A senior official at the Palestinian Authority told Israel Radio Sunday that Israel has refused an offer for a preparatory meeting with the PA side ahead of a possible summit meeting in Cairo between Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
According to the official, the Cairo meeting is intended to prepare for the international peace conference which is being planned in Paris by the end of the year, possibly with representatives from both France and the US. Apparently, various sources have advised Netanyahu to send an envoy to meet with a PA representative to prepare the Cairo meeting, but Netanyahu refused.
“Netanyahu does not want negotiations for a permanent settlement, and as long as he is at the helm there will not be a Palestinian State,” the PA senior said.
The same official also told Israel Radio that the PA does not demand that Israel freeze settlement construction as a prerequisite to the Paris conference, but rather the freeze should coincide with the start of negotiations. He threatened that “should Netanyahu not arrive at the Paris conference, we expect France and the other participating states to recognize the Palestinian State, open Palestinian embassies in their own capitals and boycott the settlements.”
Regarding Defense Minister Liberman’s plan to bypass Abbas in developing communication channels with key people in the PA society, the senior official said Liberman has yet to learn the lesson of the Village Associations that were set up by the late Ariel Sharon as a bulwark against the PLO in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which eventually became the Hamas movement.
“[Liberman] is treating the Palestinians as if they were animals: if they follow the rules they’ll get food, if not — a kick in the behind. The Village Associations failed then and will fail today. No one will work with Liberman, people here are not traitors,” the official said, adding, “Israel can’t run the same experiment, change nothing and expect different results.”
GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump on Monday gave a foreign policy speech in Youngstown, Ohio, outlining his plan to fight terrorism. Addressing the large crowd (as usual), Trump opened, “Today we begin a conversation about how to Make America Safe Again. In the 20th Century, the United States defeated Fascism, Nazism, and Communism. Now, a different threat challenges our world: Radical Islamic Terrorism.”
The candidate cited a very long list of terrorist attacks against individual Western targets (Paris, Brussels, Orlando), as well as a more generalized but no less forceful depiction of attacks on Muslims: “Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another. … We cannot let this evil continue.”
Trump promised, “We will defeat Radical Islamic Terrorism, just as we have defeated every threat we have faced in every age before.” He then threw a jab at both president Obama and Democratic presidential Candidate Clinton, saying, “Anyone who cannot name our enemy, is not fit to lead this country.”
This led to a Trump analysis of how President Obama and his Secretary of State Clinton are to blame for the current alarming state of events. He blamed them for policies that led to the creation of ISIS, saying, “It all began in 2009 with what has become known as President Obama’s global ‘Apology Tour.’”
Remarkably, Trump omitted eight whole years in which the US was attacked by a different group of Islamic radicals, and the fact that then President GW Bush retaliated by invading a country that had nothing to do with that attack, inflicting chaos on Iraq and taking out the one fierce regional enemy of Iran, Saddam Hussein. According to Trump, none of those eight bloody years of a Bush war had anything to do with the creation of ISIS (which took place in 2004) — it all began with “a series of speeches,” in which “President Obama described America as ‘arrogant,’ ‘dismissive,’ ‘derisive,’ and a ‘colonial power.'”
“Perhaps no speech was more misguided than President Obama’s speech to the Muslim World delivered in Cairo, Egypt, in 2009,” Trump said Monday night. Of course, the Obama Al Azhar University speech did launch a bizarre foreign policy that punished America’s friends and rewarded its enemies. Even if one were not pro-Israel, one would have to wonder what drove that disastrous foreign policy. But the Obama speech did not instigate the catastrophic failure of US policy in the Middle East, it only picked up Obama’s predecessor’s very bad situation and made it worse.
Trump believes that “the failure to establish a new Status of Forces Agreement in Iraq, and the election-driven timetable for withdrawal, surrendered our gains in that country and led directly to the rise of ISIS.” But in eight miserable years, having spent trillions of borrowed dollars our grandchildren and their grandchildren after them will continue to pay for, there were no US gains in Iraq — which is why when Obama honored the Bush agreement with the Iraqi government and withdrew some of the US forces, the whole thing came tumbling down.
