Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected France’s call for an international conference to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But before anyone concludes that only “right-wingers” oppose such a conference, it’s worth recalling that one of the most outspoken critics of the conference idea was Yitzhak Rabin.
The year was 1985, and Rabin was Israel’s minister of defense. Arab leaders had been pushing for the convening of an international peace conference. Rabin and other Israeli leaders were insisting on direct Arab-Israeli negotiations.
The Reagan administration had always supported Israel’s position. But in the spring of 1985, there were media reports that Secretary of State George Shultz was starting to warm up to the idea of an international conference. A worried Rabin flew to the United States for top-level discussions.
Upon his arrival in the U.S., Rabin “made it clear he was concerned about Washington’s apparent weakening on the question of an international conference on the Middle East,” according to AIPAC’s weekly newsletter, Near East Report.
“If they are ready to make peace, let’s negotiate [directly],” Rabin was quoted as saying. “If someone wants to undermine any hope of peace, an international conference and bringing in the Syrians is the best way.”
Rabin said that in his meetings with U.S. officials, “I heard about the ‘international umbrella.’ ” That was a phrase that some administration officials had begun using to try to sugarcoat the bitter pill. The idea was that if the conference took place under the “umbrella” of international auspices, it would somehow increase the chances of achieving peace.
Rabin disagreed. “Whenever anyone mentions umbrella, it reminds me of Chamberlain and Munich,” he declared.
Rabin’s statements were pretty remarkable, when you think about it. He had formerly served as Israel’s ambassador in Washington, so he was keenly sensitive to the need not to anger U.S. officials. Yet he publicly leaked the fact that they were using that deceptive “international umbrella” term. Not only did he leak it, he openly criticized it, right there in Washington.
And he didn’t just criticize it, he used the analogy of Chamberlain selling out to Hitler at Munich. For Rabin to stand in Washington and blast the U.S. administration, even invoking a Nazi analogy, was nothing less than astonishing. It really showed what a terrible threat an international conference (or “umbrella”) poses to Israel.
Such a conference, if held today, would consist of a dozen or more Arab and European countries ganging up on Israel and demanding unilateral concessions to the Palestinians. And given reports that the Obama administration wants to see “progress” on this front before the president leaves office, one must assume the U.S. would side with the Arabs and Europeans.
The purpose of the conference would not be to achieve a genuine peace. How do we know? Because the sponsor, France, already declared earlier this year that if the conference failed to produce a Palestinian state, the French would unilaterally recognize one. That’s the goal – not peace, but a Palestinian state, as quickly as possible, no matter the risks to Israel. Which is why the Palestinian Authority’s inciter-in-chief, Mahmoud Abbas, is energetically supporting the conference idea.
During the past year, France has suffered the worst terrorist attacks in the world since 9/11. One would think the French would understand the folly of appeasing Islamic terrorists and oppose creating what would be an overwhelmingly Muslim Palestinian terrorist state. Yet just the opposite has happened.
Why? Because the French are afraid. They are afraid of angering the Muslim world, afraid of more Muslim terrorism. The French believe that since they are defending themselves against ISIS – French planes are bombing Muslim terrorists in Syria and the French police have been shutting down pro-terror mosques – they have to prove they champion Muslim causes. Supporting Palestinian statehood is France’s way of trying to appease the Muslim world.
The international conference proposal is just another way of throwing Israel under the bus. No wonder Israelis – Likud or Labor, right or left – aren’t too excited about that prospect.
On November 14-17, 2016, thousands of politicians, law enforcement decision-makers and security professionals from around the world will gather at the Tel Aviv Convention Center to attend “Israel HLS & Cyber 2016.” The conference will focus on today’s most imminent security challenges, such as the threats of both physical and cyber terror, securing airports and major transport hubs, and protecting critical infrastructure.
Complementing these important discussions, the Exhibition will run simultaneously and showcase 160 Israeli companies, offering some of the world’s most innovative and advanced technologies in the field.
Years of heightened terrorist threats have led many governments to expand their security measures. Now, more than ever, greater attention is given to protect strategic assets, such as transportation hubs, stadiums and sports facilities, and critical infrastructure.
Faced with a multitude of terrorist threats since its inception, Israel has encouraged and supported the development and implementations of state-of-the-art homeland security solutions. Today, Israel is home to more than 400 companies in this sector and is widely considered to be in the forefront of the global security industry.
In recent years, Israel has also become a leading cyber nation. In 2015, the Israeli cyber sector reached $4 billion in total sales, representing 5% of that year’s global sales in this sector. More than 300 cyber companies operate in Israel, and the number is growing every year.
Vietnam wants to learn from Israel’s experience in mitigating climate change impacts, Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang said at a reception for outgoing Israeli Ambassador in Vietnam Meirav Eilon Shahar in Hanoi on October 31.
Disregarding the fact that Vietnam voted against Israel on the UNESCO resolution that denied the Jewish historic connection to Jerusalem, the president said that Vietnam and Israel should speed up negotiations for the signing of a bilateral trade agreement and open a direct route between the two countries, thus facilitating their economic and tourism cooperation. He also would like to step up the two countries’ affiliation in science and technology, especially hi-tech.
For her part, Ambassador Shahar expressed her hope that the two countries will continue cooperation and mutual support at the regional and international forums, particularly the UN.
“The safety of the People Shall be the highest law.” — Cicero, The Laws.
It is beginning again. As Hamas terrorists are attacking Israeli civilians with indiscriminate rocket fire, most recently in the southern city of Sderot, Israeli self-defense reactions are already being labeled “excessive” and “disproportionate.” As usual, international public opinion is quickly, if bizarrely, mobilizing against Israel’s underlying supposed “occupation” of Jews living in their own Biblical land.
But what of the facts? In Gaza, since 2005 at least, when every last Jew left, there has been no “occupation.” There are no Israelis in Gaza.
Systematic Hamas misrepresentations get progressively worse.
Any such blame, however, has no basis in law. Regarding “proportionality,” the actual legal requirement of proportionality contained in international humanitarian law (the law of armed conflict) has nothing to do with how many unfortunate deaths there might be on either side. Proportionality has nothing to do with each side incurring an equivalent number of deaths.
Luis Moreno-Ocampo, Chief Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, investigated allegations of war crimes during the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and in 2006 published an open letter containing his findings. Included was this section on proportionality:
Under international humanitarian law and the Rome Statute, the death of civilians during an armed conflict, no matter how grave and regrettable, does not in itself constitute a war crime. International humanitarian law and the Rome Statute permit belligerents to carry out proportionate attacks against military objectives, even when it is known that some civilian deaths or injuries will occur.
A crime occurs if there is an intentional attack directed against civilians (principle of distinction) or an attack is launched on a military objective in the knowledge that the incidental civilian injuries would be clearly excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage (principle of proportionality).
Under no circumstances, at least documented ones, have Israeli retaliations been guilty of any such excess.
Recurrent Hamas rocket attacks upon Israeli noncombatants are, basically, examples of terrorism. Such terrorism – all terrorism, irrespective of so-called “just cause” — represents a distinct crime under international law.
When Palestinian terrorism reflects populations that enthusiastically support terror attacks, and where the terrorists can find hospitable refuge among local populations, the legal responsibility for all ensuing counterterrorist harms lies with the perpetrators.
Understood in terms of a still-ongoing cycle of Palestinian terrorism, and Israeli self-defense against terror, the Palestinian side must accept full legal responsibility for civilian casualties in Gaza. Without their premeditated terror attacks on Israeli civilian populations, there would never be any Israel-inflicted Palestinian harm.
It is that simple.
Under international law, which also happens to be part of the law of the United States, all Palestinian terrorists are hostes humani generis: “Common enemies of humankind.” Significantly, in law, such murderers should be punished severely, wherever they are found. Concerning their prospective arrest and prosecution, jurisdiction is now, after the post-WWII Nuremberg trials and principles, expressly “universal.”
Terrorism, including Palestinian terrorism, is always cruel. In addition to rockets, Palestinian murderers, often using bombs filled with nails, razor blades, and screws dipped in rat poison, seek to maim and burn Israeli civilians. This objective is generally announced with cheers, and abundant blessings from the leading Islamic clergy.
In the recurring indictments offered by Hamas-appointed clergy is the claim that “the Jews lack sanctity.” The lack of distinction here between “Jews” and “Israelis” is intentional. It underscores what most observers still do not seem to understand: For Hamas, the true enemy is identifiable by religion, not territory, and is therefore irremediable.
If the Hamas enemy were merely “the Israelis,” and not “the Jews,” there might still be good reason for seeking a political or diplomatic “peace process.” But for the Palestinians, especially Hamas and its terror-group allies, the enemy is, as expressed in the Hamas Charter, unalterably “the Jews.”
With such an enemy, there can never be a compromise. For “the Jews,” whether in Israel proper, or in “occupied territory,” this means that the only way to avoid Arab terror is to disappear, or submit to Islamic control — supposedly for the Jews once again to become persecuted, second-class dhimmi citizens in their own country, just as the indigenous Christians are now in Egypt and much of the Middle East.
There are additional ironies. Those more-or-less wealthy Palestinian commanders who directly control the suicide-bombers’ mayhem (made wealthy with huge sums of money systematically stolen from UN agency funds), evidently prefer to cower fearfully in their towns and cities, usually taking great care to find personal safety amidst densely-packed Arab populations.
Together with assorted Israel Air Force (IAF) units, special IDF counterterrorism and commando elements meticulously identify and target only terrorist leaders. Always, Israel seeks to minimize any collateral damage. Still, such harm cannot always be avoided even by the IDF, which follows its “Purity of Arms” code more stringently than any other military in the world.
Deception can be legally acceptable in armed conflict, but the Geneva Conventions disallow placement of military assets or personnel in heavily populated civilian areas. To place military assets in heavily populated civilian areas is considered, under international law, “perfidy.” It is widely recognized that these rules are also binding on the basis of customary international law.
Perfidy represents an especially serious violation of the Law of War, one identified as a “grave breach” at Article 147 of Geneva Convention IV, which states that,
Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.
The critical legal effect of perfidy committed by Palestinian terrorist leaders in Gaza is to immunize Israel from any responsibility for any unintended counterterrorist harms done to Arab civilians. Even if Hamas did not deliberately engage in perfidy, any Palestinian-created link between civilians and terrorist activities would grant Israel full legal justification for undertaking all necessary defensive actions.
Under law, all uses of force are governed by established rules. All combatants, including Palestinian insurgents, are bound by the international Law of War. This requirement is found at Article 3, common to the four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, and also at the two protocols to these Conventions.
Protocol I applies humanitarian international law to all conflicts fought for “self-determination,” the stated objective of all Palestinian fighters. A product of the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts (1977), this Protocol brings all irregular forces within the full scope of international law. In this connection, the terms “fighter” and “irregular” are conspicuously generous in describing Palestinian terrorists, fanatical criminals who “normally” target only civilians, and whose characteristic mode of “battle” is not military engagement, but rather what amounts to religious sacrifice.
In the ancient world, the Roman statesman Cicero wrote in The Laws: “The safety of the People Shall be the highest law.” Nothing has really changed. Under current international law, Israel has both the right and the obligation to protect its citizens from criminal acts of terrorism.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday sat with schoolchildren in the Jewish community of Susiya in south Mt. Hebron, next door to which a squatter Arab community has emerged recently, in an obvious attempt to challenge Israeli sovereignty over Area C of Judea and Samaria. Liberman told the children the encroachment by the residents of Yata Village to the lands near Susiya was not an accident, but a planned effort to physically separate the new community of Susiya and the historic synagogue on the nearby archeological site.
Susiya is a legitimate archaeological site in the southern Judean Mountains that bears the archaeological remains of a 5th century CE enormous synagogue, one of the largest and most magnificent ever discovered, which was turned into a mosque by the Arab invaders in the 8th century.
“Are you familiar with the archeological site of Susiya?” Liberman asked, and continued, “One day all kinds of illegal buildings started popping there, supported by foreign countries. And why did they pop there? On purpose, to divide between the community of Susiya and the historic Susiya.”
Liberman revealed that he had been under “pressure from all over the world” not to apply the demolition order handed out more than once by the Supreme Court. “The European Union, the US — they all discovered Susiya. Suddenly the United Nations Security Council is also interested in Susiya.” He promised the children he would obey the law and carry out the demolitions. “The free world is preaching especially for this to be a country of laws, and we must honor our judiciary system,” he said, with a hint of sarcasm.
UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov told the Security Council that the demolitions of illegal Arab construction in Area C, which is under full Israeli control, violate the recommendations of the so-called Middle East Quartet, comprising the US, Russia, the EU and the UN, on the way forward in the peace process.
Liberman attacked the Europeans and the Americans who demand that Israel ignore the Supreme Court ruling to demolish Susiya, but to enforce the same court’s ruling on demolishing the Jewish Amona community in northern Samaria. “We are a country of laws,” he said, and we will honor ourselves and our laws, regarding Amona, E1 (the area connecting Jerusalema nd Ma’ale Adumim), and Susiya,” he clarified.
Liberman called on the residents of Amona to embrace the compromise being offered by the government, and moved to the promised homes to be built near their community. “I say to the residents of Amona, there’s a ruling of the high court and we will obey it. If anyone is delusing themselves that we won’t, it’s not going to happen. Whatever the court permits we will do. That’s why we offered many alternatives, and I hope we’ll find one the Amona residents will also accept.”
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”
Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”
This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”
Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”
“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.
Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.
Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.
After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.
“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”
Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.
On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”
At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.
At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”
Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.
“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.
“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.
It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.
A Swiss activist with the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) movement has been deported from Israel for the first time, according to Channel 2 News.
Rita Faye has visited the Jewish State a number of times in the past, and is known for her harassment of IDF soldiers at Palestinian Authority crossing checkpoints around Jericho.
She is a member of a Christian organization that supports the BDS movement and has recorded the activities of the soldiers she has tracked, and then sent the information abroad, according to the report.
Upon her arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport on Tuesday, she was taken for questioning by security personnel.
Faye was put back on a plane with a deportation issued by Interior Minister Arye Deri at the request of the IDF when it was discovered she was headed to Israel.