “knife-wielding” removed.

No, Zionism did not begin in the 19th century

...In Israel, too, there are a number of people like Yossi Beilin who cut their ancient roots and justify the existence of the State by much more recent circumstantial reasons. From there, for these people, everything is negotiable and no matter if one gives up places in this country that have made large impacts on our history. The key is to just keep a little corner where we will - perhaps - be safe. Therefore, it is no coincidence that Dr. Beilin was one of the architects of the Oslo Accords. Everything is connected.

Shraga Blum..
i24 News..
23 April '15..

The proximity of Holocaust Remembrance Day and the Day of Remembrance for the Fallen Soldiers of Israel and Victims of Terror attacks is a source of a major misunderstandings.

Dr. Beilin was right to point out that the State of Israel is not a result of the Holocaust, but he is wrong when he says that "the state would not have been created without it." In terms of international law, and only mentioning this, the State of Israel was in the making for several decades, and might have emerged even earlier had the international community not been occupied for more than six years by the 2nd World War.

This connection between the Holocaust and the State of Israel serves the interests of certain specific group, first of all the Palestinian Arabs, who complain of “paying the bill” for the drama that happened in Europe with which they played no role in, or worse, who say that today they are the "victims of the victims" and nazify the State of Israel.

Beilin then falls into the trap of a number of Israelis who have short memories and attribute the creation of the State of Israel to the historical circumstances of the 19th century. Or that the State of Israel would not exist without the will of the United Nations.

To believe and to let others believe that the political renaissance of the Jewish people in this region is due only to anti-Semitism or the failed integration of European Jews is an insult to history and intelligence. If the State of Israel was a response to anti-Semitism, it could have been created anywhere. Beilin himself once wrote that his grandfather, a Russian Zionist delegate to the 6th Zionist Congress in Basel in 1903, had made a mistake by not voting in favor of the creation of the Jewish National Home in Uganda.

Curiously, during this particularly heated Congress, it was the Russian delegates who were the most concerned with the urgency of a solution to anti-Semitism and sat on the ground in a sign of mourning after Herzl's proposal to create a Jewish home, even temporarily, in the middle of Africa.

It is apparent that there was a more important aspect among the delegates than just physical survival: a distant voice telling them that the only place to which the Jews had to return ... was where they came from.

Beilin confuses law and historical circumstances, the former being the foundation, and the latter being only the dangers that allowed the realization at an opportune time. Beilin also demonstrated a singular historical amnesia when he wrote that "the Zionist aspiration to establish a Jewish state in Israel predated the Holocaust by a generation."

San Remo - The Forgotten Milestone

...Last but not least, San Remo marks the end of the longest colonization period in history. After 1,850 years of foreign occupation, oppression and banishment by a succession of foreign powers (Romans, Byzantines, Sassanid Persians, Arabs, Crusaders, Mameluks and Ottoman Turks), the Nation of Israel was reborn in April 1920, thus paving the way for the proclamation of the State of Israel 28 years later. This liberation from foreign rule should normally be celebrated by all the progressive elites who have traditionally supported every national freedom movement. But it isn’t so, for reasons that defy reason.

Salomon Benzimra..
26 April '15..

Ninety five years ago, prime ministers, ambassadors and other dignitaries from Europe and America gathered in the Italian Riviera. Journalists from around the world reported on the upcoming San Remo Peace Conference and the great expectations the international community placed on this event, just a year after the Paris Peace Conference had settled the political map of Europe at the end of World War One.

On Sunday, April 25, 1920, after hectic deliberation, the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers (Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the U.S. acting as an observer) adopted the San Remo Resolution -- a 500 word document which defined the future political landscape of the Middle East out of the defunct Ottoman Empire.

This Resolution led to the granting of three Mandates, as defined in Article 22 of the 1919 Covenant of the League of Nations. The future states of Syria-Lebanon and Iraq emerged from two of these Mandates and became exclusively Arab countries. But in the third Mandate, the Supreme Council recognized the “historical connection of the Jewish people to Palestine and the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country” while safeguarding the “civil and religious rights” of the non-Jewish population.

