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April 27, 2015 / 8 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Palestinian State’

Obama to Palestinians: Accept the Jewish State

Thursday, March 28th, 2013

One key shift in U.S. policy was overlooked in the barrage of news about Barack Obama’s eventful fifty-hour visit to Israel last week. That would be the demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, called by Hamas leader Salah Bardawil “the most dangerous statement by an American president regarding the Palestinian issue.”

First, some background: Israel’s founding documents aimed to make the country a Jewish state. Modern Zionism effectively began with the publication in 1896 of Theodor Herzl’s book, Der Judenstaat (“The Jewish State”). The Balfour Declaration of 1917 favors “a national home for the Jewish people.” U.N. General Assembly resolution 181 of 1947, partitioning Palestine into two, mentions the termJewish state 30 times. Israel’s Declaration of Establishment of 1948 mentions Jewish state 5 times, as in “we … hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz-Israel, to be known as the State of Israel.”

Because of this tight connection, when Arab-Israeli diplomacy began in earnest in the 1970s, the Jewish state formulation largely disappeared from view; everyone simply assumed that diplomatic recognition of Israel meant accepting it as the Jewish state. Only in recent years did Israelis realize otherwise, as Israeli Arabs came to accept Israel but reject its Jewish nature. For example, an important 2006 publication from the Mossawa Center in Haifa, The Future Vision of Palestinian Arabs in Israel, proposes that the country become a religiously neutral state and joint homeland. In brief, Israeli Arabs have come to see Israel as a variant of Palestine.

Awakened to this linguistic shift, winning Arab acceptance of Israel no longer sufficed; Israelis and their friends realized that they had to insist on explicit Arab acceptance of Israel as the Jewish state. In 2007, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert announced that unless Palestinians did so, diplomacy would be aborted: “I do not intend to compromise in any way over the issue of the Jewish state,” he emphasized. The Palestinian Authority immediately and unanimously rejected this demand. Its head, Mahmoud Abbas, responded: “In Israel, there are Jews and others living there. This we are willing to recognize, nothing else.”

Only six weeks ago, Abbas again blasted the Jewish state concept. The Palestinian rejection of Jewish statehood could not be more emphatic. (For a compilation of their assertions, see “Recognizing Israel as the Jewish State: Statements” at DanielPipes.org).

When Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded Olmert as prime minister in 2009, he reiterated this demand as a precondition to serious negotiations: “Israel expects the Palestinians to first recognize Israel as a Jewish state before talking about two states for two peoples.” The Palestinians not only refused to budge but ridiculed the very idea. Again, Abbas: “What is a ‘Jewish state?’ We call it the ‘State of Israel.’ You can call yourselves whatever you want. But I will not accept it. … It’s not my job to … provide a definition for the state and what it contains. You can call yourselves the Zionist Republic, the Hebrew, the National, the Socialist [Republic] call it whatever you like, I don’t care.”

American politicians, including both George W. Bush and Obama, have since 2008 occasionally referred to Israel as the Jewish state, even as they studiously avoided demanding Palestinians to do likewise. In a typical declaration, Obama in 2011 sketched the ultimate diplomatic goal as “two states for two people: Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people and the State of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people.”

That sentence breaks important new ground and cannot readily be undone. It also makes for excellent policy, for without such recognition, Palestinian acceptance of Israel is hollow, indicating only a willingness to call the future state they dominate “Israel” rather than “Palestine.” Then, in his Jerusalem speech last week, Obama suddenly and unexpectedly adopted in full the Israeli demand: “Palestinians must recognize that Israel will be a Jewish state.”

While not the only shift in policy announced during Obama’s trip (another: telling the Palestinians not to set preconditions for negotiations), this one looms largest because it starkly contravenes the Palestinian consensus. Bardawil may hyperbolically assert that it “shows that Obama has turned his back to all Arabs” but those ten words in fact establish a readiness to deal with the conflict’s central issue. They likely will be his most important, most lasting, and most constructive contribution to Arab-Israeli diplomacy.

Originally published at the Washington Times and Danielpipes.org, MArch 26, 2013.

Bennett on Obama’s speech: No Nation Is Occupier of its Homeland

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

President Barack Obama’s speech in front of (mostly leftist) students in the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, provoked reactions from across the political spectrum in Israel.

