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October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘International Community’

World Barks As ‘Building Jerusalem’ Caravan Moves On

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

With the international community barely having finished expressing its outrage over Israel’s decision to build in E-1, between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim (reported at length in last week’s column), two other similar decisions have been made that are sure to re-ignite the flames.

Israel’s urban planning committees have approved two additional large-scale building projects in Greater Jerusalem, i.e., areas liberated in the Six-Day War of 1967. A visitor from another century might wonder how Israel still manages to find itself on the defensive over such decisions, close to a half-century after returning en masse to its holy and historic capital.

The two decisions concern Ramat Shlomo, in northern Jerusalem, and Givat HaMatos, in the south. The former is a haredi community of 20,000 situated between Ramot to the west and the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat to the east. Its planned expansion has been a classic case of getting hit with the spoiled fish and having to eat it: Israel paid dearly in its relations with the United States when it originally announced the new construction there three years ago – precisely in the middle of an official visit to Israel by Vice President Joe Biden. Now, with no progress having been made on the project since, comes this new announcement on the final approval stage – and Israel will again be subjected to an international outcry.

The original plan called for 1,700 new housing units, but this number was pared down by the District Housing and Planning Committee to 1,500 after it heard objections from Shuafat residents.

On Tuesday, the same committee approved some 3,000 new units in southern Yerushalayim, between Gilo to the southwest, Beit Tsafafa (Arab) to the immediate north (where approximately a quarter of the apartments will be built), and Talpiot to the northeast.

The neighborhood to be developed is Givat HaMatos, or Airplane Hill. Its name memorializes the Jordanian downing of a two-engine Israel Air Force plane there during the Six-Day War; pilot Lt. Dan Givon was killed. In 1991 it was used to house hundreds of families of new Ethiopian Jewish immigrants. Currently, however, only a few remain, and the neighborhood has essentially become desolate.

It can now be expected, however, that within a few short years this forlorn area will go the way of the rest of the Land of Israel: From barren emptiness to blooming growth.

It is a matter of consensus that Jewish growth and expansion in neighborhoods such as Givat HaMatos and Ramat Shlomo are critical moves at this time, and will have a major effect on future arrangements with the Palestinian Authority and the Arabs in the Land of Israel. Aviv Tatarsky, spokesman for the Ir Amim group working on behalf of Arabs in Jerusalem, said, “The more massive is the Jewish construction in Jerusalem, the more complex and difficult it will be to divide the city and reach an arrangement with the Palestinians.”

Jerusalem City Councilman Yair Gabbai agrees, but from the other side: “Jewish building in Jerusalem is what will guarantee Israeli sovereignty throughout the city and the future of the young generation that will live here. We still need another 20,000 housing units, however.”

Among the Jewish-owned plots of land in Givat HaMatos is that of 82-year-old Yitzchak Herskovitz of Kiryat Arba. He fought in Israel’s courts for 18 (!) years to oust an Arab Bedouin clan of trespassers from his property. The squatters had run away from the Bethlehem area after a lethal feud with Arab neighbors, and their presence in Israel proper was illegal. With his tenacity, Herskovitz succeeded not only in redeeming the property from Arab occupation, but also in making it part of a new, thriving Jewish neighborhood. He is now seeking to develop the plot for the purpose of affordable housing for young couples.

More than 50,000 new housing units are planned for Jerusalem in the coming 20 years – and the lion’s share of them are to be built in the areas that were liberated during the Six-Day War. The trend indicates that neighborhoods such as Gilo, N’vei Yaakov, and Ramot – which some news media and others still call “settlements” – will not only remain under Israeli sovereignty under any arrangement, but will also become the locations of choice for future construction in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem: Build, Baby, Build!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Israel this week took an important step toward strengthening Jerusalem and preventing any chance of its future division.

Despite increasingly strident objections from the U.S., Europe and the Palestinians, the Jewish state is moving forward with plans to expand the capital’s Jewish population.

At a meeting of the District Building and Planning Committee, officials approved a proposal to construct 1,500 apartment units in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

Located in the northern part of the city, Ramat Shlomo is a critical link ensuring an unbroken and contiguous strip of Jewish-populated areas from Ramot to French Hill.

