web analytics
October 4, 2015 / 21 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘peres’

US: Israel’s Prosperity a Problem

Monday, May 27th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

At first blush, it might have sounded like praise, but it wasn’t. Before meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres, Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced Israel’s prosperity an impediment to “peace” with the Palestinians. “I think there is an opportunity [for peace], but for many reasons it’s not on the tips of everyone’s tongue. People in Israel aren’t waking up every day and wondering if tomorrow there will be peace because there is a sense of security and a sense of accomplishment and of prosperity.”

So, Secretary Kerry thinks it would be better for Israel to approach negotiations from a position of precarious poverty? Does he think Israel’s quest for legitimacy and security in an unstable, over-armed and hostile region would be better received if Israel were a needy, insecure supplicant to Palestinian and Arab interests? Or that the Palestinians would have pity on an unnerved and anxious Israel struggling with a bankrupt, aid-dependent economy?

There are people – not necessarily Secretary Kerry – who prefer their Jews as needy supplicants, but that is not a role Israel is prepared to play, thank you. The entire Zionist enterprise is designed precisely to ensure that Jews in the State of Israel are able to wake up every day with a “sense of security” and determine their own interests. The fact that Israelis also wake up with a hard-earned and well-deserved “sense of accomplishment and of prosperity” is icing on the cake.

What Kerry appears to have meant was that this is somehow a pivotal moment for Israel because its prosperity and security may be evanescent. He continued, “Over the horizon… one can see the challenges,” that make it important “to resolve this at this moment, when there is a willingness for people to look for a way [to achieve an agreement].”

“At this moment” Israel is a stable, educated, increasingly energy independent, democratic, prosperous country with a military that appears willing and able to defend the people from threats over the horizon. It has a clear understanding with the Kingdom of Jordan for security along the Jordan River that protects both neighbors. It has an almost clear understanding with the President of the United States (and certainly has one with Congress) that the main threat to its security lies in the nuclear aspirations of Iran.

This, says Kerry, is “the moment” Israel should feel a pressing imperative to dump King Abdullah and cut a deal with a Palestinian polity that is bifurcated between a kleptocratic, autocratic, openly anti-Semitic West Bank ruled by a man whose sole elected term ended in 2009, and a corrupt, Islamist, Gaza ruled by terrorist-worshipping, Iranian-sponsored Hamas. Hamas and Fatah are at war with one another and their only point of agreement appears to be that the independence of Israel in 1948 was a mistake waiting to be “rectified.” A deal with Mahmoud Abbas, old, ailing, and very unpopular at home, would be a temporary deal at best. If Hamas wins its war, Israel will have stripped itself of vital territory only to find its heavily populated coastline under the same rocket and missile fire that southern Israel now absorbs. And Jordan would similarly find hostile forces aligned with Iran overlooking the Kingdom.

Under those circumstances, the U.S. would do better to tell the Palestinians that there is no deal to be had unless they – both factions – demonstrably accommodate the reality that Israel is a legitimate, permanent part of the region. Otherwise, it is for Israel to determine how best to defend itself from those “challenges over the horizon.”

The boundaries of the Levant determined by the British and the French early in the last century are being erased; there is little border left between Lebanon and Syria as militias on all sides fight in both countries. Tribalism and religious enmity from both radical Sunni and radical Shiite expansionists have produced monstrous swamps of Arab blood, and atrocities that rival Rwanda and Cambodia. Iraq is devolving into Sunni and Shiite cantons at war with one another. Turkey, long a country tolerant of Jews and engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship with Israel, has become a financial and political backer of Hamas, which is sworn to the bloody destruction of Israel. Qatar is second only to Turkey in its willingness to be seen as Hamas’s benefactor, not to mention Qatar’s pledge of $1 billion to “protect the Arabic and Islamic heritage of Jerusalem” (meaning to erase what it can of Jewish patrimony there). Egypt, after a 30-year stable peace, is ruled by a party that eschews relations with Israel and is constrained mainly by its military and its own economic debacle from acting on its ideological platform.