There was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who thanked the visiting president (Thank you, Sir, may I have another?) for his ” unconditional support for Israel,” adding that he, too, agrees with President that we should “promote peace that ensures the safety of all the citizens of Israel.” Netanyahu also agreed with Obama that “we have a great country.”

Minister of Economy and Trade Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home), sounded a great deal less enthusiastic about the president’s speech, when he told Maariv: “Obama’s statement certainly came out of concern for Israel and out of true friendship, but we’ve seen only this morning the results of our previous withdrawal (from Gaza) in Sderot (where a missile landed on the backyard of a local home), as well as in thousands of victims over the years. It’s time for new, creative concepts to resolve the conflict in the Middle East, including the idea that a nation isn’t the occupier of its own homeland.”

Jewish Home faction Chair MK Ayelet Shaked agreed that “Obama is a true friend of Israel, it can’t be denied. But at the end of the day only we will absorb the tragic and devastating consequences of establishing a Palestinian state.”

She argued that “this is why the people have chosen, just this week, a government whose platform does not support the two state solution, and the U.S. President, for whom democracy is a beacon, should respect that.”

The Judea and Samaria Council’s official response was: “President Obama’s speech was warm and embracing, but, at the same time, he tried to create the illusion of public support for moves that are dangerous to Israel. This is why, in our opinion, students from Ariel University had not been invited. Israelis have already experienced such illusions exploding in our faces, and will not support the dangers presented by Obama. The Israeli public expresses its views in democratic elections, not through inciting young people against their leadership.”

MK Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List) also disapproved of Obama’s remarks on the Jewish state. “It has been the position of the U.S. government in recent years, which we oppose.”

But Tibi was pleased with the second part of the speech, because of its “detailed references to Palestinian suffering and the occupation, as well as his understanding of the suffering of the families of Palestinian prisoners, and the talk about establishing a Palestinian state as an act of justice.”

Tibi said he enjoyed “the refreshing change in the applause of thousands of students in response to Obama’s poignant and brave words about ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state. Of course I was sorry that he did not see fit to refer to the inequality of Israeli Arab citizens, but, altogether, those words require genuine action so the Jerusalem speech won’t have the same fate as the Cairo speech.”

The Two-Paint Solution

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

The best way to explain hard concepts is by making analogies to everyday things. Of course you have to be careful that the essential part of the analogy fits. When I was in school, I was told “the map is not the territory” — in other words, in any analogy there will be things that are different from the reality one is trying to describe. You just have to know what’s essential.

So I am going to make one more try at explaining why the “two-state solution” is not a solution, and why the people who claim to want one are either terminally uninformed or evil. Here is my analogy:

One day I was down at the lab when a young scientist came running up to me. “Dr. Fresno!” he called. “Eureka! Eureka! I have invented an automobile that does not require fuel, or even batteries!”

“Great,” I said. “You have solved an important problem. How does it work?”

“Simple. You just paint half of the roof of the car with solar paint. When light strikes it it produces electricity, which operates the electric motors that run it.”

“Hmm,” I said. “But how does it work at night, or on an overcast day? You said there were no batteries.”

“That’s the other half of the roof. You paint it with anti-solar paint. When dark strikes it, it produces electricity…” he began.

“That’s amazing,” I told him. “How on earth do you make paint like that?”

“Oh, I have no idea. But wouldn’t it be a wonderful solution?

Visit Fresno Zionism.

The Logic of the ‘Winged Pig Conditional’

Thursday, March 14th, 2013

As I’ve mentioned before, I used to teach elementary logic. One of the first topics was compound truth-functional statements, in which the truth of the compound is dependent on the truth of the components. So for example, the compound statement ‘p or q’ is true if and only if either or both of the components, p and q are true.

The definition of the ‘if p then q’ (called a ‘conditional’, and sometimes written p->q) statement seemed counter-intuitive to some students. It is true if and only if either p is false or q is true. That may seem strange, but think about it: suppose I assert that “if I drink 3 cups of coffee then I will have insomnia.” What could falsify this statement? Only one situation: I drink the coffee but still sleep normally.

This definition can be expressed as a “truth table” which tells us what the result will be for every possible combination of truth and falsehood of the antecedent (p) and the consequent (q). Here it is:

p q p->q

True

True

True

True

False

False

False

True

True

False

False

True

Not every conditional statement that we make is a simple function of the truth of its components, but many of them are.

