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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Bibi’

INTO THE FRAY: Bibi vs. BG

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

When you compare his [Netanyahu’s] lack of actual achievements compared to Ben-Gurion, whose record he’s eclipsed, it’s embarrassing – Jeff Barak, An empty record, Jerusalem Post, November 20, 2016

Last Tuesday Benjamin Netanyahu chalked up an unbroken stint of 2793 days (seven years and 236 days) as prime minister of Israel, thereby surpassing David Ben-Gurion’s record for the longest consecutive term in office.

Small-minded and spiteful

By any criterion, this would be a remarkable feat for anyone—under any circumstances. But for Netanyahu, it is even more remarkable—given the truly formidable obstacles and almost pathological animosity he had to overcome to achieve it.

This could—indeed, perhaps should—have been an auspicious occasion, in which his political rivals, his ideological adversaries and his detractors in the media might have—ever so briefly—put away their animosity and expressed some congratulatory sentiment—however reluctant and insincere—even if only as a formal appearance of feigned courtesy.

However, in the merciless and mean-spirited milieu of Israeli politics, any hint of such largesse was not forthcoming.

Quite the opposite!

Flummoxed and infuriated by their inability to dislodge him from power, his political opponents and their media cronies seized on any pretext, however flimsy and far-fetched, to besmirch and berate him.

A typical illustration of the mindless drivel and spiteful sniping that passes for journalism when it comes to excoriating Netanyahu, was provided this week by former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post, Jeff Barak, in his column, perversely dubbed “Reality Check”. Indeed, after only a few lines, it became apparent just how wildly inappropriate the column’s tagline is and just how tenuous the connection between what appears in it and reality, really is.

Barbs backfire badly

In this week’s alleged “Reality Check”, Barak (Jeff, the former editor) compares Netanyahu’s incumbency unfavorably with that of another Barak (Ehud, the former PM), arguably the worst prime minster ever to take office in Israel, and—inarguably—the shortest serving prime minister ever to hold that office in Israel.

Barak, J. attempts to trivialize Netanyahu’s years of incumbency with evident imbecility, and barbs that backfire badly. He asserts: “Heavens, he’s even achieved less in his years in office than Ehud Barak during his ridiculously short term. Barak, at least, made good on his campaign promise to bring the IDF out of Lebanon.”

True, Barak, E. did get the “IDF out of Lebanon”…by ordering a hasty, unbecoming retreat (a.k.a an ignominious flight) in 2000, abandoning that territory to the Hezbollah, and Israel’s allies in the South Lebanese Army to their fate. Today, the territory Barak, E. ordered abandoned has become a veritable arsenal, bristling with rockets and missiles, in numbers estimated at up to 150,000, trained on Israel’s major urban centers. Of course the deployment of the IDF in South Lebanon did involve a tactical threat for the military, whose function, it should be remembered, is to protect the nation’s civilians. However, by hurriedly evacuating South Lebanon, to eliminate that tactical threat to the military, Barak, E., perversely created a strategic threat to the country’s civilian population.

Amnesia or ignorance?

Indeed, one can only wonder whether it was amnesia or ignorance on the part of Barak, J. to invoke the debacle of the evacuation of South Lebanon as an accomplishment that somehow can be exploited to reflect badly on Netanyahu. After all, it not only precipitated the 2005 Second Lebanon War, in which millions of Israelis were forced to huddle in shelters for weeks, but also according to several pundits, it provided the impetus for the bloody 2000-2005 Second Intifada, in which thousands of Israelis lost life or limb.

Indeed, the unilateral retreat ordered by Barak was widely perceived by Arabs as an Israeli defeat “sending a message…which was to have a profound effect on Palestinian tactics during the AL AQSA INTIFADA” (Encyclopedia of the Palestinians 2000, p. 40). Similar sentiments were expressed in Beirut two years later, by Farouk Kaddoumi, often dubbed the PLO foreign minister. Kadoumi declared that Hezbollah’s successful guerrilla war in Southern Lebanon was a model for other Arabs seeking to end Israeli “occupation”: “We are optimistic. Hezbollah’s resistance can be used as an example for other Arabs seeking to regain their rights…”

This, then, is the “achievement” that Barak, J., attempts to invoke in his venomous endeavor to demean Netanyahu, and compare him negatively with others. But, of course, holding up dismal failure as strategic success is fine, so long as it is employed (read “exploited”) in the “gainful” pursuit of belittling Bibi.

Not uncritical pro-Bibi apologetics

As readers who follow my column will know, I have never been an uncritical apologist for Netanyahu. On the contrary, I have criticized a number of his policy decisions, regularly and severely. Thus, for example, I strongly condemned his 2009 Bar Ilan speech in which he accepted the idea of Palestinian statehood—and pointed out that he had, in a stroke, transformed the strategic structure of the discourse from whether there should be a Palestinian state to what the characteristics of such a state should be– see here and here. Likewise, I was severely critical of the decision to release over 1000 convicted terrorists (2011) to secure the release of Gilad Shalit—and was even more opposed to a subsequent (2013) release of prisoners as a futile gesture to assuage Secretary of State, John Kerry, in the vain hope of coaxing Mahmoud Abbas into renewing negotiations—see here and here.

More recently, I vehemently disapproved of the policy of rapprochement with Turkey—particularly the compensation paid for the casualties incurred when Israeli commandoes had to defend themselves against attempts to lynch them on the Turkish vessel, Mavi Marmara, trying to breach the maritime quarantine of the terror enclave in the Gaza Strip. But above all, I warned that the presence granted the Erdogan regime in Hamas-controlled Gaza, considerably increased the chances of armed conflict between Israel and Turkey in the event of future IDF operations there.