Trump blames Hillary Clinton for destabilizing Libya, a claim supported by many, including President Obama and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. He also added a jab at the Clintons, saying, “Yet, as she threw the Middle East into violent turmoil, things turned out well for her. The Clintons made almost $60 million in gross income while she was Secretary of State.” It’s factually true, but the implied moral outrage is hard to accept with a straight face, seeing as it came from a man who prided himself on turning homeowners’ misery into a hefty profit for himself during the housing crisis of 2008.
After much more of the candidate’s unique view on US foreign policy and the causes for rise of terrorism, Trump finally cut to the chase.
“If I become President, the era of nation-building will be ended,” he said. “Our new approach, which must be shared by both parties in America, by our allies overseas, and by our friends in the Middle East, must be to halt the spread of Radical Islam. … As President, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal. We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President [Al] Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished.”
Trump added to the list of his envisioned coalition partners the NATO countries, explaining that although he “had previously said that NATO was obsolete because it failed to deal adequately with terrorism; since my comments they have changed their policy and now have a new division focused on terror threats.”
He also wants Russia to participate, clearly despite its dubious new alliance with both Iran and Turkey that threatens the very presence of US troops in that part of the region.
On this point, the Trump vision looks an awful lot like the current Administration’s policy on fighting ISIS: “My Administration will aggressively pursue joint and coalition military operations to crush and destroy ISIS, international cooperation to cutoff their funding, expanded intelligence sharing, and cyberwarfare to disrupt and disable their propaganda and recruiting. We cannot allow the Internet to be used as a recruiting tool, and for other purposes, by our enemy – we must shut down their access to this form of communication, and we must do so immediately.”
So far so good, but then Trump suggested “we must use ideological warfare as well. Just as we won the Cold War, in part, by exposing the evils of communism and the virtues of free markets, so too must we take on the ideology of Radical Islam.”
Trump then depicted his opponent as contributing to the repression of Muslim gays and women, promising his “Administration will speak out against the oppression of women, gays and people of different faith. Our Administration will be a friend to all moderate Muslim reformers in the Middle East, and will amplify their voices.”
At which point one must ask if the candidate is relying on expert advise on the Middle East. Because while he is absolutely right in condemning the cruelty and repression that have been the reality in Muslim countries from Pakistan to Morocco, his idea of promoting an American foreign policy of “speaking out against the horrible practice of honor killings” and against the myriad other acts of unimaginable violence against women, his ideas that to defeat Islamic terrorism, the US must “speak out forcefully against a hateful ideology that provides the breeding ground for violence and terrorism to grow” is shockingly sophomoric. Surely Trump knows that these attempts are a recipe for a far worse disaster than the one brought on by the Obama Al Azhar speech.
At this point, Trump turned to an area with which he is more familiar, the need for a new immigration policy. “A Trump Administration will establish a clear principle that will govern all decisions pertaining to immigration: we should only admit into this country those who share our values and respect our people,” the candidate declared, adding that “the time is overdue to develop a new screening test for the threats we face today.”
“In addition to screening out all members or sympathizers of terrorist groups, we must also screen out any who have hostile attitudes towards our country or its principles – or who believe that Sharia law should supplant American law,” Trump said, explaining that “those who do not believe in our Constitution, or who support bigotry and hatred, will not be admitted for immigration into the country. Only those who we expect to flourish in our country – and to embrace a tolerant American society – should be issued visas.”
Easier said than done, of course, because it’s naturally difficult to discern what lurks inside the mind of any person, immigrants included. Trump’s solution is, to “temporarily suspend immigration from some of the most dangerous and volatile regions of the world that have a history of exporting terrorism.”