Here is one that I see a lot:

“A majority of Jewish Israelis would give up most of Judea and Samaria, even evacuate settlements, for peace.”

Another way of saying this is that most Jewish Israelis agree with this conditional statement:

“If it would result in a lasting peace, I would support withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.”

The only case in which this statement is false is the one in which the speaker does not support withdrawal despite believing that it would result in peace. So no wonder a majority agrees with it.

It is perfectly rational to accept the truth of the if-then statement, but not support withdrawal because one does not believe that peace would result. For example, many Israelis believe that a withdrawal would result in a Hamas takeover and a Gaza-like situation a few miles from Israel’s population centers. Some point to the PLO’s refusal to recognize a Jewish state with any borders. Others compare the ease with which the Arabs could tear up a peace agreement to the difficulty of repossessing the land after it is ceded.

So clearly the truth of the statement does not imply a readiness on the part of the Israeli public to withdraw; rather it points to a strong desire to finally have an end to the conflict.

But there is more. The truth table above tells us that a conditional is always true when the antecedent is false. In this case, the truth of the consequent is irrelevant. This means that if the antecedent is contradictory or in some way impossible, then the whole statement is always true — but in a trivial sense.

This is what I call a “winged pig conditional.” And that’s what this statement actually is — a trivial one whose assertion commits the speaker to nothing.

I am prepared to bet $1,000 on the truth of the conditional statement “if pigs had wings, then they could fly” (with proper safeguards prohibiting bionic wings, etc.). This is because the antecedent “pigs have wings” is so unlikely as to be considered impossible. So I am not risking any money.

And based on my understanding of the oft-stated intentions of the PLO and Hamas, of Palestinian Arab public opinion, of P.A. and Hamas media, I can say that the proposition that withdrawal would lead to peace is just as unlikely.

To a great extent, the whole idea of a two-state solution as presented by President Obama, Shimon Peres, etc. is a winged pig. Of course it would be wonderful if Israelis and Arabs could live side by side in peace, but since the idea of a Jewish state is so consistently rejected by the Arab side, the questions of “how do we get there” so beloved by Dennis Ross, for example, are so irrelevant as to be uninteresting.

Some years ago, P.M. Netanyahu made news when he announced (under U.S. pressure) that he supported the idea of a Palestinian state in the context of a “two-state solution.” What he meant, of course, was a kind of winged-pig conditional: if the Arabs would agree to recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, if the state could be demilitarized, if various security requirements could be met, then …

Of course the response from Mahmoud Abbas was predictable: Netanyahu is lying! He doesn’t support a “two-state solution” because a two-state solution includes right of “return” to Israel for 5 million “refugees,” and no recognition of Jewish ownership of Israel. Not to mention that “Palestine” deserves an army.

This is why the whole “peace process” discussion is so unutterably boring. It is unconnected to reality.

I think that we need to go farther than asking “what do we need to do to get peace?” and even “what do we need for security?” Rather, we must ask “what should the state of the Jewish people be?”

Perhaps those who believe that there is a value to Judea/Samaria that transcends its use as a bargaining chip, and indeed transcends its importance to security, a value that comes from its being the historical homeland of the Jewish people — maybe they have a point?

Visit Fresno Zionism.

J Street Speech Reveals Hagel Will Push Saudi Peace Initiative

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Posts’ blog Right Turn, bless her heart, has learned from her Senate sources that the “left-wing group J Street” was refusing to provide a video of Chuck Hagel speaking before the group’s first conference in 2009.

“Senators were tipped off that Hagel departed from his prepared remarks and made controversial comments to the J Street Conference. In exchanges with Senate Armed Services Committee staff, J Street volunteered the prepared remarks and said it decided not to provide the complete video for fear that Hagel’s remarks would be taken out of context,” Rubin wrote on Tuesday.

She commented that J Street would have to provide the tape, should the Armed Services Committee issues a subpoena for it. Finally, on Tuesday night, Rubin updated her story to report that J Street contacted the Senate Armed Services Committee to report that it was going to post the entire video of Hagel’s 2009 speech online.