However, my most serious and ongoing criticism of Netanyahu is his enduring failure to adequately address the problem of international de-legitimization of Israel and of the Zionist endeavor, by refusing to allot adequate resources to initiate and sustain a strategic diplomatic offensive to confront, curtail and counter the animosity of the Obama regime and the global assault on the legitimacy of the Jewish state—see most recently here.

Decades of distinction

As I have written elsewhere, these – and other – episodes indicate that a cogent case for concern can be made regarding the soundness of Netanyahu’s decision-making processes and the steadfastness of his resolve. However, whatever his faults, there is little to justify the wholesale campaign of denigration, demonization and de-legitimization, waged not only against him (both as a person and a politician) but his spouse as well, ever since he first took over the leadership of the Likud in the early1990s.

After all, Netanyahu has served his country with distinction and dedication for decades. Prior to entering the political arena he served as a soldier and a diplomat; as an officer in an elite commando unit, participating in numerous daring combat operations; and later as a highly articulate and effective ambassador at the UN. His impressive performance at the UN paved his way into politics in 1988. In 1992 he was elected to lead the Likud and head the opposition to Yitzhak Rabin’s government and the Oslo process it had instigated. His efforts were largely successful, and by the fateful night of November 4, 1995, on which Rabin was assassinated, Netanyahu was pulling steadily ahead of him in the opinion polls. In his detailed study of the events leading up to the 1996 election, Prof. Gerald Steinberg reminds us of frequently forgotten – or perhaps, purposely obscured – facts: “In January 1995… polls showed Rabin trailing Netanyahu by a narrow margin. Continued terrorism… reinforced this trend. However, in the aftermath of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin…Netanyahu’s standing plunged. In February [1996], when Peres decided to hold early elections, the Prime Minister [Peres] maintained a substantial lead over Netanyahu.”

Mean-spirited, mendacious malice

Yet, despite all the odds, Netanyahu managed to edge Peres out in the final ballot by a fraction of one percent. It was, perhaps, this totally unexpected – and for some, inexplicable, even inconceivable– victory that unleashed the torrent of enduring enmity toward him from much of the “Rabinesque” civil society elite. Thus, despite his documented public disapproval of incendiary accusations against Rabin and his government—see for example here and here—Netanyahu was condemned for igniting the hostile ambience that allegedly culminated in the assassination. This precipitated the mood of mean-spirited and largely mendacious malice hurled at him from all quarters.

Open-season was declared on Netanyahu. His success, against all odds, had for all intents and purposes made him fair game to blame for every conceivable malaise, real or imagined, afflicting Israel, the Middle East and humanity as a whole. Consequently, Netanyahu has been given little credit for the numerous impressive feats he, and the governments he headed, have achieved. Indeed, few seem even to remember that, on entering office after his stunning victory, the relatively inexperienced prime minister inherited a myriad of daunting problems, both economic and security, handed down to him by the previous Rabin/Peres government.

Accordingly a brief reminder seems appropriate.

Forgotten feats

The Oslo process, initiated by his predecessors, had precipitated then-unprecedented levels of terror attacks against Israel. Netanyahu’s government managed to suppress the level of violence to the lowest for almost two decades. If the figures are “lagged” to account for the fact that an incumbent’s policy takes time to have an effect, and at the start of his term, events are affected by that of his predecessor, Netanyahu’s performance figures improve, while those of others deteriorate. Indeed, it was under his successors, Barak and Sharon, that terror once again soared, resulting in Operation Defensive Shield, and construction of the much-maligned security barrier. On the economic front, the much-vaunted growth commonly – but fallaciously – ascribed to the Oslowian peace process, had ground almost to a halt, in no small measure due to the deteriorating security situation. Indeed, much of the post-Oslo growth was fueled largely by a gigantic budget deficit that almost brought Israel to the brink of financial catastrophe, as befell several Asian countries at the time. It was only the fiscal prudence of the Netanyahu government which steered the nation clear of the looming economic disaster that the cavalier fiscal promiscuity of Avraham Shochat, finance minister during the Rabin/Peres term, almost brought upon it. Many, myself included (“Netanyahu’s Pitfalls”, The Jerusalem Post, Apr. 24, 2003), were critical of the perceived “social insensitivity” of the economic policies Netanyahu undertook as finance minister under Ariel Sharon. However, it can hardly be disputed that they were in large measure responsible for the subsequent resilience of the Israeli economy and its ability to weather the global crisis better than most other industrial countries. Moreover, while Netanyahu can hardly be portrayed as a champion of egalitarian “social justice,” it was on his watch that unemployment rates, perhaps the most pernicious of social ills, were kept at among the lowest in the developed world.

Bibi vs BG

As Netanyahu neared Ben Gurion’s record incumbency, comparisons between the two were inevitable. Unsurprisingly, an almost universally unsympathetic press judged Netanyahu unfavorably relative to Israel’s iconic founding father.

But any such comparisons are inherently unfair. For, while both men faced daunting challenges and enormous difficulties, Netanyahu has had to contend with one problem that Ben Gurion was not called upon to face.

For the venomous ad hominem attacks on Netanyahu, and his family, by both his political opponents and most of the mainstream media (both domestic and foreign) have long exceeded the limits of rational criticism or reasoned dissent, and have become a poisonous pathology. The fact that he has found the spiritual resources to survive and endure this, is, in its own right, a testimony to his remarkable strength.