This will make it extremely difficult for Palestinian-controlled Ramallah to ever connect with the eastern part of Jerusalem, thereby reducing the chance that Israel’s capital can or will ever be divided.

Bordered on the north and east by the Arab-inhabited neighborhoods of Beit Hanina and Shuafat, Ramat Shlomo also provides a bulwark against any possible attempts to stretch Palestinian control further westward.

According to some reports, construction of the 1,500 new apartment units could begin as early as next year, though it will likely take longer.

To be sure, there are still various additional bureaucratic hurdles that stand in the way of the start of actual construction, and the authorities can at any time throw a wrench in the works should they decide to do so.

But Ramat Shlomo is of great strategic significance and anyone who loves Jerusalem and wants to ensure that it remains indivisible and under full Israeli control should rejoice over this latest development.

Now, if the name Ramat Shlomo sounds vaguely familiar, that is because it was at the center of a diplomatic storm that erupted back in March 2010, when a plan for its expansion was approved during a visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

Washington was furious, the Palestinians were chagrined, and the Israeli left cold not contain its anger. As a result, the project was put on hold for two and a half years, and is now once again being revived after the Palestinian Authority’s latest unilateral moves at the United Nations General Assembly.

Don’t be surprised if the headlines in coming days once again take Israel to task for this latest move. No doubt everyone from the State Department spokesman to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to European Union officials are all busy at their word processors preparing the latest condemnation of the Jewish state for daring to build in its own capital.

When news of the plan was first publicized earlier this month, along with proposals to build in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, the international community’s reaction was swift and stern.

Indeed, there is nowhere else in the world – not a single place! – that a tediously dull decision about housing construction made by bureaucrats would elicit so much international interest.

But we should not let the noise bother us one bit. However harsh the criticism might be, Israel has the right and the obligation to erect housing where it chooses, and it is no one else’s business or concern.

Our national interest is to put an end once and for all to the delusions of our foes that they can wrest Jerusalem from us or divide the city. The best way to do so is to rev up the bulldozers and build.

Israel needs to take steps to provide affordable housing in Jerusalem and meet the growing demand for apartments. Neighborhoods such as Ramat Shlomo provide just such an answer, and we should not let Mahmoud Abbas’s empty objections dictate our housing policy any longer.

Back in 2008, a large chorus of Americans adopted the slogan “Drill, Baby, Drill” to underline their support for greater petroleum exploration. It is time we embrace that motto and modify it slightly for our own purposes, and encourage the Israeli government to: “Build, Baby, Build!”

By doing so, we can ensure that this precious land remains ours forevermore.

On Israel, Obama Brings Moynihan To Mind

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Those who view American-Israel relations through a dualistic “are you pro-Israel or anti-Israel” lens must be confused. In one week, the United States stands virtually alone with Israel against the Palestinians’ upgrade of their status at the United Nations, then immediately condemns Israel’s settlement expansion.

Similarly, despite Republican warnings that a reelected Barack Obama would “throw Israel under a bus,” the president backed Israel during the recent Gaza War.

Obama’s behavior fits the historical pattern. Arab attacks on Israel’s right to exist trigger America’s protective impulse even as Israeli doggedeness vexes American leaders. Arab attacks have often saved Israeli policymakers from American wrath.

This pattern emerged clearly as the U.S.-Israel friendship solidified following the October 1973 Yom Kippur War. After his indefatigable shuttle diplomacy pieced together a cease-fire, Henry Kissinger tried parlaying the war’s chaos into a lasting peace. Israel refused to relinquish critical strategic assets without “an overall settlement” or at least a non-belligerency pact, which Egypt rejected. As the negotiations dragged, American frustrations mounted.

In March 1975, the Israelis proposed a two-week negotiation break. An “outraged” Kissinger accused Israel and America’s Jewish community of being “irresponsible,” of fomenting anti-Semitism. Oval Office transcripts chronicled Kissinger condemning Israel’s leaders as “a sick bunch” and “the world’s worst [expletives].”

