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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘NY Times’

A Closer Look at Bill de Blasio’s Record

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Bill de Blasio, the current frontrunner in the Democratic primary for mayor, has been running his second television commercial of the campaign, titled “Dignity,” since Monday. Fact checking the ad, Michael Barbaro of the NY Times found it quite misleading. Mr. de Blasio argues he’s the only candidate pledging to end the way the Police Department carries out the stop-and-frisk tactic. The problem with that claim is that his opponents have all, in one way or another, pledged to reform it, too.



Nor is Mr. de Blasio, per his claim, the only candidate proposing an income tax on the rich to pay for education. John C. Liu, the city comptroller, has proposed raising the city’s marginal income tax to pay for after-school programs, among other things.

“Dropping the misleading word ‘only’ from several of his claims, or using it more carefully, would do wonders for the accuracy and credibility of his commercials,” Barbaro concludes.

Bill de Blasio’s exaggerating his role as an advocate for the issues he believes are at the top of voters’ concerns is nothing new. In fact, his record of representing the outer-boroughs, as he now promises not to let down any New Yorker, is far from exhilarating.

Back in 2001, when he first ran for City Council in the 39th district, Mr. de Blasio was examined for mismanagement and controversial ties that had put in question his credentials at the time. “[Bill de Blasio] carries a lot of baggage as well,” The Village Voice wrote in a profile on the race for council.

“De Blasio was elected to School Board 15 in 1999, and his tenure has been rocky. Many public school parents charge that de Blasio was stubbornly supportive of Frank DeStefano, the former superintendent of District 15 who resigned in the winter amid allegations of overspending and mismanagement. Reports first surfaced in the fall of 1999 that DeStefano had begun to run up big deficits, taking himself and other school officials on several expensive junkets costing a total of more than $100,000. One year later the school deficit topped $1 million, leading to the cancellation of a popular after-school reading program while DeStefano maintained an expensive car service.

“De Blasio still defends his decision to stick with DeStefano for as long as he did. “He was a visionary and a great educator, but he was a horrible communicator,” de Blasio says of DeStefano. “I was deeply concerned, but I was not going to make a final decision until I saw the evidence.” In the end, de Blasio says, “he could have made better decisions, but I don’t think the spending was wildly excessive. Both of my parents were victims of the McCarthy era. I do not take lightly the idea of ousting someone. You have to have the evidence.”

“De Blasio has also been linked to the flap over New Square, the Hasidic village in upstate New York that has been mired in pardon scandals. Candidate Clinton assiduously courted the small Rockland community last year, winning the town by the whopping margin of 1400 to 12. Six weeks after the election, Israel Spitzer, New Square’s deputy mayor, met with the Clintons at the White House, where pardons for four New Square civic leaders convicted of fraud were discussed. In January, Bill Clinton commuted their sentences, leading to a probe by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in which several Hillary Clinton campaign aides were called in for questioning. At a Manhattan fundraiser for de Blasio in December, Spitzer made a $2500 donation, the largest permitted under the city’s Campaign Finance Board. De Blasio refused to comment on that matter, including the issue of whether he was questioned by the U.S. Attorney’s Office. De Blasio would only offer this comment: “I’m waiting to hear what’s going to happen with that.”

in 2007 as councilman, Mr. de Blasio was lambasted for not living up to his promises and for a lackluster performance as representative of his district.  In a hard hitting piece by a local blogger named “Parden Me For Asking,” Mr. de Blasio was criticized for running a dysfunctional office and keeping himself distracted from the issues that mattered to the neighborhoods he represented, going back to his time he served on the Board of Education before his run for council.

NY Times Blaming Israel for Egyptian Havoc

Monday, August 19th, 2013

The first outright finger pointing at Israel was published in the Sunday NY Times (Pressure by U.S. Failed to Sway Egyptian Military Leaders from Crackdown):

The Israelis, whose military had close ties to General Sisi from his former post as head of military intelligence, were supporting the takeover as well. Western diplomats say that General Sisi and his circle appeared to be in heavy communication with Israeli colleagues, and the diplomats believed the Israelis were also undercutting the Western message by reassuring the Egyptians not to worry about American threats to cut off aid.

Israeli officials deny having reassured Egypt about the aid, but acknowledge having lobbied Washington to protect it.