Netanyahu is a man of tremendous talent and serious shortcomings. He should be judged on a judicious assessment of the balance between the two – not on some distorted, demonized image created by his obsessive opponents. Until this can be factored into the equation, no really meaningful comparison can be drawn between these two towering figures, who dominated the politics of Israel for decades.

Dr. Martin Sherman

INTO THE FRAY- Obama:The Blame Bibi Bears

Friday, October 14th, 2016

If one knows a storm is brewing, but takes no measures to prepare for it, when the storm hits, who is to blame for the damage? The storm… or those who did not prepare for it?

“If the aim of the Israeli government is to prevent a peace deal with the Palestinians, now or in the future, it’s close to realizing that goal. Last week, it approved the construction of a new Jewish settlement in the West Bank, another step in the steady march under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to build on land needed to create a Palestinian state…The Obama administration, with every justification, strongly condemned the action as a betrayal of the idea of a two-state solution in the Middle East. But Mr. Netanyahu obviously doesn’t care what Washington thinks, so it will be up to President Obama to find another way to preserve that option before he leaves office.” At the Boiling Point with Israel, The New York Times Editorial Board, October 6, 2016

Last week, the New York Times descended to a new low—with the publication of a particularly infuriating and offensive anti-Israel editorial—that was so distortive, deceptive and deceitful regarding the Jewish state and its democratically elected prime minister—that some less charitable souls than me might almost tempted to say that it would have done Der Stürmer proud.

NYT’s anti-Jewish innuendo

Doubtless, many will claim that even the slightest hint that any such comparison is even vaguely valid is wildly inappropriate. True the NYT editorial did not sport a crude cartoon of a conniving, hooked nosed, money-grasping Jewish prime minister. But it did, however, include virtually everything else.

It seized on the recent government decision to build 100 new homes in the existing community of Shiloh to unleash a vicious attack on Netanyahu, liberally peppered with the basest anti-Semitic innuendo portraying him as devious, sly and underhand—whom those pesky Jews, inexplicably, keep electing in free and fair elections.

But the NYT Judeophobic barbs were not limited to Netanyahu alone. It went on to allude darkly that it was the demonic powers of Jews that caused George Bush sr. to lose his 1990 bid for re-election because of his withholding US loan guarantees over a dispute regarding the “settlements”.

The thinly veiled accusation is unmistakably clear: The avaricious land-grabbing Jews are hell-bent on depriving the poor Palestinian-Arabs for a chance of statehood. Nothing—literally nothing—about belligerent Palestinian rejectionism was mentioned—even hinted at—as a contributing factor for the continuing conflict. Everything is the fault of the Jewish state—despite the wrenching concessions it has made, both politically and territorially, over the past decades.

Lies about past; threats regarding future

Virtually every line in the editorial was either entirely mendacious or egregiously misleading. Exposing the entire web of falsehood and deception that comprises this shamefully biased excuse for journalism would require at least an entire column—if not beyond that. This is a task I shall postpone for a later date.

Rather than deal with the blatant lies regarding the past, I should like to focus on the impending threats regarding the future that the editorial appears to herald.

Indeed, there are gathering signs, of which the NYT editorial is but one, that the Obama administration is planning to exploit the presidential “interregnum” (between the election and the inauguration of the next president), in which there is no need to fear Jewish retribution, to unleash a savage diplomatic attack on Israel to compel it to accept far-reaching concessions on the Palestinian issue.

Thus, quoting senior congressional sources, The Weekly Standard (TWS) warns: “The Obama administration is manufacturing a crisis with Israel in anticipation of a post-election diplomatic push targeting the Jewish state, and this past week launched a series of broadsides criticizing the Israelis through the media and in press briefings”.

As the TWS points out, the current controversy and the administration’s contrived condemnation over the construction of about 100 new houses on state land within an existing settlement is merely “a pretext for eroding relations with Israel and potentially for setting up a broader diplomatic offensive.”

Hostile choreography not unexpected

Of course the recent incident of the planned construction of a handful of new houses in the confines of an existing community has purposely been blown out of all proportion by the Obama administration.

According TWS sources “President Obama has been ‘waiting for an opening’ to condemn Israel. The recent decision [to build]… in an existing community that did not expand the boundaries at all [is] not something that should even make the news in Israel, let alone the U.S.”

But this malicious choreographing of conflict should hardly have been unexpected. Indeed it is strongly reminiscent of the 2010-hullabaloo the Obama administration made over the approval for future construction in the northern Jerusalem suburb of Ramat Shlomo. The approval, decided upon during the visit of vice-president Joe Biden, was deemed a grave insult to the US, despite the fact that Biden himself had co-sponsored several Senate resolutions stipulating that Jerusalem should remain Israel’s undivided

capital, under Israeli sovereignty. Indeed, as Daniel Greenfield caustically points out in “The deadly Israeli house”, Biden then feigned outrage “when the Israelis actually took him at his word”.

Thus, although this kind of animosity towards the Jewish state in not new, this time it appears “far more coordinated and aggressive”—perhaps spurred on by the fact that after the elections and before the inauguration—harsh anti-Israel measures can be undertaken with relative impunity, and immunity from deleterious political repercussions from the dreaded pro-Israel lobbies.

Blame Bibi bears

But for all the recognition of the innate anti-Israeli predilections of the Obama administration, and sympathy for the Israeli governments that have had to contend with it, there is still significant blame Netanyahu must bear for the accumulating US pressure on Israel.