“As soon as I take office, I will ask the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security to identify a list of regions where adequate screening cannot take place. We will stop processing visas from those areas until such time as it is deemed safe to resume based on new circumstances or new procedures.” It should be interesting to gauge the response of, say, casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, to the news that no more cash-laden Arab oil sheiks would be allowed to visit Vegas under a Trump Administration.
“Finally, we will need to restore common sense to our security procedures,” Trump declared, listing several notorious murders committed by Muslims on US soil, noting that in each case there had been warning signs that were overlooked by the authorities.
“These warning signs were ignored because political correctness has replaced common sense in our society,” Trump stated flatly, adding, “That is why one of my first acts as President will be to establish a Commission on Radical Islam. … The goal of the commission will be to identify and explain to the American public the core convictions and beliefs of Radical Islam, to identify the warning signs of radicalization, and to expose the networks in our society that support radicalization.”
“This commission will be used to develop new protocols for local police officers, federal investigators, and immigration screeners,” Trump said, essentially suggesting legitimizing the police profiling that has been so vilified in the media and by many politicians. He also promised to keep Guantanamo Bay prison open (although Obama has just released fifteen of its inmates). He wants additional staff to Intelligence agencies and will keep drone strikes against terrorist leaders as part of his options. He also wants military trials for foreign enemy combatants.
In conclusion, there was absolutely no new policy idea in the Trump speech on foreign policy Monday night, but there was an implied, if mostly unspoken promise, to encourage all levels of law enforcement to be less restrained in pursuing their targets. In fact, across the board, what Trump was offering Monday night were not so much new ideas as the promise of taking existing ideas to a new level of dedication in their execution. It could mean a wider loss of individual civil rights, and serious economic hardship for US industries that cater to any aspect of immigration, and it could also end up with the alienation of both European and Mid-Eastern countries who would not take kindly to Trump’s promised level of fierceness, and would retaliate.
It should be noted in that context, that after having spoken bluntly about extreme security measures that could harm specific ethnic and religious groups, Trump attempted to soften his own tone with a final paragraph that promised: “As your President … I will fight to ensure that every American is treated equally, protected equally, and honored equally. We will reject bigotry and oppression in all its forms, and seek a new future built on our common culture and values as one American people. — Only this way, will we make America Great Again and Safe Again – For Everyone.”
Like him or hate him, Donald Trump remains the champion of cognitive dissonance.
A French court on Monday remanded to custody a 16-year-old girl charged with plotting a jihadist attack, The Local reported. The judge charged the girl with participating in a “criminal terrorist association” and “inciting to commit terrorist acts through an online communication medium.”
The “highly radicalized” teen was group administrator on the encrypted messaging app Telegram.
“She relayed numerous Islamic State group propaganda messages calling for attacks, and she also expressed her own intention of taking action,” a source close to the investigation told The Local. Intelligence services picked up on one of her “very worrying” messages on Telegram.
The girl, who doesn’t have a criminal record, was picked up in a police anti-terror sweep in the suburb of Melun outside Paris.
The security forces then raided her family home, but did not find explosives or firearms.
“At this stage in the probe, investigators have not identified a planned target,” deputy prosecutor Laure Vermeersch said, adding that the girl’s phone and computer have been seized.
Investigators are looking for the other participants in the chat group, and are trying to figure out if the girl had accomplices in her attack plot.
Back in March, two girls ages 15 and 17 were charged with criminal terrorist association and possibly plotting to attack a Paris concert hall, but investigators realized the plot was more fantasy than a significant operation.
A state of emergency has been in effect in France since the November 13, 2015 ISIS attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead.
Secretary of State John Kerry met with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Paris on Saturday in another attempt to keep the moribund “peace process ” alive between Israel and the PA.
The two men “discussed regional challenges and constructive ideas for the way forward to support our shared goal of a two state solution,” according to a statement issued by State Dept. spokesperson John Kirby.
“Secretary Kerry stressed the United States’ commitment to this issue, and they agreed on the importance of continuing to work with key partners to advance the prospects for peace while opposing all efforts that would undermine that goal.”