I downloaded the video and sat and transcribed portions of the tape itself, to male sure they did not differ from the online text. In my opinion, the truly alarming text was delivered by Hagel in the official speech, which he read, word for word. I will get to it later, and share with you why I think Hagel may be the worst thing to hit the U.S.-Israel relationship since Casper Weinberger locked the IAF off the Iraqi ballistic missile launchers.

But, first, here’s the stuff that didn’t make it into the official speech, and came at the short Q&A portion at the end. Hagel was asked by the host what advise he would give newly elected Prseident Obama, who took him on as an advisor, regarding the Middle east.

Hagel responded: “Engagement. I’ve never understood a great nation like the United States who would be afraid to engage. Why are we afraid to talk with someone? If we believe that we have a pretty good system—and I don’t think we should go around the world imposing it on anyone—but if we have some sense of who we are, and believe in who we are, then why wouldn’t we engage? how in the world do we think we can make a better world? How in the world do we think isolating someone is going to somehow bring them around to your way of thinking? I think just the opposite. So, engagement.”

Big applause.

“2 – it seems to me a comprehensive framework of a foreign policy is essential. Because I have never believed you go to war in Iraq, you go to war in Afghanistan, and believe that you can deal with those battlefields, those countries, in microcosms, or narrow channels. These are regional issues. There will not be any peace in the Middle East or in Afghanistan, central Asia, without Iran somewhere…”

Host: “So Iran is connected to Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is connected to Israel and Palestine, and connected to Syria…”

Hagel: “It’s all connected.”

More dangerous words have not been uttered since Wayne Wheeler and Andrew J. Volstead from Minnesota invented the 18th Amendment (the one about not letting the boys coming back from war in Europe have a drink). The notion that the war-loving Afghani tribes are shooting and tooting on account of the Iranians not liking the delayed peace negotiations in Ramallah, which in turn drives the rebel army outside Damascus is the craziest pile of horse manure dumped on the American political scene since the Domino theory.

And it’s no wonder the J Street folks have kept those comments out. In light of the civil war in Syria and the emerging civil war in Egypt, they make the presumptive Secretary of defense sound like Jimmy Carter.

In that vein, just look at what the man said about Syria, back in 2009:

“I believe there is a real possibility of a shift in Syria’s strategic thinking and policies. For its own self interests… not because they want to do a favor for the U.S. or Israel. If we can convince Damascus to pause and re-consider its positions and support regarding Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas and radical Palestinian groups, we will have made progress for the entire Middle East, Israel, and the U.S. Syria wants to talk – at the highest levels – and everything is on the table.”

My Lord – is there even one assumption in that pile of fragrant stuff that is still true today? Is this man capable of making even one observation that isn’t a trite cliché and hopelessly divorced from Middle east reality?

Israeli UN Envoy Admonishes UN Security Council

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor told the UN Security Council last week that the “Council needs a GPS system to find its moral center in this debate on the Middle East.”

Prosor addressed the issue of settlements in his speech, saying that “there are many threats to the security in our region. But the presence of Jewish homes in Jerusalem – the eternal capital of the Jewish people, has never been one of them.”

He further clarified that the existence of a Palestinian state did not depend on E-1 construction connecting Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem, which are 7 kilometers apart. “Those who make this claim are the same people who stand up and speak about a contiguous state between Gaza and the West Bank, areas divided by more than 70 kilometers… which would cut Israel in two.”

Addressing the current Middle East situation and Israel’s latest elections, Prosor admonished the Security Council for its continued silence in the face of terror and oppression that reigns across the Middle East. “Most of the millions in our region who live under oppression, fear, and violence are completely ignored in this debate,” the ambassador stated during UN Security Council’s monthly open debate on the Middle East in New York last Wednesday.

Prosor stated that, instead, a “litany of half-truths, myths, and outright lies about Israel” are the focal points of Security Council sessions, adding that the monthly debate which the Security Council holds on the Middle East falls short of its original mission to advance global peace and security.

The ambassador emphasized that there were other challenges facing the Middle East, highlighting both the regime of Syrian President Bashaar Assad and the Aytollah regime in Iran. “More than 60,000 were killed in Syria in just the past two years,” Prosor stated. Among those killed, he said, were hundreds of Palestinians living in refugee camps bombed by Assad’s fighter jets. Prosor also noted that Assad’s chemical weapons could be taken over by Al Qaeda or Hezbollah. He mentioned the oppressive Hezbollah regime in Lebanon that had “transformed the country into an Iranian terror base,” and that Iran’s advanced missile technology with nuclear weapons and extremist ideology “leaves the lives of millions” hanging in balance.