After all, ever since he assumed office in Jan 2009 (and arguably well-before that), the inherent antipathy that Obama harbored towards Israel—together with his undisguised Islamophilic proclivities—have been painfully clear to anyone with the intellectual integrity to read the abundantly unequivocal signs.

Yet despite the fact that Netanyahu has been in power continuously for well over half a decade, he and his government have done virtually nothing to put in place effective mechanisms to contend with the pernicious effects of the White House’s predilections. Depressingly, this is a matter I have raised repeatedly in the past years, warning time and again of the gravely detrimental repercussion that would inevitably result from such dereliction—to no avail. See for example If I were Prime Minister…; My Billion-Dollar Budget: If I Were PM (Cont.); Dereliction of Duty; Intellectual Warriors, Not Slicker Diplomats.

The pitiful amounts allotted by Israel for the fight for the hearts and minds of the international community have all but left what British journalist, Melanie Phillips, termed “the battle field of the mind” to its adversaries—whether this be the Palestinians and their well-oiled propaganda machine or the inimical politically-correct mainstream media, exemplified by the NYT.

Not a paucity of funds

Until recently, the total budget allocation for Israel’s global public diplomacy effort was less than the advertising budget of the Israeli “Osem” food company.

With such a feeble effort made to establish Israel’s case in the world, there should be little surprise that the Palestinian narrative, portraying the Palestinian-Arabs as down-

trodden, dispossessed victims of the Zionist ogre, has dominated the international discourse on the Israel-Arab conflict.

This dismal situation is not a result of a lack of funds. It is rather a lack of political resolve and lack of political awareness of the crucial role public diplomacy plays in the nation’s strategic arsenal.

After all, with a state budget of around $100 billion, allotting a mere 1% for public diplomacy would make a sum of one billion dollars available for making Israel’s case in the world, and no less important, debunking that of its adversaries.

Such resources would not be devoted to attempts to win over implacable adversaries of Israel and the Zionist endeavor, but to the creation of a political climate in which their positions are exposed to be ridiculous, self-contradictory, immoral and irrational—and hence untenable as the basis for any policy decisions by any incumbent government.

Bibi’s bitter Bar Ilan fruits

Regrettably, Netanyahu has hamstrung much of the freedom needed for any official diplomatic effort to rebuff adversarial diplomatic initiatives against Israel by his unfortunate acceptance of the idea of Palestinian statehood in his 2009 Bar Ilan speech.

For having committed himself to the perilously impractical idea of two-states, he cannot articulate arguments that show it to be a totally unfeasible and counterproductive objective, which will precipitate outcomes—both moral and practical—that are the diametric opposite of those its proponents claim it will achieve.

For example, when the NYT urges Obama to use his interregnum immunity to undertake drastic measures to preserve the option of a two-state solution, it is in fact urging preservation of the option to establish yet another homophobic, misogynistic, Muslim-majority tyranny, characterized by gender discrimination, persecution of homosexuals and the suppression of political dissidence.

But if that was the manner in which the two-state option was portrayed, backed by the force of a billion dollar budget, driving pervasive social media campaigns, eye-catching billboards and impactful videos, together with a blitz of well-informed persuasive spokespersons across US campuses, it is doubtful whether any liberal leaning political party could embrace it for long.

Sadly, in light of his Bar Ilan speech, this is not a line of augment that Netanyahu can pursue officially and would necessarily have to work through “proxies”—government-funded NGOs able to express positions that might be too “forthright” for Israeli officialdom to adopt.

Mutually exclusive legitimacies

Yet here too, the Netanyahu government has shown little initiative.

Recent additions to the public diplomacy budget have been directed (with some success) at the symptoms of Israel’s diplomatic predicament (the BDS movement) and not at its underlying causes (at attempts to delegitimize the notion of a Jewish nation state).

The reason for this is clear: Since the Palestinian narrative and Zionist narrative are mutually exclusive—at least in practice, if not in theory, any attempt to re-legitimize the Zionist narrative must, ipso facto, entail the de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative. But since the Netanyahu government is wedded to the two-state formula—which presupposes the legitimacy of the Palestinian narrative –it cannot work to undermine that legitimacy.

Thus, while on the one hand, foreign governments can finance a myriad of NGOs, with hundreds of millions of dollars, to besmirch Israel’s name and to create an inclement political climate that facilitates hostile measures against it; the Israeli government, on the other hand, does nothing to finance cash-strapped NGOs, fighting desperately on miniscule budgets, to defend Israel’s name and to create a favorable political climate that impedes hostile measures against it.

This is the grossly unlevel playing field that Netanyahu has created for himself and for Israel in the battle for international hearts and minds.

Laying the foundations for Israel’s demise?

Despite all the chatter about the unprecedentedly close intelligence and military cooperation between Israel and the US, a far from implausible case could be made for the claim that the Obama administration is—intentionally or otherwise—laying the foundations for Israel’s demise.

After all, for Israel a true nightmare situation would be the establishment of a mega-terror base in Judea-Samaria, ten times that of Gaza, which would complete its encirclement in the north, east and south by radical Islamist forces that could wage an ongoing war of attrition against it under the protective umbrella of a nuclear Iran. The Obama administration, greatly aided by the paucity of Israeli diplomacy, has already facilitated the latter (nuclear Iran). It now seems bent on laying the foundation for the former (a mega-terror base overlooking Israel’s urban megalopolis). This is the grim specter that is emerging as the next session of the UN Security Council approaches –with an inimical US president, unshackled from any restraining electoral consideration, facing off against a beleaguered Israel. This is the existential storm that Israel may soon have to weather—very much on its own.

Blaming the storm?

This is a storm that has been long brewing. Sadly, few measures have been taken to deal with it—measures that could, and should, have been taken.

So, if one knows a storm is brewing, but takes no measures to prepare for it, when the storm hits, who is to blame for the damage? The storm… or those who did not prepare for it?

Dr. Martin Sherman

Shiloh Musings: Bibi and Obama Do Not Have to Like Each Other

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

One of the big differences between the Israeli and American forms of government is that an American President is limited to two elected terms, eight years, while an Israeli Prime Minister can hold the office indefinitely, for decades even. Though nobody has been PM for that long. The longest serving David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, like Netanyahu, did not serve all terms consecutively. Click here for a list.

From what it has been said in the news over the years, and the grimaces caught by cameras, United States President Barack Hussein Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Bibi Netanyahu have never really gotten along. The glowing smiles that Obama always has plastered on his face when meeting Arabs are never seen when he’s meeting with Bibi. His speechwriters always prepare him with friendly, funny quips to trade with Bibi, who is well-known for his quick mind and on target ad libs. But Bibi, who in some ways can be considered even “more American” than Obama, has never found a common language and comfortable demeanor with the present POTUS.

They are not going to have to put up with each other much longer. Soon there will be a new American President, and Obama will be able to spend time with whomever he wants. No doubt, that’s the reason for the smiles and jovial mood of last week’s meeting between the two.

Batya Medad

What If Bibi Jabbed Obama at the UN But No One Noticed?

Friday, September 23rd, 2016

No one in the Israeli media or abroad seems to have noticed, and if they did they are yet to elaborate on the fact that in the midst of his optimistic speech before the UN General Assembly in NY, about the stellar future of Israel, and while he was inviting the global community to benefit from Israel’s amazing technological and other gifts, Prime Minister Netanyahu also delivered a shot across the bow of both the UN Security Council and, despite all his flourish of gratitude for the man, at President Obama, too.

Here’s what the prime minister said, verbatim, about 1,200 words into his Thursday’s speech:

“Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished delegates from so many lands,

“I have one message for you today: Lay down your arms.

“The war against Israel at the UN is over. Perhaps some of you don’t know it yet, but I am confident that one day in the not too distant future you will also get the message from your president or from your prime minister informing you that the war against Israel at the United Nations has ended.

“Yes, I know, there might be a storm before the calm. I know there is talk about ganging up on Israel at the UN later this year. Given its history of hostility towards Israel, does anyone really believe that Israel will let the UN determine our security and our vital national interests?

“We will not accept any attempt by the UN to dictate terms to Israel. The road to peace runs through Jerusalem and Ramallah, not through New York.”

Everything Netanyahu has been doing over the past month or so, most notably his concession to a degraded US military aid package that could hamper Israel’s future ability to both use some of the aid money for its own industry and to appeal to a friendly US Congress for additional funds, were out of his concern for an Obama Administration November surprise.

Since the summer of 2015, the rumor mill has churned an alarming note regarding the outgoing president’s plan to take down Bibi at the final round, after the Nov. 8 vote will have been cast. Once the Democratic Party no longer needed the Jewish and pro-Israel Christian vote, regardless of who was elected, the US envoy at the UN Samantha Power would either vote in favor of a UNSC resolution on a Palestinian State in all of Judea and Samaria, or merely abstain, which would be tantamount to giving it its full support. Indeed, as Netanyahu stressed in his Thursday speech, “the only time that the United States cast a UN Security Council veto during the Obama presidency was against an anti-Israel resolution in 2011.”

There is no valid US vote other than a veto on an anti-Israel resolution, in the context of a healthy alliance between the US and Israel. On Thursday, Netanyahu made it loud and clear: if the UNSC imposes such a vote on Israel, without an American veto, Israel will disregard it.

Here’s an idea one can only raise in a rightwing Jewish publication such as The JewishPress.com: What if the fact that no one has noticed Netanyahu’s unveiled threat is because they were not expecting it? At least not as a full, frontal, in-your-face challenge? Maybe the entire speech was too “messianic” for anyone to grasp the fact that the PM was foretelling a new world order, the biblical kind? I’ll explain.

The Haftora this week is Isaiah 60, 1-22. Of the entire cycle of Isaiah prophecies of comfort Jews recite on the Shabbat days between the 9th of Av and Rosh Hashanah, this one is probably the least mystical. It does not promise any harmony between lambs and lions; instead it describes a scene astonishingly reminiscent of Netanyahu’s speech at the UN Assembly Thursday.

This chapter in Isaiah reads almost like a newspaper account of Israel’s economic, technological and diplomatic rise. It very well could be published as an actual report, with a few textual changes — taking out the camels laden with goods is recommended, for instance — that could be the leading article of some major publication on Rosh Hashanah 5778, when we celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Zionist miracle.

Here is a selection of verses, there are 22 altogether — can you see these verses as headlines for current articles?

3: TECHNOLOGY: And nations will walk by your light, and kings by the brightness of your rising.

4. DEMOGRAPHIC GROWTH: Lift up your eyes round about, and see: They all are gathered together, and come to you; Your sons come from far, And your daughters are carried on their mothers’ side.

5. NATURAL GAS: Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will throb and expand; Because the abundance of the sea will be given to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you.

6. FOREIGN INVESTMENTS: The caravans of camels will cover you, And of the young camels of Midian and Ephah, All coming from Sheba; They will bring gold and incense, And will proclaim the praises of God.

9. MASSIVE ALIYA: Surely the islands will wait for Me, And the ships of Tarshish first, To bring your sons from far, Their silver and their gold with them, For the name of the Lord your God, And for the Holy One of Israel, because He has glorified you.

11. POLITICAL PROMINENCE: Your gates also will be open continually, Day and night, they will not be shut; That men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, And their kings in procession.

12. SECURITY: Because a nation and kingdom that will not serve you will perish; Yes, those nations will be utterly wasted.

Is that a cool prophecy, or what? Obviously, the running theme through the prophecy is the fact that it’s all being done strictly because God wants it this way. He signed several covenants to this effect and now He’s starting the implementation. So, obviously, we’ll need to behave ourselves, that whole love your fellow Jew thing.

Enjoy your Shabbat…

David Israel

INTO THE FRAY: Ethnic Cleansing—Why Bibi was Quite Right…and Dangerously Wrong

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

…the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one precondition: no Jews! There’s a phrase for that. It’s called ethnic cleansing. And this demand is outrageous. What is even more outrageous is that the world doesn’t find this outrageous. Some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage. – Benjamin Netanyahu, September 9, 2016

Late last Friday, the Prime Minister’s office—for no immediately obvious reason—released a video, in which Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the frequently raised demand by the Palestinians, that any future state of theirs must be devoid of Jews, as “Ethnic Cleansing”.

Incandescent response

The video produced an incandescent response from the Obama administration. Thus, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau berated Netanyahu in a Washington press conference last Friday. Disapprovingly, she proclaimed: “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank,” She added tartly: “We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful.” “Strongly disagree”, “inappropriate”, “unhelpful” is about as barbed and caustic as formal niceties of protocol allow diplomatic rebukes to get—especially when the target of the censure is, allegedly, a close ally.

Trudeau then went on to catalogue a long list of so-called Israeli “transgressions”, denouncing “ongoing settlement activity [a]s an obstacle to peace”—as if that had any bearing on Netanyahu’s decrying Palestinian demands to purge Jews from existing settlements. Calling “on both sides to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to the two-state solution” she lamented: “We have repeatedly expressed our strong concerns that trends on the ground continue to move in the opposite direction”…

Then, reading from an obviously pre-prepared document, she launched into a tirade, castigating Israel for building “thousands of [housing]units for Israelis in the West Bank”; seizing “West bank land for exclusive Israeli use; a dramatic escalation of demolitions of…Palestinian structures, displacing more than 1000 Palestinians”—conveniently omitting that the bulk of these demolitions were of structures initiated and

funded by the EU, with the express purpose of flaunting Israeli authority and provoking Israeli response.

Alluding to nefarious Israeli intent, Trudeau added darkly: “…this does raise real questions about Israel’s long-term intentions in the West Bank.”

Outrageous and outlandish

But the US wrath was not only outrageous; it was equally outlandish. Indeed, it did not even address the point that Netanyahu raised—and for which he was being so severely admonished.

After all, whatever one might believe regarding the legality of the Jewish communities in Judea-Samaria (pejoratively, known as “settlements”), or the prudence of their ongoing expansion, this is a totally separate issue from the admissibility of the presence of Jews within the frontiers of any future Palestinian entity.

This is particularly true because not only is the legality of the Jewish communities a matter hotly debated by an array of prominent jurists and legal experts, but Trudeau herself states: “Settlements are a final status issue that must be resolved in negotiations between the parties.”

And it is here that Netanyahu has put his finger precisely on the point: For it is the Palestinians’ clearly stated position on this “final status issue” that the presence of Jews is so odious and objectionable that any future peace agreement is feasible only if Palestinian-controlled territory is totally purged of them.

Purposely conflating & obfuscating two separate issues

Thus, in its wrathful response to Netanyahu’s video, the Administration is purposely conflating—and obfuscating—two entirely separate issues:

(a) Undisguised and un-denied Palestinian demands for Judeophobic ethnic cleansing; and

(b) The legal status and political significance of existing Jewish communities..

Accordingly, Netanyahu was being bitterly rebuked for what he didn’t refer to (i.e. the status of the “settlements”), while what he did refer to (i.e. Palestinian Judeophobic demands) was not even addressed! This was hardly an inadvertent oversight on the part of the State Department—as Anne Bayefsky deftly points out in her “All Jews out of Palestine is not a peace plan”, (September 14, 2016). She argues that the reason for the “sudden [US] histrionics” is that “the charge of ethnic cleansing directed against Palestinians is the quintessential inconvenient truth.”

And indeed it is!

For to acknowledge the blatant Judeophobic—indeed, Judeocidal—impulses that characterize Palestinian society, and reflect themselves in their pervasive presence throughout all walks of Palestinian life, is to critically undermine the rationale of the two-state doctrine. After all, this is a doctrine that aims at creating a reality of two-states, living harmoniously side-by-side in peace and prosperity. Clearly, it makes little sense to strive for such a reality if the enmity of one side is so profound and abiding that it cannot tolerate the presence of the other side’s citizens within its frontiers.

From the silly to the surreal

Thus, by raising the issue of Palestinian Judeophobic bigotry, Netanyahu’s video has induced public scrutiny of Palestinian society—something two-state advocates are understandably reluctant to do. For, indeed, the spectacle is not an encouraging one—hardly conducive to their vision of a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Hence the anger it has aroused.