At Kissinger’s insistence, President Gerald Ford announced a “reassessment” that March, temporarily freezing relations with Israel. Six months later, on Sept. 1, 1975, Israel approved the Sinai accords.

During this nadir, an Arab-Soviet assault against Israel suddenly reminded Americans and Israelis of their deep friendship. Soviet and Third World delegates sought to expel Israel from the United Nations. America’s new U.N. ambassador, Daniel Patrick Moynihan – with Kissinger’s backing – said the U.S. would consider expulsion a severe breach.

Backpedaling, the anti-American, anti-Zionist totalitarians chose a strategy that Moynihan realized could threaten Israel’s legitimacy even more – calling Zionism racism.

Moynihan, the iconoclastic Harvard professor and ubiquitous White House adviser, backed Israel to defend democracy and decency. He said Resolution 3379, with its perverse Soviet-orchestrated distortions of language and history, “reeked of the totalitarian mind, stank of the totalitarian state” – and sought to humiliate the U.S. and Israel.

Moynihan’s confrontational strategy initially left him feeling as lonely as Israel. His fury alienated America’s allies and adversaries, along with America’s foreign policy establishment, including Kissinger.

“We are conducting foreign policy,” phone transcripts chronicle Kissinger grumbling behind Moynihan’s back on Nov. 10, 1975, as Moynihan fought Resolution 3379. “This is not a synagogue.”

Yet Moynihan’s attack on the resolution made him an American pop star. At a moment of American despair, six months after Vietnam fell, with crime rising, inflation soaring and depression threatening, Americans found a hero. More than 26,000 letters cascaded into the U.S. mission of the UN cheering Moynihan, denouncing the UN’s anti-Semitic lynch mob and celebrating his politics of patriotic indignation. A year after his heroic stand, grateful New Yorkers sent Moynihan to the U.S. Senate.

This pure, passionate reaction reflected the popular ties and values overlap uniting Israel and America – a deep-seeded, grass-roots expression sprouting naturally, not political Astroturf artificially tended by an “Israel lobby.”

Then as now, U.S.-Israel relations occur on two tracks, with the United States frequently acting like the annoyed older brother who ultimately has his kid brother’s back.

When American leaders try solving the post-1967 disputes and managing the Middle East, relations with Israel are frequently fragile, occasionally explosive. The greatest tensions – after Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, during the James Baker-George H.W. Bush loan-guarantee fight and during the first half of Obama’s first term – reflected American-Israeli disagreements regarding what Israel had to do, or not do, to get along with its neighbors.

But when the Arabs try refighting 1948, assailing Israel’s right to live, American loyalty to Israel shines through. The 1975 Zionism is racism assault returned the discussion to the basics, as did the Hamas rockets and the ugly rhetoric by Mahmoud Abbas accusing Israel of “racism” and “apartheid.” Such assaults shift the focus from whatever tensions the peace process stirs to a more fundamental fight for life.

These two tracks prove how impoverished the current vocabulary is. Few mainstream American leaders are anti-Israel – not Kissinger in the 1970s and not Obama today. Their anger, be it justified or not, is transactional not existential, passing not permanent, reflecting day-to-day tensions, not do-or-die fights.

Disproportionate Response Pays

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

A bit of video showing Israeli soldiers running from rock-throwing Arabs caused a stir last week. Some Israeli officials suggested that the problem was that rules of engagement were too strict. Others added that “activists” with cameras were prepared to create legal and public-relations problems for Israel in the event that Palestinians were hurt (of course rock-throwing Palestinians were trying to kill the Israelis).

The problem isn’t a legal one and the concern with Israel’s image as a modern, humanitarian state is misplaced. Rather, I would say that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of the human animal on the Israeli (and generally, Western) side, a misunderstanding that our enemies exploit to the fullest.

Humans are not motivated very much by logical arguments, and less so by logical arguments about moral issues. The Christian concept of turning the other cheek never got much traction, even among Christians, because it goes strongly against the atavistic gut feelings that actually do motivate us, and which we love to rationalize after the fact.