When Senator Rand Paul, Republican of Kentucky, proposed an amendment halting military aid to Egypt, the influential American Israel Public Affairs Committee sent a letter to senators on July 31 opposing it, saying it “could increase instability in Egypt and undermine important U.S. interests and negatively impact our Israeli ally.” Statements from influential lawmakers echoed the letter, and the Senate defeated the measure, 86 to 13, later that day.

The fact is, Israel—and the Saudis—are trying desperately to save America from its own delusions about a democratic Arab world springing forth with equality and freedom for all. Egypt’s neighbors are anxious about the possibility of a civil war in Egypt and understand that a firm government is the essential first step towards recovery from the events of the past three months and the past two years in Egypt.

But now, according to the way the NY Times sees the world on Monday morning, Israel is “Escalating Efforts to Shape Allies’ Strategy.”

The original headline, according to NewsSniffer, was “Israel Puts More Urgency on Shaping Allies’ Actions” and was modified twice since the earlier posting.

An unnamed Israeli government official told the Times that Israel is going to spend this week twisting European and American arms in an attempt to prevent them from pulling their support from the Sisi regime, even though his soldiers have been brutal in their treatment of the Muslim Brother demonstrators.

The official explained the Middle east realities in blunt terms: “We’re trying to talk to key actors, key countries, and share our view that you may not like what you see, but what’s the alternative? If you insist on big principles, then you will miss the essential — the essential being putting Egypt back on track at whatever cost. First, save what you can, and then deal with democracy and freedom and so on.”

And he added, even more bluntly:

“At this point,” the official added, “it’s army or anarchy.”

Speaking of anarchy, no one is certain that even with full Western support the Sisi regime would be able to withstand the onslaught of highly motivated, unafraid Muslim Brothers. While the army is bound by some modicum of restraint, the Muslim Brothers recognize no such boundaries. While about a thousand of their number have been killed, they have been joyfully burning down Coptic churches and murdering Egyptian Christians in the streets. Over the long haul, if the Brothers are not stopped effectively, they could wear down the regime and demoralize the army. That could throw Egypt into a full blown, Syrian style civil war.

In addition to it being a public relations disaster for the Obama Administration, as caring individuals like senators Paul and McCain rip the president mercilessly on his policy and call for cutting off $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Egypt, there’s President Barack Obama’s injured ego. A project he began right after his election has collapsed right before his eyes, and despite all of his efforts to communicate his strong views on the matter (Sec. Hagel called Sisi 17 times), the Muslim Brothers revolution is no more.

“The violent crackdown has left Mr. Obama in a no-win position: risk a partnership that has been the bedrock of Middle East peace for 35 years, or stand by while longtime allies try to hold on to power by mowing down opponents,” the Times wrote on Sunday.

So now, it appears, the largely quiet efforts on the part of Netanyahu to communicate to Obama (the two are yet to speak directly since the start of the crisis) how crucial it is that American support—and the Egyptian-Israeli peace deal—remain intact, will be used to portray Israel as some kind of puppet master, goading the generals to shoot into the crowd.

Who Killed the Peace Process?

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

The so-called ‘peace process’ was based on UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338, and the most serious attempt to implement them on the ground was the Oslo Accords, agreements signed in 1993-95.

Although both sides complained about violations of the Oslo Accords — Israel complained about continued incitement and terrorism, which increased sharply after Arafat’s return from exile in Tunis, and the Palestinians complained that Israel was not withdrawing fast enough — the final nail of Oslo’s coffin was hammered in by Mahmoud Abbas, when he asked the UN to declare ‘Palestine’ a state.

Art. XXXI.7 of the 1995 Interim Agreement says “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations”). This is exactly what Abbas did, and he can’t blame it on unaccountable terrorist factions, as Arafat liked to do after his assassins murdered Jews.

Israelis always understood Oslo as a compromise — that neither side would get everything that it wanted. But the PLO always saw it as a surrender agreement, and became ‘frustrated’ (and everyone knows how Palestinians behave when that happens) when Israel didn’t simply withdraw from all of the territories in return for nothing.

The father of all peace processes was UN Security Council Resolution 242, which called for  Israel to withdraw from territories conquered in 1967, and for

Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.

Land for peace and secure borders. At first the Arabs wouldn’t even consider an agreement that promised peace (see the “Three No’s“). But more recently, they proposed the “Arab Initiative,” which calls for complete Israeli withdrawal, assumption of guilt, and right of return for Arab refugees (what a deal!).