The vehement responses the video elicited ranged from the silly, through the surreal, to the sinister. The mainstream media quickly rallied around the Bibi-bashing banner.

Thus, the LA Times headline blazoned: “U.S. slams Netanyahu after he equates opposition to Israeli settlements with ‘ethnic cleansing’”—which of course he didn’t. What he did was to equate the demand to remove all Jews from any prospective Palestinian state with ethnic cleansing – which of course it is.

Then, there was the particularly disturbing and disappointing op-ed by the national-director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Jonathan Greenblatt, who took Netanyahu to task for invoking the term “ethnic cleansing”. He conceded that “Israel has many legitimate concerns about Palestinian policies and behavior, not the least of which is Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s rash accusations that Israel commits acts of genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians.”

“However” he complained, “the charge that the Palestinians seek ‘ethnic cleansing’ of settlers is just not one of them.” But of course it is—unless you can think of another term for the coercive purge of a group of people because of their collective identity…

“Haaretz” unhinged

The Netanyahu video unleased a maelstrom of almost apoplectic radical Left-wing ire. This expressed itself in an unsurprising kneejerk display of “groupthink” in “Haaretz”, which, ironically, once advertised itself as the “paper for people who think”. It ran a frenzied anti-Bibi spate of largely similar and repetitive news reports and opinion pieces in rapid succession. The list of titles is instructive in itself:

“U.S. Slams Netanyahu’s ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Video, Calling It ‘Inappropriate and Unhelpful’” (Barak Ravid, Sept. 10); “Netanyahu Accused of Twisting History in ‘Ethnic

Cleansing’ Video (Jack Khoury and Barak Ravid, Sept. 10); “ Netanyahu’s Claim of ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Sets a Guinness Record for Chutzpah” (Chemi Shalev Sept. 10); “Yes, Netanyahu, Let’s Talk About Ethnic Cleansing (Gideon Levy, Sept. 11); “Netanyahu’s ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Video Pushes Obama Closer to UN Security Council (Barak Ravid, Sept.11); “The Real Message Behind Netanyahu’s ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Speech” (Yitzhak Laor ,Sept. 13); Where’s the outrage over Trump campaign’s shocking statement on ‘ethnic cleansing’? (Asher Schechter , Sept. 13); “Trump Would Be Proud of Netanyahu’s anti-Palestinian Ethnic Cleansing Canard” (Peter Beinart, Sep 14); “Netanyahu’s ‘Ethnic Cleansing’ Video Is Leading Us Down the Road to Masada Redux” (Nehemia Shtrasler Sept. 13).

All these portend the gloom and doom that will befall Israel because Netanyahu had the temerity to designate the demand to expel the members of a community from their homes because of their group affiliation, as “bigotry”—which it undeniably is!

Caveat: Them ain’t Us

But not all the criticism against Netanyahu is without merit. Several critics took him to task for drawing a potential parallel between Israel’s Arab minority within pre-1967 lines and the Jewish communities located in Judea-Samaria. He raised the possibility that this could serve as a model for a peaceful future.

While this might be an enticing scenario to entertain in some parallel universe, where the Palestinian-Arabs are very different to those in this one, in the realities of today, and those likely to prevail in any policy-relevant future, it is a recipe for gory disaster.

Little imagination is required to envision the gruesome fate of any Jewish enclave inside Palestinian-Arab territory and subject to Palestinian-Arab authority—especially if there was no territorial contiguity with sovereign Israel. Indeed, according to far-left Peter Beinart, even the ultra-concessionary Tzipi Livni balked at the idea of abandoning Jews inside areas controlled by the Palestinians. Now, although Beinart is not my preferred source of reference, he does raise a valid point in his previously cited Haaretz piece. He recalls talks that took place in 2008, in which the theoretical possibility of leaving Jewish communities within Palestinian territory was raised. Beinart notes that although these “discussions were speculative…the clear implication [was] that Israeli negotiators had a bigger problem with Jews remaining in a Palestinian state than did their Palestinian counterparts.”

And therein lies the perilous pitfall entailed in Israel disapprovingly brandishing the issue of allegedly implacable Palestinian demands for ethnic cleansing of Jews from any territory transferred to their control. For, quite apart from the fact that transferring/abandoning Jews living under Jewish authority to live under alien sovereignty is the very antithesis of the Zionist ethos, there is another more immediate impediment: While non-Jewish minorities may well flourish in

Israel, Jewish minorities in “Palestine” are very likely to be massacred. For the bitter truth is: Them ain’t us.

The limits of gimmicks

Regrettably, for anyone who nominally endorses the Palestinian-Arabs claim to statehood, flaunting their ostensible demand for the “ethnic cleansing” is a gimmick of limited efficacy—for at least two reasons:

(a) If the Palestinians are indeed seen as an authentic national entity, then their demand to national independence cannot be conditioned on the form of government they choose to institute. It certainly cannot be made dependent on it having a tolerant, open society –just as this is not invoked to negate the sovereignty of an array of brutal tyrannies across the globe—whether Iran, Saudi Arabia or North Korea to name but a few. Strangely enough, I find myself in agreement with Beinart, when he states that “potential future misdeeds do not justify holding a people as non-citizens under foreign control”.