Imagine a man, even a UN diplomat, in a nice suit with nice hair. Then imagine inside of him a naked prehistoric ancestor. The ancestor doesn’t have concepts like moral reasoning — he is motivated by feelings like hunger and acquisitiveness, fear and hostility toward outsiders, perhaps respect for and fear of stronger members of his own tribe, etc.

Now understand that even the diplomat in the suit is driven by the same forces. The only difference is that he has layers of ‘culture’ and the ability to express himself in abstract language, to argue rationally in order to justify his preexisting feelings. This is a description of almost every modern human.

There is no way a Jewish state (or for that matter, the Jewish people) will ever generate feelings of love or even liking in the world, and not just among Arabs. Even Norwegians will not think to themselves, “it’s admirable that those Jews care about others.” They will respond to the non-rational ethnic hatred that boils inside of them, and rationalize it by talking about ‘stolen Palestinian land,’ settlements, ‘international law,’ etc.

I’m not going to discuss the roots of these sentiments now, but they are deep and entirely irrational. They can’t be changed by rational argument.

The Arabs understand this, which is why their propaganda includes viscerally racist anti-Jewish components and plenty of burned babies (even if the babies were burned by Syrian bombs). To ice the cake, they mouth words about justice and law, but that only serves to provide a handle for boycotts and UN resolutions. The real force is in the ugly stuff. It’s job is to feed the flames.

Israelis have gut-level motivations too, mostly the motivation to survive. But they seem to think that the best way to change the behavior of the world toward them is to explain, by appealing to actual facts and with logical arguments, that (for example) the IDF is the “most moral army in the world,” that Israel desires peace, and  the way to obtain it is to sit down with our enemies and talk through our differences.

This does not work with Norwegian diplomats, who will always come up with more reasons that Israel is an oppressive colonial power, because the logical arguments are just epiphenomena. The real motivation comes from a lower level, which rational Israeli arguments don’t touch.

And this is even less effective on Palestinian rock-throwers, who see Israeli attempts to not hurt them as simple weakness. If they could hurt us they would, they think, so if they don’t it’s because they can’t. These attacks are meant as much to humiliate IDF soldiers as to hurt them. When they succeed, they are emboldened to throw more rocks, to take even more risks (which have the side effect of demonstrating their manhood).

This is well-understood by Avigdor Lieberman, who said “There is no way that Palestinian policemen can punch and slap soldiers and live to tell about it.”

Lieberman’s statement was undoubtedly greeted with horror by less-astute but supposedly more ‘cultured’ people who find live fire a highly disproportionate response to a punch or slap (or thrown rock).

The fact is that the prehistoric ancestor within us doesn’t respond to proportionality. The way to get him on your side is not to explain how cultured you are, but to show him that if he messes with you he and his relatives will quickly be dead.

So Israel’s carefully measured surgical response to Hamas murder rockets, ending in a negotiated settlement, strengthened Hamas politically and psychologically, even while it destroyed its infrastructure. Infrastructure can be rebuilt and ammunition replenished, so the IDF’s actions achieved only a temporary advantage. Hamas’ victory celebration was not inappropriate, if we are talking about the psychological dimension.

In order to change the political landscape, it’s necessary to change the psychological one. The way to do this is not by careful surgical strikes, defensive strategies, and unbalanced concern for the welfare of those who are trying to kill IDF soldiers. It is by massive, disproportionate response to attacks.

While some are afraid that this would create legal and diplomatic problems, these problems appear anyway based on false and exaggerated ‘evidence’ — see the Goldstone report, for example.

Israel should hit its enemies hard. Deep down, even the Norwegian diplomats will understand.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

MK Ariel: ‘Time to Let the IDF Win Again’

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Chairman of the Knesset State Comptroller’s Committee MK Uri Ariel reacted to the deteriorating security situation in Southern Israel, saying: “Israel’s weakness in the face of the escalating terrorism against residents of Southern Israel must end. It’s about time to let the IDF win again, to stop allowing the fear from the International Community’s reaction to paralyze us, to take military action in the depth of the Gaza Strip, and to put an end to the terror state that Israel created with its very own hands.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/mk-ariel-time-to-let-the-idf-win-again/2012/11/12/

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