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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘israeli foreign policy’

Why was the IDF (and Karsenty) Abandoned in the Al Dura Affair?

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Thirteen years after Israel’s enemies unleashed one of the most damaging fake atrocity stories in military history, the Israeli government has come up with an official report [1.8 mb pdf] to refute the September 30, 2000 France 2 news broadcast, narrated by respected correspondent Charles Enderlin, that claimed to show 12-year old Mohammad Dura shot dead by IDF soldiers.

Oh, we already know and knew almost immediately beyond a reasonable doubt that al Dura was not shot by the IDF, and we almost certainly know that he was not shot at all, by anybody. Persuasive evidence (more persuasive than the official report) is here.

In fact, we can say with confidence that the incident was a fake, set up by France 2′s Palestinian cameraman and local Gaza residents.

But what is difficult to understand is the Israeli diffidence in the face of the vicious allegations.

The immediate response of the IDF was to temporize. From the official report:

On that same day, following the France 2 report, the Spokesperson Unit released a statement which made clear that while it was not possible to determine, based on the footage broadcast by the network, the source of the shots apparently fired at Jamal and the boy, ultimate responsibility lay with the Palestinians for cynically launching armed attacks from within the civilian population. …

But then, at a press conference on October 3, it turned disastrous:

[Maj. Gen. Giora] Eiland, in response to a question regarding Al-Durrah, answered that as a result of the gunfire at the junction, Jamal and the boy “took cover next to a wall, several meters from where Palestinians fired at us. The soldiers returned fire and apparently the boy was hit by our fire.”

Eiland later explained,

I had not seen all the evidence made available to the Israeli army only later…Given the long history of Palestinians exposing their children to danger, I assumed that the main issue in this case would be the question: Why would the Palestinians have exposed their own civilians to danger by firing on the Israelis while a boy and his father were in the crossfire? I did not realize that my words would be used to accuse Israel of cold-blooded murder.

The footage was played and replayed around the world. Two weeks later, two IDF reservists were torn to pieces in Ramallah to shouts of “al-Dura! al-Dura!” The alleged cold-blooded murder became the symbol of the Intifada, and an inspiration for suicide bombers. Daniel Pearl’s murderers and even Osama bin Laden, before and after 9/11, invoked it as justification for their acts.

Meanwhile IDF Maj. Gen. Yom Tov Samia, OC Southern Command, reenacted the incident, examined the relative locations of soldiers and Palestinians, and concluded that IDF bullets could not have hit al-Dura. This was announced at a press conference on November 27, which was almost entirely ignored by the media — and by top officers and Israel politicians. Indeed, the IDF Chief of Staff, Shaul Mofaz, told the Knesset that the investigation was a “private initiative of Samia,” not part of an official investigation.

Why didn’t Mofaz and his boss, Ehud Barak, who was serving as both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense at the time, take up the cause of the IDF and demand, with the maximum possible diplomatic force, that all information related to the incident — including all the footage shot by France 2 on that day — be placed at Israel’s disposal to do a proper investigation?

It didn’t happen, not then and not later, despite the revelation of more and more facts casting doubt on the story that the IDF had shot Dura. In 2005, the PM’s spokesperson to the foreign press, Ra’anan Gissin, asked France 2 for the footage and was turned down. In 2007, the IDF spokesperson tried to get the footage, but again Enderlin refused to provide it. More recently, the French Ambassador was asked “to help,” to no avail. Surely the State of Israel could have done more to defend the honor of its armed forces than to deploy low-level officials.

A French media critic, Philippe Karsenty, who has been defending himself against a libel suit filed against him by France 2 correspondent Enderlin for at least 10 years — he called the presentation “a hoax” — spoke bitterly in 2009 about the treatment he received from government officials:

During all those years, I got the cold shoulder from Israeli officials. With the exception of a few mavericks like Danny Seaman (director of the Government Press Office), Raanan Gissin (Spokesman, Prime Minister’s Office), Shlomi Amshalom, former deputy spokesperson for the IDF, or former ambassador Zvi Mazel, the vast majority of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs personnel treated me and others who pursued this case, as embarrassments – conspiracy nuts who they wished would just disappear…

In 2002, when it was still possible to do something immediate, Nissim Zvili was the Israeli ambassador to Paris. He listened courteously but explained to me that he was a friend of Charles Enderlin, the French journalist who narrated the al Dura hoax.

In 2006, Zvili was replaced by Daniel Shek, who refused to shake my hand, and later commented on a Jewish radio that I was defending “conspiracy theories.” When I asked his colleague in charge of communication at the embassy in Paris, Daniel Halevy Goitschel, why he never returned my phone calls, he responded: “the phone doesn’t work at the embassy.” We are not even dealing with a lack of support here. On the contrary, I was being sabotaged.

When I won the case [against another media outlet] in May 2008, Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, said: “Karsenty is a private individual and no one in the Israeli government asked him to take on his battle against France 2. Karsenty had no right to demand that Israel come to his aid. All calls on the Israeli government to come and ‘save’ him are out of place. He was summoned to court because of a complaint of the French television channel. I don’t see where there is room for the Israeli government to get involved.”

Last December, I went over the evidence with Aviv Shir-On, who now claims to have helped me, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). After two hours he repeated the old MFA refrain, “I’m not convinced.” Let’s say, for the sake of generosity, that Shir-On is just one more timid defender of Israel, so afraid of what “others” might say, that even the judgment of an independent (and hardly well-disposed) French court in favor of his own country, does not give him the courage to speak. So even though I won the case, and the new evidence from France 2 sharpens our argument, I could not count on Israeli officials to help move into a counter-attack. Enderlin, humiliated by the court decision, was allowed to bluff his way back to prominence, and recently, in the Gaza war, lead the journalists’ attack on the Israeli government…

On January 2009, I met Tzipi Livni, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and asked her about the al Dura story and the lack of reaction of the Israeli officials. Why didn’t the State of Israel demand that France 2 admit their blood libel following the court decision? I was stunned by her answer: “Well, it happens that we kill kids sometimes. So, it’s not good for Israel to raise the subject again.” (Philippe Karsenty: Israel Losing the Media War: Wonder Why?).

Karsenty was convicted, and the conviction was overturned on appeal — but recently the decision that exonerated him was reversed by France’s highest court.

It’s too late for the Israeli government to help him with his case, but let’s hope it can find the strength at last to support the IDF.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

What’s Up with Netanyahu and the Temple Mount?

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

First, we were informed of a new agreement between the PA and Jordan awarding King Abdullah II a special custodianship for the Temple Mount (based on something from 1924).

In the past, in 2009, we had this:-

The Jordanian government on Sunday summoned Israel’s envoy to Amman for rebuke over the recent tensions at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Ambassador Jacob Rosen was called in to Jordan’s Foreign Ministry…the second time in a week that Jordan has called in an Israeli diplomat regarding the Temple Mount tensions. In its rebuke, Jordan called Israeli activities in East Jerusalem “illegal and illegitimate,” adding that it represented a violation of Israel’s commitments to peace.

Then, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu personally intervenes to assure MK Moshe Feiglin cannot ascend to the Temple Mount.

In the meantime, Israel has no official comment on that agreement.  Odd, since it seems to contradict the 1994 Peace Treaty.

Furthermore, Israel agrees to UNESCO interference in Jerusalem:

Israel has agreed to allow a mission from UNESCO to visit the Old City of Jerusalem next month…Israel announced Tuesday that it also has agreed to take part in a meeting in Paris of experts from the UN’s cultural body next month focused on the Mughrabi Bridge, a wooden walkway that leads to the Temple Mount.

In turn, the Palestinians are to drop, for now, a debate on five resolutions condemning Israel’s occupation of the West Bank.

This is the same UNESCO that

… has accepted the Palestinian Authority as a state, claims Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs [Me'arat Hamachpela, the Patriarch's Cave] are not exclusively Jewish sites and also belong to Christians and Muslims.

which caused Netanyahu to slam:

…world culture organization UNESCO’s decision to characterize the site of Rachel’s Tomb as a Muslim mosque.  “The attempt to separate the nation of Israel from its cultural heritage is absurd,” said the prime minister.

What is going on here?  What is developing behind-the-scenes?  What secret diplomatic activity is happening? Will there be a new “holy basin” plan?

Let’s recall Netanyahu in January 2009 (Arutz Sheva):

Netanyahu: Obama Will Try to Internationalize Jerusalem Sites

Likud chairman MK Binyamin Netanyahu warns incoming US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will try to internationalize holy sites in Jerusalem.

Likud party chairman and Knesset Opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu warned at the Jerusalem Conference Wednesday that the Obama administration and leftist Israeli politicians will try to internationalize holy sites in Jerusalem — and he vowed to fight the move.