The decision of the UN General Assembly to grant Palestine non-member state status in all of the territories conquered in 1967 directly contradicts resolution 242 because it gives all of the territories to Palestine, without guaranteeing Israel secure boundaries or peace.

If we go back farther, the GA has also taken back the promise to the Jewish people made by its predecessor, the League of Nations, and embodied in the Palestine Mandate, to encourage “close settlement on the land” by Jews in their historic homeland.

It is interesting that although Israel has made great concessions since 1967 — withdrawing from the Sinai, withdrawing from Gaza, legitimizing the PLO, etc. — the Arab side has taken precisely one step since the Three No’s: it has agreed to talk, and this only because its military initiatives consistently failed.

Of course, General Assembly resolutions are nonbinding, and this one does not have consequences on the ground.

Which brings us to E1. Israel has announced plans to build housing in the area called E1, which is located between eastern Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, 4 miles away. This has stirred up a hornet’s nest in the anti-Israel camp. The NY Times (which accurately reflects the position of the Obama Administration) wrote in an editorialthat this

could doom the chances for a two-state solution because building in the E1 area would split the northern and southern parts of the West Bank.

Apparently the Times editorial board does not possess a map of the region or the ability to read one. I can help:

Ma’ale Adumim is one of those communities that were expected to become part of Israel in any negotiated settlement. Not only does it not cut the “West Bank” in half as the Times asserts, but the distance between the eastern part of Ma’ale Adumim and the Jordan is greater than the width of Israel at its narrowest point according to the pre-1967 borders!

So who doomed the “two-state solution?” If you mean a compromise solution in which neither side gets everything it wants, but in which both sides can have peace and security, as envisioned in UNSC 242, then it never had a chance, because this is not what the Arabs mean by the expression. The diplomatic ‘peace process’, worthless though it may have been, died on November 29, 2012 at the hands of Mahmoud Abbas.

Islamo-Realism

Sunday, September 30th, 2012

Satellite communications, the Internet, even cheap air travel have brought our society face to face with the Muslim world in a way that we couldn’t have imagined as recently as 1960. The issue of how we, Westerners, Christians, Jews, ought to deal with our meeting with this almost wholly foreign portion of humanity literally exploded into our consciousness in September 2001. Today, with the worldwide Muslim fury associated with (or taking as a pretext) the Innocence of Muslims video, we see that nothing has been settled.

Attitudes in the U.S. are all over the map, from those who think that the problem is that our right of freedom of expression makes it possible for ‘intolerant‘ people like Nakoula Basseley Nakoula to provoke violence, to those who think that it is the Muslim propensity for violence when insulted (and it’s so easy to insult them) that is important.

The official response from our government has of course been to condemn violence. This is usually joined with a statement that while we find ‘denigration of any religion’ distasteful or worse, we can’t interfere with it (although we should note that Nakoula has been jailed for violating a — ridiculous — condition of parole forbidding him from using the Internet).

By a fortuitous combination of circumstances, the video controversy was quickly followed by yet another. In response to anti-Israel transit ads like this one -

– which, by the way, is much more professional and effective than anything our side does, managing to project an image of love and friendship while opposing Israel’s self-defense — blogger Pamela Geller managed to purchase space and install images like this one, below (it required a court order to persuade New York’s MTA to allow them):

These ads immediately provoked (are you surprised?) Muslim and ‘progressive’ outrage, and were immediately defaced. After all,vandalism (and assault) are considered by this crowd to be legitimate responses to expressions of ‘racism’, by which they seem to mean anything that offends Muslims.

The use of the word ‘savage’ (it’s a quotation from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged) seems to be the focus of those who object to the ad, who say that it claims that all Muslims are savages. Geller defended herself:

[The word 'savage'] is entirely apt. They claim that the ad refers to all Muslims, or all opponents of Israel. It doesn’t. It refers to those who rejoice in the murders of innocent civilians. The war on Israel is a war on innocent civilians. The targeting of civilians is savage. The murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens was savage. The relentless 60-year campaign of terror against the Jewish people is savage. The torture of hostage Gilad Shalit was savage. The bloody hacking to death of the Fogel family was savage. The Munich Olympic massacre was savage. The unspeakable torture of Ehud Goldwasser was savage. The tens of thousands of rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel (into schools, homes, etc.) are savage. The vicious Jew-hatred behind this genocide is savage. The endless demonization of the Jewish people in the Palestinian and Arab media is savage. The refusal to recognize the state of Israel as a Jewish state is savage. The list is endless.