Being Intellectually Honest

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Last July, I went to the President’s Conference in Jerusalem, invited as a blogger and treated with much respect. My political agenda is pretty obvious to anyone who takes the time to read about my writings. I am, if nothing else, intellectually honest in my feelings. I object when someone says I hate Arabs – I don’t. I don’t object when someone says that my political realities leave no room for the hope that peace is just around the corner. It isn’t.

When I was first invited to the conference – I was a bit surprised. Truthfully, I despise much of what Peres has done in his life and certainly, dislike many of the words that come out of his mouth. I think at age 90, he has finally found his niche and he’s an excellent president – if he would just stay out of politics. But he won’t, and I won’t, so he and I have a nice truce most of the time. He talks; I write. I was concerned that being invited meant I’d have to write his words, break this quiet truce we’ve had going for the last 20 years – I couldn’t agree to that.

But I was assured that I had complete freedom to be, to write…and the promise was most definitely delivered – I wrote what I wanted…I did. I blasted several of the speakers. I called them naive. I argued that some had no right to come here and draw lines on the map or lecture us about how we can do more. And the one who amazed me beyond all others, was the one who spoke in direct contradiction to most of what Shimon Peres believes. “Even if you give them Jerusalem,” Ayaan Hirsi-Ali said, “even if you give them Jerusalem, there will be no peace.”

So I went, I wrote, and felt that I had fulfilled two commitments – the first, to attend and write as much as I could to provide the noise and the bang any conference organizer wants associated with an event, and second to be true to myself. Obviously, the conference organizers agreed, because I was invited back again this year.

It truly is an amazing event – and this year, Professor Stephen Hawking was invited to attend and speak – and he agreed. And then, as would be expected, Palestinians started writing to him demanding that he boycott Israel and the conference and – amazingly enough, as would not be expected, this intelligent man, this icon of British intellectualism, caved in and agreed. He wrote the organizers that he has agreed to the boycott of Israel and will not be coming.

I have no problems with his boycott. I understand and respect his sentiment. I ask only one thing – that he be true to his convictions and boycott Israel entirely. Do not come here, do not speak here. In fact, if you want to be intellectually honest, don’t speak at all. You see, the device that you, Professor Hawking, use to communicate despite your crippled body, includes a computer with an Intel Core i7-based communication system, which runs on a chip designed in Israel. So you see, Hawking, every word you say bears testimony to your hypocrisy.

Please go ahead – truly boycott Israel – I can think of no easier way to silence your absurd position. You don’t want to come to Israel to thank those who enable you to sustain a higher quality of life – no problem, don’t come. This year’s President’s Conference has a rich list of speakers and unlike some others, I personally don’t think you’ll be missed.

But I do hope a man of your…um…intellectual honesty…will have the decency to truly fulfill the boycott you support. I wonder if maybe the scientists in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon have developed an alternative device…yeah, I didn’t think so either. In the meantime, there’s always pen and paper…

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

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













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.

Peres Grants Netanyahu Two More Weeks

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

After failing to assemble a coalition within the legally allotted month, Prime Minister Netanyahu went back to President Shimon Peres on Saturday night to ask for an extension. Peres granted Netanyahu a two week extension, which is the maximum allowed by the law. If he fails to put together a coalition within two weeks, Peres can assign the job of assembling the coalition to someone else, and if that attempt fails, Israel will be required to hold new elections.

At the moment, the keys to the forming a coalition are in the hands of Naftali Bennett and his Jewish Home party. Bennett has conditioned his entry into the government on Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid parallel entry into the government with him. But Lapid has made it clear that he has no intention of entering the government with the Ultra-Orthodox.

Bennett, on the other hand, has no problem sitting with the Ultra-Orthodox, but he is demanding that the government work to begin drafting them into the army, as it does with most of the rest of the Jewish population. Drafting the Ultra-Orthodox into the army, would then allow them to legally join the workforce, and break the cycle of poverty in which their community is currently trapped.

One other side effect of a failed coalition building process, is that if no government is formed within the next two weeks, US President Obama may cancel his planned upcoming trip to Israel.