Subsequently, the British limited the Jewish Homeland in Palestine to the area west of the Jordan River and allowed eastern Palestine to be gradually administered by the Hashemites. The territorial expansion to the east eventually gave birth to the Kingdom of Transjordan, later renamed Jordan in 1950.

The importance of the San Remo Conference with regard to Palestine cannot be overstated:

 - For the first time in history, Palestine became a legal and political entity;

 - The Jewish people were recognized as the national beneficiary of the trust granted to Britain in Palestine for the duration of the Mandate -- a “sacred trust of civilization” as per the League Covenant;

 - The Balfour Declaration of 1917 -- which “viewed with favour” the establishment of a Jewish National Home in Palestine -- was now to be “put into effect”and thus became a binding act of international law;

 - The de jure sovereignty of Palestine was vested in the Jewish people, though it was kept in abeyance until the Mandate expired in 1948;

 - The terms of the San Remo Resolution were included in the Treaty of Sèvres and remained unchanged in the finally ratified Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.

 - The Arabs received equivalent national rights in all the remaining parts of the Middle East -- over 96% of the total area formerly governed by the Ottoman Turks).

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Surprised? Israel simply isn’t one of the Arab world’s major problems anymore

...What the poll shows, in a nutshell, is that young Arabs have reached the same conclusion Arab leaders made glaringly evident at the last year’s inaugural session of the Abu Dhabi Strategic Debate: Israel simply isn’t one of the Arab world’s major problems anymore, if it ever was. Now all Israel needs is for the West to finally come to the same realization.

Evelyn Gordon..
Commentary Magazine..
24 April '15..

One of the most positive strategic developments for Israel of the past few years has been its marked improvement in relations with significant parts of the Arab world. Three years ago, for instance, the most cockeyed optimist wouldn’t have predicted a letter like Israel received this week from a senior official of the Free Syrian Army, who congratulated it on its 67th anniversary and voiced hope that next year, Israel’s Independence Day would be celebrated at an Israeli embassy in Damascus.

Yet many analysts have cautioned that even if Arab leaders were quietly cooperating with Israel for reasons of realpolitik, anti-Israel hostility in the “Arab street” hadn’t abated. So a new poll showing that this, too, is changing came as a lovely Independence Day gift.

The ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller Arab Youth Survey, which has been conducted annually for the last seven years, polls 3,500 Arabs aged 18 to 24 from 16 Arab countries in face-to-face interviews. One of the standard questions is “What do you believe is the biggest obstacle facing the Middle East?”

This year, defying a long tradition of blaming all the Arab world’s problems on Israel, only 23 percent of respondents cited the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the region’s main obstacle. In fact, the conflict came in fourth, trailing ISIS (37 percent), terrorism (32 percent) and unemployment (29 percent). Given that respondents were evidently allowed to choose more than one of the 15 options (the total adds up to 235 percent rather than 100), it’s even more noteworthy that only 23 percent thought the conflict worth mentioning.

A comparison to previous surveys shows that this figure has been declining slowly but steadily for the past few years: In 2012, for instance, it was 27 percent, a statistically significant difference given the poll’s margin of error (1.65 percent). But the 2015 decline is particularly remarkable because last summer’s war in Gaza made the past year the conflict’s bloodiest in decades for Palestinians. Hence one would have expected Arab concern about the conflict to increase. Instead, it dropped.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The new government’s greatest tasks by Caroline Glick

...The world has changed since 2009. America has changed. The Middle East has changed. Israel faces an array of challenges and threats it has never faced before. The next government must understand the dynamics of the situation and quickly forge policies based on the world as it is, not as it was or as we would like for it to be.

Caroline Glick..
24 April '15..

In testimony last week before the House committee in charge of State Department funding, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power acknowledged that the Obama administration intends to abandon the US’s 50 year policy of supporting Israel at the United Nations.