Unfortunately, ‘respectable’ voices in our society, even — especially — among Jews, are unable to understand what the deliberately outrageous, over-the-top Geller sees clearly. For example, here is what the head of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Richard ‘Rick’ Jacobs wrote in a recent NY Times op-ed:

By using the term “jihad” in the context of a war against savages, the ad paints Islam as inherently violent, evil and bent on overthrowing the Western democracies and their key ally in the Middle East, Israel — even though, for the vast majority of Muslims, “jihad” refers to a spiritual quest, not the more politicized idea of holy war.

Yes, these ads are lawful. But they are wrong and repugnant.

What other purpose can they have but to incite hatred against Muslims?

Jacobs is wrong about ‘jihad.’ Daniel Pipes, unlike Jacobs, is a bona fide expert on Islam, explains that the primary meaning of the word is, as a matter of fact,

the legal, compulsory, communal effort to expand the territories ruled by Muslims at the expense of territories ruled by non-Muslims.

Pipes does recognize variant, more benign meanings. But to say that the “vast majority” of Muslims perceive it as a spiritual quest is silly. Even if the vast majority does not participate in violent jihad, hundreds of millions support it and all understand it.

The Obama administration removed the word ‘jihad‘ and others relating to Islam from the National Security Strategy document in 2010 for the same reason that Jacobs wants these ads gone: Muslims don’t like it when it is suggested that more and more Muslims today are becoming radicalized, supporting the attempt to expand the territory under Shari’a.

There is a debate over whether violent radicalism is inherent in Islam. This is stupid: Islam doesn’t have to be anything other than what Muslims think it is, and the fact is — as should be evident from the daily news broadcasts — that more and more Muslims think it should be radical and violent, and that radical Islamist regimes are replacing conservative ones all over the globe.

Calling attention to this isn’t inciting hate against Muslims — it is asking for us to realize that there is an enemy of what we call Western civilization, an enemy that has already showed us its savage side on 9/11 and in the Middle East, an enemy that does not want to coexist with us but wants to replace our civilization. This enemy is radical Islamism, an ideology associated with a religion, but no less an ideology than communism and fascism.

Rabbi Jacobs would like us to believe that the ‘vast majority’ of Muslims are just like Reform Jews, except that they say “allahu akbar” instead of the shema, and he would like the others to be invisible.

But it’s not rational (or safe) to ignore them, even if it were possible to ignore the open sewers of hate speech pouring from the media in Egypt, Iran, the Palestinian Authority, etc.;  the rockets falling on Israeli towns (559 so far in 2012); the vicious threats from Iran to destroy Israel; religious wars, terrorism and more.

As another ad that Rabbi Jacobs finds hateful says, “it’s not Islamophobia, it’s Islamorealism.”

Visit Fresnozionism.org.

Obama, Not Israel, ‘Outrageously Cynical’

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/08/obama-not-israel-outrageously-cynical/

I’ve been asked why I bother writing about anything in the NY Times. Don’t I know that they are predictably biased against Israel? Haven’t I seen David Gerstman’s analyses of Times op-eds (which last month came out 5 anti-Israel to 1 pro-Israel)?

Well, yes. But the Times is important because its positions are so closely correlated with those of the Obama Administration. At least on foreign affairs, the Times is Obama’s Pravda.

Right now the administration is being very, very careful about saying what it thinks about Israel, not wanting to upset the electoral applecart. But the Times isn’t afraid to let it all hang out, as it did in today’s editorial on Israel and Iran:

Israeli leaders are again talking about possible military action against Iran. This is, at best, mischievous and, at worst, irresponsible, especially when diplomacy has time to run.

Let’s see: recent intelligence reports are said to put Iran closer to the bomb than ever. Diplomacy has been ongoing with Iran for a decade, and Iran has made steady progress towards nuclear weapons. Sanctions — which “have not set back the Iranian program by one iota,” according to PM Netanyahu — are best compared to Swiss cheese, with 20 nations, including all of Iran’s major trading partners, having received waivers, and rogue financial institutions facilitating their violation.

Time, and therefore continued diplomacy, is on Iran’s side. Considering that the attainment of nuclear weapons is seen as a top-priority national goal, and understanding that  unhappiness on the part of the Iranian middle class isn’t likely to deter a regime that is prepared to shoot down demonstrators (as it did in 2009), the Times’ contention that diplomacy and sanctions may yet stop Iran is what’s “irresponsible.”

Let’s not leave out estimates, well known to Israeli leaders, that Israel would suffer greatly from the consequences of attacking Iran — both casualties and major economic damage. They would not contemplate such action unless they believed that the alternative was far worse.

The editorial continues:

It is impossible to know what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is planning or why he has ignored American entreaties to give diplomacy a reasonable chance. There is, however, persistent speculation in Israel that Mr. Netanyahu wants to attack in the coming weeks in the belief that President Obama will be forced to support the decision because of his political needs in his re-election campaign. Such a move would be outrageously cynical.

Boy, do they have it backwards. Clearly the White House is applying maximum pressure (more than mere ‘entreaties’) to prevent Israel from doing anything upsetting before the election, regardless of Israel’s security imperatives. This is what is “outrageously cynical!” Unfortunately, Israel feels that it must strike in self-preservation before the hostile Obama has free rein to act on his demonstrated anti-Israel beliefs.

The editorial continues with some remarkably weak arguments against Israeli action. I won’t bother to quote any more; you can read it yourself. The important thing to keep in mind is that Israel would not undertake this, with all the possible negative consequences and dangers, foreseen and unforeseen, unless its leaders felt that there was no other alternative consistent with the continued survival of the Jewish state.

The Obama Administration has made the judgment that the danger to Israel is more than offset by the danger to the President’s reelection.

And its Pravda chimes in.

Time to Let Go of the Two-State Idea

Sunday, August 12th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/08/time-to-let-go-of-the-two-state-idea/

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, formerly the head of the Union for Reform Judaism believes that “Israel is losing the battle for public opinion in America”:

But the point is that we are now seeing, even as the threat from Iran escalates, a broad spectrum of respectable, pro-Israel opinion that is emphatically suggesting the need, right now, for some movement by Israel on the Palestinian issue. And it is not idealistic dreaming; every one of these voices talks about the poisonous nature of Palestinian politics and makes clear that the failure to achieve peace cannot be placed primarily at Israel’s door.

Why are we hearing these voices at this moment? I am not entirely sure.

It has to do, I suspect, with the cumulative impact of a 45 year occupation; with the fundamental illogic of Israel’s government calling for a two-state solution and then building settlements in a way that makes such a solution far less likely; and with the sense that Israel’s moral standing is being gradually eroded and that this is a tragedy. But this too: They know that Israel must be seen at all times as aggressively pursuing peace, and fairly or otherwise, that is not the case now. (my emphasis)

Rabbi Yoffie, I think, greatly weakens his case by using as his “exhibit A” NY Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, calling him ”a centrist, a moderate, and, by the way, the most important foreign policy columnist in the world.” Friedman is none of the above, unless ‘important’ means that he is better paid than, for example, Barry Rubin, who differs from Friedman by basing his analysis on knowledge rather than prejudice and the ‘line’ pushed by his employer.

But let’s leave the hackish Friedman - who revealed himself when he said that the standing ovation Netanyahu received from a joint session of Congress in 2011 was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby” – aside, and turn to Yoffie’s argument.

Rabbi Yoffie points to “an important group of public intellectuals” who take this position. There certainly are such people here in the US and among the academic-media-left complex in Israel who continue to call for Israeli concessions.

But — and this is my first point in response to Yoffie — they get absolutely no traction in Israel, which is assuredly where the rubber hits the road. The parties to the left of the Likud have almost no hope in coming elections, and the support they do have is almost entirely based on social or economic — not security — issues.

In other words, most ordinary Israelis don’t agree. One would think that Yoffie, who criticizes Dani Dayan of the Judea-Samaria council for supposedly not being concerned with democracy, would respect the democratically elected and popularly supported government of Israel.

My second point is that the notion that Israeli concessions on settlements in Judea/Samaria or eastern Jerusalem are good policy has been proven wrong in the 19 years since the Oslo agreements. The Camp David/Taba offers and the withdrawal from Gaza were met by violence. The continued anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement from the Palestinian Authority (PA), the insistence on a right of return, the refusal to accept Israel as the state of the Jewish people, the demands for the release of convicted murderers, the honor accorded by the leaders of the PA to terrorists like Dalal Mughrabi and Samir Kuntar, all indicate that the PA has not deviated from the ideology of Yasser Arafat or from the ‘phased plan’ to destroy the Jewish state.

Israel has made one withdrawal and concession after another, has supported the PA financially and protected it from Hamas, and it has never responded except by making more demands. There is no future in making unreciprocated concessions to the PA.

But it is not only the PA that is insatiable. One hears that “if only Israel would…” then the ‘international community’ would see that Israel is committed to peace and the ball would be in the Palestinian court. But this never happens. Israel agrees to a settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria, but the Palestinians won’t negotiate because it doesn’t include East Jerusalem; and suddenly Joe Biden is ‘deeply insulted’ because Israel announced plans to build apartments in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem.

NY Times: Stupid and Biased Again

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/07/ny-times-stupid-and-biased-again/

The decision by a commission of legal scholars, led by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, that Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria is legal, created a storm of protest from the usual quarters.

Today I’m going to dissect one paragraph that epitomizes the misconceptions surrounding Israel’s legal rights in Judea and Samaria. It happens to appear in a New York Times editorial, but that’s really not important (unless you are still awed by the ignorance or malice of the editors of that newspaper).

Here is the paragraph:

“Most of the world views the West Bank, which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war, as occupied territory and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004. The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

Most of the world

This can’t mean most of the world’s 6.9 billion people, most of whom don’t give a rat’s posterior about Israel. It probably refers to most of the members of the UN General Assembly, where there has been an automatic majority against Israel on every imaginable subject since the 1970s. Is this supposed to add authority to their argument?

view the West Bank

“West Bank” is a term applied to what had previously been called by its biblical names, Judea and Samaria, by Jordan in 1950. Using this expression obscures the historical Jewish connection and suggests that Jordanian control of the area, which lasted only 19 years, was somehow ‘normal.’

which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war

This continues the theme that the normal situation was usurped by Israel in 1967. But when Jordanian troops marched into the area in 1948, killing and driving out the Jewish population, they violated the provision of the Mandate that set aside the area of ‘Palestine’ for “close Jewish settlement,” and the one that called for the civil rights of all existing residents — Jewish or Arab — to be respected. It also violated the UN charter which forbids the acquisition of territory by force. Only Pakistan and the UK recognized the annexation of the area (even the Arab League opposed it).

The Jordanian invasion and annexation of Judea and Samaria was, in fact, illegal under international law. Israel’s conquest in 1967, on the other hand, can be seen as a realization of the terms of the Mandate.

as occupied territory

As I wrote yesterday, the concept of a ‘belligerent occupation’ does not apply here. What country owned the territory that Israel ‘occupied’? Not Jordan, which was there illegally, nor Britain, whose Mandate had ended, nor the Ottoman Empire, which no longer existed. The nation with the best claim was Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people, who were the intended beneficiaries of the Mandate. Judea and Samaria are disputed, not occupied, and the Jewish people have a prima facie claim based on the Mandate.

and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004.

This refers to the advisory opinion against the security fence issued by the International Court of Justice. The opinion refers to Israel as an “occupying power” and says that the fence is built on “occupied Palestinian land,” despite the fact that there is no legally delimited border between Israeli and ‘Palestinian’ land.

The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

Since the land is not ‘occupied’, the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply. And even if it were occupied, legal scholars (including the Levy commission) have made excellent arguments that the Convention was not intended to apply to voluntary ‘transfers’ of population like settlements, but to forced deportations like the Nazi transfer of German Jews into occupied Poland.

Peter Beinart and Zionism

Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Another great session at Tomorrow 2012 – the President’s Conference in Jerusalem. This time, it was Peter Beinart in a specially arranged session for bloggers.

Peter Beinart has written a book called The Crisis of Zionism. When I agree with the New York Times, you know something is amazing. Here‘s what was written about his book in the NY Times:

He [Beinart] sets out to save the country by labeling many of its leaders racist, denouncing many of its American supporters as ­Holocaust-obsessed enablers and advocating a boycott of people and products from beyond Israel’s 1967 eastern border.