The meeting was held against the backdrop of a tense situation in which the Paris government is trying to find a way to prevent radical Islamic terrorism from further metastasizing in the country.
Last week two Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists ritually slaughtered a Catholic priest in Normandy on the altar of his own church as he was celebrating mass, forcing a fellow priest to film the entire gruesome process as they cut the elderly priest’s throat. The second priest is in critical condition. Both terrorists were killed.
Mohammad Karabila, a Muslim leader in northern France, said on Saturday the community would not prepare an Islamic funeral for one of the murderers, Adel Kermiche.
Muslim leaders in northern France refused to dishonor Islam with such a person, French media reported. The Muslim community supported the decision, refusing to attend the preparation of the body or burial and insisting the terrorist was not part of the Muslim community.
Muslim and Christian groups did, however, hold vigils for his elderly victim, according to Breitbart. A regional Muslim council also planned a brotherhood march in the southeastern city of Lyon.
Just two days after two Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists ritually sacrificed an elderly Catholic priest by slitting his throat on the altar of his own church as he was serving Mass, the people of France has once again bestowed the title of “Honorary Citizen” upon another cold-blooded terrorist killer.
Palestinian Authority terrorist Marwan Barghouti is the darling of the movement to create a new Arab state nestled right up against the State of Israel. He is also popular on the Palestinian Authority street, where citizens still vote for him during elections though he is sitting in a jail cell. Hamas has attempted during every parlay with Israel to free him; but he is one of the terrorist prisoners least likely to ever be released.
The leader of the Tanzim paramilitary terrorist organization, Marwan Barghouti is serving five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years for the particularly brutal murders of five Israelis. Among the dead was a 3-year-old girl.
That doesn’t include the deaths of the “hundreds of civilians, both Israelis and citizens of other states,” that he is also responsible for, said Israeli Ambassador to France Aliza Ben-Nun (Bin Nun) in an open letter published in France.
This is the eighth time since 2009 that Paris has bestowed the honor upon Barghouti. No fewer than 20 cities in France have honored the child-killer with the title of “honorary citizen,” according to the French L’Humanite newspaper.
None have invited him to come live within their municipal boundaries, however.
Ben-Nun expressed “deep shock and worry” in her letter, saying that French officials who pay tribute to Barghouti are “not only guilty of supporting terrorism but also have denied values that are cherished in both France and Israel.”
There have been repeated struggles between Israel and France over the latter’s attempts to portray Barghouti as a folk hero, including one attempt this past spring by Paris to present the killer to the world as some sort of “Nelson Mandela.”
In fact, a Paris auction house was ordered to remove a painting in which the chief of the Tanzim terrorist organization was actually presented as a Palestinian Authority version of the South African president and leader. “Nelson Mandela was also called a terrorist in the 1950s,” wrote the artist in the inscription.
But the Paris government didn’t issue the order until the auction house received a letter from the Israeli embassy, expressing disapproval of the comparison made by the artist between Mandela and Barghouti. The letter pointed out that Mandela opposed violence; Barghouti, on the other hand, is a real terrorist and a convicted killer. He is serving five consecutive life sentences plus 40 years for the heinous murders he committed.
He’s the kind of terrorist who would fit right in with the bloodthirsty murderers who slaughtered the 84-year-old priest who was celebrating Mass at the altar of his church two days ago, and who forced his fellow priest to film the event as they did so.
Perhaps that’s why France again has awarded him the honor, so close to the barbaric murder of the gentle man of God in Normandy?
Equally strangely, both chambers of the Belgian Parliament voted in May 2016 to nominate Barghouti for the Nobel Peace Prize. A letter was sent to the Nobel Committee in which the killer was called a “peace activist and a key figure in Palestinian-Israeli settlement.”
In terrorist-besieged Belgium, this is akin to something like the Stockholm Syndrome.
One wonders whether any of the security officials in either of these countries have considered the message being sent to the world’s terrorist community — and it is a real community, make no mistake — and how that warm welcome gets played to the budding lone wolves being recruited online.
Could be the leadership may only be ‘talking the talk’ about declaring “war on terror” for the cameras.
If so, then it looks like Brexit came just in time.
Ragnar Kjartansson is a widely exhibited Icelandic performance artist. In a 2002 work called Death and the Children, he dressed up in a dark suit and carried a scythe, leading young children through a cemetery, answering their questions. In a 2006 live performance titled Sorrow Conquers Happiness, he wore a tuxedo and played the role of a 1940s nightclub crooner with an orchestra, singing, “Sorrow conquers happiness” over and over as the music swelled. In 2011, Kjartansson won the inaugural Malcolm Award at Performa 11, the visual art performance biennial, for his 12-hour work Bliss, which was performed without a break at the Abrons Arts Center on the Lower East Side of Manhattan with repeated performances of the finale of Mozart’s “Marriage of Figaro,” the moment when the count gets down on one knee and asks his wife for forgiveness, which she grants in an aria. Icelandic tenor Kristjan Johannson played the count.
For his exhibition titled Architecture and Morality, at the Center for Contemporary Art in Tel Aviv this season, Kjartansson, according to a press release, was going to “create a new, ambitious body of paintings within the specific context of Israel. He will spend two weeks painting the urban landscapes in the West Bank ‘En plein air’ (a fancy French term the press release misspelled and which means ‘outdoors’) akin to his performative painting practice over the past few years.”
Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook
So Ragnar Kjartansson took his canvas and stand and paints and brushes and went en plein air to various Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, and what he brought back was, well, not so bad. He painted what he saw (a paraphrase on the New Yorker’s surrealist Gahan Wilson’s book of horror cartoons), and apparently he saw none of the blood curdling evil normally associated with the term “settlements” on the corner of south Tel Aviv’s Tsadok Hacohen and Kalisher Streets, which is where the CCA is located.
Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook
Or, as Galia Yahav put it in Ha’aretz this weekend, “The houses are rendered separately, one per painting. All of them are drawn from the front and fill the canvas in the same way and from the same distance. The style is blatantly amateurish and naïve, as though from a hobby group, deliberately bland, with obedient brushstrokes and a filling of blank spaces, turgid coloration and pedantically mimetic attention to detail.”
But, most upsetting, from Yahav’s point of view, “the result is a small, suburban neighborhood of villas, completely artificial, in which little Israeli flags attached to parked cars wave in the breeze and larger ones flop from the windows of houses. Without addresses or names of specific settlements, this artistic tactic poses with feigned innocence in the likeness of a 19th-century pilgrimage, in which the Holy Land is portrayed through misty eyes.”
Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook
In other words, this cutting-edge performance artist, who was going to do to the settlements what Edvard Munch did the screaming, came away from those colonialist, apartheid-dispensing satanic neighborhoods with a fairly bland set of impressions, which is what one could expect from suburban bedroom communities anywhere.
“Perhaps the idea was to depict a generic quality of life rife with sated insensitivity – architecture as amorality,” Yahav tried to dig up some evil from under those middle class shaggy rugs. “Or perhaps it’s the realization of violent fantasy through painting: the occupied territories without Palestinians, a heaven on earth.”
Ragnar Kjartansson settlements exhibition / Source: CCA Facebook
Curator Chen Tamir wrote that Kjartansson’s settlements paintings “tell a story about the banality of everyday life amid complex political turmoil.” Maybe. But it ain’t in those paintings. Indeed, Tamir conceded that the entire Kjartansson exhibition “is a bold statement on art’s futility in the face of social and political strife.”
Or maybe, just maybe, the Icelandic artist discovered and then made a point leftwing art critics can’t afford to admit: that things in those Jewish settlements and in all of Judea and Samaria, just aren’t nearly as bad as they are in many other, more troubled places, such as London, Paris, Brussels, Nice and Istanbul.