Netanyahu told the audience, “Some politicians are trying to blur the importance of the Temple Mount to the Jewish People by referring to it as the ‘Holy Basin.’ We, as Jews, know who built the Temple Mount.”

The term “Holy Basin” refers to the area of the Temple Mount, the Mount of Olives, Mount Zion and a variety of Christian holy sites which the administration of former U.S. President Bill Clinton recommended be administered under a “special regime.”

This raises the issue of who would administer the Temple Mount, since at present the Wakf Islamic Authority controls the site, albeit under Israeli sovereignty. Moreover, the Arab neighborhoods surrounding the Temple Mount, home to tens of thousands of Israeli Arab residents, are also a part of greater Jerusalem, and thereby fall into the same discussion.

So, who now is being, perhaps, lax in the guardianship of united Jerusalem and the Temple Mount?

Visit My Right Word.

The Real Accomplishment

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

The special relationship between Israel and the U.S. is not a cliché. Polls and in-depth surveys repeatedly show that America relates to Israel positively in the most fundamental way – despite, to the contrary, the tireless efforts of the Jews influencing the New York Times and Haaretz.

We share common values, based on the Bible. America’s Founding Fathers saw their new country as a rebirth of the nation of liberty and its universal message. These common goals should have been the basis for the relationship between Israel and the U.S. “And I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you shall be cursed,” God says to Abraham. That is the motto of some 80 million American Evangelicals who are convinced that American prosperity is contingent on its significant alliance with Israel. Hardship, they believe, happens when the U.S. takes a stand against Israel.

But instead of reinforcing our status as the eternal People of the Book and the source of American values, we Israelis have chosen to market ourselves as a young nation searching for its place among the established nations and under their patronage. Our relationship with the U.S. has become – through our own volition – a father-son relationship.

American aid, merely 1.5 percent of Israel’s income, is not something Israel really needs. In the long run, it harms us economically, politically and militarily. But our insistence on receiving it stems from a psychological need. When our pocket money continues to roll in from across the ocean, it shows that “Father” is still there and that we are not alone among the nations. When we try to escape from our Father in Heaven, we must look for a weak replica in foreign lands.

This flawed mentality was the source of the “Obamania” that we experienced during President Obama’s recent visit to Israel. Thus, relations that could have been based on shared values were instead based on dependence.

Israel, fleeing its identity and constantly evading open adoption of those common goals, has consistently based its connection with the U.S. on a completely different foundation. The main goal that we touted was our right to self-defense. Instead of the Shrine of the Book and sites that attest to our biblical foundations here in Israel, our honored guests are always taken to the Holocaust Memorial Museum, Yad Vashem. After viewing those horrific images, nobody was supposed to be able to ask any questions. That was good for us; no need to deal with the questions of our identity and the justice of our national existence in this land.

But the Holocaust “lemon” has been completely squeezed out. A new generation has risen in Europe, a generation that is no longer willing to pay for the sins of its predecessors with silence. This generation sees the Palestinians demanding justice as the new Jews, bereft of a homeland, while they view the Israelis who demand security as the new Nazis.

Prime Minister Netanyahu’s insistence on restoring the focal point of Obama’s visit from the Holocaust Museum to our deep historical foundations in Israel; his assertive speech in the U.S. in which he explained that Yad Vashem is not the foundation of our existence; rounding out this approach by bringing President Obama to the Shrine of the Book; the explanation that Obama received there that every Israeli child can read what his forefathers wrote here over 2,000 years ago – were, in my opinion, the most important accomplishments of Obama’s visit.

I was in the Channel 2 studio when Professor Shalom Rosenberg of the Shrine of the Book explained to the viewers what the American president was looking at, at that very moment.

“You don’t have a Palestinian scroll to show him?” I asked, unable to withhold my thought. “Not from 1,000 years ago, not from 100 years ago, or less than that. Nothing?”

The professor shifted his weight uncomfortably.

“This is the most important outcome of Obama’s visit and Netanyahu’s major accomplishment,” I said. “It is not about Obama, but first and foremost about Israeli society that has been trained to see Auschwitz as the justification for our existence.”

Who knows? Maybe next time we will take our visiting VIPs to the altar built by Yehoshua bin Nun on Mount Eval just 40 years after the Exodus from Egypt. The Dead Sea Scrolls are certainly important. But our history in this land does not begin 2,000 years ago. It begins more than 3,300 years ago.