I’ll start by saying I haven’t read it – maybe Mr. Beinart wants to send me a complimentary copy? Probably not. So let me write about what he said, and not what he wrote. Perhaps had I read the book, I’d have been more prepared. I wasn’t.

He began with a justification for an argument that I’ve had with myself for many years, even before I moved to Israel. If it isn’t your son on the border of Israel, do you have the right to criticize, to advise, and perhaps even to condemn Israel for what it does to survive and thrive in this area of the world. This touches on information from a second session that I don’t want to write about here. I want to focus on Beinart.

I’ll start by saying he was charming and he is clearly a great thinker. He spoke of his Egyptian-born grandmother (who disagrees with his politics and thinks, as I do, that he is painfully naive). He’s a man with an opinion, that is clear and he’s stubborn. Facts are unlikely to sway him. Interestingly enough, he touched not just on Israel, but on American Jewry and there his views come close to mine. I’ll explain that one in a second.

First, about Israel.

He has built a mountain on shifting sands; an argument on facts that simply are inaccurate. He said, “what legitimizes Israel is its democracy.” What an absurd statement. First, why does Israel need to be legitimized? When was the last time anyone asked what right the US had to exist? Wait, the US is a democracy. Okay, when was the last time someone asked what right North Korea has a right to exist or what legitimacy it has?

Then, Peter Beinart decided to play a game – an insulting one and one of the many reasons why he does not have a right to think his opinion should mean anything here – until it is his son on our borders. He has decided that it is acceptable to boycott products from the West Bank but he encourages purchasing products from what he inaccurately and annoyingly refers to as “democratic” Israel. Here again is the latest form of idol worship that plagues Beinart and many left-wing American Jews – democracy. It is not God who determines the future, the present, the right and wrong of things – it is the idol known as democracy, that Beinart worships.

I’m all for democracy. I would vote for it anytime. But Israel is greater than our democracy. Our democracy is a sign of our humanity, our freedom, and who we are – it is not what we are.

I wanted to ask Beinart if he was a Zionist and if he had answered that he was, I would have asked him to define Zionism because I do not believe you can be a Zionist and at the same time support a path that could so easily lead to our destruction. His path for our future involves our taking all the risks at a time when we have no peace partner. I wanted to ask him who our peace partners are – these non-existent dreamers that he trusts them with our future and security but he had already quickly dismissed security as “another argument” in this intellectual game. And to a large extent, that’s what Israel is to him and to others who came to the conference to share their opinions with us – an intellectual game, an academic exercise. As Beinart was talking, almost literally, Israel was being hit by rockets. Nine today, and the day is still young; and only one day after Israel was hit with almost 70 rockets.

When the conversation finally turned to American Jewry, Beinart was not optimistic about its future. His best line was clearly, “We’ve built better Holocaust memorials than we’ve built Jewish schools.” I agree.

His discussion reminded me of something Yaakov Kirschen of Dry Bones said years ago – almost 30 years ago to be exact. He said to a rather shocked and disbelieving crowd of young college students at Columbia University (paraphrased slightly): in another few generations, there will be no Jews in America. I asked him did he really believe that all American Jews were going to make aliyah? I said it in the voice of the doubter, as if I was so smart, and he so stupid. I thought he was impossibly naive and though I shared his pro-aliyah (moving to Israel) dream, I really wanted him to wake up to reality. And then he looked at me and I realized it wasn’t him being naive and I certainly wasn’t the smart one in the conversation. And quietly, slowly, he responded “I didn’t say that.”

Years later, I would learn an interesting fact of history – when the Jews left Egypt…not all the Jews left. According to most sources, 4 our of 5, 80% never left. The first time I heard this, I thought of American Jews – 80%, I would guess, will never come to Israel – will be lost. It fits with what remains of my family in America.

I don’t know what the future of American Jewry will be – if my family there is a measure, American Jewry is in deep trouble (in one case, one uncle’s children are running at 75% having married non-Jews). I do know that Peter Beinart’s naive, academic and decidedly inaccurate view does indeed damage Israel – because he gives others the false idea that peace is within our hands and to achieve it, we must take risks that he, from the safety of his American shores, suggests for my sons.

When it is your sons on the borders of Israel, Mr. Beinart, let’s talk. Till then, maybe your next book should be, The Crisis of American Jewry. At least that book, you have the knowledge and the right to write.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/peter-beinart-and-zionism/2012/06/21/

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