(b) It is far from certain that the Palestinians will continue insisting on purging all the Jewish residents in the territories to be transferred to their control. Indeed, they may well agree to it, even as a temporary tactic. Thus, corroborating Beinart’s earlier remark, Elias Zananiri, vice-chairman of the PLO Committee for Interaction with the Israeli Society, writes in his “Netanyahu’s ‘ethnic cleansing’ gimmick” (Sept. 13): “In the Annapolis peace conference in November 2007, the Palestinian side expressed readiness in principle to host those settlers who would choose to stay where they live in the West Bank. Of course, these settlers would live under Palestinian sovereignty and law.”

Clearly, if the Palestinian-Arabs were to drop their demand for having a “Judenrein” state but demanded that any non-Palestinian resident accept these conditions, with expulsion now no longer a demand, Israel would have with little reason to object.

Gimmicks are not policy

Thus, raising the issue of Palestinian Judeophobic bigotry is an effective measure only if it is invoked to permanently deny, not temporarily delay, Palestinian statehood. While gimmicks may well be effective in promoting policy, they are not a substitute for policy. For Israel, such policy must be the total dis-creditation, de-construction and de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative and the resultant claim for statehood. In so far as the exposure of the scope and scale of the Palestinian Judeophobic bigotry can be used to promote this policy, it should be utilized.

Using it for other short term, tactical purposes, is liable to be a dangerous double-edged sword.

Dr. Martin Sherman

Shiloh Musings: Bibi: Selling Soul and Country to the Devil!

Sunday, September 18th, 2016

I’m just sick over the fact that our Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, didn’t have the guts and faith to hold out on the so-called aid, sic offered by American lame duck President Barack Hussein Obama.

This “package” is poison for the Israeli economy, particularly our military industries. A sovereign leader always has a choice. By accepting the many stringed offer, Netanyahu is showing weakness.

Republican senator: Israel made a mistake signing security deal
Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who oversees the U.S. foreign aid budget, opined on Friday that Israel made a mistake by signing a new $38 billion security agreement with the Obama administration, The Associated Press reported.
Graham said Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu could have gotten a better deal if he had waited until President Barack Obama left office.
He stated that there is ample support in Congress among Republicans and Democrats for providing Israel with more military aid. And a new U.S. president, either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, would be more generous too, he said on a conference call arranged by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs.

I don’t know how we can get out of it… sigh….

Batya Medad

Analysis: Bennett Defending Bibi from Barak While Bibi Tells Buji He’ll Dump Bennett if Buji Pulls a Barak

Friday, August 26th, 2016

A week ago, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak took to the podium at a V15-affiliated Darkenu conference and blamed current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of everything that’s gone wrong in Israel since the onset of Zionist settlement circa 1878, and then accused Netanyahu of “another incident” that showed a “worrying mix of an inability to judge deep security interests” regarding “cooperation with the United States,” with “careless operational behavior” that has caused “most worrisome exposure of Israel to a major security challenge.”

Israeli media and political experts spent the past week trying to figure out what in God’s good name Bibi’s former defense minister was talking about. Barak, meanwhile, refused an offer by Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Avi Dichter (Likud)—whom Barak appointed head of Shabbak years ago—and wouldn’t share what ghastly national security failure of Netanyahu’s he had in mind. And so Barak, without a care in the world, went back to his private businesses, of which he has many at home and abroad, satisfied that the world still remembers his name.

Much like MK Dichter, Education Minister and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett also decided to check up on Barak’s nebulous accusations. And so, Ma’ariv reported Friday, he went and talked to people in the know and reached the conclusion that it was absolutely nothing. “Nada, simply a Barak invention, there’s no security story here,” Bennett told his close circle of friends and advisors.

And to put his political capital where his mouth is, Bennett suggested Barak be summoned to a hearing before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee — a move committee chairman Dichter might still consider.

While all this fiendish dancing in his honor was going on, Netanyahu found time to meet twice with Zionist Camp chairman Isaac “Buji” Herzog, according to a Channel 2 News report, once on Monday and another time on Thursday last week, in Caesarea, in the home across the street from the Netanyahus’ villa, where movie mogul Leon Edery (movie mogul Moshe Edery’s brother) resides. Each meeting lasted two hours, and was devoted to the topic of Buji joining Bibi’s coalition after Bibi fires his Habayit Hayehudi ministers Bennett, Shaked and Ariel.

Herzog denied the news with all his might, but only managed to convince two of his closest party loyalists. Everyone else was stunned to hear their leader was back for more humiliation, after having been treated like a dog (Labour MK Shelly Yachimovich’s choice of metaphor) by Bibi only to leverage Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) into joining the government.

Yachimovich, who lost two leadership bids to Herzog, tweeted bitterly that she lives in the wrong city, she should move to Caesarea where all the goodies seem to be given away. She and many in Labor are seriously worried now that their hapless leader, who has just won himself an extra year at the party’s helm without an election, might be plotting a Barak move, which he would justify in the name of peace and brotherhood and his party members would probably give it its rightful name: treason.

A Barak refers to the betrayal by Labor chairman Ehud Barak, whose party suffered one of its worst defeats back in 2009, dropping from 19 to 13 seats and becoming, for the first time in its history, the fourth largest Knesset faction. Barak declared that the will of the voter was for Labor to remain in the opposition that term, then he went and struck a deal with the new prime minister, Netanyahu, who made him his defense minister. This did not go so well with the rest of the party, and so in early January 2011, Barak and four other Labor MKs left their Knesset faction and created a new party, Atzmaut. Those four MKs, whom no one remembers, paid with their political lives for Barak’s additional time in government. Before the 2013 elections Barak decided he had had enough of politics and closed down his new party.

JNi.Media

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