After going through the tired motions of pledging support for Israel, “when it matters,” Power refused to rule out the possibility that the US would support anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council to limit Israeli sovereignty and control to the lands within the 1949 armistice lines – lines that are indefensible.

Such a move will be taken, she indicated, in order to midwife the establishment of a terrorist-supporting Palestinian state whose supposedly moderate leadership does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, calls daily for its destruction, and uses the UN to delegitimize the Jewish state.

In other words, the Obama administration intends to pin Israel into indefensible borders while establishing a state committed to its destruction.

In about a week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new government will be sworn in. The new government will have no grace period before it will be called upon to forge and implement policies to lead Israel through perhaps the most trying time in its history.

Clearly, developing the means to cope with our deteriorating relations with the US is one of the most urgent issues on the agenda. But it is not the only issue requiring the attention of our leaders.

Israel must quickly determine clear strategies for contending with the consequence of US’s strategic shift away from its allies: Iran’s nuclear project. It must also determine the principles that will guide its moves in contending with the regional instability engulfing or threatening to engulf our Arab neighbors.

As tempting as it may be to believe that all we need to do is wait out Obama, the fact is that we have no way of knowing how the US will behave once he has left office.

The Democratic Party has become far more radical under Obama’s leadership than it was before he came into office. Hillary Clinton may very well become the next president, particularly if Jeb Bush is the Republican nominee. And she has evinced no significant interest in moving the party back to the center.

As secretary of state during Obama’s first term in office, Clinton was a full partner in his foreign policy. Although she appears less ideologically driven than Obama, there are many indications that her basic world view is the same as his.

Moreover, the world has changed since 2009. The Middle East is far more volatile and lethal. The US military is far less capable than it was before Obama slashed its budgets, removed its most successful commanders and subjected its troops to morale-destroying mantras of diversity and apologetics for Islamic terrorism.

In light of these changed circumstances, there are in essence two major principles that should guide our leaders today. First, we need to reduce our strategic dependence on the US. Second, we need to expand our policy of openly and unapologetically making the case for our positions to the American public.

On the first score, the need to limit our dependence on US security guarantees became painfully obvious during Operation Protective Edge last summer.

Obama’s interference in military-to-military cooperation between the Defense Ministry and the Pentagon, and his decision to implement an unofficial arms embargo on Israel in the middle of a war, was a shocking rebuke to the powerful voices inside the IDF General Staff and in policy circles that Israel can and must continue to trust the US to back it up in crises.

Our need to limit our dependence on the US to the greatest practicable degree will have consequences on everything from our domestic military production and development industries to intelligence and operational cooperation with the US and other governments.

It is imperative as well that we develop a plan to wean ourselves off of US military aid within the next three-five years.

Netanyahu’s critics continue to attack him for his decision to abandon the longstanding policy of settling disputes with the US administration through quiet diplomacy. They blame Netanyahu’s decision to publicly air Israel’s opposition to Obama’s nuclear diplomacy for the crisis in relations. But they are confusing cause and effect. Netanyahu had no choice.

Obama has made clear through both word and deed that he is completely committed to a policy of reaching a détente with Iran by enabling Iran to join the nuclear club. He will not voluntarily abandon this policy, which his closest aides have acknowledged is the signature policy of his second term.

The Jewish State, Independence and Self-Defense

...No, we aren’t a protectorate. Not yet. But to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, the founders of the State of Israel gave us independence — if we can keep it.

Vic Rosenthal..
Abu Yehuda..
24 April '15..

Today (Thursday)  is יום העצמאות, Independence Day, and I’m reading lots of articles about the significance of an independent Jewish state. “The meaning of independence in my view is, first of all, the ability to defend yourself,” said PM Netanyahu. On the other hand, left-wing journalist Nehemia Shtrasler doesn’t think that Israel is independent at all. “We are no more than an American protectorate,” he argues, because the US could stop selling us weapons and take steps to wreck our economy.