Following Prosor’s speech, U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice took the opportunity to criticize Israel on settlement activity. “We have reiterated our longstanding opposition to Israel’s West Bank settlement activity, as well as construction in East Jerusalem, which run counter to the cause of peace,” declared Rice. She said that construction in E-1, connecting Jerusalem to Ma’aleh Adumim, “would be especially damaging to efforts to achieve a two-state solution.”

Ambassador Rice, however also voiced Washington’s disapproval of the Palestinians’ use of ‘State of Palestine’ on their nameplate at the UN Security Council session. She stated that the United States did not recognize the UN General Assembly vote to upgrade the status of Palestine as a non-member observer state on November 29, 2012, saying that “…any reference to the ‘State of Palestine’…do not reflect acquiescence that ‘Palestine’ is a state.”

While the Middle East peace process and occasionally even Syria, dominated the Security Council session on Wednesday – they were described as the “two major crisis” facing the region by several ambassadors – Israel’s UN envoy offered another perspective on the debate.

“I have a novel idea. Perhaps this discussion could occasionally spend some time examining why the situation in the Middle East remains unstable, undemocratic and violent. I’ll give you a hint: it has nothing to do with Israel,” stated Prosor.

Lapid on Jerusalem and the Palestinians

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

The big surprise of Israel’s elections was the rise of Yair Lapid’s “Yesh Atid” (There is a Future) party, which is projected to have received 18-19 seats in the upcoming 19th Knesset. The second biggest party after the Likud, it is presumed that Lapid will join Netanyahu’s next government as a senior partner.

“Yesh Atid” will be influential in setting all aspects of government policy, including the resumption of the peace process and the attempts to come to an agreement with the Palestinians.

What are Lapid’s principles regarding the peace process?

The party’s platform, formulated by Ofer Shelach, a former journalist and number 6 on the party’s Knesset list, states that Israel will strive to return to the negotiations table with the Palestinians with the principle of “two states for two nations” serving as the basis of the process.

Yesh Atid perceives a possible peace process as a response to an ensemble of threats looming over the State of Israel and the only way to effectively minimize these threats in the long term.

What will be the fate of the communities of Judea and Samaria? Yair Lapid chose to launch his campaign in Ariel, which can be telling about his future intentions regarding Judea and Samaria. Yesh Atid’s platform states that within the framework of the negotiations, the large settlement blocks—Ariel, Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion—will remain within the agreed upon boundaries of the State of Israel. During peace negations no new communities will be established, but until the signing of an agreement the natural growth of the existing communities will be taken into consideration.

The Yesh Atid platform further states that Israel’s future borders will be decided on the basis of Israel’s security needs, as well as the reality created since 1967: “Both sides will acknowledge that it is in their mutual interest that the settlement blocks remain in Israel’s hands.” A swap of land is an option, according to Yesh Atid. However, Lapid has stated several times throughout his campaign that the communities in Judea and Samaria constitute a financial burden on Israel’s economy, and that he intends to change that.

The Palestinian refugees’ issue will be settled within the boundaries of a future Palestinian state.

The platform also focused on the rabid antisemitic incitement within the Palestinian educational system, stating its complete end as a part of any future agreement.

As for Jerusalem, the platform clearly states: “Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital and its unity is a national symbol of the first degree. Jerusalem will remain united under Israeli sovereignty, for Jerusalem is not merely a location or a city, but the center of the Jewish-Israeli ethos and the holy place that the Jews have yearned for throughout the ages.”

Lapid has made several such public statements. A few days ago, he stated that there is no point in negotiating for Jerusalem, “we have no existence without Jerusalem.” He intends to grant Israeli citizenship to the Arabs of east Jerusalem.

Many questions are left open, and on many of the points Yesh Atid’s platform is ambiguous. In the coming month we’ll find out how Lapid’s new, 19-member party will affect Israel’s future.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/what-does-lapid-think-about-jerusalem-and-the-palestinians/2013/01/23/

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