Canadian Ministerial Visit to Jerusalem: A Geneva Convention Lesson

Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Oh, the irony! Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird, has been lambasted for meeting with an Israeli government official in eastern Jerusalem – but barely anything has been said about the minister with whom he met: None other than Justice Minister Tzipi Livny, possibly best known for her willingness to divide Jerusalem in a final settlement with the Palestinian Authority.

As noted here in the past, Livni basically lost her chance to be prime minister because of her stance on Jerusalem. In late 2008, after she rose to the helm of the Kadima Party, Kadima won the national election and Livni was handed the chance to form the government. However, in part because of her willingness to grant Arab control to parts of Yerushalayim, she was unable to sway the Shas Party to join her coalition and Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister instead.

Earlier that year, then-Foreign Minister Livni led negotiations with the PA – and promised PA chief Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would cede the entire Atarot airport complex in northern Yerushalayim. She has repeatedly stated that though she knows the entire Land of Israel is ours, she believes there will be peace only if Israel agrees to split Yerushalayim.

Others believe, of course, that statements of that type actually keep peace from arriving, for they encourage the Arab parties to maintain their intransigence.

Rather than ask why Minister Baird met with Minister Livny in the eastern Jerusalem office, why not ask why Minister Livny agreed to meet there with Minister Baird? She certainly knew the fallout that would result, placing her in the same corner as the Land of Israel loyalists with whom she started her career (her father was an Etzel officer in 1948, along with Menachem Begin, and she herself was a longtime Likud member and MK). She has not commented on the matter on her Facebook page or in any other public forum; she would likely prefer that the matter be forgotten.

In any event, John Baird has once again been shown to be true-blue with Israel. He also toured an IDF outpost in the Golan Heights on his recent trip, and in the past has visited the Old City of Jerusalem with an Israeli escort. Both the Golan and eastern Jerusalem are considered hot spots that many Western political officials make sure not to visit so as not to be viewed as recognizing Israeli control there.

Minister Baird deflected all criticism of these visits, however, and especially the most recent one in the Justice Ministry. He said they are “irrelevant” to the larger discussion of Middle East peace.

“I’m just not interested in getting into the semantic argument about whether [if] you have a meeting with one person on one side of the street it’s OK, and [if] you have a meeting on the other side of street it’s not,” Baird said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor also defended the meeting. “There should be nothing unusual about meeting Israel’s justice minister in [eastern] Jerusalem,” he said. “What is strange is that this is the exception.”

Though Canada’s embassy in Israel is not in Jerusalem but rather in Tel Aviv, and though Minister Baird emphasized that he supports the PLO’s bid for statehood, Canada is a very strong friend of Israel – possibly its best in the world.

“The great struggle of our generation is the struggle against terrorism,” Baird told an Israeli TV station last week, “and far too often, the Jewish people, Israel, has been on the front lines of that struggle. We want to work with Israel to see a lasting peace in this region.” He also related that he had urged Abbas to agree to resume talks with Israel without preconditions, but to no avail.

Canada and Israel have strong, multidimensional bilateral relations that have only intensified in recent years. The relationship has been marked by increased cooperation in public security, defense, trade and investment, with increasing numbers of ministerial visits.

“Israel appreciates Canada’s moral stand on a range of issues,” said Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Mark Regev, “and we appreciate Canada’s friendship.”

The PA did not let Canada or Minister Baird off lightly for his visit in eastern Jerusalem. Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat sent him a sharp official letter of complaint, alleging that he had violated international law by “knowingly aiding another state in the perpetration of a crime.” The referred-to “crime,” based on the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, is that of attempting to annex what Erekat called “our capital,” and of transferring civilian population to occupied areas.

However, many legal scholars agree that Israel’s policy in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem in no way violates the Geneva Convention.

Eli E. Hertz – a member of our International Keep Jerusalem Council and president of Myths and Facts, Inc., which researches and publishes important topical matters regarding global U.S. interests – has written on this topic extensively. He explains that when the Convention refers to “occupied territory,” it has the Nazi occupation of Europe in mind, and that there is no legal basis for using the term in connection with the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Hertz quotes Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, as categorically rejecting use of the term “occupied territory” to describe Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. This, for the following reasons:

● The relevant clause, relating to the invasion of sovereign states, is inapplicable, because Judea and Samaria (Yesha) did not belong to any other state. Israel did not capture Yesha from its legal sovereign, but rather from Jordan, whose rule there was recognized by only two countries: Great Britain and Pakistan. Even the Arab League did not approve of Jordan’s “annexation” of these areas.

● The relevant article in the Convention was formulated in light of the Holocaust, seeking to prevent genocide – which is not a fear in the present situation.

● Settlement of Jews in Judea and Samaria is voluntary, does not displace local inhabitants, and is associated with a dramatic improvement in the economic situation of the [local Arab] inhabitants since 1967.

As such, Israel is not in violation of international law, and Minister Baird took the proper moral stance in recognizing that Israel, and not any Arab entity, has the most valid claim – if not the only one – to the Holy City, Yerushalayim.

To help spread the message that Jerusalem is Jewish, KeepJerusalem.org invites you to participate in our eastern and northern Jerusalem bus tours. For information, e-mail tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit our website at www.keepjerusalem.org.

Israel’s New Government: Not What You Think

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

On the issues about which the world is obsessed, Israel’s new government is basically a continuation of the old one. That is the key point to keep in mind regarding the new coalition which has a comfortable 68-seat majority, well over the 61 minimum parliamentarians required.

Basically, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in a strong position as these things go. It is notable that there is not a single other person seriously considered to be a serious candidate for prime minister. Of course, he will have the usual headaches of managing a disparate coalition in which parties will quarrel, threaten to walk out and make special demands.

The coalition consists of Netanyahu’s Likud (merged with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party); Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, which might be called traditionally liberal in American terms; Naftali Bennett’s right-wing and dati religious (Modern Orthodox, in American terms) party, Habayit Hayahudi; and Tzipi Livni’s rather shapeless and personalistic Hatnuah party. A key element of this coalition is the alliance of Bennett and Lapid in opposition to the Haredi (mistakenly called “ultra-Orthodox” in the West) religious parties.

While this is certainly a conservative-dominated government, I have yet to see anyone in the mass media point out that it includes two of the three largest left of center parties!

Of the three key ministries, Netanyahu will be foreign minister, holding that post “in trust” for indicted former foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, whose party ran on a joint list with the Likud. In practice, this means Netanyahu will have close control over implementing his policies internationally. The defense minister is the very able Moshe Yaalon, a Likud member and former head of military intelligence.

Lapid will run the Finance Ministry, dealing with issues on which he has no experience at all. This is not so unusual in parliamentary systems, where senior civil servants actually run the ministries. But Lapid holds this post because his signature issues are to urge reforms in the economy. His party will also get education, social services, health, and science and technology.

Here is something of a paradox. Israel has been one of the most successful countries in the developed world because it has refused to join the high-spending, high-debt, subsidy-oriented policies of Europe and now the United States. Unemployment and inflation have been low; growth has been relatively high. The problem, though, is that prices are also relatively high compared to incomes, causing problems especially for young people and consumers generally.

Lapid is expected to revise the management of the golden eggs without doing harm to the goose that laid them. Arguably, the number-one issue for this government is whether Lapid can perform well. His father, a popular journalist, followed the precise same course as the son a few years ago and failed completely. The junior Lapid has no actual political experience and does have characteristics of Tel Aviv beautiful people society. If he falters, his party will disintegrate in the next election.

As for Bennett, the amusing spin on much coverage is that his party has succeeded, that settlers even dominate the government, because he will have a couple of minor ministries which don’t have much power. Actually, he got less than I would have expected. While the settlements might benefit a little economically from these positions–and from the party’s holding the chairmanship over the Knesset finance committee–they will not have much authority and control little money directly.

If there is a big winner in the new government it is Lapid’s reformist liberals (in the old American sense, not the redefinition imposed on that word by the American far left). They are going to have a chance to show if they can improve social services, a fairer distribution of resources (the issue isn’t so much between rich and poor but across different sectors), and an economy that retains its growth while managing the problem of high prices, among other things.

Meanwhile, although the world is obsessed with non-existent issues regarding the long-dead “peace process” or fantasy options for Israel to make friends with neighboring Islamist regimes by giving even more concessions, Israel strategically is focused on defense.

Four of the six bordering entities—Egypt, the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, and soon Syria—are ruled by radical Islamist groups that openly declare their goal of wiping Israel off the map. And that list doesn’t even include extremely hostile Iran (whose drive toward nuclear weapons cannot be forgotten for a moment) and the virulently anti-Israel regime in Turkey.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/rubin-reports/israels-new-government-not-what-you-think/2013/03/19/

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