Shtrasler is wrong, because the fact that the US could destroy any country in the world if it cared to doesn’t mean that there are no independent countries. But he is correct that we are far too dependent on the US, something which is being made clear today as we face an unfriendly — arguably, even antisemitic — administration in Washington.

Netanyahu is right that independence requires the capability of self-defense, but of course that is only a necessary condition, not a sufficient one. It is also necessary to have the will to use your capabilities, which in turn depends on the conviction that you are morally justified in doing what is necessary to defend yourself.

This is precisely what is being attacked when Israel is delegitimized and demonized by anti-Zionist groups, NGOs and media. They say that Israel stole its land from the rightful “Palestinian” owners, and that it has neither the legal or moral right to possess it. We are told that Israel’s birth was facilitated by the commission of crimes against humanity, that Israel has continued to commit war crimes in its wars, which are portrayed as offensive and genocidal instead of defensive. Recently, even the pretense that it is only Israel’s presence in the territories that is illegitimate is being abandoned. Every inch of our country is contested.

The so-called “Palestinian narrative” is an example of the Big Lie technique, in which facts and history are inverted and the inversions repeated so often that they become conventional wisdom. ‘Inversion’ is a good word, because it really does turn the truth upside down. In fact, it was Arabs who perpetrated ethnic cleansing and massacres during Israel’s war of Independence, and it is the Jewish people who are truly indigenous to the land of Israel. It is the “Palestinians” who wish to establish an apartheid state, and it is they who target noncombatants and particularly children.

Unfortunately these big lies are effective, even — especially — in Israel, where one would expect that the truth would be more likely to prevail. The myths have become deeply ingrained, even in some of our politicians, even if they don’t realize that they are touched by them.

Self-defense sometimes means deterrence, but sometimes it means war. A political leader or officer in time of war must be able to justify extraordinary actions, actions that he knows will kill people. Some of them will be innocent noncombatants, no matter how careful an army is and how restrictive the rules of engagement — and Israel is very, very careful. Some of them will be our own children, husbands or fathers. Can someone who doesn’t truly believe that his cause is just take such actions?

Confidence in one’s moral and legal position is also required in less lethal pursuits, like diplomacy. Consider the negotiations with the PLO. As I think I’ve written before, the idea of land swaps for settlement blocs implies that the land across the Green Line ‘belongs’ to the Arabs. But anyone who knows the history knows that the Palestine Mandate was intended to provide a national home for the Jewish people, and that the Green Line was agreed by both sides to be nothing more than an armistice line with no political significance. So how did we get the idea that it separates Israel from “Arab land?”

One of the things that distinguishes a protectorate or satellite from an independent nation is that an independent nation has an independent foreign policy and doesn’t simply parrot the party line of its patron. I think this is a good starting point for improving relations with the US: we should try to educate the administration, to the extent that it is possible, about the true legal and historical facts about the State of Israel.

In effect, we need to make a ‘diplomatic declaration of independence’ from the US. Such a declaration would be an important step in reducing our overall dependence on it — and also in improving our ability to defend ourselves. Of course, in order to do this we will need to educate ourselves first, to extirpate the crippling guilt complex that our enemies have succeeded in creating.

One concrete step would be to officially adopt the Levy Commission Report of 2012. The commission, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, examined the legal status of the Israeli presence in the territories and concluded that according to international law, Israel is not an occupying power, and the 4th Geneva Convention — the usual basis for the argument that “settlements are illegal” — does not apply. The government took no action on the report. It should.

PM Netanyahu’s statement that there would be no two-state solution in the near future was a breath of fresh air, despite the fact that Obama seized upon it as an excuse to distance the US from Israel. The interminable pointless negotiations with the PLO/PA only served to provide leverage to extract concessions from Israel without any promise of reaching an agreement. As for Obama’s reaction, if Netanyahu hadn’t said it, he would have found another excuse to do what he was determined to do.