Netanyahu Tasked with Forming Government

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

On Saturday night, Israel’s President Shimon Peres formally tasked Prime Minister Netanyahu with the job of forming the next government for the 19th Knesset.

Netanyahu received endorsement from Likud-Beytenu (31), Yesh Atid (19), HaBayit Hayehudi (12), Shas (11), UTJ (7), and Kadima (2) for the role of Prime Minister.

Labor (15), Meretz (6), HaTnua (6), Ra’am-Tal (4), Hadash (4) and Balad (3) did not give Netanyahu their endorsement.

Official negotiations are set to begin on Sunday.

According to Eli Yishai, Shas believes that they will most likely be sitting in the opposition, and it is generally assumed that UTJ will be there too.

That would leave Netanyahu with no choice but to bring HaBayit HaYehudi into the coalition, something that rumors before the election said Netanyahu did not want to do.

Netanyahu stated that his goals for this term are stopping Iran from getting nuclear weapons, peace negotiations with the Palestinians, possibly as a nod towards Tzipi Livni, to get her to join the coalition, equalizing the national burden, while notably adding, “without tearing the nation apart”, a rather obvious message to Shas, quoting back to them Rav Ovadia Yosef’s letter to Peres, perhaps as an indication that their joining the coalition should not be ruled out.

Netanyahu also said he will work to create more jobs, and fix the electoral system.

Netanyahu stated that he wants to create the widest possible national unity government.

Shabbos in Davos

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

Shabbos in Davos. Almost rhymes, like the two are meant to be together.

And so it felt this past weekend at the alpine World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Every year, on Friday night, the Forum hosts a Shabbat meal that, longtime attendants say, started with a handful of people, including leading Israeli economists, but now boasts world leaders and Jewish personalities from around the globe.

One of the principal purposes in my attending the Sabbath meal was my intention of introducing President Paul Kagame of Rwanda – whose government announced at a press conference that we organized in October that they will be opening an Embassy in Israel – to more of the Jewish community. But I also marveled at a great celebration of Jewish observance and pride right in the middle of a renowned global gathering.

We sang Shalom Aleichem, the traditional welcoming poem for both angels and humans. We said the Kiddush blessing on the wine. The Rabbis in attendance were asked to jointly say the Hamotzi blessing on the bread for the assembled crowd. They did it without rancor or division (I’m being humorous here just in case you thought I was making fun of Jewish religious politics).

While the meal featured heads of state, Nobel laureates, and people of world renown, it had a homely feeling where no one in particular was made to feel more important than the next person.

But it was also a nice opportunity to say Good Shabbos and catch up with an assembly of Jewish leaders who were now under one roof, all celebrating God’s holy Sabbath together.

I greeted President Peres of Israel whom I had hosted in Oxford and whom I still visit in Israel. Peres will turn ninety in a few months God willing. Where he gets the Herculean strength to jet set around the world is a mystery that can only be explained by having to be President to seven million Presidents. But he looks and sounds amazing.

When I saw Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense minister, who had made headlines that morning at the Forum with an interview implying that Israel had shelved its plans to attack Iran, I reminded him of a bizarre meeting. He and I were guests on the Dan Shilon TV program in Israel years ago. I was on talking about my book Kosher Sex that had just been published in Hebrew. He was launching his bid to be Prime Minister of Israel. The TV host started skewering Barak and his wife, asking them if they had read the book. Going further, he asked if they had ever joined the mile-high club. It was an interview to remember. It turned out the Defense Minister did not forget. He smiled and patted me on the back, as if I was privy to some state secret.

A big and very pleasant surprise was seeing Eric Cantor, the House Majority leader, at the dinner. Eric is a very committed Jew who keeps a kosher home and is arguably the most stalwart defender of Israel in the United States Congress. A few years ago, when Eric addressed a Birthright group I was leading, at the Kotel in Jerusalem on Friday night, he walked 45 minutes to dinner at his hosts’ home because he did not wish to drive on the Sabbath in the holy city. His security detail may have had their complaints. But it was inspiring to our Birthright young adults to see the highest ranking Jewish elected official in American history showing such deference to the Sabbath.

A couple I truly enjoyed meeting was the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson and his Israeli-born wife, Dorrit Moussaieff. When I visited Iceland in the summer of 2009 with my family, Icelanders were excited, seeing a Jewish family, to tell us about their Jewish-Israeli first lady. Our arrival in Iceland had increased the Jewish population in the country orders of magnitude and it wasn’t every day they got to see people wearing Yarmulkes. Every time I asked for directions, I heard from Icelanders how proud they were to have an Israeli first lady.

In that summer of 2009, tragedy struck. After a few nights in Reykjavik, I heard the terrible news that Michael Jackson died. I did TV interviews via Skype from remote locations in the country, sometimes right by glaciers. It was the most beautiful scenery imaginable, discussing one of the saddest stories. I related to the President and first lady our unforgettable experience in Iceland. Dorrit said, “Why didn’t you come and visit?” I told her I figured she was busy. “No, you should have visited.” I promised her that I would now definitely take her up on her invitation, especially since I was looking for any excuse to visit Iceland, one of the most beautiful places on earth, again. I discovered in the electric, warm, and engaging personality of Iceland’s first lady someone who could make all that ice melt.

But the nicest part of the dinner was connecting with so many unsung heroes who do their extraordinary work without much fanfare. There was Rabbi Mendy Rosenfeld, who has headed Chabad in Switzerland for three decades and who showed me and my wife hospitality when we were in Switzerland for our honeymoon nearly 25 years ago. There was my former Oxford student, Charles Small, who runs an incredible academic program at leading universities, combating anti-Semitism. And there was my friend Eli Beer, who heads United Hatzalah of Israel, rescuing countless Jewish and Arab lives daily.

And, someone to whom all of us who participated in the magical Shabbos dinner should be grateful, there was Eduardo Elsztain, a well-known Jewish philanthropist who showed me hospitality when I visited Argentina and who has quietly paid for the kosher Shabbat dinner at Davos for many years, introducing the peace, serenity, and togetherness of the Jewish Sabbath as a great gift to some of the world’s most influential people.

Which Prime Minister Built the Most Homes in the Settlements?

Friday, January 18th, 2013

A Channel 10 report on Thursday ranked the various Israeli Prime Ministers, since 1991, based on the amount of actual housing construction that began during their respective terms, inside the Israel’s Settlements.

Who Built the Most and When?**
Rank  Prime Minister            Party    Years      Construction  
1 Ehud Barak Labor   1999-2001 4,292
2 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud   1996-1999 3,194
3 Shimon Peres Labor   1995-1996 2,443
4 Ariel Sharon* Likud   2001-2006 1,826
5 Ehud Olmert Kadima   2006-2009 1,741
6 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud   2009-2012 1,168

*Also destroyed thousands of buildings and homes.
** This chart doesn’t include infrastructure construction, only homes.

Based on information collected by Peace Now, below are the number of government tenders for new settlement housing that were issued, by year for the past decase. We then correlated that information according to who was Prime Minister at the time.

Who issued the most Housing Construction Tenders? 
Year   Prime Minister   Party   Tenders   Subtotal  
2002 Ariel Sharon Likud 689
2003 Ariel Sharon Likud 2508
2004 Ariel Sharon Likud 912
2005 Ariel Sharon Likud 1184  Ariel Sharon
2006 Ehud Olmert Kadima 919
2007 Ehud Olmert Kadima 65
2008 Ehud Olmert Kadima 539  Ehud Olmert
2009 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud 0
2010 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud 0
2011 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud 1009
2012 Benjamin Netanyahu Likud 660  Benjamin Netanyahu 

Again, the information above is for new homes only. It does not include the infrastructure development in the settlements, which Netanyahu, for instance, did a lot of (exact data unavailable at the moment) during this last term as Prime Minister.


According to Peace Now, the Netanyahu government also approved dozens of “outposts”, though what Peace Now calls “outposts” are actually neighborhoods of existing Settlements.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/which-prime-minister-built-the-most-homes-in-the-settlements/2013/01/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: